This chapter is a little longer than usual, due to the intrusion of plot. Enjoy!

Welcome back to Willow Valley, where winter has just begun. As usual, we will start with the Pavlov family. At the end of fall, Larisa received a phone call from an old acquaintance and headed into town to meet him.

Back row: Makari, Leo holding Sofiya, Larisa, Aglaya

Front row: Vanya: Nadezda, Lyov

“Larisa, I’m so glad you could come,” Julien said with a smile as Larisa approached. “It’s been so long! You do remember me, I hope.”

“I remember you, Julien,” Larisa replied. She was guessing from his greeting – and from the fact that he was apparently pregnant – that he didn’t intend to hurt her. Still, he was a reminder of the past she had escaped, and she wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. “What’s going on? You said this was important.”

“Well, it’s just…” Julien sighed. “I know you left Valley Z years ago, but you should know what’s happened there. Things have gotten much, much worse. I only barely managed to sneak out.”

“But that family – the Fines – they were working on making things better. Right before I left I heard that they had managed to restore the water supply.”

“They did restore the water supply. They also encouraged people to buy new clothes and take care of their appearance, and they brought back greenery and plant life. The mood in the valley had never been so hopeful. I guess that’s why they decided to crack down.”

“They?”

“All the thugs that were in charge of the place – still are, I suppose. They call themselves ‘The Syndicate’, but everyone knows Simenstein Labs is mixed up in it somehow.”

Larisa frowned. “My father used to work for Simenstein Labs. I’ve known they were trouble since…well, since I left.” She definitely didn’t want to talk about that day, the day she’d left Valley Z and never looked back. “But…but what happened to the Fines?”

Julien sighed, and then seemed to steel himself before speaking. “They’re dead. All of them.” Larisa gasped. “The Syndicate burned their house down. And then, for good measure, they destroyed the branches of the family. There’s a rumor that Hal and Maria Simenstein and their children are alive, imprisoned, but they killed the Centowskis and the McCombs.”

Larisa stared at Julien, shocked. “Phoebe McComb was one of my best friends.”

“I know,” Julien replied. “But that’s why you have to know. Because they didn’t kill Phoebe. She was at college when the attacks happened. She must have heard, somehow, because she disappeared the night of the killings. Even her housemate, Tiernan Simenstein, has no idea where she went.”

“Maybe the Syndicate is keeping her prisoner, too.”

Julien shook his head. “Tiernan Simenstein is Dr. Simenstein’s grandson. He joined the Syndicate after the attacks, and may have been a member all along. No, the word from people on the inside at Simenstein Labs is that they don’t know what happened to her.”

“Why did you have to tell me this, Julien? Why is it so important that I know? I’ve left Valley Z, and I’m never going back.”

“I know. Neither am I,” Julien said. “But I thought, maybe, you might know where Phoebe would go.”

“And if I did, what would I do about it?” Larisa was uneasy. She did, in fact, know where Phoebe would escape to. Was this some kind of ruse by the Syndicate to get her to reveal her friend’s location? “Wherever she is,” Larisa continued, “she’s certainly better off than she would be back in Valley Z.”

“She’s better off,” Julien agreed, “but the town isn’t. She’s the only one left of the Fine bloodline that the Syndicate hasn’t gotten to yet – which means she’s the only one who can fix things.” He sighed. “It’s hopeless there now, Larisa, just like it was before the disaster. Everyone’s living in darkness and squalor again. We’re not going back, but it’s still our hometown, and I for one would like to see things improve.” He stopped, but Larisa said nothing. “I’ve got to get back home. But…well, think about it, ok?”

Julien left, but Larisa spent quite a while standing there on the sidewalk, staring after him.

Back at the Pavlov’s log cabin, life continued, even without Larisa there. The kids were all good friends with each other, and they all loved playing games.

Leo continued working on his portrait of Larisa, and eventually finished it. He did worry some when Larisa still hadn’t returned as night turned into morning, but he figured whatever had called her out must have been important.

During the fall, the decision had been made that Vanya would be heir, and take over the garden and the store one day. As such, he spent a great deal of his free time in the garden learning how to properly care for the plants.

In the morning, Nadezda went out to put the paper into compost before getting on the bus. She froze when she heard someone behind her. Turning, she saw a rather frightening old woman sneaking toward the house. “Who are you?” she demanded.


“Pay me no mind, child,” the woman said. Taking her at her word, Nadezda shrugged, picked up the paper, and headed toward the compost. Behind her, the woman put some kind of lamp on the ground, cheering loudly.

All of the children just knew that it must be a magic lamp, and all decided they wanted to make a wish on it as they climbed onto the bus.

Leo was left alone except for little Sofiya – and she spent most of the day sleeping. Leo wasn’t a fan of being alone, and he almost missed the days when he’d had four toddlers tumbling around.


It wasn’t long, though, until the kids returned home from school. All 5 kids brought home top grades! Leo was very proud.

That evening, as everyone was working on homework, Nadezda heard a car pull up outside. She quickly ran out to see.

“Mama, you’re home!” Nadezda cried, reaching up to give her mother a hug. “I’m so glad you’re back.”

“Me, too, sweetheart,” Larisa said.

Later, after the children had gone to bed, Larisa and Leo sat down on the couch. “I’m so glad you’re back, Larisa,” Leo said. “It was lonely without you.”

“I had something important to do,” Larisa replied. “I’m sorry. I should have called.”

They sat in silence for a moment before Larisa was ready to speak again. “You’ve never asked…my past, why I decided to move here to Willow Valley…”

“It didn’t seem important,” Leo said. “I love you and you love me. That’s all that really matters.”

“Still, you should know.”

Leo smiled at her reassuringly. Larisa took a deep breath, and began her story.

“I grew up with my father, in a town called Valley Z. There had been a disaster a couple of generations before, that almost destroyed the town. The only business that remained intact was Simenstein Laboratories, and my father worked for them. I never knew my mother; Papa would never tell me what had happened to her.

We lived in a house provided by Papa’s work. It was a miserable place – no way to have fun, or gain skills. Just constant dirtiness and boredom. There was a family that was working on making things better – the Fines – but in Simenstein housing we weren’t allowed to have any of their advances, like lights.

One of my best friends was a girl named Phoebe McComb. Her mother was a Fine, and had cleared the zombies from the streets. We used to play a lot of red hands. Phoebe could be mean sometimes, but she was a good friend.

One day, when I got home from school, there was a note in the mailbox. It said my father had been killed in an accident at work.

Then a Servo appeared. She introduced herself as Lollie, and said she was on the board of Simenstein labs. She said they were very sorry about the accident, and wanted to help me out.

She made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: she would help me get my father back, if I would promise to work for Simenstein Laboratories as an adult.

Of course I agreed.

‘Welcome to the Simenstein family,’ she said.

The next day, an ominous looking phone was dropped off. There were no instructions with it. I picked it up, and a voice said, ‘Who would you like to resurrect?’ When I gave the voice my father’s name, it said ‘That resurrection has already been paid for.’ A puff of red smoke appeared.

My father appeared, but he was different. His skin was gray, and he emitted a horrible stench.  He looked at me like he’d never even seen me before.

‘Brains,’ he moaned, shambling toward me. I didn’t know what to do.

So I ran. I hitchhiked and got a ride out of town, and never went back. I spent the rest of my teenage years working odd jobs and sleeping wherever I could, until I made it here.”

“Larisa, I’m so sorry you had to go through all that,” Leo said. “Now I understand why you get so nervous around strangers. You’re afraid they’re looking for you, aren’t you?”

“Well, I was, but I know now that they’re not. Someone from Valley Z did find me, but he’s a friend.”

“That’s where you went last night? To see this person?”

“At first.” Larisa quickly summarized what Julien had told her about the fate of Phoebe’s family. “After I heard what he had to say…well, I took a little trip.”

“I knew exactly where Phoebe would have gone. When we were kids, we used to look at an old travel magazine. It was about a place called Twikii Island, and we always said that someday we would go there.”

After asking around, I found out that Phoebe had purchased the biggest house on the island.

I wasn’t surprised to find Phoebe on the beach.


When she saw me, she stood and turned away, facing the ocean. ‘Larisa. You look different.’

‘So do you,’ I told her. ‘Hairstyles and makeup make a big difference.’

She turned toward me. ‘Did the Syndicate send you?’

‘Phoebe, why on Earth would you think that? I ran away from the Syndicate myself, years ago.’

‘Then why are you here?’

‘I want to talk to you about going back to Valley Z.’

‘Are you crazy? They want me dead! They killed my parents, my cousins, my whole family!’

‘And you’re going to let them get away with it?’ I shouted back.

‘They’ve won, don’t you see that?’ I told her. ‘Things have gone from bad to worse, back to what they were before your grandmother started trying to improve things.’

‘And what am I supposed to do about it?’

‘You can fix it, Phoebe! Everyone’s so hopeless right now, but if you came back – the last living descendant of Alexandra Fine – people could have hope again.’

‘You really think so?’ I nodded. ‘But…but I was never eligible to help out. My mother was a spare.’

‘You’d be starting over. That rule doesn’t matter so much. I mean, it would be hard – you’d have to redo everything your grandmother and your mother and everyone else in your family did. But Phoebe, you’re Valley Z’s only hope.’

She sighed. ‘I’ll think about it, all right? I can’t make any promises.’

‘I know I’m asking a lot, but I at least wanted you to think about it.’

She gave me a hug. ‘I’m glad you came, Larisa. It’s good to know that not everyone I care about is gone.'”

“So that’s it?” Leo asked.

“I guess so.”

“Well, I hope your friend makes the right decision, whatever it might end up being.”

“Me too,” Larisa replied.

Later, after some sleep, Larisa decided to clean the dusty old lamp that had somehow found its way into their house. When a genie popped out and offered her wishes, she wasn’t about to say no. They could use more money for the kids’ house buying funds, so that’s what she wished for.

Later, while fixing the computer, Larisa got a horrible shock. Vanya was quite concerned, but she reassured him that she would be fine after a shower.

That evening, the family celebrated a double birthday. Sofiya grew into a very cute child.

For a brief moment, there were six children in the house.

Immediately afterward, though, until eldest daughter Aglaya did her own spin and twirl. She decided she wanted to be a Fortune sim like her mother, and would eventually like to be Captain Hero.

Now that she was a teen, Aglaya was old enough to help out at the grocery store. She kept the shelves stocked and helped her father out with sales.

As usual, business was booming. It was only about 24 hours before Joe Carr gave them their 125th star, making the business level 10.

Back home, Larisa’s daily searches in the computer finally paid off, and she found someone who was willing to offer work to a budding oceanographer.

Now that Larisa had a job and all the kids were in school, Leo found himself all alone. He spent a great part of the day playing chess by himself.

Now that she was a teenager, the companionship of her siblings was no longer enough for Aglaya. She could frequently be found on Sim Nation OnLine, chatting with Maple Hill teens.

One night, while Larisa was at work, Aglaya found herself taking responsibility for making the nightly meal of grilled cheese. Sofiya thought that her big sister had done pretty well, but of course her grilled cheese couldn’t be as good as Mama’s.

Leo took up writing novels during his spare time. His very first one, about a poor girl who saw her father turned into a zombie by an evil corporation, was an immediate bestseller.

Meanwhile, Larisa was working hard, zooming up the career ladder and working on her skills when she was off.

One night, Aglaya decided to try a recipe she’d found online.

“This isn’t grilled cheese,” Makari said.

“Are we supposed to eat this? Can you eat things that aren’t grilled cheese?” Lyov added.

“I’d think you would enjoy trying something different,” Aglaya chided them.

After only a few more days, it was time for the quadruplets’ birthday! All four grew up well.

Makari became a knowledge sim, and wanted to be a famous architect.

Lyov became a family sim.

Nadezda wanted to be popular, and also get a few businesses to level 10.

Vanya decided he wanted a big family, just like the one he’d grown up in. He also decided he wanted to be an educator.

Since there were now three sims in the house who wanted big families, Lyov decided he wanted to be different. But when he stuck his head in the machine, sparks shot out. He didn’t mind, though; he just wanted to eat some more of those delicious grilled cheese sandwiches he’d grown up with.

Naturally, Lyov made the family meal the next night. “Glad things are back to normal. That spaghetti stuff was just weird,” Nadezda said. “It was like trying to ski on mud or something.”

“Speaking of skiing…” Makari said, then glanced out the window and frowned. “Well, I guess it’s too late this year. It’s spring.”

Notes:

1) I’m hoping the plotty stuff was understandable without having read the Fine Apocalypse. I might possibly be setting up for a sequel, eventually.

2) Good things happened this season! Electrocution, the genie lamp, and first level 10 business. Hooray!

3) I have the ltw variety hack, so that’s why the ltws don’t necessarily fit the aspirations. Of the five teens, though, three have ltws that aren’t immediately feasible. Architecture for Makari is probably the most likely, especially once Nadezda gets working on her 5 top businesses. As for Nadezda, she’s lucky that she’s in a BACC and that I like her, since I will be attempting to get her those 5 top businesses.

Stats:

Sims 13

Households 2

Owned lots 2

Unowned lots 0

Military lot? NO

Business districts 0

Universities 0

Downtown? 0

Sim multiplier 2

Population 26

Uni funds 13600

Electrocutions 1

Level 10 businesses 1

 

Careers

Business 0 of 1

Culinary 1 of 1

Music 0 of UL

Oceanography 1 (special)

 

Advertisements