Friday, March 16, 2012

Chapter 12: Thingamajigs And Other Plots

(Z: mild language warning.)

Altin had gone for broke, literally, in planning Elsie's birthday present. Just one thing left to decide.

"So...what do you want as a theme for your bedroom?"

"Uhm...horses!" YES!

"Wait, no, even better, unicorns." Oh come on...

Unicorns it was.

Altin even moved the computer from the living room to Elsie's room, so it'd be easier for her to do her homework. Or something. 

And as an extra gift, he had gotten a matching painting easel, which Elsie broke in immediately in an effort to singlehandedly provide the house's wall decor. 

Wall decor on walls that were no longer orange, thanks to the rest of the renovations.

"That's great, Elsie, what a pretty girl!"

"It's a cow."


But for as pretty and as unicorn-filled as the new room was, Elsie didn't seem to want to sleep in it, as Altin discovered when he checked on her on his way to his own room. She was still wide awake, sitting on the floor and muttering to herself about lines of perspective and chemical analysis.

He sat down next to his daughter and peered over her should at a notebook that was impressively filled, considering less than a day ago she was still a Toddler. "What are you working on?"

"I have to get ready for school," she bemoaned. "And there's so much to learn! I'll never be ready in time!"

(Z: I said impressively filled, Elsie!)

Awww, she was nervous. 

"You know," Altin began, "You're going to be in class with kids your own age. They're all just starting school now too. You'll have a teacher to show you what you need to learn, you don't need to stay up late the day before school worrying about it..."

"If I don't make a comprehensive educational projection now, then I won't have the proper academic preparation I need, and then I won't be on track for a top-tier university, and then I'll never become the best criminal forensics investigator in the world!"

Oh, that's going to make for an awkward conversation in eighteen years...

"You're absolutely right. And of course, the first step in any comprehensive educational thingamajig--"

"Comprehensive educational projection."

"Right, like I said, comprehensive educational thingamajig. Anyway, of course the first step in any thingamajig is to make sure you get plenty of rest so you can be in peak mental condition the next day. For, uh, implementation something-or-other purposes."

For a minute Elsie looked horrified and shuffled through her papers, then penciled something in a margin, leapt to her feet, and hugged him, before practically throwing herself into bed.

He guessed that meant she agreed.

The next day, Elsie went to school...

And Altin went to work. Sort of. His only assignment for the day was to report to a quaint little cottage in the rural part of town, and that "he'd understand when he got there." Looks like they still didn't trust him to do any real work.

Oh, great, she's back in town.
(Z: I think we all have that moodlet when we talk to our bosses, Altin.)

"Is this where you--"

"Live? One of several places. It's conveniently low-profile."

"And floral..."

What was it with Grey Meadow people and orange?

"So, are you enjoying the fine world of thug work?"

"Uh, I don't know, I haven't actually done any thug work yet."

Uh oh, wrong answer. Altin tried to explain, but that just seemed to make her angrier.

"When I give an order I expect them to follow it," she hissed. "You, stay there, I need to go fix this immediately."

"Hey, wait, I didn't really mind..."

She rounded on him then. "I'm listening. Go on."

"I'm, uh, not really suited for being a thug, am I? I have these delicate thief hands, and I'm too nice...I'm sure there's some big scary guy you could find to do it instead..." Also, he didn't want to explain to Elsie why he'd be beating people up for a living, but he didn't really want to talk to the boss about his daughter.

Kanzler stared at him for a moment as if she was deciding whether to throw him to the sharks. Just as he was really starting to regret saying anything... "I'll consider it."


"I'll look at the staff charts and I'll see whether I can rearrange anyone to better suit your delicate little conscience-- I'm sorry, I mean your 'thief hands', and I will consider it."

"Why?" Oh, Watcher, did he just say that out loud? He couldn't help it, she caught him offguard with the lack of immediate shark-feeding.

"Why?" She laughed. Altin was pretty sure that was a bad sign. "Oh, you really don't know, do you?"

"That's...why I asked." That and the fact that he never learned to bite his tongue.

"How did you escape from prison, Snickerson?"

Oh no, a trap. "I...there was a fight. I snuck outside in the commotion."

"You walked out the front door of a county prison? And that doesn't seem the slightest bit odd to you?" She laughed again. He was really starting to hate that. "You walked out of that prison because the guards for Verona County Prison work for us. They were transferred to Bridgeport after that. Nice promotion, came with a highrise. And to answer your inevitable next question, because it occurred to me that you were still useful to me."

Wait, what? Still? He asked as much.

"You've worked for me before, on a very important job. That's why you had to be caught, you see. Loose ends and all that. But I changed my mind. It was a very good score, after all."

"...the Diamond." Oh. Oh, shit. That meant...

"Have you heard the legend about the Diamond, Snickerson? It's quite fascinating."

"Nope. Not at all. Not a word of it. Never heard of it before in my life."

"Unfortunate. Essentially, whoever controls the diamond can control a unicorn. And thanks to you, I control the diamond. So you see, I'd be happy to waste my time rearranging the Organization because you don't want to be mean to some target. I owe you a favor."

"Okay. Great. Unicorns. I'm going to go now."

Elsie, meanwhile, had decided she quite liked school. 

Especially the part where she had the house to herself all afternoon while her father was at work. She put a sandwich together for herself -- there were leftovers from dinner, but Daddy was a pretty bad cook -- and went to sit down.

"Hello, child."

Everything about the stranger screamed BAD MAN, from the fact that he was actually glowing, to the creepy eyes, to the fangs, to the fact that he was in her house. Elsie did the only thing she could think of, even though she had been very thoroughly told not to unless it was an emergency.

She called her father's work. A BAD MAN in the house uninvited counted as an emergency in her book.

It wasn't her dad that answered the phone, but the lady that did put her on hold -- with the BAD MAN still standing right there?! -- and transferred her to another lady, who listened to Elsie describe the BAD MAN for a moment, asked a few questions, and then disconnected.

A moment later, the BAD MAN's phone rang.

He stepped away to answer, and Elsie really didn't want to get close enough to him to hear what he was talking about, but after a second or two she saw him get nervous and speak faster into the phone. He paused a moment after hanging up, then nearly tiptoed back to her.

"How about we just agree this never happened?"


When Altin got home, after a particularly worrisome phonecall of his own, Elsie was already in bed, but woke up when he stepped inside the door.

"So...I heard you had kind of a weird moment today..."

"Yeah, but it's okay. I talked to some lady on the phone. At first I thought she sounded mean, but she said she'd take care of it and then the bad man answered his phone and freaked out and left. So I guess she did take care of it. That was nice of her."

Huh. So that favor Kanzler owed him extended far enough for her to want to keep her other goons from messing with Altin's family. That was almost sweet.

"Also, she said that you could have the bad man's job because he wouldn't be needing it anymore. So that's a good thing, right?"

Okay, still terrifying. But terrifying and sweet.

(Z: The "bad man" is Shaw Blightwood, one of the premade sims made for Grey Meadow. All credit for his general freakiness goes to Quailhogs.

And no, I have no idea how he got in the house.)