Author Topic: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty ("Complete")  (Read 84786 times)

Online Shewolf13

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 64, 7/7)
« Reply #300 on: July 08, 2014, 02:14:02 AM »
Wow!  Oh my... Daddy's there... Me thinks this might not bode well XD

Offline AkonIsAwesome

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 64, 7/7)
« Reply #301 on: July 08, 2014, 03:55:36 PM »
This is going to be another cliffhanger, isn't it? ;D Ah, I just can't wait to find out what will happen to the Waverlys next, in any part of their story.

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Offline Hallucination

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 64, 7/7)
« Reply #302 on: July 08, 2014, 04:17:47 PM »
Ooo, Olive is gorgeous. I am intrigued.
I'm not pedantic! I just believe in precision of language.

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Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 65, 7/10)
« Reply #303 on: July 10, 2014, 11:53:48 PM »
Wow!  Oh my... Daddy's there... Me thinks this might not bode well XD

Nothing bodes well when he's there! Not even for me; that guy is a menace.

This is going to be another cliffhanger, isn't it? ;D Ah, I just can't wait to find out what will happen to the Waverlys next, in any part of their story.

Nah, I think it's obvious what happens next. At least with her dad. We've met him, and I hope I conveyed well in earlier chapters that he misbehaves.

Ooo, Olive is gorgeous. I am intrigued.

She was quite the stunner, thanks to those obvious Rotter genes. You'll see more of her in a few generations. Or sometime else. I'm still trying to figure that out. :P



Chapter 65: Philip Makes Three





He orders his coffee with a bit of cream and amaretto-flavored syrup, just as he did back in Twinbrook. He will likely cry about how he took a later train and missed a party, when he could have arrived a day earlier and made a fool of himself even earlier.

“Jellybean, why the grumpy face?” he asks, “I know we’ve had our rough patches, but I thought we patched those over.”

“We didn’t. You’re still kind of scum.”

“Is this about Katherine?”

“It’s about a lot of things.”

“One breakfast blend with cream and amaretto for…Phil?” the barista asks, pushing a full paper cup closer to dad. Steam escapes from the lid.

He holds it up to his mouth, gingerly taking the first sip. Dark grey clouds gather as he settles in to the city. “Dang, worth it for the coffee alone! I better get a taste of the parties too, and everything tastes better illegal, right, Jo? Are we still calling each other twins, or did you write a different story?”



“I honestly can’t give a crap anymore, Phil.” I put my elbows on the tables and lean over, ready to vomit my morning latte on the counter, if I need to.

“No formal titles, gotcha,” he says.

“It’s for his troubles,” I tell the barista, waving a one-simoleon bill in front of her, “I apologize. Don’t say a word about him to anyone else.”

“Uh, okay? Thanks for the tip.”

I get out of my seat, and the coffee hasn’t absorbed all of my dad’s attention.

“Jo, can’t you stay and split a danish with me? I haven’t eaten all day and the train food makes Lily’s old cooking taste good,” he says, when I’m three steps down the stairs. “Can’t we just hash some things out?” When I’m one floor below him and pushing open the glass door. Agnes has already headed home, but the last thing I need is dad following my lover and I back to the flat.

There has to be a sanctuary among these skyscrapers. Urban parks, the cemetery, a pond, of course! It’s over the bridge and a few blocks down. Walking distance.

How did I walk in heels so well back in Twinbrook? My pumps were glued to my feet, whether I got married or shopped for groceries. But now, less than a mile and my ankles nearly give in after crossing the bridge.

I digress. Dad, Phil, whatever I’m supposed to call him now will find a morning after-party or an attractive date of either gender long before h finds a pond.

The ground is wet with rainwater and lingering morning dew, and some of it dampens the inside of my open-toe shoes. Storm clouds shield me from the sun. The occasional car hums by, and a local species of frog awaken whatever is underneath the water with its shrill call, but all is quiet. Dad is missing. All is quiet. Praise the lord.

After five minutes in my thoughts, the outside of me is dripping with rainwater. My hair curls in the light rain, and the rapid patter of cowboy boots approaches. They squish and splash in the trimmed, soaked grass and in every puddle, which, for dad, will drive him absolutely crazy tonight when he discovers the mud stains.



“Phil,” I groan.

“Look, I want nothing more than to be with my wonderful daughter,” he says, “I can say that. We’re alone. My boss won’t think I’m going soft or anything.”



“That’s not what happened.” I get up to face him, crossing my arms.

“Fine, I angered a hornet back in the Valley.”

“Literally, or?”

“In the figurative sense. You see, I met that Alto guy who lives on the hill, and it was unemotional physical attraction at first sight.”

“Oh, god,” I say, groaning again, feeling parts of my mocha latte bubble up for the second or third time today. “Please tell me that you left it at admiration.”



“Nope! I did what I’m best at. And the woohoo it resulted in rocked.”



“Why do I even bother?” I ask, holding my head in frustration.

“And okay, I maybe sent someone on your tail. No regrets on the woohoo bit, but maybe I should warn you about the other thing.”



“No, no, no, let me get this straight, Philip. You did nasty things with some fat, middle-aged VP, he sent one of his cronies at your daughter, right into a city where they likely have some rivals, and we might be dead by the end of the week for all we know. You say that’s worth it?!”

“Well, yeah. Nick Alto makes for a good fling.”

“We took care of the crony. She’s toast. But this is serious. I might have put someone in grave danger.” If they get word of Moira’s work with Ms. Candy, that is. And yet, I would be okay with seeing her harmed. She said to kill her if she sided with an arranged marriage, and little does Moira know, she did. “Okay, okay, why did you follow me?”

“I need you in my life, jellybean,” he says.

“Doesn’t mum have a tour stop in Sunset Valley?” I ask. “I think she’d be happier to see you than I am.”

“Mum is the problem.”

“You’re not saying-“

“I’m part of your club now. Still part of the ‘Gay and Bi Immortals United’ club too, but you gotta welcome me into the other one.”

“Not the Divorce Club.” He then flashes two bare ring fingers at my face.

“Surprise, Jojo,” he says, weakly, “It wasn’t an impulse decision either. We had a long talk, and a lot of fighting and one hospital visit for me, but we decided that it’s best to go our separate ways. And you’re an adult anyways. We’re not heading into a custody battle.”

“You’re tiny. Why don’t I just stuff you into a box and send you back where you belong?” I grumble.

“Please, deliveries to Hell are tough and not worth the shipping costs,” he says, rolling his eyes, “And it’s not like you, you can be so morally opposed to divorce, now can you?”

“Fine, you win.”

Two minutes pass, and dad is stuck in a weak, warm smile. Perhaps we’ll survive the night at this rate, as long as someone doesn’t get to us first.



“So,” he says, “What did you find?”

“Annette herself, that’s what. She beat up that Alto for me. I’ll say my farewells, I guess,” I reply, “Well, it’s Annette’s doppelganger. Can’t decide who I hate more. But this double is a young widow, a single mum, she has a lawyer for a sister, and if I’m guessing this right, a mum named Tegan. She even said where she lives right now.”

“Was her Tegan widowed early too?” dad asks, with a chuckle, “We gotta see how well the Tegans’ stories match up.”

“Rude thing to say about Gram.”

“Well, hey, it’s all better for her now. Let’s laugh about it now that we can.”

I yawn in his face, albeit out of instinct. I really have been up all night, haven’t I? I could fall asleep here, and I can, as it’s just rain, and any mud-stains are just another job for Arthur. Speaking of Arthur, shouldn’t I take dad to him for a new wardrobe? That shaggy green monster needs it, lest he embarrass me. It can happen, right?

But that can wait. I rest on the damp grass, face-up, faking sleep that never comes. All that does come is the rush of pre-sleep thoughts, of the main piano melody of “Pyramid Song” by Radiohead playing on repeat and a budding solution to global poverty. I stay in that haze for a few hours, until Roaring Heights starts to darken even more as the day wears on.



I hanged my head down, defeated. "But why an arranged marriage? I don't even want one without you guys in the mix."

”Yeah, arranged marriages suck, but we have to do what we have to do,” Annette says, “You’re marrying Simon whether you like it or not. Because, get what? That’s all the sweet kid wants from you.”


“Oh, you didn’t,” I mumble, rubbing my eyes.

“What?” dad asks. He kept vigil over me the entire time, playing FoldIt on mobile and fidgeting with simulated proteins until his battery ran out, “I behaved.”

“Surprisingly. Ugh, she told me where she lives, this morning. Right above the dry cleaners’. We’re going there.”

“Wait, is this about Annette? That kind-of Annette you described? Really, what?”

“Exactly about her.”



I remember where the stairs are. I run past Arthur as he scrubs down the counter, stopping right before one of the rooms of clothes. “Moira lives upstairs, doesn’t she?” I ask him.

“Yeah. Did she invite you? I know she’s been lonely. Well, maybe she told you that already.” He wags his wet sponge around for effect. “She’s at the end of the hall.”

“Sure, sure.”

I’m halfway up the stairs when I vaguely hear Arthur say, “Aha! You look like a male Jo. Nice.

Fine, dad, you’re divorced now. I don’t care what Arthur thinks of you.



There must be a buzzer system and Arthur must have his finger on it, because the door opens with the effort needed to turn a knob, even though the entire place looks deserted, and clean. Perhaps due to Arthur’s influence, the carpets are the deepest blue and stain-free, and the light-colored furniture doesn’t even sag, nor does it have a wrinkle, which is pretty remarkable for a drunkard and her young child. Small palm-plants and cacti sit on end-tables near the windows, the dishes are all clean and in cabinets under the counters, I assume.

The kitchen has an old, gas-range stove, and with a can of hairspray, I could set the whole place on fire. No, too dramatic, I’ll leave that for dad. Yes, I could gas the entire building. I could condemn Moira out of her apartment, as the real Annette went missing a long time ago. I could pretend to get my revenge on Annette by harming a young, suffering bodyguard and thief.



I turn on the gas. I really could, couldn’t I? The flame underneath the burner burns blue and natural gas from the line escapes. I could just leave this on. Out of boredom, I grab a strand of spaghetti from a drawer. They burn when they come in contact with a burner, whether electric or gas, and I hold it under one flame until the tip smolders black and orange. I always thought that looked cool.

No, no, I can’t do this. A smoldering piece of pasta smokes up the place a tiny bit, and it will take all night to gas just the kitchen place at this rate. I can’t do something so illegal. I can’t go further, not without awakening watcher-knows-what fury. I turn off the range. I throw the spaghetti to the ground and prepare to stamp it out.



And I swear that it wasn’t actually on fire. The floor ignited before I could smother it with my shoe into the tiles. There aren’t any alarms in the building—they’re rare in this analog hell—so I scream as loudly as I can so Arthur or dad can give me a hand.



As it turned out, I would have harmed someone if I went even further. Bridget’s high-pitched screams make me turn around, even though I panic as loudly as she does instead of grabbing water, baking soda, or anything to save Moira’s floors and Arthur’s building.



If there is one plus, it’s the sort of rush that dad needs, right on top of his makeover.

But, just in time, Arthur bolts up the stairs and nearly tears the door from its frame by running into it with his 210 or so pounds of mass, with a heavy fire extinguisher.



“The electrician just won’t put in smoke detectors. I’m going to have to get Tank on that. He’s good at convincing.” I think he just talks to hide his nervousness now. Is he nervous? He is a lot more competent with fire.



“Did you do this, Jo?” he asks, while blasting his extinguisher in the direction of the oven.

“If I pay you enough, does it mean I didn’t?” I ask, rushed as I continue to panic over the slowing flames.

When the last spark is smothered and out, he gives his answer. “It’s that I’m here for. Now pay me to clean these floors too. You’re lucky it’s just charred ceramic. Do you wanna face Moira? I don’t think so. 700 simoleons.”



While Arthur does his unexpected night duty, I try to comfort Bridget. “It was a mistake. I thought your mummy was home, and I tried to cook to surprise her…”



Bridget isn’t buying it.

“If I add a little more to his check, our uncle Arthur will make you forget this anyways. Look, I can play piano! It’s been a while, but I still remember one song my mum taught me.”

“Okay,” Bridget says flatly.



I hit the first notes and ease into the chord progression. If there was one song to remember for Roaring Heights, it was this one, with slight jazz notes and a heaping helping of lounge influencing its smooth piano melody. Granted, I don’t have a bassist to accompany me, so I do my best to replicate the line on the low keys of the piano.

It’s also been a while since I’ve sang, perhaps the last time being karaoke with my then-husband. But I exhale and decompress when the time comes. Bridget already is tapping her feet to this.

Come and share
This painting with me…




Not even one verse in, and Bridget won’t have a story about the wannabe-arsonist to tell Moira, but she might have something nice to say about my musical talent.

…I wonder,
Do I love you,
Or the thought of you?

Slow, love, slow-oh-ooooh
Only the weak
Are not lonely.


I cut out the saxophone bit and the lingering last chorus, but it leaves about three minutes of my rusty piano-work and hoarse voice, and it also leaves a sleepy Bridget, who heads the bed once I’m done.

“Where is Moira, anyways?” I ask Arthur, after he puts away his mop.

“Out at work. Well, her real job. Thievery. Apparently it’s a jewelry store. I’m cleaning up for her after that too.”

“She’ll be out late?”

“You’re on your own after this,” he says, lowering his brow.

“No, I understand.” I open each door in the hall once Arthur leaves. Bathroom, another bathroom, Bridget’s room, and Moira’s is the last one I open, or I gather it’s hers. Dark brown and black accents color the area, and a single bookshelf sits between two windows, with a row of white photo albums calling my name.



I start with the earliest. The first pages are full of birth dates and death dates, all the way back to Dragon Valley. A copy of the citizenship papers for one Aislin McGrail. Photos of her, and her wavy, bobbed cinnamon-brown hair, starfruit-yellow skin, and light-colored freckles as even as the seeds on a strawberry. Her children, green and sunshiny Tegan. A scowling, yellow older sister named Maeve, who appeared in neither the marriage nor death records.

Those two girls grew up, and Tegan got one special photoshoot of her own.



She held hands with her husband at their wedding, at the community garden a street away. I slip the photo out of its sleeve to read the back, in case someone made noted. Scrawled in messy cursive, 13/5/30. Joseph and Tegan.

Joseph, huh?

You’re naming it Lamia?” Annette asked, shocked, “Why not a nice traditional name, like Joseph?”

“It’s a girl, nan,” Phil said, rolling his eyes, “Lamia was a female demon.”

“We don’t need another demon in the family. And Josephine. It’s a girls’ name. I rest my case.”


So much for Annette’s unknown past. She dropped those hints and scattered them around Twinbrook, even if his name and mine didn’t send me on a chase when she retold the story.

And do I really want to harm her, or her doppelganger? I hate Annette, and I love her, with all of that ambivalence. As for Moira, I hope she’s none the wiser, or that Arthur is as good of a storyteller as I am. I never thought that I’d say this, but I need her. Even if she is just as a way to unravel the past and make some peace with the family.



Word Count for this chapter: 2,776
Word Count so far: 108,242

So if I haven't mentioned the name of Jo's dad yet in the story, it's Philip, or Phil for short. The spelling is something I'm a bit particular about; he's named after someone I knew who spelled it with one l. Not that I'll edit the posts of anyone who spells it as "Phillip," but I thought that I should justify using the less-common spelling.

The song Jo plays is "Slow Love Slow" by Nightwish. Give it a listen, because the atmosphere screams "ROARING HEIGHTS!!" (granted, the rest of their material isn't much like that at all).

Let's just say that Phil's job during the dynasty was supplemented by a lot of special relationships with his co-workers. Hence him and Mr. Alto. He probably thought it was like romancing anyone else in the industry of evil, but alas, the Altos are a bad force to deal with. Phil actually did like women too. A lot! He was a flirty menace who didn't discriminate.

I also realize that it seems a little suspect that the characters know about the Altos but never bring up the Rackets. While I plan to reveal this in the story too, the justification is that I never saw the Rackets as powerful outside of Twinbrook. The Altos have outside connections (huge amounts of power in business and politics) that the Rackets don't.

I hopefully won't refer to Eileen and Moira/Annette's mum too much by her first name from now on. I think "Mrs. Stoneham" will do whenever she comes up.

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 65, 7/10)
« Reply #304 on: July 11, 2014, 12:16:37 AM »
This backstory becomes more and more intriguing. I'm starting to formulate theories as to how it all ties together...

But holy cow, Phil--you must be crazy to start things with Nick Alto! Crazy and hilarious all at once.

Offline AkonIsAwesome

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 65, 7/10)
« Reply #305 on: July 12, 2014, 03:49:27 PM »
The backstory to this dynasty is just amazing and complex. I, for one, have no idea how it's all goes together but I'm looking forward to finding out!

Offline hazelnut

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 65, 7/10)
« Reply #306 on: July 12, 2014, 06:42:29 PM »
Quote
So if I haven't mentioned the name of Jo's dad yet in the story, it's Philip, or Phil for short. The spelling is something I'm a bit particular about; he's named after someone I knew who spelled it with one l. Not that I'll edit the posts of anyone who spells it as "Phillip," but I thought that I should justify using the less-common spelling.

Is this one of those transatlantic things?  To me, the single l is by far the commoner spelling.  My brother-in-law, who has two l's (possibly a juice-related incident on the part of my father-in-law - accounts differ  ;) ) constantly gets his name mis-spelled.

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Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #307 on: July 12, 2014, 10:29:04 PM »
This backstory becomes more and more intriguing. I'm starting to formulate theories as to how it all ties together...

But holy cow, Phil--you must be crazy to start things with Nick Alto! Crazy and hilarious all at once.

Hey, if you want to make your theories public, please do so! It's not like I'll answer (insert evil laugh here), but I know I've done well as a writer when fan-theories come into the picture. ;)

The disturbing thing about Phil and Nick that I didn't think about when shooting those pictures (a long, long time ago) was that Nick looks disturbingly like the Rackets. You know, Phil's distant ancestors. Incest! Also something that Phil was fine with in the dynasty. More on that later.

The backstory to this dynasty is just amazing and complex. I, for one, have no idea how it's all goes together but I'm looking forward to finding out!

Then you'll have a good time finding it out!

The facial expressions in this chapter are priceless! Like everyone else, I can't wait to see how these stories will tie into each other.

I ended up with a bunch of very expressive sims, though the "Bronson-esque" ones (Tegan, Phil, and Jo) really did have the best expressions.

Is this one of those transatlantic things?  To me, the single l is by far the commoner spelling.  My brother-in-law, who has two l's (possibly a juice-related incident on the part of my father-in-law - accounts differ  ;) ) constantly gets his name mis-spelled.

It might be. The Philip I knew was American, but he's the only person I've known who spelled it that way.

Also, in spite of me lifting some names from people I knew in real life (Philip, Josephine, Jamie, and a few characters to be introduced later), any other resemblance to real-life people is entirely coincidental.



Chapter 66: Guardian Angel



It started with Bronson replacing the right speaker on the stereo, as Annette drunkenly stumbled into it a few nights prior and damaged it, causing the sound to be laced with static that wasn’t just from Bronson’s lo-fi black metal collection. After doing an hour of chin-ups, Bronson, covered in salty sweat, grabbed his toolkit and attacked the bad speaker to install a new one. Okay, after giving Tegan a bottle too. Fixing electronics with a hungry toddler was impossible.

He unplugged the cables, and accidentally broke one of them, which didn’t matter for an old speaker. Then he got a sweaty finger near a live wire. It crackled and sent a jolt through him, starting at his arm and spreading everywhere in an instant. When it reached his heart, he clutched his chest before falling to the ground in a loud, sickening thud. When that happened, Tegan was finished with her bottle, and she obliviously crawled over the dollhouse while her father was dying on the floor.

The entire household rushed to his help, but before Lily could dial the number for an ambulance or attempt to haul Bronson’s limp body into one of the family vehicles and bolt for the hospital, a cloud of black smoke choked up the room. Bronson was doomed. As Franco and Annette exchanged worried looks and Julian’s knees started to buckle at the robed man appear, Lily stood over the body of her husband with her mouth agape. How could that happen? He was an engineer, surely he unplugged the stereo system beforehand, right?



His spirit floated over towards the Reaper, nervous. The light spots where his eyes once were stood open wide. Grim held on to his scythe firmly, ready to stamp it on the ground for emphasis, but the some sweet babble caught his attention instead. He looked down.



Sure enough, Tegan was absolutely unphased by the incident, and playfully attacked a doll’s head instead between her fangs.

“Is…is that your daughter?” Grim asked Bronson.

“Yes, that’s mine,” Bronson replied, shaken, “She’s my darling little angel.”

“And I bet she would be very sad if you passed away so soon?”

“Probably.”

Lily leaned over to her grandmother as she watched from near the stereo. “What, why is he asking about Tegan?” she whispered to Annette, “Does he usually do this?”

“Nope. Not at all. That man is going all guilt-trip on us!”



“You idiot!” Grim pointed a bony finger at Bronson, “You forgot to unplug the speaker and sentenced yourself to certain death, right in front of your only daughter?”

“Look, it was a mistake, I’ll own up to it, rea-”



“No, Bronson, this is a little different. I have a little bit of a rotting, black heart under this robe. It pains me to do this,” Grim said, holding what would be his head in his skeletal hand, “You are pardoned. Do not be such an idiot next time, because this is your last chance.”



With those words, Grim stamped his scythe on the ground with all of his force, enough to scramble Bronson’s spirit enough to return his physical body to him, violet gym clothes and all. Tegan still wasn’t done with her dolls, and didn’t stop to notice that her dad was back, and wobbling as he got used to his solid legs again. Lily cried at the sight of him in the flesh again. Her father and her grandmother smiled and headed to the breakfast nook from a distance.



Julian, well, the whole spectacle ended up being too much for him.



“Come here, peapod,” Bronson muttered, scooping up Tegan just as she put her dolls down, “You did a good thing for me today. Yes you did.”

The shock of it all tired Bronson, and he headed upstairs after a dinner of a portabella and goat cheese omelet, his favorite. He was in his boxers when Lily took her place at the bed, in her pajamas but clearly too awake to even close her eyes and pretend to sleep.

“Babe, not tonight,” he said, “I’m too tired for that.”

“I’m not looking for woohoo,” she said, “Remember the other night, when I said ‘remind me to kill you later?’ You know, after you laughed at me?”

“Yeah-“

“I am so, so sorry,” she said, “I don’t want you gone. I can’t say ever or else Gram will kick me out, but I want you here for a long time.”

“It’s not like I took that seriously, but I accept.” He gave Lily a peck on the cheek, “Now let your very alive husband sleep.”

“Good-night, Bronson-bear.”

“Have fun sculpting, Lilypad.”



So the worst day for a while was over. Lily did not become the dynasty’s first young widow, and Tegan didn’t have to work hard to keep her kind heart and morals. That came later for her. But could they see it then? Not really. After one ice sculpture, Lily was too tired to do much else other than join her husband for an early night, and maybe some morning woohoo when they were rested and refreshed.

Some good came from Bronson’s near-death experience. The two men of the house started to care about their illegitimate children. What a surprise!

As the frost returned to the grass in Twinbrook and its trees turned brown and golden in the autumn cold, another festival set up camp in the center of town, and kids begged their parents to blow some money on overpriced fair food and games. Not that it was a worry for the Waverlys or its housemates.



With a stack of simoleons on hand at all times, Julian was ecstatic when his truly illegitimate son, Francisco wanted to reconnect with his dad and bob for apples with him. While Julian didn’t appreciate the nighttime scheduling and hanging around an empty fairground at night, he did appreciate Francisco’s jokes.



Well, getting beat at apple bobbing wasn’t great for Julian.

The day before, Franco got the call that Jane and Shanna, the Knack twins, passed away together, within hours of each other. He frantically tried to reach his children to give his condolences, though mean Ann-Marie cussed him out over the phone for being an absentee father, and Benjamin was busy with the arrangements. Colleen, a twin to AnnMarie and a daughter of—Jane? Or was it Shanna?—had enough time to visit him at the pool on a 40-degree autumn night.

“Listen, I’m sorry about your mum and your auntie,” Franco said, in a stone-faced calm.

“It is pretty sad,” Colleen sighed, “But we’re getting through it. Like, Ann-Marie is just kind of mean no matter what, and Benjamin doesn’t hate you. Really.”

“I didn’t think he did. How’s uncle Dustin doing? Still going strong?”



“Oh joy, I get to spread juicy gossip!” Colleen laughed. “Well, you know he and your cousin Emma were together?”

“Yeah.”





“Well, Elizabeth Whelohff tempted him out of that. I don’t think he’s grieving.”

“I never thought the old man had it in him,” Franco said, “Ah well. Tell him I send my regards anyways.”



And that same night, Hephaestus stepped out for a congratulatory midnight snack from the diner, cooked by Annette without any revenge spit wads or fiber powder mixed in. After his plates were cleared and the waiter was tipped, he ran into Charla Carlton, his cousin, Hannah’s niece, Shark’s granddaughter…Jeffrey Castor’s half-sister? Apparently his old man needed some revenge for his ex-wife doing the same. Regardless, Hephaestus and Charla were school-buddies and good friends even after their finals were completed.

“So I really want to go to France,” he said, “There’s a burial ground there.”

“Is it the kind you’ve always wanted to see?” Charla asked. While she didn’t share her cousin’s delusions, she always entertained him about them. “You know, the ones with a lot of reported activity?”

“It isn’t of the usual kind. It’s more like a haunted mansion. Most people can’t see what I see, but heck, it’s a gift and I’m keeping it.”

“Sure, sure. See you at graduation tomorrow.”

Hephaestus’ graduation was held in the finest auditorium that City Hall offered to the school district. Everyone, even Annette and Bronson, dressed their best for the event. Lily bought herself a new dress to celebrate losing the nooboo weight/not freaking out over her first grey hair, and everyone arrived at the event with dignity.



Until the two old men decided that it was time to compare their smartphones.

Other than that, the ceremony went without chaos. Annette didn’t drink the night before and had no rude remarks about the graduates or her two grandkids that were walking across the stage. Bronson followed her, as his brush with death quieted him down for quite a while. Hephaestus, the Valedictorian, spoke only of vague inner demons during his graduation speech.

When the family stepped outside of the ceremony, Lily had a few other ideas.



Now, Hephaestus still acted like a good, sane graduate after exiting the ceremony. He threw his diploma in the air and wore a huge smile he deserved, as valedictorian. He ignored cousin Felix’s grumbling over getting snubbed for valedictorian (he wasn’t salutorian either; that went to his sister, Nellie) and didn’t pick any fights.



Lily snuck around the entrance to City Hall, though, in plain sight of Julian. “What are you doing, flower?” he asked, “There are better ways to give Heph a surprise gift.”



She turned away and chuckled at her real ability to surprise. She turned on her megaphone. It screeched, alerting Julian of Lily’s real motivations.

“WAKE UP SUNSHINE! PROTEST HERE IN HALF AN HOUR!”



“Goodness, Lily, right here?” he asked, gasping for breath and clutching his heart in hopes of encouraging it not to give out from the surprise, “Right now? It’s your stepbrother’s graduation. Save it for tomorrow.”



Too late.

“You with me, ladies and germs?” she asked her gathering crowd, “I need to give my little stepbrother a gift today.”



“Acceptance and autonomy for the mentally ill! I won’t let my brother go through anything unless he wants to.”



Most of the crowd turned out to be Hephaestus’ blood family, where most of them had some interest in his mental well-being, and found his untreated status combined with his family’s exorbitant wealth baffling. Everyone but Felix and Hephaestus cheered, though the latter kept his composure through it, while Felix stood behind Lily and tried to look bored.



The topic excited the rest of them, yes, as Selene gasped out of sheer joy. Perhaps Twinbrook didn’t need convincing after all; Lily just happened to notice the principle giving Hephaestus a strange look as she handed him the diploma.

Hephaestus approached Lily that night before they both retired for bed. He wasn’t angry, but not smiling either. While she sat down at one high table for a plate of midnight sushi, he took a seat next to her.

“Lily, I appreciate what you did, but I’m not ill,” he said, “Maybe different? But my mind is right.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” she said, before popping another piece into her mouth, “You know you’re not normal, right?”

“Dad says I’m healthy!”

“Dad doesn’t know crap about the brain, Heph. Now one of the medics that works with Bronson does, and I asked them one day, and they said that you’re a textbook case of Stash Psychosis. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you deserve support for it.”

“I’m perfectly fine,” he said, cross.

The next morning, Franco apologized on behalf of Lily and gave his stepson a hug. “I know she’s well-intentioned, but I think you’re pretty fine, my boy.”

“Thanks Franco. I should get started with some sculpting, though. Julian’s looking for a new student.”

“Believe me, you have plenty of time to do that.” Franco slipped a piece of cardstock into one of Hephaestus’ beltloops. “Congrats on finishing school.”

When Franco retired to his art studio, Hephaestus freed the cardstock and realized that they were plane tickets instead. Air France. Left two days from then. Perhaps he was in contact with Charla and got gift advice from her.

As it turned out, both Franco and Julian tagged along too, to give Hephaestus a well-rounded art class, and to enjoy the French countryside they loved so much. Just the three of them.





All while Lily was saddled with the dirty work!



Word Count for this chapter: 2,062
Word Count so far: 110,310

Bronson was Unlucky. I forgot to mention that, didn't I?

I don't change traits (he was a Mean-Spirited, Inappropriate Slob, and removing those would come first to most players as opposed to making him luckier), and most of Bronson's work with handiness carried no risk of killing him. But he had a wish to fix the stereo after it broke, I spaced out, and then had a minor heart attack until I remembered "oh right, unlucky."

This was his only death scare. We're not looking at Emmett Classic 2.0 here. :P

Other notes:

- Elizabeth Whelohff is the daughter of Rosy and Wei Keane. Rosy was a widowed fairy, so I made the most of her! More on her children later.

- Dustin Knack, ugh. He had good traits and better genes (seriously, he got the best of Julienne and DeAndre), but he lived to 118. Screw that. At the time of the events in this chapter, he was merely somewhere in his 90's.

- Charla Carlton is obviously not Robert Carlton's daughter. She's Jeffrey's (I got very bored waiting for him to die). For the sake of the story, it made more sense to make her Robert's daughter instead, because he was a long-lived fairy divorcé.

- I never showed the Knack sisters (Dustin's younger sisters), though the two of them were more-or-less clones of Julienne. That's the image you need. I only mention them because Franco's kids with them make cameos and I need to explain all the random rainbow kids around town, don't I? :P

Offline Trip

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #308 on: July 12, 2014, 10:30:17 PM »
Replies to Chapter 62:

Ack, no! Bronson! <whimper> No...Tegan can't lose her daddy that early! That's just not right. :(

Ahem...regaining composure...

Normally I'm not a fan of full beards, but Heph seems to make it work. I love that line about the metal detectors going haywire. :P And Tegan is a doll! I love how the porcelain color pattern of her clothing works with her skin.

It wouldn't have been right. Thank goodness he got out of that one!

Hephaestus has a full beard partly for his aesthetic, and partly because Hannah's jaw looks a little too girly on men without some scruff. :P I'm a huge fan of the blue-and-white color scheme and I was so happy to get a girl who liked blue so I could make it happen!

Oh no! Not Bronson!

I know! Why couldn't it have been a pesky pollinator instead? (A lot of mine were very pesky)

Wait, no!  It CAN'T be!  Please tell me he has the unlucky trait... please?  Don't make me beg...

He has the Unlucky trait. ;)

I vote Tegan for the most adorable Waverly/Curious toddler!

Poor Lily. She didn't have it easy to begin with and now this...

Then you'll love Phil and Jo as toddlers! Tegan was cute, but those two were clones of her and just plain adorable as tots:



Are you joking? He can't die already! He's much too young! We're meant to have him for many years yet! Why? I know this one's not your fault or anything, but Bronson has been my favourite spouse yet and he and Lily were so happy, and he's so young. It's not right   :'(

I'm happy to hear that you love Bronson! Come to think of it, he was the best-behaved and most normal Waverly spouse. I don't know if he was my favorite or not, but he rocked. Especially considering that he wasn't even my top choice until Lily went gaga for him.

I'd hate myself so much if he actually died young.

Please post soon. You left us with Bronson curled up on the floor. I can't stand it!

Gotta keep the anticipation up somehow. ;) Now the next question is what cliffhanger will I do next?!

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #309 on: July 12, 2014, 11:22:17 PM »
Trip, dear.  I love you dearly, you know that... but you are evil XD  You like to toy with our hearts and seriously mess with our emotions lol!  Wow, Phil and Jo are freakin' ADORABLE!  So glad that Bronson had the unlucky trait.  Remember my first Sim with unlucky and how I HOWLED when I heard the music... on his wedding day!  It was almost traumatizing lol XD

I giggled a bit too much when Grim looked like he was facepalming when Bronson forgot to turn off the speaker XD

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #310 on: July 13, 2014, 12:16:28 AM »
That Unlucky trait has saved my butt more times than I care to count. Excellent way to incorporate it into the story! You are a master of cliffhangers. ;)

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #311 on: July 13, 2014, 12:24:02 PM »
Oh my, that was lucky! Or I guess that should be unlucky? Anyway, Jo and Phil have got to be the cutest toddlers ever. They are absolutely adorable!

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 66, 7/12)
« Reply #312 on: July 13, 2014, 03:24:55 PM »
Glad to know Bronson made i through! And to see those adorable toddlers. So cute! :D
Have I mentioned lately that your writing is beautiful? Seriously hoping you're pumping out a novel some day because you've got the talent.



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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 67, 7/15)
« Reply #313 on: July 15, 2014, 01:23:14 PM »
I would have updated last night, but I instead fell asleep at 8:30 and slept through the night. It felt good!

Trip, dear.  I love you dearly, you know that... but you are evil XD  You like to toy with our hearts and seriously mess with our emotions lol!  Wow, Phil and Jo are freakin' ADORABLE!  So glad that Bronson had the unlucky trait.  Remember my first Sim with unlucky and how I HOWLED when I heard the music... on his wedding day!  It was almost traumatizing lol XD

I giggled a bit too much when Grim looked like he was facepalming when Bronson forgot to turn off the speaker XD

I really had to keep myself from laughing when Grim facepalmed. Come on, Bronson! Unplugging stuff is so basic.

That Unlucky trait has saved my butt more times than I care to count. Excellent way to incorporate it into the story! You are a master of cliffhangers. ;)

This was actually the first time it saved me. Not that I would mind having a mortal out of the house (in a logistical sense), but I was glad to have Bronson around for a little longer.

Phil and Jo are just as adorable as Tegan! Jo's eye color and hair color look exceptionally cool with her green complexion.

Yeah, she really lucked out with coloring! I didn't have to change it (Phil got a permanent dye job as a toddler; no spoilers here, but he came out with black hair like Tegan and I was beyond bored with that hair color).

Oh my, that was lucky! Or I guess that should be unlucky? Anyway, Jo and Phil have got to be the cutest toddlers ever. They are absolutely adorable!

I keep looking back at their toddler pics and think "wow, how did I get that?" But those two have nothing on the last two generations. ;)

Glad to know Bronson made i through! And to see those adorable toddlers. So cute! :D
Have I mentioned lately that your writing is beautiful? Seriously hoping you're pumping out a novel some day because you've got the talent.

Aww, thanks! "Write a Novel" has been on my to-do list for years. I think all of my botched novel attempts prepared me for this story.



Chapter 67: French Kiss



Julian slept for the entire flight, which put his back in a very bad place when he woke up, but Franco and Hephaestus had the sense to save themselves from the pain and stay awake. They half-watched the in-flight movie together, and stayed awake thanks to a few cups of mediocre airline coffee.

The airplane started to descend over France at sunrise, when the dry grass of the gentle hills was painted gold. Franco checked two seats over to make sure that sleepy Julian was still strapped in. He and Hephaestus buckled their seatbelts and braced themselves for the landing.

Over the roar of the airplane’s engine, Hephaestus said “I do like art, Franco, but it’s a shame that it’s all we’re doing here.”

“What? You think I’m too stuffy to let you explore the countryside?” Franco asked.

“Well, yes.”

“This is your gift. Heck, I’m only having you sculpt because you like it, and Lily would get pretty lonely in the studio without you. Other than that? Grab a Kenspa and do what you want.”

“Sweet! Um, do you know anything about the Celtic Burial Grounds? Will they make my sense go wacky?” Hephaestus asked. Franco resisted saying the response of “I don’t think you need much to go wacky.”

“Oh, that place. I trekked the catacombs there when your mum and I were young. I didn’t notice anything, but who knows what you’ll pick up?”

“All right. That place is on the top of my list.”



But, to the family’s relief, the first thing Hephaestus wanted to do was indeed sculpting. His inner mind was quiet and nothing rumbled under his naked feet, due to the sunlight driving his inner demons away (or someone slipped an anti-psychotic in his coffee). He joined Lily in the studio beforehand, albeit as a clay and wood carver that all of the sculptors started as, and she made sure that he could maneuver a chainsaw in a way that wouldn’t sever limbs or go flying into the drywall instead.



As much as Franco enjoyed his painting, something painful existed behind him, while the other two men sculpted.

The lawn was littered with plant carcasses, dry and brown, with their fruit shriveled up on the vine. Hannah planted that garden back when she was young, to distract herself while Franco and Pansy were still in love. The family didn’t hire a housekeeper, so the plants died of neglect. To be dark about it, they were at least as dead as Hannah.



Franco scooped up what was once a proud work of his wife, and disposed of it with a single tear in his eye.

Annette wasn’t keen on travel, so they went without her, which the three of them collectively regretted when their stomachs growled and their fridge was empty. None of them could operate a microwave without nuking half of the village, let alone make a meal that wouldn’t give all of them food poisoning. To the café it was.



“Oh, come on!” Julian cried, “I actually know what I want to order. Why do you guys go first in line?”

“First come, first serve,” Franco said, closing his eyes and turning away from the entitled plebe who tried to cut him in line.



But for Franco, his stepson was the first to arrive at the register, and he wasn’t going back on his rule, no matter how much he needed something to eat, and how it took him a minute tops to decide on bouillabaisse, while Hephaestus still wavered between frogs’ legs and an odd French take on shawarma (the crazy things they sold!). Or he was distracted.



The chunky, bereted cashier tapped her foot as Hephaestus looked at the menu again and again, and breathed a sigh of relief when he said “frogs’ legs.” As for Hephaestus, he tried small talk too. “You live in the village?” he asked her, “My stepdad has a pretty sweet cottage near the river.”

“Monsieur, this is a professional environment.”



Hephaestus inhaled his frogs’ legs, while the other two men slowly ate their meals. At first, Julian mumbled about how good the food was, and Franco grumbled about how they could have done it better. After the topics of food, the weather, and children were exhausted, Franco asked a difficult question: “Now what about marrying Lita? You guys have been together since high school.”



“In my own time, Franco. I just need to iron out the details! Geez.”

“Fine, be that way. Where did Heph go off to?”



Repairing a bad sink? Fine. A good service for the establishment.



Still hitting on the cashier? Not so much.

“I do not know what you mean,” she said, in regards to Hephaestus raving on and on about the burial grounds, “They are a historical artifact.”

“What?!” he said, gesturing wildly, “They are haunted and special. And, in fact, I’ll take you there if you like! We can set up a tent and everything.”



She failed to say much other than “POLICE!” at an ear-piercing falsetto, a word that turned out be a cognate between their languages. But by the time the French police arrived, Hephaestus and company fled the scene.

Franco spent half the car ride home tensed up over the wheel, not speaking to Hephaestus as he analyzed how to approach the situation. His delusions, he couldn’t help those. His bad start with the ladies? He couldn’t help his inexperience unless he tried, and he tried!

“Look, Heph, you just have to be a little less direct with women,” he said, “I spent decades going very light on your mother in the romance department, and look where it got me?” He then thought his past through.

“Actually, never mind,” Franco continued, “Keep doing what you do. Someone will find it charming. And if they don’t, they’re not worth your time.”



Hephaestus hung around the nectary, after having enough nectar tasting sessions to get him buzzed enough to loosen up. Keep doing what he did. So he got the maplewood wand out from his belt-loop and put on a sparkly spectacle for the women of the nectary. The nectar merchant smiled, but pretended to pay no attention to the magic man in lilac.



As for Ms. Lefebvre, she found herself on the end of his good luck charm, awash in tingly sparkles and rainbows, and the confidence needed to win that bet she had with her mother.

“I am engaged, sorry,” she said, with a sniffle.

“Doesn’t mean a thing to me,” Hephaestus said, with a wink.

“I love him very much.”

“Is he blond and handsome?” he asked, fidgeting with a strand of his own blond hair.

“Yes.”

Well, another failure. There was always the girl in the purple halter top and the beret, who surveyed the shelves for the oldest, strongest nectar to make her both classy and drunk. Perhaps he would see her around again.



Meanwhile, Julian ordered five stone blocks for Hephaestus, so the women of France would have to wait for their lilac lunatic to return to the world beyond the garden. Perhaps one of them would appreciate a stone fountain.



Or metalworking, from a guy named after the Greek god of it?



But would he get a woman with burn marks on his butt?

When Hephaestus asked one of the elders about further advice with women and where the aloe vera lotion was, they were both busy. Franco painted, after his mother called him and ordered “step up your game! I don’t think we’ll find another painter like you.”



Julian went to a nearby pond to lure in frogs, also on the orders of Annette. She promised to make plates of delicious, self-preserving frogs’ legs with his catch.



Regardless of what damage his rear received, Hephaestus caught his next French target at the nectary again, still in her halter top and miniskirt. She called herself Bianca Morel, and while Hephaestus admittedly would have preferred her with some meat on her bones, she listened dutifully to his ramblings about the spiritual world, and had the prettiest brown eyes on that side of the world (surely brown-eyed Lily and Tegan would take offense if he was more broad with his compliment).



He invited her home, and finally landed himself a lady.



The next morning, he celebrated as if he was a university student after three red Solo cups full of juice from the keg. Plus, if Bianca could possibly appreciate his skinny nakedness, why wouldn’t anyone? Until Julian threw a bathrobe over Hephaestus and demanded that he save his university-esque shenanigans for when he was actually there.



For most of the trip, Hephaestus was hard at work on all of his passions. He sculpted, sure, but inventing captivated his attention too, and his stepfather’s painting looked like it would be fun to try. Against the backdrop of France, he worked on fine details and the mechanics of his widgets. Finally, he tired of craning his neck over the workbench all day, and set aside a night for himself. He took the family’s Kenspa and zoomed into the hills.

The night in France was much darker than the nights in Twinbrook, with hues of ink-black as opposed to midnight blue, and a clear, starry sky uninhibited by the streetlights and fog back home. Even with the stars and a clear crescent moon, the dark night obscured a lot of the details. Hephaestus strained to make out the forms of the stone monuments at the burial ground when he arrived.

Hephaestus cautiously walked the grounds barefoot, wigging his toes in the long, dry grass and nearly jumping up when he felt a tremor underneath. At points, his calloused feet felt like they were on pins and needles, which, according to him, was clear proof of paranormal activity (according to everyone else, he had a minor problem with tactile hallucinations).

“Hit the jackpot,” he mumbled, quiet enough so not to disrupt what he searched for.

The place was still dark, but he spotted a firepit when he got close enough to it. Someone, perhaps a camper with the wrong ideas of where to spend the night, set it up beforehand. While Hephaestus had no reason to carry around matches or a Bic lighter wherever he went, he lit the remaining wood in the pit up with a magical fire blast.

As a slight breeze rustled the bushes and trees, it carried a voice with it. Just to Hephaestus, though. However, for him, it was a bitter laugh combined with a “come on, why?” Amongst many garbled messages, that one stuck out.



“Why? Why what?!” he said, pointing a finger to the world, “I’m doing just fine.”

A lot of the voices shut up and went to sleep for the night, leaving Hephaestus mostly uninterrupted and still curious about the true meaning of the burial grounds. By the light of the fire, he tried to read the inscriptions on the stones, only to realize that he never learned the language or its alphabet. So much for that trip.

Hephaestus put out the fire and left the site for the night.

He walked around the hills for the rest of the night, and he eventually turned towards the riverbanks and walked the perimeter of the river that ran through the town. Or he started to. After Julian made no less than half a dozen frantic phone calls to the local police and nearly passed out due to worrying about the whereabouts of his sculpting student, Hephaestus was found asleep in some long grass, and alive, of course.

“Crazy night last night?” Franco asked him.

“You might interpret it as that.”



Perhaps some good luck came out of it. Perhaps something about luck was engraved in the stones at the burial grounds. Hephaestus got lucky. The night before their flight home left, he and Bianca decided to have, well, a powerful good-bye.

The three men arrived home to a white Twinbrook, in the middle of October. It wasn’t enough to delay their flight, but the snow still fell by the time they arrived home.

"You have fun?" Annette asked a jet-lagged Franco when he came in the door. She stood in the nursery, after a quiet, long nap in the rocking chair.

"We got here in time for the worst," Franco said, noting how far the white powder buried their grass, "Yes, it was fun. Very serene. Hephaestus found himself a lady too. Her name's Bianca."

"What, you really want him to date?" she asked. Hephaestus was frolicking in the new snow outside as they spoke. "It's a good time to talk about this. Now I've been proven wrong before, but I'm feeling pretty good about this one. What if our Heph was to date his adorable step-niece instead?"

"I would take a note from you and vomit in his food for revenge. And Lily would too."

“Aw, now why would you do that? I’d love to have the crazy and cute one as an in-law.”

“He needs someone his own age-”

Franco was cut off by the door opening, squeaking due to hinges on need of oiling (after more than a century, they needed it). Hephaestus stepped in, barefoot and with a few snowflakes still clinging to his long locks of hair.

"Man, I love the snow, but just before Spooky Day? That's bizarre," he said, "Is that little peapod awake yet?"

Annette lowered her voice to a strained whisper. "Look at it this way. You'll get a little immortal piece a Hannah out of the deal."



“Miss me yet?” Hephaestus asked Tegan, lifting her up, “Life’s kinda boring without you.”

“You win,” Franco said.



Word Count for this chapter: 2,278
Word Count so far: 112,588

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 67, 7/15)
« Reply #314 on: July 15, 2014, 01:37:14 PM »
*squeals* Oh my, that last picture, with Heph and Tegan... it is too adorable for words!  Just soooo cute!

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 67, 7/15)
« Reply #315 on: July 16, 2014, 12:18:03 AM »
That...was adorable.

I have a feeling though that Franco will be by far the easiest to convince. :P

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 68, 7/16)
« Reply #316 on: July 16, 2014, 11:59:32 PM »
*squeals* Oh my, that last picture, with Heph and Tegan... it is too adorable for words!  Just soooo cute!

It really was! And the two elders looking from a distance just completed it.

That...was adorable.

I have a feeling though that Franco will be by far the easiest to convince. :P

Easier to convince than Lily. I don't know how she'll handle going from having to accept Hephaestus as her brother to having to accept him as a son-in-law.

"An immortal piece of Hannah..." How perfect!

I knew my strategy for spouses would result in something sweet like that. ;)



Chapter 68: Manhattan Project



By the time Spooky Day came, the surprise snowstorm mostly melted and the young ones of Twinbrook stalked the neighborhoods for candy.



Perhaps Franco was too stingy with giving his illegitimate kids sweets, because Ben Knack knocked for a chance to get a fun-sized Kit-Kat bar. Hephaestus gave him two. He was the only person in the house available, not quite as absorbed in sculpting as Julian, not as chained to painting as Franco, not as juice-addicted or as tired and bored as Annette, and not tied to a job like Bronson.

Now Lily?





She had some motherly bonding to do, though Hephaestus watched. Wobbly little Tegan made her first steps for a proud mum, and whatever Hephaestus was to her, he was proud too.

But, speaking of Bronson, his workload increased that year thanks to the military’s newest money-sink. When long-standing neutrality in global conflicts kept their budget stagnant, the people at the military spoke excitedly of re-launching Simnation’s space program instead, and every branch had to step in, even the base in small, foggy Twinbrook. It would eat up the budget that remained after maintaining their weapons stores for another year or century in storage, and it meant that Bronson got a bit of a raise for his engineering prowess.

“She’ll like what I’m doing,” Bronson said to Lily one late night at dinner, “I can’t tear her away from the block table, so I could see her following her daddy’s footsteps.”

“Little Tegan the engineer,” Lily said, with a chuckle, “Decked out in bows and ribbons and engineering fighter planes.”

“I think she’ll grow out of the bows. She’s basically a nooboo,” he replied.

“So, space, huh?” she asked.

“They say that I’m too old to go into space, but I’ll be up there. I know you’ll miss me.”

“I will. It sounds pretty cool.”

“It’s a big thing and we’re keeping this conversation within the family,” Bronson said, lowering his voice, “It’s the closest thing we’ll get to our own Manhattan Project. Emma’s been calling it the Queens Project, which makes her sound like some sort of female supremacist, but I’ll call her out on that later. Anyways, instead of being earth-scum and destroying things, we’re going to space! But keep that a secret or I’m filing for divorce.”

“Don’t want Simnation’s hopes up too high?”

“I’ve stopped being idealistic a long time ago. It’s gonna take a while if we can get this program up at all. Not even the president knows much about this. If he did, well, I wouldn’t have to unleash local vulgarities over the phone to get a budget raise passed.”

“Well, little Tegan won’t spill the beans. Lay the details out on her.”

Bronson scooped her out of the crib after a nap. He was always drained from work, so he refrained from throwing military jargon at his toddler daughter. She still knew his as “daddy” instead of “Admiral Curious,” so he did well there. However, space exploration was a little more child-friendly than trying to speak to her about fighter planes.



So he sat her down for a little talk about stars and rockets. “Rock-et,” Bronson said, annunciating each syllable. He grabbed a plastic one off the floor for effect; Tegan always played with her plastic rocket toy. “Daddy is helping build one of these.”

“’Ket, ‘ket,” she said, skipping the first syllable because r’s were as foreign to her immature tongue as they were to a working class New Simland native.

“Sure, then,” Bronson said. Tegan caught on to the words, though, and she learned how to pronounce the whole alphabet until words like engine and booster and fuel came as easily to her as breathing.



And she looked up to her wonderful father for each lesson with a look of wonder in her cheerful brown eyes.



Tegan could spend days with her butt planted on the floor in front of the peg box, inserting pegs into the slots even when she mastered the art of putting the triangle block in the triangular hole without a single instance of error. If she wasn’t at the box, she played with blocks and built tall, surprisingly stable towers with them. Her parents jumped at the chance to enroll her in the Gifted Sims program at the local school before she came of age and started there. The program offered everything; art classes, junior computer programming, drama, guaranteed placement on the honor roll (which meant a simple ribbon for elementary school students, but it sounded prestigious), and a host of other privileges.

For the most part, it seemed that Tegan was naturally an intellectual little brussel sprout, and she was.



However, Hephaestus might have been the reason she stayed with the pegs for so long. She knew darn well where to put them without his help, but the sound of his voice (a tenor as smooth as polished wood) put her in a lull, regardless of if he was talking about breakfast or the demon that clearly stole a pancake while he got some extra butter in the fridge (in reality, Annette was very hungry that morning).



He kept his side-hobby of putting good luck charms on Julian’s children a secret.

But his playtime with Tegan was interrupted by an eye appointment one Wednesday. Hephaestus complained of his vision going downhill, which was incredibly odd, considering how Hannah retained 20/20 vision throughout her life and, aside from cataracts in his last days, Tay could boast of similar visual health. Maybe it was grandma Gwayne? She wore glasses in every photo he had of her. Regardless, he took control of his health for once and got his eyes checked, and wondered how he’d look with colored contacts.

The only problem was that he had impeccable vision in every sense.

After getting the medical bill, Annette groaned and asked her step-grandson what was up with that.

“I’ve been seeing double, lately,” Hephaestus said.

“Yeah, I do too when I binge a whole series on Netflix. It’s called focusing, dear,” she said.

“Yeah, but it’s like if I’m looking at the sink, there’s a second one right beside it and it says passages from Jack Kerouac’s writing backwards.”

“Um, sure,” Annette said, “Some sort of demon in your messed up head?”

“Probably. They can take on quite a few forms. Ghosts usually appear just how they are.”

She left, ready to prod Franco into taking his stepkid in for a diagnosis. Meanwhile, Hephaestus thought about duplication for a while, and the theme led him to educating himself about tangentially-related things. He researched cell division in his spare time, between all of the stages of mitosis, and its cousin meiosis as well. When gametes bored him, he read the original articles published about the Earthlings and Dolly the Sheep, their first clone, and studies of sim-cloning as well. Dogs, cats, horses? Sure. Sims? There was a report of a silver-colored demonoid in Barnacle Bay who made his own army that way, but that man declined most interviews, and word got out that he wasn’t biologically a full-blooded sim and that all of his clones were the equivalent to six-year-olds, and budded from skin grafts from his thighs.

Huh. If only he could improve on that, and make it a possibility for all sims. As for the guy in Barnacle Bay, his samples couldn’t be stored without degrading, and even with fresh samples, he was the only man the method worked for without error. Annette and company likely came from an entirely different race (as much as Annette denied it, Hephaestus always insisted that they were from Dragon Valley and probably elven or dragon-tamers, and that old Nettie was being ignorant or deceitful), so they couldn’t benefit from the graft. Lily’s friends couldn’t either.

So one morning, Hephaestus found his possible solution, right before waking Tegan up.



“I can just super-charge the development of a zygote, of course!” he said, raising his finger to emphasize his discovery.

“And...what now?” Annette asked, after she was done poking the nursery’s fireplace.

“It’s to clone sims. I might be a revolutionary here!”

“You know, if you can clone those ungodly expensive truffles I just bought, I’ll fund all of your research.”

Annette bought Hephaestus the latest model of a genetic analyzer, mostly through begging Bronson’s little sister and top cell biologist in Twinbrook, Kristen, to give her one with the promise that Franco absolutely would not drag her to the back of the movie theatre when he felt lonely. He had other women for that anyways.



Tegan then played with her peg box alone when Hephaestus instead devoted all of his energy to sculpting or replicating fragments of DNA. However, mommy was always there for a snuggle and plenty of tickles.



If Hephaestus breaking ground in biology was going to give Lily more time with Tegan, she would campaign for him to get the Nobel Prize if it meant days alone with her lime-colored love. Now, it wasn’t that she disliked Hephaestus, and Annette and Franco kept their lips airtight about what they secretly wanted from him and Tegan, but her daughter meant everything to her, and Hephaestus could otherwise take up a lot of time with Lily’s everything.

Like every parent, she wanted Tegan to stay young, and she wanted her to grow healthy and strong. Annette wouldn’t have the former, and after a fight involving shattered plates thrown by Lily and a cup of warm coffee poured on Lily’s upper leg by Annette, Lily gave in and scheduled a birthday party for Tegan. She’d make for a cute older child too, right?



And hearing Bronson’s laughter wasn’t a bad thing, was it?



“Oh, god, Lily,” Lilith Jones-Brown said, holding her nose, “That stinker of yours reminds me why I don’t want kids.” But Lily would miss her little stinker’s wobbly legs and simple sentences and how her toddler was an easy excuse to take a hiatus from her career for.



Not so much for Tegan. She leaned towards the cake and blew out the candles without hesitation.



With such a happy, eager daughter and a bundle of birthday magic lightening the mood, Lily still cracked a big, beaming smile in the end.



The birthday magic gave Tegan much more hair than she had as a toddler. It gave her a head of chest-length, thick black hair in tumbling waves. After it kept getting in her eyes, Franco braided it in two long pigtails and let her pick out some clothes. The porcelain-esque color scheme stayed with Tegan, and her wardrobe was full of deep blue and striking white.

“Looking good, princess,” Tegan’s grandfather said, “Aren’t you going to say hi to the guests?” But Tegan sprinted upstairs as fast as her chubby legs could take her before she heard Franco.



As if she could sense it through sonar or ESP, Tegan found the inventing station without going into the wrong room first, and found the toolbox in its right drawer. After two hours of tightening screws and working with sheet metal, she came out with…some sort of toy. Maybe a whale. It moved its flippers when she wound up a crank on its back.

“I can do this, just like daddy,” she said to herself. Wasn’t inventing kind of like engineering?



“Brilliant!” Tegan exclaimed, “I can be just like him!”



Word Count for this chapter: 1,893
Word Count so far: 114,481

So the bit about the silvery guy in Barnacle Bay cloning himself...me, doing a Domination Dynasty? Whatever gave you that idea? ;)

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 68, 7/16)
« Reply #317 on: July 17, 2014, 03:46:46 AM »
Oh, my heart melted at the picture of Heph there with Tegan at the peg box!  So sweet!  And she's a gorgeous child!

Wait, another Trip dynasty!  Where!?  *follows scent*

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 68, 7/16)
« Reply #318 on: July 17, 2014, 07:57:56 AM »
Hehe...it's almsot like Tegan and Heph are made for one another. :P Both intellectual geeky types in their own way (even if Heph's intellectual crosses the border to insanity).

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 68, 7/16)
« Reply #319 on: July 17, 2014, 08:13:44 AM »
What great screenshots! And, your storytelling keeps me entertained. Sorry I don't comment much but I surely am reading.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 68, 7/16)
« Reply #320 on: July 17, 2014, 08:20:38 AM »
Hephaestus is so awesome! And Tegan is such an adorable child. Ooh, a domination dynasty? Now looking forward to hearing more about that!

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 69, 7/18)
« Reply #321 on: July 18, 2014, 02:14:57 PM »
Between the 20th and the 29th, I'll be out on vacation to the exotic, foreign land of Portland, Oregon, though with my laptop. While I hope to get something out in my spare time, my updates will likely slow down.

Oh, my heart melted at the picture of Heph there with Tegan at the peg box!  So sweet!  And she's a gorgeous child!

Wait, another Trip dynasty!  Where!?  *follows scent*

She was seriously a gorgeous sim. Just wait until she grows up!

The scent will lead you nowhere right now, but yes, I have another dynasty up my sleeves. I hope to shake up my writing style a little bit with it too.

Hehe...it's almsot like Tegan and Heph are made for one another. :P Both intellectual geeky types in their own way (even if Heph's intellectual crosses the border to insanity).

A lot of their traits complimented each other very well. I loved the relationship between them, especially all of these strictly platonic bits.

What great screenshots! And, your storytelling keeps me entertained. Sorry I don't comment much but I surely am reading.

Thank you! And don't worry, I trust that you're still reading. I'm a bad commentor too.

Hephaestus is so awesome! And Tegan is such an adorable child. Ooh, a domination dynasty? Now looking forward to hearing more about that!

Soon you will! (Probably some time after my aforementioned vacation).



Chapter 69: Destroyer of Worlds



Bronson signed Tegan up for a before-school activity, so he could be the one to drive her to school and hug her good-bye for the day before designing better engines for rockets until Twinbrook was dark again. Plus, he kept mumbling about how he better make sure to talk about making Tegan his intern when she grew up. If a career in the military was in her future, she had to get used to the early mornings.



Now, her morning class was Junior Choir, and it was only twice a week. Her electives and after-school activities varied more. Junior Shop Class on Mondays, Junior Programming after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, half a class of Junior Painting for one Friday until Franco intervened and removed her from the class and took her out for ice cream instead, and so on. She was booked. However, after a few hours playing with her blocks and dolls at home for Tegan, Bronson greeted her at the door in his navy-blue military uniform and badges and asked her if she did her homework, which she usually had yet to start.

“We’re not putting you in the program for nothing, peapod,” he told her.

“Yeah, but I kind of need your help.”

The two of them spent an hour on Pre-Algebra and on her Junior Programming extra credit assignment. After his refresher on conditional statements stuck with Tegan, he tucked her into bed and read her to sleep with his new developments in the space project. Bronson could go on all night fascinating her with the process of making the lightest, most powerful engine that could also get them into space.

“Have you learned about the Lunar Lakes colony in your history class yet?” he asked. Tegan shook her head no.

“Well, we’ve been out on contact with them for a while. The country used to have a space program, but it fell apart not too long after some of us got to Lunar Lakes. We can go back there if we succeed.”

“What’s it like there? Does anyone know?”

“It’s a land of computers and wires underneath your feet. Like a big computer.”

For a little bit, Tegan fell asleep to her father’s tales from the military, and she dreamt of Boolean operators and Visual Basic. He said that every project needs a programmer, and for the tiniest speck of time, that was Tegan’s biggest dream. Her, sitting in front of the white glow of an LCD screen lined with code.

For a little, tiny bit, Tegan thought that technology was good, until she rode home from school one day with a straight face, and broke down into tears upon arriving home. “Uncle Julian,” fresh from the newspaper office in his beige trenchcoat, did his best to comfort his…whatever Tegan was to him. He asked what was wrong.

Sniffling, she said something about Bryant, the new kid in Junior Programming, who boasted of exploiting security loopholes and ruining the lives of a few bloggers by leaking passwords. Bryant was Tegan’s age and likely just parroting what some teenager he passed by on the second floor of the school said, as opposed to being a hacking mastermind at seven years of age, but Tegan believed him.

“I don’t want to program anymore. Not to be like that,” she sobbed.

“You’re not a bad person. You don’t need to do that to program-“

“The teacher thanked him for it.”

“That’s just because your aunt Nellie isn’t a good person either. She can code very well, but I don’t think all programmers are like her.”

“Can you tell mum and dad to take me out of the class?” she said.



Spineless Julian promised that, as long as Tegan dried her eyes, dressed in her best, and posed for more sculptures. He wasn’t getting a good appraisal on the value of any of the other attempts. She took a coy stance and posed for eight more sculptures.



Julian also promised her a hot dog for her services, and she got that too. After eating a hot dog with Dijon mustard, it seemed like Tegan wasn’t as distraught over Bryant’s antics as she was when she arrived home from school, but Bronson tucked her in again that night and she had the same thing to say to him. She couldn’t be on a bad side, not in the slightest.

He went to the principal for a talk the next day. Poor Bronson was growing soft in his old age.



For Tegan, the use of technology in the house started to bite at her. The video game soundtracks grated at her ears, and the smooth glass of Hephaestus’ tablet felt more like rough sandpaper when he handed her the tablet for a game of Fruit Ninja. The code and processors and RAM sticks soon became her foreign enemy.



She even pretended to ride her rocking horse for the pursuit of justice against the new opposition, against the circuits and LCD screens. Tegan pointed menacingly at the wall-sized television for the whole time.



Without Junior Programming taking up her Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, Tegan biked home at 3 in erratic weather patterns, snow sometimes and 50 degree weather the next day, and got there half an hour later to play with her blocks more, and pester Hephaestus for always using his tablet. Still, she put up with him studying the physics of Angry Birds in his spare time, and sat by him and his blasted technology for a bit of wholesome reading. Bronson had plenty of comic books that he wrote and partially illustrated, born from holing himself up in the upstairs study after a long day of work, and worse, being around other people.

One day, Tegan already read through all of Enigma, her father’s graphic novelization of Alan Turing’s life, so she needed a new comic series. Apples and Oranges was too tech-based, but Feynman Smash! seemed silly and perfect for an afternoon of reading.

The first panel? A flash forward to an illustration of the first atomic bomb, and how it turned the White Sands of New Mexico to glass. Even if the magnitude of its power could not be captured in a full-page illustration of its white and orange glow.

“What?!” she squealed, throwing the book down on the dark blue carpet. Sure, the bomb was a product of those strange Earthlings, but of their military. She thought about it all night. What made Bronson’s job any different?

She swatted Bronson away when he tried to lull his daughter to sleep with new rocket engine developments.

“You’re just want to destroy everything!” Tegan buried her head under the covers and turned away from Bronson, “Like the atom bomb.”

“Peapod, we’re not like that. We’ll never be like that. Heck, even the earthlings keep those things under tight control.”

She heard none of it, and dropped any plans to be like him, even if a job in the military was full of all of the rockets and planes she was told about.

In spite of that, she still kept herself in Junior Shop Class, even through the gears and and metals. Tegan was still a natural at it, handling delicate moving parts and more cranks and wind-up bits. None of those bothered her, as it was all physics that moved the gears which moved more gears. She faced little trouble there, aside from wood splinters when they worked on construction and one small burn from the blowtorch the school allowed children to use.

Math had its own troubles. Not that Tegan barely survived the course, not at all, considering that she walked out of it with an A. But Bryant from Programming took the desk next to her. At first, he did his assignments like a normal student and stayed out of trouble, keeping his round head turned away from Tegan when she finished the classwork for the day three minutes before he did. He turned his head away and faced Tegan only with the mass of jet-black hair on the back of his head when she got her assignments back, scoring in the 90’s much like he did.

One day, he turned towards her, elbowing her in the arm.

“What was that for?” she asked.

“You shouldn’t do math,” he said.

“Why? I like it.”

“You’re a girly girl who wears bows and ribbons. Why don’t you go play with your Easy Bake?”

Again, Tegan came home in tears, after both facing Bryant and tumbling over in the four inches of snow that fell that day while biking home. Neither of her parents greeted her at the door.



Mum had a career to get back on track.

And dad? He obsessed over himself in the mirror, worse than Franco ever did in a week. He ran his hands over his kind-of smooth skin, with the laugh lines and wrinkles. He ran his fingers through his curly black hair, with maybe five grey strands in it. He sighed deeply each time he finished, then admiring the signs of his youth again.



When Lily came home, he had to say good-bye to all of it. Good bye nice skin, good bye black hair, good bye muscles. Good bye to the attractive younger wife? Hopefully not. She still cheered for him.



While Tegan made amends with her father over the military thing, still wary of what he could do but in a friendlier way, she ducked out of his last birthday party with Hephaestus for some hot chocolate at the winter festival. He stepped outside in a manly lilac sarong and no shirt instead of anything that could keep his noodle arms from freezing off. After a cup of hot chocolate for the both of them, they played tag, at Tegan’s request. Warm and cozy in her hooded dress, stockings, and furry boots, she didn’t complain about the temperature. And neither did Hephaestus.



She trusted that dad was doing just fine.



But as Bronson got dressed in a conservative violet sweater, someone at the festival fell with a thud muffled by the thick snow.

Hephaestus was down, with his skin pale and blue in the winter cold.

“Guys, help?” Tegan asked, scared for her friend.

“Oh, we keep a hairdryer around for these things,” the worker said, “It’s battery-powered.”



She ran it for ten minutes, nearly exhausting all of the battery’s power, for the sake of saving Hephaestus’ skin. But after those ten minutes, he could move his joints, and lifted himself up from the cold powder. After buying a cup of tea for the road to soothe his freezing body, Hephaestus quickly piled himself, Tegan, and the tea into the car. In spite of having a game of tag with her best friend, Tegan still sulked in the passenger’s seat.

“Something getting you down?” he asked.

“I can’t do math,” she said.

“But you’re doing so well in that class.”

“Bryant told me that I can’t do it because I’m a girly-girl. I want to take, something else.”

“I’m not letting you give up another passion. I think you can do math better than any guy, and you can double the ribbons in your hair and it won’t matter.”

“Really?”

“That’s actually how it works,” he said, “You’re good at math because you’re good at it. A lot of people don’t like girly-girls, but you know what? The world can use some smiles and sunshine from girls like you.”

She looked out the window and smiled, watching snowflakes blanket the world.



When they arrived home, Lily and Bronson were still occupied.

“Don’t you have a sculpture to finish?” he asked Lily.

“What sculpture? We need to give the new you a test run first.”



In the absence of any other adults, Hephaestus stepped in to give Tegan a hug goodnight.

“So I’m still smart?” she asked him.

“You’re the smartest kid I know. And the best. Good night, peapod.”



Word Count for this chapter: 1,990
Word Count so far: 116,471

I needed some way to justify my inventing technophobe named Tegan, I guess. She kept the ribbons and bows and ultra-feminine aesthetic throughout her life, which clashed with her intellectual leanings until I realized that, you know, girly-girls can be smart too.

The Bryant jerk will make future appearances, in images too! I just didn't get any of him until a little later. Oops.

Offline RaiaDraconis

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 69, 7/18)
« Reply #322 on: July 18, 2014, 02:25:44 PM »
Ya know what? I like Tegan even more now. :) Everyone has met their version of Bryant at some point or another, and as a woman in a scientific field I can absolutely relate. It's all a matter of how you respond, and it looks like Heph is helping her find her way. These two are simply awesome together!

And enjoy your vacation. :)


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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 69, 7/18)
« Reply #323 on: July 18, 2014, 04:06:24 PM »
I love all the purple that Bronson and Hephaestus wear. Tegan's dresses are also just gorgeous. I love the way you use patterns.

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Re: Eight Ways to Live Forever: The Waverly Immortal Dynasty (Ch. 69, 7/18)
« Reply #324 on: July 18, 2014, 08:16:54 PM »
Oh my... Poor Tegan!  I want bad bad things to happen to Bryant XD  I've met a few of those kind of people too.