Chapter 4.24 – Wisdom

For the first time in many years, a quiet calm settles over the Barimen Estate. This peaceful respite helps to smooth over the many frayed nerves and nearly broken spirits the family has suffered over the past generation.   Truth be told, the change is unprecedented. The family has been embroiled in one tragedy or another since before Julian Barimen’s return to Sunset Valley. There is hardly any resemblance remaining between those early days and what exists now, however. So it seems only fitting to carefully place these experiences aside for antiquity. For the Barimen family, Faith’s birth turns the page. … Continue reading Chapter 4.24 – Wisdom

Chapter 4.23 – Purpose

Hope gazes into her daughter’s eyes and marvels at her tiny features. She has named her daughter Faith. It is the one and only name that could possibly fit such an amazing creation. Ironically, she had been conceived during a time when Hope had completely abandoned her own faith. She is not proud of what happened during those few months. In fact, it scares her to death. She nearly drowned in the murky water Michael had drawn her into. But her “guardian angel” was there to pull her up. Faith’s fussing brings Hope’s attention back down to earth. She snuggles the … Continue reading Chapter 4.23 – Purpose

Chapter 4.22 – Algorithm

General Jon Buford indulges himself with a smug smile toward his captured prey.   He has spent his entire adult life investigating the accident at the research lab located in the McAllister mine (see Chapter 3.7 – Shrapnel).  Surviving shreds of intel gathered from  the accident, suggest that his captive was the root cause behind the unfortunate chain of events. Her unexplained appearance during a rather sensitive experiment had created a massive power surge, overloading the miniaturized reactor powering the facility. The destruction was complete. Yet this sim somehow survived.   Buford was still quite a young man at the time. Had he been in charge of the initial investigation, it would … Continue reading Chapter 4.22 – Algorithm

Chapter 4.21 – Status

It was not too long ago that Hope Barimen stood at the top of the social pecking order at school.   She learns just how quickly this status can change over the next few months. She becomes the butt of the same “loser” jokes previously reserved for Michael Nava. Added to the forray is the inescapable fact that she is pregnant. And to make matters worse, the rumor going around is that Michael is the father of Hope’s child. Shunned by the same people who had at one time idolized her, Hope finds that she has nobody to turn to. Dara … Continue reading Chapter 4.21 – Status

Chapter 4.20 – Angel

Pregnant – the word sits on her chest like a two-ton weight.   How could she have been such an idiot? Kacey waits nearby for Hope’s family to arrive, while she rests on a gurney in the hospital’s ER. She has suffered a number of severe contusions, cracked ribs, and a slight concussion, but is otherwise healthy. Thankfully, her baby is completely unharmed as a result of the beating. Her baby… Hope is in the early stages of gestation. But regardless of whether she is a little bit or a lot pregnant, the fact remains that she carries a precious new life inside of her; and it changes … Continue reading Chapter 4.20 – Angel

Chapter 4.19 – Boundaries

Hope Barimen has become a different sim.   She has always been friendly and outgoing, and never one to shy away from socializing. But before now, there were boundaries she had been careful not to cross. For some sims, like Michael Nava, the very existence of such boundaries is reason enough to cross them. Life is what a sim makes of it, he tells her. And it should be experienced at full volume without the burdens of antiquated ideologies or fear of some mythical cosmic figurehead.   Live free and die young, is what Michael preaches during the next few … Continue reading Chapter 4.19 – Boundaries

Chapter 4.18 – Sinking

Hope Barimen is a sim who finds herself so deep into a bad situation, that giving up and sinking even lower seems far easier, and possibly more desirable, than going through with the effort of pulling herself back up.   It started the evening after talking with Michael Nava at school. Despite her better judgement, she decided to take some very expensive wine from the house, and sneak out to a party at an address she did not recognise. She felt uncomfortable with the rather seedy-looking crowd that had gathered at the old, abandoned Goth Manor. She had tried a number of times to find … Continue reading Chapter 4.18 – Sinking

Chapter 4.17 – Party

Hope can hear a barrage of noise blaring from the old Goth Manor as she tentatively steps out of her car.   She is immediately confused. There were rumors that the Goth family had somehow lost their wealth, but the details are very sketchy. Honestly, Hope never really understood the complexities of business, and really had no inkling to. Nonetheless, the address Michael gave her is correct, and there does seem to be some kind of party raging inside.   As she enters the old, wrought-iron gates, she can hear wild hooting, yelling, and laughing; barely audible over the thunderous assault that beats out … Continue reading Chapter 4.17 – Party

Chapter 4.16 – Confidence

This latest trip to China has easily been Hope’s favorite one to date.   The timing of this trip had been absolutely perfect. Her father’s return home provided enough excitement to shoot her through the stratosphere. But it was the discussion about plans for the new estate that truly sent her into the next gear. Her brain had become such a crisscross of over-stimulation, that Hope was having difficulty focusing on anything. Her grandparents, too, were overwhelmed at first by the stream of consciousness spilling from her. And after considerable effort on the part of her grandfather, it turned out that martial arts was not … Continue reading Chapter 4.16 – Confidence

Chapter 4.15 – Fortune

Mark sits alone at the park while Mei works her shift at the police station.   After quitting his job as an international undercover intelligence agent, he has little else to do. Although he has finally made it home, he feels as though he has jumped from one raging, whitewater torrent into another. Time had not stood still while he was gone, and Sunset Valley feels like a completely different place as a result. There is no better evidence of this than from within his own family.  Hope has become a beautiful young woman, and Dara threatens to be just as gorgeous as both her sister and … Continue reading Chapter 4.15 – Fortune

Chapter 4.14 – Wounds

She was still a child the last time Hope saw her father.   — She had never doubted once that he would return safely. But it is quite clear that her confidence had not been shared with the other members of her household.  Even her mother, who had held out longer than anybody else, eventually gave up believing that he would return.  Added to that, is the lingering anger over the fact that Mark had put his job ahead of family. But the relief and joy of knowing he is alive and back in Sunset Valley outweighs any other emotion, and the spectre that has haunted the Barimen … Continue reading Chapter 4.14 – Wounds

Chapter 4.13 – Alive

Grandpa David’s death had come as a shock to everybody.   Hope had missed school the Friday following her birthday party, and had also slept through the small birthday celebration for both Mary and Elizabeth. He died that night before going to bed, soon after Elizabeth moved out.  Hope felt terrible. Not only had she lied to her grandfather, but she took advantage of his trust during the party. It is something she will never be able to apologize for. The weekend that follows seems like one of the worst of her life. She wants to talk to her mother about the party, but she … Continue reading Chapter 4.13 – Alive

Chapter 4.12 – Secret

They used to call him “Cabin Boy”.   He had been born in the tiny cabin that was built by one of Sunset Valley’s first settlers. It stood there, over time, among the massive mansions and seemingly limitless wealth; mostly hidden from sight by the growth of trees and underbrush which had overtaken it. Despite the opulence it was surrounded by, the tiny log cabin remained, sitting proudly upon a plot of dirt far more valuable than anything its neighbors could fathom.   David had tried so hard to learn for himself what it was, exactly, that made this land so important. There have … Continue reading Chapter 4.12 – Secret

Chapter 4.11 – Insurgent

Mark regards the girl who had been Rakim’s wife. He remembers everything.   He has no words to describe how he feels about the situation. He asks her about the papers and the picture he had been carrying. She quickly fetches them and silently hands them over to him. Mark sees that her hands are trembling. Though he has known the young woman intimately, he cannot bring himself to comfort her now. He simply nods to her and tells her that the nightmare is over.   His body is weak and skeletally thin from the withdrawal he had suffered. Realizing that he has not … Continue reading Chapter 4.11 – Insurgent

Chapter 4.10 – Freedom

Rakim has been permitted to visit with family for a last time before his mission to martyrdom.   Having no remaining family of his own, he agrees to allow his wife to visit her parents in a nearby village. The dreams have been coming to him nightly now; dreams of being buried alive and clawing through the earth to find the surface. He gets very little sleep as a result. Rakim feels ill on the morning of the trip, and his stomach churns at the thought of eating. Although it is forbidden, he quietly gives his portion of the meal provided during training to another recruit. Then, … Continue reading Chapter 4.10 – Freedom