The Vetinari Dualegacy Chapter 21 667


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In which there are some birthdays, and some deaths, and an Epic Plot Volcano.

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The Vetinari Dualegacy Chapter 21 667

  1. 1. Welcome back to the Vetinari Dualegacy! This is Chapter 21.667: Get up off Your Knees. Last time, Tess and Whitney had some more kids, the ones they already had grew up, and Spider Jerusalem finally revealed to Sycamore how far he was willing to go to find some peace.
  2. 2. Vampwere Marco is still on his way to becoming a PlantSim. I put a few more sets of orchard trees out by his coffin-room, and an outside patch of tomatoes. Sadly, the sprinklers went on when it was raining, and I thought they'd fixed the glitch where watering plants in the rain led to the plants being overwatered, but they hadn't, so the entire crop got ruined.
  3. 3. All the gardening is getting to him. He was grouchy at the best of times, and now... Well, let's just say I'm not gonna tell him there are no actual trees there. If he wants to prune midair, he can.
  4. 4. “Uncle Marco! I saw on TV where vampires who didn't drink human blood drank rat blood instead! Do you eat rats?” “Ew, no. What have you been watching?” “Buffy reruns!”
  5. 5. “What about birds? Do you eat birds?” “Not unless they're stuffed and cooked. Honestly, I just eat the same food the rest of you eat.”
  6. 6. “Oh. You eat grilled cheese. Why didn't you just say so?” “You waited until I was un-furred to ask me if I eat grilled cheese?” “Yes! You're not mad, are you?” “I'm fairly sure your mom would have my hide if I got angry at one of you.” “Which hide?” “All of them.”
  7. 7. Billy Fordham grows up, and he totally rocks the eyebrows.
  8. 8. The four boys still get along amazingly well. Vex and Abel (eating the omelets) are perhaps the closest, but they're all pretty chummy.
  9. 9. The boys are as popular as ever, too. That's Joyce Simself-Goodytwoshoes on the left, and Wydah (Bell's daughter) on the right.
  10. 10. Howie, Vex, and Abel had a good time with the girls. Abel and Vex at least appreciated the wet T- shirt contest Joyce and Wydah had going.
  11. 11. Perhaps the most flattering angle on Howe. I kid, I kid. The almost-unibrow has a certain charm. Or maybe, after seven generations, the ugly is starting to grow on me.
  12. 12. The teenagers aren't the only ones with a bunch of friends. Stevie brings Ellie Landgraab home from school, and they're both too nice to dole out shots to the ribs during Cops 'n' Robbers.
  13. 13. It's been awhile since I've seen this autonomously in the Uglacy, if ever. Abel has no trouble dancing with Stevie when he corners him in the bathroom. Vex sort of wishes they'd leave so he could take a shower.
  14. 14. Billy Fordham decides to help with the boys' homework. I thought about just letting him destroy it, but it'd be the ghost beds next, and I don't want to deal with angry ghosts for the next two generations.
  15. 15. Abel thinks he's the hottest thing on two legs. I don't know of many people who'd agree with him, but he's happy, so I'm not going to be the one to burst his bubble.
  16. 16. “Is it true you dated a robot?” “Yes. I dated a robot.” “What was it like?” “Strange. Strange and awesome. Sort of like Savaging that guy upstairs.” “...What?”
  17. 17. “Um... Snakeskin Jacket Guy? Do we actually know you?” “As if I'd admit to knowing anyone as badly in need of a full-body wax as you!” “One deathwish, coming right up.”
  18. 18. “Now who's in need of a waxing, dummy?” “I can't believe you just did that! No one mauls Snakeskin Jacket Guy!” “No one messes with a Vetinari! PWND. ...Bleh.”
  19. 19. “Oh, I'm glad you're still having fun, Marco!” “Ehehehehe. Stupid Downtownies.” “Just don't do it to anyone we care about.” “Understood.”
  20. 20. Brad comes home Permaplat! I like to think that his media empire includes High Times.
  21. 21. “Sleep tight, little dude. Dream of clean energy and world peace and tofu that tastes like bacon.”
  22. 22. Still more spraying, and I'm starting to worry that Marco won't become a PlantSim before it's time for Brad and Tess to age to Elder. I'd rather they have an extra 5 days as Adults, so the sooner Marco's turned, the better.
  23. 23. Turns out, I didn't need to worry.
  24. 24. He's pretty obviously a PlantSim-werewolf here!
  25. 25. And here he's surrounded by the “just-turned-back-from-a-bat” cloud, so there's proof that he's a vampire too!
  26. 26. Rolling the Want to pull the Pollen Cloud prank was the first thing he did. Poor Tess was just the closest Sim.
  27. 27. It's OK, though, because then I decided to see what Spores of Happiness did. Marco even managed to play nicely.
  28. 28. “Uncle Marco? Why is your face a different color than the rest of you?” “I don't know. But Change Appearance won't fix it.” An amusing quirk of layering PlantSim over vampire. Time to find a solution!
  29. 29. “I'm fixed!” It appears that you have to make the Sim a PlantSim first, then turn them into a vampire. For whatever reason, the overlays don't work properly the other way. Thanks to PetTech for the solution. And yes, I cheated Marco back to being a vampire, but whatever. It was for cosmetic purposes only.
  30. 30. “Bleh!” “Mom! Uncle Marco's 'bleh!'ing me on my birthday!” “I didn't mean it!”
  31. 31. Along with his parents, brothers, and uncle, Stevie's birthday was attended by Edmund Fitzgerald (Bell's son), who followed one of the older kids home from school.
  32. 32. AUGH! Go fix your eyes!
  33. 33. “Better?” Well, the eyes are... Yzerman “Stevie” Vetinari, Pisces 2/3/10/1/10, rolled Popularity with the LTW of 5 Top-Level Businesses. Of course he did.
  34. 34. Already head-desking over Stevie's LTW, lightning decided to strike this tree at the end of the storm, and instead of being one of those ever-burning bushes that's fake-on fire, it was actually on fire, and caught the grass on fire, and started creeping closer to Brad and to the garage, at which point I realized I had a real problem on my hands, and Brad and Marco spent several frantic minutes working their fire extinguishers to get the blaze under control. Things are equally hot at the Prettacy...
  35. 35. ...but only when it comes to romance. Whitney and Artie are still very much in love.
  36. 36. “I do not like this. The turkey's neck-hole is mocking me.”
  37. 37. “Whitney, you're a teenager now, and a Popularity Sim, so here's a little something for you.” “Is it a cell phone? Tell me it's a cell phone!” “It's a cell phone.” “Best Grandpa ever!”
  38. 38. “Grandpa gave me a cell phone!” “Perhaps you could call some friends and leave me to my own devices?” “Hugs first!” “If we must.”
  39. 39. “Daddy, Daddy, I got an A+!” “That's great, Aurie, but bathrooms are sort of private places.” “But I got an A+!” “Go tell Mommy so Daddy can take a shower.”
  40. 40. Whitney brings Brittany home almost every day, which is problematic, since Artie has more bolts for Brittany than he does for Whitney.
  41. 41. However, Whitney is wise to this, and is perfectly capable of keeping Artie's attention in a more appropriate direction.
  42. 42. “Here's the deed to Swings 'n' Things. And a few other assorted bits and bobs.” “Do we really need that many Sir Bricks-a-Lots?” “You never know what'll come in handy.”
  43. 43. Rizzo just never stops being Rizzo. And I love him for it.
  44. 44. “Sawchuk, come play with me!” “I suppose that wouldn't be entirely unpleasant.”
  45. 45. “Wheeee! Isn't this fun?” “Yes. I'm not sure I approve.”
  46. 46. “Bro, you have got to loosen up a little! You're so uptight, you could make a diamond by sticking a piece of coal between your buttcheeks!” “I'd rather not discuss my bottom with you, thanks.”
  47. 47. This is Mr. Trick, who is a source of drama all by himself. He's another Colin. I'm on my second attempt at a mate for him, and I haven't even had to Kibble Of Life him yet.
  48. 48. These two are still totally made for each other. The pillow fighting never stops in this house.
  49. 49. They're just a playful bunch in general. Even the serious ones.
  50. 50. Once in a blue moon, even Sawchuk can be persuaded to play games with his family members. Even if he'd rather be doing other, less fun things.
  51. 51. Rizzo and Zoe don't seem to care that Sawchuk is a bit of a buzzkill.
  52. 52. “Everybody pay attention! I'm growing up!”
  53. 53. “Finger-gunning already! Still pretty, oh yeah!”
  54. 54. “More finger-guns!” As if I could stop you. Aurie Vetinari, Gemini 6/9/9/3/5, rolled Romance, with the LTW for 20 Simultaneous Lovers. That's a fun LTW, and one I haven't done in a while. Even if she's not the heir, she'll get it. And now, fun to be had at the Uglacy!
  55. 55. “Tess! I'm an alien and a vampire and a werewolf and a PlantSim. You know what that means.” “You get a really good discount at the movies?” “It means I need to be a zombie too.”
  56. 56. “Can't we skip that one? I don't want you to be a zombie.” “I don't particularly want to be one either, but rules are rules.” “I don't want you to die.” “I'm not looking forward to that myself. But it can't happen until we clean Creepy Gardener out of the cowplant.”
  57. 57. “I guess I could drink her.” “Brad should do it. I'd rather have you drink me. Keep it in the family, like.” “Oooh, I don't know if I could drink you.” “Tess, I want you to drink me.” “Well, if you say so...”
  58. 58. “Hey, do I get a vote in this?” “Mmmmmm, no. Honey, go out and drink the Creepy Gardener.” “But--” “This is a Tessocracy, and the Tessocrat has spoken.” “Right.”
  59. 59. “It comes from a plant, so it must be good for me, yeah?” “Whatever you say.”
  60. 60. “Tastes a bit like grass clippings.”
  61. 61. “Whoa, man. That feels really, really good for me!”
  62. 62. “What? No, Brad's meditating until it's time for him to go to work, and I'm just waiting for Brunhilde to cake again. Good times.”
  63. 63. “It's time. Don't mess this up, okay? I'd really hate to have to die again because you didn't turn me into a zombie the first time.” “Do I still have to make you a zombie?” “'Fraid so.”
  64. 64. “Oooh, I really don't want to!” “Neither do I, but once this is done, I can move in with Bucky and Fair and do the whole 'bachelor' thing.” “But zombies can't be cured!” “Then Bucky will be annoyed by my stink. I'll see you in a few, Tess. As a zombie. Don't forget.”
  65. 65. “Oooh, I hope this works!”
  66. 66. “Hi? Mister Death? I want my brother back. But as a zombie. Even though neither of us wants him to be a zombie. And can you tell my daddy I said hello? Thanks!”
  67. 67. “Grrr. Bleh. Groan. Whatever.” “Oooooh, I'm sorry, Marco!” “It's okay.”
  68. 68. “Look, here's the rest of the stuff I should have given you before.” “You're leaving?” “Yeah, I'm gonna wait until I fursplode and then hit the road.”
  69. 69. “Bucky? I'm coming. Be there in a few. Get a bath ready. And no comments about wet dog smell.”
  70. 70. “Um, hi? This isn't my brothers' house.” “Greetings, Marconi. I am your Fairy Nerdmother.” “My what?” “Fairy Nerdmother. I am here to grant wishes!”
  71. 71. “You're gonna hook me up with the sexy robot?” “If you want to get busy with the robot, fine. But no, I am here to cure you of being a zombie.” “But there is no cure for zombieism! Everyone knows that.”
  72. 72. “Do you not see the wand? And the tiara? And the wings? And the big poofy princess dress?” “I wasn't gonna comment on your fashion choices. Anyway, how does a dress make me not a zombie?”
  73. 73. “I am so not arguing with you about this. Seriously.”
  74. 74. “Ulysses! Would you get over here and talk some sense into this dink?”
  75. 75. “Ulysses, bleh.” “Long time no see, bleh.” “What's the deal with the blonde in the big dress?” “SimNerd. SimSelf. Creator. You know the type.” “I think I dated a couple.”
  76. 76. “Can she really cure me of the zombie thing?” “Around here, she can do pretty much whatever she wants, as long as it doesn't break too many rules. And since you're not part of the main house anymore, she can cheat and cure you.” “Really? Why doesn't she just do it, then?” “It's best not to question the SimSelves.”
  77. 77. “So what should I do to get her to cure me?” “Ask nicely and let her do what she wants. I mean, she downloaded the tiara and the wand specially for this.” “Oh, okay.” Ulysses Goodytwoshoes courtesy of professorbutters's Squeaky Clean Legacy.
  78. 78. “O great and wise and intelligent and beautiful and compassionate Fairy Nerdmother, I humbly wish for you to make me not be a zombie anymore.” “Meh. You had your chance.” “Tess would be happier if I weren't a zombie.” “Curses! My one weakness! Very well, Marconi. Stand very still.”
  79. 79. “Abracadabra presto-changeo SARMOTI bibbity bobbity boo and whatever!” “Is that a real magic spell?” “Shut up.”
  80. 80. “I have cured you!” Kaff kaff “I can't breathe in here.” “Begone, Marconi, now that I have cured you!” “But I'm still a vampire and stuff.” “You can cure those yourself. Also, I want a PlantBaby. Now, go!”
  81. 81. “Bleh! Bucky, I'm here! And I'm not a zombie anymore!” “That's great, but I'm doing some very important tub-pirating here.” “Understood.”
  82. 82. “Marco? What is that?”
  83. 83. “PlantBaby. Duh. Just doing a favor for a SimSelf.”
  84. 84. This is Marco's PlantBaby, and the only niece Bucky and Fair have. I wasn't sure what to do about a name, because I'd already used trees and flowers for regular Sims, but then it made sense to name her after an animal, so... This is Kitty. SHUT UP DON'T JUDGE ME.
  85. 85. Much to my surprise, Uncle Fair is the first one to say Hi to Kitty.
  86. 86. However, it doesn't take Uncle Bucky long to pay some attention to the newest family member.
  87. 87. “Hooray! I don't have to be a vampire and a werewolf anymore! I've been waiting for this forever!”
  88. 88. I have soooo many pictures of Kitty being adorable. Just consider this to be a reasonable sample of them.
  89. 89. “Hey! You wanna make some honking noises now?” “That is acceptable, meatsack.” “I'm actually, like, half-plant or something now.” “...I don't have an insult for that.”
  90. 90. “I finally get my demented purple heart!” “I am glad to be of service, Green Squishy.”
  91. 91. Marco! Why you gotta glitch the WooHoo? “Because now you'll let me do it again, just to get a better picture.”
  92. 92. He totally called it.
  93. 93. You may have noticed that I left Marco a PlantSim. There's basically one reason for that.
  94. 94. He loves the Pollen Cloud prank, and it's almost a constant fixture in his Want Panel. He just loves it so much, and I can't take that away from him. So he gets to stay a PlantSim. Don't worry about Fair, though.
  95. 95. ...Just because he doesn't have a head full of leaves doesn't mean he can't have a little fun of his own.
  96. 96. Sadly, Crazy Gay Huggy Servo decides that if Marco can Prank Faraday, so can he. He is very, very wrong about that.
  97. 97. Fair was restrained, though. He didn't throw down, even though he had ample reason and opportunity.
  98. 98. Before too long, Marco and Kitty head outside for their daily dose of sun, and Kitty grows up.
  99. 99. Kitty looks a lot like the Ideal PlantSim, but that's better than seven generations of Uglacy.
  100. 100. Kitty got Marco's eyes, so I popped in the black contacts. She rolled Pleasure, with the Professional Party Guest LTW. She will probably turn up again sooner or later. And now to the Prettacy!
  101. 101. After Aurie's birthday, everything's back to normal. Slartibartfast is flying around because someone left the cage open, there are pillow-fights, food, darts, and a ghost.
  102. 102. And the there were more pillow-fights, because that is how they roll.
  103. 103. This is still Rizzo's favorite place. I swear that when I show pictures of this, it is of separate incidents. Suddenly, he jumped out of the tub and took off running. This, of course, required investigation.
  104. 104. Zoe was taking advantage of the my Increased Chance of Abduction hack. I knew I should have pulled it after Xander got taken.
  105. 105. Rizzo, Sawchuk, and Aurie watched Zoe get sucked into the spaceship, to the horror of all of them, except of course for Zoe, who is the lone Knowledge Sim of the bunch.
  106. 106. “That's so scary! They just took Grandma!” “And if they'd taken me, I could have gotten another scholarship out of it.”
  107. 107. Rizzo made a beeline for the street once the UFO returned.
  108. 108. “They kidnapped my wife. I'm concerned about the probing.”
  109. 109. “Zoe! What happened? What did they do to you? Was there probing?” “No, no probing. They gave me tea and scones and asked me if I knew any young, available male Knowledge Sims.” “That's all?” “That's all.”
  110. 110. “Good thing, because I do not approve of anyone else getting their hands or tentacles on this fine booty.”
  111. 111. For a change, all three of them are sitting down doing their homework together! Usually they have other priorities when they get home from school, like making friends with whoever followed them home.
  112. 112. On this particular occasion, it's Howie and Six Landgraab.
  113. 113. Aurie the Romancer certainly doesn't mind a pair of unrelated boys in the backyard, that's for sure.
  114. 114. This is her real hobby, though. She does this a few times a day. I think I have a bit of a diva on my hands!
  115. 115. “Morning, Lindsay! Nice day, isn't it?” “Well, it was until you showed up!”
  116. 116. “Awwww, all is forgiven, right?” “I suppose so. Just no more noogies, okay?”
  117. 117. “Hey! Sawchuk!” “I didn't say I wouldn't noogie you anymore, did I?” “No fair!”
  118. 118. “Is it really about that time, Romance Boy?” “It really is. Tonight, if I'm any judge.” “I don't think I'm going with you.” “It won't be much longer, though.” “I'll miss you.”
  119. 119. “Then I think we should make up for that lost time right now.” “That sounds like a lovely idea.”
  120. 120. “This is inconvenient. I hadn't even done my post-shower tub-pirating yet.”
  121. 121. “Hey, brah! I know you're not looking forward to this, but whatever you want in the afterlife, it'll be there! Sweet deal, I know.”
  122. 122. “What do I want? Kissing!” “Plenty of Bettys for that.” “Keep your Bettys...”
  123. 123. “...I may be dead, but I'm still a one-woman man.”
  124. 124. Eratosthenes Vetinari, Gen 6 Prettacy heir, went Permaplat from becoming a Rock God. He married Zoe Almassizadeh. They have three children, Carver, Bell, and Whitney, and five grandchildren, Sawchuk, Lindsay, Aurie, Wydah, and Edmund Fitzgerald. Rizzo lived 82 days and left money to 40 people, including $20K to Zoe, $10K to Whitney, $7600 to Bell, $2450 to Sawchuk, and $2275 to Lindsay. Rizzo, I was worried that you'd be a skanky Romancer, but you really weren't. You were happy with Zoe, and you were a great father and grandfather. The house is substantially less tub-piratey now that you're gone.
  125. 125. And there's Rizzo's platinum Romance grave next to Dora's. I just need Artie's to complete the set.
  126. 126. Whitney and the kids took it pretty hard. Despite being best friends with Rizzo, Indy, Chad, Tolly, Carver, Bell, Wydah, and Edmund Fitzgerald did not so much as sniffle. Even Six managed a sigh, and he didn't know Rizzo at all! As a side note, the hula zombies wear black panties beneath their grass skirts.
  127. 127. Zoe was pretty broken up about it. Her Romance Boy was no more.
  128. 128. “It'll be okay, Mom. We're all still here for you.” “I know.”
  129. 129. Artie is not my least favorite spouse ever, but he does have some infuriating tendencies, like the one where he unerringly chooses the worst possible interaction to perform at any given time. I don't know what he did to Chad here. I just know that I saw a pair of double-minuses, and then Chad walked off and had a cry. There were no Rizzo-related thought bubbles, so he wasn't crying over losing his nephew, he was crying because of whatever Artie did to him.
  130. 130. Whitney would miss him if he went away, though, and I need his Platstone, so he gets to live. For now.
  131. 131. The next two days were made up of Operation: Keep Zoe Happy. There was the playing of Red Hands, and pillow fighting, and she autonomously kissed everyone in the house aside from Artie, whom she doesn't really like.
  132. 132. Whitney even headed out into the snow to help Zoe build a snowman.
  133. 133. The kids didn't take the arrival of Death Spicoli well at all.
  134. 134. “Your husband's waiting for you, Betty. Refused to go anywhere without you, and the wahines are mad that he hasn't made a pass at them.” “That sounds like Rizzo.”
  135. 135. “What are you waiting for? It's not nice to keep a girl from her Romance Boy!” “It's always nice to have a satisfied customer.”
  136. 136. Zoe Almassizadeh Vetinari, Gen 6 Prettacy spouse. Zoe went Permaplat off of a Mad Scientist LTW. She married Rizzo, and she has three children, Carver, Bell, and Whitney, and five grandchildren, Sawchuk, Lindsay, Aurie, Wydah, and Edmund Fitzgerald. Zoe lived 82 days and left money to 15 people, including $10K to Whitney, $9800 to Bell, $2500 to Sawchuk, $2375 to Lindsay, and $1875 to Aurie. Zoe, you and Rizzo were great together. You had the toughness necessary to make it in the Vetinari clan, but you were plenty tender when it came to your Romance Boy.
  137. 137. They really were great together. I very much miss the both of them, and so do their kids and grandkids.
  138. 138. And there is Zoe's grave, because you know I don't have enough Knowledge Platstones at this house. There's also a decided lack of Eeevil here, but that is about to change.
  139. 139. “Spider Jerusalem! The old folks must be dead by now. It's time to take down the Prettacy.” “Okay. Does this require my presence?” “Three children, two of us—the math works out better that way.”
  140. 140. “It might help if I knew what you wanted me to do, Dad.” “If it's still moving, make it stop. Quite simple, really.”
  141. 141. “The simple plans are the best ones, I guess.” “Simple, elegant, and deadly. Now get your game face on and meet me outside. It's time to have a little fun.” “Sure.”
  142. 142. “Sycamore, whatever he's planning, it's happening now, at the Prettacy. If you want to give him a piece of your mind, this is the time.”
  143. 143. “All right. Are you really going to go through with this? It's not to late to walk away.”
  144. 144. “It's been too late to walk away for a while now. I know what I have to do. My father dies today, and that's the end of it.”
  145. 145. “All right. I can't stop you if this is what you want to do. I'll meet you both at the Prettacy, and we can lay this thing to rest.”
  146. 146. “Okay, we're here. What now? Bomb? Poison gas?” “Such clumsy solutions. I have a far more masterful weapon at hand.” “Me?” “Don't be stupid. This one will actually function as promised.”
  147. 147. “So we just go in there and start throwing punches?” “Look, with the whiteheads dead and the parents gone to work, the kids are sitting ducks. Leave the boy to me; we can finish off the girls when he's out of the way.”
  148. 148. “You're not finishing off anyone, Cypress.”
  149. 149. “Sycamore. Much as I hate to use the old phrase, the rumors of your demise were greatly exaggerated.” “I died. It just didn't take. And I've been keeping an eye on you, so that I can stop you from ending Juniper's Legacy.”
  150. 150. “Touching. You always did have a ridiculous attachment to your family.” “And you were always a sociopath, so I guess some things never change.” “Sticks and stones, cousin, sticks and stones.”
  151. 151. “You want the truth, Cypress? Your father was right to do what he did. You're too selfish to have ever made a good heir. The people who've led these families have had to sacrifice themselves— you've only ever sacrificed other people. From where I'm standing, the easiest way you could have ended this Legacy was to be the heir.” “As if you haven't thrown other people to the wolves to be here today. I seem to recall you having a husband and children.” “They're alive and they've moved on. Can the people you've sacrificed say the same?” “Oh no, you've called me a murderer. How ever will I live.”
  152. 152. “That's the problem, isn't it? Other people have died so that you can live. And they didn't ask to, and they wouldn't have said yes if you had asked.” “Benefits of being a sociopath. I don't care.” “It ends, Cypress. You're done hurting people.”
  153. 153. “Please! Who's going to stop me? You and your army?” “I don't need an army.”
  154. 154. “You think you can stop me on your own? Don't make me laugh. I dare you to try. In fact, I doubt you could even stop this!”
  155. 155. “No!”
  156. 156. “What... You... Traitor!”
  157. 157. “I am not a traitor. I never had any allegiance to you in the first place. Maybe if you'd ever treated me like a person and not a thing, it would be a different story. You like to say you're my father, but you're not. Uncle Larch was more a father to me than you ever were. He cared about me, he gave me a safe place to go, and he loved me.”
  158. 158. “You little fool. I never suspected that you were so naive. You choose my brother over me?” “I'd choose anyone over you. Uncle Larch was kind to me, and he gave his life for the Legacy. The least I can do for someone who helped me is to make sure that you don't get to win.” “So Sycamore recruited you? Pathetic.”
  159. 159. “This isn't about Sycamore. This is about me.”
  160. 160. “That was on your own behalf, was it?” “Mine, and Jane's, and Delirium's, and Cassidy's, and everyone else you've ever hurt.” “Hmph. Cassidy. I never expected you to side with the weak over the strong.” “There is nothing weak about Cassidy! He was strong enough to keep me safe for as long as he could.” “And then he ran like a scared little child.”
  161. 161. “Cass saved his own life. And now I'm going to go into that house and tell those teenagers what's going on and save theirs. And you can't do a damn thing to stop me.”
  162. 162. “And when they're safe, I'm going to come back out here and make sure no one ever has to leave the people they care about because of you ever again. I made a mistake by not doing this a long time ago. Today, I'm going to fix that mistake.”
  163. 163. “Do you really think it's that easy? I'm not going to sit back and let you kill me.”
  164. 164. “As a matter of fact, you've never killed anyone in cold blood before. I don't think you have the stones for it, boy. I look forward to you trying to prove me wrong.”
  165. 165. “Don't you walk away from me! I'm not done with you yet!”
  166. 166. “That's too bad, Dad, because I'm done with you.” “Are you now?” “I know what I have to do. And there's nothing you can do to stop me.” “You think so?”
  167. 167. “Ahahaha... Consider yourself stopped, Judas Iscariot.”
  168. 168. “Cypress! What did you do?” “My late, unlamented brother took every opportunity to remind me that joy buzzers weren't fatal...”
  169. 169. “ I invented one that is.”
  170. 170. “You're insane.” “I'm brilliant. No one else could have put that together. I could only get it to work for one jolt, though, more's the pity. I'd meant to use it on the Prettacy boy, but eliminating one thorn in my side is as good as another.”
  171. 171. “You used it on your own son! How can you kill your own child?” “He was in my way.” “And you're in mine. Move, Cypress. He won't die if I have anything to say about it.”
  172. 172. “You don't.”
  173. 173. “...Spider... No...”
  174. 174. “Don't... do this... Please...” “Am I the only one in this family who doesn't beg?” “Cy... Save him...”
  175. 175. “No.”
  176. 176. He hears voices in the distance. Shouting. Pleading. No longer his concern. He forces air into his lungs. He feels a presence at his side: oddly familiar and strangely comforting.
  177. 177. “You are one of mine.” The voice is the chill of a sepulcher, but not without a measure of kindness.
  178. 178. “NO!” His vehemence surprises even him. He wishes he could speak, could scream, could move. He takes another tortured breath.
  179. 179. “This is no longer your battle. You can stop fighting.” “No!”
  180. 180. He fights. He has always fought. His life is defined by fighting. There are people he has fought for—his brother, his lover—and there are people he has fought against—his father, himself—but he has always fought. He has always known that surrender is the same as death. Though the pain of it would cause him to cry if he still could, he forces himself to breathe. His world has contracted to himself, his agony, and the rise and fall of his chest. He will not quit. Will not give. He has fought for so long that he does not remember how to stop.
  181. 181. He takes another breath. Each one is more difficult, more shallow than the last, and though it is more painful than anything he’s done before, he breathes. “Rest, my son.” He detects a plea in those three words. “No…”
  182. 182. Air whispers out past his lips. He gasps down more. He cannot, will not allow himself to die. This is just one more battle in a lifetime full of them. Another spasm wracks his body. He had thought he had reached the limit on feeling pain. He was wrong. Exquisite agony brings with it perfect clarity. For the first time, comprehension dawns.
  183. 183. “I see now. Raven, I understand.” He knows what he must do. But he has struggled so hard for so long that conceding defeat does not come easily. “Let go.”
  184. 184. He feels the familiar soul-weariness creep into him. A part of him wants to push it back down, as he always does, but he listens to that cold-but-kind voice and allows the tiredness to overtake him.
  185. 185. “…It hurts…” As his breath slips away, his chest falls. It does not rise again.
  186. 186. He feels peace, and he knows...
  187. 187. ...his fight is over.
  188. 188. “You let him die!” “He opposed me. He got what he deserved.” “You were the one who was supposed to die today.” “When have I ever done the expected?”
  189. 189. “No matter what, you've lost, Cypress. You used the one shot of that joy buzzer on Spider. You've got no backup and no weapon. The Prettacy is safe.” “For now. But I'll be back, and now you know that there's nothing I won't do.” “Some day, you'll get what's coming to you.” “Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it won't be today, and it won't be you.” “It'll happen. I guarantee it.”
  190. 190. “You wouldn't be the first one doomed by overconfidence, Sycamore.” “I could say the same to you.” “But I'm not the one standing in front of a murderer.” “I'll go. But this is not the end of this.” “For once, I agree. This ends nothing.”
  191. 191. fin