Chapter 10: How to Make an Entrance

It was late in the Galactus household.  Han was still at work.  Ulrike was painting away downstairs and Ripley was asleep.  The newlyweds were relaxing in the hot tub on the deck.

“This is a lovely night,” Jaimie murmured as she leaned against Marcus.

“Sure is, though not as lovely as you.”

She giggled.  “I may be old, but I’m not blind.  I know what I look like.”

“That’s my wife yer talkin’ about,” he scolded her, kissing her gently, his grip around her waist tightening.

She smiled at him.  “Thanks.”

He leaned close and murmured in her ear, “You are a fine, fine woman, Jaimie Flex.  Don’t you forget that.”

Jaimie giggled again.  The two were too involved with one another to realize that a certain little girl had woken up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of orange juice.  She was half asleep as she wondered into the sunroom.  She liked to sit in there.  And doing it at night, when everyone was asleep added another element to it; it was a little scary, but really cool at the same time.  But as she sat, she heard the murmur of voices behind her.

She turned and saw that Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie were in the hot tub.  She turned around in her seat, her head tilted as she watched them.

They were kissing!

Ripley was puzzled.  Her parents kissed all the time.  She always came upon them with the same kind of looks in their eyes.  She heard a bit of splashing and her attention refocused on the hot tub as she saw the two of them disappear under the water!

Feeling intrusive, Ripley scuttled out of the sunroom, put her glass in the sink and then went back down to her room.  Her mother must have gone up to bed because she wasn’t in the family room painting anymore.  Ripley made a note to herself to ask her mother what Jaimie and Marcus were doing in the morning.


Han got home just as dawn was breaking up over the horizon.  He hit the treadmill first, then decided it was time for breakfast.  Marcus and Jaimie were already at the table, looking like two cats that had just eaten the canary.  He arched a brow and sat down.  “You guys are in your swimsuits,” he observed.

Jaimie giggled and looked at Marcus, winking.  “We were just- uh, enjoying a soak in the hot tub, right Marcus?”

Marcus nodded, his eyes twinkling.  “Mhm.”  He cleared his throat.  “Look, Han, ol’ buddy… were you serious when you said that I could uh- quit my job whenever I wanted?”

Han looked puzzled, then he nodded.  “Of course.  You don’t have to do anything you don’t wanna do.  Right Watcher?”

Of course.  You are all free Sims.

 Marcus looked at Jaimie.  “I’m glad to hear it.  Because I’m done.  I’ve got seven young uns now.  Some young buck can take over.”  His hand came up and he put it over Jaimie’s.  “Han, Jaimie and I got married last night.  We want to spend what’s left of our lives together.”

Han blinked for a moment as he processed the information.  “You- married?”  Then a huge grin split his face.  “Congratulations!  Sincerely!”  He winked at Jaimie.  “Gonna keep him in line?”

Jaimie laughed.  “You can call it that, yeah.”

Marcus laughed, a big booming sound.  Han stood.  “C’mere, big guy!”  The older man stood up and the two shared a back slapping hug.

“Congratulations, really.  I’m really happy for you guys.”

“Thanks man, truly.  She- makes me happy.  In a way I’d never thought of bein’.”

Han stepped back and then pointed at Jaimie.  “C’mon you!  Your turn!”

Jaimie gladly stepped toward him and was treated to a bear hug.

“You make sure he takes good care of you and you take good care of him, huh?  I want you guys to enjoy yourselves.”

Jaimie sighed.  “Thanks Han.  That means a lot.  Without you… Marcus and I would never have met.  So, thank you.”


While Han congratulated his two friends, Ulrike sat at the chess table in the family room with her daughter.  “Hey Mom?”

“Yeah sweetie?”

“I uh, I saw Uncle Marcus and Aunt Jaimie in the hot tub last night.”

“Mhm,” Ulrike said, moving a piece.  It wasn’t that unusual.  After gardening especially, Jaimie liked using the hot tub to soak her sore muscles.

“Well, they were- doing stuff.”

“Stuff?” Ulrike turned her full attention on her daughter.

“Well, there was kissing and then they went under the water and there was a LOT of splashing.”

Ulrike almost choked on her laughter.  “Oh-oh my, is that so?”

“Mhm, I wanted to get a drink and I was sittin’ in the sun room and I saw them out the window.”

“I-I see.  Well, don’t you worry about anything, baby.  They were- just having a good time, is all.”

“Oh, ok!  Can I have a good time, too Mom?”


Ulrike looked down at the bowl she was mixing things in, deep in thought.  Her daughter was off to school; luckily, the bus had come right around the time that Ripley was asking her why she couldn’t have fun like Marcus and Jaimie.  Ulrike was pulled in two directions.  She saw nothing wrong with those kinds of activities.  After all, didn’t she and her husband enjoy it?  Enjoy their relationship? But this was her little girl!  She was a child yet she would be a teen soon enough and that meant rampaging hormones.

“Afternoon beautiful.”  Han walked in, kissed his wife on the cheek and then sat down at the island.

“Hey, babe.”  She looked over her shoulder at him, batting her lashes.

“So, did you hear about Marcus and Jaimie?  They got married!”

Ulrike snorted out a laugh.  “I heard- something, as it were.”  Knowing that her husband might not take it so well about his daughter asking about ‘fun’, Ulrike decided to wait to tell him.  “I’m happy for them.  They both deserve it.  There’s always been- something there.  It’s nice they have one another.”

Han nodded.  “Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

“Hey Han?  Ripley texted me on her lunch break.  She’s bringing a friend over after school.  One of Marcus’s brood, actually.”

“Oh yeah?  That’s nice!”


“Thanks for having me over, Ripley!”

“You’re welcome, Landon!”  Ripley giggled.  She and Landon- Marcus’s only son- were seated in the sun room, talking and laughing about their school day.

Han was on the treadmill, using the excuse to work out, though in reality, he just wanted to watch them.  He’d been a bit shocked to see that his daughter’s little friend had been a boy.  The two kids stood up and though Han grinned, the thoughts in his head were not quite so pleasant.

“I should get back home.  Again, thanks Ripley!  And thanks for the help with the homework!”  The two children hugged and Landon left.

Ripley smiled up at her father.  “Landon’s great, Papa!  It’s ok for him to come over this weekend?”

“Um, sure, baby.  Of course.”

Ripley beamed up at him.  Han had to hold in the sigh.


You look a little- tense.  Everything ok?

 Han was running on the treadmill, looking very intense.

“I’m fine.  Just- thinking.  Thinking about Ripley.  My little girl’s gonna be a teenager soon.”

Yes, she will.  Tis the way of life, Han.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.  Go on, I’m fine.  Just wanted to get in a workout.”

Hmm…  Hey Ulrike, think your husband could use some time with his wife.

 “You got it, Watcher.  Thanks.”

As Han emerged a little while later, Ulrike was there to greet him with a tight hug and a knowing look on her face.  Han let out a sigh and let himself sink a little.

“I love you, Ulrike.”

“I love you too, Han.  C’mon.  Let’s just go relax a while, huh?”

“Yeah, that sounds like a plan.”


 

Chapter 9: I’m Just Crewman #6

“Hey Mom?” Ripley was studying the chess board in front of her intently.

“Yes baby?”

“I know that Aunt Jaimie does the gardening and you paint and cook.  Dad’s working on all his requirements, right?  So- what does Uncle Marcus do?”

Ulrike cringed a little.  It wasn’t that she had a problem with explaining things to her daughter, but she knew her husband wouldn’t be happy about it.  “Well, baby.  Marcus has a very important job, you see.  But it’s one I’ll explain to you a little later, ok?”

Ripley’s brow furrowed, but then she nodded slowly.  “Ok, Mom.  I was just hoping you could tell me why he has several kids running around.”

Ulrike’s eyes widened.  “O-oh… well-“  She hurriedly looked for something to keep her daughter’s mind off that.  “I believe that’s check, Rip!”

Ripley looked at the board intently again, her brow furrowing.  Then her head popped up.  “Mom?  What’s that over there?”

“What?  What do you mean, baby?”  Ulrike looked in the direction her daughter pointed.  “I don’t see anything, sweetie.”

Ripley had to hold in the giggle as she quickly switched a couple pieces.  “Oh no?  Sorry, Mom.  Must be losing it.”

Ulrike turned back and looked at the board then at Ripley.  She arched a brow.  “I wasn’t born yesterday, long lady,” she said with a laugh.

Ripley giggled.  “No, guess not, Mom.”  The little girl smiled sweetly.

“Oh, go get ready for school!” Ulrike told her with a laugh.

Still giggling, Ripley went upstairs to grab some breakfast.

You’re a tricky one, aren’t you?

 “Who me, Watcher?  Never.”

Hmph, you don’t fool me, child.  –chuckles—It serves your father right, though.  It’s about time he got a taste of his own medicine.

Ripley giggled again.

Better get to school, darling.

 “Oh, you’re right!  Bye, Watcher!’

Bye, dear.  Have fun!


Marcus sat in the room he shared with Jaimie, deep in thought.

“Hey, Marcus.  Simolean for yer thoughts?” Jaimie asked as she came in.

He smiled at her.  “Hey there, girl.  Not sure they’re worth that much.”  He managed a little chuckle as Jaimie sat on the edge of his bed with him.

“C’mon now, that isn’t like you, hun.  What’s wrong?”

Marcus shrugged.  “I-I’m just- I guess I’m tired of ‘the life’, now.  I’m old and while I still got it-“ He gave her a grin, “I just- I don’t want to break anymore hearts.  The girls are pretty good natured and all- they get this is a Dynasty and all that, but still.  And my kids- I wish they could live here, with us.”

Jaimie took one of his hands in hers.  “I know, honey.  I know.  It’s ok, though.  You know Han said that anytime you wanted to stop, you could.  What brought this on?”

Marcus flushed a little.  “While-“ he swallowed.  “To be honest, there-there’s someone that I want to be with.  Th-that I want to spend my last days with.  I-I just don’t know if she’ll have me or not.”

“O-oh.  I see.”  Jaimie masked the frisson of hurt in her eyes with a smile.  “Who’s the lucky girl?”

“It’s you, sugar,” Marcus said softly.

Jaimie’s face went from hurt, to surprised, to shocked.  Then she began to grin widely.  “Me?”

“Yes you.  We’ve been friends from the beginning.  I could always tell you anythin’, Jaimie.  Anything at all.  I always wanted to help Han.  And I have.  But I realized that I want to spend my last days enjoying life and I can only do that with you.”

“O-oh, Marcus,” she breathed, a single tear tracking down her cheek.  She shut her eyes and leaned against him.  He slid his arm around her and she did the same.  They just sat there for a long moment, enjoying each other’s company.

Marcus leaned back to grin at her, then something cracked in his back and he winced.  “Man, this gettin’ old stuff’s fer the birds!”

“That it is.  Here, let me help ya with that.”  With a smile, Jaimie began to massage his back and shoulder.  Marcus groaned in appreciation.

He stood up after a moment and looked at Jaimie seriously.  “Jaimie, I know you gotta think me crazy, but-“  He had to clear his throat.  “I love you, Jaimie.  We aren’t young anymore, you an’ I, but I know what I feel for you.  I love you, Jaimie Wilburn.”  He got down on one knee and looked up into her eyes.  “Will you spend the rest of our days together, as my wife?”  He pulled the ring from his pocket.

Jaimie’s eyes had grown impossibly wide as she looked at the ring, then at him.  “O-oh!” she managed.  “Yes, Marcus, yes!”  She slid the ring on her finger, admiring it for a moment before she kissed him softly.

With a whoop, Marcus swooped her up into his arms, grinning foolishly at her.  “Marcus!  Put me down!  You’ll hurt yourself!” Jaimie scolded, trying not to laugh as she grabbed onto his neck for dear life.

“Now now, I ain’t so old that I can’t lift my girl into my arms.  Yer light as a father, baby.”

Jaimie laughed and kissed him, not so softly this time.

Marcus set her down gently.  “We’ll have a wedding no one will forget!  I promise you.”

Jaimie looked up at him.  Then she shook her head.  “No, Marcus.  A nice, quiet ceremony, just you and I.  We should do it now.  Why wait?”

“Y-you don’t want a big ceremony?”

“No!  Not at all!  Leave that for the young ‘uns!” she said, cackling a little.

“Oh, thank the Watcher!” Marcus breathed out a sigh, then laughed.  “I figured you’d want a big one and was gonna give ya one.  Well, then, if you don’t, then yer right.  Let’s do it now.  Just you, me, and the beautiful sky out there.  I’ll go change into something appropriate.”

“Me too.  I’ll meet you out at the arch.”


And so, Marcus and Jaimie changed into something more suitable, though to be honest, neither one cared about that.  Then they met outside at the wedding arch where Han and Ulrike had exchanged their vows.  With Han at work, Ripley at school, and Ulrike busy with painting and cooking up a storm, Marcus and Jaimie spoke their vows beneath a clear blue sky, just the two of them.

“Jaimie Wilburn, I promise that from this day forward and until the day that Grim comes for me, I will honor you, cherish you, and support you in all you do.”

“Marcus Flex, I promise that from today onward and even after Grim takes me, I will honor you, cherish you, support you in all you do.  And I promise that I will be the kind of step mother to your children that won’t be seen as a wicked witch!”

That brought a laugh out of Marcus as she kissed his cheek.

The two kissed after their vows, holding each other close.

Congratulations you two.

 Marcus smiled.  “Thanks, Watcher.  You aren’t mad?”

Not at all.  You’ve done wonderfully.  You deserve to be happy now.  Congratulations, Jaimie.

 “Thanks, Watcher.”

Once they spoke their vows, the two went their separate ways for a little while to change and to get back to work.  Jaimie came back outside, intending to work in the garden.  “Jaimie!”  Marcus smiled at her.  “Hello wife.”

“Hello, husband,” she greeted with a grin.

“We should probably tell Han, huh?” Marcus said with a grin.

“Yes, though let’s give it a little time.  He’ll be home soon.  We’ll tell him tomorrow, at breakfast.”

Marcus took her hand in his.  “My wife is a smart woman.”

Jaimie winked.  “Don’t you know it!”


 

Chapter 3: Live Long and Prosper

“You look like you got something on your mind, lad.  What is it?” Kade asked, looking sideways at Han on the other end of the couch.

Han started and then looked over at the gardener.  “I uh… met someone, Kade.  I-I can’t seem to get her out of my mind.”

Kade laughed.  “A pretty woman’ll do that, son.  Did you get her number?”

Han had the grace to blush a little.  “Um, yeah.”

“You gonna call her?”

“I-I don’t know.  Maybe…”

“Let me give ya a little advice: it’s better to regret what you did do, than what you didn’t, alright?”

Han’s brow furrowed.  “Yeah… I guess.”

Kade grinned and stood.  “Well, I’m gettin’ old, so I’m gonna head to bed.  Have a good night, lad.”

“Night, Kade.”


Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time?

 “I’m doing much better, I promise.  That and it helps clear my head a bit.  Don’t be such a-a… what’s the term?  Worrywart?  Something like that.”

Hm… I hope so.  Wouldn’t want any unfortunate accidents, would we? 

“Yeah, yeah.”


Oh dear, Kade!  I didn’t realize your cowplant had grown up… Just be careful with him.

 

“Oh don’t worry, Watcher.  Rover here won’t hurt anyone!”

Rover?  Um, alright… Sims!


You two look as if you’ve hit it off.

 “Hey Watcher!  How’s it hangin’?”  Marcus grinned.

“Ain’t he a trip, Watcher?” Jaimie asked with a chuckle.

Hm, he’s something alright.  I’ll leave you to it.  Keep him out of trouble, Jaimie.

 “You got it!”


Han?  You have a visitor.

He looked up from the piece he was working on, this time he was clothed.  “A visitor?  Really?”

Mhm.

Intrigued, he left the workbench and stepped outside.  When he saw his visitor, he froze.  “Ulrike…”

She smiled at him.  “Hello Han.  I got a little tired of waiting.  I’d heard you were pretty busy, so thought I’d come and check on you myself.”

Han swallowed.  All thoughts had flown out of his head.  Without thinking, he opened up his mind, something he’d been warned about doing around Sims.  But it was too late!  Thoughts and feelings flowed between them in a matter of seconds, an intense flood that staggered them both for a moment.

Ulrike shook her head, trying to clear it.  She looked at Han intensely.  “Y-you’re an alien!”

Han tried to smile, though it was more of a grimace.  “Um… yes?”

“That’s really cool!  Everyone said I was crazy to think there were aliens, but… wow!”

“Wait… you aren’t… freaked out?”

“Freaked out?  No, of course not!  I think it’s really cool!”

“Y-you do?”  He couldn’t help but grin.  He had been worried about that.  It was one reason he hadn’t ventured out much.  No one in the house really cared about him being an alien, but he’d heard some insane stories about how Sims reacted.  The fact that Ulrike thought it was ‘cool’ seemed to be a sign!  He’d been careful to keep his glow down to a minimum, but this time he didn’t care.

“Poor thing,” she murmured.  “You ok, Han?”  She gave him a hug, having felt and seen some of what he had been feeling earlier.

“Yeah, yeah I am.  You uh, wanna stick around for a bit tonight?”

She lowered her gaze a little, looking at him through her long dark lashes.  “Sure, I’d like that.”


“Morning beautiful,” Han murmured to Ulrike.

“Hi yourself, handsome.”

“Thanks for hanging out.  Sorry to keep you so long.”

Ulrike laughed.  “I hardly noticed the time.  Thanks for having me.”  She wrapped her arms around him.

Hello Kade.  What do you see?


“W-watcher… It-it’s that time.  The Reaper is coming.  Y-you take care of Han, ok?  T-tell him I’m glad to have been a part of his family, even if only for a little while.  So-so tired.”

O-oh, Kade… Oh, I’m so sorry.

“Now, now.  N-none of that.  Y-you look after him.  And you make sure he listens to you.  And Watcher?”

Y-yes?

“Make sure he’s happy.”

I’ll-I’ll try,  Kade.

 

“What’s going on here?” Han came running over the grass, looking concerned.  Then he saw Kade on the ground.  “K-kade?  C’mon, man.  Thi-this isn’t funny!  Get up!” His hand went to his mouth as the realization that he was losing one of the only people in the world who had really believed in him, even when he hadn’t believed in himself.

“Han?  What is it?”  Ulrike was running toward them.

“Ah, man, not Kade!” Marcus exclaimed, not quite able to disguise the sniffle.

“Oh, Kade,” Jaimie whispered, tears in her eyes.

“Oh-oh, dear.  Oh Han… I-I’m sorry.”  Ulrike had talked to Kade a bit the previous night and she had seen how close he had been with Han.

Grim, if-if you could please hurry… this is agony.  He-he was a good man. 

 “Yes, Watcher, I see that here.  Don’t worry, he will be well taken care of.  You are right, he was a very good man.”  The Grim Reaper’s scythe swiped down, severing Kade’s soul from his body.  “I am sorry for your loss.  I am- only doing my job.”

“We know, Grim,” Jaimie told him gruffly.  “But… your job surely sucks.”

“That it does.”

RIP Kade Cotter.  You will be dearly missed.


 

Chapter 2: Do or Do Not, There is no Try!

“Lookin’ a little gloomy there, lad,” Kade observed at breakfast.

Han sighed, then shrugged one shoulder after he’d swallowed his bite of- (he thought it was called salad, but wasn’t sure).  “Yeah, guess so.  Still can’t seem to wrap my head around all of this.”

Kade nodded.  “It’ll get better.  Just buckle down.  You read the book fully?”

Han’s gaze shifted to the side.  “Sure, sure… I know what I gotta do.”

“Good.  That’s the first step,” Kade told him with a smile.

“Yeah… right,” Han agreed, though he couldn’t quite look Kade in the eye.  He stood up, mumbling, “Uh, gotta go do- something.  I’ll see ya later, Kade.”

Kade sat at the table for a moment.  “Watcher?”

Yes, Kade?

 “Think he’ll make it?”

I honestly don’t know.  Only time will tell.  Let me thank you, though for your contributions thus far.  You go above and beyond that which you were brought into the household for.

 Kade smiled.  “Gotta wait for plants to grow.  Might as well make myself useful in other ways.”

And it is much appreciated.  Though Han may be too shocked yet to say, I know he does.

 “No need for that.  It’s nice to have a real home in my dotage.”

Dotage?  You’re not fooling anyone, Mr. Cotter.  You’re more active than the young ‘uns here!

Kade chuckled.  “Maybe that’s true.”

That and gardening takes a lot too.  And your garden is already off to a wonderful start.

 

“Well, that’s what I’ve done all my life!  I better be good at it!”

Hm, you have a point, I suppose.

 “Go on, go on.  I’m sure you have better things to do than watch me.”


Hmm… Jaimie?  Have you seen Han?

 “Hm?  Oh, hello Watcher.  No, I haven’t.  Fishing’s pretty good today.  Got a couple angelfish for ya.”

Excellent!  Thank you!  I hope Han realizes how lucky he is to have both you and Kade.

 “No thanks needed.  Most Sims would do just about anything to be Watched, including become part of a Dynasty.”

Yes, though not sure Han feels the same.

 “Give him time.  He’ll thank you eventually.”

Hm… We’ll see.  Anyway, thanks, Jaimie!

She waved, then buckled down when she felt a bite on the line.


There you are! You look- deep in thought.

 “Can’t a Simlien take a bath in peace!?”

I’m your Watcher.  I told you that.  Are you alright?

He didn’t say anything for a moment, then exploded, “Alright?  Alright!  Of course I’m not alright!  I was framed for a crime I didn’t commit.  I was tried and sentenced by my own father!  I still don’t know who did it!  And, if that isn’t enough, I have been exiled to a backward planet and my only chance to MAYBE regain what is rightfully mine, to clear my name, is by doing something that sounds almost impossible!”

Are you finished?

“Um… yeah, I guess.”

Ok then.  No one promised that life was fair.  Why do you assume that you are an exception to that?  Now, as I said before, I cannot make a determination of your guilt or innocence.  I can only Watch, and to guide, when appropriate, when the Rules allow.  This is your journey, Han.  I cannot make it for you.  Now, have you changed your mind?

He was silent for a long moment, then cleared his throat.  “N-no…”

Then what is it?

 “Can you please go somewhere else so I can- uh, get out of the bathtub now?”

Oh… right…  Carry on!  I’ll just be… away, if you need me.


Han… what are you doing?

 “What does it look like?”

It looks like you plan on using very sharp tools… in your boxers.

 

“What?  I got this!”

Riiiight… and that’s why the chisel is now sticking out of the floor between your feet…

He straightened up, trying for some dignity.  “I uh… maybe I’ll get dressed, then work on this.”

Yeah… good idea.


“You look like you’re feelin’ a bit better, lad,” Kade observed.

“Yeah, I think I’m getting a handle on things.  If I want to get to the bottom of this, I just have to buckle down.”

“That’s a good attitude, lad.  And don’t worry, you aren’t alone.”

“Thank you, for that, truly Kade.  You and Jaimie have been wonderful and I don’t think I’ve really thanked you for that.  Nor can I ever repay you.”

Kade slapped him on the back.  “No thanks or repayment are necessary.  Just keep your eye on your goals and do your best.  That’s all anyone can ask of you.”

Han laughed.  “I’m going to go for a jog, finish clearing my head, I think.”

“Go on then, lad.  Jaimie and I can fend for ourselves.  I made some food and it’s in the fridge for when you get back.”


You’ve been doing well the last few days, Han.  The garden is progressing nicely, thanks to Kade and Jaimie has caught several angelfish already.  You’re progressing through your aspirations and almost have enough for the Connections reward.

“Ok, so what does all that mean?”

Soon as you have the Connections reward, you can join a career.  Have you thought about what you want to do?

He grinned, something in his expression worrying.  “Astronaut, of course.”

Han!  You can’t go back!  You will be fired upon!

“You just let me worry about that,” he said, his expression hard.  Then he grinned.  “I won’t do anything until I know who it was, alright?”

Han, you are forbidden to go back!

“Yeah, yeah, Watcher.  Whatever you say.  I’m going to head out for a bit.  I’m going a little stir-crazy, going to stretch my legs.  Like you said, things are moving along.”  Before the Watcher could say anything, he was heading out.


“Hm, Windenburg, eh?  Seems a nice enough town.  Oo, the gym!  Think this is just what I need.  And look, that pool looks great!”

He’d been spending his time not just on this Dynasty business.  He’d spent a lot of time learning about the Sims and the planet he had found himself on.

The water was perfect as he slid into it.  There was something about swimming that allowed one to just let it all- empty out.

Once he was done with his laps, Han hoisted himself out of the pool.  “Hello, handsome.  What brings you out here?”

Han stopped.  “Hm?”  The girl was cute, and not even just for a Sim.

She laughed.  “A man of few words, huh?”

“I wouldn’t say that.  Just got a lot on my mind.”

The two chatted for a while and Han moved off, deep in thought.  He’d felt something in the pit of his stomach while talking to her.  Was he attracted to her?  He supposed it was possible.  Other than Jaimie and Kade, he hadn’t had contact with any other Sim.  Deciding to fix that, Han began to introduce himself to those he met at the gym.

He had quite the conversation with a Sim named Marcus Flex.  He had some great tips on working out.

There was another young lady whose name he didn’t get, though she was another lovely Sim.

But all that went away when he laid his eyes on another young woman.  He had no trouble remembering her name at all.  What was this feeling?  It was no longer this subtle feeling in the pit of his stomach, but felt like a full-blown- explosion?  He went down to the locker rooms to grab his stuff and he knew by the tingling between his shoulder blades that she was there and she was definitely looking at him.

As he went to the locker, he felt a hand on his arm.  When he turned, there was, smiling, one corner turned up higher than the other.  She didn’t say a word, simply handed him a piece of paper and then turned and walked away.  He stared at it for a moment.  It read ‘Ulrike Faust’ and then it had her number on it.  He didn’t even bother getting dressed, simply went upstairs and then outside.  He took out his phone and entered her number, just staring at it for a moment.

“Hey Han!  Thought you were gonna be right behind me!  Get distracted by some of the gals?”

“Wha?  Oh, hey Marcus!  Yeah, sorry about that.  You settled in already?”

“Sure am,” Marcus agreed.  “Thanks for havin’ me.”

“The more the merrier,” Han murmured, still a bit dazed.  He needed to clear his head.  He got up and wandered off.  Marcus shrugged.


So, did you enjoy your time out?

“Hm?  Oh, hi Watcher.  Yeah, I guess I did.”  He pursed his lips as he looked at his next move.

Hm, well then.  I’ll make sure that our newest household member settles in well.  Good find, just so you know.  I’ll leave you to it.

Han waved her away, his thoughts not on his chess technique.  Instead, he was thinking of a certain green-eyed, tattooed lady.


 

Chapter 1: Express Elevator to-

“O-ow… man… I think that tech enjoyed that a little too much.”  Han groaned and sat up, rubbing at his head.  Then he froze, looking around.  “Wha-what?  What in the Universe is going on!  W-where am I?”

You are on a planet called Earth, Han Galactus.

He jumped up, giving a “manly” yell.  “Who was that?  Where are you?”

I am called the Watcher.

 “The who?  The what?  And… where are you?”

I am not there, not in a physical sense.  Han, I am here to oversee your- sentence.

 “My sentence?  What?  So-so… that wasn’t just a bad dream?”

No, I am afraid not.  You were tried and found guilty of all charges.  You were stripped of your title, your birthright, and your life as you know it.  The only reason you still live is because your father interceded. 

 “I-I don’t… but I didn’t DO anything!”

I am not a judge of whether you are innocent or guilty.  I am simply here to oversee your sentence.  The judge saw fit to grant you a way to possibly redeem yourself, to regain that which was taken.  But there is much work to be done.  Hanseron Zagathos, you have a decision to make.  You can live out your life here, in exile on a planet where you will eventually wither and die, or… you must undertake the Challenge.  This Challenge has Rules.  These Rules are inviolable.  Should any of Them be broken, your demise will be assured.  As it stands, it is still possible to fail.

 He said nothing for a long moment, simply standing there, memories of the trial washing over him.  His mother hadn’t even attended.  It had only been his father, and his uncle Caylan.  His father had pronounced the sentence, his face looking as if it were carved of dydrite, an extremely hard stone from his home.  Home- His chin came up.  “I’ll do it. Whatever it is.  If I succeed, can I go home?”

Yes, should you succeed, you will have completed the terms of your sentence and you will be able to return to Omega 4, to your home.

“Um… so where am I again?”

Earth.  Within the Sim System.  This is a town called Willow Creek.  And this is where you will reside.  Now… I suggest you assume a different form, at least for the time being.  You don’t want to scare the locals.  It could make things difficult.

 He grumped and grumbled, but did as he was bid, activating the holographic technology on his belt.  “This whole ‘Prime Directive’ thing is a little- ridiculous, isn’t it?  Especially given the circumstances.”

If you argue about everything with me, you will find this challenge to be all but impossible.  

 “Yeah, yeah… now- where’s my house?”

House?  Oh dear… you really are clueless, aren’t you?  You will need to the currency of this planet, Simoleans.  Your father was able to secure the bare minimum, but I’m afraid that it will not provide much of a home.  However, that can be remedied rather easily.  For now, I will at least make sure you are provided with the bare necessities. 

 

“Whoa!  Wh-where did all this come from!” he asked, jumping back, looking more than a little bewildered.

I am the Watcher.  As I said, I am to oversee your sentence and to provide what I can within the parameters.  Now, if you wish to succeed in your challenge, I believe you should head to the park.  You should find just the help you need there.

 “Wait?  Help?  Just what have I signed on for, anyway?”

Once you have a proper home, I will explain it further, however, I suggest you don’t waste time, hm?

 “Alright, alright!  Great Universe save me…”  And before he knew it, he was following the disembodied voices directions to the park.

He shrugged.  “This is- nice, I guess.”

Han?  There is a fellow over here I think you should meet, speak with.

 “Yeesh… fine then.  Not like I know what I’m actually talking about here…”

He approached the gentleman that had been pointed out to him.  “Um, hello.”  He seemed to be speaking slowly, as if the Sim at the chess table was either hard of hearing or perhaps didn’t understand.

The older Sim arched a brow.  “I’m older, lad, I’m not deaf.  Have a seat.  Care for a game?  You play?”

Han looked down at the table and with surprise realized it was a simple version of a game he had often played at home.  He smiled.  “I-I uh, yeah, I’d love to play.  I’m a little- rusty.”  He was thinking about how the voice- the Watcher- seemed to think it prudent that he not advertise what he was.  He’d play the game, at least until he better understood the Rules.  He dearly liked to bend the rules, even break them whenever he could get away with it.

“You uh, aren’t from around here, are ya, lad?”

Han jerked his head up from where he’d been studying the board.  Then he laughed.  “What makes you say that?”

“Well, for one, you’re a Watched Sim, aincha?”

Ah, very good.  You are a very astute man, Kade Cotter.

“Thank you, ma’am.  Uh, this is poor boy part of a Challenge?”

Yes, yes he is.  Now, if you know of Challenges, than you probably know what he wants.

 Kade settled back in his chair and looked at the young man across from him.  “You need a gardener, lad?”

Han looked blank for a moment.  Yes, he does, Kade.  A gardener would be perfect.

 Kade nodded slowly.  “Alright.  Yeah, I think I can help out.  Does he know all he has to do yet?”

Not totally.  That will be taken care of a bit later on.

 “Good.”  Kade smiled at Han.

Invite to move in with you, Han.  That’s the next step.

 “Oh!  Um, well, Kade, would you like to move in with me then and- well, do whatever it is that will help me with this- Challenge?”

Kade laughed.  “Aye, I think that sounds like a deal.”

Han?  I think there is someone else you should speak with, as well.  Over there.

 “Uh… ok.  Kade?  I think you know what to do better than I do.  There isn’t much there, but you’re welcome to whatever is at my- home.”

“I’ll manage well enough boy.  Go on, better listen to yer Watcher.”

Han followed the Watcher’s directions, looking bemused as he went up to the woman that She had been speaking about.  “Hi, I’m Han.  I-I know this is crazy, but-“

“Another Founder, is it?” she asked, arching a brow.

Yes, Jaimie.  He is a Founder.  A Dynasty, in fact.

 “Ah, of course.  Suppose you need an angler, then boy?”

“Uh… yes?”

Jaimie chuckled.  “Does he know what’s in store for him?”

I’m afraid he does not, not yet.  He’s still in a state of shock, I think.  Don’t worry, we’ll get that squared away, though.

 “Does everyone else know what’s going on?!” Han demanded angrily.

No, I am sure there are some that are unaware, though anyone with access to the Forum would most likely have at least an idea.  Anyway, as I said, you will be briefed fully in a little.  But time is an important factor.  Keep in mind, you were stripped of your powers, Han.  You are no longer immortal here.  You will eventually age and die here.  Only by following my instructions can you hope to succeed.

 Jaimie walked with Han back toward the front of the park.  He was sullen, brooding.  “Don’t worry.  You’ll get it soon enough.  I’m sure  it’s been a right shock for ya, but it’ll get better.  Once you get into it, you won’t have a lot of time to worry.”

Han sat down with a sigh.  “If you say so… sorry, I don’t mean to be short with you.”

She snorted.  “I’ve heard worse.  Now, I’m going to head off to Oakenstead.  I figure that’s where you gotta be settled at.  Not expecting much, since you’re just startin’ out.  See ya there!”  With that, she was gone.

Han held his head in his hands for a moment and then started when someone else sat down.

Before he could even speak, Han stood and was off, unable to take anymore ‘help’.  Once he returned to the mostly empty lot he had left upon arrival, he sighed.  Kade had already started a little fire.  Kade was also eating- something.  Han wasn’t quite sure what it was.  It certainly smelled different than anything he had ever smelt before.  He just stared into the flames of the fire for a moment, trying to collect his thoughts.

“Where’s Jaimie?” he finally managed after a little bit.

“She’s off doin’ what her kind does: fishin’.  It’s good for relaxin’, at times, or so I hear.  I prefer diggin’ in the earth, m’self.”

The two men went silent for a long moment, both just watching the flames dance.  Then Han began to fidget.  “Got ants in your britches?” Kade asked with snicker.

“What?” Poor Han looked distressed.

Kade laughed.  “If nature calls lad, go use the bush.  It won’t hurt anything.”  At Han’s blank look, Kade rolled his eyes.  “Go pee on the bush, lad.”

Han couldn’t look more horrified if he had tried.  “Th-that’s just- barbaric!”

“Yup, but it beats wettin’ yer pants, doesn’t it?”

Han approached the bush, looking as if it would bite him any second.  “Oh, this is so wrong…”

When he emerged, he looked much relieved, though there was a wrinkle around his nose.  “Feel better?”

Han gave a grunt in response.  He felt- impotent, helpless.  It wasn’t a feeling he liked, not at all.  Needing to do something, he grabbed a log and went to heave it on the fire.  “Easy, lad, not too much now!” Kade protested in a flare of sparks.

Alright then, Jaimie and Kade have been kind enough to bring money with them.  I can commence building a domicile for you.  It shouldn’t take long.

 “Finally!” Han grunted under his breath.


It took a little longer than was thought, but before Han realized it, the empty lot was not so empty anymore.  In the place of the tent and fire stood an actual standing structure. *

*To see what the house looks like inside, go here:  The Dynasty House

Here, Han.  Read this.  This will explain everything.  Read it carefully.  There is technically still time to change your mind, though it means admitting your guilt and living with your punishment.

Han picked up the book with an angry growl.  He opened it up and began to read.

His eyes roved over the page, his expression becoming more thoughtful as he went.  He wandered outside, where the campfire was still set up and sat down, still reading.

He threw up his hands.  “What is this?  How can you expect me to take this seriously!?”

As I said, I am only your Watcher.  It is up to you how serious you take it, but know this: if you do not follow the rules, your homeworld is lost to you.  This is the only way left to you, Han Galactus.

 “Fine, fine… where’s Kade?”

Doing his own part, as is Jaimie.

 

Han sighed, rubbing his hands over his face.  This had to be some bad dream, didn’t it?  This couldn’t be happening…

Why don’t you go lay down?  It has been a long day for you.  We’ll speak more in the morning.

 He nodded grudgingly and trekked up the stairs and then fell face down on the bed.  It was an uneasy sleep for the young alien.

Though morning would bring more clarity, it most likely wouldn’t bring the answers that he truly sought.