(A/N): The following prequel vignette (that's Old School for "one-shot") first appeared on the Total Drama Fanfiction wikia in February 2010 as part of the Fake Souls multi-author anthology, and was my first attempt at a dialogue-heavy story. (My normal style is description-rich and relatively dialogue-light.) This port has minor revisions from the original, and the footnotes were not present in the original. The anthology's premise was that the cast, including Chris and Chef Hatchet, had to make fundamental changes to who they are—names, appearances, even personalities—to appear on the show, much as professional actors often must.

After producing Total Drama Island, Fresh TV produced a dubbed, French-language version for the Quebec Francophone market. This version included French text in the titles.

The vignette presented here reverses the show's production history, treating the French version as the original and the English version as the dub, because none of the previous contributors had done that and because doing so set up a couple of in-jokes as well as taking the anthology's premise to a new level.


RISE OF THE DRAGON QUEEN

Brianna's cell phone clamored for attention. The distinctive ringtone identified the caller as her BFF, Kelsey.

Brianna flipped open her phone. "Hey, Kels, what's up?"

Kelsey, the excitement audible in her voice, came right to the point. "Guess what, Bree? I scored a spot on that reality show!"

"I am so jealous," Brianna admitted. "Maybe we could have been on it together if I'd met the requirements. Why they only wanted people who can speak French is beyond me." Brianna was rehashing, as she had told Kelsey of that bitter disappointment when it first struck.

"I guess the show's going to air in Quebec," Kelsey speculated.

"Yeah, but if that's the case, why didn't they just hire a bunch of Quebecois?" Brianna pressed. "They could have gotten all the French speakers they wanted, with a lot less trouble. Plus, they'd have people who speak French as their first language, instead of their second or third." Brianna was getting exercised about her disappointment, and not for the first time. "I mean, come on! Why on earth are they trolling for Francophones in B.C.?"[1,2]

"I dunno," Kelsey confessed. "Maybe they didn't want everyone to have the same accent.

"Anywho, it's not going to be quite what we expected. I thought the point of reality shows was for people to be themselves, but the producers want me to be something completely different."

"How so?" Brianna asked, her curiosity piqued and her disappointment forgotten for the nonce.

"The person they want me to be is a real piece of work," Kelsey explained. "A real queenie, totally full of herself and slimy to boot. But, hey, for a shot at a hundred grand, I'm willing to be Marie Antoinette for eight weeks, as long as I don't have to date Monsieur Guillotine. Who knows, it might still be fun."

Brianna was feeling much better about not having gotten her proverbial chance at bat. She would have loved to be on a reality show, but as herself. She had no aspirations to an acting career, but she knew Kelsey did. Kelsey had had significant roles in several school plays, including the title role in Iolanthe, the Spring musical;[3] and although she had just finished her sophomore year, she was widely regarded as the best actress at their school. No longer envious, Brianna was now feeling unreservedly happy for her BFF.

"Well, I heard somewhere that most actors like to play villains," Brianna suggested. Y'know, maybe the real purpose of this 'reality show' is to check out wannabe actors. I mean, that's pretty much what Survivor turned into, isn't it?"

"Maybe," Kelsey allowed. "The more I think about it, the more this feels like a regular scripted TV show, only without the script. Maybe they are looking for improv actors.

"Anyway, there's more. They're giving me a fetch makeover. I'm going to have an array of cosmetics you wouldn't believe."

Now Brianna was confused. "But you never wear makeup," she pointed out. Kelsey was known for a well-scrubbed, unpretentious look. T-shirts or tank tops, jeans and sneakers were her usual attire.

"The reason I never wear makeup," Kelsey explained, "is that I was never any good at applying it. I always came out looking like a painted cat." Kelsey virtually spat those last words, so thick was her distaste for that ill-fated experimentation in her middle school years. "But the producers assure me that they're going to teach me how to do it right. If this were a regular show, they'd just have somebody apply it for me; but since I'm going to be on camera pretty much 24/7, I need to know how to do it for myself."

"Wow. You're going to have to teach me when you get back," Brianna pleaded. Unlike Kelsey, Brianna did use makeup regularly, but her skill in applying it was average at best.

"Of course," Kelsey replied with the air of one stating the obvious.

Kelsey continued her litany of perks. "I'm also going to get a major wardrobe upgrade. It seems my 'Queen of France' persona will be very fashion-conscious. It's going to be designer everything, but mostly on the skimpy side."

"Well, you've got the body for it," Brianna observed. Kelsey was tall, slim and leggy, with skin that would be at home in a moisturizer commercial; and her chest, while not exceptional, was worthy of her other features.

Brianna, while still happy for her friend, was starting to feel envious again. Kelsey was already pretty, and it was starting to sound like the promised makeover could turn her into a genuine traffic-stopper. Brianna had to remind herself that these perks were coming at a price—a complete personality change—that she would not have been willing to pay.

"So," Brianna continued, "is there anything about you that they're not changing?"

"Well," Kelsey replied, pondering for a moment, "they're not making me change my hair color, but they're giving me 30-centimeter extensions."

This just gets better and better, Brianna thought. Kelsey's hair was already long, and adding another 30 cm would bring it roughly to her waist.

In her mind's eye, the image-conscious Brianna was getting a clear picture of her friend post-makeover. Kelsey was of mixed race, inheriting a fair complexion from her father's Germanic lineage, with almond eyes and jet-black hair courtesy of her mother's Asian stock.

"Sounds like they're going for a 'dragon lady' look," Brianna surmised, "or maybe a comic book femme fatale."

"That's kind of what I gathered," Kelsey agreed. "Oh, and people won't be calling me 'Kelsey' on the show. We're all getting French names, or at least French-sounding, and so …" Kelsey adopted an exaggeratedly formal tone and an equally exaggerated French accent as she concluded, "You may address me as 'Marilou'."[4]

Brianna considered her response for a moment, and declaimed, as if making an announcement to a crowd, "Presenting Marilou, Dragon Queen of … France." In a normal tone, she added, "That just sounds so wrong. Whatever. When do you start?"

"Pretty much right away. I'm at the airport now. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say proper goodbyes, but the producers probably didn't want us talking about it too much beforehand. It's kind of cloak-and-dagger, really. In fact, I probably shouldn't be talking to you about it now, but they didn't come right out and say I couldn't, and I couldn't resist.

"Oh, and there's something else you're not going to believe," Kelsey added mysteriously. "One of the other contestants is from this area, and I actually know her. She doesn't go to our school, but the French Club sometimes does things with the clubs from other schools. That's how we met. We're not like BFF close, but we chat sometimes and we occasionally hang together. Her name's Jenna,[5] but her French name will be 'Joelle'. She's so sweet, you have no idea."

"So, naturally, she's going to be a nasty street punk or something," Brianna suggested.

"Close," Kelsey confirmed. "She's actually going to be a surly Goth."

Is there any other kind? Brianna thought, but she said only, "well, at least she'll have a pretty name," with the air of one making a major concession. Neither Brianna nor Kelsey cared much for either the Goth aesthetic or the Goth worldview.

"Do you know what kinds of perks she's getting?" Brianna inquired.

"She's getting some nice clothes, too. Of course, her outfits have to be things a Goth would wear, but they apparently won't be too extreme. Jenna, er, Joelle does like dark color schemes well enough, so she'll be able to wear her stuff after the show's done shooting.

"She's getting one other nice perk. She has an interest in art, drawing and suchlike, and she has some talent. The producers apparently decided to play up that aspect, because she's going to get some high-powered tutoring on her technique.

"Anyway, I ran into her here at the airport. Turns out we have the same flight. I'm sure the producers would never have done that if they'd had any idea we were acquainted."

"You know," Brianna suggested thoughtfully, "to keep ratings up, the producers of these elimination games like to keep the villain and the villain's main enemy around for as long as possible. It sounds like you're already slated to be the villain, or a least a villain, but if you and 'Joelle' behave like mortal enemies, that might be the best way to insure that you both get deep into the game."[6]

"We're way ahead of you," Kelsey declared with a smirk that Brianna, perforce, could not see. "We did a little horse trading with some other passengers so we could sit together on the flight. That will give us a chance to practice a little 'enemies' role-playing, not to mention our immersion French.

"Well, gotta run. Our flight just announced pre-boarding. Wish me luck!"

"Knock 'em dead,[7] 'Marilou'. Bye."

"Bye."


Epilogue

"Marilou Antoinette" did indeed score a date with "Monsieur Guillotine", after a fashion. It was not a guillotine, exactly, and her head was not the part she lost, but … well, the hair extensions were nice while they lasted. Oh, how she suffered for the Craft.[8]


NOTES:

[1] A Francophone is a person who speaks French, especially as their first or only language. "B.C." is the common abbreviation for the Canadian province of British Columbia, and is also the province's postal code.

[2] In one of the Season 2 promos, Heather mentions that she lives in Whistler, a resort town about 125 km north of Vancouver, B.C. Whistler's ski area, called Whistler Blackcomb, is the largest ski area in North America and was the venue for the alpine skiing events of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

[3] The author's stories normally have at least one Gilbert & Sullivan reference, and this is it. Iolanthe is the seventh Gilbert & Sullivan operetta (sixth in the "main sequence") and the author's favorite.

[4] The Quebec Francophone dub changed most of the character names. Some of the French names were simple transliterations (e.g. Katie and Sadie became Katrina and Sandrine), while others were completely different (e.g. Owen became Gontran and Duncan became Hugo). TDI's French-language website had a complete listing of the cast's French names.

[5] The author's primary hobby is sports photography at his former high school. The characters in this story (Kelsey, Brianna, and the unseen Jenna) are named after girls who were on the school's basketball teams during the 2009-10 season.

[6] In case anyone was not able to figure it out, "Marilou" is Heather's name in the Quebec dub, and "Joelle" is Gwen's. Brianna is an original character.

[7] An enthusiastically received performance is said to have knocked the audience dead.

[8] Kelsey/Marilou/Heather suffering for the (thespian) Craft alludes to her grand humiliation during the dare challenge, and specifically to the iconic head shaving scene.


(A/N): The next chapter will contain a minor spoiler for the upcoming (26th Night) chapter of the author's TDI reimagining, The Legend of Total Drama Island, and so will be posted shortly after that chapter appears.