Welcome to Chapter 42, Part C of A Piratical Legacy.
Before I get going, I would like to apologize for the long delay between chapters. I don't
really have an excuse, other than that I've been sitting on the photos for three or four
months now. I do promise the next chapter will be out much more quickly!
Anyway, best get this thing started.
When you live in a house with five teenagers, as grandmotherly simself Orikes Pseudo does,
there are certain sights which tend to repeat themselves on a daily basis.
#1: Plenty of extra mouths to feed... and steal your retirement earnings at the poker table.
Though generally it was preferable that Arjuna Ramaswami (in blue) sequestered himself in
the basement when visiting the Pseudo household. He got along with Cate Pseudo fairly
well, but her twin sister Sarah was another matter. Encounters between the two of them
frequently ended in violence.
#2: Inappropriate public displays of affection.
Though when the affection Sarah tended to bequeath on any male suitor who stopped by (in
this case, Pepper Cooke) distracted her from her normal fistfights with Arjuna Ramaswami, it
wasn't necessarily so inappropriate.
#3: Frantic skilling for that last scholarship before shipping off to college.
Orlando Pseudo, oldest of the kids in his family, would be heading out as soon as the
season ended—in only a day or two—and he was in a hurry to earn as much scholarship
money as possible. Since all students at Academie le Tour have to spend their first year in
dorm, the reasons why weren't readily apparent, but nobody begrudged him the attempt.
Besides, the more time he spent cramming in his room, the less he was interfering in his
younger brothers' love lives.
#4: Appropriate public displays of affection.
Of the two boys, Dominic was the first to score a kiss—his choice of liplocking partner was
Maenad Thayer. Mae, an adorable teenaged Pleasure sim, is the granddaughter of my
simself via her plantspawn Dionysus, thus making her a good match (at least on this bright
sunny day) for Dominic, who is also a Pleasure sim.
#5: Sickeningly sweet public displays of affection.
Dominic wasn't the only Pseudo teenager scoring a first kiss, either. It wasn't long before
Billy cornered Karat Buccaneer (freshly suntanned and back from her recent tropical
vacation) in the basement, and she was happy to oblige.
#6: Unnecessary drama caused by inappropriate public displays of affection.
Both boys were pretty popular among their peers, and some of their lady friends were less
than pleased at discovering that they'd been making time with other girls.
Or, possibly, Swan Toyonaga just wanted Dominic to move so she could use the toilet. It's
your call. Could go either way.
#7: Hula dancing!
Now that he was older, it was easier to see just how much of a blend Dominic was of both
his parents. His other siblings tended to favour either Lainey or Hugo, but Dominic was a
nice mixture of both of them.
And, last but not least... #8: Empty plates.
Billy was one of the ones who favoured Hugo, but what features he did inherit from his
mother made him possibly the handsomest of the Pseudo children.
They also made him a bottomless pit, as his grandmother Orikes liked to observe. Billy
consumed more food than many small European countries.
“I just want to make sure that you are taken care of,” Orikes said, her hands fluttering
somewhat nervously. “Also, that you aren't going to spring any more grandbabies on me that
I won't have a chance to meet.”
“Definitely no more grandbabies,” her daughter Liv said quietly. “I told Randy I'd spork him
where it hurts if I heard another lullaby.”
“Good,” Orikes nodded. “You spork him from me, too, if he doesn't pay attention.”
“I'll never look at an airplane meal the same way again,” Hugo said, a pained expression on
his face. “Could we stop with this talk of sporking?”
“Sporking is pretty awesome, though,” Liv argued. “I've started a petition to include it as an
Olympic sport. People living in the host city all get to line up with sporks in hand and take
aim at the organizing committee during the closing ceremonies.”
“Have you had any success?”
“No, but I'm just going to keep on trying,” the curlyhaired brunette said cheerfully.
“That's my girl,” Orikes said. “You make me proud with your determination to add
inappropriate events to international sporting competitions.”
“I think I got all the normal genes in the family,” Hugo said, rolling his eyes.
“You are an awful lot like your father,” Orikes said with a sigh.
“I miss him,” Hugo said.
“Me too,” Orikes nodded. “At least I get to see him soon... but I have to leave all of you.
You'd better write to me frequently or I'll come back and haunt you.”
“...write to you?” Hugo blinked.
“Well, what else is that creepy sisterinlaw of mine good for?” Orikes demanded.
“That's the one. I checked with her and she'll carry mail as long as it fits in her inventory. So I
expect a flat screen TV as soon as you can arrange it. And a couch. For jumping. Oh, and
“Why do you need a flat screen TV?”
“To keep up with Lost, silly,” Liv smirked.
Orikes nodded agreement. “And I expect dvd rips of any good movies you buy, especially
ones with that attractive young man from Lord of the Rings... oh, what was his name?”
“Viggo Mortenson? He's pretty dreamy.”
“Yes! If I had another kid I would have named him Viggo.”
“I think I have way too much Ychromosome for this conversation,” Hugo said, rolling his
eyes. “Okay, mom, when you die I'll make sure to send you plenty of care packages via Aunt
Susanna. In the meantime, I'm going to go watch TV.”
“Yeah, me too,” Liv said, reaching over and giving her mom a hug.
“Fine, abandon me in my time of need,” Orikes said, mockpouting. “I'll just go and stalk a
“And that'th why Mommy thayth I'm not allowed to play Thecret Jelly Baby Athathinth
anymore,” Mialee Pseudo lisped adorably.
“Probably a good idea not to, at least until their eyebrows grow back,” Orikes agreed. She
resisted the urge to reach forward and ruffle Mialee's hair under her striped pink cap. Mialee
was a bit tomboyish and would probably take it as an invitation to wrestle, and Orikes wasn't
sure she was up to that at the moment.
“Yeah, pluth the printhipal thaid I would have to do thchool at home for a while if I did it
again,” Mialee said. “I don't thee why that would be a bad thing, exthept Mommy thaid that
my Nanny would be teaching me inthtead of her.”
“That would be a shame.”
“Yeah, Nanny Karen doethn't even know that green thprinkleth are a vegetable,” Mialee said
scornfully. “Thee doethn't know anything. Tho I would do really bad at high thchool if thee
“And now that you're getting bigger, high school is getting awfully close.”
Orikes blinked at this but Mialee's mouth was off and running again before she could get a
word in edgewise.
“Did you ever have to have a Nanny, Grandma?”
“Nope,” Orikes said. “I was made in CAS as an adult—what's wrong?”
“So this is it then, huh? First simself on Pirate Island to die and all that?”
“FIRST OFFICIAL DEATH, ANYWAY.”
“Well, let's get this over with. Hand me my fruity drink and take me to my husband. Oh, and
can you let the kids know when you're available to make a mail run? They're sending some
things after me.”
“YOU KNOW, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU.”
“I know, hence the packages.”
“I DON'T THINK IT WORKS THAT WAY.”
“Have you ever tried?”
“Well then, how do you know?”
“GOOD POINT. I WILL HAVE TO CHECK THE REGULATIONS.”
“Or Hugo can slip you a few simoleans for your trouble and you can just do it anyway.”
“HMM. PERHAPS I OUGHT TO DISCUSS THIS WITH JACK. THERE MAY BE A
LUCRATIVE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY HERE. OH YES, TAKE THE FRUITY UMBRELLA
DRINK. WE'D BEST BE OFF.”
Sound returned... the sound of crying family as the reality of Orikes' passing hit her children
“We're orphans now,” Hugo sniffled to his sister, wiping his eyes.
“Still have each other, though,” Liv said, smiling tremulously. “And the kids. And I've got
Randy and you've got Lainey. We're hardly alone.”
“Do you think Aunt Susanna could take us to visit mom?” Hugo pondered.
“I suspect it would a oneway trip.”
With Orikes gone, the Pseudo household felt a lot smaller and a lot emptier, that was certain.
Lainey and Hugo both worked long hours now that their children were nearly grown. Orlando
spent most of his free time at the library studying—he would be graduating high school at the
end of the season.
“All packed up?” Hugo asked one dim evening when most of the leaves had fallen from the
tree. The skies were heavy, threatening snow.
“Almost,” Orlando said. “Feels kind of weird, knowing that I've only got a few more nights
“Do you think you'll move back after school?”
“Well, that really depends on if I end up with someone who has to move back to her parents'
house or not,” Orlando shrugged.
“No matter what happens, you'll always have a home here,” Hugo promised.
“Aren't you getting tired of that thing?” Laertes Smith asked, giving his halfsister
Persephone Biggs a pointed look.
“Nope,” Persephone grinned impishly. “I'm just getting to the good part.”
“Are you playing video games or are you enacting world domination?”
“Little bit of column A, little bit of column B.”
Persephone wasn't the only member of the SmithBiggs household who was intent on world
domination, but Horatio was mainly concerned with dominating the world of toy horsies. He
was a lot younger than both of his siblings and a lot of the mischief they got up to went right
over his head.
The rest of the mischief they got up to, he made sure to tell his parents about so they would
get in trouble, though it is doubtful that even Toby or Ophelia would be able to make head or
tails of the antics Persephone got up to.
“Oh no! The horseeating orc bandits of Khazaddum are coming! The orcs are coming!
Flee, swift Rohirrim! Flee!”
If Horatio ever had managed to figure out just what his sister and brother were always
whispering about, he might have been more than a little jealous. As it was, he was half
convinced he was a hobbit.
Of course, being constantly surrounded by people much bigger than him reinforced the
Hobbitlike feeling. And, as Persephone and Laertes were both rather popular with their
peers, there were usually a lot of people taller than Horatio in the house.
“I'm so glad our children are beautiful and popular,” Ophelia said happily.
“Even Persephone?” Toby chuckled. His wife and his daughter did not always get along. In
fact, they tended to epitomize the stereotypical stepmother and stepdaughter.
“Yes, even Persephone,” Ophelia said, pouting. “Give me a little credit, Toby. I've helped
raise her since she was a toddler. She's as much my kid as she is your bitch exgirlfriend's.”
“More so, in some ways,” Toby said dryly.
“I have tried my best,” Ophelia said primly.
As the son of two Romance sims, Laertes also did his parents proud. He was a Romancer
just like they were and he was enjoying making the rounds of Paris, where they lived. He
was especially popular among those teens from Pirate Island who had flown up to Paris with
their parents to check out the university a few months before school was scheduled to start.
Piper Kimbrell was happy to be Laertes' first kiss. Or possibly he was hers... or both.
Piper is my simself's greatgranddaughter. (Sim Sarah > Demeter (plantsim) + Pascal
Curions > Orpheus + Kendra Kimbrell > Piper)
One thing Ophelia hadn't quite achieved yet was her permaplat status—to be a Hall of
Famer. If she wasn't cuddling in bed with her husband, she could normally be found
Toby was in the same boat, though he prefered yoga to the stationary bike.
Finally, just before their children were due to graduate high school, both Toby and Ophelia
reached their LTW. And both promptly rolled up Romance Sim number wants, neither of
which they are likely to fulfill.
Also towards the end of fall, the last of Toby's uncles finally met with his timely demise of old
age. Don Raha had found happiness in his old age with the creepy nanny who stalked Toby
in her spare time, but creepy nanny had passed on in early summer and Don had been on
his own since then. He was more than ready to pass on.
And Toby and Ophelia were more than happy to finally be the only adults in the house,
though they would both miss Don quite a bit.
“Now we just have to get rid of the kids,” Ophelia said dreamily once Don had been laid to
“I thought you liked the kids.”
“I do, but they cramp my style.”
“I heard that,” Persephone said with a mutter, reaching her hand down to caress the PSP in
“You have to admit that your father and I cramp your style just a little,” Ophelia pointed out.
“Yes, but I would never say it unless you forced me to,” Persephone said. “Volunteering the
information unasked for is rude.”
“You're the etiquette police now?”
“Nah, I just like teasing you, Mom,” Persephone smirked.
“Well, you've kind of earned it,” Persephone shrugged. “Way more than Athena ever did.”
“Well, the bitch did dump you and run.”
“And you didn't try to sneak me out with the trash, or dump dad when you found out I
existed,” Persephone said. “I figure that's worth a few points. Besides... you've been a mom
to me, and we definitely fight like mother and daughter.”
“Well, I could hardly do worse than my own mother.”
“What do you mean?”
“She's a lot like your grandmother. Cubed.”
“And that's why Balthier looks like a cherry tomato in all the pictures,” Minerva Deity
explained to her father Spandrell.
“You had a nice vacation, though?” Spandrell BuccaneerDeity asked.
“It was frabjulously expensive and decadent,” Minerva said. “I want to go again. How come
we don't have a giant fancy beach house?”
“That's a good question,” Spandrell said. “Go talk to your other father and see what he
Daddy was busy skilling for his next promotion, though, so Minerva busied herself in the
kitchen with a bag of cookies and a stack of vacation pictures. She already couldn't wait until
the next time she saw her cousins.
Her little brother Zeus, though, she could maybe do without, though. He'd exploded her
favourite stuffed animal that morning before school.
As for Hades, as a Pleasure sim he couldn't wait until he topped the culinary career and
could quit his day job. His brotherinlaw Borusa made more than enough money to support
Borusa may not have shared his enthusiasm for this particular plan, by the way.
After a while, both Minerva and Spandrell wandered in to pester him. Hades welcomed the
distraction—studying was not his strong point, nor his favourite activity.
“Did you ask your father about the beach house idea?” Spandrell prompted.
“What's this?” Hades asked, looking up from his recipe book.
“My cousins and my brother and I just had soooo much fun on vacation with Grandpa
Lee that I want us to get a beach house all our own and it could be right next door to
Grandpa's and we could go when they go and play all day and you and Daddy could
be there too! And Uncle Borusa! And it would be fun.”
“I suppose it couldn't hurt to look into it,” Hades agreed after a moment's consideration.
“Maybe once I've topped my career? Then I should have some vacation time coming.”
“By then maybe Zeus will be old enough to stay home by himself,” Minerva added slyly.
“Only if he wanted to, and even then he'd have to stay with one of your aunts or uncles,”
Spandrell said. “Besides, do you really think Zeus would want to stay home if you were going
on an awesome vacation?”
Minerva sighed. “No.”
Spandrell Buccaneer got home from work shortly thereafter, but before his family members
could spring the idea of a summer home (with him working to pay for it) on him, the landlord
And when I say pounced, I mean that literally. Spandrell was a couple of promotions away
from Rock God status, but he's had a 30 purple hearts want locked since his college days,
and the platinum mood from another conquest was always useful for later skilling.
Of course, then he ran into the problem of the landlord thinking it was okay if she just didn't
leave. Sure, she owned and managed the property. But a few hours romping between the
sheets was not an invitation to move in! Finally, Borusa had to fake a family emergency
before the woman would depart.
“I'll be back at 8 AM sharp, though!” she added with a coy wink over her shoulder as Borusa
shut the front door after her. He made a mental note to sleep in and lock the door.
“So, what's this I hear about you getting cozy with Billy Pseudo?” Sterling Buccaneer asked
her befurred younger sister. “Like, you pretty much just got off the plane and jumped him?”
“Not quite,” Karat chuckled. “But yeah, he and I have hung out a bit lately. Why?”
“I'm just your nosy older sister,” Sterling said. “Plus, I love me some good gossip. Are you
two going steady?”
“Oh heck no,” Karat said, looking aghast. “Too closely related for that kind of commitment.
But he's cute, and I felt like kissing him, so I did.”
“Just checking,” Sterling said. “I was going to remind you about the ick factor if you'd
“Not likely to forget something like that!” Karat said emphatically. “I want lots of babies, you
know, and I don't want them having three eyes and no nose.”
“So you're not going to try to get abducted by aliens, then.”
“And here I thought I was the one flunking biology. Only men can have alien babies, sis.”
“You could marry a halfalien, though.”
“I could, except I've never met a male one,” Karat shrugged. “Anyway, I'm not that worried
about it and I'm not planning on kissing any of my cousins, so could we change the subject?”
“For sure. Imagine kissing Balthier!”
“On a more pleasant note, when do you leave for college again?”
“End of fall,” Sterling said with a sigh. “It's going to suck so much, leaving you and Troy and
the cousins behind... even Balthier.”
“He's been lots better since getting back from vacation.”
“Exactly,” Sterling said. “Promise me you, Troy and Kennit will keep an eye on him this next
year? Once he gets to university I can step up again but I know I'm his best friend these
days and I'm going to be worrying about him constantly.”
“You can count on me and Troy,” Karat promised. “Though we might annoy him to death.”
“Yeah, but that would be funny,” Sterling grinned.
“O hai,” Shere Khan said sleepily, grinning at Coxinga.
“Hi yourself,” Zing said with a wink. Then he sat bolt upright in bed. “I wasn't dreaming just
then, was I.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Hopes not,” Shere Khan said, yawning and showing his teeth. “Or I has some 'splaining to
“That was really a lullaby?”
“But we just finished growing up the last two!”
“Cute and fuzzy!”
“Oh... fine,” Zing said, sitting back down and curling up under the covers again. “I suppose I
can live with cute and fuzzy.” He tried very hard not to smile.
Several grumbling minutes later, the two finally got out of bed when Zing's eight backup
alarm clocks went off simultaneously. He was a workaholic, but he also liked sleeping in, so
he took no chances.
“Are you going to tell the kids, or do you want me to do it?”
“I can tell,” Shere Khan said. “I can haz lolspeak and confuzzlings and lols.”
“Meaning you're going to make them guess.”
“That's what I said!”
“Is can be losing teh sexeh body soon,” Shere Khan said cheerfully into the phone later that
“Err... what?” the poor hospital receptionist asked.
“Maternity leave—I'm doin it rite.”
“See you later!”
Sometimes working for Shere Khan was a trial in and of itself. Fortunately, he was blessed
with SuperAdmin! And she usually managed to get the gist of what he was trying to say, at
“I bet you two are going to be so glad when I move out,” Sterling yawned, hopping out of bed
later that morning. “The room will be that much less cramped.”
“It's not that we don't love you,” Karat said, coming out of the bathroom. “It's just that Troy
and I would both like room to turn around in our bedroom. Not to mention room for a screen
so we can at least pretend to be in separate rooms.”
“Plus, you snore,” Troy added.
“No I don't!” both sisters denied in unison.
“Both of you do. It's obviously a Buccaneer female trait, since I don't snore.”
“Wanna bet?” Karat smirked. “Last time Sterling stayed over at Callie's house I still heard
“That was dad, or dad,” Troy insisted, leaning against the bathroom doorway and posing.
“Okay, sibs, tell me the truth—can you tell. This is a Ralph Lauren shirt when I stick my chest
out like this?”
“You look like you're trying for the boob look when you puff your chest out like that,” Sterling
“Well, that's one way of putting it,” Troy agreed.
It was a few mornings later before Shere Khan felt the time was right to tell the kids about
their impending sibling. First, he prepared a big meal—to put them in a good mood.
“What's this in honour of?” Sterling asked, making her way downstairs. “My last week living
“Err, that too,” Zing said quickly.
A few moments of conversation passed.
“You're doing WHAT?!?”
Babies were okay, Mialee Pseudo supposed, but she didn't see why she had to share her
room with one. Sure, her little sister Lidda was made of cute and adorable, but she had a
tendency to wake up at three in the morning screaming. Usually Mialee was asleep by then,
unless her vampire father was over for a visit, and that meant everybody got to wake up and
be grumpy for the rest of the week.
Still, Mialee had to admit, Lidda was downright adorable when she was sleeping.
As far as most of the family was concerned, Lidda was downright entrancing when she
was awake, as well. The youngest of the seven Pseudo cousins, she was much
cossetted and petted.
“Arr... ye be the last o' the lot, do ye?”
“Bear talks!” Lidda squealed.
“Bear deaf!” the Captain groaned. “Ouch! Love, me head don't go that way normally!
“Fuzzy,” Lidda insisted, rubbing her face on the now damp fur.
“Aye, I be coated in plush, savvy?”
“Why, so I could enj'y bleedin' immortality, love!” the bear exclaimed.
“Daddy's immortal,” the toddler sounded out the big word carefully.
“Aye, so long as he don't get a suntan.”
“You so funny, Captain Jack,” Lidda insisted. She wrapped her arms around the stuffed
animal and hugged it. “I love you.”
“Arr... this be why I stick around.”
Before long it was time for Mialee's birthday, and thanks to her father's work schedule the
party was held a bit later than was usual for a childtoteen transition.
“Ith everybody watching me?”
“We're right here, honey,” Liv said encouragingly. “Now, make a wish and you can't tell us
what it is! Unless it gets granted, I mean.”
“Do I have to only make one?” Mialee asked, batting her eyelashes entreatingly. She had
learned the power of long eyelashes at an early age thanks to the way her father doted on
“I make no promises as to how many wishes will actually be granted,” Liv said, “but make as
many as you like. Of course, if you're a greedypants you might not get anything.”
“I'll rithk it,” Mialee said after a moment of consideration. She leaned forward and took a
Mialee grew up to be the prettiest member of generation 7 to date. She decided to follow in
her cousin Billy's footprints and chose Knowledge as her aspiration, with a lifetime want to
be an oceanographer.
“And guess what?” she crowed when she'd gotten back from changing into her new clothes.
“What?” Liv played along.
Mialee wasn't the only member of the Pseudo household celebrating a birthday, though.
“No!” Lidda insisted when her mother cornered her in the upstairs hall.
“Don't you want to get bigger?” Liv asked entreatingly.
“Not even a little?”
However, certain things cannot be delayed, and Lidda inevitably found herself being brought
forward towards the birthday cake. She shrank back from it in annoyance, but perked up
once the candles were lit.
“Pretty candles,” Lidda breathed.
“Make a wish!” Count Randy suggested'
“BLAAAAAAT!” Mialee's noisemaker sounded.
“Happy birthday, darling,” Liv smiled, and leaned forward to help Lidda blow out the candles.
“PTHBBBBTTT!” Lidda showered the cake in spit... and blew out every single candle.
“Good thing we have two cakes,” Mialee murmered in an undertone to her father.
“Fine, I'm done,” Lidda said once the sparkles had stopped. “But this outfit just has to go.”
“Aw, man... there's nothing good to eat,” Balthier Buccaneer complained, pawing through the
“So?” his brother Kennit mumbled through a mouthful of potato chips. “Make something. Or
run to the store and buy something.”
“Way too lazy for that,” Balthier reminded him. “I require instant gratification.”
“Well, I just ate the last instant gratification in the house.”
“Bah,” Balthier insisted, grabbing an apple and taking a bite out of it before putting it back in
the fridge. “Ooh, chocolate milk!” He opened the carton, took a healthy swig, and put it back.
“Mom hates it when you do that,” Kennit said.
“I know,” Balthier said. “I'm purposely making her want me to move out for college so maybe
she'll let me go early.”
“She has nothing to do with it,” Kennit said. “It's all about the high school diploma board.”
“It didn't used to be such a big deal—anybody could go whenever they wanted once they
turned thirteen,” Balthier said, taking both the carton of milk and the apple out of the fridge
and closing the door.
“Yeah, but back in the day Pirate Island didn't have ninety three people in one generation...
not counting townies.”
“I guess,” Balthier said, continuing the conversation once he and Kennit had finished
demolishing a week's worth of groceries and had settled down to their homework. “I just... I
feel like I'm ready to go to university now, you know? Most of my friends are older than me
and get to go at the end of fall.”
“You have lots of friends going when you do, though,” Kennit insisted. “Like, um, Cate and
Sarah Pseudo... Muffy Legacina... lots of people.”
“Yeah, but Orlando and Sterling and everyone are going this year.”
“Well, you can always hang out with me and Troy and Karat,” Kennit shrugged.
“I might just do that,” Balthier said. “Anything's better than watching Chandler and Brittany
suck face all over campus.”
“They don't seem to know the meaning of the phrase 'get a room', do they?” Kennit agreed.
“I heard they got detention last week for making out in study hall.”
“They did,” Balthier said, a hint of amusement in his voice. “To quote Uncle Shere Khan—I
“Do you know if they're going to university?”
“Haven't the foggiest,” Balthier said. “Back when I wished they would grow up with me, I
didn't exactly add on a stipulation about not backstabbing me, so it wouldn't surprise me.
Hence another reason for me to go to school early... then I'd only have to spend three years
with them and we wouldn't be in the same classes.”
“Yeah, but if you wished them to grow up with you, they'd just end up going early as well,”
Kennit said, always pragmatic.
“Wonderful,” Balthier groaned. “I can't wait.”
The sound of the school bus honking outside interrupted their conversation and both boys
fell silent as they listened for their little sister Arabella to come in.
“Aw, man,” the littlest Buccaner complained as she hastily scanned her report card. “Another
C? What am I doing wrong?”
A few minutes later she lay stretched out on the upstairs foyer couch. School was hard work,
and Arabella would much rather nap than work on her homework.
That excuse didn't fly with Ching Shih when she got home from work, though. Arabella was
woken unceremoniously and dragged downstairs to take care of three days worth of
“Aww, do I have to?” the youngest Buccaneer asked in a plaintive voice.
“You do,” Ching Shih insisted. “But here, I'll help you so you're done more quickly. I should
have been helping you all along, really, so I'm as much to blame for your report card as you
“But you've been so busy working on that thing in the basement,” Arabella said. “That thing
is important, right?”
“It is, but not as important as your education,” her mother insisted. “Now, let's see...”
Life at the Buccaneer household had settled back into the normal routine now that everyone
had returned from their various vacations. While Ching Shih juggled getting her daughter
caught up on school work and her mysterious basement project, Jim continued work on his
lifetime want to be a Hall of Famer. He was not naturally athletic, so progress was slow...
though not nonexistant.
Kennit, meanwhile, conspired with his cousins to make sure Balthier didn't fall back into the
habit of being maudlin again.
“So we're in agreement? Friday night... or make that Saturday morning, one o'clock at the
Youth Centre. Project 'Find Balthier A Girlfriend' kicks off? Great. Hey, see if you can get that
limo again... that was awesome last time.”
Ching Shih's father Lee, on the other hand, withdrew from the family a little. He was, to be
frank, tired of being without his wife Grace.
“There,” he said to himself, making one final notation in his book. “Now everything is settled.
Everything to the kids, with a few mementos to the grandkids.”
He stood up with a groan and rubbed his back. “Well, all my affairs might be in order but I'm
not about to keel over right this moment. I guess I'd better stop being a hermit and spend
some time with my grandbabies.”
“It is good to see you smiling again, son,” Jim commented a few days later. “Your vacation
treated you well?”
“More like my cousins bashed me over the head with my own bad behaviour until I grabbed
a clue,” Balthier responded.
“You are a lucky young man to have so many people who care for you,” Jim said. “I think
your mother's family is one of my favourite things about moving to Pirate Island. I only wish I
hadn't missed the first few years of your life due to those stupid immigration laws.”
“I've been meaning to ask you about that for a while, actually,” Balthier said. “Do you know if
mom ever managed to find out who had passed the law and why?”
Jim frowned. “You know, I do not believe it ever was resolved, now that you mention it.
Remind me to ask your mother. I tend to get ... distracted ... when I see her.”
“I hope one day I find someone who makes me feel the way mom makes you feel,” Balthier
said with a sigh.
“Grandpa!” Kennit called, spying his grandfather walking purposefully in the direction of the
“Kennit!” Lee returned, turning around and smiling. “What can I do for you?”
“I just haven't seen you much lately,” Kennit said. “Between work for you and school for me...
I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”
Lee paused and smiled slowly. “I love you too, Kennit. What's brought on this bout of
“I dunno,” Kennit shrugged, following him into the kitchen. “I just wanted to make sure you
Lee smiled. “I think I've been neglecting you and your siblings and cousins since we returned
from our vacation, and I wanted to apologize for that. I've had a lot of things on my mind—
but that's old news. I was just going to get a drink and then head downstairs to exercise a bit
before dinner. Care to join me?”
“I'll finish up my homework and then I'll be right down,” Kennit promised.
Kennit was not the only one supposedly doing homework. Arabella wasn't having any trouble
now that her parents had explained the rudiments of studying to her, but she would still
rather do just about anything other than her schoolwork. At the moment, she was supposed
to be writing a composition about her vacation. Instead, she had loaded up a computer game
and was praying that neither of her parents would walk in.
Of course, when Ching Shih did walk into the study to check up on her daughter, Jim was
close at her heels.
“Let the child play for a few minutes before she gets to work,” Jim said cajolingly when Shih
started towards the computer. “Soon enough she will be spending all of her spare time with
her books. Let her be young.”
“Well, I suppose I can let you distract me for just a moment,” Shih said, batting her eyelashes
“Keep looking at me like that, woman, and I'll distract you for more than a minute,” Jim
“You guys are being gross,” Arabella announced, not taking her eyes off of her screen. “How
about you go somewhere else and let me play my video game in peace?”
“You should probably get to work now,” Ching Shih said uncertainly. She glanced from her
husband to her daughter.
“Twenty more minutes,” Jim said. He fiddled with his watch for a moment and set it down on
the desk next to Arabella. “When my watch beeps.”
Then he swept his wife into his arms and kissed her soundly.
“Oof!” Ching Shih protested for a moment before melting into the embrace.
“Even after almost thirty years, I still feel like a neverbeenkissed teenager when you do
that,” Shih said breathlessly.
“Would it surprise you to know the feeling is mutual?” Jim asked.
“Only if you didn't tell me so on a regular basis,” Ching Shih smiled. She slipped her hand
into her husband's. “Let's go upstairs. There's something I need to, ah, show you...”
“Parents,” Arabella said, shaking her head in disgust. She looked at the watch sitting next to
the keyboard. “Fifteen minutes, but I bet they don't check up on me for fortyfive, at least.
That means three levels...”
Her internal dialogue was interrupted by a sudden stillness so loud it seemed deafening.
Reality resumed at Balthier's anguished cry, but it was too late. Lee Buccaneer was gone...
to be reunited with his beloved Grace at last.
Arabella cried, her video game forgotten.
“Come, darling,” Ching Shih said in a low, soothing voice.
Arabella trudged upstairs with heavy footsteps and allowed herself to be tucked into bed, but
whether or not she slept is another question entirely.
* * *
In a shadowed manor, somewhere on Pirate Island...
“Real smooth, you two,” the Cabal member known to the others as Knowledge sneered. “I
see the plan is going real well. You've really managed to worm your way into the heir's
confidence, haven't you.”
“I—“ the conspirator Pleasure started.
“No, the grownups are speaking now,” Knowledge continued. “Your plan is in shambles and
we're no closer to taking out the Buccaneer family than we ever were. In fact, we're even
worse off. There are three potential heirs this generation, in case you hadn't noticed.”
“Knowledge has a point,” the nasal voice of Family chimed in. “I'd have to say you blew it,
Pleasure. Well, you and Grilled Cheese. It does take two to tango, and you two were
“Does anybody else have a better idea?” Pleasure managed in an icy voice. “Because if you
do, I'm waiting to hear it.”
“That's what I thought,” Pleasure continued arrogantly. “Now, if you will stop interrupting me,
I will tell you exactly how Grilled Cheese and I intend to mend things. There is still time to
repair the relationship with the heir—and Balthier Buccaneer will be the heir, rest assured of
“The brat is right,” a voice said suddenly. As the conspirators exchanged confused glances,
there was a sudden flash of light.
“This is still anybody's game... and I'm about to change the rules.”