Previously in A Corporate Conspiracy… Darwin confronted Marie Gray about her having him followed and what her intensions were. Instead of getting the answers he wanted, he got his father and brother in-law fired and had his life threatened. Now armed with positive knowledge that she was up to something very sinister Darwin was forced to celebrate the birth of his first son knowing for certain that his family could be in great danger. Melinda once again ventured into dangerous territory looking for that big story that could give her the edge over the other reporters at the Pleasant View Times and win her that much coveted promotion. Her trip led her to discover that somehow the intelligent and lovely Heidi Swenson had become the city’s newest crime fighter Captain Hero and a promised interview was a sure bet in getting that investigative reporter position. Now. Well, not really now. Just a little bit in the future. Let’s rewind a bit…
Jason’s new office at SFO labs… The candles flickered momentarily as Jason sat down to try and meditate. The new office had plenty of space for all the mirrors and mystical doo dads that any aspiring warlock could want. The room was great but it came at a high price. Stanley James, the former head of SFO Paranormal R&D Lab had been fired along with George James, Stanley’s son in-law. This left a lot of open office space and the head scientist position vacant.
On paper the firings were due to the “misappropriation of scientific research materials” specifically some newly modified smart milk that George took home to give to his youngest daughter Brooke. In reality, they were fired for insinuating that the owner of the company was somehow directly involved in the deaths of Circe and Loki Beaker and the stock holder’s board of trustee’s who died when their plane crashed. The four of them; Stanley, George, Darwin and himself, knew the risks of such an aggressive action and were prepared to accept the consequences in the hopes that they might catch Miss Gray off guard and get her to reveal some part of her big plan. But she was as illusive as ever and even went so far as to threaten Darwin’s life right to his face. All of these events made it very hard for Jason to focus on his meditation. His mind wandered and he would have to try and let go of all the confusion and worry only to have it intrude once again.
Jason sighed and doubled his efforts to clear his mind. Now was not the time to be blinded by confusion. Focus Jason, you’ve done this at least a thousand times by now. The minutes passed and gradually his ability to see into the future began to work. But things were different now. He could see Darwin’s wife Cassidy giving birth to twins. He could see Melinda and Heidi Swenson discussing costumed law enforcement and for some reason Goopy Gilscarbo, regional director of SFO Corp. was there too. But all the while there was this dark specter hanging off in the distance. No face to see, just a shadow that seemed to suck in all the light around it. And for some disturbing reason, Jason was quite sure he had met this specter before. Jason’s eyes opened as he lost his concentration and he sighed. “I’m not going to be able to figure this out by myself. I guess I really will be going to Canada.” His attempts to scry thwarted by too many questions, Jason stood and began making arrangements to head north.
Somewhere in the deep forests of Canada, a few days later… Adeline’s cabin was as comforting as ever. She and her students lived a very simple existence up here. No fancy castle or showy magic. No electricity either. The students learned to take care of those things that modern conveniences brought through magic. Jason had spent a fair amount of time here in the past and if he called any place home, this would be it.
Adeline never aged. Every time he arrived he was stunned by her very unchanging visage. He was also wise enough to never ask her what her secret was. Some things you just don’t ask a lady about. “ It’s good to see you Jason. You look well. At least you have been eating properly unlike the time when you returned from Egypt all skinny and pale.” “ That time really shouldn’t count. I was attacked by a mummy and was sick for days before I got back here. I think I had a good excuse to look terrible.” “ How is your friend doing? The man with the nightmares.” “ As far as I know the potion has been working for him. He hasn’t reported any problems though he is kind of going through a rough patch right now with his wife passing on and his being fired from his job. If he’s going to have any problems, now would be the time. Which makes my having to come up here a bit inconvenient.”
“ Not that not I’m glad to see you, but why are you here?” “ A while back you said that the elders thought I wasn’t ready to learn certain things. I’m now a master of the neutral arts and I’m finding that my visions aren’t letting me learn what we really need to know. I need to know the truth. I need to speak with Aranhkil.” “ He doesn’t accept visits from just anybody.” “ I would think he should be expecting me. After all, it was him that said I should keep an eye on Darwin and now I’m really having trouble doing that. The big things are just slipping away from me. And there’s more… For a few months now I’ve been seeing a shadowy form that I can’t identify and I think he is really dangerous. To everyone.” “ I suppose we can go and try to see him in the morning. Just be prepared to be disappointed.”
“ Aranhkil can’t sit up here in the woods and do nothing anymore. He and the other elders have the power to stop people like Marie Gray in their tracks but instead they hide in their groves and temples and talk about the concepts of right and wrong but never really do anything about it. It’s about time they contributed to the world again.” Adeline felt a jolt of anger, “You have no idea what you are talking about. The elves and fairy folk have been decimated to the point where they are almost extinct. They have no armies with which to fight and no resistance to the banality of the modern world even if they did. To fight means they die and all their knowledge dies with them.” “ Well, they have to do something.”
“ You will just have to accept what help they do offer and be grateful for it. Now, let me go fix you some dinner. I have some fresh tomatoes from my garden that are just begging to be put in a salad. Jason watched her get up and head into the kitchen. He had all the respect in the world for Adeline but she has spent a lot of time hiding away from the real world in her little valley. She couldn’t possibly have any real idea about how bad things really were. An all too familiar voice interrupted his train of thought. “You’ve come back.”
Jason looked up at the witch in front of him and stood to meet her gaze. “Hannah? You look great.” “ I am not fond of my robes. They lack the bright colors I am used to.” Hannah stared at him intently and a sad look came over her face. “You did come here to see me. Something haunts your visions.” It no longer surprised him that Hannah could pick out his emotions so easily. She always could. “I have this awful feeling that something terrible is about to happen but I’m not able to pin point the cause. I’m afraid my friends are in serious danger. I came hoping that Aranhkil could offer me some kind of guidance or at least point me in the right direction.” “ Aranhkil rarely helps humans. The only way he might is if the stakes are much bigger than just your friends.”
Jason found himself staring into her bottomless green eyes as she spoke. As usual he found himself helpless against the increase in heart rate that a look from Hannah always caused in him. Hannah blushed and looked down, “Why are you staring at me Jason?” “ I can’t help myself. You become more beautiful every time I see you.” “ Then why is it that you come to see me so rarely?” “ Because my life is so complicated right now and my feelings about you will only help to make things more confusing.” She leaned closer, “You have feelings for me?” She was so close that he could smell the scent of jasmine in her hair. With a resolute sigh he responded, “Very much so.” The pairs romantic trance was interrupted by Adeline’s call to dinner and Jason resolved right then that he really needed to reconsider his choice to avoid Hannah in the future.
The next morning dawned bright and clear and Adeline and Jason made their way to the Temple of the Four Elements. An ancient structure that was dedicated to the study of the four base elemental forces in the universe and the current home of an elder elf named Aranhkil and a pixie named Laishma. Adeline paused on the bridge that crossed the stream in front of the temple and motioned for Jason to stop. “Try to remember that while they look no older than you, both Aranhkil and Laishma have lived for centuries. They often see things from a very different point of view because time passes so differently for them.” “ Don’t worry, I’ll mind my manners.” He surveyed the massive stone structure in front of him. It was obvious that the building was well tended for. “No doors. This place must get cold in the winter.” “ They do not seem to be bothered by such things. Let’s see if anyone is here.” The pair continued across the bridge and up the steps to the temple.
They were promptly greeted by Laishma who hugged Adeline and politely inquired how things had been. Jason watched the two exchange gossip like any two perfectly normal sims. The irony being that they both were quite far from being normal. He had never actually seen a pixie before but knew from his studies that their race had many different skin tones and only a very few had the fancy wings that so many normals believed all pixies have. If that normal happened to believe in pixies.
Laishma was a rather famous pixie as he understood it. She spent a great deal of time in the past sailing the seas and exploring the world. Most pixies were said to stay close to where they were born but every now and then one was born with wanderlust. “ You must be the Jason I’ve heard so much about. I was told you were handsome and they weren’t lying.” Jason felt himself blush at her intense stare. “And you are Laishma. Adventurer and pirate. It’s nice to finally put a face to the name. The illustrations in the one book I have that mentions you doesn’t do you any justice.” “ Isn’t he the charmer”, She said to Adeline. “ Oh definitely. It’s his best talent.” Laishma smiled, “You are expected. I suspect you will find Aranhkil around back by the pond. There is a particularly large trout he has been trying to catch all season. Adeline, let’s have some tea and let the boys talk.”
So I am expected. Maybe I can finally get a few answers. It wasn’t hard to find the pond or the dark skinned elf who was patiently trying to lure the fish in it.
Jason approached silently and was a bit surprised when the elf spoke. “Hello Jason.” “ You have very good hearing. Laishma said that you were expecting me.” Aranhkil twitched the fishing pole hoping the movement would catch the attention of the fish. “I am. Though I’m not sure that you are ready for what is to come.” Confused by the cryptic statement Jason just watched him fish. “ You aren’t curious what I mean by that statement?” “ I suspect you will get around to explaining it in your own time.” Aranhkil smiled a half smile and started reeling in his line. With a sigh he put the pole down. “I just can’t seem to convince him to take the bait.” “ Have you tried a different bait?”
“ Oh yes. Dozens. That fish will always come investigate but then swims away to search for other food leaving the other less wise fish to fall for the lure.” “ Is that supposed to mean something?” “ It means I have a very smart fish inhabiting my pond. That is all. You came to ask me something. Why don’t we sit and talk for a while and I will try to give you some help with your questions. The answer to your scrying difficulties however, will not be found here with me though I can send you to those who can help you.” The two settled down in the chairs behind them and for a long time neither man spoke. Aranhkil sat quietly with his eyes half closed while Jason fidgeted in his seat waiting for the elder to say something. Anything.
Finally Jason couldn’t stand the silence any longer. “You once told me that when I was ready you would explain what was going on in Pleasant View to me. Well, I’m ready.” The elf’s eyes popped open, “Are you now? How can you be sure?” “ I’ve learned everything a warlock of the neutral order can learn. I am considered a master. I can cast dozens of spells at a whim. I’ve befriended and monitored the James family for years now and know pretty much anything one needs to know about them. I’ve even kept tabs, to the best of my ability, on this Marie Gray who you called, and I quote, “she devil”. I need to know more. I need to know what is really going on.”
“ Master warlock?” Aranhkil chuckled, “How can you consider yourself a “Master” when your education is only one-third complete.” “ What do you mean? I learned everything Adeline wanted me to learn. I’m her best student.” “ Be very careful about how you see yourself child. Pride can be a very dangerous thing to one such as yourself.” The elf’s face relaxed and he leaned back in the chair with his eyes once again half closed. “Tell me about your half breed friend. He has taken on the mantle of white magic, yes?” “ Yes.” “ Is he good at it?” Jason shrugged, “Better than average I suppose. I don’t see how…” “ And his ability to speak with spirits? Has he mastered this yet?”
Jason frowned. Then he remembered his place in the hierarchy of mages. Losing his temper would succeed in gaining him nothing. “He’s quite good at it actually. He practices frequently with the plants living near his home and has developed some skill in dealing with the mechanical spirits as well. He also told me that he can detect when someone is lying as well.” Aranhkil nodded, “Were circumstances different, I would have very much liked to meet him. His gifts are rare even among my people.” “ That could be arranged.” “ Ah, but the circumstances have not changed.” “ What circumstances? To be honest Master, I’m finding all this secrecy to be quite annoying and incredibly inconvenient. You asked me to do a job but you won’t give me the tools I need to do it properly.” It was pushy and Jason noted the mild annoyance that crossed Aranhkil’s face.
The dark elf closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “You have much stubbornness in you but our need is desperate and so I must risk showing you the path you must follow to learn the truth. Even though it could mean the end of you.” The pause was painful but finally the elf continued, “What do you notice about the trees that we sit between?” Looking up at the fully leafed branches of the living willow and the rotting ones of the tree behind his back, “ One is alive and green and the other appears to be dead.” “ Appears?” “ I’ve learned from experience that things that look dead can still be quite active. I never assume.” “ That lesson will serve you well in the future. In truth, this tree is quite dead. Her spirit has been destroyed and rot eats away at her heart. Soon her branches will crack and fall away.” The elf’s face looked quite sad at the prospect.
“ I’m sorry, but what does a rotting tree have to do with this?” “ Everything! It has everything to do with the matter at hand. One half of our world is rotting away and we can do nothing to stop it.” “ This concerns the potential extinction of the elves and other fae creatures doesn’t it?” “ It concerns a war that began long ago and wages on yet today though not a single army has set foot to the field of battle in more than two millennia. The few of us that are left hide in the sacred and hidden places such as this temple in a desperate attempt to survive.” “ How can you have a war if there are no battles? How do you even know that your enemy still even exists?” “ Oh they still exist.” The elf looked up at the cloudless sky and sighed sadly. “They have chosen a new form of war that we fae are not capable of combating. Our magics fail and our very selves are torn asunder under the assault.”
Jason sat quietly waiting for the elf to continue and when it seemed that he wasn’t going to, “How am I supposed to help? I’m just one sim. And how is Darwin involved? He wouldn’t hurt a fly.” “ I wouldn’t be so certain of that. By the nature of his birth your friend has inherited some quite unique attributes that this woman, Marie Gray seeks to harness for her own ends. Mark me. She will use him to build an army that will trample the earth beneath their boots. You can not stop that.” That explained her desire for samples of Darwin’s DNA but why does she care about Darwin’s personal life? Aranhkil’s fatalistic statement didn’t escape Jason’s notice. “If my ability to see bits of the future has taught me anything, it’s that nothing is written in stone until it comes to pass. Things can be changed if one has the courage to act.” “ An interesting statement. Do you have that courage Jason? Do you have the courage to stare into the eyes of a God and challenge their actions?”
“ Do I have the courage to stop a woman who has people killed at a whim and hides behind lies and deceit? Yes. Facing a deity is not something I’ve ever considered… If it were for the common good then I suppose the answer is yes.” “ Even if it means… losing your life?” Jason paused, as any sane sim would do. He had no ability to see his future. That had always been hidden to him. And while he wasn’t the suicidal type such a risk to save the lives of so many was something he had to seriously consider. Besides, it appeared to him that Aranhkil had taken a somewhat one sided view of the matter. Jason knew better. Things could be changed. There were always other options. “If I say yes are you going to actually help me?” Aranhkil smiled an almost evil smile. “Of course I will help you. I said that I would help you find the path and I said that I would answer your questions. I think that you should first go and meet some very special people.” He gestured to the delicate wine glass that had been sitting on the table the entire time.
Jason stood and lifted the glass to smell the potion that swirled within it. “What’s in it?” “ Elderberry wine and a special mixture of funguses that aid in separating the mind from the body along with some willow bark extract to help with the inevitable headache you will have when you return.” “ And where am I going?” “ To meet those who can tell you the truth and set you on your path. When you return you will be greatly changed, as are all who seek the wisdom of the Makers.” “ The Makers? I’ve heard that name before. These Makers will tell me everything?” “ The Makers are the truth and they will tell you what they believe you will need to know. When you awaken… If you awaken, we will speak again.” Jason considered the risks before boldly downing the glass in one swallow. No risk, no gain.
The potion only took a few seconds to take effect and he slumped to the ground unconscious. Now…
Aranhkil stood over Jason’s motionless body and watched for signs of continued life. Jason’s breathing and heart rate were greatly slowed but he was still alive. “Have a safe journey young one and beware the ones who stalk the night. They may not be pleased to see you.” The elf knelt and despite his slight frame easily lifted Jason from the ground to carry him into the Temple.
Once inside he gently laid Jason so his head rested on the floor cushion of the tea table and waited for the ladies to come over.
Adeline grimaced at the sight of Jason’s unconscious body. “Is he all right?” “ He is traveling. We must keep his body safe until he is able to return to it.” “ We can take him back to my cabin. My students and I can look after him. It’s not like we haven’t done it before.” Aranhkil nodded in agreement. “How long will he be gone?” Aranhkil adjusted Jason’s arms to a more natural position as he spoke, “That depends on him and those he seeks the council of. It could be a few days or a few months. Some have traveled for even longer and a few have never returned. Though I do not suspect that we need to worry about that.” Laishma stared at Jason’s sleeping form closely measuring his breathing. Then it occurred to her, “Who’s going to keep an eye on things in his place?”
Adeline was quick to respond, “Jason told me that he had sent his familiar out to organize the cats in Pleasant View. They can be our eyes.” “ But not our fists. We need someone who can act. Someone we can trust.” Aranhkil frowned, “For now we must rely on the eyes of those we trust that are already in place. It is far too dangerous right now for anyone from the outside to intrude into the matter.” “ But what if something happens?” “ Then we must make the best of that situation. Let us hope that Jason returns with the answers he feels that he needs.” Back in Pleasant View…
Heidi Swenson was trying to work and maintain some semblance of normalcy in her routines. Keeping her secret had all of the sudden become much harder as both Jason Gross and Melinda James had discovered her alter ego of Captain Hero. Secrecy was tantamount to her mission but as trustworthy as Jason and Melinda might be, the mission now seemed to be in jeopardy. And she had nothing to do with the problem. She had stayed out of view any time she was in costume and she most certainly wasn’t trying to clean up crime in Pleasant View’s industrial area as Mel had suggested. “ Someone else is responsible for this mess and I plan I finding out who it is.” She opened up the police blotter and began looking at the crimes Mel had mentioned for any clues to help.
About that time G stepped into the office and casually leaned against the wall bracing his foot on the antique oak paneling, a cheesy grin on his face. “I’m glad to see you in the office so early Heidi. I was a little concerned that you might be late this morning.” His voice startled her and she quickly closed down the screen on the computer, “Oh?” “ Yes, I mean after parading around Ike’s in a pair of way to tight jeans and a naval exposing shirt I thought you might be a little tired. “Lola”.” Shit! “You recognized me too?” “ Yep. I overheard your conversation with Miss James as well.” G crossed the office and slumped into a chair. “ You couldn’t have possibly over heard us over the juke box…” She jumped up from the desk.
“ You’re the imposter.” “ The what?” He casually plucked a piece of lint from his slacks “ The vigilante that has been dressing up as Captain Hero.” He looked up at her and smiled, “Yes. And so are you. I find that an amazing coincidence.” “ You don’t even try to deny it?”
“ Why should I? I told you that I always dreamed of being the Captain. My coming to work here just slowed me down a bit. I have to wonder about you though. I’m surprised we hadn’t figured it out a bit sooner. I have never seen you on the street or the roof tops.” “ I have orders to stay out of sight.” “ From who?” “ I don’t think I can tell you that. It’s classified and you aren’t even sanctioned through PVPD.”
G smiled as she sat down in the chair next to him. “What are the odds that the only two superheroes in the whole town both ended up working here.” “ Pretty high considering what Gray appears to be up to.” “ I had no idea until this weekend. You hid yourself really well. For a while there I thought you worshipped the ground she walked on.” “ Thank you. Though my performance was not good enough apparently as both Jason and Melinda have figured me out. No thanks to you. Your activity around Ike’s caught Mel’s attention. Now I have to do an interview with her to keep her quiet.” “ No you don’t. She’s a smart lady. Explain things to her honestly and she’ll be cooperative. Her family has been affected by Gray’s activities too.”
“ I appreciate your advice but we are not going to be working together. My superiors would never allow it.” “ Why not? I can do everything you can do.” “ You haven’t had the proper training and don’t even get me started on where you happened to get hold of the super serum. If I report you, and mind you I’m obligated to do so, you will be arrested and thrown in jail.”
“ Not going to happen.” “ And why not? You’ve broken the law and jeopardized my mission.” “ Because we make a good team. Scratch that, a great team and you need my help.” “ I do not need your help.” “ Think about it this way, if I become just a bit more public as the Captain, no one will even suspect that you are one too. Traditionally there is only one at any given time. You’ll be free to continue your investigation and I get to bust some heads. It’s win-win.” “ I don’t know… I really should report you.” “ Call Miss James and set up a time to talk to her. I will go with you. Pleasant View only has one superhero and that’s me. She can write her article and draw attention away from you.”
“ That’s going to put you in a lot of danger.” “ We’re not going to publish my name. Maybe a well posed picture but that’s it. It’ll work.” “ Well… We will have to explain everything to Mel. She won’t believe that I turn into a guy when I put on my costume. That means she will know your secret too.” “ Ugh! Bad image!”
Elsewhere… normal life was continuing on. Darwin gently lifted his son up out of the crib. It was hard to believe how quickly the time had past since Decker was born. And yet today was the little baby’s birthday.
“ Isn’t he awesome Dad? I mean, it’s such a cool thing how we go from being so tiny to being able to crawl and explore the world.” “ Yeah. Babies are little miracles all right.” Darwin couldn’t help but catch the sarcasm in Stanley’s voice. “What’s wrong Dad. You've been awfully down for the last few weeks.” “ It’s nothing. I suppose I just really miss your mother and I’m worried about Jason being out of town for so long.” “ I’m not as good at magic as he is but between Trista, Cassidy and myself we should be able to handle just about anything that comes along. And as for missing Mom… I think that’s supposed to be normal. The two of you spent most of your lives together. It’s logical that you would miss her.” About then Cassidy came up and interrupted, “If you two don’t mind, I’m not feeling real well. Let’s get things moving.”
Darwin passed his son off to Cassidy and he and Stanley rejoined Melinda and the others downstairs for the party.
After a quick diaper change, Cassidy and Decker made their appearance downstairs. Cassidy’s stomach rolled at the sight of the sugar laden cake. “Let’s make this quick folks before I need to make another trip to the bathroom.”
The day before she had spent most of her time either asleep or vomiting. And while she was happy to be expecting again, it was awfully hard to deal with morning sickness and a baby at the same time.
As far as Decker was concerned, all the noise and fuss was a bit annoying. The light from the candles was interesting though. It was far better than the lavender ceiling in his room. “ Okay. Ready little man?” Cassidy knelt and blew out the candles but not before having to grab Decker’s hand to prevent him from grabbing at the flames.
The family cheered and shouted as Cassidy tossed the boy into the air. When he came back down…
“ Oh! Dar he must take after your other father. I hope he grows out of those cheeks.”
Stanley was quick to add, “He most likely will. Darwin wasn’t the cutest toddler either.” Decker was set down on the floor and promptly began exploring the house. Weaving in between the forest of legs to look at the shiny handles on the cabinets and his reflection in the TV screen. The party was meaningless to him.
“ Eww gross! Can’t you guys stop that?” Kira wasn’t impressed with her Mom and Dad’s behavior or the fact that her uncle and aunt were behaving the same way. Stanley watched his children with pride. “Some day you may not mind so much about the kissing and what not. In fact your birthday is coming up really soon then you will be chasing the boys around wanting them to kiss you.” This got George’s attention, “Not until she’s eighteen. Maybe. Kira, no kissing boys unless Daddy says it’s okay. Alright?” “ No problem. It’s disgusting.”
Back at home Kira met up with her little sister Brooke and their cousin Alicia for a game of dodge the water balloon. “Nah nah! You can’t hit me! You throw like a girl!” Brooke was confused, “I am a girl.” “ You still can’t hit me.” Brooke flung a water balloon at Kira’s legs and missed completely. “See? Try again.”
Alicia ran up closer to Brooke to give her an easier target. “I bet she can’t even hit me now. Throw the balloon Brooke! Try and hit me!” Once again Brooke tossed a squishy balloon across the yard, this time at her annoying cousin’s head. Sadly, it landed in the street behind her leaving a wet streak on the hot pavement. “Stop moving! You’re making it too hard.” “ It’s supposed to be hard. My Father says that if things are easy then they aren’t worth doing and he’s a congressman. He should know.”
Brooke scowled at Alicia and pulled out another balloon. “I’m younger than you two. I can’t throw that far. Move closer.” Kira took one small step towards Brooke, “Is this close enough?” “ No. Move closer.” Another tiny step, “How about now? I’ll even stand still and let you hit me. Okay?” “ You promise?” “ I promise. I won’t move.” Brooke hauled back and threw the balloon at her older sister as hard as she could.
Kira dodged the well aimed shot easily. “ Hey you promised you wouldn’t move!” “ I had my toes crossed. Oh? Is baby sister going to cry now?” Brooke balled up her fists to try and keep the tears at bay. “I’m not playing with your guys any more.” She turned on her heel and walked away leaving Kira and Alicia laughing at her. Brooke sat down on the porch steps and watched the two other girls start to pelt an ant mound with the remaining balloons knowing that if he were home, their Uncle would be out in an instant talking to them about all creatures having a right to live. The imaginary lecture was short lived because well, for one, it was Uncle Darwin and he really couldn't be mean and two, Brooke’s thoughts were interrupted by the sight of her adopted cousin Brooke skipping down the sidewalk towards the house.
Brooke ran up to the new comer and greeted her with a hug. “Brooke Number Two” as Stanley called her was a sweet and quite pretty little girl that Laurel and her friend Esther had adopted. Brooke Number One was quite pleased to see her since the two of them had become almost instant friends. The two of them were almost as mush alike as Kira and Alicia were to each other. “Hi! You wanna go play in the pond?” “ Oh I can’t. I promised Mamma I wouldn’t get dirty.” “ Well, we can go inside and play with my dolls or play a game.” “ A game sounds fun.” Brooke Number One led Brooke Number Two into the house but paused when she caught sight of her Mom. “I’ve got an idea! I’ll be right back. Mom!?” Brooke Number One hurried off in of the back of the house.
When Brooke Number One returned she had her hair combed out of her pony tails and pulled back with barrettes just like Brooke Number Two. “Now we can be twins!” Brooke Number Two stared at her for a bit a smiled. “We can be like sisters and do everything together. I’ve never had a sister before.” “ They really aren’t that great if they are like Kira. She’s real bossy. But we can be the bestest sisters ever. Maybe Mom will buy me a dress like yours too.” The two of them started a game of chess and stayed far away from the two trouble maker’s outside.
Later that evening after Darwin had returned home the not too subtle change in his youngest niece caught his attention. Brooke adored him and Kira merely tolerated him being around. Darwin was reminded of his relationship with Laurel when they were growing up when he thought about Kira. She was pushy and self centered. Brooke on the other hand was the complete opposite. The sudden change in hairstyle was surprising. “It’s too bad you couldn’t come to Decker’s party Brooke. We had lots of fun.”
“ Mister Miller had us stay late for choir practice. We have a concert in a few weeks and he said we needed more practice.” Darwin nodded, “What’s with the change in hair style?” “ It’s how Brooke Number Two wears her hair.” “ I know that. How come you are wearing it that way too?” “ Mom said it was okay. I like it this way. Now Brooke and I are kinda like twins.” “ Ah. I see. Kira’s been picking on you again hasn’t she?” Brooke looked down into the bowl of mac and cheese, “Yes. She a big old stinky head!”
“ Believe me I know how you feel. Your Aunt Laurel used to pick on me all the time when we were little. She used to call me booger face.” “ She did?” “ Yep. She did. Eventually she got over it and now we are really close. One day Kira will see just how great you are and she won’t pick on you anymore. You just have to be patient.”
The next evening Mel took a seat on the loveseat across from her two visitors. “ I appreciate you’re coming to my home to do the interview Miss Swenson though I’m not really sure why Mister Gilscarbo is here. I’m going to assume since you brought him that he knows what is going on as well.”
Heidi sighed, “As I mentioned before things are a bit more complicated than you are aware of and I have a few concerns about your security. Is your family here?” “ Nobody else is home right now. I sent them all out to get ice cream and see a movie. I had assumed that you wanted a private discussion.” Goopy interjected “Missus James…” “ Please call me Mel.” G smiled, “Mel. We have something that we need to explain to you before any kind of interview is started and obviously none of this can go into your article.”
Heidi started off, “First of all, please understand that publishing this story will most certainly put you into some danger. Publicly stating that you have met and spoken with Captain Hero has gotten more than reporter seriously injured and even killed. We suspect that Miss Gray will most certainly develop a desire to discuss this with you and given her temperament…”
“ What Heidi is being reluctant to say is that you are going to be in danger but we see it as an opportunity to try and get some inside information on what she is really up to.” “ I’m afraid I don’t understand. You both work for her… Is this some kind of undercover operation? And if so, why did you break your cover by making arrests down by the docks. It doesn’t make sense.” G smiled, “I told you she was a sharp cookie.” Heidi nodded, “You are correct about the arrests not making any sense. The problem is that there are two individuals carrying the Captain Hero title right now and one of them is doing it illegally.”
“ I thought I had already explained that. I was doing what I thought was right.” “ It doesn’t make it any the less a violation of the Articles of Heroic Activity G. You at some point are going to have to answer for your actions.”
Mel became confused, “Wait are you telling me that you are both Captain Hero and you didn’t know about each others activities even though you work together at SFO?” G smiled and nodded, “I only recently started fighting crime. Miss ‘Rule Book’ here has apparently been doing this for a while.” “ I thought there could only be one at a time. How is this possible?” Heidi reached up and adjusted her glasses, “Actually that’s a common misconception. Each civil authority can license as many people under the title as they feel they will need and a few national agencies use them as well. I happen to work for one of those agencies. G on the other hand has been acting as a vigilante. Even the Pleasant View Police Department doesn’t know who he is.” “ Okay,” Mel leaned back against the sofa, “what about you? Who do you work for?”
“ I haven’t been authorized to divulge that information at this time. My mission was meant to be purely undercover information gaining. There were to be no flashy rescues or gang busts that would call attention to my work.” She glared at G. G glared right back, loving every minute of the tension building between them. “We didn’t know about each other’s alter egos until recently.”
“… I see. I’m guessing you don’t want me to publish a story announcing the fact that there are two of you and that one is undercover.” She paused to think, “You really should have a talk with Darwin. All of you seem to be trying to do the same thing. Maybe you can compare notes.” Heidi shook her head, “Much of my investigation involves him. I would have to get clearance…” “ But I don’t. It’s a good idea and if you just happen to overhear the conversation then your superiors can’t really complain.” G turned back to Mel, “I will be the subject of your interview and, of course we have to ask that you keep the rest of this secret. We won’t be using names and I have a photo that we took earlier for you to use that doesn’t show too much of my face. Agreed?” “ Agreed. Shall we get started?” The interview she had planned went smoothly despite it’s odd start.
Later as she sat in front of the computer writing her lead paragraph it struck her that Heidi and G were both right about the danger publishing this could lead her into. She stopped and considered the facts. One- she was a reporter in need of a promotion. Two- this was the story of a lifetime. G’s personality and the very flattering photo he provided were sure to be a hit with the ladies. She really couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity. Certain that the gain out weighed the risks Mel began crafting the story that could catapult her right to the top of the newspaper.
The next morning Darwin made a point of sitting down with Melinda. Brooke’s desire to duplicate Brooke Number Two bothered him as did Mel’s odd work schedule and the obvious strain from it that showed in Mel’s face and the way she held her shoulders. “Everything okay Sis? You seem a little tense.” Mel glanced up at Darwin’s green face, “Yeah, I’m good. Just been really busy.” “ So I’ve noticed. You do realize that Brooke has decided to dress just like Laurel’s adopted daughter and thinks that Kira hates her?” “ Um huh.” “ And that today is Kira’s birthday?” “ Um huh.” “ And that your husband has been cheating on you.”
Mel looked up from the chess board, “He is not. I know what you are trying to do Dar and I’m well aware of what is going on with Brooke and Kira.” “ Are you sure? You’re hardly ever home and when you are you seem distracted by work or talking to yourself in the bathroom.” Seeing Mel’s disapproving look he added, “I’m just worried about you Sis.” Mel sighed and shifted a pawn across the board, “This Captain Hero story has gotten a whole lot bigger than I thought it would. I have to get this right or I may just end up getting fired. On top of it all I also have to worry about you and the death threat that awful woman made against you and look after Dad.” Mel sighed, “Honestly, I don’t know how Mom dealt with all the stuff she did without tearing her hair out.”
Darwin shifted a pawn as well before responding. “First of all, I don’t want you to worry about me. Miss Gray can’t touch me here or at work. I have plenty of assistance from the local SCIA office to protect me from any normal attacks and Jason’s magic and my plants to protect me here. As for Dad… I think he’s just fine.”
The warm afternoon brought around Kira’s birthday party. Mel invited as much of the family as she could since it seemed that the four children of Stanley and Catalina James rarely got to see each other anymore. She knew that Cat would never have wanted the family to drift apart and Darwin’s warnings about becoming too distant from her children was still ringing in her head. Kira stood impatiently in front of the cake while her aunts, uncles and cousins slowly wandered into the room vying for optimum cheering position. “Can everyone please hurry up! I’m not getting younger here.”
Once most of the family had managed to wander in, Kira smiled and leaned over to blow out the candles. There was no pausing to consider wishes or weigh out her possibilities. Just a quick poof of air and it was over.
With a twirl and a pop of confetti Kira Gail James became a young woman with one thing on her mind, boys. Despite her previous protestations on the icky-ness of them. Mel looked her over and winced, “I think we are in for some trouble George.” “ Oh?” Laurel nodded, “I see it too.” She leaned closer to George and whispered, “She’s got boys on the brain. Just like Kellie did for a while.” George stared at Kira as she checked out her newly acquired curves. “Boys? She couldn’t have chosen something easy like money or books?” Mel smiled, “I’ll have The Talk with her this afternoon honey. She’ll be fine. I hope.” Laurel smiled, “I think the boys have more to worry about than she does.”
Once the excitement of freshly cut cake had died down and Darwin busied himself with finishing off the remaining slices, Kira headed off to the bathroom for a quick makeover and was quickly intercepted by her mother. “ Happy birthday Baby. I hope you like the present your father and I got you.”
Kira placed her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes, “The new stereo is great Mom, Thanks.” Mel looked at her daughter a little confused. There was no sound of sarcasm in Kira’s voice but her body language said something very different. “You don’t like it? I suppose we could take it back and exchange it for something else.” “ It’s fine Mom. I like it.” “… Are you sure?” “ Yes! Why don’t you believe me when I say that I like it?” “ Well… It’s just that your body language doesn’t match the words coming out of your mouth. You look like you are angry with me.”
“ Why on earth would you think that?” Across town someone else was having some trouble interpreting body language as well…
“ How hard can this be? I ask you to follow the nosey little twerp and tell me what his friends and family are up to and you come back and tell me that you can’t get near him?” “ He’s a warlock with three other witches and a very angry familiar cat keeping an eye on him. He always knows when I’m around now.” “ Are you smiling at me?”
“ No! Of course not! I would never smile at you. I don’t do smile.” Marie glared at the Elven assassin seated in front of her desk. She couldn’t be certain of it because of the mask but she thought that just for a moment she saw a glint of humor in Theron’s normally icy eyes. “… Since you seem to be incapable of performing the duties I hired you for I see little need for your continued involvement in my project. Your final payment will be deposited as normal.” “ I think you will find that to be a miscalculation Mistress. You may still have need of my services for other tasks and as an advisor. You should most certainly choose another method of collecting information from the James family as they have developed their defenses to identify me.”
The door to the office opened and Nervous casually sauntered in creating a pause in the conversation. Once he was seated, his eyes quickly darted between the two of them. “Whoa! There’s a seriously tense vibe in here today. Maybe I’ll just go back outside and soak in the hot tub a bit longer.”
“ No Nervous, stay right where you are. I think I finally have something that you can help me with.” Theron’s eyes grew alarmed, “You can not be serious Mistress. This “boy” is not capable of handling something as delicate as this. He could ruin everything.” Marie nodded, “True. He could cause me a great deal of trouble but we have an special understanding. Don’t we?”
Nervous shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “Ahh… Yes, we do. What is you want me to do? Kill the spotty little green guy? I can do that.” “ That “little green guy” as you name him is a trained agent of the SCIA and a Warlock. He is not a defenseless scientist!” “ Hey! That “defenseless scientist” and his bitch of a wife tortured me for years. They got what they deserved.” “ Surely Mistress you must reconsider. He is unstable at best and far from properly trained.”
“ Enough! Yes, Nervous is untrained but I see that as an advantage. They will be looking for people such as you Theron. Nervous will blend right into the crowd. All I need him to do is ingratiate himself into the James family. Make a friend, get close to one of the daughters. Whatever it takes to make them think of you as a friend but stay away from Darwin James. He can sense lies and deception now and will easily pick you out.”
Nervous shrugged, “That sounds easy enough.” Theron sighed. “If you insist on this course of action Mistress we must prepare him in case things go wrong.” “ I agree. Take a few weeks and teach him what you can in that time. I had intended for him to get a more through education before putting him to use but that will have to do. When you are ready Nervous we will make arraignments for you to get close to a member of the family.”
Across town, back at the home of Cassidy James… Cassidy screamed as the first stages of labor caused her abdominal muscles to contract viciously. “Arrgh! Why are we doing this again?”
Darwin rushed in from the street where he had been having a conversation with his sister and brother in law. “It’s okay honey. Just breathe like the doctor said.” “ That’s easy for you the say! You’re not pushing two bowling balls through your pelvis! Augh!”
George stood fascinated. He had been present for the birth of both his daughters but they were born individually. Twins was definitely something new. “Wow. Look at those contractions.” Stanley turned his head to look away as the first twin was delivered. “Oh that’s just not right.”
Melinda, perhaps being the most supportive, ignored the spectators. “Just keep breathing Cass. You’re almost there.”
While the delivery of the twins was a bit prolonged in the end everything seemed to come out fine. The James clan now had a new boy and a girl in it’s ranks. Both children had their father’s eyes and hair color. The oldest was the boy which Darwin and Cassidy named Fisher. The girl was named Chelsea. Darwin cuddled his second son closely, “We should have invited Trista to be here too.” Quite exhausted, Cassidy snapped. “It’s bad enough when the neighbors run in from the street to watch. I really don’t need everyone in town here right now.” Taking care of an active toddler while being heavily pregnant with twins had taken a toll on her patience. And even though Darwin came over almost every day before work, she was still having to manage everything practically by herself. Darwin understood her mood and set about making sure that Decker and the twins were all cared for while Cass went upstairs for a much needed nap. Once things were settled he and the rest of his family headed home. And how does Darwin celebrate his newly born children?
By setting fire to the recently remodeled kitchen in his father’s house. “No! Cheese isn’t supposed to burn. Your supposed to melt! Help! Fire!” Like so many of his ancestor’s Darwin danced about forgetting the fact that the solution to the problem was in his pants all the time.
“ It’s getting bigger! Someone help! Call 911!” The fire department finally arrived and extinguished the flames in no time.
As the fireman left he causally commented, “Sir, next time be more careful.” Almost as an afterthought Darwin pulled his wand out of his front pocket and it occurred to him that he could have easily extinguished the flames. “I really do need to practice a bit more. This should have been the first thing I thought of.”
The next morning… “ I know that I need to spend more time with my magical studies. It’s just that I’ve been so busy. You know? I’ve got Cassidy and our three children, a full time job, Mel and her issues and Dad and his problems to worry about on top of whatever the hell is going on with Miss Gray. And now Jason is going to be gone for heaven knows how long. What am I supposed to do?” The fruit tree rustled it’s cryptic reply. “ Yes I know you have your own problems as well. The bugs have been really bad this year and only one of your flowering turned to fruit. They were delicious by the way. Thank you. Compared to my problems yours are pretty simple. You sleep through a quarter of the year and your only worries are whether or not you get enough water to properly reproduce and if the bugs eat too many of your leaves.” “…” “ I am not trying to trivialize your problems. It’s just that my Dad won’t be with us much longer and I feel it’s kind of up to me to handle everything. For example…”
“ Yesterday was my niece Brooke’s birthday. Mel, her mother, had to work late and her father George was going to get home way too late to handle the arrangements for the party. I went and picked up the cake since no one in the house really bakes anymore since Mom passed on and called everyone to arrange the guest list.”
“ Everything went fine with Brooke’s birthday. I was a little worried because she’s so shy.”
“ She’s growing into a fine looking young lady even if her nose looks a bit too much like her father’s” “…” “ No that wasn’t the problem I was referring too. I’m just coming to it.”
“ The problem is that after the cake had been cut I came out into the living room to find my other niece Kira kissing the boy she brought home from school. I didn’t have the heart to tell George about it. I’m afraid he might get upset and ground her or something. I mean, it’s just a kiss right? No big deal.”
“…” “ A kiss? It’s where two sims who are attracted to one another press their lips together. It can lead up to… ah, reproduction.” “…” “ Because she’s not old enough to be trying to reproduce. She’s just a teenager. Reproduction is something adults do with other adults.” “…” “ The Countess? No. I would never cheat on Cassidy. She was just someone I met when I went out last night after the birthday party.”
“…” “ Well of course she’s an adult. Probably more ‘adult’ than anyone in town but I would never … reproduce with her. I love my wife too much. She is fascinating though. I remember when my sister Laurel was bitten by the Count one night outside her cooking class. That was the start of a really big change for her. …I wonder what it feels like to become a vampire.” “…” “ No I didn’t expect you to know. It’s just that it seems like they have all the time in the world to get things done, while us mortals run around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to just keep up with day to day things. If I was a vampire… Well, I’d just have more time. That’s all.” “…”
“ I don’t know. She might. I didn’t ask. It didn’t seem to be the polite thing to do the first time you meet someone. ‘Hi my name is Darwin. Would you please bite my neck so that I can live forever’. Yeah, that would go over well. Besides, I have the feeling that if I did let her bite me it would change everything. I’m not sure I want to be responsible for that.”
“ I can be a real bastard when the mood strikes me. Imagine what I would be like after a few centuries of immortality.”
“ I’m no where near as bad as Kira though. She’s the one you’ve got to watch out for. She cheats three moves in on a chess game. When she gets older I bet she could slip a dagger between your ribs while whispering sweet nothings into your ear. She reminds me of Miss Gray in some ways though Kira doesn’t have nearly the same level of confidence. Yet.” “…” Darwin paused to consider the tree’s statement. Months ago he had taken a gamble and tried to get Marie Gray to tell him her plan. Face to face no one could lie to him anymore. The minute spirits that dwell around him would key him in on those lies and somehow Miss Gray had seen that. Or maybe she had just taken an educated guess. Either way his plan backfired. At the top of his list of problems was that veiled threat she had given him that day. There was no way that Kira could be involved in all of this mess. She was just a child and many children were born with disagreeable dispositions. That didn’t make them evil.
No one is born evil. Are they? Does the circumstances of a child's parentage really affect them that much? Darwin had been told his father was defective and perfect at the same time. What did that mean? His father was a paranoid hypochondriac that had been killed and resurrected leaving him prone to psychotic events. That didn’t make him evil. What was it in Stanley’s DNA that Marie Gray was looking for. What was it that she needed? While Darwin contemplated the vagaries in his life the local stray cats were setting their own plan into action. It was rare that they were given any type of responsibility but Hex, the feline familiar of a Warlock named Jason was very adamant that their help was needed. While Sake kept and eye on the James household…
A few others took turns looking in on Cassidy and her children. If Hex was right then the sims they relied on for food and catnip mice could soon become little more than a memory. Inside the little house where Cassidy lived…
She thumbed through the spell books that Trista had left her. She had opened it a few times since becoming a witch but had really only read a few pages of spells and potion making technique. Now that she wasn’t pregnant she could spend a little time examining the concept of magic a bit closer. “I suppose I should learn to make the most of this since I might need it to protect myself.” She casually flipped through the pages looking at the hand inked drawings until she came across something that caught her eye. On the page before her was the detailed process for creating a homunculus. It struck Cass oddly that such a grotesque concept would be hidden with the tome of a good witch. After all, a homunculus was a human that was painfully transformed into a servant through various applications of magic. “Strange. I wonder if this is in all the books Trista has handed out over the years? It seems like something you wouldn’t want the causal student reading.” She looked through the directions closer, “Vampire, Werewolf, Plantsim, Witch, Zombie and … Alien blood must be mixed… Oh my! I need to call Darwin.”
Next time in A Corporate Conspiracy… “ Unngh! I don’t feel so good. It must have been that week old sandwich I ate.” Click
Hello! Can you see me back here? The furry one in the back? This chapter was a long time coming but I was having some plot continuity issues with Jason. As you can guess he is about to have a life changing encounter and I have been juggling ideas on just how I wanted to handle it. On top of that I went on vacation to Las Vegas for 12 days. My husband and I had a blast and saw some really awesome Cirque du Soleil shows. I have those issue mostly sorted now (I think) and can finally move on with generation 3 getting to college. Just as a note, I’ve been trying out a game lighting mod that improves how shadows appear in game. You may have noticed that the scene with Mel, G and Heidi was a bit dark. I’m still tweaking the lighting but really like the overall effect. If the pictures are looking too dark please let me know. Some fun goodies from this update… Darwin managed to meet up with the countess so I can get him vamped sometime soon. I know that is Mary Sue Pleasant he’s talking to here. The countess is behind him dancing.
As you can see my simself has been keeping herself quite busy with her newspaper recovery business. This was Laurel and Ether’s paper the I had to walk all the way to the back door to steal. One really has to keep oneself busy or you might just go crazy.
ALERT! All residents of Pleasantview should be on the look out for the Charlatan. Recently, simself Little Nemo had his wallet stolen and has yet to fully recover from the most heinous encounter. The rouge has even gone so far as to target figments of other peoples imaginations. If you see this man please call 911 immediately. All kidding aside…
Some character stats for you… Kira Gail James (oldest child of generation three); Sagittarius 4/6/9/9/1 Turn ons: Formal wear and witches (I randomly generate these- just so you know) Turn off: High mechanical skill One True Hobby: Sports Aspiration: Romance LTW: 20 Simultaneous lovers I’ve written her as a manipulator with confidence issues. Despite her LTW she is my current favorite for heir.
Brooke Rose James AKA Brooke Number One; Sagittarius 5/1/10/8/8 Turn ons: Makeup and Servos Turn off: Red hair One true hobby: Tinkering Aspiration: Popularity (with 1 outgoing point!) LTW: I forgot to check Brooke is sweet and the random occurrence of an adopted child having her name too is kind of neat. She’s an easy keeper but will definitely be re-rolling her aspiration in college. She will be a miserable popularity sim.
Spare children grew up as well. This is Brooke Number Two’s teening. Just as a reminder she is the adopted daughter of Laurel and her life partner Esther.
Her clothes were hideous but she stayed gorgeous! I can’t believe she came from the adoption pool. Brooke James AKA Brooke Number Two; Aries 5/8/6/3/3 I forgot to record her preferences Hobby: Music and Dance Aspiration: Knowledge LTW: Top of Law career
Another day another birthday. This time at Kellie and Ted’s house. Why does the phone always ring when I throw a party?
Little miss know it all herself- Alicia Kelly Thompson
Alicia Kellie Thompson; Scorpio 10/3/9/9/1 Turn ons: Vampires and face paint Turn off: Werewolves One true hobby: Sports Aspiration: Popularity LTW: 5 top businesses Alicia is my oddest one so far for this generation. Via ACR she choose girls over boys and I’ve pre rolled her college rerolls for aspiration and she will be developing a fondness for grilled cheese.
Darwin went and got food poisoning during one of his visits with his wife Cassidy. Not from the chips, from dumpster diving in the trash can! He never does that when he is on a lot where I can control him! Needless to say, due to my hypochondriac handicap he will be spending a sim week confined to his studio apartment over the garage. You will be seeing that in the next story update.
I’ve never seen an NPC bathe a baby before! Cassidy had a heck of a time taking care of Decker during her second pregnancy. I guess the cheerleader just wanted to help out.
Speaking of Decker. I had hopes that Cassidy’s pretty face would help take away some of the alien squiffyness but no such luck. Some stats for him: Sagittarius 1,6,9,10,1- great a sloppy, mean one. He’s going to be another odd ball. I can tell.
And this is where I will leave you. Jo (joandsarah from boolprop.com) rushed in during Cassidy’s delivery of the twins. I think she was hoping to get a little screen time like Nemo has been getting. In fact several of my resident simselves have been giving me trouble. Beloved Wagon has been groping random townies and Candi 020765 has been telephone stalking George. Don’t worry guys you will get your moment in the sun here pretty soon. As always, thanks for reading. And thank you a hundred times over for all the great comments. If you have something you would like to say about my story or suggestions to help improve my writing style, please feel free to leave them.
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