Eni has given Polaris a lot to think about. She lies awake all night, mulling over the choices, stuck between certain personal disaster (Eni's plan) or certain planetary doom (the Commander's plan). Ultimately, she decides to take baby steps and visit the laundromat in the morning. Que sera sera, she muses, remembering a song from an old movie she watched once, whatever will be will be. Maybe the universe will give me a sign and tell me what to do.
As Polaris enters the clean-looking building, she notices a woman sitting at the counter and playing on a laptop. The woman's stomach is slightly swollen. She's pregnant. Pregnancy is fascinating to Polaris, possibly because most children on Alcyone are so-called test tube babies, bred outside the womb and incubated in a machine. Natural pregnancies are rare and frowned upon.
Don't approach her, just observe her, Polaris thinks, maybe another human will come and I can study and mimic their behavior.
To Polaris's surprise the woman approaches her. "Morning," the woman says, "I'm Kinslee. How's it going?" Polaris is mute. As she looks into the woman's eyes, she realizes this is the closest she's been to a human (other than the maniac firefighter, but she doesn't really count). After dreaming for years of meeting humans, she is petrified.
Polaris finally manages to spit out a greeting. "Polly Bee. I'mdoingfantastichowaboutyouKinslee?" She's a bit nervous. Slow down.
Kinslee doesn't bother to answer the question. "So I see you running around town a lot. What the hell are you doing?" Polaris is unsure how to answer.
"I work from home. Data entry," Polly says slowly, trying to think of a lie. Kinslee interrupts her.
"That doesn't answer my question," Kinslee insists. Polaris narrows her eyes--she is no longer enchanted by this meddlesome pregnant woman.
"Well, I have a lot of free time so I like to go outside and collect gems and rocks and such," Polaris explains before adding, "you're super nosey, aren't you?"
"A bit, yes," Kinslee laughs. Polaris is enchanted again. She can appreciate an annoying person, as long as they are honest about it. Hell, she's pretty obnoxious herself.
"I like your polka dots," Polaris says, pointing to Kinslee's shirt. It's the truth--Polaris is rather enamored with polka dots. She also thinks that compliments might appease this strange creature.
"Thank you," Kinslee gushes, "I like your skin, though I suppose it would be nosey to ask why you're teal..."
"Alcyonian Syndrome," Polaris says, "it's super rare and kinda embarrassing." Kinslee doesn't seem at all ashamed of her question, though.
"Well, Polly, I think it's rather charming. It suits you," Kinslee says, "you mentioned that you collect gems and stones. Do you sell them?"
"No. Is there a market for them?" Polaris is a bit surprised that people would buy what she collects since they can be found lying on the ground. Really, the whole concept of a free market is strange to her. She has only a passing knowledge of it.
"Oh yes, a huge market! There's a lot of artists and jewelry makers in the area. You should invest in a gem-cutting machine. You'd probably be able to sell most of what you collect rather quickly." Polaris files away this information for future use. She might need SimNation currency if she decides to break away from the Alcyonian Hegemony.
Polaris continues to speak with Kinslee for awhile, until her laundry finally finishes. Before she leaves, her and Kinslee trade phone numbers. I've made a friend, Polaris happily thinks, and the world didn't end.
The next day is Leisure Day, and the summer festival is in full swing. Kinslee had mentioned Leisure Day in passing, and it sounded intriguing. Polaris decides to dress in a nice light dress for the day's adventure. It's slightly less orange than her other clothes and doesn't feature any polka dots, but she can go one day without being obnoxiously bright.
When she arrives at the park, Polaris is delighted to see a skating rink. A couple serenely skates in the center of the rink. She decides to give it a try. She is surprised at first by the sensation of roller-skating. It feels a bit like flying, except much closer to the ground.
Despite the initial allure of roller-skating, Polaris begins to lose her balance. What the hell, she thinks angrily, I've had some of the best physical training on Alcyone to prepare me for inter-planetary travel, but I can't master shoes with wheels on them?? Polaris flaps her arms wildly, looking for something to grab onto.
A woman reaches out and grabs Polaris's hands, saving her from an embarrassing fall to the hard rink floor. "You looked like you needed some help," the woman says cheerfully.
"Thanks," Polaris says. She is surprised by the random act of kindness. That is, until the woman begins spinning them in a circle. "Stop, lady!" Polaris orders, "I wanna get off this stupid rink!" The woman ignores her in favor of spinning and grinning and staring into Polaris's eyes like a madwoman.
"I said stop!" Polaris yells. She tries unsuccessfully to extricate herself from the woman's vice-like grip. She struggles, throwing the strange woman off balance. They both tumble to the ground.
"Like I said--thanks," Polaris snaps, "you're a real lifesaver." The woman gets up, brushes herself off, and finds another victim to entrap in her spinning game.
So far I've met a madwoman, an insane firefighter, and a rather friendly, if not nosey, pregnant woman, Polaris thinks, humanity isn't bringing its A-game. Where's that sign, Universe? After lifting herself up from the hard rink floor, Polaris decides to observe a peculiar human ritual: a hot-dog eating contest.
And there she sees her sign: a beautiful, mohawked, dark-skinned, bright-eyed sign. Polaris is immediately captivated. She hasn't met a male human so far, and this one seems to be a particularly enchanting specimen of masculinity. She sighs dreamily as she stares at him. Even with a mouthful of hotdog, he's a looker.
Maybe he'll choke and I'll have to give him CPR, she hopes, I'll save his life, and then he'll be indebted to me. Polaris swears she can hear music ringing in her ears.
As he shovels hotdogs in his mouth, he looks around and notices the bright beauty staring at him. He smiles and nods at her. Polaris's heart melts. She hasn't felt this way since...she shakes her head. I can't live in the past, she tells herself, I'm in the now.
Her mystery man comes in second place, losing to a desperate looking woman. He approaches Polaris with a sultry stroll and extends his hand.
"Hey, sweetness," he says smoothly, "Luke Loveday. You are...." Polaris finds herself speechless for the second time in as many days, though for a completely different reason. She had never considered the features of humans especially attractive until this moment. She likes his earthy skin, and his rounded ears remind her of the pet womrat she had as a child.
"Polly Bee," she squeaks after a moment of awkward silence.
"An adorable name for an adorable woman," Luke replies. Polaris feels herself blush from head to toe. How can I be taken in by such a cheesy line, she thinks--though she doesn't really care. "So Polly, I think I have you to blame."
"I was so busy looking at you I lost the contest," he grins as he looks her up and down. Cheesy, so cheesy! Does this even work? Polaris's inner rationality screams at her. She ignores it.
"Well then, I guess I should apologize," she flirts in return, "how can I make it up to you?'
"Stay and talk with me for while," Luke requests, "You're the most interesting person here, I can tell." He doesn't mention her strange skintone or her ears, which she appreciates.
They don't talk about jobs, or hometowns, or any of the conversational topics Polaris has been prepped for. It's freeing. Polaris learns that Luke plays the guitar. "I picked it up to pick up chicks," he says, "and now I spend so much time playing I hardly meet anyone."
"I don't get out much, either," she admits, "except to collect gemstones and rocks. For fun."
"It sounds like it's fate that we met--the universe is telling us to get a life," he jokes. Polaris feels a sting. Fate and signs courtesy of the universe are at the forefront of her mind. She shakes off the sting.
"Well, I'm certainly glad I met you," she says. He's a different species, her rationality screams at her, this is kind of gross! Not to mention taboo, dangerous, and stupid. She wishes her rationality would shut up. They both look shyly at the ground.
They talk for several more hours. He tells her about his overbearing mother and emotionally distant father, and she deftly avoids talking about her family. He talks about wanting to be an astronaut when he was a kid, and she refrains from telling him about her years of training in the Alcyonian Hegemony Academy. All in all, things are going well.
"I can't believe we've been talking this long," Luke remarks. It's getting dark. The madwoman on the skating rink has stopped her spinning for the day, and two more hot dog eating contests have come and gone. It begins to rain as the sun sinks lower.
Polaris leans in for a kiss. It's the perfect timing, according to all her research on humans: various movies indicate the rainy sunsets are prime real estate for first kisses.
Luke pushes her away. "What the hell, Polly?" he demands, "buy a guy dinner first."
"I'm sorry," she says with surprise, "I just...I guess I just thought we are getting along so well, so why not? You're obviously interested in me."
Luke smiles. "You're right," he replies, "I'm just usually the one who makes the first move."
"Get used to change," Polaris smirks as she leans forward and kisses him again. She's deeply inexperienced, having only kissed one man before Luke. It shows--her teeth click against his, she's unsure of what to do with her arms, and a bit of saliva escapes her mouth.
As they withdraw from the kiss, Luke doesn't seem to mind. "You're a special type of woman," he says (whatever that means), "I gotta bounce, but make sure to call me."
Polaris happily smiles as she walks home through the darkened park. She stumbles upon some wildflowers and picks one with a dainty flourish. As she inhales the scent she thinks, Everything is going to be okay.
Polaris explores the town. No more sticking to the outskirts for her--she has proven she can have normal interactions with humans, or at least as normal as it gets. Besides, it's not like the Commander needs to know about this, she justifies. During her adventures, Polaris happens upon a shady bar named The Dive. What a stupid name. The desire for adventure causes her to enter anyway.
The building is empty, save the bartender. Polaris whips out her phone and dials Luke's number, having scored it the day before at the Summer Festival.
"Hey, Luke. It's Polly. You said the universe wants us to get a life, so I was wondering if you'd like to get a drink with me at The Dive...." She is nervous about asking him out, but he happily accepts.
"I could really use some R&R," He replies, "See you in fifteen."
While Polaris waits, she picks a random song from the jukebox and begins to dance. I should be embarrassed, she thinks, I probably look like a goof. Nobody dances back home. Then again, nobody does much of anything except plot overly-cliché alien invasions. Humans know how to live the real life.
She's been weighing the pros and cons of Eni's suggestion to withdraw from the Hegemony. Pros: humans are fun, there's freedom of choice, she genuinely likes humans (even the strange ones), their literature is better, and they have television. Cons: she'll face the wrath of the Commander and possibly the Alcyonian Hegemony itself if she deviates from her mission. She's not quite sure what that entails.
Polaris is so caught up in dancing and her thoughts that she doesn't notice Luke approaching. "Hey, Polly," he greets her nicely enough, but he seems a bit irate, "Work was terrible today. Sorry I'm late."
"Let me get you a drink," Polaris says, "Though...um...I'll need some money. I'm kinda broke." She hadn't thought of paying when she invited him out. Luke doesn't seem fazed by her demand, though.
"Order two Big Mistakes," he requests as he hands her some bills.
Polaris is delighted by the multicolored drink. She carries the two drinks on a tray to where Luke is relaxing. He grabs a glass and expertly takes a swig. It's mind-altering effects take hold immediately.
"You're a real sexy bitch," he exclaims to her in an almost accusatory manner. She chugs the sweet drink, and begins to feel the same goofy effects.
"I know!" She giggles in response. Luke stumbles to the bartender.
"Two more Big Mistakes," he orders. Polaris begins to dance again. Luke wiggles along. "You're a good dancer," he slurs. Not really, but an inebriated Polly accepts the compliment.
Grabbing her hands, Luke pulls her in for a sloppy kiss. The bartender rolls his eyes--he knows where this is going, so he doesn't even bother to make the second round. They're obviously already trashed.
The couple stumbles back towards the jukebox. "There's like, a shit-ton of songs," Polaris gushes, grabbing his hand, "And this one song...it's really good!" She wants to manically dance some more, but Luke isn't interested. He lifts her up and pushes her against the wall.
Polaris mindlessly returns Luke's hot kisses. Her previously present rationality is suddenly silent. She can feel his breathe in her mouth, and only heavy fabric separates their bodies. The friction is frustrating.
"Hey!" the bartender angrily yells, "that's enough! Get out of my bar if you're gonna fuck." Lightweights, the bartender crossly thinks. Polaris giggles--she's a giggly drunk-- and leans forward.
"Why don't we go back to my place?" she suggests to Luke. She feels a slight wave of nervousness at her suggestion--he is a different species after all, and one she has considered to be endearingly primitive--but her nerves quickly fade away.
"Capital idea," Luke agrees with an laugh.
As they stumble out of the bar, Luke almost trips on his shadow.
"Hold on a minute," Polaris mumbles. She pulls out her phone and wraps her arm around him. "I wanna take a picture."
"Hurry it up," Luke insists as he poses for the camera.
"I don't wanna forget tonight," Polaris explains. It's a real possibility.
Somehow, they find their way to her house. As the approach the front door, Luke stops suddenly. "Ummm, Polly, you left your door open," Luke says as he peers in, "Oh shit--I think you were robbed."
Polaris enters and surveys the damage. Her bookcase has been rifled through, and some of her furniture is overturned. The absence of her contraband fireflies and the presence of her computer indicate that it wasn't actually a burglary. Someone from Alcyone entered her home.
Polaris suddenly feels sober. She grabs her aching head. This was all a mistake--she can't go on with Luke, not while she's under the Commander's thumb.
"I think you should leave, Luke," she mutters.
"No way, Polly! The burglar could still be here. I'm not leaving you alone," he insists, "besides, we need to call the cops."
"No!" she says suddenly, "no, I don't want the police involved. Please leave, Luke. I'll sort this out."
Luke grumpily obliges. "I'll call you," he promises as he leaves. Polaris hardly hears him. She glances at the mess. Fuck this, she thinks as she stumbles to the bedroom. Her head is killing her. She can hardly undress.
As she slips into bed, she notices a small television sitting on her dresser, an apparent peace offering. That's a good sign--Crux requisitioned a television for me. I'm not in complete trouble.
When Polaris rolls out of bed and stumbles into her living room, she almost has a heart attack. Her house has been redecorated, as if by the hand of some omnipotent god. She notices a note on the kitchen counter.
You seem to need my help. I have procured some furniture for your comfort, as well as a "Gem-U-Cut" machine. Please utilize it as necessary.
It must be Eni, she thinks after finishing the short note, she's helping me. So, Polaris had a slew of visitors last night. Considering the strength of the drinks, she's not surprised she slept through her house being re-arranged.
Polaris tests the gem cutting machine by inserting a moon stone. The result is amazingly beautiful--she can see why humans would pay handsomely for such a pretty gemstone. But how can I sell this, she considers, without Crux or the Commander catching on? Her phone rings, delaying any sort of resolution to that question.
"Hello?" Polaris answers.
"Hey, Polly," Luke's voice crackles through the phone, "Is everything okay? I've been worried."
"Everything's fine, Luke," Polaris replies before hesitantly adding, "but I don't think I should see you again. At least not for a while."
"Why? We really clicked last night! Is it because I called you a bitch? I meant it in a good way," he explains.
"I just have a lot going on right now," Polaris retorts, "and I can't really be worried about you." She doesn't wait for his response before hanging up.
It'll be better if I leave him out of it, she thinks, justifying her sudden cold behavior, I have to be serious for once.
Doris Day--"Que Sera Sera"
Author's Note: First off, sorry for the lack of well-staged pictures. I just played the game for a few sim days (GASP), and posted what happened with minimal use of poseplayer (which is hard for me because I freaking love poseplayer). Also, I didn't know that the drink "Big Mistake" actually changes sims' traits for a few hours! I was pleasantly surprised by how they acted after drinking it.
I realized after finishing this chapter that I might need to add an "adult content" warning to my blog, since my sims swear occasionally. I don't think that's a huge deal for many people, though.
I want to thank everyone who has been reading and commenting--I'm slowly making my way through the plethora of legacy blogs out there, so I hope to return the favor to all of you. If you have any suggestions for my writing/story, let me know! I'm working on filling out the background page for my legacy, so please let me know if you have any gnawing questions about Polly's background (well, any questions that wouldn't lead to spoilers...).