Friday, March 22, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 33 - Entrance Examination

During Alpha's toddler days, Eliza was still doing most of the childcare.  Added to the already-difficult job of taking care of her granddaughter's basic needs was the task of teaching her the basic life skills that every child needs to learn.  Progress was slow, but steady.
Eliza's favorite part was teaching Alpha to talk.
Eliza: "Your father will leave his dirty dishes laying around.  This is disgusting, and you should not tolerate it!  Can you say 'clean up now,' sweetie?"
Alpha: "Eam ub ow!"
Eliza: "Close enough."
Her fondest memories were of playing with the pegbox set that she'd purchased for the young girl.  She remembered how Alpha's father had enjoyed his own pegbox, and while this wasn't the same one Alpha seemed to be taking to it as much as James had.
Eliza wished that James would spend more time with his daughter, but he was focused on his career, soon being promoted yet again, this time to the rank of Con Artist.  Now he was the one doing the talking, but this still wasn't what he wanted.  He didn't want to be on the ground with the thieves, he wanted to be calling the shots - the puppetmaster, so to speak.

One day, he worked up the nerve to call his contact and ask when he'd be able to do the work he'd signed up to do.  Surprisingly, they agreed with him, saying that he'd been on the fast track to that career for a while now - could have fooled James.  They were concerned, however, that he lacked one specialized skill in particular.  If he earned the right to wear a martial arts green belt rank two, then they promised he would be promoted again, this time out of the thieves' gang for sure.  Eliza, predictably, was upset about James's sudden trip to Shang Simla.  But he told her it was a special talent scouting excursion - she thought he worked as a talent scout for a music label - so she let him go without too much argument.
He checked the bulletin board outside of the hotel he was staying at, but there were no opportunities to learn martial arts posted.  He knew that the skill was learned by many tourists, and found it somewhat surprising that there wasn't any sort of advertisement about it.
Perhaps that was a careful move to add to the mystique of the art, though.  After all, if something was seen as easy to obtain, then both value and desire would plummet.  Maybe obtaining training was as simple as finding the correct person to say the right words to.  With that in mind, he headed for the marketplace to talk to some of the locals.

His first stop was the bookstore.
James: "Hello, shopkeeper!"
Zhan: "Welcome!  My name is Zhan Su, how may I help you?
James: "I'm hoping to train in martial arts.  Do you know of any people, or perhaps even books, that could help me?"
Zhan: "Ah, yes!  Many tourists want the same thing, and the good news is that it's very easy to learn in this town!  I sell a book titled 'Wax on Philosophic' that can teach you the basics, so you do not embarrass yourself at first, you see."
James: "Will I learn enough from the book to advance to rank two of the green belt level?"
Zhan: "Ah, no, the techniques you can learn from a book will only take you to the red belt level.  There is an academy near here where you can continue to learn, but I recommend very highly that you read the book first!"
This was turning into a bit more of a sales pitch than James had expected.  Maybe he shouldn't have asked a shopkeeper for assistance.  Oh well, there's no going back now.
James: "Yes, that's fine, I'll buy your book."
Zhan: "Excellent!"
James: "Where is this academy?"
Zhan: "It is called the Phoenix Martial Arts Academy, it is just north of here.  Here's a map, I've circled it for you.  Before you go, I must say that my fellow businessman, Liu Pei over at the general store, will sell you a training dummy for a very good price!  So you can practice at home, you see."
James: "Yes, thank you, I will keep that in mind.  You've been very helpful."
Zhan: "Have a good day!"
As much as he wanted to ignore the shopkeeper's last advice - just a sales pitch! - James knew that he did have a point.  He'd want to practice at home to keep his skills up, and how could he do that if he didn't have a dummy to practice with?  He stopped in at the general store and ordered one of the training dummies to be shipped back home.

The book was a surprisingly informative read.  While he'd had his doubts that a physical skill could be taught from reading, he soon found out that there was much more to martial arts than simply throwing punches.  It required a certain state of mind, empty of all emotion, cold and heartless.  He supposed that if you were going to use such advanced techniques to take a man down, you couldn't stop to think too hard about what you were doing, so it made sense.
He read the book cover-to-cover, then sought out the academy to continue his training.  True to Zhan's promises, he was rated at the red belt level.  While James was in shape, the physical training was much harder than the mental theory.  Whenever he punched the hard wooden dummy, his knuckles hurt, and he even occasionally missed.
Despite his difficulties, the instructor told him that he was better than most new students, and promoted him to level one of the green belt rank.  Almost as if through some sort of uniform-induced placebo effect, James started to get better.  His punches and kicks hit more frequently, and hurt less.
He was glad that he'd purchased the dummy for home, because his training time was up before he'd reached the required rank.  The instructor said that he was very close, though, and to continue training at home, where he could submit a video to the school to be judged formally.
It only took a short time for James to judge himself ready, and the instructors at the academy concurred.  He was now ranked at a green belt level two, the requirement set forth by his superiors.  However, his attempt to contact them at the number he'd been given resulted only in a dead line.  He continued to go to work, but worried about what had happened to his promotion.  Soon, he received a call from an unfamiliar number, and equally unfamiliar voice, to his work phone.
James: "Hello?"
Man: "I apologize for the delay.  There has been a...change in management."
James: "So I take it I'm not getting that promotion, then?"
Man: "No, we have discussed the matter, and we will be honoring your agreement.  Pull tonight's job off, and you'll be looking at a new position."

The job was routine.  James would distract the jeweler while the team under his command liberated all the stock from the back room.  But something went wrong.  It was hard to say what, because the jeweler seemed as surprised as anyone when the cops showed up, but someone had snitched.  As James was loaded into the back of the cruiser, he wondered how he was ever going to explain this to his mother.

~ * ~

Oh no, it's the cops!  Ghost woman in that picture was unintentional, but feel free to supply your own epileptic tree explanations.

James's interpretation of the zen mindset is not how I perceive the martial arts powers actually working in the sims universe.  I would actually be very surprised if he would be able to get any of the meditation stuff to work, due to a fundamental misunderstanding of the basics.  However, the physical fighting(perhaps up through the blue belt level) is easily within his grasp, so the depth of his ignorance won't be revealed unless he tries to take it a step further.

I'm not sure if anyone ever looks at it, but I've been keeping the family tree(linked from the legacy information page) up to date with not only the in-household events but also news about immediate relatives.  There's been some births that James didn't care about enough to spend chapter time on, so I wrote them in there!  As an aside, is there any interest in me uploading sims from my legacy?  I know people like to do that, but I'm not sure if anyone would want mine or if I would just be making work for myself.  I do have everybody from the founders up saved to the sim bin, though.

I have a few outtakes for you guys.  As usual, click on them to make them bigger.  Today, we have Eliza's take on infant care, Greg creeping on Alpha's mother while Eliza and the evil gnome watch, creepysmile(doesn't look so bad in the screenshot, but she does it constantly!), and derpface(it's actually Talia, Crystal's first daughter, as a teen >_<).

 I've also been experiencing an odd bug with the flower vases from Seasons, where they don't stand up - they just lay horizontal.  It's really weird, I can't figure out what's causing it, and apparently I'm the only one seeing it happen.  Strange.


  1. James will be dangerous with the martial arts skill! Eeek!
    I wonder what eliza has to say about the whole getting arrested thing?

    The ghost: It's the ghost of christmas past, silly! She just popped by to show James the error of his ways, but her timing was a bit off (she's from the past, not the future!) and she just missed him.

    The sims: If you upload yours, I'll upload mine. I have all my sims from gen 2 onwards, but can go and get the gen 1 sims if needs be because they're stuck in eternal life because the save file only works for... 2 hours? (sim hours) So.. Yeah. Although, I have no idea how to upload sims...

    I like other people putting sims up, though. I keep meaning to sneakily use downloaded sims as extras in the background and see if anyone notices their own sims wandering around... :p

    The vase thing, that is odd :| I went in game today. I have 3 and they're all upright. Is it just new ones, or are the old ones having a lie down too? Or don't you know? I'd check if new ones do it in mine, but it's autumn, so no wildflowers.

    1. I'm not sure what she'll have to say, you'll have to wait and find out!

      I guess you have to upload them to a cloud service somewhere. The thing with those is, you never know when they're going to go offline, like megaupload.

      I'd love to see Greg getting up to shenanigans in someone else's game. Palmreading time!

      The vase thing fixed itself somehow. When I loaded my game last night, the vase was standing up properly(this post was already published and set to auto-post, so I forgot I'd written about it here). I'm not sure what its deal was, maybe Greg's ghost filled it with nectar/juice instead of water. Go home vase, you're drunk.