Nova is rarely left wordless.
But in front of her stands a ghost. She has no memories of him, except those implanted by the stories her mother told her.
Her eyes, Zenith’s face, marred by a scar. Cyan hair falls down his back, stringy and unwashed. He’s a little smaller than she expected. She always imagined him large, muscular. Heroic. But he looks old and worn.
“Nova?” Crux’s voice sounds a little creaky, like it’s out of practice, “you were but a toddler last I saw you.”
The air is still. Neither party seems to want to move.
“Mom said you were dead,” Nova finally breaks the silence.
“I was,” he pauses as he stares at his daughter, amazed and by the young woman in front of him, “Nova, your clothes are shredded and much too small. Is your mother unable to attire you properly? Have you fallen on hard times?” The cadence of his voice and mannerisms match her expectations with uncanny accuracy.
He really is her father.
She runs over to him and throws her arms around him, her weight nearly knocking him over. She had imagined this moment for many years, except in her fantasies, he would show up at the front door in shining armor.
“I never thought I would see you again,” Crux mumbles into her shoulders. At least, not under such happy circumstances, he thinks to himself.
“I missed you,” she says, “isn’t that funny? I don’t even remember you, but I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.”
“Mom is going to flip out!”
“Oh, Polaris can perform acrobatics now?” Nova laughs at her father’s confusion.
Elysia smiles at the heartwarming scene before turning to her sister’s chaperone. She glares at him—she doesn’t like the way he’s looking at her little sister, nor does she care for the thrust of his thoughts.
“She’s like sixteen, you know,” Elysia hisses through her teeth.
“What?” Mercury is taken off-guard.
“Stop. Staring. At her.”
“You brought Nova here,” Crux finally lets go of Nova and steps protectively between her and Mercury, “Why would so foolishly you endanger my daughter?”
“I was following your orders, man.”
“I did not ask you to retrieve Nova. Why would you think it wise to bring a teenage girl to this compound?” Crux’s voice is firm, his boiling anger well-hidden.
“Hey, she handled herself pretty well,” Mercury insists, “I mean, other than opening every cell. I thought she as who you were looking for. Nova Bee, right?” Nova feels like she should jump in and defend Mercury, but he hadn’t really made a good impression thus far.
“Polly Bee,” Crux raises his voice a little, “And I did not ask you to retrieve her; I asked you to warn her.”
“Oh. Guess you should have thawed me out a little more before sending me out.”
“Elysia,” Crux gives a pointed look towards Elysia.
Elysia sighs and focuses on Mercury, “He’s confused. Hard to read. Benign, but obviously not all there. Now this is super fun and all, but I can feel everything calming down. We should probably head out now.”
Mercury looks around and briefly thinks about phasing through the nearest wall and away to his next adventure, but when he locks eyes with Nova he decides to stay. She might need his help, and it does seem shady to throw a teenager into danger and then abandon her. Besides, last time he ran off half-cocked, he ended up captured by some tool in a black suit.
Nova insists on leading the way, despite Mercury and Crux’s protests. Elysia goes next, providing a buffer between Nova and Mercury, and she’s followed by the two men. Nova stops dead when they reach a corner. She peeks around, then looks back over her shoulder.
“That redhead with the grody neck tattoos is standing at the end of the hallway,” she whispers, “I think she’s a werewolf.” Crux nods. He knows who she is talking about
“Do you think she’ll give us trouble?’ Elysia asks, and Crux nods again. Mercury places his hand on a nearby wall, his palm flat and his fingers outstretched. Nova looks on curiously—this is the second time she’s seen him do that.
“There are stairs in the next room,” he says, “I think they lead outside. I can phase you guys through, but I’ll have to do it one-by-one.”
“Take the girls first,” Crux orders.
“’Kay,” Mercury is a little surprised. If it were up to him, he’d leave the blond behind. “Whatever you say, man.”
It takes Mercury about thirty minutes to get Elysia and Nova outside. He takes Elysia first, covering her mouth as he pushes through the wall. He deals with the pain each time, but he doesn’t expect the uninitiated to take it without some screaming. Earlier, he’d been lucky that Nova had handled her temporary intangibility so well.
As Crux waits, he remembers.
But here he is, alive, albeit cold. Domed glass confines his vision, and he can barely make out a dark figure on the other side. The dome raises and frosted air billows out.
“Welcome,” a dark-haired man smiles and holds his hands together, “I would greet you by name, sir, but you seem to be lacking proper identification. Can you identify yourself?
“Where am I?” Crux ignores the question.
“Ah, yes, I imagine that’d be a larger concern for you. No worries. My partner and I saved you from certain death. You’ve been in stasis for several weeks now as you healed.”
“That’s of no concern of you. Come. We have accommodations for you.”
Seeing no escape, Crux tries to step out, but his knees shake begins to fall. The man catches him.
“Oopsie daisy,” the man smiles. His partner is obviously embarrassed by such infantile language, “a hand, Walters?” The redheaded man nods.
The two men each grab Crux’s arms and begin to drag him. Crux initially doesn’t resist—he can’t muster the energy. He briefly looks up and catches a familiar face in a stasis chamber. He never thought he’d see this particular human again, but here he is, the same age as the day they met. He tries to anchor himself, to get a better look, but the men in black keep pulling him. They drag him down a series of halls to a spartan cell.
“Make yourself comfortable,” Walters spits as he locks the door.
Crux finds a bright orange uniform in his cell. He puts it on, ashamed of his body. His cell lacks a window, a clock, anything to tell time with. So he sits and wonders what is going to happen to him.
It seems like days before he sees another living thing. He sleeps a lot, his body possibly responding to the lack of stimulation. He’s startled when he hears a gruff voice at his cell door. It’s Walters.
It seems like days before he sees another living thing. He sleeps a lot, his body possibly responding to the lack of stimulation. He’s startled when he hears a gruff voice at his cell door. It’s Walters.
“C’mon. Logan wants to talk to you.” Crux thinks about making a dash for it, but he abandons that plan when he sees a gun holster on Walters’ belt. He’s not interested in another bullet wound.
The interrogation room is bare and bright, not unlike the rest of the compound. When Logan sits down, he removes his sunglasses and puts them in the inside pocket of his blazer.
“I’m Logan,” he smiles, “What is your name?”
Crux doesn’t answer.
“Please, this is polite conversation,” Logan’s smile becomes more forced, “your name, please.”
“Nemo,” Crux finally responds.
“Hmm. Clever,” Logan frowns, “well, I must inform you that you are begin held on the authority of the Simnation government until we determine your classification.”
“How long am I to be held?”
“And what about habeas corpus?”
“What about it? As far as we can tell, you are not a citizen of Simnation, and we’re not charging you with a crime. We simply believe that you are an…unwanted element, much like your revenant and lycanthrope counterparts. This unit has been formed to deal with unwanted elements such as yourself. Now, would you mind tell us what you are?”
“Human,” he lies.
Logan laughs, “I don’t think so. We know you’re not a mage, or a fairy, or any undead monster. You’re new, and my superiors are interested in you. So, what do you do? Please tell me you have pyrokinesis. I’ve never met a creature with pyrokinesis.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. I have no powers since I am but a simple a human.”
“Well that is quite disappointing,” Logan says, “but we know you aren’t human. Furthermore, two of the three corpses in the warehouse looked like you. Quite a coincidence, if you ask me.” Crux tenses at the mention of the Commander and his hit-woman.
“Oh, don’t worry, Nemo. We’re not concerned with them. Non-humans, like you. We’re just interested in what you are, and whether there are more like you.”
“No,” Crux says with ease, “no others like me.”
“Really?” Logan’s smile returns, causing Crux to shudder, “well, my associate would like to study your physiology. As a human with no other similar, alien-esque comrades, you shouldn’t have a problem with that.”
Crux is led to another room, which is empty save for two large contraptions. Walters stands in wait next to one of the machines.
“At the scanner,” he tells Logan. Logan pushes Crux towards a particular machine and motions for him to sit.
“Are you qualified to operate such a machine?” Crux asks as he sits down. He really sees no point in trying to run, but that doesn’t mean he won’t question his captors, “I do not wish to be brain damaged or otherwise incapacitated by incompetence.”
“Shut it, jackass,” Walters snaps as he fastens the restraints around Crux’s wrists, “this’ll hurt, but I don’t fucking care and you ain’t got a choice.”
Crux tenses as the machine starts whirring. He feels electricity to surround him. It’s not unpleasant, but it isn’t a walk in the park, either. Walters monitors the machine’s readings and takes notes.
Walters appears dissatisfied with the results, “Hmm. I guess you weren’t lying. No signs of telepathy, telekinesis, or anything else fun.”
Crux beams, “so I am to be released? I promise not to file a lawsuit.”
“Hold on. I said you don’t have those powers,” Walters furrows his brow, “but you’re not incapable of them. I’m not sayin’ you could tap into these abilities, so don’t get any bright ideas, but there’s a possibility there. You definitely ain’t human.”
Crux is led back to his cell. Days pass, then weeks, then months. It becomes obvious that this is his new home. Hope ebbs and flows; one day, he resigns himself to his fate, and the next he believes Lyra and Polaris will bust through the doors and rescue him.
He gets used to his new life. He becomes used to his tiny cell and the black-clad guards. The supernatural sims no longer surprise him. The dreams of rescue fade away.
The compound has a small recreational room reserved for non-violent inmates. Crux’s passivity rewards him: he is permitted to come and go to the room as he pleases. He soon finds a kindred spirit. William is the only other inmate that stands a chance against Crux in a chess match. Usually, they play in silence, the two men satisfied with just the game.
But one day, Crux decides to break the monotony, “How long have you been incarcerated here?”
“I don’t keep track of the days anymore,” William tries to smile, but his face doesn’t comply, “years. I’ll be here until these men fall dead,” he gestures to the man guarding the room.
“Why have you been here for so long? Have they indicated if they will ever release you?”
“They will never willingly release me. For now, I’m a prisoner. In the future, I may be something else,” William shrugs, “Men desire power. They will destroy themselves in pursuit of it.”
Crux changes course, “How often do new inmates arrive?”
“I believe she is new,” William looks over Crux’s shoulder to a nearby treadmill, “Irina Azimov. From what I understand, she was transferred by a penitentiary. Seems risky, allowing her to be in here with us.”
“How do you know about her?” Crux is surprised. He never seems William interact with anyone else. William attempts another smile, but he doesn't answer Crux's question.
Crux looks over his shoulder to the woman. She’s covered in tattoos, and her eyes flash as she catches his gaze. She furrows her brow and sniffs at the air.
“She’s a werewolf,” William tells him before he can ask, “your move.” Crux looks back to the board. Irina notices the gazes of the two men. She glares as she leaps off the treadmill and saunters over to the pair.
“What are you staring at,” she demands, “think this is a goddamn circus and I’m the main show?”
“We are simply playing a game of chess,” William gestures to the board, “We meant no offense.”
“I don’t like the way you were fucking looking at me, you creeps.”
Crux stands up and flashes what he imagines is a charming smile, “My apologies, madam. We did not mean to alarm you with our looks. We are just intrigued at the arrival of a new inmate.” He’s sure diplomacy will sedate her.
Irina shoves him backwards, “You find me fucking intriguing?” She leaps on top of him and pulls her fist back, preparing a punch. Her words are replaced with growls.
Crux stares at her pleadingly for a moment. She relaxes her arm, then suddenly swipes his face with her nails. William, previously frozen by shock, pulls her off of Crux and throws her to the side.
As Irina pulls herself off the ground, William mumbles a chant under his breath and waves his hands together, producing an arc of light. He throws the arc at Irina.
Crux looks on in horror as Irina’s face begins to morph, distorting into a mutilated mass of flesh. She screams and claws at her face. “What did you do to me? What did you fucking do to me?” She screeches at the top of her lungs.
“It will wear off with time,” William casually looks at his nails.
Crux un-abandons his hopes for a daring rescue.
But the years continue to fly by. Polaris becomes a dim memory, and he struggles to hold on to his last moments with his children. He begins to come to terms with the fact that he will never see them again.
“It’s a rather remarkable painting, isn’t it?”
Crux doesn’t know why he’s here, or why this man is speaking to him. Walters whisked him out of his cell earlier that day and forced him into this room, which appears to be an office.
“Indeed,” Crux says dryly.
“I’m hoping for a dramatic increase in value. I purchased it from a fantastic little gallery here in Sunset Valley.” Crux perks up at the name of the town—all these years, he’d thought he was in Lucky Palms.
“My name is Lawrence,” the man says as he turns around, “Lawrence Parker. I’ve been charged with this facility. You’ve been here for several years, correct?”
“You’re blessed with language, Nemo. Use it.” All these years, and they had never learned his real name. Crux is proud of that.
“And you have never been categorized?”
“Interesting,” Lawrence sits in his chair and reclines, tenting his fingers, “My son recently informed me that his girlfriend is pregnant. She seems like a nice girl, though not what I imagined for my boy. Strange thing is, she looks a lot like you. Not exactly, mind you, but there are similarities in her oddities. Orange hair, green skin, yellow eyes, pointed ears and prominent nose. Quite striking.”
Crux tries not to look surprised. He remains silent.
“Don’t know her, do you? I looked into her family. They’re going to be my future in-laws, you know. Her father is an average Joe, and her mother has a few friends in the community but is otherwise a loner. Her sister is the one who interests me. Cute little blond girl. I didn’t really think anything about her until she began to snoop around—she fancies herself a journalist. I began to hear rumors about her: she’s can always find a lead, always get a source. Almost like she’s psychic.”
Lawrence watches for a reaction, but Crux doesn’t respond.
“And then there are the two youngest members of the family. The girl looks like her mom, but the boy—why, he looks an awful lot like you, Nemo.”
Crux clenches his fist, but doesn’t answer.
Lawrence sighs, “I’m in quite a jam, Nemo. This isn’t my game. But I’ve been charged with helping the military develop some new drugs for their soldiers. Lycanthropes and revenants are of special interest because of their speed and strength. My superiors want me to help develop serums that give average, everyday humans those sorts of powers without the accompanying side-effects. But I think telepathy would be great, don’t you? It’d make espionage a breeze. And I think the key to telepathy lies somewhere in this little dysfunctional family.” He stands up and rounds the desk, leaning against it.
“Nemo, what can you tell me about the Bees?”
“I have never heard of them before, Mister Parker.”
“You’ve never met Elysia Bee?”
“Hmm. This is disappointing, Nemo. Maybe I should pay them a visit. The children, I think their names are…Nova and Zenith, correct, Walters?”
Walters, from his post behind Crux, nods.
“I might have to ask Nova and Zenith myself. I believe we have enough appropriate lodgings for them here. But maybe you want to think about it. You’ve been here for almost thirteen years, Nemo. I bet you’d love to see the sun again.”
Crux gives him a steely look.
“I can arrange your release. I’ll give you until tomorrow to give me information about Elysia Bee. Pertinent information will gain you freedom,” Lawrence smiles, “I’m a generous man, Nemo. You should give serious consideration to my offer.”
Many sims would feel conflicted at such an proposal, but Crux doesn’t even entertain the idea of giving Lawrence information about Elysia. Still, he finds himself wandering the halls of the compound that night, his mind racing. His captors trust him not to leave, so he’s unguarded as he paces.
As his mind searches for a solution, he passes the stasis chamber room. He absently peers in the window and notices that one of the chambers is occupied.
Mercury is still there, unmoved. 13 years in stasis. Seems cruel for Mercury, but fortunate for Crux. It doesn’t take Crux very long to figure out the stasis system. He punches some buttons, and the chamber opens. Mercury stumbles out, just as disoriented as Crux had been all those years ago.
“Mercury,” he says, “I do not know if you recall me. I saved your life in Bridgeport. Mercury, do
you understand me?”
Mercury groans and tries to respond, his body flickering. Afraid that he’ll be caught, Crux speaks as quickly as possible: “I need you to find Polly Bee. She is female, approximately 170 centimeters in height, 60 kilograms, with green skin and orange hair. You must tell her I am alive, and that she is in danger. She will know what to do. Since I saved your life, consider this payment for a debt. Can you do that? Do you understand me?”
Mercury nods, still keeled over.
“Listen closely, Mercury. You must find her. Find Polly Bee,” Crux repeats himself.
“Yeah, Bee, female, looks freaky. I’ll find her,” Mercury coughs and picks himself off the floor. He runs through the wall and down the hallway, out of sight.
At the time, Crux had wondered if the gambit would pay off.
It did. He stares in wonder at the night sky, rain hitting his face and rolling down his neck. It’s a little miracle.
“How could you encourage my daughter to go out with a stranger, you little bastard,” Polaris is furious. She’s opened her house to this little miscreant, and she’s repaid with the disappearance of another daughter.
“Chill out,” Mia rolls her eyes in response, “Nova’ll be back. It’s no big deal.”
“No big deal?!” Polaris practically screeches, “Mia, Elysia was kidnapped and now Nova is not answering her phone and it’s ‘no big deal’?!”
“Man, I thought you were cool, Mrs. Bee.”
“MISS,” Polaris screams.
“I think this would count as justifiable homicide,” Lyra growls. Polaris had called Lyra as soon as she realized Nova was missing. The two planned to search the neighborhood, but not until they got more information out of Mia.
“Hey, that’s not cool,” Mia says, “I didn’t do anything wrong. Nova made the choice to go out.”
“After you pressured her to,” Zenith points out.
“Ugh, you’re such a pussy.”
Luna, meanwhile, is crying in her boyfriend’s arms. The police told them that Nova could not be reported missing until she was gone for 24 hours.
“The first 48 hours are the most important,” Luna hiccups, “That’s what all the crime shows say.”
“It’s okay, honey,” Quentin says softly, “your mom and Lyra will find her, and I’ll help.”
“I solemnly swear.”
“But what if she’s dead?” Luna wails.
“She won’t be dead. We’ll find her.”
Polaris and Mia continue to bicker, causing Solaris—who had previously been trying to file a police report before the 24 hour requirement—to intervene. But everyone in the room leaps up when the front door slams open.
“Mia,” a creature growls from the doorway, “Where’s Mia?!”
“Stay back,” Lyra warns. Polaris, meanwhile, takes a defensive position, while Solaris looks awkward. He easily recognizes the monster, although he had previously been unaware of January’s lycanthropy. Solaris had read about werewolves before, but he thought they were fake, possibly a gimmick to promote tourism in places like Moonlight Falls.
“Mom,” Mia grins, unsurprised by her mom’s appearance, “where have you been? Gee, it’s not the full moon, is it?”
“January?” Polaris squints, forcing herself to see the resemblance between this monster and her daughter’s friend’s mom.
“Mia, thank the maker you’re safe,” January smiles a hideous smile, but it fades as she turns to Polaris, “Polly, your daughter is still in danger.”
January refuses to shift back to human form, explaining that her senses are stronger as a wolf, but she offers her help in finding Nova. SHe begins by sitting down with Polaris and describing the situation.
“Who was Nova with?” Polaris asks.
“I didn’t get a good look at him,” her canines make January lisp a little, “He was muscular, black hair, two different colored eyes.”
“How hard is it to get into the compound? Or get out, I guess?”
“It’s bloody in there,” January admits, “a real mess. I don’t know if the vampires are still feeding, or if the other wolves are still there. They could be a problem. I’m not very strong, and Mia is still learning how to control her powers.”
Solaris, meanwhile, tries to get more information about Mercury out of Mia, “So his name is Mercury. Did Nova tell you his last name?”
“I told you, I don’t know anything,” Mia whines, leaning back in her chair. Lyra wonders how much a werewolf pelt would fetch on the black market.
Suddenly, January perks up and sniffs the air. Mia joins in, following her mother’s lead. A car door slams and the two wolves jump to their feet.
“Someone’s here,” January growls, “I can’t tell who it is, but I smell Nova.”
Lyra darts out the front door, followed by Polaris. They freeze at the top of the steps.
“Holy shit,” Lyra grins, “it can’t be him!” Polaris gasps, covering her mouth.
The heroic quartet stands at the bottom of the stairs, having finished their quest. Mercury leans on Nova, ostensibly for support, though Elysia knows better. Crux is too entranced by the sight in front of him to take notice.
Polaris tries to call to him, but her voice gets caught into a tangled mess in her throat. She leaps down the stairs, taking two steps at a time, and jumps into Crux’s arms. He catches her and holds her tightly.
“C’mon, children. Inside,” Elysia ushers Mercury and Nova up the stairs.
“Cruxie,” Polaris gasps, “Cruxie!”
“Polaris,” Crux is feeling equally inarticulate. He gently eases her to the ground; his joints her too much to hold her long. His arms encircle her waist, and her hands softly rest on his shoulders. She touches him gingerly as if she’s afraid he’ll explode into a puff of dust if she’s not careful.
They stare into each others' eyes momentarily before Crux speaks, “Is that all you have to say?”
Polaris, at a loss for words, kisses him instead.
Author’s note: Crux really is back, and I have no plans to kill him. Initially, though, he was totally dead. The twins were going to grow up without a dad, but Polly was eventually going to find someone new and settle down (though he would have been no replacement for Crux, obviously). Up until a couple of hours before I posted the chapter where he died, I was pretty determined to kill him.* I changed my mind and tacked on the last bit with the men in black. It probably cheapens the story but WHATEVS—I’m writing about sims, so I’m allowed to use cheap tricks. I like Crux too much.
*The worst part is that I was going to let the Commander live. Mwahahahaha! But the Commander really is dead, pinky swear.
I only have one more chapter planned for generation one, but I’ll probably also write a filler chapter jam-packed with pictures of Crux. I assume everyone’s okay with that.