Roxanna watched the expressions on the faces of her visitors as she told her story. They tried to hide theiremotions, of course; no vampire liked to reveal all that they were for a stranger to see, not even her, and she hadnever been good at hiding her emotions until shed become a vampire.She wondered what they would think if she mentioned that the current Grand Magistrate of the Vampire Council hadonce been her lover and the father of her children.
"And then," she said, finishing the tale, "the sun set, and I was left alone but for the ghosts.“"But...but didnt you say the Reaper gave you the power to send ghosts on?" the Count asked, looking aroundnervously. His eyes flickered to the tray of glasses that, even now, hovered at her side, ready and available in caseshe wanted one."Of course. That doesnt mean I have to send all of them on, now does it?“The Count and Contessa glanced at each other, then back at her.She simply smiled.
"What - what would you like us to tell His Excellency, Your Grace?" the Contessa asked.Roxanna raised an eyebrow. "Tell him that I expect him to consult with me on all matters pertaining to the Doranfamily, as I am the only one among us who truly understands what it means to be a Doran. And yes, I know thatvarious members of the Council were around when I was alive; I am still the expert in this situation and expect to betreated as such. I expect this Doran to be brought here so that I may meet him or her. And tell him I will know ifhe chooses to ignore my request.“"Yes, Your Grace," the Contessa answered, biting her lip. She hoped the Grand Magistrate wouldnt be angry withher or the Count as the bearers of bad news. She wasnt even sure if it was bad news, but she was pretty sure itwasnt good.
"Now leave me. My friends will show you out.“The Count and Contessa obeyed with alacrity, eager to get as far away from this crazy old vampire as quickly aspossible.
They barely even blinked at the front door opening before them or the way it slammed shut the instant they wereoutside.Instead they just walked as fast as they could, headed for Crypt O Night Club and the Vampire Council to give theirreport.
Roxanna watched from her window as the Count and Contessa walked quickly up the street.She turned at the sound of footsteps on the stairs.
Her sister materialized just inside the door to the room.“I noticed,” Astraea said, crossing her arms and raising her eyebrows, “that you ended your tale before I showed up.Before your ghostly friend left, even.”“You know why I did that.”“Yeah, I do. It makes you much more imposing if you seem to have ghosts at your beck and call, as well as the factthat you’re not insane when they all expected you to be.”
“You…you don’t mind, do you?”“What? Getting you blood so you don’t go insane? Pretending to be a ghost to enhance your reputation? Spying onthe Vampire Council by using a fake name to attend meetings? Don’t be silly, Roxanna. You’re my twin. And it’sfun to sneak around. I find it amusing that a century has passed and no one, not even your former lover, hasfigured out that I’m your sister.”“Well, it’s not like we look all that similar, other than the coloring. And you are using a fake name when you’re atthe Vampire Council.”Astraea shrugged. “True.”
Astraea grinned. “Though, really, you’d think Marcus would have figured out that there’s an actual reason he’s risenso far so fast. He really shouldn’t have become Grand Magistrate for at least another century or two, if not longer.”“He never was the brightest star in the heavens, no matter that I did love him.”“But not anymore.”“No. Our relationship was over well before I became a vampire, and all these years of enforced separation…well,we’ve grown apart even more than we already were.”Astraea nodded as she finally approached her sister. “Of course.”
“So, do you think–” Roxanna cut herself off before she could finish the sentence.Astraea, used to the signs, tilted her head at her sister. “Ghost approaching?”“Two.” Over the years, she’d learned to distinguish what the various feelings meant. She could feel ghosts fromfurther away than she used to be able to, and she could tell quite a bit about them.One of these felt familiar, and she frowned.
When the ghosts finally made it into the room, Roxanna gasped. Astraea put a hand on her elbow; Roxanna shookher head – it wasn’t anything bad. Astraea understood her sister and let her handle it, but kept her hand onRoxanna’s elbow just in case.
“Lily,” Roxanna whispered.“Mom.”It was so, so strange to see her daughter looking so much older than she did, but Roxanna had already beenthrough this three times before.This child, though – this child she had saved from death once, something she could never do again.
“You died of old age?” Roxanna asked.Lily nodded. “Yes. My husband John and I passed together a few years ago,” she said, gesturing at the man next toher.“It was a long, full life?”“It was. Oh, Mom, I wish I could tell you all about my children, but it’s time to move on. You know why we’re here.”
Roxanna nodded, smiling tremulously. “I do. I – I’m glad I got to see you before you moved on. And I’m glad youwere happy, that you took advantage of your life.”“I love you, Mom.”“I love you too, Lily.”
The ghosts came to stand in front of Roxanna, standing together.She reached out both hands and touched their hearts, then watched them disappear.
Then she pulled her sister into a hug, letting Astraea hold her as she dealt with the emotions that had been broughtup by her daughter’s appearance.
After a bit, Roxanna finally felt calm enough to separate, so she pulled back.Astraea kept her hand on Roxanna’s shoulder. “You’re alright?”Roxanna nodded. “Yes. Lily’s moved on – all of my children have, now. And they all ultimately had good lives.I’m…I’m just glad Lily was able to keep going.”Astraea nodded. “Of course.”
There was a moment of silence, then Astraea clapped her hands together.“So,” she said, “you were in the middle of saying something when we were interrupted by your Reaperly duties?”“Oh, yeah. I was about to ask if you think Marcus realized what day it is.”Astraea nodded. “He did. He definitely did.”“Did he say it outright?”“Not in the main Council. But come on, seriously, those two were cannon fodder.”
Roxanna frowned. “What do you mean?”“The two who came today? They’re total newbies, not older than a couple years if that. You know no one knowshow you’ve stayed sane – he may have loved you, but I’m sure Marcus doesn’t trust it any more than anyone elsewho was around when you were sentenced. He sent those two idiots in case you really were nuts, so if you wentcrazy and killed someone because of starvation, it wouldn’t be him or anyone else actually important. The Doranrumor is true, but he’d probably have picked someone higher up in the hierarchy to deliver the message if it were toanyone but you. Especially today.”“Oh. Of course.”
The downstairs clock chimed five and Roxanna tilted her head. “I…I think it might be late enough.”“Do you want to try?”“Yeah.”
They walked down the stairs together and toward the front door, passing the hall mirror as they did so. Becoming avampire had solved the one weakness of Astraea’s invisibility: she no longer had a reflection whether she was visibleor not, and thus it could never give her away again. As long as she was sneaky (and she was good at being sneaky),no one would never know she was somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be.It was how she – and by extension Roxanna – knew so much of the inner workings of Sim City.It was also how she’d helped Marcus on his rise to the top of the Vampire Council. It was very hard to fight anenemy you couldn’t see, an enemy you didn’t even know existed until they’d already attacked.
Roxanna approached the front door, nervously reaching for the handle. It had been so, so long since she’d left thishouse. Had the magic taken properly? Would she be able to leave now? It hadn’t died when its casters did, butthat hopefully meant the time limit was truly what controlled it.When she opened the door she put her hand out.The barrier that had kept her in the house for all these years no longer existed.She was finally free.
She gingerly walked out onto the front porch, then down the stairs and into the yard.She basked in the feeling of the wind on her skin as the moonlight shined down above her.A raindrop hit her forehead and she smiled.
When she’d finished basking in the freedom, she looked around. Where was her sister?“Astraea?” she called.“Over here,” a voice said from the steps.Roxanna tilted her head. “Why are you invisible?”She could hear Astraea’s smile. “Why do you think? You know how much power you command by being the creepyold vampire who has ghostly servants, who feeds on ghosts. Let’s not ruin the mystique quite yet.”
Roxanna laughed. “Shall we move to the backyard, then? That way I won’t look so silly to any passersby.”“Excellent idea.”As they walked to the backyard, Roxanna spoke. “So, is there a reason you want me to remain so mysterious?”
“Nothing yet,” Astraea answered, reappearing once they were out of sight of the road. “But who knows what thefuture brings?”“…You’re going to want me to take over the Council one day, aren’t you?”“The Council? Why stop there?”Roxanna rolled her eyes. “I have no interest in any of that stuff.”“I know. But there are other uses, too. Besides, you can always take the mystery away, but it takes a lot of work toget it back.”
“That is true,” Roxanna said.“Indeed.”They spent an hour or so enjoying the air, until both of them felt that the sun would soon rise.
Then they returned to the house to spend the day asleep.Tomorrow, the night would come; Astraea would attend a meeting of the Vampire Council, Roxanna would enjoy herfreedom. Perhaps the new Doran in Sim City would be brought to meet her. But that was tomorrow.Today, they had each other.And that was enough. ***
So! That’s the end of Generation 9, which is finally done!First, I’ve got a few thank yous to make. Thanks must first go to Marina for okaying the plot and for holding myhand through many of the freakouts I had over the Astraea plotline (seriously, you should have seen me last night,there was CAPSLOCK GALORE because oh my god, how the hell have we managed to keep this a secret for threeyears?). Second, thanks to Annie for moving on even without the turn before her, for giving me plots to work within regards to Lily, and for sending me the information that Stacie had given her. Thanks also to Stacie for droppingout and giving me the opportunity to write Roxanna’s story, which I had not expected once I handed her over.Thanks, of course, to all the other RR participants who helped make this story what it is – Marina, Gin, Lark, Cait,Ori, Pen, Jamie, Annie, and Jenn, as well as anyone who wrote a side story.And thanks, most of all, to everyone who let me babble at them about plot or staging, even when I couldn’t explainwhy I was babbling or what my problems with the story were.
In addition, thanks to everyone who lent me sims for part 5 – there are far too many of you to name! If you feel likeit, you can always go back and play “spot the sim” during the death and vampire sections, as most of thebackground sims during those sections are imports.And, of course, a hearty thank you to all my readers. You make this whole thing worthwhile.
I have a few things to say before I go.First, there were a lot of factors involved in the decision to bring Astraea back, which I will go into detail about whenI post a BTS, which will hopefully be fairly soon. This is a plan that has taken over three years from its genesis to itscompletion, and was, in fact, in place in its basic form before I even started Generation 8, let alone Generation 9.Second, I’m sure some of you are wondering about Genevieve’s murder, which I (intentionally) left unsolved. If youwant to know who killed her…well, I suggest a reread of Generation 10, with Lily as heiress. I admit that some ofwhat I did doesn’t quite match up with what Annie did, for a number of reasons, which will also be discussed in myBTS. Besides, it’s been a long time since Generation 10 was published: go back and read it so that you canhopefully be caught up by the time Generation 11 gets up!So, leave a comment, go reread Generation 10, and then stay tuned for the BTS (coming soon to a livejournal nearyou)!