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A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 2.5 That Bitter Aftertaste...

Chpt. 2.5 That Bitter Aftertaste Or The Sweetest Rose. A continuing sims2 story

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A Corporate Conspiracy Chapter 2.5 That Bitter Aftertaste...

  1. 2. Previously in A Corporate Conspiracy… Nervous Subject stepped further into the black morass of his tortured soul much to the delight of his protector Marie Gray. Darwin fell ill with food poisoning due to his less than hygienic nature and was suffering through a forced isolation from his friends and family. He had also decided that he was going to ask the Countess to turn him into a vampire. G and Heidi came across some useful clues into what Marie is up to and G used and old friend to try and get some more information without raising the suspicions of his boss. Jason found his way into a odd place where the Creators seemed to reside and learned a great deal about the past and a little about what was to come. Before he left he was promised a gift that would aid his cause against the coming destruction. Now…
  2. 3. Jason stared out into the yard listening to the steady rain. The sound ranged from the slightly hollow drops hitting the porch roof to the flat smack on the already saturated ground. He couldn’t see the raindrops but he could see the dim light that managed to find it’s way through the heavy cloud cover. The tall pines were distant shadows. No color. Just pale grey specters in a field of cloudy white. His face tensed. How is this a gift? You make me blind and alter my memories so that I only vaguely remember what you look like? I don’t understand.
  3. 4. He heard the footsteps in the wet grass and mud long before he saw their shadows. A man and a woman, he guessed it was Aranhkil and Laishma. Laishma paused only briefly on the porch, “Good morning Jason,” before entering the house to speak with Adeline. Aranhkil quietly crossed the porch and sat down next to him.
  4. 5. “ I am sorry Jason. I knew that you would return changed but I never suspected they would take your sight.”
  5. 6. Jason pursed his lips and continued to stare out into the rain. “ I hope this will not deter you from your purpose.”
  6. 7. “ Why should it? I can’t see anything except vague shadows and I’ve become quite familiar with the pain of stubbed toes. By all means, send me back to be killed by Gray’s assassin and finish the job.” “ The Makers told you that you were to receive a gift that would help. You must trust them.” “ Trust the woman who admitted she was amused by pain and suffering; the one who blinded me? Or, should I trust the others who really didn’t seem to know what was going on?” “ Their ways are mysterious but you must believe that they have our best interests in mind.”
  7. 8. “ Excuse me if I don’t agree with you.” “ You at least need to return and speak with your friends, tell them what you learned so that they can make some preparations.” Jason paused. Darwin and Stanley were the last people he wanted to see right now but Aranhkil had a valid point. They were relying on him. Darwin’s life was at stake. At the very least he should warn them and explain why he wouldn’t be able to help anymore. “You could have told me about the elf/alien connection yourself. There was no need to send me to visit The Makers”, he whispered quietly.
  8. 9. “ I do as my conscience tells me. There was more for you to learn there than the fact that we are being destroyed by our own kind. You may blame me for your pain if it makes you feel better but I truly believed that it was worth the risk. And I did warn you.” “ The other Creators warned me too,” he dropped his head, “I just didn't listen to them.” “ What did they tell you?” “ That there are many ‘Makers’ and the one who is responsible for our world told me that this was all about the Rule of Opposition which I still don’t really understand. There were things she would not tell me saying that I would discover them on my own.” He reached up to rub at his eyes as the memories seemed to rekindle the burning sensation, “Then she blinded me and told me that eventually I would understand why she did it.” “ You will not find those answers here in the forest Jason. Your destiny lies elsewhere.”
  9. 10. Jason pushed himself to his feet and turned to walk to the front door of the cabin. “I still don’t believe in destiny. Even our Creator said that nothing is fixed.” “ Then you are staying? What about your friends?” “ I’ll travel back to Pleasant View one more time to explain why I can’t help them any longer but that’s it. I’m of no use to anyone without my vision or my ability to see the future in reflective surfaces. As far as your apology, you can keep it.” Jason left the elf sitting alone on the porch. So much is still left unknown. Why did you not give him more answers? Have you truly forsaken us for your baser needs? He looked up at the gray storm clouds as if hoping for some kind of answer. If Aranhkil was prone to believe such things, the darkening clouds were not the hopeful answer he really wanted.
  10. 11. Back in Pleasant View… George logged on to the online ticket agency and began sorting out the cost of the flight to Twikki Island where the family vacation home was located. Stanley has purchased it a few years back because it was such a great deal but the only time it had been used had been by Darwin and Cassidy on their honeymoon. A vacation is just what the doctor ordered. And I should know, I’m a doctor. Mel was so worn out from work that he frequently caught her talking to herself in the bathroom and Kira was snapping at everyone especially her sister. And Brooke… Brooke had become nervous and agitated and complained of stomach pains. George hoped the break from school and work would help to settle everyone down a little.
  11. 12. Once he was done George joined the family in the dining room. “So our flight leaves on Friday. We are going to Twikki for some much needed rest.” Stanley pushed away from the table, not really interested in the rich meal he prepared with some of the vegetables Darwin had grown over the summer. “I won’t be going.” Brooke watched him push his chair back, “Why not Grandpa? It’ll be fun.” “ I’m not getting on a plane and none of you should be either. They just aren’t safe.” “ I didn’t plan for you to go Stanley. I knew you would have an issue with this. Darwin’s not going either since he is still in isolation. This is just for Mel, the girls and myself. Kira’s leaving for school soon and the rest of us are just worn out. We need some family time to relax.” George sat down to eat, “I’m not trying to offend you Stanley but we need to do this.” Stanley nodded and wandered out into the family room leaving everyone a little concerned by his apathy.
  12. 13. Up in the little studio apartment Darwin was doing his best to appease his wife over the phone. “I know that today is Decker’s birthday Honey. It’s right here on my calendar but I’m sorry I won’t be able to come over.” He looked out the window across the yard at the house where his wife and children lived. So close, and yet so far. “ You do realize that he’s going to be disappointed?” “ I know. Have him call me after his party. I’ll explain it to him. How are the twins doing?” “ Chelsea got an A in gym and English. Fisher twisted his ankle playing kick ball and he’s milking it for all he can. I swear he must take after your father. Every little itch or scratch is a tragedy.” “ Is he really injured? I can send Dad over to take a look.” “ His ankle is a little tender but nothing is broken. I saw him not ten minutes ago running around the back yard chasing his sister with a frog. He’s fine.”
  13. 14. Darwin smiled. He adored his children. “Tell Chelsea that the next time Fisher does that to turn around and kiss the frog on the head. It will gross Fisher out and maybe she will get herself a Prince Charming out of the deal.” He could hear Cassidy’s smile on the other end of the line. “When is this going to be over so you can come see me?” “ Dad says tomorrow night I can come out. It might be late and I have someone else I want to visit with first.” “ Throwing me over for some hussy already?” “ I won’t lie to you Honey, it is another lady. The Countess.” “ You’re still going to go through with it then.” “ I want to talk to her about it yes.” “ Shouldn’t you wait for Jason to come back? What if something goes wrong?”
  14. 15. “ I have no idea when Jason will be back and I’m running out of time. I’m supposed to become an elder on Saturday. I need to keep my strength Cass. I don’t need Jason around to tell me that in the end this will come down to a fight.” “ Please don’t tell me that. I worry enough about you now as it is.” “ I know this is all really hard on you Honey. I’m sorry about that. Things will get better I promise.”
  15. 16. The next morning… Far across town Stanley found himself answering a rather unusual summons. He looked at the piece of paper on which Kira had scribbled an address. “That girl really needs to learn to write better.” He held the paper closer to his eyes and squinted, “I think this is the right address.” He shoved the scrap of paper into his front pocket and looked down at the wolf and small dog that were chasing each other around on the side walk then at the old cottage. “Funny. I don’t ever recall seeing this house before and I’ve been down this road dozens of times since I moved here.”
  16. 17. As he crossed the yard he spotted the mill wheel that sat unused in the small pond. “Hmm? An old mill house maybe. I really don’t remember this place at all.”
  17. 18. As Stanley approached the front door it opened and a lovely young women stepped out followed by a cat that immediately ran after the black wolf. The girl was nearly tripped by the cat in it’s effort to get past her to attack the wolf, “Hex! Come back here!” Realizing that the effort to control the familiar cat was in vain she stopped and smiled at Stanley. “I’m sorry about that. Once she gets it into her head to do something there’s no stopping her. You must be Doctor James.” From inside a voice called out, “Who is it?” Hannah turned slightly, “We have a visitor. We’ll be in in a minute.” Stanley spotted the slight wave of her hand that seemed to push the door closed without touching it. “My name is Hannah. Thank you so much for coming.” Stanley smiled slightly, “It’s nice to meet you. Is that Jason inside? I need to speak with him.”
  18. 19. Her face saddened, “Yes he’s here but I need to explain something to you before you see him. He suffered an injury while visiting with our mentor and he’s not taking it very well. I fear that he has given up on almost everything.” “ What sort of injury? Has he been taken to a doctor?” “ The most talented of our healers has seen him and decreed that his ‘gift’ can not be treated. To even try to do so may draw the wrath of She who gave it.” “ I’m afraid you lost me there. His injury is some kind of gift? From who?” “ I think it is best to let him explain in his own way but I wanted to warn you that his temperament has changed greatly.”
  19. 20. “ He can’t be any more ornery than I am. Let me see him.”
  20. 21. Inside the cottage Hannah directed him to the chair sitting opposite of Jason in front of the cold fireplace. As he entered Jason didn’t move or speak and once Stanley was seated he got a good look at his face. “What on earth happened?”
  21. 22. Jason sat nearly motionless in the chair, his now opaque eyes starring at nothing but grey shadows. “Isn’t Darwin with you?” Stanley shook his head, “No. He’s been ill with food poisoning.” “ Ill?! Is he alright?” “ Yes. He’s over it now.” “ Then why isn’t he here? I asked for you both to come.” Stanley frowned, “Because I don’t let sick people wander around my home contaminating things. He’s locked in his apartment until tonight. What happened to you?” “ I’d prefer to only explain this once. Call him and tell him to come over.”
  22. 23. Not without some sympathy for both men he simply replied, “No. Whatever you tell me I can pass on to him. I don’t want anyone else to get sick. Now tell me what is going on.” “ You’re not even going to humor a blind man?” “ Not any more than you would humor an old one. My rules are there for a reason and I’m not going to alter them for anyone. If you’re not going to talk to me then I’m going to go. I have things to do this evening.” He stood up as if to leave.
  23. 24. Jason heard Hannah’s quiet footsteps as she settled in the chair behind him. “All right. I don’t really have the time or patience to humor your eccentricities Stanley but since you force me to do so, sit down and listen. I had an opportunity to meet with our Creator while I was away. She told me a lot about what Marie Gray is doing and why. She also managed to leave a lot out during our conversation then she chose to blind me.” “ Our Creator? You mean like a deity, a God?” “ I wouldn’t use that term”, he replied dryly. “ Jason!” Hannah looked shocked. “ She horribly disfigured me, removed my ability to see the future or to even read a simple book. She claims to be entertained by pain and suffering and would rather stand by and watch then prevent the deaths of millions. I don’t call that a God!”
  24. 25. “ This… entity did this to you on purpose? Why?” Hannah leaned forward, “She told him it was a gift that would help him.” “ Hannah! …Please let me tell him.” “ But you’re leaving parts of it out.” She looked at Stanley, “he’s so bitter about losing his sight he refuses to think logically about Her action.” “ This isn’t your problem Hannah. Please stay out of it.” Hannah quietly folded her hands in her lap and frowned. Stanley looked at his long time friend with deep sympathy. “I’m sorry.”
  25. 26. “ I don’t need or want your sympathy. You tell this to Darwin. Tell him that Gray is building an army based on his alien DNA and he is meant to lead it into the umbral realms to destroy the elves then back here to assert her power over the sims of this world. If he is not careful he will become the instrument for her destruction of both worlds.”
  26. 27. Stanley stared at Jason almost dumbstruck. “My son would never do that”, he replied quietly. “ That’s what I said then I was reminded about how aggressive you became when you were being tortured by your nightmares. Apparently the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in this case. Your rage and your ability to see into the shadowlands have been passed on to him. He just hasn’t discovered it yet.” “ My ability to do what?” “ Your nightmares weren’t dreams after all. It was your mind slipping into another realm. A place where dreams and nightmares become reality. The potion Hannah created for you blocked that ability.” Stanley looked up at her, “You made that for me? I always thought your mentor had done that.”
  27. 28. “ Herbs and potions are kind of my specialty.” “ Thank you. I owe you my sanity. Such as it is.”
  28. 29. Jason brought the conversation back to the more important topic, “I don’t know what Grey hopes to gain by all this or why she chose to help the aliens with their war but you can’t allow her to win. I’m of no help to you now but Darwin should know that he does have a choice in this matter. How this ends is up to him.”
  29. 30. Stanley sat quietly and thought for sometime. A greater reality than ancient wars and maniacal villains was in front him today. “I’m going to do this for your own good Jason. You’ve been my friend for a very long time and today I find my time measured in hours not days. Tonight the Reaper comes to collect me one more time.” Jason’s faced tightened, “I’m going to have to tell you to give my son your message yourself.” Jason opened his mouth to say something but Stanley added quickly, “You will never be useless in this fight, blind or otherwise. My son is going to need you to guide him and you need a purpose to help you through your rough patch. I’m not going to help you hide from the world.” Jason frowned, “I… I didn’t realize… I’m going to miss you old friend. I wish there was something I could do to prevent this.” “ I wouldn’t want you to. I’ve been very blessed in my time here but my Catalina has been gone for years now and I miss her terribly. Very few sims get to see their grandchildren become old enough to leave home for college let alone see and do some of the amazing things that I have. I’m tired now and this fight is no longer mine to shoulder, if it ever was.”
  30. 31. Jason sat motionless and numb. “I knew this time would come but I guess I’m still a little unprepared for it.” “ Don’t go getting all mushy on me now. Save that for the party Mel is throwing for me this evening. Not my idea, hers. She wanted the whole family to be there. And since I really do consider you part of my family… you should be there too.” I’m being a selfish prick! How did I forget that Stanley was so close to passing? “I feel like an idiot now, yelling at you.” “ Well, you should. I’m leaving Darwin’s future in your hands. It’s up to you two to try and prevent this invasion or whatever it is that Gray has planned. Just remember that if you fail I will tend to be a very naughty ghost and make the rest of your existence miserable.” Stanley stood slowly feeling the stiffness in his back and hips. “If you don’t mind let’s call a cab and head back to my home. Melinda will be furious if I’m late for my own wake and between the two of us and our bad eyes we are sure to get lost.”
  31. 32. Once they reached the James family home, Stanley led Jason into the house where the family had already gathered and were eating an early dinner. Once Jason had been settled in with a plate of turkey and stuffing Stanley quietly slipped out of the house to the pond. He had come out here almost every day since his nature adoring son had constructed it. At first it bothered him, a pool of still water was a breeding ground for all sorts of dangerous organisms. But with time and Darwin’s diligent maintenance, Stanley grew to love this spot in the yard. He came out here almost every day now. He smiled as it occurred to him that the garage now stood on the very spot where he and Catalina had built the little shack they started out in. Melinda, Kellie and Laurel had been conceived in that tiny home. Everything that Stanley had wished for as an orphan had come true. Many things he never planned on had also occurred but that is how life works. Stanley baited the hook on his fishing pole and promptly slipped and fell onto the bank of the pond. As he sat there rubbing his sore hip a cool chill drifted across the yard and the light of the sun dimmed as it sank closer to the horizon.
  32. 33. The Reaper materialized and drifted silently towards him. Stanley pushed himself up to his feet. “So you’re here. Right on time.” “ Yes. Death waits for no sim.” “ I wasn’t implying that I wanted you to wait.”
  33. 34. “ Time for your final journey into my realm has come. Are you ready?” “ Is Catalina there?” If it were possible to see Death’s smile Stanley was certain it would be there on her face now. “Yes. She awaits you. Matched in life, so as in death.” “ I don’t remember you being quite so poetic the last time we spoke.” Now he was sure the smile was gone. “Sims like you and your wife interfere with the natural order of things. Life is meant to be a one way street. It is unnatural to make a u-turn when you come to the end of the road but I do not wish to distress those that have traveled properly to that point. So, I try my best to keep them at ease.”
  34. 35. “ Here have a drink and pick up your bag. We must go now.” Mel had seen the event unfolding in the yard through a window and rushed out to try and say goodbye to her father. “Dad! Wait! Please don’t go yet.” Stanley took a sip of the drink and smiled at his oldest child, “I have to sweetheart. Don’t worry about me and take care of your brother and my granddaughters.”
  35. 36. Inside the garage Darwin too had felt the presence of Death when she arrived and he rushed down the stairs and tugged furiously at the locked door. The heavy oak didn’t budge and he was left with nothing to do but stand sobbing, his body slumped against the wall of his temporary prison. Gone from his numbed mind was his ability to teleport.
  36. 37.
  37. 38. Inside the house the family tried to make it out to say goodbye but Death was quick with her work and it was only Mel who witnessed the event. Laurel who had been just a toddler when Stanley died the first time stood with tears running down her face. Jason sighed and a very slight smile appeared on his face. “Safe journey old friend.”
  38. 39. Well after sunset and long after all the guest had left Darwin took it upon himself to leave the confines of his apartment. He wasn’t ill anymore and it was only a couple of hours till midnight anyway. He had spied his nieces hanging out on the swing set in the backyard through the window and teleported out to speak with them.
  39. 40. “ I wanted to talk to you two before you leave for your vacation. Kira, your mom told me that you are heading off to college right after you get back from Twikki Island so I won’t get another chance to see you before you go.” “ It’s not like we don’t own a phone or anything.” Kira plucked at the blades of grass. “ This is something that needs to be said in person.” Darwin sighed, “I know that Dad’s, your grandfather’s passing is still really fresh in your minds right now but there are some things I think you two should know that I suspect your parents haven’t told you.” Brooke leaned forward, “Like what?” “ First of all, all the rules in the house about the sinks and the alarms and no visitors in the house after bedtime came from Stanley’s quirky mind. If she hasn’t already told you the story you should know that at one point he got so paranoid that he thought she was a burglar and he hit her on the head with a vase.” Kira started to giggle. “I’m not telling you this to amuse you, I’m telling you this because it’s important for you to know that Stanley’s mental defects are something that can be passed on.”
  40. 41. “ You mean there’s a good reason for Brooke being such a dweeb?” “ Brooke’s shyness comes from Stanley, yes. Just like your manipulative nature come from your own insecurities.” Kira narrowed her eyes at him, “So granddaddy was a fruit loop. So what?” “ It means that you both need to be very mindful of how things go in your life. Don’t let things get out of hand, don’t let things brood for too long without talking to someone. You have a family that loves and cares about you. They can help you with things. Also you should know that there are people who will do anything they can to try and manipulate you. You shouldn’t trust everyone you meet. There are people in the world who may be set on hurting you.” “ Who’s paranoid now? I can take care of myself, thank you very much!” Brooke was far more concerned, “Why Uncle Darwin? Why would anyone want to hurt us?” Kira rolled her eyes.
  41. 42. “ Because you’re Stanley’s grandchildren, because hurting you means hurting me and your mother. It’s pretty complicated. I just want you to be cautious not paranoid. Be aware of who’s around you and what they really want from you.” Brooke twisted a lock of her hair nervously and Darwin sensed that he had frightened her a bit. He reached out and took her hand, “I don’t want you to worry too much about this. You’re both strong young ladies and you will have your cousins to help look out for you.” Brooke smiled slightly and Darwin released her hand and started to stand up. “Now, it’s late and you both should be in bed. Kira you can forget about sneaking out this evening” “ I… Why do you care what I do? You’re not my dad.” “ I care because I’m your uncle. You and Alicia could be hurt going out unsupervised like that.” He heard then spotted the wolf trotting towards him. “Looks like I have a visitor. You two go to bed.”
  42. 43. Darwin knelt down in front of the wolf and scratched him under the chin, “Hey it’s you. You haven’t been here in years. I don’t suppose you are going to talk to me again?” “ I don’t have much time tonight I just came to deliver a message from one of the stray cats. They said to stay out of their garbage cans.” Slightly confused Darwin stopped scratching, “What do they mean ‘their’ garbage can? Cassidy and I own that house. It’s technically ‘my’ garbage can.” “ A little lower if you please. That’s it!” The wolf’s back leg thumped the ground in time to the scratching. “You Sims often think that way but the agreement we wolves made with your kind thousands of years ago clearly stated that we get your scraps of food in exchange for protecting you. We, the wolves and now dogs, made a later deal with the cats wherein they get exclusive rights to one half of the trash in each area. Your house is in a cat zone so they claim rights to all your half eaten cheeseburgers and tuna.”
  43. 44. “ You made a deal with the cats? Aren’t the two of you supposed to hate one another?” The wolf rolled to his back offering his belly up from more scratching. “At one time we were at war but that is past now and we try to share with them as amicably as we can. Occasionally there’s trouble but for the most part we tolerate one another now.” He rolled up to his feet and shook the dirt and grass from his coat. “Thanks for the scratch. I’ve got to run there’s a newborn baby a few blocks over I need to terrify”. The yellow eyed wolf trotted off chuckling to himself. “That should keep him amused for a while. I wonder if Steph has anymore of that bacon.” Darwin watched the wolf cross the yard and scratched his head confused. For Darwin the night was only going to get more surreal.
  44. 45. Darwin’s next order of business now that he had his freedom back was to call and invite someone over with whom he had managed to foster a good friendship. He had met the Countess one night downtown and they hadn’t gotten along too well initially but as his birthday had crept closer Darwin knew that this woman had the key to the extended life he very much needed. “ Thank you for coming over tonight. I really wanted to talk to you about something important.” The Countess nodded, “I have been expecting this call for sometime. After our last conversation I had hoped that I had convinced you against this course of action. It is unwise and leads down a very slippery slope.” “ You said that before but I’m running out of time. If I’m going to be around long enough to deal with Miss Gray and her plans I have to play by her rules. She seems to be un-aging so why can’t I?” “ She is not a vampire. Her timelessness comes by other less noble means. Do you recall our last meeting and what I told you?”
  45. 46. “ That you wouldn’t embrace anyone who didn’t really want it. But I do. I want to be here when my grandkids are born. I want to be strong enough to protect them.” “ All very noble intensions but have you really considered the costs. Your grandchildren will age and die before your eyes as will your pretty wife. They will travel on to the afterlife and only you will remain, burdened by your loneliness. This is not a happy life you seek Darwin.” “ I’m not doing it to be happy. It’s out of necessity. And once things are done I can cure myself. I have the knowledge to make the cure now.”
  46. 47. “ And what about me? Do you consider the price I must pay when you become my childe and I must then watch you suffer? I have only ever created two others like myself and I hold them dear to my heart to this very night. When you cure yourself of my ‘plague’ what am I supposed to do? To feel? My bond with my childer is ferociously strong. I may not choose to let you go so easily.” He didn’t have an answer to her questions. Laurel had been embraced so carelessly when she was a teen that it didn’t occur to him that some vampires might form real attachments to their victims. “I didn’t realize that it could be painful for you as well. That doesn’t change my need any but I do understand why you would say no.” He looked down at his hands helplessly, “Please! Please do this for me. I swear that I will do everything I can not to cause you pain.” The Countess sighed, “I will consider it.” “ Great! Can make you something to eat? I make some great spaghetti.” She watched him head into the kitchen, “I am going to regret this.”
  47. 48. As he reached for the handle on the refrigerator she came up behind him. “Darwin?” He turned to face her. “Look into my eyes.” He was smart enough to know what she was doing and he smiled slightly as she began to mesmerize him. Her eyes became deep pools of moss green that he felt himself sinking into and as she reached out to place her hand on the back of his neck he became acutely aware of the odd spirits which always hovered near her. Stasis spirits. Agents of stagnation that held time itself at bay and kept her young and beautiful forever.
  48. 49. Her next act was not so gentle as the Countess lunged forward grasping his body tightly. Her fangs found their mark and she pushed them in through his flesh into the jugular vein. There was pain and Darwin found himself unable to pull away despite it. As she began to consume his blood and her saliva made it’s way into his body the pain subsided and was replaced by an almost orgasmic sensation of power flowing into and out of him. The stasis spirits he saw earlier moved closer to him and began to bind themselves to his essence.
  49. 50. The Countess released her steely grip and Darwin stepped back disoriented and weakened. As the binding continued he felt himself being lifted into the air and the pain returned as his entire body was overcome by the assault.
  50. 51. “ Now you are my childe. My power flows in your veins and resides in your flesh. You are mine and I am yours, bound together for an eternity.” Darwin reached up and felt his newly grown fangs. “Thank you Countess.” “ I’m sure I will come to regret it sooner rather than later. Now… about that spaghetti?” The same evening, in a different home…
  51. 52. Nervous leaned back in the bath letting the hot water relax his muscles as much as possible. As he sat there he mentally replayed recent events in head.
  52. 53. There he was. A guy in a frilly shirt with a bad hair cut looking all lost. It wasn’t the shirt or the hair that made him choose right then and there to attack.
  53. 54. In fact he wasn’t really sure how the knife found it’s way into his hand but there it was all smooth and shiny and screaming to be used. Used for what? What he did know was that it felt right for the blade to be in his hand. As if his hand needed to feel the weight of sharp steel, something visceral, instinctual.
  54. 55. The guy stopped when he started towards him and the look on his face was priceless. “What do you want?”, he said nervously “What ever it is just take it!” He pulled out his wallet. Like there was anything he could offer that was going to stop the inevitable.
  55. 56. The knife continued to scream, then the guy was screaming. All of the sudden everyone was screaming. His cruel mother who screeched about what a waste of flesh he was before she abandoned him. Circe accusing him of breaking her precious machines and Loki who found everything in Nervous’s so call life a joke. Even Marie and her hired ass kissing ninja were screaming at him. “ Everyone just shut up!”, he screamed. Then it happened. Just like when he shot Circe. Something inside changed, sort of shifted to the left.
  56. 57. He thrust the blade into the man’s screaming flesh and was rewarded with the sickening thudding sound his body made as the force of the thrust pushed the man against the dumpster. Then there was blood. Oh so much of it. Spraying onto the asphalt, ruining that stupid frilly shirt, running down the now silent blade, it’s rage having been sated by the red ichor. All the voices faded leaving Nervous standing there all alone in an ever spreading pool of blood. The now empty sound of the alley was deafening and the sight of all the blood made him ill.
  57. 58. Nervous climbed out of the now cool bath and toweled off the water. As he dressed he wondered about why it didn’t really bother him that he had killed another person. An innocent person who he had never even met. There was no remorse, no sadness. Just an innate sense of relief. And now, boredom.
  58. 59. The voices on the TV droned and the tiny little men ran back and forth trying to move the ball or prevent the ball from moving up and down the field. The Sim State Llamas were losing. Again apparently.
  59. 60. Not that Nervous cared about the game. It was something to do. He closed his eyes as the referee announced another five yard penalty for the Llamas, this time for off-sides. The Cows were winning by benefit of penalty ball movement alone. The camera panned to a shot of the crowd. There were grown men with their chests painted in the school colors yelling and throwing beer cups onto the field. “I’m really glad I skipped all this college crap.” His thoughts were interrupted but the sound of heeled boots on the tile of the entry way.
  60. 61. Pushing himself up to a sitting position he watched Marie walk purposely toward him.
  61. 62. Eyeing the coffee cup, “It’s a little late for that much caffeine but thanks.”
  62. 63. Her face turned furious in an instant. “Do I look like a delivery girl to you?” “… No.” “ Do you know what this is?”
  63. 64. “ It’s a coffee cup from Psycho Betty’s down on fourth street. I love that place.”
  64. 65. Marie set the cup down on the end table. “And why do you suppose it is that I have this cup?” It looked empty and a little dirty. “I have no idea.”
  65. 66. “ It’s evidence. In a murder case. It seems that someone decided to slaughter a man maid in an alley off fourth street. Right near Psycho Betty’s. Funny, how that’s your favorite hangout and all that.”
  66. 67. “ What do you want from me? You come in here all fire and brimstone like it’s my fault you decided to pick up some filthy cup!
  67. 68. He pushed himself up to his feet and stood face to face with her and if that bothered her any she most certainly didn’t show it. “ I didn’t pick it up. The police did. It seems murder is one of those things this city’s inept police force pays attention to. You’re just lucky that I have an informant in the police station evidence room. I had to pay a dear price to keep them from being able to run any DNA testing on the lid and contents. Your finger prints have been altered but your genes are still the same you moron!”
  68. 69. “ So you’ve taken care of my little mistake. It won’t happen again. Happy now? Wait… You’re not mad about the dead guy?”
  69. 70. “ Do you honestly think that I care if some random schmuck wound up dead in an alley? He was a man maid! Without any evidence they would chalk it up to a romantic tryst gone bad but no! You have to go and leave your spit in a cup and I have to clean up your mess again!”
  70. 71. “ Maybe I don’t want you to clean up my messes!” “ So you want to go to jail for the rest of your life and share a cell with a huge guy named Bubba?”
  71. 72. Nervous balked at that. Jail was not a place he ever wanted to be. “No. Not really.” Marie’s face softened a little, “Then you need to learn to be more aware of your surroundings. One doesn’t rush into a kill hacking at things willy nilly. It takes finesse and planning. Remember that in this town not only do we have a new gung ho Captain Hero but several more than competent magic users that may have no problem tracking you down. If you are discovered you are of no use to me.”
  72. 73. “ I didn’t plan it. It just sort of happened.” “ That’s obvious. Look, I don’t mind you bumping off a few of the sheep from time to time but until I get what I need try to reign in your impulses a bit. One little thing can send the entire city crashing down on your head and I’m not going to help you out of it again.” “ I’ll try.” She raised an eyebrow, “I will. I promise.” “ Good. Now that we are done with that how is your little project coming along?” “ They are getting ready to go on vacation then the oldest one moves to college. She’ll be staying in a house all by herself for the first semester. I figure that’s as good a time as any to go and try to make friends.”
  73. 74. “ You will need a false identity and proper identification. What name would you like to use?” “ I was thinking about that. How about Ryan Hansen? There isn’t anyone in town using that name and I’ve always kind of like Ryan.” “ It’s definitely better than Nervous. I’ll have the papers drawn up and you work on your cover story. Make it a good one, these kids are not idiots.”
  74. 75. Eight O’clock the next morning at the James House… The newly vamped Darwin climbed into a hastily purchased coffin and the remainder of the James family packed up their bags and headed off to sand, sun and a little relaxation.
  75. 76. Around the same time at the little hidden mill house… Jason climbed out of bed slowly and felt for the surface of the mirror. Each morning he tried desperately to try and see something but his scared eyes could barely register the reflective surface. Only bright reflected light made it past his corneas. He sighed and rested his head against the cool glass. “How am I supposed to be any help when I can’t see anything?” He squeezed his eyes shut tight. From the kitchen, “Jason? Breakfast is ready.” Trying to focus on what Hannah was preparing he called back, “What are we having?” P ancakes. Say pancakes. “ I still need to run to the store so all we have is cereal. Hurry up or it will get soggy.” He opened his eyes. Is my ability to see the future gone for good?
  76. 77. Jason made his way out to the table and Hannah resisted the urge to jump up and help him find his way. That tended to make him angry. He managed all right on his own though and soon started to eat. “ Did you sleep okay? I thought I heard you having a nightmare but when I came downstairs you seemed to be sound asleep.” “ I don’t recall having a nightmare. What did I say?” “ You didn’t really say anything. Just a lot of mumbling.” “ It’s probably just me worrying about Stanley.” They ate in silence for a while. “I almost forgot! Adeline sent you something this morning. It’s a new spell book. It has a black cover and…” Jason slammed his spoon down on the table causing her to flinch. “I never took her to be a practical joker”, he said dryly.
  77. 78. “ And if you’d let me finish… Is translated into a special type of runic Braille.” She looked at his puzzled face, “You didn’t think you were the first magic user to lose their sight did you? Accidents happen all the time. My Auntie Griselda has a potion pot blow up in her face when I was ten. She had a special book made for her too.” Jason reached up to rub his left eye, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell.” “ Yes you did, but I understand why. It’s going to be really hard for a while but you are very strong and very stubborn. You will get through this. I promise.”
  78. 79. “ You can’t possibly know how things are going to turn out.” “ I don’t need to.” “ Then how can you be so damn chipper all the time?” “ Because I choose to be. You can’t possibly fail to overcome this. It isn’t in your nature to accept failure and defeat.” Jason chewed his breakfast slowly. Adeline was a clever old lady. Suggesting that Hannah accompany him back here to help him recuperate was more than just sending someone to make sure he didn’t starve. Hannah was here to make him stick it out and overcome his situation. “Is it hard to read? The Braille?” “ No. We can start this afternoon if you’d like.”
  79. 80. He slid his hand over hers where it rested on the table and she intertwined her fingers with his. “Remind me to thank Adeline when I speak to her again.” “ What for?” “ For you.” He couldn’t see her smile. “You do realize that I’m an awfully difficult student.” She released his hand and pushed back her stool.
  80. 81. “ And you should realize that I have an exceptionally large supply of newt transmogrification potions that can be quite easily hidden in your food. So unless you wish to spend a great deal of time as a newt I would suggest you behave.” Jason took the threat to be teasing on her part. Hannah didn’t have a mean bone in her luscious body. “I’ll try my best.”
  81. 82. Back in the garage of the James home… At 10am Darwin forced himself awake and into the car to head back to his first day of work since he had gotten ill over a week ago. His boss had been somewhat understanding about the two extra days of sick leave but trying to explain a third would be impossible. The small amount of light that snuck into the garage was blaring and painful and he wasted no time getting dressed and headed off to the windowless safety of the classified offices of the SCIA.
  82. 83. His effort was rewarded and a very smelly and exhausted Darwin returned home the newly appointed Head of the SCIA. “Ugh! Is it bad when even I think I stink? Too bad no one is here for me to celebrate with. I suppose I could call Cassidy and have her come over tonight…”
  83. 84. Downtown… “ Do you have the quarterly reports on the staff overages ready to send? I’d hate for those to be late.” Heidi checked her clipboard, “The only thing we are missing is the total cost for the employee benefits. I’m still waiting on accounting to send those up to me.” “ Call Masterson and light a fire under his ass. The last thing I need is Gray marching in here to bitch at me about late paperwork.” Heidi nodded and made a note on the file. “Did the insurance check get sent out for Stanley?” “ I took care of that myself this morning as soon as I came in. I’m sure going to miss him. What do you think she is going to do when she finds out?”
  84. 85. “ I’m not sure. It’s not like we didn’t expect him to pass away, the family's disdain for elixir insured that. I suspect she will be her usual indifferent self. She got what she needed out of Stanley and his dying will most likely just be a marker of the passage of time for her.” The phone started to ring and the pair ignored it. “How does someone with so much talent for business end up being so unfeeling towards other sims? I just don’t understand it.” “ I suppose it comes from having to put money first. You don’t get ahead in this world by being the nice guy. She’s been doing it for so long that she just blocks everyone else out. Either that or…”
  85. 86. “ She’s never really owned a heart in the first place. Either way, she’s an enormous bitch.” Marie stopped in her tracks when she heard these words from G. She had been going to interrupt their little ‘hate’ fest and watch them squirm when she called them on it but G saying that she didn’t have a heart struck a cord with her. I have far more heart than you know Gilscarbo. You should be grateful for it. She reached up and brushed a stray hair from her face and straightened her clothes before walking around the corner.
  86. 87. “ Aren’t you going to get that Miss Swenson?” Heidi turned abruptly at the sound of her voice and G closed his eyes and turned his head away. Heidi looked confused, “Get what?” “ The phone? It’s been ringing for quite a while.” Heidi stepped across the room to the desk. “It’s most likely your secretary calling to warn you that I was on my way in.”
  87. 88. Heidi reached the phone and picked it up, “Hello?”
  88. 89. The phone conversation was short. Marie watched her back with a wry smile. “So, How is it that I have to read about Doctor Stanley James passing away in today’s paper rather than receiving a phone call from my loyal and trustworthy employees who love and adore me?” She took note of the fact that G didn’t stand when she entered the room. “ I didn’t think you would be interested and I didn’t want to bother you with trivial information. You fired Doctor James years ago, I really didn’t think you would care.” “ Not care? Me? My insurance company has to pay out over a half million simoleons in guaranteed life insurance benefits and I don’t want to know? How little do you know me. I do hope the family is doing alright. No little children going to starve to death?” G gave her a guarded smile, “No, Catalina and Stanley were both very wise with their investments and Darwin and Melinda have both done very well for themselves as well.”
  89. 90. Marie crossed the room and settled in the antique chair. “Miss Swenson, when you call Masterson to ‘light a fire under his ass’, please inform him that if I don’t receive my quarterly reports by the end of business today that he can stay an extra hour and pack up his desk because he won’t be coming back in the morning. Am I clear?”
  90. 91. “ Yes Ma’am.” “ Don’t you think that’s being a little excessive? He’s a good employee. He works hard for you.”
  91. 92. “ Not hard enough apparently given that you don’t have your report finished. You obviously haven’t taken too much of our last conversation to heart Mr. Gilscarbo or you would be tougher on your staff. The sheep won’t stay in line without a dog snapping at their heels. You want to know why I’m so tough on everyone? I’m that way because if I wasn’t this company would be one quarter the size it is and all the monies I let bleeding hearts like yourself spread around the cities where my offices are located for parks and schools or new police cars wouldn’t exist.”
  92. 93. G listened to her continue to rant about how it was the mediocre sims of the world who dragged everyone else down. I wonder if she ever listen to herself talk? She never once tells someone they’ve done a good job or thanks them for their efforts. All she wants is more. More of what is the big question. What is she really after? Most of her company is a money making front for some huge diabolical plot involving thousands of half alien clones. But why? What does she get out of all that effort? There’s something we are missing.
  93. 94. “ Are you listening to me?” “ Yes Ma’am.” She was doubtful, “Don’t let your staff take advantage of you. Once they realize that they can there’s nothing to do but get rid of them and start fresh.” She stood up to leave, “I’ll have that report today then?” “ It’s not due until tomorrow but yes, you will get it today.” “ Good. Oh,” she stopped in front of him and locked eyes with him, “if I ever catch you bad mouthing me again to one of my employees, you can join Masterson in the unemployment line.” She strode out of the room, the door snapping shut behind her.
  94. 95. Heidi came around the loveseat and sat down next to him. “I’m sorry. I should have answered the phone when it first started ringing. She moves so quietly.” “ Only when she wants to. It’s okay. Don’t worry about it, just make sure to get that report finished and hand delivered to her today.” She nodded. “I don’t suppose you’d like to go out to dinner with me when you’re finished.” She sighed, “You’re incorrigible!” “ A man has to have his priorities. That wasn’t a no.” “ No, thank you.” “ It’s just dinner. I promise to keep my hands to myself.” Thousands of miles away…
  95. 96. George and Mel finally found a moment to relax. Their arrival on the island was hectic and between Kira complaining about her seat on the plane and having to get the kitchen stocked and buying some new swimsuits and clothes they were both pretty worn out. The girls had spent most of the rest of the day building sand castles and swimming, while Mel did some painting and George made plans for what site they should go see the next day. “I thought we would go see to Seawater Beach and watch the fire dancer. It’s supposed to be pretty interesting and they have a glass bottomed boat that takes sims out over the reefs so you can see the fish without getting wet.” “ That sounds good.” “ Are you all right?” “ Why do you ask?” “ You’ve been a little down since your promotion and Darwin and I both have heard you talking to yourself in the bathrooms.”
  96. 97. “ Maybe you and my brother should stop lurking around the bathroom door when I’m in there. Besides, everyone talks to themselves. Don’t they?” “ I’m just worried that you may be having some issues with… you know, that thing that started back in college.” Mel shifted uncomfortably in bed, “It comes and goes. It’s not a big deal. The voice isn’t telling me to hurt myself or anyone else. It’s just kind of like my subconscious has it’s own persona.” “ That is a big deal Honey. Maybe we should get you to a therapist when we get back home.” “ I don’t want to make a big fuss over it. I have things under control.” George eyed her profile, “What does the voice tell you?”
  97. 98. “ I’d really prefer we drop this. We’re supposed to be on vacation.” “ I’m worried about you! I’m your husband, I’m allowed to be.” Mel fidgeted and brushed her bangs out of her eyes. “George.” He frowned and waved his hand signaling that he recognized he wasn’t going to win the argument. “Let’s change the subject to something else important. I think we should sit the girls down while we are here and tell them about Miss Gray and what she seems to be up to. It’s important that they know.” George mulled the idea over. He hated the idea of exposing them to Gray’s corruption and greed but it was better that they were prepared for it. “Didn’t you just say that this is supposed to be a vacation? Maybe we should wait until we get back home.” “ Kira’s already packed to leave for college. The shuttle is coming the evening of the day we get back. It would be best that she be told before she heads off to be on her own. And since Alicia and our Brook won’t be joining her until the next semester, sooner is better than later.”
  98. 99. After a busy day of sightseeing, swimming and hotdogs around a fire on the beach the family settled in to enjoy some cake that Mel had baked. “ This smells great Honey.” “ Thank you. You can take your time if you want seconds. Without Darwin here to inhale the leftovers there is plenty for everyone.” Mel slid her piece onto a plate. “Brooke? Come have some cake with us!” From the living room, “Okay Mom! I’ll be right there.” Kira settled in her chair. The day had been busy and her legs were tired from all the walking. “How long are we staying?” George over at her, “Aren’t you having fun?” “ Not really. I want to get moved to college and start my classes.”
  99. 100. George wasn’t unaware of his oldest daughter’s change in point of view when it came to boys and dating. “You mean you want to move out on your own and find more boys to spend time with. Don’t try to pretend that you are really interested in getting an education.” “ That’s education. Maybe I should suggest a ‘Boys 101’ class.” Brooke joined the family and everyone ate in silence for a few minutes.
  100. 101. Finally Mel interrupted the quiet, “Your Dad and I wanted to talk to you both about something really important before Kira heads off to school.” “ Is this about the crazy gene thing that Uncle Darwin told us about?” Brooke looked at them both expectantly. “ Darwin talked to you about your grandfather’s issues?” Kira shrugged, “Just a little. He said we needed to know and that we have family and friends to help us if we get into trouble. He didn’t say if he knew it had been passed on or anything. Come to think of it, why is he living with us instead of with his family. Is he nuts too?” Mel was a little taken aback. Darwin hadn’t mentioned that he spoke with the girls about any of the family problems. “Umm, no he isn’t ‘nuts’. There is a woman in town who we believe wants to hurt Darwin and we were told by a very good friend that he would be safer living with us than with Cassidy and their kids.”
  101. 102. Brooke interjected, “He told us a little bit about that too. He was worried that someone might try to use us or hurt us to get and you Mom and him. He didn’t say who.” “ Her name is Marie Gray and she is the sole owner of SFO Corporation where your grandfather and father used to work. We don’t really know what she wants or why, only that she is ruthless and very wealthy.” “ So why don’t you just call the police and report her?” “ And tell them what? That we ‘think’ she wants to hurt him or that she ‘sort of’ threatened Darwin and his family’s lives? The best the police would be able to do is talk to her and she is very good at manipulating people into believe her side of things.” “ What about Captain Hero? You know who he is, maybe he can help.” Mel smiled at Brooke. She had some very smart daughters. “Maybe. I can ask.”
  102. 103. “ What good can a geek in a spandex body suit do? Besides don’t they have to abide by the same rules the police do? Darwin is a warlock and a vampire now. He should just go over there and kick her ass. What’s she going to do, bleed on him?” Mel grimaced, “Miss Gray has some very dangerous allies, many of whom we have never even seen. She’s not such an easy target and I’m not convinced that she doesn’t have access to some the same abilities that Darwin has. No one has ever reported her doing magic or anything but she does seem to get away with an awful lot. I think that we could lose Darwin if he tried that. She isn’t afraid of having people killed.”
  103. 104. George added, “Now that Jason is back from his vacation maybe we can get some real answers.” “ The blind guy at grandpa’s wake? What’s he going to do?” “ He may not look the part but Jason is really experienced when it comes to the supernatural. He’s the one who has been helping to protect Darwin and the rest of the family because he believes that Gray is after something very bad.” “ Yeah, but he’s blind.” “ Being blind has never stopped someone who knows about magic. In fact, according to some of the books Stanley collected on the subject, being blind can make them even better at it.” Mel chewed a bite of her cake thoughtfully, “He seemed a bit depressed at the wake though.” “ Can you blame him? It has to be really hard to lose your sight. We depend on it for so much.”
  104. 105. “ I should have him come over when we get back. He went up North to try and get some answers but Dad’s death has kind of interrupted things and we don’t know what he found out, if anything.” “ George nodded, “That’s a good idea but it will need to be after dark since Darwin decided to become a vampire. Anyway girls, what we wanted to tell you was that you do need to be careful. Pay attention to who’s around you and what they are doing and be sure to let us or Darwin know.”
  105. 106. “ What about the mental illness thing? Do we need to worry about that?” Mel tensed, this was not a topic she wanted to discuss. “Your grandfather was a little eccentric, that’s all. You don’t need to fret about it.” George raised an eyebrow, “I think you are over simplifying things a bit. Stanley when he was younger was an obsessive-compulsive. That means he worried about germs and people getting sick and he was paranoid and obsessed over safety. It’s why the house is loaded with alarms and deadbolt locks and why Darwin had to spend a week locked in his apartment when he got food poisoning. Yes, it is something that can be passed along generations”, he looked meaningfully at Mel, “and yes, you should be aware of it. There’s no guarantee that you might be affected but if you are, knowing about is important. Things like that can usually be managed with therapy and medications.”
  106. 107. “ There’s no need to frighten them George.” “ Who’s frightening them? I’m telling them the truth that they should know. Stanley was affected and they might be too, it’s nothing to be frightened of.”
  107. 108. Kira stood and cleaned up her plate. “I’m going out on the beach.”
  108. 109. Outside, away from all the talk about dangerous CEOs and lunatic relatives, Kira settled on a loveseat on the beach. She stared at the shape of the sand castle she had built earlier in the day illuminated by the lantern. The sound of the ocean as the waves rolled in and out was carried on the light breeze that cooled the summer night.
  109. 110.
  110. 111. “ God I’m bored!”
  111. 112. The next day… “ Avast ye scurvy dogs! Make ready the main sail and hoist the anchor!” For Brooke the pirate ship was amazing. So many things to see and do. The whole thing was like a floating museum with little placards everywhere explaining what things were and how pirates lived on the sea.
  112. 113. Mel felt the same sense of adventure as well. The life of a pirate had to be hard with plenty of monotonous work in between raids but you were on the ocean braving the weather and the currents. Much more exciting that driving in a car pool to work.
  113. 114. The climb up the mast to the crow’s nest was tough on her older joints but Mel kept up with her exercise and was quite proud of the fact that she could touch her toes without injuring herself.
  114. 115. As she reached the top a gull took wing and squawked noisily at her for disturbing his roost. “Ah! Silly bird.”
  115. 116. “ Wow! The view from up here is amazing.” She looked down at George and Brooke who were trying out the fencing dummy then down at the water.
  116. 117. “ Whoa!” She felt a wave of dizziness as she looked down at the tidal surge. The dizziness soon gave way to adrenaline and the rush she had felt several times before when faced with danger came over her. She closed her eyes tight and gripped the guard rail in front of her. You keep trying to push me out but you can’t get rid of me Melinda. I’m as much a part of you as your skin. “ Go away”, she murmured. “Go away, go away go away.” She made sure to keep her voice down so that her family down below couldn’t hear her. After a few minutes the sensation passed and she quickly climbed down the mast, her limbs feeling much less sure then they had on the way up.
  117. 118. Far down below Kira napped in the sun on the beach. Twikki had quickly lost it’s newness for her and all she really wanted to do was go home and get on with her life.
  118. 119. Unlike Kira who found the trip to the island a little dull, Brooke wandered around the place full of awe. Each new place to visit was more beautiful than the last. Little did she know that there was far more to Twikki Island than meets the eye. “ Wow! This thing is huge. I wonder how they built it.”
  119. 120. The temple fountain was constructed of massive carved pieces of volcanic rock. “It must have taken years to build.” She pulled out her island visitors pamphlet that one of the tour guides gave her. “It says that ‘anyone making a wish and an offering to the great island king Jumbok the IV will be blessed with good luck and a happy heart’. That’s a little cheesy but kind of romantic. I suppose they collect the coins for some kind of charity.”
  120. 121. She fished a coin out of her pocket and stared up at the massive stone face. “Let’s see… Umm, I wish for world peace and an end to all hunger.” She started to toss the coin but a thought occurred to her. “Cancel that, okay? I wish that whoever is trying to hurt my family would stop and go away and I wish for Kira to stop being so mean to me and… maybe that hunger thing too. Oh, and I don’t want to be crazy like Uncle Darwin said I could be.” She continued to stare up at the unmoving stone face.
  121. 122. “ Ahh this is ridiculous. Wishes don’t really come true anyway.” She went to toss the coin, “But just in case, I don’t suppose you could toss a cute boyfriend my way? Someone really sweet and fun?” Brooke flipped the coin up into the air and watched it as it arced toward the pool of water at the base.
  122. 124. She walked around to the side of the fountain and sat on the cool rock wall and dipped her hand into the water. She did not see the small flash of light that occurred when she did.
  123. 125. Later that afternoon the family hiked up to hill to an odd location not on the map in the visitor’s guide. Kira sighed and followed along mostly because there was little else to do that interested her. Brooke on the other hand looked the place over and smiled. Unlike the more public areas of the island this was more like how the real residents of the island lived. Before Mel or George could stop her she was sprinting up the steps towards the hut.
  124. 126. Inside the little grass and bamboo hut an odd little man was doing the best he could to deal with the gremlins that had infested his home. Nearly everything was broken or leaking. “I do not understand why the mainlanders like these things so much. They attract foul spirits.” He pushed the screwdriver into the casing that housed the microwave’s magnetron tube.
  125. 127. And was rewarded with a very nasty shock.
  126. 128. Brooke arrived at the door just in time to see the man pick himself up off the floor and angrily toss the screwdriver across the room and out the window. “Ho’ ino wale!” She wasn’t sure what that meant but he sounded mad. “Are you all right? That was a nasty shock.” The masked man looked at the bold girl who barged her way into his home. He offered his hand for her to shake and when she touched him he felt the energy within it. “Aloha Paloke. Welcome to my home.” “ What’s a Paloke?” “ That is your name in my language. The spirits tell it to me. You have been sent here by Jumbok to help me. I can sense it. Good spirits hang around you like Pulelehua, butterflies.” “ You can see spirits too? I have an uncle that can do that!” “ Your family must be very strong with them. You will fix my things, yes?”
  127. 129. “ Yes.” The man wandered out of the hut to a hammock to rest and Brooke began working on the broken items starting with the tub. George finally caught up with her. “What are you doing? That man didn’t hurt you did he?” “ No Dad. He’s having some trouble with all this old stuff. I don’t think he’s very good with machines and I said I would fix them.” George watched her for a while marveling at how different his daughters were. Kira would never do something like this for a stranger. “Do you want any help?” “ No, I got it. The TV’s power cord has frayed a bit and the microwave’s control panel is all gummed up with cheese. The dishwasher just needs the hose clamps adjusted. No problem.” “ Well, I’ll leave you to it then. If you need me I’ll be right outside.”
  128. 130. When she had finished the sun had set cloaking the house in darkness that the one floor lamp barely cut through. The odd man came back inside to find that Brooke had even mopped up all the puddles from the tub and dishwasher. He shook her hand again, “You are most knowledgeable about the machines. They must like you.” Brooke smiled, “I don’t know about them liking me but I like them. I love fixing things or taking them apart to see how they work.” He nodded and looked at her intensely. “Is there something wrong?” His direct stare was unnerving. “ You must not let yourself become sad. The most beautiful flowers sometimes take the longest to bloom.” “ Okay”, she gave him a puzzled look. “I’m not sure what you mean by that. Can I have my hand back now?” The man glanced down as if he was surprised he was still holding it. Looking back up he let go and seemed to be turning to walk away.
  129. 131. “ I have gift for you. May it help your wishes come true. Ho’okalakupuna ki’i pepe. A magic doll. Very powerful, you must use it wisely.” Brooke was surprised by the gift. “For me? Why?” “ Those who give freely of themselves should be rewarded. Aloha Paloke.” “ Aloha, and thank you.”
  130. 132. “ Well, little sis, we go home tomorrow and I can’t wait. College is going to be awesome. Cute boys and parties and even more cute boys. It’s Dad’s worst nightmare come true.”
  131. 133. “ I like it here. It’s so green and lush and the people are really friendly. I could stay forever.” “ And give up school? I thought you liked sticking your nose in a book.” “ I do. It’s just that like you said college means more sims and parties and stress. Here all of that seems to go away.” Kira raised her head and stared at Brooke, “You know for someone who complains about not having any friends you sure do seem to do everything you can to avoid other sims. Sims equal friends, or didn’t your books tell you that?” “ I know that, it’s just that sometimes I get a little afraid of others.” “ College is going to eat you alive.”
  132. 134.
  133. 135. Next time in A Corporate Conspiracy… Click 
  134. 136. Aloha! Lots of fun things happening in this update but interestingly it only covered 5 or 6 days of time passage for the family. The vacation was four of that and I didn’t show every little thing they did because we’ve all seen it before. It however satisfies the point requirement that each generation go on vacation to the family home and despite his protestations Stanley and Catalina did go when the house was first bought- hence all the already existing beach trinkets in the house. I would like to thank for the English to Hawaiian translations I used in the update. If you would like to see what your name is in Hawaiian or learn something about Hawaii check them out. Sadly, I did lose Stanley during the two rounds of play that I did for this update. I had a hard time opening up the lot to even get started as I knew he was really close to going. Don’t worry, I have a sneaking hunch that this won’t be the last you see of Stanley James.
  135. 137. Strange that the deed to the house went to George but at least it transferred. Nineteen sims benefited from his will including Jason, Goopy and I suspect the college student that he had his ACR Booty Calls with.
  136. 138. Stanley and Catalina, side by side. Look I remembered the sprinklers!
  137. 139. For those of you who helped me out in the boolprop game play help thread or caught my LJ post, here is the fixed Darwin. Now kind of a greenish grey. This is a bit farther along than the story as you have not yet seen him bit by a wolf or overdose on plant spray. He came up with a green face and a grey body and looked really silly. For those of you who helped me- Thank you! I just couldn’t bear for him to look that way when he still has so much to do.
  138. 140. Doesn’t he look handsome in his uniform? Topping the intelligence career track was Darwin’s teenage LTW. During college it was switched to raise 20 puppies or kittens. I’m pretty sure that there is no way Stanley would allow a pet in the house- at least not a real one. A spectral one absolutely is okay and next time you will get to meet Darwin’s familiar for the first time.
  139. 141. I also had a little familiar cat drama. This is Hex, Jason’s familiar. Apparently she has some issues with wolves because as soon as I started shooting photos for this scene with Jason and Stanley she shot out the front door and…
  140. 142. Got into a fight, which she lost. I took lots of pictures during thinking that I might be able to use them but it didn’t seem right to show her getting her furry backside kicked.
  141. 143. I would like to thank jhd1189 at Mod The Sims for this gorgeous fantasy lot. It was created for one of their theme contests and it’s really nicely done. I had to make a few changes to make it livable and I altered the interior wall colors a little to suit my tastes. If you need/want a realistic to the era Tudor style house this is a great one. It’s called Somewhere Familiar.
  142. 144. Brooke Number Two was the first sim in the family to pop up with the private school want so we arranged for that. She also wanted to be a overachiever so we did that too. She’s working in a law office until time to head to college.
  143. 145. She did develop a crush on the dreamer kid and I considered arranging that for her but then I remembered that he is going steady with one of the Pleasant girls and I didn’t want to alter that scenario yet. I still haven’t opened the Pleasant house to let Mary Sue catch her husband in the act. Maybe BNT will find someone better at college.
  144. 146. Alicia has had wants to sneak out with Kira, Chewy, Brooke numbers one and two and Decker constantly. She’s only been brought back by the police once and her parents did nothing. Kellie and Ted are very lax parents. My mother would have grounded me for weeks if I had pulled a stunt like this. On a side note, Alicia has discovered that she prefers girls over boys and her secondary aspiration is grilled cheese.
  145. 147. Decker, Darwin’s eldest child did have a pretty nice birthday despite his father not being able to attend. He rolled Popularity with a LTW to be a celebrity chef. I’m still on the fence about his face. Now he looks a bit Asian to me which is fine but I really wanted some of Cassidy’s genetics to show up- not just her skin color.
  146. 148. The twins got bigger. This is Fisher who is a personality clone of Decker but shows the one nice point a whole lot more. I think he’s kind of cute.
  147. 149. And this is Chelsea, Fisher’s twin. She and Brooke number one have all the nice points in this generation. Sadly, Chelsea's face is a train wreck.
  148. 150. Then they got bigger again. Darwin couldn’t attend this time either, it was the next day after Decker’s party. The day Stanley passed away.
  149. 151. Fisher did pretty well looks-wise. He rolled Pleasure and has a LTW of 50 first dates. I’m tempted to try it since I never have before.
  150. 152. Chelsea did poorly in the clothes department but her face stayed about the same. She rolled fortune with a LTW of owning 5 top businesses. And since she had the typical fortune wants…
  151. 153. They all got to start at private school. By the skin of Cassidy’s teeth! The head master turned down every attempt to talk or schmooze and booed the master bedroom which had all the best furniture in the house in it. The only thing he really liked was the dinner and Cassidy doing the school cheer like six times! Jerk!! Don’t they look all sweet in their uniforms? Don’t be fooled.
  152. 154. Uglacy writers, you need this guy! Look at that nose! And his eyes are all sunk in too. I couldn’t help myself and just had to take a picture. I was compelled by the ugly!
  153. 155. Thanks for taking the time to read. I’m thinking about doing a character page with family sim stats and mini biographies of the non family members. I could also add links for downloads if someone out there would like any of my sims like Darwin. Let me know if you are interested in anyone in particular. Until next time… 