Saturday, August 31, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 57 - Recovery

Epsilon opened her eyes.  This wasn't the lab.  Where was she?  She turned her head to the left and was relieved to see a familiar, if blurry, face.
"Mmmr," she mumbled, her lips not quite cooperating.  But even that muffled noise was enough.  He looked over to her, smiling as he put down his book.
"Eps!  You're awake, I'm so glad.  You were out for almost a week."
She concentrated hard on forming words, her lips out of practice but quickly waking back up.  "Why?"  There, that was better.
"You fell and hit your head.  You had a concussion."
"Oh."  That explained a lot, and she did remember falling.  "Everything's blurry."
"Oh, right!  Sorry."  He picked something up off the table, then carefully placed her glasses on her face.  "Better?"
"Much.  Thanks."  She pulled herself into a semi-sitting position, leaning back against her pillows.  "Are we in a stairwell?"
"Yeah," he said, frowning.  "All of the rooms were full.  We were turned away from two hospitals because they didn't have any space for us, but Riverview's close-knit.  When you were childhood best friends with the hospital administrator's daughter, you can pull a few strings.  I couldn't get you a room, but I got you the stairwell."
Well, that answered one of her questions.  She was in Riverview, the small town where Brendan had grown up.  A long way from the University, and even further from Sunset Valley.
"What happened?  I remember..." her voice trailed off as she remembered a flash, some sort of ghostly creature coming at her.  "...a ghost?  But that can't be right."
He reached out and took her hand in his, holding it tightly.  "It's right.  As strange as it sounds, it's right.  There's something I have to tell you."
She stayed silent, watching his eyes.  They were serious, so this wasn't good news.
"You weren't the only person attacked that night.  It happened around the world, and it's still going on.  Not as bad as the first night, but there's still been sightings and attacks every night since.  Mostly supernaturals, like the werewolf girl who was in our dorm the first year, but there were a few humans attacked, like you.  They don't know why yet, but they suspect it might have to do with associating with supernaturals."
She felt a pang of guilt at that.  She still hadn't told him that she was a witch, and if he was right, then he could be in danger.  "Bren, I-"
He interrupted her, squeezing her hand gently.  "There's something else.  I took the call for you, since you were unconscious.  The ghosts attacked at your house."
Her eyes widened at that, panic knotting in her stomach.  Omicron!
"Your brother's safe," he continued, her fear easing at his words.  "But your father was killed.  I'm sorry."
She closed her eyes as she pulled her hand away from his and drew her knees to her chest, huddling against them.  Had he been killed because of her?  Because she was a witch?  "No great loss," she managed to mumble.
"I know.  He was a scumbag, you've told me.  But he's still your father."
"I know," she replied.  "It's my fault."
Brendan was silent for a few moments, and when he responded his gentle tone had changed to incredulity.  "How is it your fault?"
"I should have told you ages ago, I know, and now you're in danger all because of me."  Hot tears threatened to spill onto her cheeks, but she kept them contained in her eyes.  "I'm a witch.  It must have come from my mother, because my father is as human as they come, but I can cast spells.  Not very well, but I was working on that.  They came after me because of that, and then they went after him, and it's all my fault."
"No, it's not," he said, taking her hand again.  "I don't know why you thought that you couldn't tell me this, but I'm not angry, and it wasn't your fault.  If it came from your mother, than his being with her could have been why he was killed.  You can't blame yourself for this."
His words made sense.  She squeezed his hand tightly, feeling his strength flowing into her.  They stayed like that for a few minutes, until Brendan spoke again.

"Speaking of not being killed, they've been asking about that.  How you did it.  I have to admit, I'm not sure myself.  I found you in the lobby of the Student Union, and you weren't making any sense."
"I hit my head.  In the lab."  Everything was fuzzy, but she was certain that the last place she'd been before she saw the ghost was in the lab.
"Right.  The ghost that went after you was trapped, in the lab.  They want to know how."
She turned his head to look at him, still holding tightly to his hand as she replied.  "Who's they?"
"Scientists, I think.  They were grilling me, but stopped when they realized that I don't understand the first thing about what you guys study in that lab.  Can you remember anything?
She closed her eyes, thinking.
"There was the ghost, he was trying to attack me.  I was on the ground."
"Then what happened?"
"I don't know.  Everything's fuzzy."
"Try to remember."  His voice was soothing, and his firm grip on her hand was reassuring.
"I got out of the way somehow.  I don't know.  I was standing up, and then he...came at me again, I think.  I dodged out of the way, then...ohhh."  She remembered now.
"What, Eps?"
"I knocked the experiment chamber open.  It wasn't mine, I don't know whose it was.  But it sucked him in, like a vacuum."
"That's what they found.  It tested as ectoplasm, what ghosts are made of, but they were hoping you understood more about what had happened."
"I don't, it wasn't my project.  I don't even know the girl who worked on it.  She sat in the back of the class, wore her hair in pigtails.  She was smart, but I don't even know her name."
"Sierra Carlton.  She died that night.  A flaming trailer crashed into the diner she was eating at, nobody's sure if ghosts were responsible or if it was just a freak accident.  What happened next?"
"Do they really care?  They've got their answer."  Her tone was bitter.  They wouldn't care about Sierra, they'd just be disappointed that Epsilon didn't know the answers they wanted.
"No.  But I care.  What happened?"  He tightened his grip on her hand for a moment, giving her the strength to continue speaking.
"I just laid there, I think.  I remember the whole world was spinning, it was hard to think.  But I knew I had to get out of there, and find help."
"So I started moving," she continued.  "I couldn't stand, I was too dizzy, but I think I crawled out of the lab, into the lobby.  I remember the carpet was rough and hurt my hands, and the stone soothed them but was so hard.  I couldn't decide which was better."
"That's where I found you."
"I remember."  She did.  She didn't remember what he said, but she remembered his arms lifting her, cradling her as he carried her out of the building.  "Why?"
"Because I love you."  His tone was confused.
"No," she said quickly.  "Not that.  Why were you there to even find me?"
"I was walking home when all the chaos started.  I saw an orange glow coming from the lab, and decided to check it out.  I'm glad I did."
She opened her eyes and smiled weakly to him.  "Thanks.  I don't know what would have happened to me if you weren't there."
Brendan opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the stairwell doors banging open and a nurse entering.  "Oh, you're awake, dear!  You were supposed to come find me as soon as she woke up.  You know Mister Olivers is waiting to speak to her. "  Her expression was disapproving as she addressed Brendan.
"She only woke up just now," he said defensively.  "And I don't think that she's up for it yet."
"No," Epsilon said, scooting over to the other side of the bed and easing her feet onto the concrete floor.  "I have to get it over with some time, right?"
The nurse nodded in agreement, waving her hands dismissively to Brendan.  "Out, out!  He'll want her alone.  I'll be sure to let you know when he's finished, dear."
Brendan gave Epsilon a weak smile as he was herded out of the stairwell by the feisty woman.  Epsilon took a few steps but then sat back down on the bed again - she was still a little dizzy, and sitting down was probably best for now.

The doors banged again, and a quick peek through her hair showed that a man in a suit had entered.  He crossed the room quickly and held his hand out for her to shake.  "Shawn Olivers.  I'm glad you're feeling better, Miss Woods."
"Why are you here?"  She didn't shake his hand, and after a few moments of awkward silence he withdrew the limb.
"As you may already know, an experimental technology succeeded in capturing one of these ghosts the night the attacks started.  I represent a corporation that is interested in using that technology to develop a weapon to fight against this new danger."
"I don't know about the experiment," she replied bitterly.  "I didn't even know the girl who was doing it, we weren't friends or anything.  I'm a medical student, I don't study anything even close to whatever she was working on."
"Would you like to study it?  I've heard from your professors that you have a brilliant mind.  I could secure financial backing if you would be willing to switch degree courses.  You would be an asset to the team, I'm sure."
She sat up straight, lowering her hands to her lap as she continued to stare resolutely at the door, hoping the man would get the message.  "I told you before, I'm studying to be a doctor.  I'm not interested in changing my career.  I've just found out that my father is dead, and I've told you all that I know, so could you just go?"
It seemed for a moment as if the man would argue, but then he just nodded.  "As you wish.  If you change your mind, the offer still stands."  He dropped a business card onto the bedside table, then turned and exited the way he'd come.  Brendan must have been waiting around the corner, because he was back in the room less than a minute after Shawn had left.
"Are you okay?"  Epsilon stood to meet him as he entered, feeling somewhat steadier on her feet.
"Not really, but I'm getting there.  I really need to get back to Sunset Valley, see how Omi is holding up.  Will they discharge me, do you think?"
"Of course they'll discharge you, they need the bed and equipment.  But should you be discharged?"  Brendan raised an eyebrow as he asked the question they both knew the answer to.
"No, but I'll take it easy, I promise.  I have to get home."
"I'll come with you."  He frowned as she shook her head.  "Why not?"
"You have your own family to worry about.  Your mother, right?  Is she okay?"
"She's fine, I've been more worried about you-"
Epsilon interrupted.  "I know.  Thank you.  You should go to her though, I know she'll be worried."
He nodded slowly.  "You're right.  Call me every night, okay?  If I don't hear from you, I'll have to come out to make sure you're alright."
"I will.  Thank you for everything, Bren."

Epsilon used the long bus ride home to check her e-mail and news blogs online.  Omicron had sent her the entire story of what happened the night of the first attacks, and she felt grateful to the spirits of her ancestors for protecting him.  As strange as that crypt felt for her to be in, maybe she should visit some night and thank them.  After all, she was officially the only one of the three half-siblings that hadn't met their grandmother.  As she entered the house she'd grown up in, she was struck by how quiet it was without James banging around the place.
"Hello?" she called out.  "Omi?  Are you home?"
"Yeah, just a moment!"  The answer came from the back hallway, and soon her younger brother approached through the kitchen.
They didn't speak at first, just holding each other tightly in silent reassurance.  Finally, Epsilon broke the silence.
"Are you okay?"
"No.  Are you?"
"Not really.  But I'll make it."
"Yeah, same."
They let go and faced each other.  Epsilon was struck by how much older Omicron seemed; the young man standing before her wasn't the high school boy she'd left behind two years ago.  This time, it was Omicron's turn to break the silence.
"Your boyfriend told you what happened to Dad?"
"Yeah.  I'm sorry you had to go through that alone."
"I wasn't alone, at least not in the crypt.  He seemed nice though, concerned about you.  You could have done worse."
Epsilon smirked a bit despite herself, giving Omicron a playful nudge.  "Like you have any say in who I date.  You know you're the baby in the family."
A brief smile crossed his face at his sister's teasing tone, then he sighed.
"What's wrong?" Epsilon hadn't seen him this messed up in a long time, not since before the prom.  He was clearly taking this situation harder than he let on.
"It's just this house, you know?  Every time I'm standing here, I see it happening all over again.
"Oh, Omi..."  He didn't need to say what 'it' was, the context was obvious.
"You know what the last thing I said to him was?  I told him to quit throwing books around.  It wasn't even him doing it, he was just trying to stay alive, and I yelled at him.  I know he wasn't a good man, but I don't think that anybody deserves to die like that, knowing the last thing said to them was hateful."
"You can't blame yourself for what happened to him."
"I know.  I don't.  I know he didn't like me, but I know that for a long time he wanted me to carry on the family name, and I can't help but think that the last thing he heard from me was so not who I am.  I'm not like him, Epsi!"  Omicron seemed close to tears now, and Epsilon quickly comforted him.
"No, you're not.  The fact that you feel guilty about what happened just confirms it.  Ghosts have been crossing over every night now, maybe you'll have your chance to apologize."
He nodded slowly.  "Maybe.  I put his urn in the catacombs, because that's what he would have wanted."
"I agree."
"I can't stay here, though.  Like I said, I can't get it out of my mind."
Epsilon frowned.  "Where will you go?"
"I'm not sure," Omicron said.  "I don't think university is right, not yet at least.  I'm not any good in a crisis, so I can't be of any use in the military, or as a medic.  Have you read the news lately, Epsi?"
She nodded.  None of it was good, especially the opinion columns.  A lot of people were thinking that the world would be better off if no supernaturals existed, as it was only causing collateral damage for the human population.  Such rash thinking was very comforting to some people in a crisis, but she was afraid that it would take hold in the mainstream in a very bad way.
"All of that hate.  I can't let that happen.  I don't care if I have to sleep in the park on a bench, but whatever I do I have to fight against those people."
"Please tell me you won't sleep in the park, Omi."
"I have a place to stay, for now at least.  And I've got a connection in city hall, he says he can get me a job there.  It's not much, but I might be able to change things from the inside, if I can get someone's ear."
Epsilon nodded.  "Dad intended you to have the house, though.  As much as he hated you, he never considered the possibility of me carrying on the family."
Omicron looked at her.  "Who cares what he wanted?  He's dead now.  As far as I care, the house is yours.  I wrote down everything he ever told me, about the family and the catacombs.  I left it on your nightstand.  I've been ready to leave for days, I was just waiting to hear that you'd been discharged."
She nodded again.  "I'll miss you.  Keep in touch, okay?"
"Will do.  See you, Epsi."
The house was even quieter with him gone.  It was just her and Shadow, now.  How was she supposed to move forward?

~ * ~

Omicron is much more attractive than he looked like when I aged him up in CAS.  I swear the game makes genetic mutations as you play.  He's also a lot skinnier than CAS predicted, not sure what that was about, unless all the swimming he did over the summer knocked the baby fat right off of him(I use Awesomemod with mass conservation enabled, so he won't get fatter again unless he overeats).  Upon seeing how he looked as a YA, I was actually a little bit sad that he wasn't going to be the heir.

Yes, this means that Epsilon is the generation 3 heir, as randomly determined.  Gemly can stop freaking out now.  It's such a big, empty house, and it's all hers and Shadow's now.  I hardly know what to do with my empty sim panel.

I have a confession to make.  I fudged the weekly responsibilities for week 17.  I neither had a party(for generation 2's fun) nor had the heir celebrate leisure day(for generation 3's fun).  Please forgive me, it just didn't work for the story.  She did technically attend a party on Leisure Day, but I'm not sure that counts, especially since it was only a party for story purposes. ;)

Sims for Omicron and Epsilon are uploaded on the download page.  Go forth and have them, because they're much more attractive than sims born in my game usually are.  Especially the blonde one.  I'll update the family tree, generations page, and sidebar at some point before I post the next chapter.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 56 - The Morning After

Transcript of the President's Address to the Nation
Greetings.  It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you this morning, after the longest night in recent memory.  It breaks my heart to think of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who lost their lives in the acts of senseless violence that took place across the world last night.  Rest assured that those responsible, living or otherwise, will be found, and brought to justice.

How can we fight spirits, you ask?  That is the question that the most talented minds of our generation are working to answer, even as I speak to you now.  Our resources have been mobilized, and no expense will be spared once the solution is found.  Our military is prepared, strong and determined to stand against this new menace.

Remain calm and stay strong in this time of fear.  If we stand together, the people of this world united, we will not fall.

The Daily Times volume 95 issue 191: Thousands Dead After Supernatural Rampage (excerpt)
...It seems that supernatural creatures were the main targets of these attacks.  For many, such creatures were known only as legends, but it has become known across the world now that they walk among us.  Werewolves, lupine shape-shifters, and vampires, nocturnal blood-drinkers, were the most easy to identify, and comprised the majority of the supernatural creatures killed.  Some of those originally classified as human have been revealed as spell casters by those who knew them, so it is possible that more than two categories of supernatural creatures were targeted in the attacks.

Most victims were located in the capital city of Bridgeport, due to its size, and Moonlight Falls, likely because of its large population of supernatural creatures.  The recently-opened University Town, attracting many young supernatural creatures from their rural homes to study, was also strongly affected, though official counts have not been received.  Despite the majority of attacks happening in those three isolated areas, nowhere was spared, with almost every town having at least one incident...

The Daily Times volume 95 issue 192: Letter to the Editor
In all my years of reading the Times I never would've thought that this fine publication would be on the side of those creatures!  You were so busy talking about those things that you barely mentioned the HUMANS who died that night.  How am I supposed to keep my family safe when there's those vampires and werewolves stirring up trouble and getting innocent HUMANS murdered?

The President said we need a solution, and I agree with the man.  Get rid of the vampires, the werewolves, and all those things that hide in our towns and cities, there's a solution for you.  We'll not be safe until we do, you mark my words.

Frank Delaney

~ * ~

Short update today, just chilling in between proper generation stuff and adding a bit of context for what's going on in the larger world.  This next generation is going to be darker than the first two, if this chapter wasn't warning enough.  A lot of people are pretty angry, for all different reasons, and while the politics aren't a major focus of my heir their effect will obviously still be seen.

I did not intentionally make the president resemble Bill Clinton.

That is also not Not-Bill Clinton writing the letter to the editor, even though it looks like him.  I was not very creative with my elder male character design the night I took these pictures.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 55 - Blunt Force Trauma

As Leisure Day dawned on Sunset Valley, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Forgoing his usual holiday plans, James declared that this season's party was just for him, and nobody else was invited.  So there.
He spent the morning swimming in the backyard pool, then relaxed and got some sun in the afternoon.  He had to admit that it was refreshing, not wondering what anybody else thought of him for just one day.
Omicron, who had ditched the house as soon as James started going on about nobody else being invited to his party, spent the first part of the day at the summer festival in the center of town.  The snow cone operator, aware that it was Omicron's birthday tomorrow, gave him a free purple berry snow cone as an early birthday present.
He soon got bored of the festival, and headed down to the ocean for a swim.  It was much more relaxing there, away from the noise and bustle of the town.
As the sun began to set, he headed back home to get the fireworks Epsilon had given him.  The fun wasn't over yet!
Nobody thought anything of the full moon slowly rising over the hills east of town.

Omicron was careful to remember everything Epsilon had cautioned him about firework safety.  Light the fuse, move quickly and carefully to a safe distance, cover your ears, and watch!
He grinned as he watched his display light up the sky, one of the first of the evening.  He wished that they sold fireworks during every season, instead of only summer.
The fireworks Epsilon had bought weren't the fanciest, but they shone just as bright as the rest of the displays now being shot off around town.  He'd have to remember to thank her again for that, when she got back after this term.
After he'd exhausted his supply of explosive entertainment, Omicron headed inside to get ready for bed.  He'd finished in the bathroom and had just shut his bedroom door when a loud thud came from the living room.  Shaking his head, he started to tug his shirt off, pausing when three more thuds came in quick succession.  What the hell was James doing out there?  He yanked his shirt back on and went to investigate.
As he was walking through the kitchen, a book whizzed past his head.  He only managed to dodge it by pure luck, certainly not any skill.  Frowning back at where it impacted the far wall, he called out.
"What the hell!  Stop throwing books around, I'm trying to get some sleep."
Another thud came from the living room, so he sighed and peeked through the doorway, immediately stepping back, his eyes wide.  A third - fourth, fifth, there was no telling how many had already been thrown! - book hit James on the shoulder, hard.  Beyond him stood a ghostly woman, but ghosts weren't actually real...were they?
As he watched, another book whizzed past his father, who dodged this time, and the ghost woman looked past the old man, her wicked smile growing as she spotted Omicron.  He stepped back against the kitchen island, unsure what to do, until he was distracted by a mewing and the sensation of something rubbing past his ankles.
He looked down to Epsilon's cat.  Was now really the time?  Something about the look in the cat's eyes drew his attention, though - an uncanny sort of intelligence.  Had the animal always looked like that?  Another thud came from behind him, and with another meow the cat turned and darted for the backdoor.  Omicron didn't think twice about following it.
Behind him, the ghostly woman raised a pointed hand, black smoke issuing from the tip of her finger.  James followed her finger, gasping as his feet left the floor as he slowly rose towards the ceiling.
As Omicron stumbled over the back fence, fleeing the house, a shout of fear was cut short by a crash.  He felt like he was going to be sick, but he kept going, following the cat.

It led him up the hill towards the family crypt.  Omicron fell down more than descended the stairs, his grip on the railing and center pole the only things that kept him mostly upright.  He quickly activated the lock and pushed the first door open.  But the second door seemed to be locked, no amount of pushing helping even as the cat slipped through the grating and continued into the catacombs.
Breathing heavily, he turned, sinking down into the corner in fear as he saw what had followed him from the house.
"I was only sent here to kill one tonight," she said, the otherworldly voice echoing in the stone chamber.  "But why stop at one when there's such a convenient opportunity right in front of me?  You could have inherited his...tendencies, after all.  Why take that chance, hmm?"
"W-w-why?"  He was shaking so badly that he could hardly get the word out, huddled as far away as he could get.
"Why?"  She laughed harshly, transparent lips curving into another cruel smile.  "Because he aided and associated with those who would be cleansed from this world.  That simply can't be tolerated.  Now, are you going to hide in the corner like a coward, or come face your death like a man?  Because I must say, it simply won't be any fu-"
She stopped short, her cocky grin melting into an expression of uncertainty as she stared past Omicron into the chamber beyond.  What had confused her soon became apparent as more ghostly shapes floated past the boy, taking up three guard positions just past the door.
The four ghosts stood there for a moment, sizing each other up, and then the lone male ghost laughed, a hearty laugh of amusement that echoed around the chamber for a few moments even after he'd stopped.
"What's so funny?" Omicron's attacker demanded, her look of confusion turning into a frown.
"The irony of the whole thing!  You, of all people, going along on this crusade."
She started to speak again, but she cut him off.
"Ohh, people talk.  Not to me, but to the wife, you see."  He guestured behind himself to the ghost standing with crossed arms.  "And we know aaaallllll about you, Myra Carter!  Every detail of your life, all the time you spent, ah, how did you put it?  Assisting and associating, that was it, with the ones you now claim to hate."
This was utterly surreal.  There was no way this was happening.  Who were these people?
"You're just so full of hate," the man continued, not letting the woman get a word in edgewise.  "Hate-hate-hatey-hate-hate!  And so you think that you can just barge through here and just beat up on whatever you want, because it makes you feel better.  And I'll tell you what, because this'll really make you mad.  You.  Can't.  Have.  Him.  Ha!"
The angry woman stammered, clearly flustered by this man, but he wasn't done talking yet.
"I know I'm more stubborn than you, so I could wait all night until you had to cross back over, but frankly I don't want to spend my night doing that.  Boring!  So I'll just go with this.  What would Frederick have said, hrm?"
The question had an immediate effect on the ghostly woman, recoiling back in horror.  Then, she let out a screech of frustration before shooting straight up through the stone ceiling.
The man dusted off his incorporeal hands.  "Well, she won't be back!"
Omicron stayed still as the ghosts retreated through the door, not entirely sure what had just happened.  As the man floated past him, a ghostly whisper reached his ears.
"It's a pull door, son.  You've gotta pull it."

He dragged himself to his feet, feeling as if he was in a dream, and pulled on the handle.  Oh.  He stepped through into the next chamber and looked around for any sign of the three ghosts, but the only one remaining was the one who the man had identified as his wife.
"Hello, Omicron."  She broke the silence, her voice gentler than Myra's, but still eerie.
"H-hello."  He was shaking, the adrenaline that had kept him going leaving his system.  "Please tell me I'm dreaming."
She shook her head.  "I'm sorry, you're not.  This - all of this - is really happening."
"What's happening?"
"The dead are crossing back to this realm.  We've always been able to observe, but now the barriers have been broken and our effect is more tangible.  It's a horrible thing, and should never have happened.  All the hate..."  Her voice trailed off as she shook her head sadly.
"Why are they doing it?  She said something about my Dad, and..."  He stopped talking there, fighting back the tears.  He hadn't liked the man, but he couldn't be happy about anyone dying, even if they were a bad person.
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but he's gone.  He'll be with us soon.  I'll do my best to keep him from following the path of hatred, even with his death being so sudden and violent."
He was choking up now.  "I just left him in the house.  I should have stayed, tried to help."
"No."  Her voice was firm.  "There was nothing you could have done, except for what you did.  Only the dead can defend against the dead.  Stay here, until dawn.  Then you'll be safe, at least for the day."
He nodded.  "One more question.  Are ancestors?"
A slight smile touched her lips as she nodded.  "Yes.  We will protect you as much as we can, but we aren't strong spirits, fueled by rage as the others are.  We can't stray far from our graves.  If you need aid, you must come to us.  And now, I must go, but we will be watching.  Until next time, my dear."
After the spirit faded away, he waited alone until he heard the first birds singing outside.  Only then did he stretch his stiff limbs and climb the stairs, exiting his family crypt into the world of sunlight.  He could hear sirens, but they were distant, nothing to worry about.  He began to trudge down the hill, shoes squeaking against the dew-covered grass.
Today was his birthday; with everything that had happened last night, he'd almost forgotten.  He supposed that his first act as a legal adult would be to make some calls, and officially add another casualty to what he knew would be a long list.

~ * ~

I don't know why I subconsciously hate Leisure Day.  It's just always unfortunately timed.

The third ghost who guarded the crypt is Crystal, who died a few days ago in-game.  James didn't care, so it never made its way into the story, but now you know.

For those keeping track, the Seer's prophecies from way back near the start of this generation have all been fulfilled now, possibly not in the ways expected.  I've been planning this for a long time.

Next chapter is the official beginning of generation 3.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Woods Random Legacy: Chapter 54 - Time Management Skills

FYI: this chapter gets a bit sexy in the middle. No explicit nudity or exposition, but the prudish may want to stay alert.

On the morning exam results were delivered, Epsilon hadn't even showed yet - in fact, she was still on the toilet - when her housemate Tiffany came barging into the bathroom.
"Epsilon?  You in here?"
Annoyed, Epsilon responded.  "Kind of busy, here."
"Oh, sorry, it's your exam results is all.  I'll just leave them on the sink!"  The slam of the bathroom door signaled Tiffany's exit from the room, and Epsilon finished up quickly, washing her hands before opening the envelope.  Her expression swiftly turned to one of horror.  That couldn't be right!
A quick shower and change of clothes later, she dashed into the kitchen, nearly slamming into Brendan.
"Woah there!" He laughed, then his expression quickly sobered, noting the look on her face.  "What's wrong?"
"I got a B!  That's never happened before, ever.  How did I mess up so badly?"
He reached out and took her hand, holding it still.  The touch was calming, almost as if her rapid hand movements had been accelerating her mental distress, or maybe that was just Brendan.
"Relax.  It had to happen sometime.  Not only are you in a difficult degree course, but you were taking the maximum load they would allow you to take.  Getting a B was pretty amazing, to be honest.  I know a lot of the students here would have flunked out."
"Yeah, but-"
He interrupted.  "No but.  A B won't kill your internship this summer, and you know what to expect, so you'll do better next semester."
She nodded.  What he was saying made sense.  She still felt as if she'd failed, though.
"Come here."  He pulled her close in a hug, and she nestled her face into his shoulder, letting him hold her.  They stayed that way for several long moments, until he spoke again.  "Don't you have a bus to catch?"
"Mmm," she confirmed, muffled by his shoulder, then started to pull away.  He responded by pulling her close again, this time kissing her gently on the lips.
"I'll see you when you get back?"
"Yes.  And thanks, for everything."

After term break was over, Alpha rented a small house just outside of the heart of campus.  Money was still tight, but she really needed the privacy if she was going to focus enough to do well in her class this term.  Her and Brendan had discussed renting a house together, but they'd ultimately decided that they weren't ready for that yet, so he chose to stay on at Malan Hall, for the next term at least.
Now that she wasn't a first-year student anymore, she was allowed to work in the labs, conducting her own experiments as well as assigned lab work.  The machines were almost always whirring away, whether by themselves or under the watchful eye of an anxious student.
She was also the first to arrive to lectures and the last to leave.  She often got strange looks from the other students, but the empty lecture halls were great places to study, free of distractions.
Her free time spent with Brendan was drastically reduced, unfortunately.  She could tell that it bothered him somewhat, but he was supportive, and she tried to make every moment they had together count.
Everything felt easier this term, as if she'd made it over the hump the previous year, but she refused to get complacent.  She would get an A this term, and nothing would stop her.

The night before final exam day, Epsilon was busy studying, as usual, not noticing that Brendan had finished reading his novel and was now pacing the kitchen.  She only noticed her boyfriend when he planted his hands firmly on the table and looked down to her with a somewhat bemused expression.
She looked up, startled.  "Huh?"
"What are you doing?  You're not going to get a better grade by cramming the night before your exams.  At this point, you either know it or you don't, and all you're doing is stressing yourself out."
She opened her mouth to protest, but he reached across the table to her textbook and gently closed it, setting it down.
"I'm serious.  Go get ready for bed, I'll give you a massage or something before I go back home."
She gave him the usual look of protest before taking his hands and letting him draw her out of her seat into an embrace.  He was right, and his plan sounded good, though there was one thing she would change.
"You should stay," she whispered.
"You're sure?"
"Yeah.  You know we'd talked about maybe staying together, next term, so it makes sense to work up to it a bit."
He gave her a quick peck on the lips, then drew back, smiling.  "Sounds good to me.  My first exam isn't until after lunch, so that gives me time to run home and get ready.  Come on, let's go to bed, you need sleep."
She hadn't known that he slept in so little, but she wasn't exactly modestly dressed herself.  She'd toyed with the idea of wearing one of her gym shirts to bed, but she'd gotten out of the habit of wearing much now that she had a room to herself, and she didn't mind him seeing her in her underwear at all.  It felt exciting though, and she couldn't quite keep from imagining how it would feel for their skin to touch as they slept together.
He was leaning against the headboard, so she settled in next to him, leaning back against the wood as their arms found comfortable positions.  Still, something seemed to be bothering him.
"What's wrong?" she asked, fearing the worst.
He reached around to the back of her head, fumbling at her hair.  For a moment she wasn't sure what he was doing, then it became obvious as her hair fell down onto her shoulders, the clip placed on the bedside table.
"You weren't really going to leave that in all night, were you?"  The teasing smile was back, and Epsilon laughed, shaking her head.
"No, I just didn't think to take it out yet.  Sorry, I was just worried that-"
He cut her off with a finger to her lips.  "I told you, stop worrying.  If you're going to worry, I'm going to leave."
"Okay."  She smiled, then settled against his shoulder, feeling his hand slide down her side to rest at her waist.  Her breath caught a little at the sensation, but she controlled her breathing, at least until Brendan chuckled.
"You don't have to pretend it doesn't feel good."
She blushed, which just made him laugh a bit more, his hand moving around to her back as he held her closer.  They lay there for a few moments before he spoke again.
"Have you ever...?"  His question trailed off, but he didn't have to finish it - she knew what he meant, and shook her head.
"No, you?"
"Yeah," he admitted.  "Does that bother you?"  His expression was serious now, looking down at her.
"No.  You're older than me, I always figured you'd have experience.  Why would it bother me, if it was before we met?"
"It was," he assured her.  "High school, the first time, and a few girls since.  I don't regret it."
"Why should you?"  He smiled again at her words.
"I really don't, and I'm glad you're okay with that.  You know it doesn't make me love you any less."
"I know," she said quietly, pulling him down to kiss him again, her free hand moving down to fumble at what little clothes he was wearing.
He pulled back so he could see her eyes.  "Epsilon.  Are you sure?"
She nodded.  "Yeah.  I've waited long enough to be sure.  I want this, with you."
He nodded again, lowering her gently to the bed.
It was all a bit blurry after that.  All Epsilon was sure of was that it had felt amazing, even the part she'd known would hurt.
Even she couldn't worry about the next day's exams, not tonight.

The next morning, she sat up, and immediately wished she hadn't.  She had a sick feeling in her stomach, and something behind her eyes was starting to throb.  Of all the days to come down with something, why today?  She gritted her teeth and stood, getting dressed in the dark so as not to aggravate a possibly-murderous headache.  She glanced back at her sleeping boyfriend as she exited the room, smiling weakly.  He was probably going to catch this too, since she'd surely been contagious last night.
She only felt worse as the day went on.  The sick feeling, though it never developed into acute nausea, stayed in her stomach, spreading up to the back of her throat as she moved to her last final.  The pressure in her head also increased, barely affected by the painkillers she took with lunch.  She got a text from Brendan right after, asking her to wear something nice and come to an after-finals party that evening.  She supposed she owed it to him to at least show up for a few minutes, after how she'd never gone out with him all term, even if she went home right after.  As he'd said, he was waiting for her outside the club.
"Are you okay?"
She shook her head.  "I'm coming down with something.  You've probably got it too."
"It was worth it.  Seriously, though, did you want to go lay down?"
She shook her head.  "I'll just stay for a bit, I know I've been a complete shut-in this term."
As they entered the club, somebody handed Epsilon a drink.  She took a sip of it then looked to the glass, surprised by the bite of the alcohol.  She'd never drank before, but even though she was already sick surely one drink wasn't going to make things any worse?  She was here to have a good time, for a few minutes at least, and she was going to make that happen.
The bar area was starting to fill up as Epsilon and Brendan danced to the music.  It was loud in here, and the beat of the bass was making her head pound.
She stepped off the dance floor to get a drink of water and stumbled.  Brendan came up to her, steadying the young woman as she rubbed her forehead.
"Look, you should go home.  I'm sorry I dragged you out here, you need to sleep."
She nodded.  "You're right.  I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
He nodded back and kissed her forehead, only letting go of her once he was sure she was steady on her feet.

As she walked home, the pounding in her head continued getting worse.  The summer night air, almost unbearably humid, made her feel as if she was trying to breathe underwater.  Suddenly, she stopped dead, letting out a low groan.  She'd promised Natalie that she would check on her experiment that night, and start the next stage for her.  If she didn't go do that, half a term's worth of work would be ruined.  Sighing, she changed direction, walking slowly along the seemingly-unending sidewalk to the lab.
She shielded her eyes against the harsh lights of the lab, recording the numbers off of the displays.  She hoped everything was right, because she couldn't even think straight.
After she hung up the clipboard, she turned to leave, then stumbled sideways.  There it was again, like back in the club.  It was as if gravity changed direction for a moment.  Then it hit again, and she gasped, swaying back.
Even in the air-conditioned lab, the air was suddenly hard to breathe, the sickness rising inside of her.  She gasped for a breath, and found one, accompanied by a ripping sensation as if the world was suddenly made up of an infinite number of fragile curtains, that had all torn at that exact moment.
As she continued to fall backwards, the back of her head hit the experiment containment chamber, pain exploding through her skull.
Not right.  It's not right.
Nothing hurts anymore.  Nothing feels like anything at all.  That's definitely not right.
This isn't right either.  Where's Gregory, Shadow?

She opened her eyes.

~ * ~