|The Gladiator |
POD: Mid-20th Century
Earliest Known POD: October-November, 1962
|Type of Appearance:||Direct POV|
|Nationality:||Italian People's Republic|
|Date of Birth:||2080|
Annarita Crosetti (b. 2080) was a young Milanese girl in an alternate where the Soviet Union won the Cold War. The daughter of a physician and a member of the Young Socialists' League, Annarita was an excellent student, and a solid (although not quite devout) communist.
She and her family shared an apartment with the Mazzilli family. Gianfranco Mazzilli was a year behind Annarita at Hoxha Polytechnic school. Gianfranco was not the student Annarita was, a fact that his parents never quite let him forget.
As a member of the Young Socialists' League, Annarita learned that a store called The Gladiator had become the target of political suspicion. Annarita was alarmed, as Gianfranco spent a great deal of time in the store playing the game Rails across Europe. She joined the committee created to look into The Gladiator, and took it upon herself to personally visit and investigate the store with Gianfranco. She observed Gianfranco play and conversed with a clerk, Eduardo Caruso, about the possible ideological issues the store might present. Caruso strongly argued that the store was not political, and that, while the games made use of capitalist notions, it only did so within the context of the game. He used the example of the continued toleration of religion to make his case.
Nonetheless, Annarita had her concerns. She approached her father with her concerns. Her father saw the basis of her worries, but ultimately convinced her to simply let the store stand. She took his advice, convincing her fellow committee member Ludovico Pagliarone to rule The Gladiator as ideologically sound, much to the anger of the third member of the committee, Maria Tenace, an ardent young communist.
Unfortunately, Maria was able to get the last word when a similar store, The Conductor's Cap, was shut down in Rome. The Gladiator was seized shortly after. While Annarita was disturbed by the course of events, she refused to let Maria get to her.
However, these problems paled when Eduardo Caruso, left behind when the The Gladiator was seized, appeared to plead for help from Gianfranco and Annarita. She brought Caruso story to her father, who agreed to help him, passing Eduard off as a distant cousin.
Caruso shared the truth with the Crosettis and Gianfranco. He was from another timeline. The Gladiator had been established by Crosstime Traffic in Milan to quietly and subtly spread ideas of capitalism in their world. Dr. Crosettis agreed to shelter Caruso until he could get to San Marino, where Crosstime Traffic had one other store called The Three Sixes.
In the meantime, Annarita and Gianfranco began spending more time together, sharing Caruso's secret, which led to the stirrings of romantic interest. They also played Rails across Europe a great deal, and discussed the differences between Caruso's timeline and theirs. While Annarita was intrigued by many of the freedoms the world offered, she still saw many virtues in her own world.
Both youths were pleased to come home one day and discover that the elevator in their building, broken for as long as anyone could remember, was finally being repaired. They had a few words with the repairmen, Rocco and Giulio, who did their job and left. However, as Annarita thought about it, it occurred to her that the repairmen, from a company called By the Arch Repairs, headquartered in Rimini, might have been Crosstime employees.
In the summer, after school was out, both the Mazzillis and the Crosettis (Eduardo Caruso in tow) headed to Rimini for a vacation. This allowed Annarita, Gianfranco and Eduardo to slip over to San Marino. Unfortunately, after a brief exchange with the employees of The Three Sixes, Caruso realized that the store had already fallen into the Italian Security Police's hands.
Annarita directed Caruso to By the Arch Repairs. Here, Caruso was able to connect with Rocco and Giulio. While they were glad to find someone else from their timeline, they still had the problem of how to get home: the transporter was still hidden in The Three Sixes.
The Crosstimers, Annarita and Gianfranco decided that the best way to get into the store was to get the Security Police out. Knowing how fiercely San Marino defended its autonomy, Gianfranco informed his father, a mid-level Party member that The Three Sixes was spreading capitalism. Mazzilli brought this to the attention of the Sammarinese police. The Mazzillis and Annarita returned to the store with two Sammarinese officers. This blew the cover of the Italian Security Police, who were angered at the upstart Sammarinese officials. In turn, the Sammarinese were angered that their country's sovereignty had been so boldly violated by Italy.
In the confusion, the Crosstimers, who'd been "browsing" in the store, were supposed to sneak into the basement and escape. However, their presence was noted. When the Sammarinese moved to arrest them, Eduardo took Gianfranco "hostage". The Crosstimers and Gianfranco fled into the basement and transported back to the home timeline.
Annarita's family and Gianfranco's parents returned home. Relations were tense as Annarita's "cousin" had turned out to be a criminal. However, Gianfranco (after a brief time in Caruso's alternate) returned home safe and sound. Privately, she and Gianfranco discussed what he'd been able to see in that other timeline. He described how criticism of political leaders was quite open and public, and that people weren't as inclined to believe in the near omnipotence of the state they were in their world. While Annarita found these ideas admirable, she did feel compelled to defend her own world, and suggested that their world did a better job of taking care of people.
Annarita began her senior year at Hoxha. She was chagrined to learn that her would-be enemy, Maria Tenace, was running for president of the Young Socialists' League, but resigned to Tenace's victory, until several of her fellow members convinced her to run. Annarita, heartened by their support, ran and won, earning her further hatred from Maria Tenace.
Annarita and Gianfranco's relationship continued to blossom. After school started both noted a new bookstore was opening in The Gladiator's old location. Both were hopeful that Crosstime Traffic was trying again.