An Apocalypse of Ice; chapter 5


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Chapter 5 of my Apocalypse: now with double the angsty Fortune Sims.

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An Apocalypse of Ice; chapter 5

  1. 1. Previously on An Apocalypse of Ice: After making twenty best friends, returning plant life to the region, and living to see the birth of her first grandchild, Sansa Stark passed away and left Winterfell to her only child, Eowyn. Eowyn had dreamed about being a doctor since becoming a teenager, but she set that dream aside and took a job teaching at the local elementary school, hoping to become Education Minister and open up high schools and colleges again. Her husband, Kennedy, had become General and lifted the military curfew, so Eowyn hoped her children would have the opportunity to go to college that she lacked. They had three children: Brandon, Malcolm, and Julian. Brandon had just become a teenager and chosen the Fortune aspiration, like his parents and grandfather, so the chance to go to college was especially important to him. Mal is still a child with more nice points than the rest of the family put together, and Julian still isn’t out of his crib yet. Before he died, Eowyn’s father Addison warned Kennedy that they should pay more attention to the children, but Eowyn and Kennedy believe the best thing they can do as parents is succeed in their careers.
  2. 2. “So when am I going to be able to go to school?” Brandon asked at breakfast. “Once I become Education Minister,” Eowyn answered. “Then I’ll be able to set up a high school for you to go to.” “But you’re a college professor, and you were a high school principal for a while,” Brandon protested. “Why can’t I just go to your school?” “It’s just a small group of students, because they’re just testing it out,” Eowyn explained. “I couldn’t enroll you because it would make us look corrupt.” “But everyone else is corrupt!” “But we’re Starks. We’re supposed to fix things, and we’re not going to do that by acting like everyone else.” Eowyn paused. “At least, that’s what your grandmother always said. I wouldn’t mind bending the rules for you, but they won’t let me.”
  3. 3. “Plus, you could get put in jail!” Mal piped up. “I don’t want that to happen.” They all stared at him for a moment. Brandon responded: “There are no jails, doofus.” “…Sorry.” “It’s okay, Malcolm,” Kennedy said. “Maybe someday there will be jails.” “And then all the bad people can go there!” “Yes, they can,” Eowyn agreed. “It’d be nice if some bad people went to jail every so often. The school system is crawling with incompetent teachers and administrators.”
  4. 4. Speaking of bad people, Julian was about to grow up. He got on his feet, started shaking, and soon became a child: “Hey! I don’t have to be in a crib anymore! WHEEE! I’m going to do some jumping jacks now! One--” “Shut up! I’m trying to meditate!” “TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX—” Julian shouted, just to be contrary. “Hey! Dad! Look at me! Stop looking out the window! I’m a big kid now! I’m cute!” “You won’t be once I’m through with you if you won’t let me meditate, squirt,” Brandon growled. “Let him meditate, Julian,” Kennedy said absently.
  5. 5. Eventually, Julian roped Brandon in for a game of chess. However, the two of them weren’t particularly interested in playing the game. Brandon had had enough of sitting in front of the chessboard. As for Julian, he just didn’t have the attention span yet to understand how the pawns move. When you add that to the fact that they’re both meanies… “BRANDON!” Julian screamed. “Mom just got abducted by aliens!” Brandon turned his head.
  6. 6. Then he remembered that he did the same thing to Mal all the time and turned back. Sure enough, Julian had his hand on one of the pieces. “Don’t even think about it,” Brandon informed him. “But I don’t know how to move a pawn—” “I invented that method, kid. I’m smart enough not to fall for it.”
  7. 7. Brandon broke up the monotony of skilling and looking after his kid brothers by making some friends. He knew it would be important to have friends when he grew up so that he could advance in his job. Brandon had decided to be either a scientist or a cook, whichever popped up in the papers first, and that Mal could take the job he didn’t get. Either way, Brandon would need to get to know people. With nine outgoing points, it came easily to him. “Mal’s going to grow up tomorrow,” he informed Maya Tabor, a Family Sim living on the other side of town. “That’ll be nice,” Maya said. “What aspiration do you think he’ll pick?” “Fortune. We’re all Fortune, except my grandma, who was Popularity,” Brandon explained. “It makes sense, because money provides some security. But not being able to make money or buy things for this itty-bitty house sucks.” “How do you think he’ll be able to deal with the college thing?” “Hopefully, he won’t. Mom’s getting closer and closer to being Education Minister.” “Let me know when she makes it,” Maya said. “I hope you’ll be able to go to college.” “I will if I can get a line out.” Brandon rolled his eyes. “And thanks.”
  8. 8. The day after Julian became a child, Mal had his birthday. When the time came, he stepped away from the dolls he had been playing with and started shaking. Brandon had mentioned that it was easier to stay clean as a teen. He hoped this was true.
  9. 9. “Dude! I have hands! This means I’m going to go on great adventures, just like Grandpa when he brought back that Jumbok statue. It’s going to be so much fun! If I can manage to get out of bed in the morning.” Mal slouched just thinking about it. Then he started thinking about all the adventures he was going to have once he could finally get out of the house. Addison had read stories to Mal about the things he’d done in his life. Fighting his way through a pack of warring armies to get to his grandma had only been the beginning for him. And it wasn’t like his grandmother had been helpless. Bringing hope back to this place couldn’t have been easy. Mal wanted to do something just as monumental himself.
  10. 10. Chess games between Brandon and Mal were marginally more civilized, at least on Mal’s end. He didn’t understand how you could cheat your way to being more logical. If he had to sit in front of the chessboard instead of being allowed to play Red Hands, he was going to learn how to play the game so he could beat Brandon fair and square. “You chose Fortune, right?” Brandon asked his younger brother. Mal nodded. “I want to be a pirate. Speaking of adventures, what are we supposed to do now that we can’t go to school anymore?” “I don’t know. Sit around the house and build our skills for our future jobs, I guess. That’s the only thing I’ve been able to think of. Maybe if we get fit, we can go out now that the roads are open.” “That sucks. I hate working out.”
  11. 11. “You’re telling me that? It’s been three years of it for me. I know it sucks.” Brandon stopped talking to survey the board. He considered trying to divert Mal’s attention from the chessboard, but it seemed stupid to cheat on the first move. “I just want to get out of this house and go to college. That’s the only thing I’m daring to dream about. I can’t have anything else, but maybe I can have that.” “Is it ever going to happen?” Mal asked. “Mom says she’s only one promotion away, and then she’ll be Education Minister, and the schools will be open to everyone. So I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen.” “I’m looking forward to it,” Mal said with a slight smile on his face. “Me too, kid.”
  12. 12. The next day, Brandon picked up the phone. “Stark residence,” he said mechanically, like his parents told him to do. “Brandon speaking—” “Brandon! It’s Maya.” “Maya? Oh. Hi.” “So, what’s the deal? Is your mom Education Minister? Are you going to college?” “No.” “Oh. Well, maybe tomorrow—”
  13. 13. “I’m never going to college, Maya!” Brandon shouted. “What?” “Yeah. ‘What.’ Mom got home in the middle of the day. Turns out the suits weren’t happy with the way she was running the college. Something about how she wasn’t tactful enough.” “What happened?” “It doesn’t matter! THEY FIRED HER!” Maya had nothing to say to that. “Yeah. You know what that means. She’ll never get a job as a teacher again. She’ll never be Education Minister. And I won’t ever go to college. You know what she’s doing now? A lowest-of-the-low job as a golf caddy. That’s all she could get.”
  14. 14. With no hope of going back to school, Brandon and Mal kept building their skills in preparation for future jobs. One weekend afternoon, Mal took a break from skilling to read to Julian, who was too bored to skill and couldn’t bring their parents out of meditation. “Once upon a time, there were three bears—” “And they got ripped to pieces!” Julian said. “No, Joule, these are nice bears, and nobody wants to rip them to pieces.” Mal explained. “There was a mom, a dad, and a baby—” “I don’t want nice bears. Real people aren’t nice.” “I’m nice, Joule, and I’m a real person,” Mal explained. “It’s okay to give people hugs and not smash the dolls, you know.” “Well…” Julian came back with the classic seven-year old reply: “You’re a weirdo!”
  15. 15. Mal stewed over this for the rest of the day as he reviewed his cookbook. Was he weird just because he was nice? True, no one else in the family was nice. His parents meditated all the time and barely paid any attention to them, except when it was time for their daily meal. His brothers would cheat him blind at chess if he didn’t keep his eyes open. But Mal couldn’t help it. He didn’t want to cut any throats to get to the top of his career. The world might be cold, but he didn’t want to let other people’s cruelty drag him down. Julian came outside to recycle an old newspaper as Mal put the finishing touches on a snowman. “Hi, Mal,” he said. Mal took a deep breath to get his nerve up. He wasn’t as comfortable around his younger brother as he was around his older one. “Julian, I’m not weird just because I’m nice,” he said quickly. “I remember Grandpa told me that Grandma always said that just because times are hard, you don’t have to start being mean all of a sudden. You should try it sometime. Give somebody a compliment instead of making weird faces at them.”
  16. 16. “Um…” Julian looked surprised. “Okay. I can give you a hug.” “No. You d-don’t have to,” Mal said quickly. “Not now. I just want to get to know you a little better, and it’d be easier if you were nicer.” “That’s why you don’t like me as much as Brandon?” “What? No. Brandon’s just as mean as you are. I mean, not mean—” “Nah, I know I can be a grouch,” Julian said happily. “But he’s always been there,” Mal continued. “I just need to get used to you. Okay?” “Okay.”
  17. 17. “Whatcha writing about, Mally?” Brandon asked as he turned away from his cooking book. “Not telling.” Mal clutched his diary to his chest. “Go away.” “You’re writing about Sophie, aren’t you? You think she’s cute?”
  18. 18. “You shouldn’t have noogied her.” “Come on. She liked it.” “No. She didn’t.” “Well, there’s nothing stopping her from giving me a noogie if she wants to.” “But you shouldn’t have. She was just walking by the house. It’s not nice.” “So you do like her!” “No. I’m Fortune, remember? All I want is a cell phone, a job, and college.” “Yeah. Me too.” They both knew they were lying. Brandon and Mal both thought girls with black hair were really cute, but neither was comfortable around them.
  19. 19. Eowyn’s car pulled up to the Stark house late at night to drop her off. “How was the—projectioning?” “Whatever you want to call it,” she grumbled. “Boring as crap, but I got a paycheck and a promotion, so I’m happy.” “Right. Happy birthday, and see you tomorrow morning.” As the car drove away, Eowyn began shaking.
  20. 20. Before she knew it, she had grown old in a sparkle of confetti. It had hardly been a surprise that her birthday was coming, but looking at her withered hands made Eowyn’s heart sink. Despite every bit of determination she could muster, her lifetime want had passed her by. The hospital would never take her on as a doctor now. Her mom had been one with the plant life. Her dad had brought back career rewards and thinking caps. Her husband had fought off the invading armies and opened up the roads so people could come to Winterfell again. But Eowyn was just a home video editor, and now all she could hope to be was a party guest.
  21. 21. Eowyn and Kennedy spent most of their time meditating. Their sons were constantly hungry, and meditating meant that they didn’t have to eat valuable food that the boys could have as they tried to build their skills. Eowyn also wanted to keep her mood high so that she could get promoted each time she came into work. She suspected that Kennedy had another reason for meditating. He had quit his job after becoming General so someone could keep an eye on the kids, but he was miserable without it.
  22. 22. But Eowyn came home with good news before long: “I’m glad to see that everyone’s having a good time this Tuesday—because now you’ve got a professional party guest in the house!” “Does that mean the party’s going to be officially awesome?” Brandon asked. “Are you kidding? First of all, there are no parties. Second of all, I’m just a guest. I don’t do anything but stare those evil little labor leaders in the eye and tell them they’ll be blacklisted if they dare fire people for no reason like they did to me. It’s no substitute for law and order, but it works.” As much as Eowyn belittled her accomplishment, she couldn’t help being a little proud.
  23. 23. Eowyn had brought her friend Chris Fancey, another party guest, home with her. Chris was a long-time friend of the family; Addison had made her acquaintance not long after things really started to go downhill around Winterfell, and Eowyn had reconnected with her at a party. “I wish I could have done something more,” Eowyn lamented. “I wanted to be a doctor. And being a teacher wasn’t so bad, really. Lots of little brats running around—but I liked it, in a way.” “But this will at least make things a little easier on your kids when they get jobs,” Chris told her. “And you get to have a lot of fun while you’re doing it.” Eowyn sighed. “I may be playful, but I would have liked to do something that would last after I’m in the ground.”
  24. 24. Mal also made Chris’s acquaintance at the party: “Sho ska—who’s Malcolm?” Brandon asked, finger-gunning him as he came into the house and headed upstairs. “Nobody ever calls you Malcolm.” He wanted to tell his brother to shut up, but he didn’t want to upset him. “Well, you can call me Mal. Everyone does,” he added. “It’s nice to meet you.” “Nice to meet you too, Mal.” She smiled. “Thanks. Um…”
  25. 25. “You were going to ask about the scars?” she asked. “My house burned down during the disaster. I made it out, but not without a price, as you can see.” “I wasn’t—but I guess I was wondering,” Mal admitted. “Sorry to bring up any memories.” “It doesn’t make a difference to me,” Chris said. “I just figure anyone who would find me less attractive is someone I wouldn’t want to be with, anyway.” “You’re probably right about that. Not that I’ve thought about that much—I’m Fortune.” “Following in your mom and grandpa’s footsteps, I see.”
  26. 26. “What are you learning in school today?” Eowyn asked Julian at breakfast, mostly to have something to talk about. “We’re going to do algebra! I don’t get it, though.” “What on earth is algebra?” Brandon asked, staring at his little brother. “You know, math problems—” “Oh. Math. The kind of thing that you need to do in order to be a good scientist. I’ve forgotten all about that.”
  27. 27. “It’s okay. Maybe something magical will happen, and you’ll be able to go to school again,” Julian suggested. Mal appreciated the gesture, but it didn’t do anything for Brandon.
  28. 28. Brandon grimaced at his second bowl of cereal. “I’ll never go to college,” he muttered. Once his dad had opened up the roads, it seemed like an option again. Things felt so hopeless. Would he ever get out of this house? Would life ever get any better than this? It sure didn’t seem like it.
  29. 29. He tried to muster up enthusiasm for building up his skills that day, but he couldn’t quite manage it. “What are you studying, Joule?” he asked his brother. “Mechanical. How about you?” “Cleaning. You need to be good at cleaning if you’re going to be a scientist or a cook,” Brandon informed Julian. “But they don’t tell you that it helps a ton if you can go to college.” He slammed the book shut and put it back on the shelf.
  30. 30. Destroying things when upset was a Stark family tradition, so Brandon found a victim for his frustration.
  31. 31. “IF I CAN’T GO TO COLLEGE, NEITHER CAN YOU!” he shouted at the dolls, smashing the house they had played with as children. “You’re going to be stuck looking after your little brothers, and you’ll never get an education, and you’ll never get what you want!”
  32. 32. He was also up to his old tricks. “Lily! Mal’s gone berserk! He’s beating up Sandy Bruty!” “…What?” “Well, they do say, beware the nice ones...”
  33. 33. “Brandon, Sandy Bruty isn’t even in this house. I think you’re trying to cheat me.” “Nope! Totally honest, that’s what they call me!”
  34. 34. Sometimes Kennedy came out of his meditation to work on a novel. He figured it would be a good way to earn a little more money for the family, and he was right—it became a bestseller.
  35. 35. But Eowyn was right: Kennedy didn’t just meditate because he wanted to save food for the boys. It meant that he didn’t have to think about the way things might have been. He wanted to work. He wanted Eowyn to be happy with her work, instead of doing something she hated just so that her kids wouldn’t have to suffer the same unfairness that she faced. Couldn’t they use all the money they’d stashed under the mattresses to make things better?
  36. 36. Mal continued to build up skills for his future career. “Salmon? This sounds so awesome. I wonder if I can get my hands on some of this any time soon? Not that we’d have any way to cook it if I did—except maybe on that grill…”
  37. 37. He worked out in hopes that he could leave the house someday, but it didn’t go very quickly. “I’m dirty. Actually, forget about that. This hurts! Can’t I skill sitting down again?”
  38. 38. But Mal followed Brandon’s example and socialized with the occasional visitor. “I’m Malcolm Stark, but everyone calls me Mal,” he introduced yourself. “What’s your name?” “Brittany Amana. I just moved here,” she said. “Shouldn’t you be in school?” “No schools for teenagers around here. Long story. Do you want to come in? I don’t want you to freeze.” “Sure.” She smiled. As a Popularity Sim, Brittany was always ready to meet someone new.
  39. 39. “Have I mentioned it’s nice to play against somebody who doesn’t cheat?” “How do you know I don’t cheat? I’ve only made one move,” Brittany joked. “My brothers would have already tried to cheat me by now,” Mal explained. “I pretend that I don’t notice, but Joule’s excuse about not knowing how the pawns move doesn’t work after a certain age.”
  40. 40. “So what did you do in school today, Joule?” Mal asked. “Math.” His brother yawned. “Other boring crap. I don’t like school much. I don’t see why you and Brandon complain about not being able to go all the time.” “I was bored out of my skull,” Mal said. “But it’s more about what an education can do for you than anything else.” “Do you want to be an artist, a cult leader, a natural scientist, or an actor?” “No.” “Then shut up. I’m going to grow up now, so let’s get everybody over here.”
  41. 41. “I’ve got the shakes!” Julian shouted to get the whole family over. “I’m going to grow up!” In a rare moment away from meditation, Kennedy cheered and told him to jump high in the air.
  42. 42. When Julian landed, he looked awfully pleased with himself. “So, what do you want to do?” Mal asked him. “Become the Law? Space Pirate? Chief of Staff? $100,000?” “Why do you guys care so much about money?” Julian asked as he landed. “I’m not Fortune. I’m Romance.”
  43. 43. “…Romance?” Brandon asked. “What’s that?” “It means he’s really into girls,” Lily Azure explained to them. “Or boys—” “Girls. Definitely girls.” Julian flexed his bicep. “Yeah. I’m going to be an athlete, and then all the girls are gonna love me. Gotta go. I need to practice my charisma now.” “But…why would anybody not be Fortune?” Brandon asked.
  44. 44. Julian picked up the thinking cap from the desk, escaped to the bathroom, shut the door, and had a look at himself in the mirror. He’d known that his family wasn’t going to understand, but he didn’t want to spend his teenage years smashing dollhouses and kicking over trash cans like his brothers. He wasn’t interested in going batty just because he couldn’t go to college. And he’d seen some cute girls walk by the house. “I’m hot,” Julian announced to the mirror, practicing for the first kiss he hoped to get soon. “All the girls are going to love me.”
  45. 45. Before long, he thought he had a shot with Ivy Copur. Sure, she’d be cuter if she was in a swimsuit, but that wasn’t likely in this neverending winter. But she did seem to think he was cute.
  46. 46. Except when he asked, she flatly denied it. “You’re disgusting, Julian Stark,” she announced. “And quit staring at my chest! I’m never going to let you touch me!” She will eventually, he thought, even as she disappeared into the house to play mahjong and warm up. I’m too cute for her to ignore me for long.
  47. 47. “Why didn’t you choose Fortune?” Mal asked the next day, probably desperate for conversation. “The question I’d be asking is why all of you suckers chose Fortune,” Julian said, pointing at Mal. “Oh, sure, I can see how there’s a reason for it when we’re poor and destitute, but get real. We have close to three hundred thousand Simoleons stashed under the mattresses. What’s another hundred thousand?” “It means a lot to Brandon.” “That’s nice, but now he’s always pissed because he can’t get anything he wants, and I’m happy, lack of food and showers aside. I think I’m going to have a better life in the long run than the rest of you.”
  48. 48. Mal remembered when he had kicked the trash can over the day before out of sheer frustration. He felt awful about doing it—what if they got roaches? That would be disgusting. So he picked it up and made sure everything was clean. But he just had to do something about how frustrated he felt about not being able to make any kind of contribution to the family. The Starks might have had a fortune stashed under their mattresses, but they couldn’t use any of it, and Mal hated it.
  49. 49. From about this point forward, Mal and Julian started getting along better. In a house this small, it was difficult to hold a grudge against anyone. Besides, they were all family, and they needed to stick together when sometimes it seemed like everyone else was trying to bring them down.
  50. 50. This didn’t mean that they got along perfectly, of course. “Can’t we just hug it out if you’ve got a problem with me?”
  51. 51. Brandon grows up on a Tuesday: everyone’s there.
  52. 52. “Hey! These gray pajamas are so much better than my old plaid ones...”
  53. 53. “But…dammit! This means I’ll never go to college. And everything sucked so much during the last few years, and I can’t see it getting any better. WHY ME? Why did I have to be born into this stupid family where I can’t have a job, a car, or a cell phone?” Brandon ranted to himself as he looked down at the ground, forgetting all the people who had gathered around to watch him grow up.
  54. 54. “Things don’t have to be this way, kid.” Brandon looked up and saw a man in strange glasses looking back at him. “Who are you?” he asked reflexively, putting on a smile so he wouldn’t look stupid in front of this total stranger who he was pretty sure no one had invited. “I’m Brandon Stark.” “See? You’re feeling better already.” The man in the lab coat smiled. “Now…Stark, did you say? I know things are pretty tough for you guys. And things are going to start looking up for you soon. You know why? Because you can get a job! Even without a degree, you can be almost anything you want.”
  55. 55. “If I can find the listing in the paper,” Brandon grumbled. “But if that’s the only thing that’s stopping you, then that’s almost nothing at all! What was it you wanted to do? Look at this wheel.” “Well, Mal and I decided we’d be a scientist and a chef, in whatever order those jobs appeared in the paper,” Brandon said. “You don’t need a degree for that!” “Yeah, but—” Brandon suddenly realized that everyone was still gathered around him. “Whatever. As soon as I get over this, I can get started actually doing stuff. Having a job’s going to be nice. I still want $100,000, okay?”
  56. 56. Eowyn hung her head as she watched her son grow up. She still couldn’t shake the feeling that everything he was going through was all her fault. She wouldn’t have done anything differently, but the one mistake that she’d made was making her boys miserable. She’d been through what Brandon was going through now, and before long the same thing would happen to Mal. So she took her frustration out on Jan Tellerman. “Hey! My son is not crazy. I’ll have you know that some of us actually want to improve our lot in life here!”
  57. 57. Brandon quickly proved to Julian that the incident at his birthday party hadn’t dulled his wits one bit.
  58. 58. “Are you feeling any better?” Andrea Hogan asked Brandon a couple of days after his birthday. “A little.” He sighed. “At least now I can work. I took a job as a security guard, but I switched today to being a mailroom tech. I’m still looking for that one job I really want to do.” “Scientist or cook, you said?”
  59. 59. “Yeah, but now I’m having second thoughts. Mom says her parties are only going to have an effect as long as she’s around. Once she dies, then the employers won’t be scared anymore, and any of us could be fired whenever for any stupid reason. Either one of my brothers or me needs to become the law so that what happened to her can never happen to us.” “That’s a noble thing to do,” Andrea said. “I just want to make a difference. And make money.” “Doesn’t sound so bad to me.” Andrea brushed her hand against Brandon’s.
  60. 60. Brandon had always liked Andrea, but he started crushing on her once he grew up. He’d always thought black hair was attractive, and it turned out that she agreed with him. They also wanted the same things out of life: money and success. Eowyn would definitely approve if Brandon married her. But when he thought about it, Brandon didn’t want to marry Andrea. He just wanted to do something about the lawlessness that pervaded Winterfell and make his personal fortune. Maybe marriage would be nice, but like his parents, the marriage would always come after his career. And Brandon had had enough of kids to last a lifetime. That meant he couldn’t be the Stark family heir. But Brandon decided he was okay with that. He knew one of his brothers would be better at the job.
  61. 61. “Hey, Mom.” Brandon came out of the house and gave Eowyn a finger-gun without even thinking about it. “I was hoping I could talk to you about the heirship.” “Great!” Eowyn smiled. “It looks like you’re making fast friends with Andrea. If she’s got a good job, you can ask her to move in and marry you, or maybe—” “That’s not what I meant. I think Mal should be your heir.”
  62. 62. “Are you crazy?” “Mom, hear me out…” “HE HAS TEN NICE POINTS! How is he supposed to lead the family when everyone around us is trying to tear us down?” “Because he’s going to be a better parent than you!” Brandon shouted. “I’ve been a parent ever since I was too old for school, when you were too busy with your job and Dad was too busy meditating. I love Mal and Joule, but I don’t want to be a father. He might also be Fortune, but he’d be way better at it than me because he’s nicer.”
  63. 63. “And I’ll make sure he doesn’t take any crap from anybody, Mom. The roads might be open, but there’s still nowhere for me and Joule to go. No one’s going to take advantage of Mal while we’re still here.” “But what if you can leave?” “I won’t. Maybe Joule will, but Mal might need me. I promise I won’t leave him, Mom.”
  64. 64. Eowyn had to admit that Brandon had a point. She knew that she hadn’t been a very good mother. She’d barely been a mother at all because she was so focused on her work. None of the boys had their hearts set on starting a family, but maybe Mal was nice enough that he’d take better care of his kids. She had just assumed that Brandon would inherit Winterfell, because he was her oldest son. But when she thought about it, Eowyn thought that heirship should really be about who was best for it. With times as difficult as they were, why should she give the heirship to someone who clearly didn’t want it? Considering the way things had gone during her time as Lady Stark, Eowyn wasn’t sure if she would have accepted the responsibility, if she’d had a younger brother or sister who wanted it. But the time for that was long gone.
  65. 65. Brandon found Mal tending the hydroponic plants that Eowyn had brought back from work. They both knew that coming up with new recipes with limited rations would require a lot of creativity, so the two of them had been taking turns taking care of the plants. “Hey, Mal?” Brandon called. “I’ve got something for you.”
  66. 66. Mal turned around to see Brandon holding a wrapped gift. “It’s a new dollhouse to replace the one I smashed,” Brandon said. “I know you’re too old to play with it, but your kids will like it, if they’re as nice as you.” “But…where did you get it? And what do you mean, my kids? I’m not going to have any—” “I just told Mom to make you the heir, Mal.”
  67. 67. “Me?” Mal asked. “But…you’re the eldest son. It’s yours by right. I shouldn’t take this.” “Being the oldest son doesn’t matter anymore. Look at what Mom and Grandma did for the family, and they sure weren’t eldest sons. It should be about who’s best for the job, and that’s you. Honor and kindness shouldn’t be luxuries just because times are tough. You know that better than any of us.” “This is so nice of you…” “I can’t say there’s nothing in it for me here. I don’t want kids. Come on, take it.”
  68. 68. “But what are you going to do?” Mal asked. “I’ll work. I took a job at Walder Frey’s law firm today,” Brandon said. “Mom’s parties aren’t going to mean much without a decent legal system to back them up, and it makes the most sense to change the system from within. I just want to focus on my career, and we both know that’s no way to raise kids.” He steamrolled over Mal’s objection, “I know you’re fortune, too. But you’re nicer than all of us put together, so you’re more likely to be a good dad. And I’ll be there for you, no matter what. Come on, Mal. Say yes.” He finally did.
  69. 69. In hindsight, Brandon probably would have been a good heir, but I’m not going to force kids on someone who doesn’t want them. Besides, I decided this generation that in House Stark, one rule prevails: Cheaters Never Win. Any future heir is required to have at least enough nice points not to cheat at chess. Plus, Mal was also the cutest of the three boys, so that helped.
  70. 70. “I haven’t irreparably screwed things up, have I?” I was so tempted to just quit without saving when Eowyn got that chance card, but I figured that it would completely contradict what the Apocalypse is all about. And, you know, it would be cheating. But, at least until Brandon lifts Law, she has made the temporary achievement of lifting the oppressive labor laws. I would have liked to lift something else with her, but it’s an appropriate lift for her story arc.
  71. 71. This is my Simself’s reaction to Julian’s choice of aspiration. I was so sick of Fortune Sims and their neediness that, for once, I wasn’t annoyed by a Romance Sim in the house. My teens rolling wants that I can actually fulfill? Heaven forbid! Whether I want to fulfill them is another story, but at least I have a choice about it this time. I was at the point where I seriously wanted to lift the Artist restriction early just to make these boys happy. She’s also happy because after two months, I’ve finally reached the point in the story when I decided to actually start posting it here on Boolprop! This means no more crappy pictures and maybe a semblance of a plot!  I leave you with one more shot from my recent gameplay that’s too awesome not to use, so stop here if you object to a spoiler (namely, the identity of Mal’s wife):
  72. 72. …Autonomously hugging someone you don’t even know? Who are you, and what have you done with Larch Vetinari? “I’m a CEO in this neighborhood. This means that if I get the Starks to like me, I can marry a female heir, have a few childrinions, and be revered for lifting the business restriction in these parts.” Hmmm. This is logical, but I still can’t shake the feeling you’re planning something Eeevil. (I have begun importing some legacy sims. Larch comes from the Vetinari Dualegacy by DocSupremeNerd, which I recently blew through in the span of about a week at the expense of a lot of study time because it was just that awesome.)