A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 2.2 Who Is That Sim In The Mask?


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Chpt. 2.2 of A Corporate Conspiracy

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A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 2.2 Who Is That Sim In The Mask?

  1. 2. Previously in A Corporate Conspiracy… Darwin had discovered some startling facts from the spirit currently inhabiting a broken down weather machine at SFO Corp.’s R&D lab and married the love of his life Cassidy. Melinda had a brief but thrilling encounter with a vampire and her super villain husband while in search of that big story that would get her the promotion at work. Tess directed her attention to a rumor that a Captain Hero had reappeared in Pleasant View after a very long absence. Kira, the eldest of Melinda and George’s two daughters, grew up with a very disagreeable disposition and a penchant for manipulation. Now… “ Here we go little Brooke. Are you ready?” The baby giggled. “I’m not really sure that I am.”
  2. 3. Catalina bent over and blew out the candles and everyone watched to see how the newest member of the James family would turn out. The poof of confetti cleared and Brooke smiled shyly at all the gathered family. Cat surveyed the results, “Well, you definitely got your fathers nose and eyes and I think we need to find you a little better hair style but all in all you did pretty will little girl.”
  3. 4. While Catalina took Brooke into the bathroom to adjust her hairstyle Stanley took the opportunity to catch his other granddaughter off guard. Kira twisted and giggled as Stanley bent to tickle her, “Grandpa stop!” “ Here comes the tickle monster! Rahh!” Stanley grabbed Kira when she tried to duck under his arms to avoid him. “ Stop”, she yelled between fits of giggling. “ Say please and I’ll stop.” “ Please stop!” Stanley relented and Kira rubbed her ribs gingerly. “ Was that so hard?” Kira pouted her lips, “Yes”.
  4. 5. A bit later and George was trying out the new and improved smart milk formula that he and Lori had been working on at the lab. “That’s my girl. Come to Daddy. You can do it.” Brooke stood tentatively on her unsteady legs looking at her father, then one step after another she made her way over the short distance and into his arms. He lifted her high into the air and cheered, “Way to go Brooke! You almost got it down in one pass. Let’s try again.” Brooke quickly learned to walk and George was very pleased with the results of his work.
  5. 6. In fact, Brooke raced through learning all her toddler skills in just one day. A feat that surprised both Cat and Mel and left Stanley a little suspicious as to the cause of her tremendous learning abilities. “ There you go sweetheart. Time to go potty like a big girl.” “ I lov you gran ma.” The short simple sentence caught Cat a little off guard and her eyes teared up a little. “I love you too.” She stood close by while Brooke took care of her business and then scooped her up for her nap. “You’re just a little sweetie, aren’t you.” Brooke looked up at her with her slightly sad looking brown eyes and smiled, “sweet.”
  6. 7. Once Brooke was down for her nap Cat settled down next to Stanley on the couch who was watching his son in-law beat Mel at a game of pool. “Brooke sure is bright for her age.” Stanley nodded, “I have some suspicions as to why”, he said watching Kira wander over towards him. Cat removed her glasses and cleaned an errant smudge of the right lens, “Smart milk?” Stanley nodded again as Kira climbed up onto the sofa next to him. “The new formula is perfectly safe but I’m going to have a little talk with George about testing it on family.” Kira looked up at her grandfather with slightly narrowed eyes, “Grandpa, do you think Brooke is smarter than me?” Stanley put his arm around her and pulled her close. Sensing the trap that Kira was trying to lay he replied simply, “I think you are both equally smart.”
  7. 8. Kira wasn’t a bit surprised that he didn’t fall for her trick but she wasn’t ready to give up just yet. “But you like me the best, right?” Stanley sighed, “Kira honey. I love you both just the same. You don’t need to try and compete with your sister.” He squeezed her tightly in a hug, “Now, why don’t you go play outside before it gets dark.” “ Okay Grandpa”, Kira slid down from the couch and skipped out of the room a little disheartened that she still couldn’t get him to take the bait. Cat shook her head, “Maybe if Mel spent more time with her she wouldn’t be so needy.” “ She’s not ‘needy’ Kitty Cat, she’s a manipulator. Kira learned early on that she can get people to do what she wants by acting sweet and charming or throwing tantrum. Both of which, adults respond to by conceding to her wishes which just reinforces the behavior.”
  8. 9. Stanley threw his arm over Cat’s shoulder and pulled her close. They sat there for a while just enjoying being close to one another until something occurred to Stanley, “Aren’t we forgetting something?” Cat chuckled, “Today is Alicia’s birthday. We need to leave in an hour to head over to Kellie and Ted’s house for the party.” “ Ahh! Alicia. I’d better get that jack-in-the-box finished for her then.” He jumped up from the couch and rushed up stairs to finish to toy for his third grand daughter. Left alone on the couch Cat watched George and Mel debate over her placement of the cue ball on the table after George had accidentally sunk it on his last shot. She started to feel a little sad as she watched the pair settle their argument with a kiss. What is Stanley going to do without me?
  9. 10. Later that night Darwin was finding it hard to sleep. Something kept tugging him awake. At first he thought it was his worries over Cassidy being all alone in the house at the end of the block, his first child growing in her womb. But the more he focused on the strange sensation keeping him awake the more he recognized that it was something entirely different. Something more aggressive, more dangerous. And it was lurking at the back door of his parents house. He quickly grabbed his coat and teleported to the dining room and looked out the glass doors.
  10. 11. Much to his surprise there was a sable coated wolf with glowing eyes staring intently back at him. Cautiously he opened the door and stepped out into the crisp night air. The wolf looked at him intently with it’s yellow eyes and wagged it’s tail in a friendly manner. Darwin slowly bent down and offered his hand for the wolf to smell and as it sniffed at his glove Darwin asked, “What are you doing out here barking at my parent’s back door?” “ There’s a toddler inside I want to play with and homework I want to chew on” it replied in perfect Simlish. Darwin sprung up in surprise, “You can talk.” “ Huh? So can you. Imagine that.” The wolf sat on it’s haunches and grinned an almost devilish grin, “Ahh, would you look at the time? I gotta go. Lots more flowerbeds to destroy and sims to wake up. See ya later, Darwin.” The odd wolf trotted across the deck and down the stairs only to disappear into the darkness of the night leaving one very perplexed warlock standing in the cold.
  11. 12. The next morning at Cassidy’s new home… “ I’m telling you Honey, it was huge and the way it’s eyes glowed was just so eerie. It didn’t come down here last night, did it? Maybe I should call a contractor to come install a fence. I’ve never encountered a talking animal before. And how did it know my name?”
  12. 13. Cassidy watched her husband talk non-stop about the wolf. He barely stopped to catch a breath between sentences. Finally she was able to get a word in edgewise, “I thought you told me everything could talk, that the spirits inside things had voices and all that.” “ Well, yeah but this was different. He talked in Simlish just like you and I are right now. I think it was a werewolf.” “ Aren’t they contagious if they bite you? Maybe you shouldn’t be petting it.” Darwin looked at her worried face and sighed, “You’re right. That was really stupid and I won’t do it again. Trista should be here any minute. Are you ready to become a witch?” “ I’m a little nervous about it actually. It doesn’t hurt does it?” “ No not at all. It’s kind of tingly for a couple of minutes.”
  13. 14. Right on time Trista Shaw, head of the Order of Good Witches, arrived near the mailbox and motioned for Cassidy to join her. “You look lovely today Cassidy. Being with child agrees with you I see.” “ How do you know that?” “ Darwin and I talk frequently. It is very important that I stay informed on the goings on of your family. Try and think of me as a…grandmother. Someone to come to for advice when you need it.” “ Umm, okay. I suppose we can do that.” She looked around the yard, “Do we need to set up an area for the ritual? There’s some space in the side yard or we can move the furniture in the living room around.”
  14. 15. Trista rubbed her hands together and smiled, “I’m not really one to stand on rituals. They are not absolutely necessary for most of the spells that the modern witch commonly casts. Mind you, they have their place but today is not really that complicated.” Cassidy nodded, “Alright. Ah, is there any risk to the baby? I’d rather wait if there is any chance that it might be born with two heads because of the magic.” “ There is absolutely no risk to the child. In fact children born to mothers who are practicing witches tend to be more aware and insightful than normal children.” She clapped her hands and hopped from foot to foot, “I’m so excited about this! Soon we will have a proper coven here in Pleasant View. Are you ready?” “ I suppose so. Are you just going to do it here on the sidewalk?” “ The street is where I do my best work. Just ask you husband. Now, for the oath. Repeat after me…”
  15. 16. “ I swear to honor the traditions and canon of the Order as laid out by the Head of the local Order and those Elders that established them. I will ensure that my children and my children’s children from now on are taught the ways of the enlightened path and honor the traditions as I have sworn to do. Should I fail in my promise to the Order I and my descendants shall forswear the world of magic for all time and any protections afforded to us by the Order.” Cassidy repeated Trista’s words exactly and watched expectantly as Trista drew her wand from her sleeve. Trista held up the sparkling fetish, “Are you ready now?” Cassidy nodded and closed her eyes. Trista waved the wand dramatically, “Musa veneficium munc. Roboste possum liberi reddo.”* With a flash Cassidy was transformed. *Magic is now your muse. May your children make us stronger.
  16. 17. When the flashing lights and smoke cleared, Pleasant View now had it’s third witch of the Good order. Cassidy swatted at the blue glow that surrounded her and looked closely at the golden flecks that now covered her skin. Trisa pushed her wand back into her sleeve. “Well now, you make a very pretty witch Cassidy. You will find a cauldron and a book inside your home to help you learn your spells and Darwin and I will always be close by if you have questions. I’m going to place a few wards and glyphs on your home and yard that will help defend you and your children.” Glancing over Cassidy’s shoulder at Darwin, “Do be sure that your husband washes his hands before touching you. He has been rooting through the garbage can while we were doing important things.” Cassidy spun on her heel catching him just as he replaced the lid on the can, “Darwin!” He looked up with a guilty look on his face. “What?”
  17. 18. Watching Trista wander into the side yard, Darwin stepped up to his wife. “How do you feel?” Ignoring his question, “Where you eating out of the garbage can?” Darwin shoved his hands into his pockets and hung his head, “Yes.” “ Why on earth would you do that? I have a refrigerator stuffed full of food and I’ll gladly cook you anything you would like to eat.” Not really having an answer for Cassidy as to why he felt compelled to rummage through the trash for a snack, he choose to avoid the question. “Now that Trisa is done I don’t suppose you might want to go up stairs and test out the springs on the new bed?” Darwin always had a way of sounding sweet when he was trying to talk her into bed. Not that he had to talk too hard to achieve that goal. “Only if you take a shower first AND brush your teeth.”
  18. 19. Meanwhile, across town… “ He lines up for the break. A hush comes over the gathered crowd as this relative newcomer to the sport of competitive billiards prepares to conquer yet another challenger.”
  19. 20. “ He takes his time lining up the cue just right for maximum dispersal of the rack. You can literally hear the crowd holding their breath in anticipation. He draws back the cue and unleashes a mighty blow to the cue ball sending it headlong into the other balls at the end of the table. The crowd leapt to their feet and cheer for their hero.”
  20. 21. “ He sinks two balls on the break and the applause becomes deafening. As he walks to the other end of the table he holds up his hand to the crowd and gives them a wink and a smile. Two young girls in the crowd faint as he passes by them, overcome with emotion.”
  21. 22. “ Choosing the stripes, he leans down to survey his possible shots and quickly decides on the 6 ball in the far corner pocket. His face is like stone as he makes his choice and his opponent is visible shaken by the total lack of fear or worry. He draws back the cue and sinks the ball with a solid hit leaving the cue ball in the perfect location for his next shot. Once again the crowd goes wild.”
  22. 23. Nervous sighed when he reached the end of the table and stared and the blood red felt on the table top for quite a while before he was interrupted. “ Having fun?”
  23. 24. Later that afternoon… A small gathering consisting of Stanley, Darwin and George James, SFO Corporation CEO Goopy Gilcarbo and his assistant Heidi Swenson and lab assistant Jason Gross descended on the newly constructed pool behind the mansion that Marie Gray had designed and had built in Pleasant View. Miss Gray was holding a cook out/housewarming party to christen the house and in her own words from a company memo- “Let my employees know that SFO Corp. isn’t going anywhere after the loss of so many beloved board members”.
  24. 25. Stanley poured ice into the blender and added the alcohol before flipping the switch to pulverize the ice. As he poured the drinks into the cold, salt rimmed glasses, he announced “Margaritas are ready if anyone wants one.” The sound and smell of beef sizzling on the grill drifted across the yard and music flowed out of the stereo. A casual bystander would see a scene of an idealistic afternoon barbeque but those in attendance knew better. “ Miss Gray?”
  25. 26. She turned from the grill to face Darwin. “Marie, please. No need to be so formal here. Everyone is wearing a swimsuit for heaven’s sake.” “ Marie then. I really need to talk to you.” “ Oh?” Marie turned back to face the grill and began to flip them expertly. “Well, I’m a little busy right now as you can see.” “ It’s important.” Deciding that the burgers were cooked to the perfect degree of doneness she slide them onto their buns, turned off the grill and set the spatula down with a noticeable thunk. “Fine. What’s the matter? Is your Warlock sense all tingly? Is the big bad wolf going to jump out and attack us?” Her smile did not match the tone of her voice. “ Darwin frowned at her flippant remarks. “Maybe. I want some straight answers from you about a few things and I want them today.”
  26. 27. Marie grabbed up the plate and began serving the burgers for her guests. “Really Darwin. Can’t this wait until later? I’m trying to host a party here in case you hadn’t noticed. Besides, most likely anything you want to ask me about is company business and therefore not really any of your business.” “ I think you owe me the truth.” “ The truth? Just how do you figure that I owe you anything?” She smiled slightly as she moved around the table. “ The truth about why you are having me followed, among other things.” “ I’d prefer we not discuss this right here, right now. The burgers are going cold and the margaritas are getting warm. If you are so keen for a bit of revelation, it will have to wait until after my party is over.”
  27. 28. She continued to set the plates out in front of each empty chair. “Now, have a seat like a good boy, have some lunch and do try to act civil. I have guests.” Darwin leveled a narrow gaze on her, “Most of whom are members of my family.” “ ALL of whom are my employees. Except you. Now have a seat.” She pulled out a chair for him. “Please.” The smile she gave him was cold and manipulative and Darwin choose to comply with the request keeping in mind that she once told him that she delighted in making people squirm. Knowing that made it hard to tell, was she being evasive because she had something to hide or just because his response entertained her.
  28. 29. George watched the exchange between Darwin and Marie while trying to not look like he was trying to look. Causally he remarked, “Boy, she looks pissed”. “ Hmm… It’s in the eyes. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid any aggravating conversations with Miss Gray but I have it on good authority that she does not like to be questioned or second guessed. Whatever ‘truth’ it is that Darwin is after, he’s not going to get it out of her that way.” Amazed, George looked over at Heidi, “You can hear what they’re saying way over here, over the stereo?” Heidi paused before answering, “I eat an exceptionally good diet and strong hearing runs in my family.” The sunbathing pair chatted for a few more minutes before Heidi got up to go enjoy the hot tub and George felt the need to sample the food.
  29. 30. G watched Heidi’s bikini clad backside stroll by and was a bit caught off guard when Stanley interrupted his train of thought. “ You still haven’t caught that “bit ‘O crumpet” have you?” “ What? No. No, she and I are friends and we work well together. It would be a bad idea.” “ Un-huh. Can’t stop thinking about her can you?” “ Don’t be absurd Stanley. I am capable of controlling my baser instincts.” “ If you say so but I wouldn’t stand up too quickly when you’re done eating. You might hurt yourself on the table.” G self consciously adjusted the location of his napkin in his lap. Changing the subject, “Your son is sure being pushy with Miss Gray today. What is it he wants to know?”
  30. 31. Stanley debated on just what he was willing to share with his boss. He could be involved in all this mystery or just really clueless. I wish I had Darwin’s senses to help me out here. Finally, he settled on the obvious answer hoping that it didn’t seem too evasive. “Darwin believes that Miss Gray has been having him followed for some reason. Being a spy for the SCIA makes him a little sensitive to those sort of things. He just wants to know what she is after.” G took a bite of his burger, followed? If that’s really the case he may be in a lot of trouble considering how many people have died ‘accidentally’ here recently. “I’m sure that it’s just research for the continuing study of his alien heritage. Habits and behaviors and what not.” “ Did she tell you that?” “ No, but it’s logical. Right?” “ When pigs fly!” Stanley and G stared at each other and both went back to silently eating their food and trying to figure out what each other was up to.
  31. 32. Back over at Darwin’s table, his agreement to sit down and hold his questions about his being followed didn’t stop him from continuing the interrogation. “So my sister tells me that she saw in the police report about Loki and Circe Beaker’s death, that you were the one who found the bodies and called the police. That must have been awful.” “ Yes. Very disturbing. There was a large amount of blood.” Her answer was flat and a very irritated look swept over her face. “ They are saying that the Beaker’s adopted son was responsible. It’s a good thing he had already fled the scene when you arrived or he might have shot you too.” “ Indeed. Fortune was definitely walking beside me that day. Please, let’s change the subject. Today is far too nice for talking about death.” George pulled out a chair and sat down, “Oh I agree”, he added. “Ghastly business that was. Mel said that the report said that Circe was shot in the chest several times and that she never even had a chance to defend herself.”
  32. 33. This part of the conversation caught G’s interest as well. They are really pressing her for anything. “The police don’t have any leads on where the boy got to either. He could be anywhere. Even here in Pleasant View.” Stanley shook his head, “This is why I have so many alarms and door locks. You can never be too safe. Imagine what a boy like Nervous could do in a town like this.” Marie focused her attention on her food and let the comments slide over her like ice on water. You boys aren’t smart enough to get me to make a mistake, was her only thought. Darwin continued the assault, “And thank goodness you didn’t go on that trip to Twikki with the other board members. You must be the luckiest woman in the world Marie. We should take you to Vegas. You’d win the house!” “ Oh I don’t think so. The plane accident was a tragedy caused by poor maintenance and the genetics project that Beaker was working on for me was critical. It wasn’t luck that kept me away from Twikki, it was work.”
  33. 34. George jumped at the chance, “ So… you arrived at Beaker’s lab just in time to salvage his work but not so early as to be involved in the murder’s themselves. The statistical odds of that happening are astronomical. You really are the luckiest woman in the world.” He took a bit of the cheeseburger in front of him and with a full mouth added, “Or…”. She had had just about enough poking. “Or what Doctor James? I was involved? I shot them myself? I planned the whole event and have Nervous hiding in my closet? Is that what you want to hear from me?” She pushed her plate away from her. “I have lost my appetite with your insinuations.” Darwin smiled, “Tell me the truth about you’re having me followed and we will stop prodding you with sticks.” Marie leaned back and looked at Darwin critically, then she smiled. “Oh well played Darwin. They taught you well at the SCIA. You’ve coma along way from the nervous boy who ran away from me the last time we talked.” She inhaled deeply and sighed, “Fine. I’ll talk to you. But only you and in private. Let’s go.” Darwin stood and winked at George who grabbed his arm and whispered, “Be careful” before he passed by on his way into the house.
  34. 35. The one guest that had not yet been involved in all the questioning slowly climbed out of the pool. He shook his head to clear his ear canals of water and made his way towards the hot tub. Jason was a trained observer. Studying supernatural beings required that you be quiet and observant. One rarely ever got a real opportunity to actually speak with a Sasquatch or a Sphinx. You had to watch them and while he had meant to be watching Marie Gray today while Stanley and his sons worked the crowd, it was Heidi that had caught his attention.
  35. 36. He gently settled himself down in the hot water and started his conversation with her with talk about the weather. “It’s such a nice day, it’s a shame that the new factory has put a haze in the air.” Her attention now focused on him instead of the Technicolor haired woman and half alien entering the house, Heidi simply replied, “I suppose so.” “ You don’t think that they should put limits on how much pollution they release over there?” “ That factory provides jobs that didn’t even exist five years ago. In fact, unemployment here in Pleasant View has never been lower and unlike some parts of the country, we have not been affected by the global downturn in spending and production. That factory puts food on people’s tables.” “ But it’s bad for the environment. In the long run…” She cut him off, “people won’t be starving to death because an owl’s nest was saved.”
  36. 37. Jason closed his mouth and stared at her. Glancing toward the house he made sure that Marie and Darwin where far inside and out of earshot. Speaking only loud enough to be just heard over the jets of the tub he asked, “How long?”
  37. 38. Heidi looked at him closely, “How long what?” she asked matching his whisper. “ How long have you been Captain Hero?” “ What makes you think I am?” “ I don’t think, I know. I am a Warlock.” She leaned back and smiled, “The last I heard, Witches and Warlock weren’t taught how to read people’s minds. What makes you so certain?” “ So you’re not denying it. You are Captain Hero.” “ You could just as easily be the Captain you know.”
  38. 39. “ Hmm, no. Conflict of interest. The Orders don’t allow it. Besides a Warlock’s life is full of potions and spells, they would never have the time to be running around in tights rescuing people from muggers.” Heidi stretched and leaned back. “Well, I’m very busy too. I have a huge company to help run. I also have no time for damsels in distress. You’re obviously confusing me with someone else.” “ I don’t think so.” He continued to stare at her with his golden brown eyes. “If you aren’t ready to share I understand. Trust is not an easy thing to foster but you should know that if you make her angry you will be in for a whole lot of pain.” Confused, Heidi sat up, “Which her are you talking about?” Jason’s eyes widened, “You’ll know when you meet her.”
  39. 40. Inside Marie’s spacious, modern house another unusual conversation was taking place… Marie stopped in front of the white grand piano and turned to face Darwin who had followed her closely through the door. “What was it you wanted to know again?” “ Don’t play dumb. We both know exactly what we are in here to talk about.” “ If you say so, but I’m quite certain that you are far more confused than I am.” Darwin ignored her barb, “Tell me about the guy dressed like a Ninja that has been trying to follow me.” “ He is a mercenary who I’ve obviously been paying too much for. He was hired to keep an eye on you.” “ He’s an elf?” “ Yes, Why does that matter?”
  40. 41. Darwin turned and paced away from her trying to think. You’re only going to get one shot at her. Make sure it’s a good one. “Why?” “ Why? I assume you mean why am I having you followed as opposed to “why is he an elf”. “ Just answer the question.” “ It’s quite simple really. You represent a huge investment of time and money on my part. Do you know how many years it has taken me to get just the right combination of DNA?” She smiled at his confused look. “Fifty-seven years and countless, useless alien half breeds and their defective hosts.” Darwin turned toward her angrily, “My father is not defective!” Delighted by his anger, “Oh, but he is. He’s brilliant and on the odd occasion charming, especially with his new personality but he’s still damaged goods. But he’s the right damaged goods and now I have you.”
  41. 42. “ And now that you have me, what’s next? Why are you having me followed? And what does that screwed up weather machine have to do with any of it?” “ The weather machine?” She looked genuinely confused, “The weather machine has nothing to do with you. I bought that thing years ago off an inventor who claimed that it was ten times more powerful than the original ones. I though it might have some military applications but now as I understand it, it’s little more than a gigantic paperweight.” “ You didn’t set that thing up to try and kill my dad?” “ No. I did not.” It was trying to kill Stanley? “It wouldn’t be logical for me to try and kill Stanley before you were conceived, now would it?” “ I suppose not.” But someone did. “Why am I so important to you? What is in my DNA that you are after?”
  42. 43. Marie paused to consider just how much she wanted to share with him. Too little and he would leave unsatisfied and continue to poke around until he found something troublesome. Too much and he would lead an outright revolt and all her careful plans would be undone. A truth dawned on her as she stood there, “You can tell if I’m lying to you, can’t you?” Damn! Darwin struggled to hide his frustration. “You said you would tell me the truth and you weren’t lying then. So tell me!” “ No. The pieces on the board have been rearranged right in front of my eyes. Things have changed and I can’t risk you knowing.” “ I won’t stop looking you know. I will find out eventually.” “ A bridge I will deal with when it comes time to cross it. Just keep in mind that I have many samples of your DNA already. The original is useful for my plans but not essential.”
  43. 44. “ Are you threatening to kill me?” “ Let’s be civil now. Think of it as reminding you of your place. You are a husband and soon to be a father. Your child will need you. Your wife will need you. It would be a shame for you to do something foolish and wind up getting hurt or worse. I’m merely cautioning you to be very, very careful where you stick your nose. And now I think this conversation and this party are over. Collect your family and leave. Oh, and inform both your father and your brother in-law that their employment with my company is terminated as of today.” Before he could spit out the words “That’s not fair”, She turned on her heel and climbed the stairs to the upper floor of the large home leaving Darwin with a very bad feeling. Darwin, Stanley, George and Jason all said polite and unexplained goodbyes to G and Heidi who took their hostesses queue and packed up to leave as well.
  44. 45. Back at home the newest generation of James children were facing their own problems… “ Aww! Only an A plus? My teacher hates me!” No, her grades weren’t the problem…
  45. 46. This was. Ever since Alicia had gotten old enough to attend school, she had taken to following her older cousin around everywhere. “ Kira! Wait for me!” Alicia watched Kira race into the house leaving her standing on the sidewalk all alone. “Poopy head!”
  46. 47. The intent of Kira’s sudden rush to get into the house was to find her father and brag about her grades. “Daddy! Daddy! Guess what? I got another A plus! I’m the bestest student in the whole class.” “ Way to go Kira. I just put your sister down for a nap, so why don’t you go play in the living room or outside.”
  47. 48. Out in the living room Kira found Alicia who was waiting impatiently for her to return. “ When you have guests my daddy says you are supposed to be polite to them. You should have invited me in to play.” Kira frowned at her, “I had to show my daddy something and besides I didn’t invite you. You just got off the bus here with me.” “ So? I’m still a guest here. You have a really big house. We live in a townhouse. It’s kind of small and my mommy is designing us a new house to live in. It’s going to be bigger than this one with a way nicer yard.” “ Nuh unh! My mommy said that your mommy is too busy running her business to move.”
  48. 49. Alicia rolled her eyes, “Whatever! My mommy is way smarter than your mommy cause she’s an architect and your mommy can’t even get promoted to a real reporter.”
  49. 50. Kira growled at her, “You take that back!” “ It’s true. My mommy is way smarter.” “ She can’t be.” “ Why not?” “ Because they’re twins and everyone knows that twins are exactly the same.” “ They are?” “ Yep. Twins are like clones. Exactly the same.” Alicia stood there pondering that statement and once again Kira raced out of the house towards the garage leaving her all alone.
  50. 51. Kira’s sprint out of the house led her into the garage to meet up with her mother who was just returning from work. “Yay! You’re home! Dance with me Mommy!” Mel happily took her daughter’s hands and danced around the garage with her for a few minutes. “All right Sweety, we have to stop now. I need to get cleaned up so I can go meet some people tonight about a lead.” “ But I want to play! Play with me!” Mel recognized the on coming tantrum. “ Now stop that young lady! Mommy has to work and can’t play with you right now.” “ You never play with me”, Kira pouted. Mel sighed, “You know that’s not true. Now, why don’t you go play on the swing or with your kite. Mommy’s very busy right now.” Kira wandered off dejected to play with Alicia who was standing with her arms crossed on the front porch.
  51. 52. Mel’s work that evening pulled her into a dive bar not too far from the warehouse district where it was not too gently suggested that finding out who Captain Hero was was a safer idea than investigating a crime lord and his vampire wife. The place was called “Ike’s” and according to her research through police blotters and old news articles, it was a place where criminals often came to do business. That was all well and good, but the moment she set eyes on the place she knew she was in over her head.
  52. 53. She surveyed the place nervously, “I can’t believe I’m even listening to you again”, she said through gritted teeth. “Last time I could have been raped and killed and here I am doing it again.”
  53. 54. “ Hey, I’m just a figment of your imagination. I never said you had to listen to me but if you want the big story that will get you that promotion this is where you should be. You know that better than I do, I’m just pointing out the obvious. Besides, doesn’t the atmosphere just set your heart to pounding? Almost anything could happen here.”
  54. 55. “ It occurs to me that you are a serious symptom of something much worse going on in my head. I really should go see that therapist George mentioned.” She had ordered some wine when she came in the place and the cute guy behind the bar interrupted her conversation with herself to set it down and collect her money. Once he had left she continued in a whisper, “The odds of anyone remotely related to this story coming in here tonight are slim. I’m going home, this was a terrible idea.”
  55. 56. “ All right, but don’t come crying to me about your inability to get promoted anymore. You never know who you might meet in a place like this and you could miss out on that big break you need.”
  56. 57. Mel waved her hand as if she was dismissing CC and took a sip of the wine that had been set in front of her, choking on it as soon as it hit her tongue. “What is this? Antifreeze with food coloring in it?” Her gagging stopped as soon she set eyes on the shapely woman who walked in through the front door, snapping her fingers as she entered. Wow! She’s pretty. Why do I feel like I know her?
  57. 58. The conversation in the bar came to a pause as the blonde entered as everyone turned to stare at her. Hello! I’d know that ass anywhere. What is she doing here?
  58. 59. The woman smiled coyly at the guys assembled around the bar and made a bee line for Melinda’s table. Mel couldn’t help but continue to think that she knew this woman from somewhere. “ Hi. My name is Lola. Do you mind if I join you?” The woman didn’t wait for an answer and abruptly pulled out the chair and sat across from her.
  59. 60. Did she say Lola? Ahh, damn him! What’s he doing here? Is that a wig?
  60. 61. A little taken aback by Lola’s self invitation, Mel could only ask, “I’m sorry, but do I know you? I could swear that I’ve seen you someplace before.”
  61. 62. Ignoring Mel’s question she leaned forward and asked, “What are you doing in here? Do you have any idea how much danger you are in? If your father knew you were in here he’d have a conniption. I’m taking you home, right now!”
  62. 63. “ Miss Swenson?” “ Shhh! Not so loud and call me Lola.” “ What are you doing here?” “ That’s not important. Just get up, get your purse and walk out the front door with me. I’ll get you to your car.” Sensing that this might be what CC had been talking about, Mel pressed Heidi/Lola for more information, “I’m a big girl and can take care of myself. I wanna know what you are doing here. You make too much money to find this place appealing and why are you in disguise?”
  63. 64. “ Please keep your voice down. I’m looking into something, that’s all.” “ Looking into what?” “ I can’t tell you.” “ Why not?” “ Because you are a reporter and it wouldn’t be safe for you know about it. You might get hurt. Now let’s go.”
  64. 65. “ I’m not a child and more importantly not your child. If there is something going to happen here I’m going to stick around for it.” Sensing that the direct route wasn’t going to get Mel to budge, Heidi decided to play along. “What did you come here for. Maybe I know the answer and then you can leave.” “ I’m following up on some leads about Captain Hero”, Mel whispered. Heidi leaned back, “You are? Then why are you here?” “ The Captain reportedly has been patrolling in this area. There have been several police reports filed that stated that the suspects reported being captured by the Captain and left for the police to find after an anonymous phone tip. Four times in the last two weeks and all within a 10 block radius of this bar.” “ This bar?” “ Yeah.”
  65. 66. “ Are you sure? I mean, maybe it’s just a coincidence.” “ That’s why they call it investigative journalism. You have to do some investigating. I’m working on a hunch that the Captain is getting his or her tips at this bar. And you know what’s funny? Here I am sitting here waiting for something to happen and you walk in.”
  66. 67. “ I assure you that is just a coincidence.” “ Really? Then tell me why you’re here?” Heidi glanced nervously around and Mel noticed that she couldn’t seem to maintain eye contact with her anymore. “I’m… looking into some thefts from the company.”
  67. 68. “ You’re lying. “Oh my god! You’re…” “ Shhh! Not so loud.” Mel felt a wave of elation rush over her. This was the story she needed. “You have to let me interview you. The city should know about what you are trying to do.” Heidi shook her head, “I can’t do that. It’s important that I stay in the shadows.” “ Well, that still doesn’t mean you can’t do an interview with me. We just won’t mention any names. Please, you have no idea what this means to me. I will meet you anywhere you want, any time you want. Just give me exclusive rights to interview you and I will let you read everything before it goes to the editor. Anything you don’t like I will rewrite or remove.”
  68. 69. “ If I say yes, will you please get up and leave the bar with me now?” “ Absolutely.” “ Then get your purse and let’s go. All of this must be kept an absolute secret. Do you understand.” “ Of course.” Heidi escorted Mel to her car and saw that she was on her way out of the neighborhood. Before she drove off, Mel told her about the conversation she had with Tess Trueheart and that the vampire had requested that she tell Captain Hero to come see her. Heidi was familiar with the warehouse but was a little confused by what Mel had said earlier. I haven’t busted anyone in this area in months. Is there someone else doing this too?
  69. 70. A little while later a few blocks away from Ike’s… “ Ahh, it’s you. Welcome.” “ Were you expecting someone else?” “ Maybe.” Tess smiled. “ I heard you wanted to see me.” ~~~~~~~~~
  70. 71. That same evening back at the house, Catalina was having her own confrontation with an individual she had met before. “ You? Is it time already?” It is time. You have lived a long life and been a good wife and mother. Now it is time for you to rest.
  71. 72. Have a free drink for the trip. “ You certainly are much more polite than the last time we met.” Different circumstances merit a different decorum. Besides you lost the wager fair and square and then cried about it like a baby. “ My husband was dying. I think I had a right to be upset.” You’re not going to make this trip difficult are you? I have six more stops this evening. “ No no. I’m ready to go.” Cat took the tiki drink and followed the Grim Reaper into the world of the dead leaving her distressed family behind.
  72. 73. Well, everyone but Stanley was distressed. Stanley knew better than to fret over his wife passing on. He would see her again soon enough.
  73. 74. For little Brooke it was very painful. Her grandmother had always been there to play with her and give her baths and now she was gone. George picked up his youngest daughter and hugged her close. “It’s all right little one. Let’s get you back to bed.”
  74. 75. Kellie and her husband Ted had just come over to pick up Alicia and were stunned by Cat’s departure. Kellie sank to the sofa and sat there somewhat stunned. “ Are you okay Kel?” “ Yeah. I knew her time was getting close. I just can’t believe that Dad isn’t more upset. The two of them were inseparable.” Ted glanced over at Stanley who had sat down in front of the piano and was playing some kind of jazz piece. “It may just take some time for it to sink in. I suppose that his near death experience might be having some influence on his behavior too.” “ I can’t believe that Mel isn’t here. We need to call Laurel and let her know what’s happened. And Darwin, he’s at work too.” “ George said that Mel’s at work tonight. He’s going to call her now.” Ted reached down and took his wife’s hand, “Let’s get Alicia home.” Kellie nodded and they said their goodbyes to the rest of the family.
  75. 76. Leaving Stanley to plunk away at the keys of the piano that Cat loved to play. He didn’t cry. He didn’t even look sad. He just played until he was too tired to play anymore.
  76. 77. Darwin had gotten Kellie’s call about Cat’s passing and hurried home as fast as he could. After a shower he went and found the only member of the household who wasn’t asleep at three in the morning. He found Brooke coloring a picture and wiping her nose in between sad little sniffles. He carefully picked her up and hugged her before lifting his niece high into the air playing with her. “ Don’t be sad Brooke. You will get to see Grandma again someday. I wish had been home when the Reaper came though. Was she scary?” Brooke’s face teared up again, “Yes.” “ Well, don’t worry. Uncle Darwin won’t let her scare you again, okay? Besides…”
  77. 78. “ There’s a lady sneaking up to the house outside bringing you and extra special present. You must have been a very, very good little girl. Not everybody gets one of the gypsies gifts. Are you a good girl?” “ Yes. Up, Uncle Darwin! Up!”
  78. 79. Darwin tossed to girl into the air, almost banging her head on the ceiling. “ Again!” He smiled, “You like to fly don’t’ you?” “ Again please.” Darwin tossed her up and down for several minutes until she seemed satisfied. He couldn’t wait until he could do this with his own children and Cassidy was due any day now. “I think it’s time for a nap now Brooke. I will go get your present and put it in a special place for when you are older. Get some sleep Munchkin. Tomorrow is your birthday.”
  79. 80. The next morning dawned bright and sunny and things around the house proceeded much as usual despite the obvious lack of Catalina’s presence. The girls played in the nursery…
  80. 81. And Darwin tended to his plants try to practice the sing-song language of the very simple spirits within the growing vegetables.
  81. 82. Far in the back of the yard Darwin had already planned an area to be the family’s burial plot and Catalina's ashes had been laid to rest there along with a bed of pink daisies. Stanley spent a few hours there after breakfast and the family let him have the space.
  82. 83. For the rest of the day Stanley enjoyed the other new feature Darwin had built. A small fishing pond with a cute little hippo fountain that spurted water from it’s nose. Darwin said that he really was interested in having the fish close by so he could try to learn to talk to them. Stanley didn’t really care about that but he did feel some satisfaction to see the house he and Cat struggled so hard to build starting to become a really beautiful home for his family. The fact that he had been fired from the lab didn’t phase him at all. He was ready for retirement anyway. Mel and Darwin both were still bringing in money from their jobs so the finances weren’t something to worry about and considering the threats that Miss Gray had made towards Darwin it was all for the best. Jason and Lori still worked there and could be counted on to pass on any information that they thought might be important.
  83. 84. George on the other hand was a bit stressed. It didn’t feel right to not have a job and he had been out for most of the day looking for a new one, returning just in time for the afternoon’s big event. That afternoon Brooke had her very small informal birthday party. George invited Alicia over but kept the rest of the guest list strictly close family for his shy daughter. “ Okay sweetie, let’s blow out the candles and become a big girl.” Brooke puckered up her lips and blew spittle on his cheek then giggled. “ Alright, let me help you with that. Heaven knows that Darwin won’t care that there is spit on the cake but I do.”
  84. 85. When the growing up was finished, Brooke’s resemblance to her father was covered up with a thick swath of hair. “ Brooke honey lets find you a new hair style. I can’t even see your eyes. Later I will take you to the park to play with someone very special.”
  85. 86. After the hair issue was corrected, father and daughter made their way to the playground where they met up with Laurel and her newly adopted daughter. A lovely young lady with auburn hair whose name also happened to be Brooke. “ We have the same name. That’s so cool. You can come to my house anytime and play with my toys if you want.” Laurel’s daughter smiled, “That’s really nice of you. We didn’t have many toys at the orphanage.” “ My grandpa made us some neat ones. Maybe he will make you some too.” “ He’s not my grandpa. Why would he want to make me toys.” “ I’ll ask him. He’ll do it. You’ll see.”
  86. 87. The two Brookes played for a couple of hours while Laurel and George sat and talked. The girls hit it off right away and Laurel was pleased the both Alicia and Brooke had accepted the adopted girl into the family so easily.
  87. 88. Over a Cassidy’s house the big day had arrived and Darwin brought his father along so he could be there for the birth of his next grandchild. “ You two get a room!” Darwin smiled, “Got one upstairs and another across the street. Which one should we use?” Cassidy blushed and hugged Stanley, “It’s good to see you again. I was so sorry to hear about your wife passing.” “ It was her time.” The three of them stood quietly by the street until Cassidy suggested they go inside and at least sit down. “My feet and back are killing me.”
  88. 89. Darwin wander upstairs to the nursery that they had been setting up for the coming child while Cassidy and Stanley sat down on the couch and chatted. “ I like what you’ve done with the place Cass. It’s nice and open.” “ I’m still working on a few things but with the baby getting so close I haven’t been able to do too much. Darwin has been over every day painting and hanging pictures.”
  89. 90. Darwin came back down the stairs, “The nursery looks great Honey but did you hang those shelves yourself? “ Yes I did.” “ You shouldn’t be reaching over your head like that. What if you had hurt yourself?”
  90. 91. “ I’m not made of glass you know. Besides it wasn’t that hard and I used the power screwdriver to put up the rails.” Stanley smiled. He had had some concerns that Cassidy was going to have a hard time being by herself so much. She looks a great deal like a delicate flower but Cassidy wasn’t afraid of a little hard work and trying things on her own. “Darwin did you install all the alarms I suggested?” “ Dad, the only way in or out of the house is the front door and we have an alarm right next to it. I really don’t think we need one in the bathrooms.” “ Your mother used to say that too until the house at college was broken into twice. You can never be too careful.”
  91. 92. Stanley and Darwin’s debate over alarms was cut short when Cassidy cried out in pain. “I think it’s time! Please tell me there’s a spell that makes this easier!”
  92. 93. Darwin watched Cassidy groan in pain as the contractions struck, “I don’t think so. Maybe an herbal concoction to make things go easier but I think you would have to drink that before you go into labor.” Stanley always hated watching Cat give birth. There was nothing he could do but stand there and fret.
  93. 94. Soon enough Darwin and Cassidy’s first child, a boy, made his way into the world and Cassidy looked down in awe at him. “He definitely has your eyes.” Stanley leaned over and studied the child, “Interesting. It would seem that your genetics Darwin dominated everything except his skin coloring.”
  94. 95. Cassidy handed to by to Darwin, “Here you hold him. I’m going to go get cleaned up.” “ What are we naming him?” “ How about Decker.” Darwin grinned, “Decker it is. Welcome to the world little man.” Decker yawned and stretched before letting out a loud burp. Stanley reached out and took the baby from Darwin. “It’s time for Grandpa to hold his first grandson.”
  95. 96. Next time in A Corporate Conspiracy… 
  96. 97. <ul><li>Ohh! A cliffhanger without any explanation! Aren’t I nice? </li></ul><ul><li>This update is a wee bit shorter than some of my others but I needed to select a logical stopping point otherwise I would have needed to break up some very important events that really should all be presented together so it make sense. I took a little longer to get this update out because of two reasons: </li></ul><ul><li>I started participating in some sims2 design contests at boolprop.com and blackpearlsims.com. Both forums are great but very different from one another. Blackpearlsism is more about designing and decorating and boolprop is for story writers. If you haven’t visited them I would suggest it. You do have to register for blackpearlsims but it’s free and there are some amazing designers and recolor/mesh artists posting there. </li></ul><ul><li>I was having some writers block when it came to the day to day family stuff. I’m far better writing for planned scenes than births and birthdays. </li></ul>
  97. 98. All that being said I do need to apologize for Brooke’s hair issues. The one she toddlerfied into was too grown up for her so I tried this one. As you can see it deforms her head in the back which is a shame because I do like the adult version of this from the front. I gave her the pony tails then when the new adoptee Brooke showed up at Laurel’s house I decided that they both should have the same hair style. So the first Brooke will have gone through several changes before hitting teen. I know that can be confusing- sorry. Or, better yet blame Peggy who made such a terrible mesh!
  98. 99. Every time I play the main lot I change some things around a little bit but this is how the house currently looks from the front. Except the flowers which all died because I forget to send someone out to water them. It wasn’t until yesterday (8/20) that I remembered that there are sprinklers in the garden catalog that will do the watering for you.
  99. 100. The first floor showing the new nursery. The kitchen has since been refitted with better counters and a taupe and blue color scheme.
  100. 101. The second floor hasn’t changed much at all except Darwin’s old room became Mel and George’s bed room.
  101. 102. And this is where Darwin lives above the garage. It’s a nice little studio with the only TV on the lot.
  102. 103. Paintings for generation two were completed. I still like Stanley’s best.
  103. 104. Mel finished the second generation’s required novel titled “Everything you need to know about Captain Hero”. It was a best seller.
  104. 105. And of course the family lost their matriarch Catalina. She lived 79 days and her will benefited fourteen people, including Nemo! Stanley never did cry. Old Stanley would have been distraught. New Stanley waited two days then, thanks to ACR made a booty call to a girl he met in college. She’s been over twice and won’t be included in the story as it’s too out of “character” for him.  Anyway, thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment if you like and if you have any suggestions, ideas or comments about my plot line don’t be afraid to share.
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