Smoothie Sims, Inc. proudly presents…
A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18, “Intermezzo”
Previously on A Villainous Apocalypse…
“So you two wouldn’t mind doing that?” Rhys asked.
C herryh shook her head. “Actual...
“I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” Dahlia said, frowning. “It’s obvious that Nero isn’t serious.”
“Of course he isn...
“It’s always Nero,” he continued, seemingly not hearing her. “You always liked him better than me, just
because he was the...
“Because of your husband’s status as a Watcher, he is immortal and will never age, unless I revoke it. And as
you’re aware...
“My parents are missing.”
“What?” the two siblings exclaimed in disbelief.
Gordon swallowed. “I was at Aunt Ray’s birthday...
“So now what do we do?”
“I guess we figure out where we go from here,” he said. “You still want your own place?”
“Well, I ...
Lex bent down low and looked him in the eye. “Get out of here and don’t come back,” he said, in a low,
dangerous voice. “I...
“Dennis hasn’t hurt anyone. As long as he doesn’t, I can’t justify attacking him. There are other ways to deal
with this.”...
“You’re C arlos Norris, right?” the woman asked.
“Yes,” he said slowly. “Who’s asking?”
She smiled under her long, dark ha...
“I had a very odd request from Dahlia yesterday,” Bella said, eyebrows furrowing in thought. “She’s got this
friend named ...
“I should warn you that this is a very risky surgery. The good news is that your brain seems to be functioning
all right. ...
“Okay. Today I can do the organ transplant, and when your body has recovered from that, we’ll start the skin
grafts. If yo...
Amanda glanced over at her best friend, and Dahlia mustered up her most encouraging smile. “It’s okay,” she
said. “I’ll be...
“I promise you’re in good hands. I’ve done transplants before. You should be fine.”
Amanda finally smiled. “Okay,” she agr...
The two of them walked into the operating room, and Dahlia’s heart sank as she watched them go. All of a
sudden, she was c...
Seeing this, Ray sighed and crossed over to her. “Remember what you just said, Dahlia. Bella is a good
surgeon, better tha...
The transplant took several hours. Ray offered her books and magazines, and even some food, but Dahlia was
so nervous she ...
“I hope you have a good time. What about career plans?”
“Brit and I both want to go into Journalism.”
Ray’s eyes lit up. “...
Just then, Bella emerged from the operating room, looking exhausted, but hopeful. “How is she?” Dahlia asked.
“Well, I got...
Dahlia squealed and grabbed Bella in a tight hug. “Thank you so much!”
“It was my absolute pleasure.”
                    ...
Time for the elder years already? I can hardly believe it. Inspecting his face in the mirror, he caught sight of
some wrin...
At hearing the doorbell go off, Lex walked downstairs and saw the relatives he had invited over for the
occasion milling a...
And he was, ill-fitting transition outfit notwithstanding. As the assorted family laughed, he grimaced. “Yeah, I’ll
be bac...
Aside from slightly stiffer joints, Lex felt hardly any different from when he had been an adult. That would
probably come...
“Are you ready?”
“Never more so than now.”
All the same, Dahlia looked nervous. Brit felt it too, but the happiness he als...
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t, no. Shall we?”
“Akina, stand up straight,” Marina hissed. “If your father and Ne...
Brit was more than ready to get on with it. Things were going well for him and Dahlia. They had pooled their
savings and b...
Best of all, Amanda’s surgeries were going well. Not perfectly, and she still had at least one to go to fix some
things up...
The only thing to do was seal the deal and get on with living his life, and that was exactly what he intended to
do.
“C ongratulations, sweetheart,” his mother said, offering her arms for a hug he surprisingly had no problems
returning. “Y...
“I left you two a present on your kitchen table. I’m not letting any more of my children get married without
cake if I can...
“Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful,” Dahlia breathed. “I don’t want to cut it.”
“You’d prefer to let it go bad instead?...
Dahlia cut a piece with delicate precision and forked a bite, feeding it to Brit nicely despite her urge to stuff it
in hi...
Brit chewed slowly, eyes popping after a couple of seconds. “It’s so sweet,” he gasped. “I’ve gone too long
without sugar....
That got their attention, and the rest of the party flocked to the kitchen to partake.
“You’re sure you don’t mind staying with Amanda while we’re gone?” Even though they would only be gone four
days, Dahlia h...
“And you’re sure you can handle the garden and everything until I get back?”
Amanda smiled sheepishly. “You w-worry too mu...
“I’ll try, just for you. And you be nice to Nero. Don’t antagonize him too much.”
“I wouldn’t d-do that.”
A car horn sounded outside, and Dahlia tore herself away to go in search of her new husband. “Brit! The airport
shuttle’s ...
“Good morning, Mr. Pitts. I am Shaw Bigfoot. I hope you do not mind my reading this paper.”
Ashley blinked. “Uh, no…” Eith...
“Hey, son, Bella. Glad to see you back safe.”
Bella grinned. “As if there was any doubt, Dad. You couldn’t get rid of eith...
“Oh yeah. It was as good as we thought it might be. Some parts were really busy. We went on a lot of tours.
Most of them w...
“Most of them?”
“Yeah, um…we went on a logging expedition, accidentally upset a hive of bees, and they chased us all the w...
“Most of the trip was fantastic, though. We got a lot of quality time in, had a lot of good meals and even a
couple we coo...
“We did quite a lot of log rolling, too,” Andrew put in.
“Yeah, that was a lot of fun and so much harder than it looks.”
“For you, maybe.”
“Hey, what did I tell you about gloating?”
“That I can do it as much as I like because I am the master.”...
“The spa there is as nice as the one at Twikkii,” Bella said.
“Better, I thought. There’s nothing like a natural hot sprin...
“You’re making me sorry I missed it,” Ashley smiled. “Anything else you want to share? Such as why there is a
Bigfoot in o...
“Bella and I found a map to a hidden location on one of our tours, and being the adventuresome, reckless
people we are, de...
“Hey Mom, glad you’re back! Did you have a good--AAAAAAH!”
“WHAT IS THIS GIANT FURRY THING DOING IN MY HOUSE”
“It’s not your house yet,” Bella reminded her, fighting down the urge t...
Shaw’s mountain ways soon won her over, however.
“Whoa. C an you teach me how to do that? I bet it would scare the piss ou...
Nero and Amanda spent their last evening alone in the house doing what two Pleasure Sims normally do.
“D-Dahlia’s going to...
Finally, they wore themselves out and collapsed on the cushions, laughing. “Th-that was fun!” Amanda
managed.
“You haven’t...
Once she had caught her breath, she regarded Nero seriously for a moment, wanting to say something but
unsure if she shoul...
“Mandy, come on. What’s bothering you?”
“I j-just…” Her lip began to quiver. “It’s s-so stupid…”
“What is? You can tell me...
“No, no, stay.” He flung out an arm to stop her from going. “It’s not stupid. C ome here.”
“Y-you’re not mad?”
“No, of course not. I’m glad you told me. You should have said so sooner.”
“I couldn’t. I w-wasn’t goo...
The next morning, Nero was up bright and early, awaiting the return of his brother and Dahlia from the airport.
They had c...
Brit waited until Dahlia left, then turned to Nero. “Your being here gave her a lot of peace of mind on the trip,”
he said...
“Mandy? Are you awake?”
“…D-Dahlia?”
“Yeah, it’s me, we’re home. How are you? Did everything go okay while we were gone?”
...
“Okay. I’m off then. C all me at work if something happens and I’ll come right home.”
“Bye.”
***
That evening was a flurry of excitement and preparation for more than just Nero and his wife. Lex had hit
upon a brilliant...
“Seven.”
“Seven tonight?”
“Of course--oh, I forgot. You’re working.”
“I’m so sorry, hon, I would go if I had the night off...
Tossing her a wink, Lex pulled out his phone. “Hey, Gordon. Did you hear about C herryh’s concert tonight?”
“Yeah, she cal...
“Lex, you are completely in the wrong career.”
“I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.”
“Rhi not going?”
“Yeah, she has to ...
Across town, Brit waited somewhat impatiently for the females in the house to be ready to go, and felt irritation
rising w...
His wife sighed. “No, it doesn’t sound like an emergency. She said she thinks she has stomach flu and she
can’t stand up w...
“That’s what I thought. I just hate leaving her alone and I hate panicking over every little thing like it could
mean some...
“Y’all have been such a good audience, I guess we can give you one more song.” C heers went up from the
crowd, and the lea...
Oh it’s been getting so hard
Livin’ with the things you do to me
My dreams are getting so strange
I’d like to tell you eve...
Oh yeah it was like lightning, everybody was frightening
And the music was soothing, and they all started grooving
Yeah, y...
And the man at the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said
Boy, I wa...
I’m reaching out for something
Touching nothing’s all I ever do
Oh, I softly call you over
When you appear there’s nothing...
Oh yeah, it was electric, so frightfully hectic
And the band started leaving, cause they all stopped breathing
Yeah, yeah ...
And the man in the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said
Boy, I wa...
And the man in the back said
Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz
And the girl in the corner said
Boy, I wa...
It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz
It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz
It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz
Yeah, it’s a ballroom blitz
“Look at that, y’all! Looks like we got rained on after all! Guess we’re lucky it didn’t happen til the last song,
huh? Th...
“Uncle Lex and I want to stay and say hi to C herryh,” Gordon told his son once they had reconvened. “Are you
guys up for ...
“That is one mean piano you play, C her.” Lex greeted his old friend with a warm hug, wondering at the fact that
she seeme...
“Great job, C herryh,” Gordon said, coming up after watching the teenagers walk to the car. “The whole thing
was great.”
“...
“I’m ever so glad you think so, nephew.” As she said this, the singer rounded the corner, and now that she
had dropped the...
“The one and only.” Selina Morgan enveloped her stunned son in a hug before he had time to react. “It is so
good to see yo...
“You too, Lex,” she added, giving him a hug as well. “I’m glad both of you made it. You’re looking well.”
“Uh, yeah, so ar...
“Uh, sorry to interrupt,” Gordon blurted, “and not that I’m not completely glad to see you or anything, because
I am, but ...
An hour later, the six adults sat around eating sandwiches in a small room in what seemed to be next door to
the middle of...
“So,” Gordon said after a long, painful silence. “Is someone going to fill us in on what’s going on here? My
mother is mag...
His statement cut through some of the tension at the table, and everyone laughed. “That covers what you
know,” C herryh ag...
“Then where were you when my sister’s ex attacked her, severely injured her with the intent to do worse and
almost killed ...
“And why didn’t we know all this before, anyway?” Gordon added.
“Rhys knew,” Stephen said. “We chose not to pass the infor...
“All right, so why didn’t you tell us before and why are you telling us now?”
“We didn’t tell you before to protect you an...
“A band, though? Why would you choose to form a band if you’re trying to stay low profile?”
“That’s our cover, so we can m...
“Right. They’re great kids. Bright, doing well in school. Well, Phil’s a little too girl crazy, but a lot of boys go
throu...
“We are, Gordon,” Stephen said firmly. “Just because we’ve been gone doesn’t mean we haven’t been trying to
keep up.”
Gord...
“C herryh and I can drive you two home whenever you’re ready,” Vaughn added. “And we have to ask that
you keep this as qui...
While the others cleaned up the dishes, Gordon’s parents stole a moment alone with him. “I’m sorry,” Selina
said again. “I...
“Bye, son. Take care of yourself and the family. We want to meet those kids someday soon.”
“Stay in touch this time.”
“We ...
“Oh my goodness. Brit? Brit!”
“What is it?” Brit ran into the room expecting to find that his wife had injured herself and was surprised to see
her ecst...
“That’s wonderful! I can’t believe it!”
“I know, right? Us, parents? C razy!”
“Amazing, though.”
“C ompletely! I’ve got to...
“Mandy? C an I come in?”
“N-no, don’t.”
“But I have some great news.”
“You c-can tell me through the d-door.”
“…Amanda, ar...
“…you are kidding me.”
“Please don’t t-take me to the clinic, please!”
After several attempts to figure out what exactly had happened and to calm Amanda down, Brit took a call from
his mother a...
“Mother, it could kill her. We might not have a choice.”
“Of course you do. You’re forgetting who your mother is.”
“…what?...
“Would you be willing to come over and tell her that?”
“Of course. Tell her I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“All right.”
...
Nero and Angel had planned all along to move to the city after their wedding--Angel was pushing it, and Nero
was more than...
KNOC K KNOC K
“I’ll get it,” Nero said, getting up. “It’s probably for me.”
“Okay.”
When he saw who their visitor was, he had to bite down a sudden panic. Brit’s presence was not something he
really enjoyed...
“Woohoo is not a one-person activity, Britannicus. I didn’t force Amanda into anything. She is just as much to
blame as I ...
“That is not the point, Nero. What if Mother wasn’t the C reator? What if she couldn’t do anything? What if no
one could? ...
“No, I don’t want anything from you. I want you to stay away from my family and never come near Amanda
or the child ever a...
The door opened and Angel walked out, looking between the two uncertainly. “What’s going on out here?”
“Nothing important,...
Brit arrived home to find his mother in the kitchen tossing together a chef salad for the two hungry pregnant
women. She g...
Dinner was a much quieter affair than the rest of the day had been. Mostly, they made small talk, throwing
around baby nam...
She went into labor shortly after dinner, and it was a long, agonizing one. “It’s going to be okay, Amanda,”
Marina soothe...
And just as she had promised, both Amanda and her new daughter made it through the labor safely.
“Ooh, someone’s a pretty baby, yes she is,” the proud grandmother cooed. “What are you going to call her,
Amanda?”
“K-Kend...
Dahlia and Amanda promptly headed off to find a bottle for Kendra, leaving Brit alone with Marina. “Thank
you,” he said si...
“That said, it’s getting late, and I have a toddler to attend to. At least Min sleeps through the night now.” She
tossed a...
I guess it’s true what they say. It never rains, but it pours. Spider Jerusalem sighed heavily, contemplating the
summer n...
Really, they were going almost too well, considering it was him. His granddaughter had become a beautiful
young woman and ...
Surprise grandson Woody was also growing up well and showed every sign of becoming a fine young man.
Everyone in their household was healthy, had a good relationship with their spouse and with each other, and
enjoyed a heal...
Spider had kissed his wife goodbye before work that morning as usual…
…not realizing that it would be the last time.
Nor had he suspected that the Grim Reaper would come for C assidy that day, as well, but of course it was
time. Of course.
Nothing good that happens to me ever lasts, he thought bitterly. It all has to end sometime. I should have
learned that by...
His wallowing was interrupted by Gilbert stepping outside to check on him. “Are you all right, Spider?”
He almost laughed....
“I didn’t think this could really happen, though. On one level I knew Ray was mortal and would die one day
when I married ...
Across the street, another man was having similar thoughts to Gilbert’s.
“I wish they’d cut it out and pay attention alrea...
“I don’t know,” Andrew said thoughtfully. “I’m enjoying the sight of all our relatives prancing around, spanking
themselve...
As the C reator’s son, he normally wouldn’t have had to age and eventually die, but marrying Bella had
presented him with ...
She had known, of course, what he would do, and although it obviously made her sad, she didn’t try to talk
him out of it.
...
And he never would.
                      ***
Author’s Note
Hellooooo, everyone. <3
So this was just an overly long, rambly update about some silly things going on in t...
There were actually four birthdays and three deaths this update, but you didn’t see Rhi’s birthday or Ashley’s
death becau...
Ah, the concert scene. Even though the set was pretty simple, this was tough to stage. For starters, I had a
LOT of select...
Re: Brit and Nero, I’m sure most of you have forgotten about their plotline by now, which is reasonable since
it’s been al...
Next update, we’ll get back to the businesses, college, and Azula’s LTW. I hope to have that out for you
relatively soon a...
A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18
A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18
A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18
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A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18

  1. 1. Smoothie Sims, Inc. proudly presents… A Villainous Apocalypse - Episode 18, “Intermezzo”
  2. 2. Previously on A Villainous Apocalypse… “So you two wouldn’t mind doing that?” Rhys asked. C herryh shook her head. “Actually, I think that’s what we’re here for, Rhys. Your family’s going to need whatever help they can get.” “Did either of you know this was going to happen?” “I didn’t,” Stephen said, glancing at C herryh, who shook her head to indicate that she hadn’t either. “But I agree with C herryh in that this is why Marina asked us to come here. We’ll be around in case your family runs into something they can’t handle by themselves.”
  3. 3. “I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” Dahlia said, frowning. “It’s obvious that Nero isn’t serious.” “Of course he isn’t serious,” Brit said. “Nero might be Pleasure, but he’ll want a girl who can reproduce because he’s Roman, like me, and Amanda can’t do that. What if she thinks he is?” Dahlia gave him a long, hard Look. “Mandy might be a zombie, but she’s not dumb,” she said sternly. “I’ll talk with her about it if you want, but I don’t see anything wrong with their friendship unless Nero intentionally hurts her, and as far as I can see, he isn’t. Why are you so bothered by this, anyway?” “I don’t want to see Nero hurt anyone,” Brit said flatly, and he got up from the table without further comment.
  4. 4. “It’s always Nero,” he continued, seemingly not hearing her. “You always liked him better than me, just because he was the one who got your red hair. Even when I made it here safely when all this started, all you could talk about was him and how worried you were. And when I saw him with Ivy and saw that he wasn’t even trying to find us, it made me angry. He didn’t even care! He’s always been the favorite and he never even did anything to deserve it!” He clenched his fists. “Why should I help him when he’s never done anything but hurt me?” “Britannicus C aesar, look at me.” Brit took a deep breath, clenched his jaw, and turned to face his mother. “What makes you think I love Nero more than I love you?” she asked. “Nero may look more like me, but what does that matter? I’m proud of you, Brit. I always have been.” She laughed slightly. “I thought you hated me, and it turns out all this time you just thought I was playing favorites? It isn’t true. Mothers don’t do that, Brit. I love both of you equally. And because I’m a mother, I worry.” She looked him in the eye. “But I don’t forget about the children who are safe. That means you.”
  5. 5. “Because of your husband’s status as a Watcher, he is immortal and will never age, unless I revoke it. And as you’re aware, you are not.” Marina bit her lip. “Your grandfather Rhys was once immortal. I revoked this because he abused it and tried to hurt his family. Mortality is something that should not be taken lightly, something he never understood.” “But what does this have to do with me?” Selina asked, frowning deeply. “Because Rhys had to age and die, so do all of his descendants,” Marina said. “But I will make an exception for you.”
  6. 6. “My parents are missing.” “What?” the two siblings exclaimed in disbelief. Gordon swallowed. “I was at Aunt Ray’s birthday party last night,” he said, “and they weren’t there, and I hadn’t heard from them in way too long, so Jaeger and I stopped at home on our way back, and…” He began to choke up. “Bella, they weren’t there. The house looked like it hadn’t been touched in days. Their bed wasn’t made, there was days-old salad on the counter, and the car was gone.” “Oh, Gordon,” Bella breathed, unable to comprehend that Selina and Stephen could actually be gone. “Do you have any idea what happened?” He shook his head. “I don’t know what to think. I hope they’re okay, but something’s telling me Raikov had something to do with it.”
  7. 7. “So now what do we do?” “I guess we figure out where we go from here,” he said. “You still want your own place?” “Well, I need to move back home for a while to help with the relief work, but after that, yeah,” she said. “What about you? Are you still going to move in with Spencer?” Andrew shook his head. “No. Spencer’s married now, and they just had twins, and it just doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore. I might live with Gordon or Mom for a while, but not forever.” He tilted his head a bit. “I still want to travel, though.” “I still want three kids,” Bella said. “Who ever said we couldn’t do both?” A grin lit up Andrew’s face. “I think we can work something out.”
  8. 8. Lex bent down low and looked him in the eye. “Get out of here and don’t come back,” he said, in a low, dangerous voice. “I’m not telling you this for Bella’s sake, either. We might not have a law protecting us, but it doesn’t mean we can’t protect ourselves.”
  9. 9. “Dennis hasn’t hurt anyone. As long as he doesn’t, I can’t justify attacking him. There are other ways to deal with this.” He grinned. “It was just a suggestion. I know you won’t do it. Hey, you could sic my daughter on him, though.” She eyed him. “I’m not going to do that either. I wouldn’t wish what Morgan would do to him on anyone.” She paused. “Well, with the possible exception of C arlos, who has crossed that line multiple times and has to be dealt with, but I have a plan for that.”
  10. 10. “You’re C arlos Norris, right?” the woman asked. “Yes,” he said slowly. “Who’s asking?” She smiled under her long, dark hair. “I’d say we’re sorry to disturb you, but that wouldn’t really be true. To put it bluntly…you’ll have to come with us.”
  11. 11. “I had a very odd request from Dahlia yesterday,” Bella said, eyebrows furrowing in thought. “She’s got this friend named Amanda who’s a zombie, and she really wants to find a way to cure her, but no one knows of anything, so she asked me if there was a way I could do it since I was a doctor not that long ago. I said I didn’t know, but she looked so disappointed that I told her I would look into it.” “I’m not a doctor, Bella,” Ray said. “I’m not acquainted with any others besides you, either.” “No, but you were a Mad Scientist once,” Bella said. “Mad Scientists love inventing things and making creatures, don’t they? I thought maybe you’d have some ideas. We could work on it together. Maybe we wouldn’t come up with anything, but at least we could say we tried.” Ray pursed her lips. “What would you suggest as a starting point?” ***
  12. 12. “I should warn you that this is a very risky surgery. The good news is that your brain seems to be functioning all right. Some of your motor functions and your speech probably won’t work correctly for a very long time, if ever, but with therapy you can work on that. The bad news is that many of your other organs are beyond repair at this point and you need to have a massive organ transplant. I have been able to match you up with some donated organs for your body and blood type, according to what Dahlia told me yours were before the accident, but there is always the risk that your body will reject them. And on top of all that, I need to do some skin grafts to restore yours to what it was, or at least as close as I can get. We’re talking multiple high-risk surgeries here, Amanda. Do you understand that?” The zombie nodded. “Do you still want to do this?” “Y-yes.”
  13. 13. “Okay. Today I can do the organ transplant, and when your body has recovered from that, we’ll start the skin grafts. If you’re ready, you can come with me to the operating room.”
  14. 14. Amanda glanced over at her best friend, and Dahlia mustered up her most encouraging smile. “It’s okay,” she said. “I’ll be right here waiting for you the whole time. Bella’s a good surgeon. You’ll be fine.”
  15. 15. “I promise you’re in good hands. I’ve done transplants before. You should be fine.” Amanda finally smiled. “Okay,” she agreed.
  16. 16. The two of them walked into the operating room, and Dahlia’s heart sank as she watched them go. All of a sudden, she was convinced that that would be the last time she ever saw her friend.
  17. 17. Seeing this, Ray sighed and crossed over to her. “Remember what you just said, Dahlia. Bella is a good surgeon, better than many and certainly better than she’ll give herself credit for. If anyone can do this, it’s her.” “What if she can’t?” “Amanda wanted this so badly she was willing to risk it. Maybe that will be the reason she gets through it.”
  18. 18. The transplant took several hours. Ray offered her books and magazines, and even some food, but Dahlia was so nervous she couldn’t concentrate and felt like she would regurgitate anything she tried to ingest, so she waited, fists clenched so hard her nails could draw blood. “So,” Ray said abruptly, noticing this. “I heard you just graduated from college.” Dahlia nodded. “We all did. Me, Brit, Mandy, and Nero. Lulu’s still there with some of Marina’s other kids.” “What are your plans now?” “Uh, Brit and I are engaged and we’re hoping to get married soon and take a honeymoon to Twikkii Island.” “How exciting. I’ve never been.” “Me either, we were in college when Marina and Spencer took the family, so we’re making up for it now.” She smiled a little. “I’ve heard it’s amazing.”
  19. 19. “I hope you have a good time. What about career plans?” “Brit and I both want to go into Journalism.” Ray’s eyes lit up. “Really? I was a Media Magnate for a while before I started teaching.” “How did you like it?” “Very much. It was a good-”
  20. 20. Just then, Bella emerged from the operating room, looking exhausted, but hopeful. “How is she?” Dahlia asked. “Well, I got her all the organs she needs,” Bella said, “and she’s sleeping now. I’m going to need to observe her overnight to make sure she doesn’t reject them, but as of right now, things are looking good.” She smiled. “So if this works for Amanda, maybe we can help the rest of them too.”
  21. 21. Dahlia squealed and grabbed Bella in a tight hug. “Thank you so much!” “It was my absolute pleasure.” ***
  22. 22. Time for the elder years already? I can hardly believe it. Inspecting his face in the mirror, he caught sight of some wrinkles and decided it must be true. Overall, his adult years had treated him very well, and he had no regrets. Well, if he were honest, there were a couple pertaining to his job. If there had been an actual law governing Sierra Plains, being a C aptain Hero could have made more of a difference. As it was, he and his cousin were mostly doing vigilante work, which was highly stressful. But since he couldn’t go back and change it, it was better not to dwell on it.
  23. 23. At hearing the doorbell go off, Lex walked downstairs and saw the relatives he had invited over for the occasion milling around waiting for him. “Hey, you guys,” he greeted them, smiling. “Hey, Lex!” Jon was grinning from ear to ear, usually not a good sign. “Guess who’s an old fart now? You!” Bella untangled herself from her husband long enough to elbow Jon in the ribs good-naturedly. “You’re not supposed to call him that until after he transitions, Jon.” “Thanks, Bell,” Lex said dryly. “Well, if everyone’s here, I suppose I’d better get on with it.” “You’ll still be handsome, hon,” his wife said supportively. He winked at her. “Of course.”
  24. 24. And he was, ill-fitting transition outfit notwithstanding. As the assorted family laughed, he grimaced. “Yeah, I’ll be back in a second. Don’t party too hard without me.”
  25. 25. Aside from slightly stiffer joints, Lex felt hardly any different from when he had been an adult. That would probably come in time. For now, he planned on rocking out as hard as he could, for as long as his body would let him. ***
  26. 26. “Are you ready?” “Never more so than now.” All the same, Dahlia looked nervous. Brit felt it too, but the happiness he also felt overpowered it by far. “Are you certain? There’s still time to back out, if you wanted to.” She regarded him with an expression that was halfway between insane giggles and tears. “Stop joking, Brit. You know how much that freaks me out.” “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” he quoted. “You tell me I need to develop a sense of humor, but shoot me down when I try.” “If you didn’t always attempt it during high-stress situations, I wouldn’t do that.” “You confuse me.” “You like me that way.”
  27. 27. “I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t, no. Shall we?” “Akina, stand up straight,” Marina hissed. “If your father and Nero can do it, so can you.” “Oh, bite me,” Akina muttered. Andrew snickered. “…yeah, that might be a good idea,” Dahlia agreed.
  28. 28. Brit was more than ready to get on with it. Things were going well for him and Dahlia. They had pooled their savings and built a fairly nice house with enough room for Dahlia to have a small garden plot, and both had managed to secure a job with the local paper. Even better, he didn’t have to live with Nero anymore--though he had to admit that those last two years of college had been less insufferable than he had been expecting.
  29. 29. Best of all, Amanda’s surgeries were going well. Not perfectly, and she still had at least one to go to fix some things up, but it looked like she would make a good recovery and be able to function like a normal Sim again. Dahlia was ecstatic, and because it meant a lot to her, it meant a lot to Brit as well. He was becoming quite fond of Amanda himself, really.
  30. 30. The only thing to do was seal the deal and get on with living his life, and that was exactly what he intended to do.
  31. 31. “C ongratulations, sweetheart,” his mother said, offering her arms for a hug he surprisingly had no problems returning. “You and Dahlia are wonderful together. I couldn’t have found anyone better for either of you.” “You’re talking like an Author instead of a mother again,” Brit pointed out. “Sorry. Habit.” Marina smiled beatifically, and he couldn’t be annoyed. Not today, anyway. “But having an Author for a mother has its benefits, you know. Like…now.” “How so?”
  32. 32. “I left you two a present on your kitchen table. I’m not letting any more of my children get married without cake if I can help it.”
  33. 33. “Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful,” Dahlia breathed. “I don’t want to cut it.” “You’d prefer to let it go bad instead?” “How long exactly has it been since you’ve seen cake?” “About the same amount of time it’s been since I’ve eaten any.” “Brit, part of the reason people make wedding cakes is for the aesthetic quality.” “And the other part is to eat them. Now, are you going to cut it, or shall I?” “Oh, I’ll do it. We should wait for everyone else though.” Brit glanced over his shoulder. “I already called them all. They’re not paying attention. I’m sure they’ll come to have some in a minute.”
  34. 34. Dahlia cut a piece with delicate precision and forked a bite, feeding it to Brit nicely despite her urge to stuff it in his face as revenge for not appreciating the beauty of the cake. “How is it?”
  35. 35. Brit chewed slowly, eyes popping after a couple of seconds. “It’s so sweet,” he gasped. “I’ve gone too long without sugar.” “You’ll get used to it,” Dahlia said cheerfully, turning to yell over her shoulder. “PEOPLE! C AKE!”
  36. 36. That got their attention, and the rest of the party flocked to the kitchen to partake.
  37. 37. “You’re sure you don’t mind staying with Amanda while we’re gone?” Even though they would only be gone four days, Dahlia had some misgivings about going out of town when her friend’s surgeries were still not done. Amanda had insisted, saying that she and Brit shouldn’t put off their wedding plans on her behalf, and the last thing she wanted to do was agitate her or treat her like a baby. “Not at all,” he assured her. “Angel’s not going to make it to town until the day before you get back, and I’m more than happy to keep Amanda company.” “You’re wonderful. I’m sorry to have to do this to you, but Bella had to reschedule the next surgery for tomorrow because she’d rather get it done before she goes on vacation herself, and Amanda wouldn’t let me cancel the honeymoon. C an you take her to the clinic at ten?” “I’d be happy to.” “Great. C all me on my cell if anything goes wrong.”
  38. 38. “And you’re sure you can handle the garden and everything until I get back?” Amanda smiled sheepishly. “You w-worry too much,” she said. “You’re my best friend. It’s my job.” “Have a g-good time and don’t w-worry about me. I’ll be fine.”
  39. 39. “I’ll try, just for you. And you be nice to Nero. Don’t antagonize him too much.” “I wouldn’t d-do that.”
  40. 40. A car horn sounded outside, and Dahlia tore herself away to go in search of her new husband. “Brit! The airport shuttle’s here, let’s go!” ***
  41. 41. “Good morning, Mr. Pitts. I am Shaw Bigfoot. I hope you do not mind my reading this paper.” Ashley blinked. “Uh, no…” Either I’m having some crazy delusions or there is a Bigfoot holding my morning paper. Why am I feeling a strong sense of de ja vu all of a sudden? He caught sight of his son and daughter-in- law standing on the walk and figured he would get an explanation from them. “Look, I’m going to go talk to-” “Of course. I will get out of your way.”
  42. 42. “Hey, son, Bella. Glad to see you back safe.” Bella grinned. “As if there was any doubt, Dad. You couldn’t get rid of either of us that easy.” “I never doubted it for a minute. Did you have a good time?”
  43. 43. “Oh yeah. It was as good as we thought it might be. Some parts were really busy. We went on a lot of tours. Most of them went pretty well.”
  44. 44. “Most of them?” “Yeah, um…we went on a logging expedition, accidentally upset a hive of bees, and they chased us all the way back.” “Ouch.” “You said it.”
  45. 45. “Most of the trip was fantastic, though. We got a lot of quality time in, had a lot of good meals and even a couple we cooked ourselves.”
  46. 46. “We did quite a lot of log rolling, too,” Andrew put in. “Yeah, that was a lot of fun and so much harder than it looks.”
  47. 47. “For you, maybe.” “Hey, what did I tell you about gloating?” “That I can do it as much as I like because I am the master.” “You must be getting old. Your hearing is going.” “I’ll teach you to call me old, wife.” “Later, please,” Ashley said hastily. “What else?”
  48. 48. “The spa there is as nice as the one at Twikkii,” Bella said. “Better, I thought. There’s nothing like a natural hot spring and a good deep-tissue massage.” “Which you will be giving me as often as possible as soon as we get our own massage table.” “It’ll never be as good as the original, but I’ll certainly try.”
  49. 49. “You’re making me sorry I missed it,” Ashley smiled. “Anything else you want to share? Such as why there is a Bigfoot in our house reading our paper?” “Aha, that,” Bella said sheepishly. “Well, Dad, it’s a long story,” Andrew began, casting slightly accusatory glances at his wife.
  50. 50. “Bella and I found a map to a hidden location on one of our tours, and being the adventuresome, reckless people we are, decided to follow it and see where it went. We found a Bigfoot burrow.” “Bigfoot are actually pretty sweet,” Bella said hastily. “Shaw’s used to tourists. He told us if they make it up there they usually just snap a few pictures and leave.” “And he came home with you two because…” “Well, sometimes Bigfoot really take to particular humans and appoint themselves as a family protector. I kind of liked that idea. I sort of expected that Andrew wouldn’t go for it, but he did.” “Simple. If another Carlos should happen to enter our lives, I want to make sure he doesn’t even get a foot in the door. Plus, you’ve met my mother. Stuff like this is pretty standard with her.” “Well,” Ashley said, “I figure it’s your house and you can do what you want, and he seems polite enough. Good luck telling Edie, though.”
  51. 51. “Hey Mom, glad you’re back! Did you have a good--AAAAAAH!”
  52. 52. “WHAT IS THIS GIANT FURRY THING DOING IN MY HOUSE” “It’s not your house yet,” Bella reminded her, fighting down the urge to laugh at how loudly Edie had screamed. “DON’T C ARE ANSWER MY QUESTION!”
  53. 53. Shaw’s mountain ways soon won her over, however. “Whoa. C an you teach me how to do that? I bet it would scare the piss out of some of those stuck-up kids at my school.” “I would be honored.” ***
  54. 54. Nero and Amanda spent their last evening alone in the house doing what two Pleasure Sims normally do. “D-Dahlia’s going to kill us if w-we break her bench,” Amanda stammered out between giggles. “Meh. Mom’ll buy her a new one.”
  55. 55. Finally, they wore themselves out and collapsed on the cushions, laughing. “Th-that was fun!” Amanda managed. “You haven’t lost any of your technique,” Nero said, winking. “Still the best couch jumping partner I ever had.” She blushed, thankful her skin was dark enough to hide it once again. “Th-thank you.”
  56. 56. Once she had caught her breath, she regarded Nero seriously for a moment, wanting to say something but unsure if she should. He caught her eye and tilted his head questioningly. “What is it?” “C an I ask you something?” “Sure.” “A-are you really going to m-marry Angel?” Nero smiled. “Of course I am.” “B-but she’s a Romance Sim.” “Some Romance Sims like to get married. Wasn’t your dad Romance?” “I know, I j-just…”
  57. 57. “Mandy, come on. What’s bothering you?” “I j-just…” Her lip began to quiver. “It’s s-so stupid…” “What is? You can tell me.” “I know you d-didn’t like me before b-because I was a z-zombie, b-but I th-thought you might give me a chance s-since I’m n-not one anymore.” Nero blinked. He had known she had a thing for him, but he had never expected her to actually say so, nor that it was serious enough for her to speak up the night before his wedding to another woman. “Oh.” “S-see, I t-told you it was s-stupid.” She began to get up. “I’m going to go to b-bed.”
  58. 58. “No, no, stay.” He flung out an arm to stop her from going. “It’s not stupid. C ome here.”
  59. 59. “Y-you’re not mad?” “No, of course not. I’m glad you told me. You should have said so sooner.” “I couldn’t. I w-wasn’t good enough.” “That is stupid. Of course you were.” “R-really?” “Really. Anyone who doesn’t think so is an idiot…”
  60. 60. The next morning, Nero was up bright and early, awaiting the return of his brother and Dahlia from the airport. They had called to say they would be in before their carpool came, which meant that he could expect them before eight. When they showed up at seven forty-five, he breathed a sigh of relief. It was so close to their carpool that they wouldn’t detain him with stories of their vacation, and Amanda wasn’t awake yet. “Did you have fun, you two?” “It was excellent,” Dahlia said. “You have to go, seriously.” “Just don’t take the airline we did,” Brit added, making a face. “That was the worst experience of my life.” Nero smiled. “You’ll have to tell me all about it later. Oh, and Dahlia, Dr. Pitts said she was going to call you later today about a follow-up appointment for Amanda.” “Oh, thanks. Is she awake?” “Not yet.” “I’ll just pop up to tell her we’re back before we go. See you tonight, and thank you so much.”
  61. 61. Brit waited until Dahlia left, then turned to Nero. “Your being here gave her a lot of peace of mind on the trip,” he said. “I appreciate it.” “I was happy to do it,” Nero said, forcing a smile onto his face. “I should get going, though. Angel’s going to need help getting everything ready for tonight.” “Of course, go right ahead. We ought to be there in plenty of time.” “I’m glad to hear it. See you then.”
  62. 62. “Mandy? Are you awake?” “…D-Dahlia?” “Yeah, it’s me, we’re home. How are you? Did everything go okay while we were gone?” “Y-yes. Where’s Nero?” “I think he’s on his way out.” “Why?” “Babe, he’s got a wedding to get ready for, remember? We’ll see him tonight. Listen, Brit and I have to go to work in a minute, but we’ll come back and get you before we go. C an I get you anything before I leave?” “…n-no, I’m f-fine…”
  63. 63. “Okay. I’m off then. C all me at work if something happens and I’ll come right home.” “Bye.”
  64. 64. ***
  65. 65. That evening was a flurry of excitement and preparation for more than just Nero and his wife. Lex had hit upon a brilliant idea at work that day and couldn’t wait to get home to share it with Rhi. “Wanna go to a concert with me?” “A concert? Really?” “Hey, don’t look at me like that, I’m not that old. C herryh called me at lunch to tell me her band is performing in Sim C ity, and she thought I’d like to come to their concert, and I thought you might like to go.” “I didn’t know she was in a band.” “Neither did I. She and Vaughn both joined this group called Midnight Watch recently--C her is on keyboard and Vaughn on bass.” “Sounds great to me. When is it?”
  66. 66. “Seven.” “Seven tonight?” “Of course--oh, I forgot. You’re working.” “I’m so sorry, hon, I would go if I had the night off. You should call up one of the guys and go with them, though. I’d hate for you to miss it because of me.” “You sure?” “Go on, Lex. Have a great time. Tell me about it when you get back.” “All right. It won’t be the same, though.” “I sure hope not.”
  67. 67. Tossing her a wink, Lex pulled out his phone. “Hey, Gordon. Did you hear about C herryh’s concert tonight?” “Yeah, she called me today about it. Phil and some of his friends are going to go.” “Is your son too cool to be seen with you in a public place? Because I was wondering if you were interested in going.”
  68. 68. “Lex, you are completely in the wrong career.” “I’ll be the judge of that, thank you.” “Rhi not going?” “Yeah, she has to work.” “Bummer.” “Definitely. C ome on, man, don’t leave me hanging. It’ll be like a Heroes’ Night Out. We’ve got to get our kicks while we’re still young enough to enjoy them.” “Okay, you’ve convinced me. We can carpool with the kids. I’ll pick you up at six.” “You are officially my favorite cousin. See you at six.”
  69. 69. Across town, Brit waited somewhat impatiently for the females in the house to be ready to go, and felt irritation rising when Dahlia came down the stairs alone. “Isn’t she ready yet?” “She’s not coming,” Dahlia said. “She says she doesn’t feel well.” The phrase ‘she doesn’t feel well’ carried extra weight when it came to Amanda, and Brit knew it well. The fact that her surgeries had gone well did not mean that something couldn’t go wrong at any time. “Should I call Nero and tell him we can’t make it?”
  70. 70. His wife sighed. “No, it doesn’t sound like an emergency. She said she thinks she has stomach flu and she can’t stand up without wanting to throw up.” “Oh, that’s too bad. Nero will miss her being there, but I’m sure he’ll want her to rest up rather than make it worse or give it to the rest of the wedding party.”
  71. 71. “That’s what I thought. I just hate leaving her alone and I hate panicking over every little thing like it could mean something horribly wrong.” “Have some faith, Dahlia. She’ll be past all of this soon enough.” “I hope you’re right.” “Let’s go. I don’t know Angel well, but I have the feeling she’s the kind of woman who will throw a fit if one single thing goes wrong.” ***
  72. 72. “Y’all have been such a good audience, I guess we can give you one more song.” C heers went up from the crowd, and the lead singer grinned, strumming her guitar idly. “This last one’s an oldie, but a goodie, and it’s one of our favorites. We hope y’all enjoy it. “Hit it, Steve!”
  73. 73. Oh it’s been getting so hard Livin’ with the things you do to me My dreams are getting so strange I’d like to tell you everything I see I see a man at the back As a matter of fact his eyes are as red as the sun And a girl in the corner let no one ignore her Cause she thinks she’s the passionate one
  74. 74. Oh yeah it was like lightning, everybody was frightening And the music was soothing, and they all started grooving Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah
  75. 75. And the man at the back said Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz And the girl in the corner said Boy, I wanna warn ya it’ll turn into a ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz
  76. 76. I’m reaching out for something Touching nothing’s all I ever do Oh, I softly call you over When you appear there’s nothing left of you Now the man in the back is ready to crack As he raises his hands to the sky And the girl in the corner is everyone’s mourner She could kill you with a wink of her eye
  77. 77. Oh yeah, it was electric, so frightfully hectic And the band started leaving, cause they all stopped breathing Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah!
  78. 78. And the man in the back said Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz And the girl in the corner said Boy, I wanna warn ya it’ll turn into a ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Oh yeah it was like lightning, everybody was frightening And the music was soothing, and they all started grooving Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah!
  79. 79. And the man in the back said Everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz And the girl in the corner said Boy, I wanna warn ya it’ll turn into a ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz Ballroom blitz
  80. 80. It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz It’s, it’s a ballroom blitz Yeah, it’s a ballroom blitz
  81. 81. “Look at that, y’all! Looks like we got rained on after all! Guess we’re lucky it didn’t happen til the last song, huh? That weather can’t keep us down, no it can’t. Have a good night and thanks for coming out!”
  82. 82. “Uncle Lex and I want to stay and say hi to C herryh,” Gordon told his son once they had reconvened. “Are you guys up for doing something with her if she’s up to it?” “I’m down, but Kay and Trent have a curfew,” Phil said sadly. “And Riku’s parents like to pretend he has a curfew.” “Oh, of course. Here, take the keys and go wait in the van. We’ll talk to C herryh and if she wants to hang out, we’ll take a cab home and you can drive your friends back.” “Sounds good.” “Hey, thanks for letting the old guys hang out with you tonight, Phil,” Lex called after him. “This made my entire evening.” “No problem.”
  83. 83. “That is one mean piano you play, C her.” Lex greeted his old friend with a warm hug, wondering at the fact that she seemed jumpy. “Thanks, Lex,” she said. “Did you like the concert?” “I loved it. Thanks for inviting me. Rhi is going to be so sorry she missed this.”
  84. 84. “Great job, C herryh,” Gordon said, coming up after watching the teenagers walk to the car. “The whole thing was great.” “Thank you! I’m so glad you made it.” “Hey, we wanted to ask you if you’re free to hang out for a bit. We could go grab a drink and catch up or something. Vaughn, too, and even the other band members if they want.” C herryh smiled. “I was just about to ask you the same thing, actually. If you’re not in a hurry to go anywhere, why don’t you come meet the band?” “Sure, we’d love to,” Lex said. “Especially your lead singer. She’s got a hell of a voice.”
  85. 85. “I’m ever so glad you think so, nephew.” As she said this, the singer rounded the corner, and now that she had dropped the Southern accent she had used on stage, both men recognized her voice. “…Aunt Lina?” “Mom?!”
  86. 86. “The one and only.” Selina Morgan enveloped her stunned son in a hug before he had time to react. “It is so good to see you. It’s been much too long.”
  87. 87. “You too, Lex,” she added, giving him a hug as well. “I’m glad both of you made it. You’re looking well.” “Uh, yeah, so are you considering we all thought you were long dead by now,” Lex managed. “No, I’m quite alive, as you can see, and so is Stephen. He’s the drummer.” “Well, I’ve got to commend you on the disguise at least. With the hair and that accent, I wouldn’t have known you at all. Didn’t, til just now.” “Hey, if it works on my relatives, I know I’m doing a good job. Thanks.”
  88. 88. “Uh, sorry to interrupt,” Gordon blurted, “and not that I’m not completely glad to see you or anything, because I am, but can someone tell me what the hell is going on here?” “Ah, yes. We need to talk that over in private. Have the two of you got a couple of hours?” “For you, we’ve got all the time in the world,” Lex said. “We’ll just need to send the kids home.” “Of course. You do that while we pack up the instruments and then we’ll give you a ride to somewhere dry where we can talk.” ***
  89. 89. An hour later, the six adults sat around eating sandwiches in a small room in what seemed to be next door to the middle of nowhere, awkwardly waiting for one of the others to start the conversation.
  90. 90. “So,” Gordon said after a long, painful silence. “Is someone going to fill us in on what’s going on here? My mother is magically young again, and both she and my father have been missing for twenty years, and now suddenly they’re in a band. Did I miss anything?”
  91. 91. His statement cut through some of the tension at the table, and everyone laughed. “That covers what you know,” C herryh agreed. “I suppose we’d better start from the beginning. Stephen, Vaughn, and I all went to college with your great-grandfather Rhys. Because we were so close to him, we were asked to stay nearby and watch over his family, to protect him and his descendants if we could.” “By whom?” “The C reator. You know how some people you know just live longer lives than everyone else? Marina, Spencer, all of us.” Gordon nodded. “They’re all Sims who have been given immortality for one reason or another. Ours is to make sure your family stays out of danger.” “We’re called the Watchers,” Vaughn added. “Just among ourselves, really. No one else knows the term except for the C reator.” He spoke the term with a little snigger in his voice, which only served to confuse Gordon further as he didn’t see anything amusing about the situation at all.
  92. 92. “Then where were you when my sister’s ex attacked her, severely injured her with the intent to do worse and almost killed her unborn children?” Lex asked bluntly. “We’re the ones who took him out of the picture permanently,” Vaughn said. “He’s not dead, but Stephen and Selina ‘collected’ him and took him out of town to a real jail where we have connections. He’s been there ever since, serving time and getting psychiatric help. Not that we’re convinced it’ll do him any good-” “Oh, I don’t believe that,” C herryh cut in, horrified at that statement. “Fine, not that anybody but C her believes it’ll help much, but at least he’s away from you all and no longer a threat.” “Thank you, then.” Lex was somewhat appeased, but not completely. “The fact remains, though, that that incident should not even have happened, and our police force isn’t nearly well equipped enough to take care of it.”
  93. 93. “And why didn’t we know all this before, anyway?” Gordon added. “Rhys knew,” Stephen said. “We chose not to pass the information further than him because of Raikov. That man is out to get the whole family and especially the members working toward the relief effort, and if he even thinks for one second that we’re conspiring against him, we’re afraid he’ll come after us, or worse, shut the relief work down.” “So…Mom got immortality because she married you, and you two had to run away because you were afraid he would find out about it?” “That’s about right. Raikov was Selina’s superior officer when she was younger, and he was much too aware of her. By the time we figured out what to do about the situation, she was an elder already. You’ve noticed that she’s younger than she was when you saw her last. He would have, too. We couldn’t risk it. The less people who knew, the better.”
  94. 94. “All right, so why didn’t you tell us before and why are you telling us now?” “We didn’t tell you before to protect you and to protect ourselves. We don’t know how far the General will go to protect his interests.” Selina bit her lip. “And as for the reason we’re revealing it to you and Lex now…well, there are two reasons. The first is that your father and I have always felt guilty for leaving without telling you. We couldn’t have told you where we were, but I’m sure we could have found some way to at least let you know we were safe.” “And the other?” he pressed, without really acknowledging the first one. On one level, it made sense. On the other, he was still angry with them for letting him wonder what had happened to them for so long. “The other is that we need people who are there with the family and know what’s happening to let us know when and where we are needed. Stephen and I don’t dare go into Sierra Plains or any closer to it than Sim C ity. We have to wait to be told when there’s a crisis. You and Lex, being C aptain Heroes, will be able to get us that information faster.”
  95. 95. “A band, though? Why would you choose to form a band if you’re trying to stay low profile?” “That’s our cover, so we can move around just in case the General is looking. Stephen and I go by Steve and Lena Matthews, and C herryh and Vaughn also have pseudonyms they use outside Sierra Plains. So far it’s worked well. Lex said himself he didn’t recognize us.” Gordon nodded slowly, trying to absorb it all. Selina grimaced sympathetically. “I’m sorry, son. I really am. There are a lot of things we should have done differently. I hate that you’ve been wondering all this time and that my sister must have died thinking something awful had happened to us.” “You’ve missed a lot, too,” Gordon said quietly. “I have two children now, did you know that? Aunt Ray knows her grandchildren. Aunt Ivy practically lived to get more grandkids.” Selina winced. “I know. Phillip and Barbara, right?”
  96. 96. “Right. They’re great kids. Bright, doing well in school. Well, Phil’s a little too girl crazy, but a lot of boys go through that stage at some point or another. He was in the front row at your concert tonight with his girlfriend and a couple of other friends.” “I saw him. He’s really turning out well. You must be proud of him.” “You would be, too.”
  97. 97. “We are, Gordon,” Stephen said firmly. “Just because we’ve been gone doesn’t mean we haven’t been trying to keep up.” Gordon opened his mouth to say something else and was cut off by Lex. “My wife gets home at two and she’ll worry if I’m not home when she gets in,” he said. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight. You want me and Gordon to work with the four of you and let you know when outside help is needed for the family, especially Harry’s line, because we’re closer than you all can get?” Stephen nodded. “That way, we can all do a better job. I can’t tell you how much we regret not getting to Bella sooner.” “I can do that.” Lex looked at his cousin. Gordon took a breath. “I can, too.” His father slipped them each a piece of paper. “Here. That’s the number of the cell where you can reach us.”
  98. 98. “C herryh and I can drive you two home whenever you’re ready,” Vaughn added. “And we have to ask that you keep this as quiet as you can. Eventually you’re going to have to tell someone else how to reach us in the event that the two of you can’t anymore. But Raikov cannot find out. Period.” “We’ll make sure he doesn’t,” Lex said firmly.
  99. 99. While the others cleaned up the dishes, Gordon’s parents stole a moment alone with him. “I’m sorry,” Selina said again. “I know we can’t do it over, but we would like a chance to make it up to you.” “Maybe I can give it to you,” Gordon said. “This has all been a lot to take in, Mom. I’m grateful you’re alive, but I can’t let this go just like that.” “Is the house number still the same? I’ll call you when I can.” “Yes, it is. Uh, is this all your real hair?” She laughed. “No, dear, it’s a wig. So is Stephen’s. The only one who’s hair is all his own is Vaughn.” “That is one impressive hairstyle, I have to admit. It didn’t even give up when the rain hit it.” “Behold the little tricks you learn in show biz.”
  100. 100. “Bye, son. Take care of yourself and the family. We want to meet those kids someday soon.” “Stay in touch this time.” “We will.” ***
  101. 101. “Oh my goodness. Brit? Brit!”
  102. 102. “What is it?” Brit ran into the room expecting to find that his wife had injured herself and was surprised to see her ecstatically happy. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing,” she said blissfully. “I’m pregnant!”
  103. 103. “That’s wonderful! I can’t believe it!” “I know, right? Us, parents? C razy!” “Amazing, though.” “C ompletely! I’ve got to go tell Amanda. She’ll be so pleased, I bet it will cheer her right up.” “Don’t stay away too long. I have a few ideas as to how we can celebrate.” “Why, Mr. C aesar, that is positively dirty. I like it.”
  104. 104. “Mandy? C an I come in?” “N-no, don’t.” “But I have some great news.” “You c-can tell me through the d-door.” “…Amanda, are you okay? You’ve been holed up in there for more than a day now. Are you sure this is just stomach flu?” “Y-yes! P-please don’t come in.” “Look, I just want to tell you my news and make sure you haven’t lost a limb or something, then I’ll let you sleep.” “No, don’t!”
  105. 105. “…you are kidding me.”
  106. 106. “Please don’t t-take me to the clinic, please!”
  107. 107. After several attempts to figure out what exactly had happened and to calm Amanda down, Brit took a call from his mother and explained the situation to her, a bit frantically. “She won’t let us take her to Bella. She absolutely refuses.” “Why not?” “She thinks Bella will make her get an abortion and she doesn’t want to give up the baby.” “Well, if she feels that way, she shouldn’t have to, dear. It’s her choice and I think it’s a perfectly understandable one considering she was a zombie not that long ago.”
  108. 108. “Mother, it could kill her. We might not have a choice.” “Of course you do. You’re forgetting who your mother is.” “…what?” “Amanda was the Sim who finished my Legacy, Brit. I’m very attached to her. Bella did the research and the actual surgeries, but I made certain Amanda lived through them, and I’m not going to let her or the baby get hurt now, either.” “But you let Nero get her pregnant in the first place.” “It’s not my call to dictate her choices, or his. But I will help her because she wants this so badly.”
  109. 109. “Would you be willing to come over and tell her that?” “Of course. Tell her I’ll be there as soon as I can.” “All right.” “It’ll be okay, Brit. I promise it will.” “…I know.” ***
  110. 110. Nero and Angel had planned all along to move to the city after their wedding--Angel was pushing it, and Nero was more than happy to go along with her whim. He felt he had been in Sierra Plains too long and certainly didn’t intend to build a life there now that he was an adult. While they were house-hunting, they were staying in a fixer-upper that had been recently vacated, to save money. Not very glamorous, certainly, but very temporary. “I might have found us the perfect place,” Angel said, as he finished off his evening instant drink. “C an you come with me tomorrow to take a look at it?” “Sure, no problem.” “I’m sure you’ll love it.” “Hell, at this point I’m tempted to take it even if I hate it, just to be finished with it all.”
  111. 111. KNOC K KNOC K
  112. 112. “I’ll get it,” Nero said, getting up. “It’s probably for me.” “Okay.”
  113. 113. When he saw who their visitor was, he had to bite down a sudden panic. Brit’s presence was not something he really enjoyed even at the best of times, and the look of intense anger on his brother’s face let him know immediately that this was not a social call. Damn Amanda, he thought. Sleeping with her had been one of the worst ideas he had ever had. The woohoo had been lousy, and he hadn’t even got anything out of it except a furious twin and an overwhelming need to get the hell out of town as fast as he could go. “Hello, brother.” “How dare you,” Brit spat. “You just can’t bear to leave things be, can you? It figures that the minute things start going exceptionally well for me, you have to ruin it. I don’t think you can even help yourself at this point. You’re despicable.” Nero glared at him, reaching to shut the door. “How dare you come here and pick an argument with me where my wife can hear.” “You’ll forgive me if I can’t bring myself to care. She should know what a cad you are.”
  114. 114. “Woohoo is not a one-person activity, Britannicus. I didn’t force Amanda into anything. She is just as much to blame as I am. Hell, she was the one who made the first move.” “I could not care less who did what. You were the one who took advantage of a girl who is not completely right in the head, something you knew full well. You were the one who had no intention of breaking your engagement for her. You were the one who didn’t even bother to use protection. Did it even occur to you that she might get pregnant?” That stopped Nero for a moment. “She’s pregnant?” “Yes, she is, and it could kill her.” “You’ll have to forgive me if I highly doubt that. Mother won’t let her die.”
  115. 115. “That is not the point, Nero. What if Mother wasn’t the C reator? What if she couldn’t do anything? What if no one could? Would you be so flippant about having Amanda’s blood on your hands then?” “Death is a common occurrence where we’re from,” Nero said coldly. “I can’t imagine that you’ve forgotten.” “We’re not in Roma anymore, in case you hadn’t noticed. Here, people have some modicum of respect for human life. Though why I suspected you might have developed some as well, I have no idea.” “I suppose you want me to pay child support.”
  116. 116. “No, I don’t want anything from you. I want you to stay away from my family and never come near Amanda or the child ever again.” “I can assure you I won’t. Angel and I are moving to the city tomorrow. You won’t hear from us again.” “I had better not.”
  117. 117. The door opened and Angel walked out, looking between the two uncertainly. “What’s going on out here?” “Nothing important, darling,” Nero said, giving Brit the stink eye. “Britannicus was just leaving.”
  118. 118. Brit arrived home to find his mother in the kitchen tossing together a chef salad for the two hungry pregnant women. She glanced over her shoulder, and he saw that she knew where he had just been and understood why he had gone. He nodded in acknowledgement and moved to sit at the table.
  119. 119. Dinner was a much quieter affair than the rest of the day had been. Mostly, they made small talk, throwing around baby names. Dahlia jokingly suggested Petunia for her and Brit’s child if it turned out to be a girl, and laughed when both Marina and Brit vehemently shot the idea down. They also tossed some ideas Amanda’s way, but she quietly told them she had already picked her baby names and deflected queries as to what they were with a small smile.
  120. 120. She went into labor shortly after dinner, and it was a long, agonizing one. “It’s going to be okay, Amanda,” Marina soothed. “Just look straight at me and push. You can do it.”
  121. 121. And just as she had promised, both Amanda and her new daughter made it through the labor safely.
  122. 122. “Ooh, someone’s a pretty baby, yes she is,” the proud grandmother cooed. “What are you going to call her, Amanda?” “K-Kendra,” Amanda said happily. “That’s a nice name. Hello, Kendra. You’re such a pretty girl, yes you are.”
  123. 123. Dahlia and Amanda promptly headed off to find a bottle for Kendra, leaving Brit alone with Marina. “Thank you,” he said sincerely. “I don’t know what we would have done without you.” “Oh, you likely wouldn’t be here in the first place, I suspect,” she said, winking. “Any time, Brit. Really.” “What about Nero?” “Well, he’s still my son, though he’s moving to a place that’s out of my jurisdiction. I hope for his sake the city treats him well. I don’t blame you for holding a grudge, either, since now it seems you were justified.” Brit sighed. “I didn’t think he could do something like this, Mother. I was just beginning to think we could trust him.” “Then you’re coming out of this the better person,” Marina said. “Take comfort in that.” “I’ll try.”
  124. 124. “That said, it’s getting late, and I have a toddler to attend to. At least Min sleeps through the night now.” She tossed a wave over her shoulder as she left. “Bye, kids. C all me if you need anything, and I expect to be invited to Kendra’s birthday.” “Of course, Mother.” ***
  125. 125. I guess it’s true what they say. It never rains, but it pours. Spider Jerusalem sighed heavily, contemplating the summer night sky. And things were going so well.
  126. 126. Really, they were going almost too well, considering it was him. His granddaughter had become a beautiful young woman and was doing very well in her first year at college.
  127. 127. Surprise grandson Woody was also growing up well and showed every sign of becoming a fine young man.
  128. 128. Everyone in their household was healthy, had a good relationship with their spouse and with each other, and enjoyed a healthy amount of woohoo daily.
  129. 129. Spider had kissed his wife goodbye before work that morning as usual…
  130. 130. …not realizing that it would be the last time.
  131. 131. Nor had he suspected that the Grim Reaper would come for C assidy that day, as well, but of course it was time. Of course.
  132. 132. Nothing good that happens to me ever lasts, he thought bitterly. It all has to end sometime. I should have learned that by now.
  133. 133. His wallowing was interrupted by Gilbert stepping outside to check on him. “Are you all right, Spider?” He almost laughed. Of course Gilbert would think to ask, the fact that he too had lost a friend and a lover that day notwithstanding. Gil had been a loyal and loving partner to C assidy for many, many years. It was like him. “I should ask you the same question.” “As well as can be expected.” “I suppose I can say the same.” Gil regarded him thoughtfully. “What are you thinking?” “I’m thinking I’m tired of losing people I love.” “You couldn’t have done anything about this. They both had a very long life, just like we have. They were happy.”
  134. 134. “I didn’t think this could really happen, though. On one level I knew Ray was mortal and would die one day when I married her, but…” He sighed. “I’m just so tired of standing around and watching this happen. I should have gone first.” “That’s how I feel,” Gilbert agreed. “But at the same time, I know C assidy had a good life and that it ended the way it should have. We talked about it a little while back. He said that he would much rather die happy than live forever and be miserable, and he got what he wanted. I think Ray would have agreed.” Spider straightened, surprised, then thought about it. “Yeah.”
  135. 135. Across the street, another man was having similar thoughts to Gilbert’s. “I wish they’d cut it out and pay attention already. I’d like to get this over with,” Bella said, eyeing the assembled crowd with irritation.
  136. 136. “I don’t know,” Andrew said thoughtfully. “I’m enjoying the sight of all our relatives prancing around, spanking themselves. It’s great for blackmail.”
  137. 137. As the C reator’s son, he normally wouldn’t have had to age and eventually die, but marrying Bella had presented him with an unpleasant choice. He remembered the day his mother had asked him what he wanted to do. Living forever and watching her deteriorate while he stayed young was not an option as far as he was concerned. “I don’t want immortality if it means I have to live without her,” he had told Marina, leaving no room for arguments.
  138. 138. She had known, of course, what he would do, and although it obviously made her sad, she didn’t try to talk him out of it. He had never once wavered in his resolve since, either, unpleasant as the idea of Death was.
  139. 139. And he never would. ***
  140. 140. Author’s Note Hellooooo, everyone. <3 So this was just an overly long, rambly update about some silly things going on in the neighborhood and some things that may or may not be important down the road a bit. I hope you enjoyed it anyway, though ^_^ There were some hanging plot threads I had to give closure to and some things I wanted to give time to that wouldn’t fit into a main update, and I always enjoy hearing about side families so I figure you all do, too.
  141. 141. There were actually four birthdays and three deaths this update, but you didn’t see Rhi’s birthday or Ashley’s death because I didn’t have a good spot for them. However, generation 3 is mostly gone now (Spider and Gilbert are the only members of it still living that will be meeting the Reaper soon) and generation 4 has begun the process of elderfying. This makes me sad. Generation 4 especially is pretty awesome and I love them all. However, the bright side is they’ll be sticking around for quite a while, and they may be old, but they’ve still got it. Because they rule.
  142. 142. Ah, the concert scene. Even though the set was pretty simple, this was tough to stage. For starters, I had a LOT of selectable Sims on the lot and that always makes me nervous. For another, I couldn’t have the crowd dance to the instruments because they would try to walk into the stage to do so, so what I did was put two stereos on the ground (that were carefully hidden from shots) and had them dance to those instead, and it worked well. I’m really pleased with how all the shots came out, and there were some good ones of the band that I left out because they showed Selina and Stephen’s faces too much (raise your hand if you didn’t see that coming…yeah, that’s what I thought). The extras for this scene were a mix of townies, my own playable Sims, and some Legacy Sims I’ve borrowed from other people. The imports will be listed on the last slide as usual. Also, look at the townies carefully. One of them will be showing up again in the very near future.
  143. 143. Re: Brit and Nero, I’m sure most of you have forgotten about their plotline by now, which is reasonable since it’s been almost a year since we last saw them. I had to hold off finishing for two reasons: 1) I hadn’t lifted Medical yet and couldn’t cure the zombies until I had 2) I wasn’t sure what I had planned would agree with the characterization Ben had planned for them. For that reason, I had tried to be as vague as possible about Nero’s intentions in the last interlude. Fortunately, Ben talked with me about this himself and assured me that I was on the right track. So yes, I can definitely say now that Nero is mostly the antagonist in the relationship and I don’t think that gives away any of what Ben will do when he gets back to the C aesars. We probably won’t be seeing much of these guys again in the story as their plotline has been resolved now, but I will definitely keep you update on playing progress at LiveJournal.
  144. 144. Next update, we’ll get back to the businesses, college, and Azula’s LTW. I hope to have that out for you relatively soon and I’m also hoping to upload Episodes 19 and 20 simultaneously. We’ll see how it goes. Until then, Happy Simming! Song Credits - “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet Guest Sims Stephen Morgan, Vaughn Fitzhugh, C hloe and Akina C aesar (The Morgan Legacy) Spider Jerusalem and C assidy Vetinari (The Vetinari Dualegacy) Britannicus, Nero, and C laudius C aesar (The Ten Caesars) Concert Extras: Kahlen and Trent Doran (The Boolpropian Round Robin Legacy), Evil Susan Agelenidae (The Science of a Legacy), Snow Bohemian (The Bohemian Legacy), Wally Doran (The Bass-Ackwards Apocalypse), Larch Vetinari (The Vetinari Dualegacy), and Aylee Devereaux (The Devereaux Legacy)

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