Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Chapter 98: Trial and Error

There are no visible doors, no windows, no handles. Just an endless sea of tiles.

Small tiles, big tiles. Ceiling tiles, wall tiles, floor tiles.

Which ones open? Which ones are more than they appear?

What is a corner? What is a dead end?

It's a labyrinth. A maze. It's a maze put here to drive him insane, he's sure of it.

He could die in here.

Then he sees her, and she sees him.

Help! HeLP hELphelpmEhelpmehelpmehELPMEHELpmeLEtMEout!

The telepathic buzz in his head causes him to stumble backwards.

She pauses. You can hear me?

"I hear you," Acheron says slowly. He steps forward again, courage renewed. He examines a panel on the wall, the only mechanism he can see. The screen flickers rapidly, its symbols shifting backwards, forwards, upwards, downwards, diagonally. He has never seen a lock like this, if it is a lock, yet he has the nagging feeling he should recognize it.

I would have your name.

He is closer, and her voice is louder in his head, though her lips do not move.

Your name.

The woman's eyes seem especially piercing and unnatural. The pupil is too small, the iris is too wide. Part of him, perhaps the part that is human, has the instinct to flee... but some other part of him senses familiarity. It's the second feeling that sends a chill down his spine.

She waits for his name. She is not the woman he normally sees in his dreams. She is not Claire. She's different, and he has yet to discern her importance.

She waits. She waits for his name.

"Acheron," he says.

She looks at her hands. There's nothing in them, but then again, creatures aren't locked away in forgotten places like these for no reason. She could be trouble. My brother said you would come.

Acheron's gaze drifts back to the panel with the changing symbols. "Where is he now?"

She doesn't see the cold, dangerous look in his eyes because she turns away, hiding her face.

He allowed himself to be captured. So he could rescue someone. A little girl, from... from the far past. And she got out, but... he didn't... and... so they... found me. They used our connection to find me. They did this to me... they made me into this horrible thing...

"I'll get you out." He feels the old sense of empathy returning. The feeling is intrusive and unwelcome; he needs clarity, not compassion. Acheron's jaw stiffens as he studies the panel. He does not see a pattern. He does not know where to begin.

How are we speaking? she pries. She has been here so long, but her thoughts remain logical and ordered, and a little too curious.

Acheron narrows his eyes. "I'm not sure. You're confined in a sort of cursed box. Nothing gets through but light."

He cannot use magic to get her out. That goes without saying.

Then our spirits speak to each other, she decides. How can that be?

Acheron shrugs. "Maybe Kay is right, and we are just all the same."

Realization hits her. Then you are...

"Don't think of me as Ceth's son. Think of me as the one who followed your research," he says bitterly. "I have taken Lethe's power and I need Loki to tell me how it is wielded."

She must be wondering how he managed to do such a thing, but she says nothing.

"I will use you to track him down," Acheron spells it all out for her, as if she hadn't guessed. "So do you know an unlock sequence for your cell, or not?"

YOU don't know?

"How the hell would I know?"

The Acheron should know.

Sigh. Has he come this far, only to be stopped by this lock?

He presses a finger against the display, touching the first glyph that appeals to him. It stops flickering. Carefully, he drags it a few centimeters to the left...

The pain that follows is intense enough to wake him. He dies in front of that cell, he's sure of it.

This was the sixteenth attempt to tamper with the panel.

He awakens exhausted, dimly aware that his skin and limbs are all where they're supposed to be...

...and yet, somehow very keenly aware that he has failed for the sixteenth time to deactivate the panel. He wishes he could tell the Acheron in the dream not to try to free the trapped lady; it's a little mean, maybe, but what if she's behind that anti-magic glass for a reason? What if she gets out and eviscerates him?

Acheron hates this dream. The details escape him quickly, but the memory of pain and anger lingers.

He isn't even sure why he's pissed off, but... the older Acheron is always seething behind that mask of calm. Something must be wrong. The Acheron of the here and now just cannot remember what.

Etc.: Seventeenth time's the charm???

I know Cayenne's altered eyes there being freaky is kind of... an informed trait, but I have to look at it from a sim's perspective. It would be like seeing someone with anime eyes in real life. Cute on paper, uncanny valley in reality.

If you're wondering why her hair looks so great even though she's trapped in some lab dungeon, the answer is because magic. If you're wondering why she doesn't look her age, the answer is because science.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

More Questions Part 4

These are from Owly. Thanks, Owly!

1. Who's a historical figure you think is neat? Why?

Mark Twain. His criticisms of society are still depressingly relevant.

2. I've invited myself over for dinner. What are your making for me?

If you'd have warned me in advance, I'd have asked you what you liked to eat, and gone shopping. Maybe rice noodles, tofu, veggies and teriyaki sauce could have been involved. Since you just showed up at my door, maybe we'll order a pizza? If I really need to make it myself you'll just have to eat some spaghetti, or maybe a sandwich. I... have a condition... and panic when trying to handle certain raw foods, so that severely limits what I can cook. If we can get my boyfriend in the kitchen, you might be able to enjoy crab cakes, or scrambled eggs, but he's not going to be happy you showed up unannounced, so I wouldn't count on his help.

3. If you were a sim, which neighborhood would you like to live in?

Hidden Springs.

4. Who is your favorite premade sim? How about your least favorite?

It's hard to have a favorite, but I'm playing with Lela Whitfield right now, so I guess she's nominated.

Least favorite... wow... probably one of the dozen or so sunglasses guys in Monte Vista.

5. If you could program a robot to do one task for you so you'd never have to do it again, what would it be? It doesn't matter how complicated the task is; it just has to be something you could do yourself (so you couldn't program it to make gold out of water unless you can do that yourself, so no cheating!).

Clean the bathroom.

6. Okay, so now irony kicks in: what do you miss out on by programming the robot to do that task? (ex: you programmed the robot to tuck your children into bed at night, and now your children love the robot more than you)

The robot threw me out of the bathroom.

7. What would you like to improve about your writing, and what do you think you already do well? 

I'd like to be able to resist the temptation to reference songs and films.

As for things I already do well... uhmm... well I think I'm okay with characterization? All of my characters have specific backstories and motivations and thought processes, even if I don't make them all clear to the reader.

8. What object from TS3 would you like to have in real life?


9. What's your vice? You can tell me. I'm cool.

I crave food even when I'm not hungry. Then I have to either practice self-control, or pretend one more piece of cheese won't ruin my figure.

10. Where's your favorite place to be?

 Curled up with my significant other.

11. Are we--as humans--enacting order in a chaotic universe, or are we enacting chaos in an ordered universe?

We humans are a part of an ordered universe. Our brains follow certain chemical processes, and our actions follow predictable patterns. Uncertainty only comes from not having all of the variables easily accessible.

More Questions Part 3

These are from Marcy. Thanks, Marcy!

1. What got you into playing Random Legacies/ other sim challenges? 

I was browsing MTS, looking for mods to enhance my Sims3 experience. I would have been done with the game soon after that, because games with no social aspect cannot hold my interest for long. Then I stumbled across one of Melissa's RLC blogs and I thought "that looks fun, I like making up stories too". So here I am.

2. If you could add one extra feature to sims 3 (that would be guaranteed to work the way you want it to), what would you add and why? 

Wow, I haven't had a wishlist about gameplay in a long time. I think I would make more single-sim activities able to be multi-sim activities. It would be cool if more than one sim could join in with cooking the same meal, for example.

3. What is your LEAST favourite EP? 
Into the Future. Every expansion added things I use, so it's hard to condemn any of them, but ITF seemed the least inspired, and broke a lot of things that won't ever be fixed because the developer moved on to the garbage pile that is Sims4. 

ITF is squandered potential. I don't like how the time travel works, I don't like how the aliens work, opportunities stay broken even after putting in mods that claim to fix it, and Emit Relevart needs to die.

4. If you were a sim, what would be your 3 highest-leveled skills? 

Based on my "skills" currently?

Writing, logic and painting. None of them would be maxed out, of course...

5. What is your "nightmare roll" for the RLC? The worst combination of rolls you can imagine, essentially. 
Like everyone else, I cringe when I roll perfect children. There aren't any other rolls I dread, other than ones I have simply removed from my list, like deadbeat parents, tattoo addict, 5 star celebrity, certain careers that are either glitchy or too boring because I've already rolled them too many times. Lots of sims can be good for story inspiration, and few sims mean I'll get chapters out quicker, so I don't dread anything as far as family structures go.

6. What is your favourite "it's so bad, it's good" fictional work? (movie, book, etc.) 

It's too early for me to remember all the bad things I have been exposed to, so I'll just leave this here: The Noozles.

I watched that when I was three and four years old. The protagonist's grandpa's soul is imprisoned in a crystal in another dimension by Australian wildlife which is also from another dimension and the whole show is nightmare fuel.

7. What is your favourite sport that you do NOT play at the moment? 

MMO raiding is a sport, right? ... Oh, I do that one. Huh. This is hard.

8. Which fictional character do you like that you think you would NOT get along with if they were real? (Can be from something you wrote or from another fictional work)
None of the characters that immediately come to mind could be approximated to exist in our reality. None of my RP or blog characters would be the same in the real world, that's for sure.

9. Which animal's existence confuses you the most? (As in, whenever you see it you think, "How is this even a real animal???") 

Giant panda. Everything about them is dumb.

10. If you had to dye your hair to an unnatural colour (or to a different unnatural colour if it's already such a colour), what would you dye it to and why? 

Aquamarine. I can't think of another color that might look cool on me.

11.  If you were an adventurer, what atypical (as in, not a dog or a cat) but real animal would you choose as your travelling companion? 

A screech owl. They make cute trilling noises.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

More Questions Part 2

These are from Nocriel. Thanks Nocriel!

1. Who's your favorite sim?

Out of all of my own sims ever? These two (they're a set, really, they can't help it):

Maybe the favoritism is a bad thing. Maybe I can't ever go back and finish their generation in my old blog because I just can't let them die.

2. Do you stage a lot? How do you do it?

It depends. Hopefully the only "staging" I need to do is get all sims I want in a scene into the same room, and then just have them chat or whatever, but in more complicated plots I may have to meticulously build the area I want the screenshot in, pose the sims, alter wardrobes... bleh. All of that kind of thing takes place in alternate saves.

3. Is there a roll you'd really hate to play?

I hate to play the role of bad guy, but I often find myself badgering my boyfriend about his health. The man weighs next to nothing and forgets to eat. Gah!

4. How about a roll you'd love to play?

Cinnamon roll.

5. What is your favorite Sims EP and why is it Pets?

World Adventures. It felt like it added so much more than every pack after it. Second place is Supernatural, because I like the look of a lot of the items. Third place is Ambitions, because I really had fun with that one. Of course Pets was always long overdue.

6. What parts of yourself as a person in real life do you recognize in your sims (personality, experiences, appearance or whatever) or your story in general? Don't say nothing, I'm convinced there's always a little bit of yourself in your sims! :P

I'm sure my blogs say more about me than I'd like.
7. What lifespan do you play your RLC on/how many sim days?

I've tried both 95 and 100 days for different legacies.

9. What other games do you play? Do you know Heroes of the Storm (I do not get paid by Blizzard, I'm just curious...)?

I do not play Heroes of the Storm, but I do play several other games. Currently my most played games are Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (SWTOR) and Starbound. Like Sims 3, those two are games that are only "done" when you decide they are.

I can also recommend Skyrim, if you really want to sink in some time.

Oh, and I really have to mention FTL: Faster Than Light. I own a lot of their merchandise, and I'm still hoping they release a slug ship T-shirt.

...Any minute now...

10. What's a hobby of yours other than gaming/writing?

Bird watching.

11. Is eleven questions too many?


Saturday, June 17, 2017

More Questions

Seems those 11 questions... things... are still making the rounds. I answered 11 questions last August! That was like, yesterday! Yet Urunwa had some more for me, and that's sweet, so I'll answer them.

Thanks Urunwa!

Her questions:

1) Do you let how your sims act in game affect what happens in the story?

Yes. Many of the stories are inspired by gameplay, which can be quite random.

Once I had a sim (Finley Archer) who needed to reproduce, but I didn't have a plan for who she'd go with, so I decided to let her become involved with a sim who randomly walked up and flirted with her. The roll was single parent, so I knew they'd have to break up, but I didn't know how... until I noticed one of Timmothy's traits was "insane", and it all just kind of fell into place.

2) What is the worst incident you've had happening in your current RLC?

Any of the glitches that force me to save houses to the bin, delete them from the map and then re-paste them to the map and re-move-in the family.

That glitch where half a person's skin is darker than the other half, split down the middle.

Orazia's fun bar is glitched. It doesn't go up, it doesn't go down. I dragged it up with cheats, but she doesn't get the associated 8 hour fun moodlet. Orazia can never be happy.

3) Best incident whilst playing RLC?

My savefiles still work after all these years.

4) Favourite sim to play?

Out of this legacy, I guess Reggie.

5) Staging pictures or writing the story- which do you like better?

Writing the story. Staging pictures is tedious and sometimes keeps me from updating for a long time.

6) Are you planning on yelling "get off my lawn" to kids when you get old?

Planning to own a lawn would be getting way ahead of myself, so no.

7) Fringes/bangs in haircuts (for yourself)- yes or no?

I have always had bangs.

8) What's your favourite piece of clothing?

I own this:

9) Addicted to popping bubblewrap? 

No, best to save it for later use.

10) Coolest insect?

Stick insect. 

11) Current haircolour?

Dark brown. I don't waste time dying my hair, but I have wasted time meticulously picking out stark white hairs ever since I was a teenager. Do I have bad genetics, or too much stress?


My questions for others... If you're reading this, I tagged you. HA HA HA%^#*HJDK


1. Favorite board or card game?

2. A computer game you'd recommend besides the Sims?

3. Favorite party game?

4. If you had to make up the rules for an original (ish) party game, what would it be?

 5. You must take either a wish granting genie or a talking dog. What do you choose, and why?

6. What film, book, or other media you've consumed contained the most alien alien? (Think starfish alien trope.)

7. Do you prefer to think of your sims as basically living in the real world, or do you work the strangeness of gameplay into your stories?

8. If you had to destroy one holiday you currently celebrate every year, which one would it be?

9. What color do you normally gravitate towards for shoes?

10. Coolest-looking plant?

11. The last movie you watched?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chapter 97: Whatever This Is

"I saw the cat again," Acheron says. His posture is tense, standoffish. Maybe he doesn't like this place, or isn't happy with the person he's speaking with.

The reading man glances at him, then pins his gaze back on the pages of his book. "I'm not Eris. I don't chase the cat."

Acheron sighs melodramatically. "And why not? You were conspirators in the past, clearly."

"You shouldn't have to ask," a woman cuts in, "why we don't look for the enemy."

The reading man flicks his wrist dismissively. "Chet. Shh."

"I don't trust this man. I never have," she growls, jabbing a finger in Acheron's direction.

He studies her for a moment. The way she has carefully arranged her hair over the vampire's mark on her neck. The tight clench of her fist. The curl of her lip above her fangs is a threat display, yet he feels no fear. It's an empty threat. Acheron smiles a thin, fake smile. "Shouldn't two precogs be working together, instead of... whatever this is?"

Chirp. The sensations of the dream fades away, replaced by darkness and new noises. Instead of the vampire's voice, Acheron hears the piercing feeeee-bee call of a chickadee outside his window. Feeee-bee. Fee-bee. Feeee-bee. "Why," he mutters to himself. He'll never be able to get back to sleep now. Not with that noise...

Acheron climbs out of bed, pulls on fresh clothes and slowly wanders into the hall, waiting for the fog to clear from his mind. What day is it? Where are the others? Is he a man dreaming he is a boy, or has he only ever been a boy dreaming he is a man?

When he was younger, the difference between nightmare and reality seemed concrete, once he woke up. As he ages, the sensations and emotions in the visions become less alien, and the lines are blurring.

Click. The doors open and close as Orazia goes through them.

The presence of other people makes it easier to adapt. The overwhelming instinct to conform snaps Acheron out of the mental paralysis. It's only when he feels alone and unwatched that his perception of reality becomes... so questionable.

Orazia pays him no mind until he follows her. "You don't have to be up so early," she says. "No school today."

"Why are you doing that?"

"Doing... what?"

"Cleaning. Instead of letting the adults do it."

"I just want to be useful I guess." Orazia picks up the pace, mopping the floor more aggressively. She's not good at hiding her insecurities.

Acheron shadows Orazia like the cliche lost puppy.

She's just happy there is one person she can beat at gnubb.

Ceth is startled to find some clunky high tech sitting in their kitchen. "A food replicator? Like Star Trek?"

Carlos nods. "Yeah, like they have in the really big cities. Technically it's called a food synthesizer. Heh. I can get access to all kinds of weird tech. You wouldn't believe what's just laying around in the observatory building."

Ceth narrows her eyes. "Did you steal it?"

"What?! No!" Carlos's thefts have never gone beyond what his wife requires to survive. He feels insulted anyone would think otherwise. "Food from this unit tastes awful. I'm seeing what I can do about that."

Skilling advanced technology is a job requirement for Carlos.

Another glorious day as a PI!

This dude thinks the fish are "just not biting like they used to", and has hired Lela to investigate.

Lela investigates!

She brings her niece along for company, so it's not a total waste of a whole afternoon.

Lela also figured she should bring someone who actually knows how to fish.

Being the older, more responsible child in the house can get old. "Acheron... stop following me. You need protective gear to be around these chemicals, and we only have one set of it."

"But I want to learn how," he says, after an uncomfortably long silence.

"How to do what?"

"Craft magic potions. I know that's what you're doing."

"You're... not supposed to know."

Acheron smiles nervously. "The lady you get letters from wants you to teach me when I'm older. I don't see why we can't start now."

Orazia glares at him. "How did you know that? Have you been reading my letters?"



"I just know things."

"Acheron..." her voice takes on a warning tone.

"Alright, I may have accidentally read your letters," he lies.

While the kids work that out between themselves, the narrator has a quick look around the house and-... WTF is happening in this fishtank?

Ceth has no gigs today, so spends most of her time drinking.

She rolls wish after wish, all relating to practicing the mixology skill...

Carlos shows Acheron a pretty neat gadget from work.

"Cool story, Uncle Carlos."

"Oh, and, I know you were mucking around with the potions without protective goggles on."

Acheron is startled, not at all used to being the one asking this question: "Wha'? How did you kno-"

"I'm a werewolf, I smell treachery."

"No you don-"

"Ceth won't let me punish you directly, so-"

"Please don't punish Orazia," Acheron whines.

"Oh, I'mma cookin' up somethin'," Carlos says dryly.

Parenting trick: promise mysterious punishments are incoming, even if none are planned, and watch the children squirm.

Satisfied that Acheron and Orazia will be nervous for several days, Carlos turns his attention to Dysen, who has been waiting patiently in his crib to be noticed. "Now you... you're uncharacteristically well-behaved today."

Ceth swoops in, as if on delayed queue. She hugs Acheron in greeting. "How is my precious son who can do no wrong? Your uncle had better not be being an asshole."

Carlos notices the side eye she gives him, but pretends to ignore it.

Ceth isn't ready to drop the subject. "I can't believe a man of science is discouraging my child's interest in science."

"I can't believe you're ignoring basic safety when it comes to your precious son who can do no wrong."

"Shut the hell up, Carlos."

Acheron groans and covers his ears.

Not content to shower only Acheron with attention, Ceth spends some time with the girls.

"So the fish really weren't biting like they used to!" Fairuza tries to regale her with tales of helping Lela crack a case. "Turns out this weirdo journalist in a shark costume was scaring them away. He was trying to write a story about shark sightings, but there weren't any real sharks so he-"

"I always suspected Lela wasn't actually employed," Ceth snickers.

"No, it really happened!" Fairuza protests.

"GOAL!" Ceth yells, more interested in the video game than in the story.

Fairuza chews on her lower lip for a moment. Then she changes the subject, "There's a boy in my class I think I have a crush on. Rishi Best-Sagar. He's the cutest guy in class... I think."

Ceth grins, though doesn't take her eyes off the game. "Awwww. You're at that awkward stage where you're starting to feel like you should be growing into a woman, and you know women usually end up boning men, so you're trying to figure out what kind of guy turns you on, but you have no idea what you're doing."

"Ew," Orazia cannot contain her revulsion.

Ceth continues, "Trust me, no guy in your class is hot. Not a single one. Every guy in your class is a little boy and you have no business being attracted to them. You just have to wait until you're older, so you can have a crush on a grown man."

Then all of a sudden!... Milo shows up and drags Ceth out of the room by her left ear. "What did I tell you about being juiced around the girls?"

Ceth flails her arms uselessly. "Ow! Shit, Milo, let go!"

"What did I tell you?"

"I was giving her sage advice about forgetting about boys and focusing on her schoolwork!"

Night falls, and again, Acheron's body rests peacefully while his conscious thoughts become someone else's.

Etc.: A chickadee (scientific name alarmus clockus*) is a tiny puffball bird in the Poecile genus. The seven-ish chickadee species are all North American. Members of the Poecile genus outside North America are called tits.

*citation needed

Within Poecile, the birds look pretty much the damn same, but can be distinguished by listening to their songs.

Poecile joins more than ten other genera (all full of tits) to comprise the "tit family", Paridae. This includes the titmice in Baeolophus.

The chickadee's fee-bee song is used by the male to defend territory and attract a mate. The calls are adorable when encountered on a stroll through the woods, but less adorable when the tree outside one's bedroom window becomes a male chickadee's territory. ... Every year. ... Forever.

Edit: I can't believe I was so caught up looking at pictures of birds, I forgot to thank Owly again for the ear-pulling pose. It's so cute, I can't even. (Though I wouldn't want my ear pulled. Ouch!)