“Mom, Dad, can I ask you a question?” Rachel approached Lily and John. “Sure honey. What is it?” Lily smiled at her.
“What happened?” she started somewhat sheepishly. “With my parents and brother, I mean. I know that they’re dead and that Ricky is in a psychiatric prison. But why? What happened?”
John and Lily had known these questions would come, but knowing didn’t make telling the story any easier.
“First of all,” Lily began, “we want you to know that we both love you verymuch and are very glad that you became a part of our family. We wouldn’t be a complete family if you weren’t part of it.”
Then, John began to tell the story, starting with the murders of her parentsand the work involved in trying to solve them. Both he and Lily took turns telling her what had happened with the other murders, finally finishing with the story’s climax of Lily’s kidnapping and Ricky’s incarceration.
“He never hurt me though,” Rachel said after contemplating the information she had just heard.“No, he never hurt you. He actually took very good care of you until the very end when the madness that was Ricky took control,” John told her.
Her next question was a difficult one for her to voice, and she took a moment to compose herself. “Am I crazy too?” “Oh sweetie, no. We’ve never seen anything in you that suggests that you suffer from the same mental instabilities that your brother suffered,” Lily reassured her.
“Kids in school think I am. They call me ‘the Crazy Killer’ssister’,” she told them. “I…I never know what to say.” She blinked back tears.
“You’re not ‘the Crazy Killer’s sister’,” Lily told her. “You’re part of the‘Crazy Mole-Doran Clan’. You can tell everyone that. It’s something to be proud of,” she smiled and John nodded his head in agreement.
Talking with her parents made her feel better. She would still feel awfulwhen the kids in school said mean things to her, but at least she had peopleat home who she could count on. It was something she always knew, but itwas reassuring to have talked about it and have everything out in the open.
Christopher had discovered two things since he started school.
The first was books. He loved them. Big, small, thick, thin, with pictures or without, he loved books.
The bookshelf that also happened to be the door to John’s secret room was his favorite thing in the entire house. It became the first place anyone looked when they wanted to find Christopher.
The second place anyone would have to look for him was in front of the stereo. Christopher loved to smustle. He was thecurrent family champion and could draw anyone into the dance if they had a spare moment.
Even Eugenia would participate, albeit in her own unusual way.
“C’mon Genie! Dance, dance, dance!” he would encourage her. “Now point your finger. Ooh, ooh, ooh.”
Genie, as her older brother had nicknamed her, had started school. She was enjoying going with her brother, but she didn’t find it as fun or easy as he had. She was alsoworried about making new friends. The thought of having to approach someone she didn’t know terrified her.
Once again, the pool served as a place for serious discussion amongst siblings.
“But what if they find out I’m weird?” Genie was asking herbrother. “I’m not sure that people will like me when they see that I float in the air Toph,” she finished, calling him by the nickname she had given him.
“You’re not weird Genie. I think being able to float is prettycool! I bet there are other people who think the same thing,” he told her. “And if not, they’re dumb.”
“I guess,” she said.“I’m gonna dive in,” he told her, making his way to the pool ladder.“CANNON BALL!” he shouted as he jumped from the diving board.
“Missed me!” Genie exclaimed with delight from her perch high above the splash. With a zoom downward, she executed her own cannon ball, splashing her brother instead. Their serious discussion over, it was time to play.
The next few days brought another series of life events to the Doran household.First up was Lee and Sydney’s transition to toddler. Once again, the family decided to forgo a party filled with friends. Just the family was present for the festivities.
The babies grew into adorable toddlers.(Lee is on the left, Sydney on the right.)
Next up was Christopher’s turn. He aged to teen the following night.
Finally, it was Alfred and Alistair’s turn. They had accumulated enough experience andknowledge to add extra scholarships to the ones they received from H.E.A.L. After Christopher’sbirthday, taxis were called, hugs were shared, and they were ready to move to college and start on their adventure.
Twin toddlers kept life busy for Lily; and for John when he was home from work. He no longer went on away missions, but he was still busy. The current rumor going through his office was that he was in line to be the next head of the SCIA.
Rachel and Christopher were very helpful, feeding the twins,helping Genie with her homework, and playing with all three of the younger children. Even Genie helped where she could.
Still, Lily struggled when it came time to teach Sydney histoddler skills. She was hoping it was his stubborn streak that was the root of the problem and not anything else.
Lee had been easy to teach. He took to everything with a smile and seemed eager to please.
When Sydney was ready to learn, he zipped through everything. The hard part was determining when he was ready.
One afternoon, as Rachel was playing with the computer after school, she called out, “Mama! You need to come see this!”
Lily came around the corner to see what Rachel wanted. She was only slightly surprised to find Sydney in front of the stereo, dancing to the music four feet in the air. “Genie!” she called. “Put your brother down.” “I’m not doing that Mom,” Genie replied.
Teaching Sydney to talk had just replaced teaching him to walk as a priority. Lily needed to figure out the extent of what he was capable of.
She observed him over the next few days. After watching him take several toys from the toybox and Lee, move a bottle from the kitchen floor for a drink, and another episode where thestereo was floating while Sydney danced to the music, she was pretty sure that he could move objects more easily than himself. Genie could float objects, but more often than not it was herself she lifted into the air.
For all the concerns Genie had about making new friends at school, she needn’t have worried. Every day there was a different person she brought home on the bus.
Rachel also had a tendency to bring home friends every day. It had taken her a while, but she had made a few really good friends.
Christopher was generally happy about this, because he could become friends with them as well. However, his sister had a knack for bringing home girls that he did not find attractive.
Becoming more and more frustrated by this fact, he determined that the best remedy would be a trip to Games of Glory.
Games of Glory didn’t really live up to his or Rachel’s expectations. They were able to play some of their favorite games, but none of the otherpatrons were even close to their age. Scoping the room was NOT an option.
It got worse when John dropped in, pretending that he didn’t know they were going to be there.
They decided to try another community lot, this time heading over to SparkSports Park, where they ran into a similar situation. They were able to purchase cell phones there though, so the day was not entirely wasted.
The next birthday was a gala affair. Alfred and Alistair even made ithome for the occasion. This time it was a triple birthday. Lee, Sydney and Eugenia were all taking a trip to the cake.
After quick trips to various mirrors and the clothing rack, all three felt happy about their transitions.
Sydney enjoyed the party, running from guest to guest, getting to know everyone, and eating several pieces of cake.
Lee politely and briefly greeted everyone, thanking them forcoming. He then made his way to the boys’ bedroom and spent the remainder of the night playing the pinball machine.
Eugenia followed around her brother’s friends and made their acquaintance.She then made plans to go shopping and acquire a cell phone and various other goodies the next day.
Now that the youngest, extremely active, Dorans were oldenough to attend school, the Headmaster of the private school was invited in the hopes that they would be accepted.
The kids finished up homework while John greeted the Headmaster and Lily started dinner.
Good food, great conversation, and a happy and healthyenvironment meant that the kids were a shoo in. Nobody reallydoubted they would be invited to the school, but the formalities had ensured their spots.
School soon became a breeze for the Doran Clan.
Surveying the house one bright afternoon, Lily found Lee playing on thepinball machine upstairs, Christopher and Rachel playing a video game on the television, Sydney on the computer and Eugenia rocking out to the stereo.
She called the kids together and announced, “It is now an electronic free day. Noelectronic entertainment in the house until tomorrow morning.” Amid the shrugs, heavy sighs, and rolling eyes, she continued, “we are going to the park.”
While grousing and complaints were the initial reaction of the children, once at the park they found themselves enjoying the day.Lee had climbed to the top of the play tower and carefully observed what was going on around him.
The next thing he saw caused him some concern coupled with anxiety. A few older kids were trying to take toys away from some smaller ones in the sand area.
As he began the climb down to ground level, he inwardly hoped someone else hadnoticed and would help the smaller kids out. By the time he reached the ground, it was apparent that he was the only one who had noticed.
He headed over to the group, a determined look plastered on his face. In a firm,quiet voice that belied the turmoil and nerves he really felt, he told them, “You shouldn’t be taking those toys away. They were playing with them first.”
“Says who?” one of them smirked. “You? What are you gonna do about it?” Lee swallowed the lump in his throat and replied, “You shouldn’t do that.”
“You heard what he said,” came a sneering voice from behind Lee. “You need to give those toys back to them kids. Now!”Lee turned and gave his twin a grateful look. Turning back, he mimicked Sydney’s stance and added, “Now!”
The bullies gruffly tossed the toys they had in their hands down on theground in front of the smaller kids. “C’mon,” the one who seemed to be in charge said to the other. “These punks ain’t worth it.”
“Thank you,” one of the smaller children said with a big smile as Lee handed the toy back to them.
“Geez Lee. Why’d you do that?” Sydney asked his brother.
“It wasn’t right,” Lee shrugged. “Those kids were just trying to play. I couldn’t let those bigger kids take their stuff,” Lee explained.
“Well, I’m gettin’ hungry. I’m gonna go see if Mama is ready to go home,” Sydney said before galloping off to find Lily.
“Mama can I get my nose pierced?” Sydney asked his mother.“I don’t think so son,” she replied, curious about why he would ask such a question. “How about my tongue?”
“No,” Lily nodded her head. “My lip?” he continued. “Ear?”Lily nodded no as he listed each. “Why?” she asked.
“’Cause it would be cool,” he told her. “You know, like the punk rock kids. I’m gonna be like them.” Lily looked at him a bit baffled, wondering where he had everlearned about punk. “Maybe when you’re older,” she conceded.
“And I want to be called Syd now. You know, like Sid Vicious, but spelled different,” he announced before walking out of the room.
Over the next few days, Syd’s life was interspersed with various requests for plaidclothing, safety pins, leather jackets, and stompy boots. He also was “practicing hisaccent” so he could sound authentic and occasionally would break out with various lines from well known songs by different bands.
Lily and John took it all in stride, acquiescing where they could and drawing the line where they needed.
Genie had discovered dance. She loved it, and her ability to float gave her an added advantage when it came time for pirouettes, lifts and leaps.
She didn’t have to put much energy into the actual float whenshe was performing but it meant she could devote more energy and focus to moves that she found more difficult.
Lily and John had installed a ballet bar for her to practice on and she used it every day after school, sometimes into the night.
She was becoming quite good. Good enough to get a job at a local dance studio,where she quickly reached the top level of her chosen career. Her eventual goal was to become a world class ballet dancer.
She was determined and driven and possessed the talent to see it through. No one doubted that she would achieve her goal.
It was birthday time again in the Doran house. Lee and Syd were going to become teenagers.
Neither Syd nor Lee wanted to have a party, and Alfred andAlistair were on training missions for H.E.A.L. and couldn’t makeit for a celebration, so the family gathered around two cakes to watch the boys transition.
Syd’s obsession with punk had diminished somewhat. He still had his own quirky style and maintained his faux-hawk, but he had also learned that he had been named after the spy who inspired James Bond and had taken to introducing himself as “Doran, Syd Doran.”
Lee, still the quieter twin, made a few changes to his hair, found better clothes, and was satisfied.
For John and Lily, it was a bittersweet day. All their babies were grown and soon they would start to feel the pull to move on and leave their home behind.
Christopher had read almost every book he found on the black bookshelf in the hall corner. There were a few left that he hadn’t read, admittedly because the titles didn’t look all that interesting.
Looking for something to read, he reached for one of the titles he had frequently bypassed.
As he realized the book was not coming out of the bookshelf, heheard a soft scraping sound and took a step back in amazement as the entire shelf started to turn.
Curious about what he found inside the hidden room, he stepped inside and began poking around.
He left a good part of the equipment in the room alone andperused the books and various paraphernalia on the shelves. One area in particular caught his eye.
It was filled with pictures of his father and people who had to be his grandparents.
Digging a bit further revealed documents that offered a bit of an explanation. It seemed that his father had been searching for years for the truth about what happened to them.
Christopher gathered some papers together and took them with him as he left the room.
He confronted John first with what he had found. “Dad? Is this stuff about your parents?” he asked.
John, somewhat taken aback by what Christopher had found, answered, “Yes son. I’ve been searching a long time for the truth about their disappearance.” Ironically, the idea thatChristopher had figured out how to get into the secret room didn’t phase him at all. He was more surprised that it had taken him this long to find his way in there.
“What happened?” Christopher asked.“It’s a long story with many holes. It’s probably best that your mother and I sit down with all of you and explain our family histories. Now that your brothers are teens, it’s time.”
Arrangements were made for the family to meet in a few days time at the newlyconstructed H.E.A.L. headquarters and discuss the matter. H.E.A.L. was chosen fortwo reasons. First, it had a large conference room. Second, with the family history out in the open, Violet would be able to talk to all the kids at once about joining.
H.E.A.L. Headquarters was a small building with a reception area, office,conference room and kitchen. There was also a small apartment upstairswhere Violet had made her home after moving out of her parents’ house.
Violet welcomed the family, gave them a small tour of thebuilding and led them to the conference room where she left them so they could discuss what they needed to discuss.
John began. “There are things about your family that you children need toknow. Now that you are all at an age of understanding, we’ve come together to tell you what we know.”
“Alfred and Alistair know some of this, but not all, so they are here as well,” he continued, nodding at the two older boys.
“I guess I will jump right in and tell you that my parents were spies. It’s part of thereason I joined the SCIA. My parents, my grandparents, and possibly their parents, though that has not been documented. We come from a long line of spies.”
“I do know that they all served their country faithfully and that the work they didwas important. However, the nature of the job means that longevity is not always possible. Three of my grandparents died young, and my parents were gone for most of my childhood. Eventually, they just didn’t come back.”
“The official SCIA story was that they were on vacation and their plane went down. There were no survivors. The truth that I’ve been able to uncover so far suggests that they were indeed on a mission. Contact was lost and they were presumed dead,” he told his assembled family.
“Their final mission was to the North Forest amongst the Elves,” he finished.
Lily took over. “The North Forest Elves have been an influence in my family forgenerations,” she began her story. “Our earliest documented ancestor was what has become known as a half-breed. At the time of her birth, the North Forest Elves were purists and half-breeds were not tolerated. In fact, they were persecuted, banned, exiled and even killed.”
“For generations Dorans have harbored a curse that forces us to run. You are all of an age where you will start feeling that pull to move on, if youhaven’t felt it already. For some generations, acts of violence have forced us to move on, to scatter and hide.”
“Violet will be coming in to speak to you about H.E.A.L. in a fewmoments and I would like you all to listen carefully to what she has to say and consider joining the cause.“
“For the first time in a long time, you are not being forced to run. You will feel the pullto go, your father and I have accepted that. I hope that when you answer the call, youwill choose to go out into the world and fight for the rights of all sims, be they human, alien, elf, or whatever. It doesn’t have to be with H.E.A.L., but I hope you all feel the need to fight against injustice in the world.”
Lily paused for a moment before she continued. “The battle with the North Forest Elves continues and you need to be careful. We have been lucky thatthey have not found us or bothered us here, but they are there and there are those who will kill you because of your bloodline.”
John interrupted her. “We’re pretty sure that my parents were sent on a fact finding mission to the North Forest. We thinkthey were supported by the Elvin Queen at the time, but when she was killed in battle their protection was gone as well.”
“For a time, I had hoped and wished that they were still alive.Recently I’ve received confirmation that they are in fact dead.Just be aware that there are dangers out there,” he implored.
After John and Lily answered the few questions the kids had, they invited Violet in to join them. Violet presented H.E.A.L.’s purpose and mission, explaining that the Dorans were notthe only family affected by the purist faction of the North Forest Elves. She also explained how the movement came to be and that not all North Forest Elves felt the same about half-breeds.
She went on to tell them about the college scholarship andtraining programs and invited all the Dorans to participate.
The trip home was a quiet one as everyone contemplated what had been shared.
Lily and John excused themselves and went to bed, leaving the younger kids to talk amongst themselves. Alfred and Alistair had returned to their homes.
Christopher led the discussion. “Well,” he started. “That was a lot of information to take in. So, what is everyone thinking?”
Rachel was first to respond to the question. “I’m not sure I want to goto college and join H.E.A.L.,” she said quietly. “I’ve always just wanted to go somewhere where no one knows about Ricky.”
“I didn’t really feel pressure to join,” Syd shrugged. “I mean, itseems like there’s time to decide and we could join up later if we wanted to.”
“I agree,” Lee said. “I’m not sure what I want yet.”
“It’s different for you guys,” Genie put in her two cents. “You’ve just teened. You have time to think about it and decide what you want.”
“I’m going to go to college,” Christopher said definitively. “I’mnot completely sure about H.E.A.L., but I’ve been planning on college for so long, there’s really no question.”
“I’d like to open a business somewhere,” Rachel said.“Something that I can build and make my own. What about youGenie? You don’t have that much time to think about it either.”
“I really want to dance,” Genie answered her. “I think collegewill help me. I think that I could do a lot of good when I become a famous ballet dancer too. You know, bring attention to the cause through publicity and stuff.”
Lee shrugged. “I’m glad Syd and I don’t have to decide right away. We’vebarely started high school. Honestly, I think there is a place out there for eachof us and I know I’m starting to feel a pull to look for it, but I’m not quite ready to leave Desiderata Valley behind.”
“Oi! Don’t be so overly dramatic Mr. Serious,” Syd teased his twin. “It’s all good, little brother. We’ll traverse the world, spreading the word ofacceptance and peace and having a blast along the way. Ain’t no man gonna hold us down,” he finished with a smile.
Decisions about their futures made, the kids each drifted off to their beds and settled in for the night. They would tell their parents what they decided in the morning.
That’s it for Generation 10. I realize it is a rather anti-climatic ending, but Generation 11 is ready to move on, for the time being without any pressure or violence. I must apologize to all the readers out there for the extraordinary amount of time it’s taken me to tell Lily and John’s story. I hope it did not cause anyone to lose interest in the story. Apologies also go to Ndainye, who has her Gen 11 heir and who I am sure is ready to go with their story. Many, many thanks to Marina, Gin, Lark, Cait, Ori, Pen, Jamie, and Rose for thewonderful stories for the generations that have gone before. Also to Stacie, who still has a story to tell, but who graciously gave me Lily and enough leeway to tell her story. Finally, special thanks to Di for creating the paintings that gave me the back story forH.E.A.L.; to Ori for creating the beautiful covers for each chapter; and to Rose for being my editor and making sure that the language I write is the English we read.I had a blast doing this and hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did putting it alltogether. I’m planning on writing a meta/BTS and will post it at my LJ in the near future for anyone who is interested.