Author Topic: The X Factor: A Decker Dynasty (please move to graveyard)  (Read 9570 times)


Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2013, 04:42:51 PM »
It Started with the Roomies…

The Roomies.  Five disparate young adults.  Five increasingly desperate young adults.



“Look, we all know what’s going to happen next.  Tomorrow morning, someone new moves into town.  Someone ‘special’.  Then the rest of us just… fade out.  It’s getting worse, too.  Some of us used to end up marrying and having kids.  Now we just grow old and die.”
“It’s the Attack of the Clones.”





“Tam, are you sure that’s just lemonade in her glass?  What on Simearth are you on about, Baby Blair?”



“Shut up, Cycl0n3.  Just because you have a silly name, there’s no need to mess about with other people’s.  I know I’m the youngest…”
“And you still have a teddy…”
“Cuddling Rosy helps me sleep.  Anyway, my dad – you know he’s a scientist?"
“Blair, everyone knows that.”
“Yeah, you keep going on about it.”
“We have met him, you know.”
“I did my work experience at the science lab.  Your dad’s great – he let me do all sorts of stuff.”



“Well, my dad was at a conference where scientists from all over Simland were talking about how everywhere’s getting taken over by clones.  When the real Sims like us die out, these nobodies move in.  Identical nobodies.  Clones.”
“Why are we dying out, anyway?  Apart from Claire Ursine and Justine Keaton, who are always pregnant at this point, no-one’s had a baby for I-don’t-know-how-many cycles.”
“My mum – you know she’s a scientist too, right?  My mum thinks it’s a disease.  Something about E and A – probably a vitamin deficiency or something.  I wasn’t really listening.”



“Those two seem to do all right, though.  Mr and Ms Desirable.  They still get married and have kids.”



“Yeah, why them and not us?”
“It’s the X factor.”



“What?!  Cyco, I always knew you had a tin ear but they’re awful.  They wouldn’t even get past the first round of Sunset Valley’s Got Talent, never mind The X Factor.”



“I wasn’t talking about TV shows.  I meant ‘x’, the unknown in an equation.  They’ve both got a certain something.  No idea what.”
“She can cook and paint, and he can kiss… er, or so I heard.”



“I can cook!  And I always wanted to paint!”



“And I’m sure I could…  I mean, I can kiss!”



“I can be ‘X’-y!”







“Yeah, Tam, we all know that.  Especially when the X in question is X. Clavell.  Come on, I want to play pool.”



Afterwards, they were inclined to blame Cycl0n3 (or to give him the credit, depending on your point of view).  After all, anyone who went by the name of Cycl0n3 Sw0rd was clearly no stranger to mad ideas and for some reason none of them seemed to remember the day all that clearly.

In fact, although he certainly took the original scheme and ran with it, the person who actually came up with the idea was probably the one they suspected least.



“What if we all worked on this together?  All five of us?  We’d need to do something to get noticed – those newcomers always seem to be assembling museums or collections.  We should probably start one.  And build our skills…”
“I’m not doing twenty-five ice sculptures, thank you very much!”
“No, but we can work with the skills we have – and the ones we’d like to have.  We ought to make a pretty good team… and maybe we could get some of the others to join in before it’s too late for them.”
“And p’raps we should talk to Blair’s parents… find out more about this disease, or whatever it is.”



“We could get them to spread the word – ask the other scientists and doctors for help and ideas.  And Cycl0n3 could research it online – if he’s not too busy trolling.”



“I don’t troll!  I make inappropriate posts.  There’s a difference.”
“My friend Ayesha from next door might help.  She’s clever.”
“And a criminal.”
“But she wouldn’t have to stay one…  Oh!  I just had an idea.  I know how to get noticed.  None of us like our jobs particularly, apart from Em…”
“Hey!  I like my job, too.  I want to be a spy, like Jemma Bond!”



“Yes, but you’ve only just joined the police.  International Superspy’s a long way off.  If you quit now and did something else for a while, it wouldn’t hurt.  You could work on your job skills in the meantime… in fact, you’d have to.  Come on, join us, Blair Bear."
“Will you please stop calling me names?!



“And join you in what exactly?”

*   *   *   *   *

“Now that that’s settled, anyone else want to come and try out that new bowling alley?”
“No thanks.  You know we have to be outside the house at eight.  I’m off to bed.”
“Well, I’m going.  Whatever happens, it’s our last night of freedom… until the next time around.  Might as well make the most of it.”

*   *   *   *   *

...And so the Roomies, some of them rather the worse for wear, found themselves standing in the front garden on a Sunday morning.  Again.




Next chapter



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Offline Trip

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2013, 04:48:43 PM »
I can't wait to see where this goes!
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Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2013, 06:18:08 PM »
Oh my word...that beginning was hilarious. I echo Trip in this--I can't wait to see what happens next!

Offline MarianT

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2013, 08:24:40 PM »
Looking forward to seeing how this goes. Good luck!
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Offline Rowan

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013, 05:50:46 PM »
This is fantastic! I love the concept!
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Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 04:34:50 PM »
Thanks, everyone.  I can't wait to see where it goes, either  ;).  I had this slightly deranged idea for a DecaDynasty collection and the Roomies seemed like the ideal household to assemble it.  It's only the second time I've played them.  The first was the time when I crossbred the whole of Sunset Valley (plus a few men from Riverview and Twinbrook to make up the numbers).  In that game, Cycl0n3 married Ayesha Ansari (their love is so logical), Blair married Connor Frio, Stiles married Emma and Tamara married Xander Clavell.  This time, most of them seem to have other ideas.

Funnily enough, I'd taken the screenshots at Mick's before, at the same time that I was doing the prologue for the Life States - and accidentally deleted them all, along with Ana's best Mummy's Curse death.  It's amazing how many almost identical shots appeared this time - including that one of Evil Emma.  I'd always thought she was such a nice Sim.  Obviously she has a hidden trait...



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Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2013, 05:21:44 PM »
The Best First Day Ever

“Rosy, I have so much to tell you!  What did you say?  I look different?  Of course I do.  I feel different.  I am different.  It’s been such a busy day.  And an odd one.



“I told you we had a plan, remember?  Well, there we were at eight, as usual.  Emma was supposed to be popping next door to talk to her friend and all the rest of us were going to change jobs and then go to the library.  Except that Cycl0n3 didn’t rush off with the others.  He just grinned and then grabbed me… and kissed me.



“Well, yes, I know.  I didn’t like it at all yesterday.  But this was different.  Yesterday he was showing off.  Today, it felt as though he meant it.  It was quieter.  Nicer.  So I kissed him right back.



“And then we started talking.  And flirting, I suppose.  He’s really sweet when he’s not being annoying.  Before I knew it, he was asking me to be his girlfriend.



“And d’you know what happened then, Rosy?  Oh, you do.  You’re such a clever bear.  Yes, I suppose the clothes are a bit of a giveaway.  Well, he knelt down, right there on the path, and proposed.  I thought he was sure to call me some sort of bear name.  Oh, sorry, Rosy.  No offence.  But he just knelt there and said, ‘Blair Wainwright.  Will you marry me?’  And then all sorts of stuff about adoring me forever and…  No, it’s too embarrassing.  It was nice, though.  I didn’t know he felt that way.  I thought he was too wrapped up in his computer games to notice anyone out in the real world… well, unless he wanted to wind them up, of course.  But he can be really romantic when he tries.  Cora the papergirl seemed quite surprised.





“I was so excited, Rosy!  I think I may have been a bit silly, skipping and jumping up and down and stuff...  Well, yes, you’re right, of course.  If a girl can’t get excited about a proposal…



“Then we kissed some more… and then, of course, he had to take a photo.  I hope he doesn’t post it on his blog.  One of those new mascots turned up and I could just see him thinking Blair Bear.  Must be one of Cy’s followers.



“I wonder what his real name is?  Unless his parents really are Mr and Mrs Sw0rd and they really did decide to call him that.  Wow, can you imagine telling the registrar that one?  And the vicar’s face.  ‘I name this child Cycl0n3!’  Would he just say Cyclone or spell it out with the three and the zero, d’you think?  Anyway, while all this was going on, Emma was next door and, within the hour, Ayesha had joined us.  There have never been six of us before.



“What?  No, sorry, Rosy.  You’ll have to wait for that bit.  The next thing was that I went into work and asked for a transfer.



“I wonder what Hank said when Ayesha followed me in?  The number of times he must have arrested her!  She did ask Cy to go with her for moral support.



“Then we went and joined the others in the library…





“…but I couldn’t settle.  Far too excited.  So I went home and phoned Mum.  Well, I had promised to tell her about our plan.  She said she’d help… said Judy Bunch always wanted more kids and Dr Wolff was desperate to start a family.  She thought the others would join in, too.  So that’s good.



“Then she said we ought to have an engagement party.  Well, I know, Rosy.  Parties are not my thing.  But she’s right.  It is a special occasion.  So I did it.  I threw a party.



“Mum proposed a toast.  She said all sorts of nice things about me.  How proud she was to have me as a daughter and… other stuff.  I can’t remember.  I was too busy blushing.



“Then she sprayed a bottle of fizzy nectar over me.  Do you remember what she said when I was little and I’d been watching that Formula Sims race with Dad?  Yes, the time when I pretended I was the winner and sprayed lemonade everywhere. She was furious!  And now she wastes a whole bottle of really expensive stuff!  Parents can be odd sometimes.



“Oh!  You know what else?  I saw Tamara looking at Xander Clavell.  Well, yes.  She is always looking at him.  I thought they were more than friends.  But they definitely are now.  She kissed him.



“And then he kissed her.  And then they kissed a lot more.  And then she asked him to go steady.  I think we might be having another party soon.



“I even saw Emma talking to that Connor Frio about music.  I didn’t know she liked heavy rock.



“Yes, it’s been a busy day, Rosy.  And a long one.  Would you mind if I left you on guard here?  I think some of them will be partying all night and I need my beauty sleep…



“...but it’s been the best first day ever.”

Next chapter



Having tried out a few different formats, this time I’m going to post the story and then comments/stats/random stuff below, separated by a line (breaks in the story will have asterisks), so that anyone who just wants to read the story, can.

I’d have liked this to have been my tenth attempt, so that it could be a Deca-DecaDynasty.  Sadly, it isn’t.  I’m starting to lose track but it’s something like the fourteenth.  There have been a few bugfests and a few where I simply got bored (including Jebidiah Wilson’s DoctorDynasty).  It’s actually the third attempt with the Roomies.  The first time, I got that bug where romantic interactions don’t work at all and the relationship keeps flipping back from ‘A thinks B is being flirty’ to ‘A thinks B is OK’, which didn’t seem like a good start to a game that relies on marriages.  The second time, there were worrying signs, like Ayesha running into the library wall at lunchtime on day 1:



I kept on regardless and generation one was close to arriving but the pregnancy was so bugged, I thought it would be better to stop right there.  The couple in question were Trying For Baby for 24 hours solid, apart from a few toilet breaks, meals and naps.  I’m not even sure when she got pregnant, because there were no chimes and no nausea.  Judging by the moment when she spun into maternity clothes, they must have been successful on about the twentieth try.  Maybe the townies really are becoming infertile.  All in all, it seemed better to reinstall the game and start afresh (with University Life, since I had some birthday money left).  And here we are.

Also (I said there’d be randomness), this cutie was dozing outside the Working Friends' house while Blair was making her phone call to Susan.



Oh, nearly forgot: the settings for this game are default seven-day seasons, rain and hail off but other weather on; no lunar cycle (I uninstalled Supernatural); all animals enabled – and Sunset Valley has quite a lot of buildings that it didn’t have the first time I played it :)

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2013, 05:58:08 PM »
Aw, Blair and Cycl0n3 do make an adorable couple. I loved Blair's narration in this chapter. Talking to her teddy bear was just so endearing!

Offline ArianaJade

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Re: The X Factor (updated 4 June)
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2013, 10:13:22 AM »
This is awesome. I love the concept of sims plotting against Story Progression, and Blair and her teddy is adorable.

Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2013, 12:12:16 PM »
Aw, Blair and Cycl0n3 do make an adorable couple.
They are rather sweet - although he'll probably ruin it at some point by being inappropriate.  At the moment, that trait's working in my favour.  They were a couple eight minutes into the game.

I loved Blair's narration in this chapter. Talking to her teddy bear was just so endearing!
Blair and her teddy is adorable.
Since she's childish, telling her teddy all about her day seemed like a fun idea to play with.  I wish they had more options for interacting in-game.  A cuddle would have been nice.

Cycl0n3 will obviously blog his point of view.  I have no idea yet what the others will do, if they get a first-person section.

This is awesome. I love the concept of sims plotting against Story Progression.

Thank you :)  They're only plotting because I am, of course.  I don't know how long I'll be able to keep inactive families going - they'll probably end up dying horribly - but I'm going to try.

Offline Rowan

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Re: The X Factor (updated 4 June)
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2013, 04:01:37 PM »
At first I thought this was just a miscellaneous story, but then I realised when I looked up that it's a Deca-Dynasty! So creative! I love it. It just fits right in. And I am enjoying the narrative style, I can't wait to see what you come up with for the others!
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By samoht04

Offline MarianT

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Re: The X Factor (updated 4 June)
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2013, 04:37:18 PM »
I'm so glad it's Blair and Cycl0n3! Good luck to the up-and-coming Sword!
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Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor (updated 4 June)
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2013, 02:40:54 PM »
At first I thought this was just a miscellaneous story, but then I realised when I looked up that it's a Deca-Dynasty! So creative! I love it. It just fits right in. And I am enjoying the narrative style, I can't wait to see what you come up with for the others!
Yes, it's a DecaDynasty.  Warped challenges turn out to be addictive :)

I'm very much playing this by ear.  With the previous (successful) DecaDynasty (we'll ignore the others for the sake of argument), I had absolutely everything planned out in advance.  Doing cooking instead of guitar for the gen 9 supermax was the only variation.  This time it's far more relaxed - and, I have to admit, more fun.

I'm so glad it's Blair and Cycl0n3! Good luck to the up-and-coming Sword!

Mmm... well... you have to remember that there's a ten-day window for bringing in the next heir in this dynasty.  Cycl0n3 and Blair were simply the quickest off the mark.  There may well be other contenders by the time the deadline rolls around.

Or not, of course  :-X.

Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2013, 04:56:19 PM »
Eye of the Storm

Stardate 1.2 18:24

Science, Medicine and Beaches

So: new life, new blog.



Little Ted’s mum works fast.  You know that saying about looking at your mother-in-law to see what your wife will turn into?  Just sayin’: seriously scared.

We all gathered at Witchy Woman’s not-exactly-private beach.  Apparently it’s not really theirs at all; it’s just that everyone assumes it is, what with their big, posh house looming over it and everything.  She said Choccy had been called out to a meeting, so we’d be undisturbed.

Seriously, too much conspiracy theory already?  Couldn’t we just have met somewhere comfortable?  What’s with all the secrecy?

I saw Little Ted talking to her dad; after reassurance, probably.  She doesn’t like crowds.



I chatted to Future Mother-in-Law about science and matters arising.



I was proud of LT, though.  I know how hard it must’ve been but she called everyone over, outlined the problem and started the discussion.

They were all there: all of the Sunset Valley doctors and scientists.  Well, almost.  It seems that the Bionic Woman was ‘on duty at the hospital’.  Yeah, right.  Obviously none of them spend much time online.  You know and I know the rumours about dear Choccy and the Bionic Woman – not to mention his fondness for blue-skinned redheads.  Still, this probably wasn’t the moment to imply that Witchy's adored husband was a cheating son-of-a-llama.  I bit my tongue and stayed quiet.  Amazingly.



I think it’s fair to say there were lots of ideas.  Not all of them sane but hey…



Dr Countrysnatcher was keen to pursue the vitamin angle.  Witchy Woman thought we should go for a real cure, not just patching up the problem.  Fair enough.



Eventually, almost everyone seemed to agree that potions were the way forward, with a small splinter group holding out for the new science skill.  Either way, they gave us loads of useful stuff to read.



So Little Ted and I headed home and bought some new equipment.  Turkish Delight was keen to help.  We should probably have invited her along to the meeting, in fact.  It’s just that neither of us had really got used to her being part of the household yet.




*   *   *   *   *

Stardate 1.4 20:05

Girly Stuff

Today, Little Ted and Turkish Delight had a girly day out.  This is weird.  TD is about as girly as I am.  Tamtam was supposed to be going with LT but she caught that horrible cold that’s going round and decided to stay in and watch TV instead.  Sounds reasonable enough to me…

So LT and TD hit the spa and salon together.  The next thing I knew, a giggly Ted was inviting me and Gates out to that new place on the beach.

I vaguely noticed TD in the hot tub on my way in but didn’t pay too much attention, to be honest.

If I didn’t know Little Ted was teetotal, I’d have my suspicions.  There she was at the bar, laughing like a loon.  It seems she’d suckered TD by talking her into innocuous new formals.  I mean, fair enough – that T-shirt-and-denim-skirt thing she had going on was awful.  What?!  Just because I’m a gamehead, it doesn’t mean I don’t notice stuff.  Then Cuddly Bear went in for the kill.  TD's new uber-formal outfit is to die for.  Or so I’m told.  Oh, and Little Ted’s picked out a wedding dress and new hairstyle for herself.  Which is the most important thing.  Obviously.

Enough of this fashion nonsense!  I went in and LT plied me with juice.  I vaguely noticed that Gates had wandered off somewhere.  Then my lovely fiancée dragged me upstairs to share romantic massages.



All I can say is, if this is what it involves, count me in for the next girly day.  I could get used to this.

I couldn’t help noticing as we set off for home that Gates and TD were together in the hot tub.  And apparently getting on very well.






*   *   *   *   *

Stardate 1.5 19:43

Sunny, with a Chance of Weddings

I knew Teddy wasn’t keen on parties.  In fact, the longer we were engaged, the more I could see it bothering her.  Her mum kept throwing parties on the slightest excuse.  Even when we said we didn’t want to go, she seemed upset when we didn’t turn up.  Who knew Su was such a party animal?

Eventually, I’d had enough.  I sent LT a text.

What about it?  You, me, that fancy new dress, down by the beach.  You know where.  Massages optional.



She looked so sweet standing there in her wedding dress.  I don’t think she saw me sneak in.



I thought for a minute she was going to say no.  LT rarely looks so solemn.



Then she smiled and it was all OK.  More than OK.



I just knew she was expecting a 'bear' comment.  What?  At a time like this?  Come on.  No way!  I wanted to call her my Honey Bear (because she totally is) but I didn’t.  I just went all sensible and solemn and did the ring thing.



And so did she.



I happened to look up during the exchanging of rings and saw him.  The Man of Steel.  Watching us.  A bit spooky.  He seems to have come over all emo recently.  Probably the strain of not being the centre of attention.

Bless.



Teddy would probably find it upsetting, of course.  So I distracted her as best I could.




*   *   *   *   *

Stardate 1.6 07:58

Mind Your Own Business

Just a quick update.  I’m far too busy for blogging :D.

So, we got home and the distractions continued.  Ahem.



And then she looked at me with those big innocent eyes of hers and asked, “What are you doing, Dave?”

I bet she’s been saving that one up ever since I told her my real name.

(Of course, it’s a misquote, strictly speaking, but we’ll let that pass.)

And the rest is private...



Next chapter



In case the screenshots didn't make Cycl0n3's names for everyone clear:
  • Lttle Ted/LT/Teddy = Blair
  • Gates = Stiles
  • Tamtam = Tamara
  • Jane Eyre (who didn't appear this time) = Emma
  • Turkish Delight = Ayesha
  • Witchy Woman = Morgana Wolff
  • Choccy = Thornton Wolff
  • Bionic Woman = Jamie Jolina
  • Dr Countrysnatcher = Geoffrey Landgraab

Offline Rowan

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2013, 05:27:34 PM »
So cute! Cycl0n3 is hard to understand, though. His nicknames for everyone were clever but a bit confusing. And Chris--bless. Hahaha Nice.
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Offline MarianT

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2013, 06:23:19 PM »
I think Blair looked absolutely adorable in her wedding outfit. And who knew that the Cyclone's real name was Dave?
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Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2013, 03:41:15 AM »
So cute! Cycl0n3 is hard to understand, though. His nicknames for everyone were clever but a bit confusing. And Chris--bless. Hahaha Nice.
I didn't think he'd use their real names online.  In fact, he'd probably use leet - but I that would get too confusing and it's bad enough remembering to type Cycl0n3 instead of Cyclone.  I have to keep going back and correcting it  ::).  I hoped the pictures had made it clear who he was talking about but I've edited the post to put in translations at the end and changed Tamara's nickname to the more obvious Tamtam.  Tamara --> Tammy --> Sindy is just too obscure.

I have no idea where Chris got his new hairstyle but it was too good not to share.  Especially with that expression :)

I think Blair looked absolutely adorable in her wedding outfit. And who knew that the Cyclone's real name was Dave?
Thank you.  I liked it too.  Most of the wedding dresses and hairstyles looked too grown-up for Blair but I thought that combination worked.

Well, he has to have a real name and there's always a David somewhere in my large Sim families.  It also means I can get out of typing Cycl0n3 some of the time  :).

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2013, 05:22:28 AM »
I didn't think he'd use their real names online.  In fact, he'd probably use leet - but I that would get too confusing and it's bad enough remembering to type Cycl0n3 instead of Cyclone.  I have to keep going back and correcting it  ::).  I hoped the pictures had made it clear who he was talking about but I've edited the post to put in translations at the end and changed Tamara's nickname to the more obvious Tamtam.  Tamara --> Tammy --> Sindy is just too obscure.


Ohh, okay, it makes sense now. But yeah, Tamtam is easier to follow.
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Offline LemonBonBons

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #19 on: June 08, 2013, 08:52:10 AM »
So cute! Blair's wedding dress is adorable :3
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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2013, 09:42:20 AM »
I like Cycl0n3's nicknames for people, I think Chris sometimes gets that hair when he joins the political career. :)

Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor (updated 7 June)
« Reply #21 on: June 24, 2013, 04:20:38 AM »
So cute! Blair's wedding dress is adorable :3

I like Cycl0n3's nicknames for people, I think Chris sometimes gets that hair when he joins the political career. :)

Thanks, both of you.

Politics?  Really? I thought it might be a career outfit but that's not a style I'd immediately associate with politicians :).  I'll have to keep an eye out for Chris around town and see if I can find out what he's doing.

Edit: He's a criminal!

Offline hazelnut

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Re: The X Factor
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2013, 04:54:12 PM »
Dear Edie



Monday, Week 1

Dear Electronic Diary,

I’ve always used paper diaries before but hey, why not try something new?  Wouldn’t want Cyco calling me a technophobe again, ’cos I’m not.  I just hope he doesn’t hack his way into this.

Yesterday was hectic.  First days can often be busy – all that hanging around in the park or the library, hoping to meet the new people and maybe make it into their circle of friends.  Somehow, I never seem to manage that.

Cyco and Blair made their move early.  Engaged on Day 1?  They’re really trying to outdo the Desirables.  Tamara clearly has her eye on Xander Clavell, to no-one’s surprise.  She was all over him at the party last night.  I have vague memories of marrying the other two in previous lives but I don’t think I’ve ever ended up with Tam.  I’d been wondering about asking her out – the attraction of opposites and all that – but clearly it was already too late.



Maybe it’s for the best.  She’d probably want to party like that every night.  Oh well.  Back to the library again, I suppose – after I’ve cleaned up the mess from last night.

*   *   *   *   *

Wednesday, Week 1

Dear E-Diary,

I think I may have a girlfriend.

I hadn’t really taken much notice of Ayesha, our newest housemate.  She’s mostly been keeping herself to herself since she joined us.  She chats in the kitchen with Emma and sometimes plays chess with Blair or Cyco but I’d barely spoken to her.  Rumour said she wasn’t interested in men anyway.  Turns out rumour was wrong.

Ayesha and Blair had gone out somewhere for the day.  Tamara was in bed with flu and Emma was at work.  Cyco was fixing the plumbing, as usual, and I was following him around with a mop, also as usual.  Whoever built these houses did a rubbish job.  We seem to get blocked toilets and burst pipes most days.  I hear that next-door is just as bad.  We’d just about got the place sorted out when Cyco’s phone rang.  It was Blair.  The girls were at that new beach spa and wanted us to join them.  Well, obviously Cyco wanted to rush straight over – after all, he and Blair had been apart for several hours and he was missing her already.  I’m not sure whether that’s sweet or sickening.  I wasn’t so keen but I’d not visited the place before and it might be fun.  Better than slogging through another logic book, anyway.  Besides, if I didn’t go, poor Ayesha would be stuck playing gooseberry.

As soon as we arrived, Blair dragged Cyco off somewhere.  I looked round for Ayesha and saw her relaxing in the hot tub.  She looked up and called me over to join her, which didn’t seem like a bad idea, actually – and somehow, before I knew it, we were cuddling.



So I think I have a girlfriend.  Still not really sure though.

I wish I was confident like Tamara.  When I got home, she and Xander were dancing together in the kitchen.  I bet she doesn’t worry about their relationship.



*   *   *   *   *

Thursday, Week 1

Dear E-D,

I woke up this morning not sure whether yesterday at the beach really happened.  Ayesha smiled at me over breakfast but didn’t say anything much, perhaps because the others were around.  Or was that it?  Maybe we weren’t dating after all.  Perhaps we were just friends.  I decided that the safest thing to do was to invite her out in a not-quite-asking-out kind of way – so I suggested trying out the coffee shop.  None of us have had a chance to visit it yet.

It was a bit awkward to start with.  Maybe she wasn’t sure about us either.  We just sat there reading and not saying much.



Then she put down her book and suggested getting drinks.  She had some kind of herbal tea and I had something with cinnamon in.  Not sure what it was.  I didn’t really like it that much but it seemed to be relaxing.  Or it gave me courage.  Or something.  Suddenly, kissing Ayesha seemed like the only sensible thing to do.



Maybe I should drink more of that stuff.

As I was about to kiss her again, I noticed two of the local kids chatting and I realised something.  This scheme of ours isn’t just about our own survival.  It’s for them, too.  If the genius types manage to work out what the problem is, we can help them to have a future.  Maybe even a future together.  Who knows?



Then I got back to the serious business of kissing my new girlfriend.

*   *   *   *   *

Friday, Week 1

Dear Edie,

I wrote yesterday’s entry early and so missed out not one but two major pieces of news.  The big story is that Cyco and Blair got married!  They decided to foil Susan’s plans, miss out on all the fuss and just have a private wedding at the beach.  Sounds sensible to me.

So we all gathered round to congratulate the foolishly grinning groom and the blushing Mrs Sw0rd.  Except she said she wasn’t.  What?  Had I misheard?  Weren't they married after all?  The others looked equally puzzled.  Then Ayesha worked it out.  Of course!  The Wainwrights are a respected Sunset Valley family and what’s good enough for the Landgraabs is clearly good enough for them.  Cyco must have taken Blair’s name instead.  But apparently that wasn’t it either.  I got the distinct impression that they were both enjoying confusing us.  We guessed some more.  Had they combined their names?  Sw0rdwright, perhaps?  They finally relented and told us.  It’s simply that Blair’s taken his real surname.  He’s still going by Sw0rd – says his real name’s too boring.  Judging by the determined gleam in his new wife’s eye, that won’t last forever.

Then, after the lovebirds had disappeared upstairs and the rest of us were tactfully watching the TV with the sound turned well up, Tam announced that she’d proposed to Xander.



I’d thought it was just a fling – neither of them seems like the serious type.  But I suppose our project has made her think more about settling down and she says he’s changed, too.  He’s even been to university.  That was quick.  I thought he’d spent most of the time since Sunday round at our place.

So now we have another wedding in prospect.



I think it’s time to ask Ayesha out for a proper date – a film and then a romantic meal at the bistro, maybe.

*   *   *   *   *

Update

The date went according to plan – until the end.  Reasonably good film.  Great meal.  Then I turned to her outside the restaurant and asked her to go steady.  And she agreed, although she looked a bit confused.  I have a feeling she thought we were a couple already.  Then I gathered her up for a passionate kiss and we bumped noses.  And then she stuck her finger in my eye.  These things never happen in films.



Then she got really flustered.  I thought she was going to cry.  I was already crying, of course, but that was just the poke in the eye.  Well, mostly.

Partly.

I suddenly realised that I didn't like seeing her unhappy, even over something so trivial.  It would break my heart if I really upset her.  So I kissed her again, carefully.  And then I forgot about my sore eye and kissed her properly.



I’d been meaning to take things slowly but now I couldn’t wait any longer.  I knelt there, in front of all the other diners, and took the box out of my pocket.



Weddings all round, then.  Apart from Emma.  In fact, I’m a bit worried abut Emma.  I must ask the others whether they think she’s behaving oddly, too.



*   *   *   *   *

Saturday, Week 1

Dear Edie,

Today was my birthday.



All at once, it seems that middle age isn’t so much creeping up on me as rushing up and pouncing.  I wonder whether Ayesha fancies a quick wedding à la Cyco’n’Blair.  I’d like to see our kids grow up.  Or is it too soon to mention kids?  Maybe I should just stick to wedding plans for now.

Anyhow, back to Emma and her odd behaviour.  It’s not just me.  All of the others have noticed.  She had the sniffles the other day and we thought she’d caught Tamara’s bug but then she got over it.  She said her Simmunity had kicked in.  But then yesterday she slept really late – she only just made it to the diner in time to start her shift – and she looked awful.  Sort of haunted, as if she’d had a really bad nightmare and hadn’t really woken up from it yet.  She seemed quiet and withdrawn when she got back last night but she insisted she was OK and didn’t want to talk about it.  She seems more like herself today – except that she’s doing un-Emma-like things.  She came home from work singed – an accident in the kitchen, apparently – but instead of having a shower and then relaxing in front of the TV, we found her working out.  I’m sure Ayesha would say it’s a good way to relieve stress and it probably would be for Ayesha, but for Emma?  She’s built more for comfort than speed, as my mum used to say.  What’s with the exercising?



And Blair saw her writing a love letter (to Connor Frio, we think).  Also not Em’s usual style.  Blair said she was so surprised she nearly choked.



Emma's cooking’s changed as well.  She's always been a good cook, of course, but her style's changed suddenly.  The food’s not necessarily better, just different.  We think she’s adding more herbs and spices.  Or maybe just different ones.





The aftertaste can be quite surprising…



…but we all agree we feel better after eating it.  More alive somehow.  Whatever she’s doing seems to be good.  I just wish we knew what’s caused the change.

Next chapter

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: The X Factor (updated 24 June)
« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2013, 05:17:46 PM »
I find myself really liking Stiles's voice. He has an interesting point of view on things. It's super-cute what is going on between him and Ayesha! Hmm, I wonder who Emma is writing to...? I suppose we must wait for that revelation to come to light. ;)

Fantastic chapter!

Offline Rowan

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Re: The X Factor (updated 24 June)
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2013, 12:03:41 AM »
I really like Stiles too. He sounds sweet. So many marriages! There won't be room to hold them all!
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