Thursday, December 7, 2017

Chapter 110: Dead Drop

Fairuza still gets up, gets dressed and goes to school like everything in her life is normal, but inside she is afraid. She helped rob a place. She is a criminal. Her conscience doesn't care about Annabel Gooder, no matter how hard she soul searches in an attempt to feel guilt... but it does care about her own family, and how destroyed they will be if her crime ever comes to light.

Dysen can sense Fairuza's distress, but she won't tell him what's up, and slaps him away when he tries to playfully mind meld with her.

"You're being such an Acheron," he complains.

Fairuza doesn't answer him. Acheron being an evasive weirdo is just the status quo, it's normal and nothing to be concerned about. What's going on with her is not normal, it's not OK, and hiding it from her relatives is going to be harder than she thought.

Lauren tells Fairuza about how the syndicate is going about rehoming the valuables they stole. Their cut of the take won't be available for a while, and that's fine... neither girl has a pressing need for money, and if they did, Lauren assures her, Rook would see they are taken care of.

"I'm going on a different job this weekend," Lauren confides. "My Mom has an out of town game against the Paradiso Pteradons. I'm going with her, hitting the museum, and I'll be out of town again before anybody even notices anything is stolen."

"A museum?!" Fairuza whines. "That's not exactly like stealing from Annabel Gooder."

"Yeah, it'll be easier. We already have a contact who will remotely take care of security for us. I just go in and get the thing while he is conveniently elsewhere with an alibi."

"That sounds weird..." Fairuza can't wrap her head around this plan, but whatever. "What's the thing? Grabbing a bunch priceless relics that literally belong in a museum?" She narrows her eyes judgmentally.

"A bowl. Some family heirloom of Rook's." Lauren shrugs. "We have a smashed replica I'm going to plant in its place, make it look like an accident. So if they buy that great, it won't even appear stolen."

"You'd think Rook could get it himself."

"Best not to ask. I'm supposed to leave it at a dead drop. So it can be like, spiritually cleansed by a voodoo priestess or something?" Lauren's boss needs a mage to remove an anti-vampire hex from the artifact before it can be handled, but since Lauren is under the illusion he is not a vampire, all talk of magic is changed to sound like superstitious garbage. "Anyway, want to come with? I have permission to bring you along, and your Dad will also be at that game." Lauren's mother, Courtney Foster, plays for the Gnomes, just like Fairuza's father.

Fairuza balks. "Why would I go with you? Seems like you have this all figured out."

"Um, to see Isla Paradiso, of course? It's so much prettier than here."

Isla Paradiso is wonderful, tropical and warm, filled with beautiful architecture and the smells of sweet citrus. Milo and Fairuza have lunch at a restaurant before his game.

"Thinking of following me into the sports career?" Milo asks.

"Maybe, Dad." She feels sick. Professional sports isn't the life she wants, but neither is a life constantly worried about getting thrown in jail. She'll go with Lauren tonight, she thinks, just out of curiosity, but she won't let Lauren pressure her into anything else...

The restaurant's staff are all robots.

Fairuza promised to take pictures for her boyfriend back home.

She brings home a souvenir to brighten up her room: a big picture of a sunset over the bay and Isla Paradiso's weird giant statue thing.

Rock listens happily to her account of exotic locations with bright blue waters. She leaves out the museum heist.

"Are you going to follow your Dad into sports?" he asks.

"Who knows?" Fairuza sighs. "Maybe I'll be an acrobat like my grandmother."

"There are plenty of acrobats around Starlight Shores who could mentor you." Rock nods agreeably. "My parents hate the entertainment scene, but I don't mind it. I don't think its necessarily at odds with the health of the environment. I'm probably following my Dad into politics."

Only in the mind of Rock Woods would that last sentence belong with the others. Brandon Woods devoted his life to environmentalist causes, preventing more giant show venues from being built on the outskirts of town. Local support keeps him in office, but many of his fellow politicians are secretly hoping he retires soon, so they can more easily take money under the table from corporations and allow secret bidding for who gets the land.

Fairuza sinks further back into her seat on the couch, just wanting to disappear.

Carlos... surely there's a better place to read. C'mon.

Why am I doing this? Fairuza has just pick-pocketed one of Ceth's friends.

Technically she knows why... she was told to work on her stealth skills... but she doesn't know why she let herself be talked into it.

Acheron knows. He quietly prepares to change the future. Fairuza's future.

Everyone's future.

"You don't have your ancestors' powers, but you still experience a thrill from the hunt," the creepy vampire makes a lot of sense to Fairuza, and for a moment her concerns vanish. He always seems to know exactly what to say.

Lela... surely there's a better place to read. C'mon.

Despite the intermittent rain today, Dysen and Molly spend their date night strolling along the beach.

A light drizzle becomes more heavy rain. "This is what we get for our hubris," Molly whines.

Dysen suggests they should get out of their soaking wet clothes...

...and skinny dip in the ocean.

Because... that makes sense...?

Soon enough the rain stops. The teens put their clothes back on and watch the stars while waiting for them to dry out.

Neither of them is particularly worried about curfew.

"Oh, how nice of you to join us," Carlos greets his son with a rather combative tone.

Dysen had hoped to sneak in quietly without anyone noticing his curfew-breaking ways, but finding his father waiting for him changed the game plan. "I'm so sorry, Dad," he lies, pulling his most convincing ashamed face, "I didn't notice the time until-"

"I wasn't born yesterday, Dysen," Carlos interrupts him. "If I can't trust you to follow simple curfew laws, how can I trust you with your other abilities?"

"That's not very fair," Dysen says slowly, keeping his tone as soft and repentant as possible, "Curfew laws are pointless. The other stuff isn't."

"You're lucky you weren't picked up by the police," Carlos snaps.

"I'm sneaky."

"One more incident like this, and you're grounded."

Dysen sulks his way into the kitchen, pretty hungry since he missed dinner. The reheated leftover falafel still tastes good at least. "Hey Acheron. You're up late."

"Can't sleep," Acheron grunts, turning a page of his book.

"My Dad is being such a hardass," Dysen grumbles, thinking about how unfair it is Molly's mother works too late to notice curfew violations and her father doesn't care. "I told him I lost track of time, but he acted like I deliberately stayed out past curfew."

"Did you?"

"Well, yeah."

Acheron smirks. "Don't worry... you get better at lying."

Dysen frowns.

Bedtime. Acheron would rather keep reading.

"Hey, I thought humans had terrible night vision," Dysen yawns.

"Magic. I made the words glow."

"Maybe you can use magic to not toss around and whine so much in your sleep," Dysen suggests.

"Maybe you can die in a fire," Acheron responds, not lifting his tired eyes from the page.

"That escalated quickly?"

"Yeah. I don't like that episode either."

"Sooo... is that what the nightmares are about? Fire?"

"Down this path lies madness so I ask you not to venture," Acheron answers.

"The hell, man..."


  1. Yes Acheron! Help Fairuza! I'm rooting for him so hard right now.

    Oh Dysen... parents sometimes seem all-knowing, don't they?

    1. Hehe, I'll have to find room for more Carlos parenting moments. Dysen is quite the handful.

  2. I love how calm Carols is in the face of everything adulty. He's so calm and collected, it's hard to remember that he's a werewolf (unless he needs to upgrade something).

    Acheron- helping people that are not himself and he has no interest in boning? ((impressedvoice))

    1. Carlos has a lot of self-control. His survival kinda depends on it!

      Acheron loves his family.

  3. "You're being such an Acheron"<--This needs to be a widely accepted insult.

    Poor Fairuza. But at least she got to see Isla Paradiso!

    Oh, teen/sim logic--"it's wet, so let's skinny dip!"

    Dysen gets better at lying??? Acheron, that's not fair! You need to share with all of us!

    1. I know I wouldn't want to be an Acheron. (Though it is a pretty wicked name.)

  4. The pictures in this chapter were particularly pretty! Molly and Dysen's moonlit date <3 I loved the ones with Acheron looking at the camera in the end too!

    The way you write the effects of the vampire's mind control is so neat. I'm actually surprised that Acheron is working on fixing Fairuza's problem. I always thought his dreams center around his own perspective, so that's why he doesn't know how to prevent certain things from happening. But I guess he can see the point where things affect him and then reverse engineer what happens before that?

    And don't tell me there's a future with Dysen dying in a fire! Not cool ;-;

    1. Thank you!

      "I always thought his dreams center around his own perspective"

      So far it seems he is always present in the visions. :)

      "I guess he can see the point where things affect him and then reverse engineer what happens before that?"

      Bingo! It'll get more explicitly spelled out later.

      "And don't tell me there's a future with Dysen dying in a fire!"

      Okay I won't tell you! xD

  5. Fairuza seems so helpless to change her situation at this point. I hope Acheron can help.

    Ha, Dysen got caught! Is the mention of him being better at lying in the future a hint at his career? Because a social career made me first think of politics, and lying is something politicians do a lot ...

    I think Acheron sees us in that last pic. xD

    1. Yes, it is a hint to Dysen's future career. :D