Chapter 5 – Addendum

The recent past… Khaliq approaches Kacey, being careful to make his presence known and not frighten her. The woman is nervous like a cat, and she has a unnearving sense that borders on paranoia. He has had to take exceedingly great caution in interacting with her. His mission to kill Mark Barimen became secondary when he learned the truth about this “Kacey”, and her special talent. Had he just simply killed Mark that night instead of agreeing to help the dark-skinned girl, none of this would have been possible. She is the key to making everything right. Khaliq wonders about the source from … Continue reading Chapter 5 – Addendum

Chapter 5.23 – Birthplace

The house feels empty with Hope, Doc, and the boys gone. Faith did not have the opportunity to share the news about her pregnancy with Hope before she left. Or perhaps she had the opportunity, and just chose not to take advantage of it. Either way, saying goodbye to her brothers was possibly the most difficult thing she has ever done. Jimmy was there for her, of course. He is always there when she needs him. He gently offered comfort and attributed her haywire emotions to pregnancy hormones gone wild. Maybe he’s right. Then again, hormones can’t explain the feeling … Continue reading Chapter 5.23 – Birthplace

Chapter 5.22 – Optimism

Hope gives birth to twin boys, Thomas and Joseph, during the quiet weeks that lead up to Faith’s wedding. — It has been a long time since there were babies in the Barimen household, and the additions make for a very welcome change. But raising children is never easy, and right from the beginning, the boys’ personalities show that Doc and Hope will have their hands full. Faith wouldn’t have thought it possible for infants to compete with each other, but Thomas and Joseph seem to be the exceptions. Faith wonders what kind of sibling rivalries she will have to … Continue reading Chapter 5.22 – Optimism

Chapter 5.21 – Engagement

Even though boys grow up, they rarely grow out of their favorite childhood things. For Jimmy Vergne, his obsession of choice is hot rod cars. Faith doesn’t mind the hobby so much as she does the exhaust fumes that hang in the air at the trade shows he enjoys attending. Looking back, she should have seen the rather obvious outcome of tonight’s big event. He had asked her a million times that day whether she was still planning on coming with him. After stopping at EVERY SINGLE hot rod car on display, they finally head into the stadium to watch … Continue reading Chapter 5.21 – Engagement

Chapter 5.20 – Supercomputer

In the weeks that follow Faith’s daring underground rescue, there is an odd air of uncertainty surrounding the Barimen household; for Faith in particular. By her best estimation, it started the evening she brought Doc home. It has continued, now, into her adult birthday. Her troubling vision in the cavern has only complicated matters further. In the past, her birthday wishes have been no-brainers. She had always wanted to learn who her biological father is, and bring him into her life. Her mother had always been completely honest about her past, and the circumstances by which she found herself pregnant with Faith. But the … Continue reading Chapter 5.20 – Supercomputer

Chapter 5.19 – Khaliq

Mark awakens with a number of sharp pains all over his body. The worst one is his shoulder, where the attacker had struck while aiming for Mark’s head. Had he been a few years younger, Mark would have avoided the strike completely. He tries to make sense of what Jimmy is frantically saying to him over the bells still ringing loudly in his head. Has something happened to Faith? Mark slowly gets up and stands on his unsteady feet. He took quite a beating. He quietly wonders to himself whether he ever hit that hard. Mark waves Jimmy off and stumbles … Continue reading Chapter 5.19 – Khaliq

Chapter 5.18 – Lunatic

The night has a surreal quality to it. Faith notices this as she, Jimmy, Doc, and Mark rush down the steep slope leading to the beach below the estate. She knows so little about her family history, and it is quite honestly nobody’s fault but hers. She has preoccupied her mind with the conspicuous absence of a father, and mostly ignored the amazing family she had been already blessed with. She has never asked anything about Grandpa Mark or Grandma Mei. Her own mother’s heritage is Chinese; and yet has never asked about her background. And the names Grandpa Mark spoke about; Julian, Bebe, … Continue reading Chapter 5.18 – Lunatic

Chapter 5.17 – Rescue

‘Dangerous’ does not even begin to describe what Faith is suggesting. Doc agrees that a rescue mission must take place, and adds that none of them possess the necessary skills or equipment. The drone’s shaft is the fastest way down into the cavern, but there is no guarantee that its stability is sound enough for a sim to descend through. Doc shakes his head, emphatically dismissing her idea to stage their own rescue. Perhaps it is her own adventurous spirit causing her to strike out, or maybe it is the same sense of justice that drew her to Doc in … Continue reading Chapter 5.17 – Rescue

Chapter 5.16 – Drone

On a small, secluded hilltop that overlooks Ft. Gnome, Doc sets up his equipment to survey “geologic activity”.   Ground penetrating radar has confirmed the existence a large, cavernous area nearly five hundred feet below; a fact he has not divulged to his fellow scientists. Drilling will take days, but his small camp is outfitted well enough to last at least a week. Clandestine operations are not his strong suit, so keeping his colleagues in the dark about the true nature of his drilling comes with difficulty. He feigns interest and excitement in some rather routine findings regarding geologic makeup and local metallogeny. His … Continue reading Chapter 5.16 – Drone

Chapter 5.15 – Drill

Mark’s birthday celebration is complicated somewhat by the spotlight that has been shined on him over the past weeks. His career as a “private” investigator has become rather public after apprehending a number of high-profile criminals, followed by a public retirement from police work. It was only a matter of time before details of his previous career became the focus of public fascination. Once reporters broke open the story that Mark had been held captive overseas, his celebrity status skyrocketed. Dozens of journalists flooded into Al Simhara to investigate the story and interview the locals who live scattered throughout the rugged and … Continue reading Chapter 5.15 – Drill

Chapter 5.14 – Retirement

Faith wakes up in the morning and readies herself for school.   She is still too upset to face her grandfather at breakfast, so she grabs an apple from her backpack and eats it on the way out the door. Grandpa Mark’s reaction yesterday was not what she expected. He didn’t seem too concerned about what she had done at the Bits-n-Bites, standing up for Doc. He agreed that offering Doc a job was definitely crossing the line, but not out of the realm of possibility. What he really freaked out about was her bringing Doc home.   Grandpa Mark … Continue reading Chapter 5.14 – Retirement

Chapter 5.13 – Future

The dream is more vivid tonight than it ever has been before.    —   She wants to wake up, but she cannot. Kacey is sobbing though her pain and begging for it to end; one way or another. Her weak and desperate voice calls out for Hope through the sobs. If there were only some way to help her. Then she sees Faith wandering through the misty setting of her dream-place. Is she searching for Kacey too? Hope tries to call out, but nothing happens.   There is somebody else here too. He is tall, handsome, and dark-skinned. He is following Faith, but … Continue reading Chapter 5.13 – Future

Chapter 5.12 – Nobody

Mark could have come into the foyer banging pots and pans, and Hope would still have been oblivious to his presence.   Likewise, his hasty departure from the awkward scene goes with about as much notice as his arrival. It is just as well, honestly; since Hope and Doc only just stare at each other in dumbfounded silence for quite some time. Hope does eventually speak, confessing that she thought that he was nothing more than a dream. To see him standing in her home is nothing short of impossible.   Doc clears his throat, thankful for the merciful segue … Continue reading Chapter 5.12 – Nobody

Chapter 5.11 – Recognition

Faith knows that she has overstepped her boundaries with Jared. The full scope of what she has done really hits her as she drives home with Doc after leaving the Bits-n-Bites cafe. Jared not only fired her from the part-time job she had been doing for him, but he also evicted Doc and barred both of them from the cafe and the little basement lab where Doc had been working. Faith apologizes profusely to Doc for being so arrogant and pushy. All she can do is pray that Grandpa Mark will agree to give him a job at the research center. … Continue reading Chapter 5.11 – Recognition

Chapter 5.10 – Clout

When the Bits-n-Bites café opened, it seemed too good to be true.   What better place to hang out and do a Final Warcraft boss raid than a shop filled with killer gaming boxes AND a full kitchen? But lately, the place has come to remind her more of work than play. Jared Wiley is getting himself one heck of a deal. Faith bends over backward to keep his network secure; sometimes even getting up at night when he calls worrying about hackers or doomsday viruses.   She has never seen the greasy little snake work a day in his life. But … Continue reading Chapter 5.10 – Clout