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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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comagoosie

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still waiting...I might have to stick out tonight in order to read this update. I'm on the edge of my seat.
 

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Kurt_Steiner: ROFL ROFL I will deliver !!

ColossusCrusher & Mettermrck: it just wouldn't be the same without it , now would it ? XD

comagoosie: wait no more , UPDATE IS NOW !
 

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A Timelines Christmas: Part 7​

A special thanks to English Patriot and Mettermrck who contributed to this update by writing parts of it ! This is the last Christmas update so please don't miss this chance to Vote n the AARland Choice AwAARds ! Timelines is one again running for Favourite EU3 AAR and Favourite EU3 Narrative ! We need your support !

25 December A.D. 2007

He took another drag of his cigarette before exhaling a plume of smoke into the cool air. One would have thought that someone like that—with drooping bags under his eye like terraces against a mountainside—would have learned by then that sucking in an ashen cloud would only add to his aging health. Nonetheless, as the morning dawn of Christmas flooded the treeline, Inspector Gray savoured his ‘breakfast’ and traded in months of his latter life for a quick fix now.

“All clear on the west end too,” someone reported to him. Inspector Gray dropped his delicious stick to the ground before smothering it with his boot. It’s not as if he was particularly fond of tobacco anymore. Years of blackening his lungs meant that by now he merely needed to have that part of him filled again. He was lucky such a darkness inside his chest did not seep into his heart—then again being a Major in the Great War was enough to have charred that muscle of his buried in there somewhere. Ironically, it was his experience in that same conflict that ‘forced’ him into the habit—little else could have soothed him without it being illegal. There would be no prostitutes or illegal pharmaceuticals that he could turn to—at least not when he still had to raise Alexander.

“Have the west team double back and meet us at the bottom of the crest,” the Inspector ordered. He coughed audibly and spat a tar coloured chunk of mucus onto the rubbled ground that made up that mountainside. Smoke smelling fingers ran angrily across his graying hair. Those once golden browns were now clumps of deathly pale that refused to die off—much like the man they grew out of. In the light blue transition between day and night, the gray ghost of a man reached for another cigarette.

---

Going upward on the other side of the crest was harder than Rodrigo had thought. Especially with Tom’s weight against him and both tired. Both were tired and were pushing ahead on almost exclusively adrenaline. It was the constant sound of a creeping presence behind them that spurred them forward. Both could now see the sky above them brighten as the sun began its morning ritual on the horizon.

“This is taking…” Tom tried to say with a wince, “a lot longer… than I thought…”

“Shh…” Rodrigo responded to him, “He’ll hear where we are… we just have to keep moving as best we can…”

As if on cue, they could hear a shift in the rustling behind them. When Rodrigo looked back over his and Tom’s shoulder, a sudden rush of terror nearly collapsed them both. Emerging from behind a tree, along the trail they had been following was their pursuer.

It had hair like a shadowy haze; skin as marred as a leper with jagged scars of brown and red across both face and neck. A red smear dominated the man’s right side as it curved towards his hip and then across his waist while the bloody knife held by a hand showed signs of coagulating liquid. He held the weapon away from his body and the red glaze over his hand was like a crimson star and his smeared clothing a crescent set in the dirty background of unwashed rags. Eyes the colour of piss and lips that rolled away to reveal misplaced and rotting teeth nearly sapped Rodrigo’s breath from his lungs.

Rodrigo forced his eyes away from the accosting sight and felt his legs pump with renewed energy. Tom didn’t need to look backward to realize what was happening. For a while, his pain was completely forgotten and stifled moans were replaced by short breaths rushing oxygen into a desperate chest. Rodrigo pulled Tom through the brush, their legs snapping through the undergrowth, the thing lumbered behind them, its ragged breath seemed only inches away from them. The golden sunrise flooded the wood with bright light and yet there seemed no immediate salvation. The trees went on and on up the steep incline, Rodrigo battled against the adrenaline beginning to sap his legs of strength, all that mattered was that he would be able to outpace that thing behind them. Tom pushed his legs as best he could, but he couldn’t deny that he was losing ground, and a hopeless feeling of despair crept over him, he was holding Rodrigo back.

--

Mr. Woodhouse unconsciously scratched at the thin layer of stubble covering his jaw, the coming dawn had quite perfectly exposed the wreckage of the car, the torn up embankment and most interestingly of all, the tracks leading away from the car. He craned his neck back at the car and stared blankly at it for a time, it wouldn’t be long until the final moments he thought. Mr. Woodhouse pushed himself up from the churned dirt and walked back to his Bentley Derby; he pulled off his tweed jacket and threw it across the seat. His final preparations, strapping his shoulder holster and revolver to himself, and a quick shot of gin to top him up, he swallowed hard and then began to run up the incline, it didn’t take too long to feel out of breath, he wasn’t brilliantly fit, his toned body was quite a stunning façade, Mr. Woodhouse flattered himself.

“Come on damn you” He muttered, weeks of following the trail, he wasn’t going to miss his chance and let people get hurt because he was feeling tired.

Mr. Woodhouse breathed in sharply, despite the sunrise it was still cold as the earlier night and a frigid breeze tussled his slicked hair and numbed his limbs. There came a point where he had to stop, his lungs burned, Mr. Woodhouse loosened his tie and dragged the top buttons apart, he ran again this time alternating from running on two legs to climbing with all four limbs dragging himself up the trail and through the tangled undergrowth. And then, just when he thought he would have to take a breath, he saw it, the shambling figure illuminated by the suns cold light.

In the morning rays, the gleam of a sharp object caught those fatigued eyes although dried blood interrupted the stream of light. Flimsily, though with the veneer of composure, Mr. Woodhouse brought his Webley to bare at the back of the figure who still seemed unawares of his position. “Stop!” Mr. Woodhouse called out though his voice, lacking force from the run, only came out as a determined plea.

It was enough, however, to stop the man from gaining distance. The scraggy hair that Mr. Woodhouse saw hung on the back of that man’s head were like the long hairs of some tropical fruit although where dainty curls were, course wiry things more related to a medusa’s head of centipedes than to any edible plant hung precariously. The clothes the man wore were similarly distressing: a canvas of a jacket followed by torn trousers exposing the same wiry hair along the man’s leg. Mr. Woodhouse could have sworn he heard a growl before the devil of a man lunged forward again into the brush.

The Director let out a shot into the air and called out again for the man to stop. Without any answer, he pressed forward.

---

“Over there!” Inspector Gray signalled to his group. “Where Woodhouse went!” At first not noticing, he realized he had already unholstered his weapon as he started to follow his men along the path. Although they had fanned out to cover the wooded area around the crash, the obvious sound of a gunshot drew all of their attention.

---

When Rodrigo heard the shot, he nearly collapsed forward. Was the man shooting at them? He didn’t dare to look back, but he could already feel Tom sagging against his arm. The extra push from the weapon’s discharge struck home just how injured Thomas was in the way their paces differed. They were dragging each other more than running now, Rodrigo could hear the thing behind him, stalking between the trees, still going, still following. But the newcomer? Who was he? Rodrigo could hear him too, his hurried and unstable footsteps rushing through the undergrowth getting closer and closer. Tom’s harrowing sense of despair passed to Rodrigo, he was slowing, as much as he pushed himself, Rodrigo knew it, and for all the ground they covered, the mountain still loomed in front of them, as if in some sort of sadistic dream.

---

Mr. Woodhouse kept running, just a little closer and he would take the shot, he hadn’t wanted to, but the thing seemed incapable of reason. Woodhouse pushed on, his eyes on Rodrigo and Tom. The thing lunged forward grabbing at Tom and clawing at his clothes, Rodrigo pulled him free as Tom kicked and struggled against it, it struck out again, slashing wide with the blade and forcing Rodrigo to throw himself to the ground to avoid the knife.

“Alright, stop right there” The cold British accent cut through the morning air.

It stopped for a moment, Mr. Woodhouse had levelled his Webley revolver at the thing and could not be more than six yards from the beast. Tom and Rodrigo dragged themselves away from it which began advancing.

Woodhouse fired the revolver, the crack of the cordite echoed across the wood, the bullet hit a nearby tree littering shards of bark across the ‘thing’. Mr. Woodhouse cursed inwardly and took aim again, he held his breath and squeezed the trigger once more, the same crack, the enticing scent of cordite. The thing grunted as the round penetrated its shoulder and blood spattered across its tattered clothes. It kept going, the same lumbering step, it was as if it were a machine bent on killing Tom and Rodrigo, it had not turned to face him, or even acknowledge his presence, even wounding the damned thing had no effect. Mr. Woodhouse ran up again and drew his pistol up aiming at the damnable things trunk and hoped for the best.

---

26 December A.D. 2007

“Psychotropic drugs,” the nurse explained, “he wouldn’t have felt a thing.”

Not only were the police lined up around the nurses and doctors, but the producers and directors lined up as well to hear the briefing.

“Psychotropic drugs,” one of the producers was heard to mutter, clearly not paying attention to the proceedings. “They wouldn’t work. It kills the suspense. Pain and the occasional scream make for better drama.”

Ignoring the glare from a nearby police captain, the director he’d been speaking to leaned in with gusto. “That’s the problem with these modern dramas. Too quick to find a solution, they don’t drag out the story long enough, always interrupting a good scene with a cliffhanger. Psychotropic drugs indeed,” he snorted.

A cough from the nurse cut through their conversation, and all eyes returned to what was more important. “That’s why he wouldn’t stop when Senor Woodhouse shot him.”

“And what about the boys?” one of the female voices asked amongst the group.

“Taguchi needs to stay for a few more days for observation in case of infection, but all three will be fine.” There was a sigh of relief like a wave from one end to the other.

Inside one of the rooms of the hospital, Rodrigo and Tom had beds parallel to each other and similarly sported the winding caress of IVs and monitors along their bodies. Rodrigo, at least, had been conscious for a while and decided that he had had enough sleep. He looked over to the resting form of Tom gently receiving the nursing drip of hydrating liquid through a tube piercing his wrist. He felt like he had to say something, but he decided that the shared experience was enough for now. Tom would have to make that ultimate decision about his job later one when he was well.

It was then that the white and spotless screen gave way just a little and a man and woman entered. He knew it was not his parents—they had already been the first to visit him but it was two that merely looked similar in appearances.

“Antonio… Isabella…”

“Don’t force yourself,” Isabella said with a wide smile. All were quiet in respect to the other sleeping star. The young woman eased into the chair right next to the resting Rodrigo.

“I’m glad you two came… though it’s a pity Tom’s already asleep.”

“You weren’t as beat up as he was,” Antonio reminded him as he stood next to the sitting girl. Rodrigo could feel a strange dissonance in Antonio’s voice however—and it wasn’t fatigue. Looking to Isabella, there was nothing but a normal face greeting him. The smile she had was infectious.

“I’m sure I’ll be out of here in no time.”

“We’ll talk with the producers for you and make sure Armitage understands,” Isabella comforted while weaving recently washed hands against Rodrigo’s slightly tanned skin. Rodrigo had not the energy to properly respond but continued to beam that smile of his as much as he could to make up for silent words. His expression, however, did not seem to spark anything on Antonio’s face. Indeed, he seemed a bit distracted and it did not take long before Rodrigo’s eyes traced the line of sight—it was to Isabella’s left hand. More specifically in that little neighbourhood between the middle and pinky that attracted his attention. Looking up again to Antonio, Rodrigo could easily see the destitution behind those usually deep eyes on the man’s face.

So you couldn’t tell her then… I understand. But what did she tell you?, Rodrigo thought.

“We’ll leave you be for now… it’s late,” Isabella said as she tilted her head to one side.

Rodrigo merely nodded and watched the two exit together. It was only after their figures had passed out of the linen separation that he noticed the younger figure standing on the other side of the makeshift doorway. It was their newest actor… Alexander Cristiano Delphinium Gray.

“Long time no see,” Alexander said. “I was hoping to see you at the party, but…” he looked around and towards Tom, “apparently you were delayed.” The dryness in his voice was corrosive.

“What took you so long?” Rodrigo asked as he pulled himself upward onto the headboard.

“It’s not easy getting past the producers and directors…”

“It’s in his pants pocket,” Rodrigo interrupted Alexander. The standing young man held his breath indignantly for a second before walking to Tom’s tray and retrieved the small object within one of the rear pockets. “I don’t know why you had to do all that,” Alexander said, “You could have just gotten this and run off… You shouldn’t have jeopardized us with your sentimental rubbish.”

Rodrigo did not say anything to that. He did turn his head to Alexander holding the black object in his fingers before looking to his far left at the sleeping Thomas. “I don’t know either,” Rodrigo explained. “We’ll have to figure it out as we go along…There are some things that can only be explained at the very end…”
 

Avernite

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Rodrigo is still a double-faced annoying bugger, aye?

Pfft ;)

Also, interesting to note your christmas-story Isabella is still catholic, but that could be expected ;)
 

canonized

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Avernite said:
Rodrigo is still a double-faced annoying bugger, aye?

Pfft ;)

Also, interesting to note your christmas-story Isabella is still catholic, but that could be expected ;)

Haha . He is definitely a "Janus" alright XD

But why wouldn't Isabella be Catholic in the Christmas special anyway ?
 

Avernite

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canonized said:
But why wouldn't Isabella be Catholic in the Christmas special anyway ?

No idea, I just had nothing much else to comment on, and I dislike one-point replies to biggish updates.

But who's alexander? ;)
 

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Just popping in to say I still follow this... ;)
 

Specialist290

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...And I'm popping in to say that, although I haven't been following this much lately, I have two good reasons for not doing so:

1. School
2. Persona 3 (which I got for Christmas and am still playing)

Hopefully I'll be able to get started on this again soon. (Thankfully I have the last chapter I've read bookmarked.)

At any rate, I see you've been keeping up the good work :)
 

unmerged(59077)

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Hmmmmm whooo are you?

Who-who, who-who?
 

canonized

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Avernite: A new character coming up soon XD Especially since I hinted at Tom wanting to retire and all this . Not too much of a scandal about that though apparently XD

Mettermrck: Yepperoo ! You're on the money !

Murmurandus: Thank you for the pop XD hope you're doing well ! I really need more Belgians around here ROFL ROFL .

Specialist290: Thank you very much for coming by ! Always glad to see that old readers are still around XD . Take your time catching up and I do encourage you to comment as you go along since I do very much enjoy that . Lucky for you that the Christmas special is not exactly required material for the course so you could actually get by without having read it rofl rofl rofl so go ahead and catch up whenever you can and on your own pace !

RGB: XD I hate that song , actually . Try again !

Edit: 10 ducats to anyone who can actually get Davout to comment on the thread . He's been reading for forever now and he hasn't said a single word XD
 
Last edited:

Dysken

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EDIT: Ok, enough cheap laughs for now

I've been meaning to read this AAR for awhile now. And since canonized has expressed interest in interviewing me. I finally have an excuse to take time away from homework and spend more of it on paradoxplaza, more specifically this AAR. Keep up the good work.
 
Last edited:

Kurt_Steiner

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A Webley revolver... If it was a Webley .455 caliber MK. VI (1916), you're going to make my day, as it is one of my favourite British guns.

If not... Cardinal Ximenez...

Spanish_Inquisition_%28Monty_Python%29.jpg


...as fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency...

sigh...NESI, indeed...
 

Woody Man

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Kurt_Steiner said:
A Webley revolver... If it was a Webley .455 caliber MK. VI (1916), you're going to make my day, as it is one of my favourite British guns.

Kurt gets a Cookie!

It's my fave revolver too :D

Well, except possibly some of the 19th Century Colt and Smith and Wesson weapons..
 

Kurt_Steiner

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English Patriot said:
Kurt gets a Cookie!

It's my fave revolver too :D

Well, except possibly some of the 19th Century Colt and Smith and Wesson weapons..

The Enfield No 2 Mark 1 is also one of my faves, too, BTW. :p

Shall we see some baddie with a Mauser C96? :D Too obvious, perhaps? ;)
 

unmerged(62343)

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So Inspector Gray is a smoke belching, great war (GREAT WAR!) veteren, of graying hair, pouchy eyes, and bushy eyebrows? You are going to pay dearly young man...and it's gonna hurt!:p
 

Davout

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canonized said:
Edit: 10 ducats to anyone who can actually get Davout to comment on the thread . He's been reading for forever now and he hasn't said a single word XD

Patience, young Canonized. Save your ducats for a worthier cause.

I have seen AAR's come and go since the pre-release of the original Europa Universalis. I prefer waiting until an AAR has been going for a few years before commenting so that I know that it is not a flash in the pan. Which is why I enjoy Rensslaer's AARs so much.

However, as you have been going for almost a year now, and you are most persistent, I feel the time is right to comment, although it is most hasty.

I have been following this from the start and have enjoyed your work immensely. I have not commented before because every question from a chapter is replaced by new questions from your all too frequent updates.

I have some questions/comments/requests though:

- Antonio wearing a lavender shirt. Didn't this go out with the 70's or is it the case that disco never died in your AH?
- Psychotropic drugs. Is this a nod to School Hard? If so, it would have been nice if the doctor/nurse had been called Snyder.
- Eyes the colour of piss. As alarming as this simile already is, could you clarify whether we are talking about 5 Guinesses in an hour piss, or running 10 kilometres on a Summer's day piss.
- As I said, I love your work but can we have more descriptive detail when Nia is next on the scene. I know Isabella is a favourite around here but my predilictions go to tanned brunettes so a little more details about Nia's body entering the chamber (Christmas Pt 2) would be appreciated.
- Finally, who or what is XD and why do you refer to them/it so frequently in your posts.

Keep up the good work. Maybe I will comment again before the next 60,000 views.
 

unmerged(62343)

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Davout said:
- Finally, who or what is XD and why do you refer to them/it so frequently in your posts.

Davout, I'll answer this one since I posed the same question to him way back at the beginning of the story.

For some reason, canonized has a distinct prejudice against smileys. Just wont use them. He's old school in this regard and prefers to use the old text letter equivelents. XD is a squinty hard smile. If you look at it sideways, the X is the squinty eyes and the D is the big smile.

In the beginning I thought XD stood for Xavier Dogood.:D

Hope that clears it up for ya.
 

canonized

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Davout said:
Patience, young Canonized. Save your ducats for a worthier cause.

I have seen AAR's come and go since the pre-release of the original Europa Universalis. I prefer waiting until an AAR has been going for a few years before commenting so that I know that it is not a flash in the pan. Which is why I enjoy Rensslaer's AARs so much.

However, as you have been going for almost a year now, and you are most persistent, I feel the time is right to comment, although it is most hasty.

I have been following this from the start and have enjoyed your work immensely. I have not commented before because every question from a chapter is replaced by new questions from your all too frequent updates.

To our Dearest Davout ,

A ghost among our friends as old as thee
perhaps there is but one who equals you
among thy peers , as any one could see

but nonetheless it is from thy kind cue
that i address your ever fleeting hail
and hope that in the future thus ensue

your kind participation without fail
on our continued humble offering
with either compliment or thus a rail

it matters not so long as you do sing
of your great pleasures or of failures ours
and thus to your great insights i bid bring

For who could say that here we spend not hours
To raise great fellowship unto the stars !

Davout said:
I have some questions/comments/requests though:

- Antonio wearing a lavender shirt. Didn't this go out with the 70's or is it the case that disco never died in your AH?

Haha , some people are retro . Being actors in the Christmas special , they tend to have slightly ecclectic tastes .
- Psychotropic drugs. Is this a nod to School Hard? If so, it would have been nice if the doctor/nurse had been called Snyder.
Good grief , it's been forever since I've seen or even heard about Buffy .
- Eyes the colour of piss. As alarming as this simile already is, could you clarify whether we are talking about 5 Guinesses in an hour piss, or running 10 kilometres on a Summer's day piss.
LOL I think the first one , unfortunately . I wanted to channel some disgusting attributes to the crazy man .
- As I said, I love your work but can we have more descriptive detail when Nia is next on the scene. I know Isabella is a favourite around here but my predilictions go to tanned brunettes so a little more details about Nia's body entering the chamber (Christmas Pt 2) would be appreciated.
Haha . It's funny because I was hoping there would be more Nia fans out there . Although Isabella is definitely the default babe , Nia is more sultry and passionate . More .. naughty too in a way . Plus hitting on Rodrigo like that , tsk tsk XD .

- Finally, who or what is XD and why do you refer to them/it so frequently in your posts.

Keep up the good work. Maybe I will comment again before the next 60,000 views.

Haha , I think grayghost definitely answered this one best for me . And I definitely hope you do stick around ! I made a promise to finish this AAR and I won't do it for another year and a half . One of the reasons ? Because The ending just won't be as cool if it weren't that elaborate and long !
 

Murmurandus

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canonized said:
...
Murmurandus: Thank you for the pop XD hope you're doing well ! I really need more Belgians around here ROFL ROFL .

...

I'm fine thank you very much. :)

... but are you sure about more Belgians? There's always a risk you know... ;) :D