Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chapter 9 Fault

Dave’s fingers press into my skin.

“Let her go.”

Dave thinks about it a moment before he finally complies and takes a step back from me.

I turn to face Michael as the others step into the room.


My name comes out of his mouth as a fragment of a thought, halfway complete. It's always been impossible to know what he's thinking, but I know he doesn't need me to move to get to Dave. His power works through the air. He could easily move me, yet he hasn't.

“No.” Dave is still alive right now. If I step away and refuse to look, he'll be dead and I'll have done nothing.

In the tense quiet, Dave's voice carefully reaches me. “Edith, you need to leave.”

“You don’t know what he’ll do.” But I can imagine. I can remember. It can’t happen again. Not here, and not in front of me.

“I know."

Gina growls impatiently. “Oh come on. She knows he was sent to kill you. Obviously, she‘s protecting him to protect herself.”

Michael has to know that it isn’t true. My mind is an open book to him. It always has been from the moment he first contacted me.

The Ultimate Soldier's voice gruffly breaks the tense silence. “What’re we waiting for?”

“For Suzie to get the fuck outta the way.” Out of the corner of my eye I can see Gina’s deathly glare. But she isn’t the one I’m worried about. My eyes remain focused on Michael.

The Ultimate Soldier sucks in a profane curse before darting out from behind Michael to lay his large hands on my shoulders and half shove half pull me out of the way.

Gina's curse stops both of us. “Fuck! He’s gone.” Her eyes burn their way to me. “Nice, Suzie.”

Michael cuts off any further complaints with his cold commanding voice. “He jumped off the balcony into the garden. He’s still distracted; you can find him.”

Without more needing to be said, the Ultimate Soldier hops off the balcony as the other two race out the door. Michael hasn’t moved. He still stands looking at me. Gina stands behind him as if she's waiting expectantly for him to do me in now.

“Out.” His rough commanding voice surprises her. I can see the disbelief cross her face.


The coldness of his voice makes both of us jump. “Don‘t.”

With another gaze dagger at me, she finally complies with his original order.

Then it’s just us two. The distance between us is too wide and it frightens me. “I couldn’t have another death on my conscious.” It takes effort to stand before him as he looks at me with that stoic face of his, most likely contemplating terrible ideas. Will it be painful? Will he be quick?

Michael takes a step closer which doesn’t help as much as I hoped it might. “You realize he was sent to kill me.”

“I only just found that out. I wouldn’t have…” He continues towards me, crossing the distance between us with the smooth movements of someone whose body is minutely under his control. My own movements are much less controlled. I hop back, banging my leg on the end table and hitting the wall just as he calmly stops in front of me. “You know I wouldn’t. My mind’s an open book to you. You can read it if you want.”

He’s close enough that I can smell the slight scent of some sort of flower on him, Gina’s scent most likely, and a warm musky smell that must be his own. “There are things that can be hidden even in an open mind.”

The back of my leg throbs in time with my heart. "I'm not hiding anything. Go on."

The moonlight from the window next to us shines down, eerily brightening his eyes which steadily hold mine as he contemplates my offer. The space between us seems to widen in that half a moment before I feel his mental touch tickling the front of my brain briefly. We quickly explore my most recent memories. It has been a long while since I have felt his mental touch at all. It reminds me of when we were children, so long ago now.

“Edith, why don’t you hate me?” His head tilts down, away from the moonlight.

The key to my survival has been not thinking. It's true. I haven't ever hated him. I accepted it all as an evil of this world that can't be escaped. It's the only way to live here. My father knew it when he brought my mother and me here to do his illegal experiments.

“My father created you in a way. And you asked me for help, but I didn’t help you. I only showed you things you weren’t meant to ever see. And I was the one who gave you those tours of the labs and took you outside with my eyes.”

I find that I have to glance up at him now to meet his gaze. He stands before me, fully grown, a presence surrounding me, most likely knowing exactly what I'm going to say before I even realize it.

“So it’s my fault. You wouldn’t have wanted out if you hadn’t been shown how good it was through my memories. You probably couldn't have gotten out if not for me.”

Just as the tears begin to slip out, his arms wrap around me holding me to his soft shirt, the musky scent even stronger now with my face pressed so close to his skin. The tears, after so many years of holding it together, feel good-- wonderful even. They pour down my cheek and onto his shirt, a few escaping to fall down into my mouth. Michael whispers my name softly, almost ashamed of so much hurt laid bare in front of him.

Everything is still for those moments we stand together. Then Gina’s voice comes coldly from the doorway. “We’ve got him. Again. Down in the garden when you’re ready.”

My heart freezes as Michael steps away from me. My heart has time to beat once, hard, before he says in a low voice, “Let’s go.” He doesn’t look back at me when he leaves, and I don’t dare grab him to beg him. He knows exactly how I feel now. This one will only be another one to add to my already guilty conscious.

Michael puts a hand on Gina’s back as they walk out the door leaving me alone in the room listening to the shouts from downstairs. I can’t stay listening, and, like a coward, I run across the hall into Mark and Melanie’s room.

Next Chapter -->


  1. Explosive chapter - you can cut the tension with a knife it's so thick. Gina hates Edith - that much is clear; given a chance, I don't doubt she would kill Edith herself. Perhaps the others look at Edith as Michael's weakness and his seeming coldness is a way to protect her from them; to keep them from harming her when he's not around. He does what he has to in order for them to fear him and to convince them that he has no weakness.

    I'm just speculating of course.

    Michael's willingness to kills so easily and without remorse is a bit of a concern though.

    It was great to see the reason why Edith is still with Michael. She carries such a big burden not realising that even had she not been brought into the picture, someone else might have shown him the outside world - she just happened to be more receptive to his mental probes.

    A wonderful chapter Lunar; I was on the edge of my seat the entire reading wondering what was going to happen and like I said in the beginning, you can feel the tension dripping from the words. Powerful piece of writing and character development.

    Again, I am impressed by the world you've crafted for this story; as a reader, I find it so real and so tangible that I can see it, smell it, glimpse it.

    I talk a lot about "connecting" with a story on a level that totally immerses the reader and this story has that and more.

  2. Gah! You guys are so awesome! By this point, no one can be right or wrong with speculation. Here, the characters shine, and I do my best to step out of the way, not judge them, and let them be who they will be.

    I am sure you're right, Carnaxa. Gina probably would kill Edy if given the chance. (Course I've had some talks with Gina about this subject.)

    How the others see Edy is also complicated. But I imagine that Michael himself sees it as a weakness. Hard to be feared if you love a girl like Edy. (But he and I have not had conversations about this. As a character, he's very uncommunicative.) And his loving a girl like Edy could possibly put her in danger if others see her as a weakness.

    Michael's willingness to kill without remorse should be a concern. Does it make it better that most everyone who lives in the Wildlands kills someone at some point in time? It's like living constantly at war, which only brings up more questions for me as the World Explorer aka author. (It's too early in the morning for me to form them, but this is a theme I generally have through the stories from this world which was what made me initially hesitant to post it.)

    This - "She carries such a big burden not realising that even had she not been brought into the picture, someone else might have shown him the outside world..." How true! I could see that, she's just so innocent. She's a real life "Mary Sue." That's why as a narrator, while she's honest, she also misses things/ takes some things at face value because she just can't see the other side!

    Thank you! It really does mean a lot that you're enjoying this world. This is years of work. Many Friday nights, and days in class spent pretending to take notes. And years and years of free writing. (Years and years...)

    That's why I can't call this a sims story even if I'm using sims for it. It was alive before the sims. Sims 3 just adds to the somber nature of the story I think. (And funnily enough, I think it's because TS3 sims naturally creep me out!)

  3. Wow, my responses are going to be long! So Rachel said this over at VSS and I'm going to repost it to respond.

    "This explains so much of Edith's relationship to Michael! While he's a genius and advanced in so many ways that Edith can never hope to be, he'll never be able to understand Edith's compassion and kindness in the face of horrible evil, and as such, I think she'll always be fascinating to him. Edith feels responsible for every person he's killed, and it never occurs to her that he should have his own conscience--that he should be able to regulate his own violent impulses. He had no idea of that because he's been trying to stay out of her head.....which makes me wonder--why has he been trying to stay out of her head? Is it his way of trying to respect her privacy? Or is it that he's afraid it will make him grow a conscience? I think carnaxa is right on this score, and that Edith is his weakness and he's worried that the others might try to use her against him. I think that if he can love anyone, he definitely loves Edith.

    Perfection! You can't end this story soon!!"

    I love it! I hadn't even thought about the idea that Michael could control his own impulses and gain a conscious. Edy is so accepting of the fact that that's the way they have to live. They're at war.

    As for the why does he stay out of her head? I always imagined it has something to do with this:

    "'Edith, why don’t you hate me?' His head tilts down, away from the moonlight."

    I always imagined (because once again he didn't tell me this) that it was possibly because of what he'd done, and he was sure she'd hate him. That of course ties into your speculation that it might make him grow a conscious. He might have to examine what he's doing if he were to pop into her head! Now that I never thought of, but see how it connects just it's from a different view? Awesome!

    "I think that if he can love anyone, he definitely loves Edith." Me too, but then I have to question it still. What is love for him? How would he love? Would it be true love? And Edy has no experience at all but the experience she's seen from her parents and the time she's spent with him, so how fair would it be? Would they ever really be equals? How much would Edy accept? Could she ever really change him?

    Unfortunately, this particular story has a few more chapters to go, and some stand alone pieces. (one from Gina's view that surprised me!) Then we're off to the Southlands a few years ago to learn Paula's story-- which is the character that started it all.

  4. I am most struck by how Michael and Edy complete each other. They are both simple and complex, light and dark. And they seem to love each other despite the fact that I am not sure they understand what love is. This was in my mind the most powerful chapter yet.

  5. I have to agree with Rachel. I had been contemplating something similar, that Michael delving into her mind would show him her thoughts on the killings thereby changing and 'softening' his resolve/actions. That would be a dangerous thing for him considering the company he keeps. I mean, think about it, if you've been with someone for as long as these two have been with each other, eventually, one or the other will have brought some change into the relationship whether it's good or bad. We, as humans, influence one another whether it's intentional or not.

  6. Oh, I loved this! So much happened in such a short period of time (game-wise is what I mean, I guess).

    What I found really interesting was when Michael said that things could be hidden, even in Edith's open mind. Was he telling the truth or is baiting Edy? Trying to get her to think the thoughts she daren't, to see if she's truly loyal?

    I was really shocked to see Michael being so tender with Edy! I think my eyes about fell out of my head. But I loved that part too - beautiful.

    Just to continue my habit of posting questions that seem to sprout from nowhere in particular, do Gina, the Ultimate Soldier and Michael's other followers know the full extent of his powers? I hope I haven't asked that before! I do always check back to see if you've answered but I sometimes forget what you've explained before!

  7. Thank you for commenting, Gayl. This was my second most difficult chapter. The two are polar opposites, and yet attracted to each other. In a normal world, I don't think this would have worked, and maybe it still won't work!

    Carnaxa, that is true. Maybe she's already influenced him in some way then even if he hasn't consciously connected to her. In fact it's probably a good bet she has since he was able to comfort her here.

    Good questions, Carla. I will say that Michael wasn't baiting Edith, it's true. If it's something subconscious, something she doesn't know is there, well he wouldn't know it's there either. He can only know the conscious thought. So if someone were really well trained, really knew themselves, they could (in theory at least) hide a malicious thought so far down he might miss it. This is actually something that will come up again!

    I sure hope it was believable. I worried about it, but it just made so much sense to me. They've both been holding back I think. Something had to break.

    And your last question is another one that gets addressed in Gina's story. Michael's generals know that Michael is powerful-- they've seen all the same stuff Edy's seen, and Soldier was there that night Michael broke out.

    Edy mentions it in chapter three, but you might have missed it. She says, "The Ultimate Soldier is one of the few experiments that haunts my memories and my nightmares. He was there that night my life was changed."

  8. (Yay! I do always read these right away, it's just that I usually have a kid climbing on me and want to wait until I can use my brain to comment ;) This is about to be the longest comment ever, lol!...)

    Awww, I thought he might have it in him! This was so needed! And a very powerful "breaking point" as you said. Perfect pacing and beautifully written!

    I never thought about how his staying out of her mind might be his resistance to softening. That's true, being in Edy's head could be dangerous for him. But I can see she's taught him a lot about what it means to be "human" over the years. I agree with carnaxa, that we influence each other whether we intend to or not.

    I find myself really siding with Michael in this one. And this is why: "I accepted it all as an evil of this world that can't be escaped. It's the only way to live here. My father knew it when he brought my mother and me here to do his illegal experiments."

    This really seemed to level things for me, between them. If it's true that it's simply the way people survive out there, then we really can't fault Michael for using his "strengths" to protect himself and the people he cares about. It's no different than how someone else living out there might pick up a gun instead.

    Your question: "Does it make it better that most everyone who lives in the Wildlands kills someone at some point in time?"

    Yes, I think it does justify him a bit.

    And it kind of shows her naivety, I guess. (Which is not a critique to you, the writer - if she's naive, it's just who she is!) If he were to give up killing the people who want to kill him, just because she's squeamish about it, they'd both be dead pretty quickly. So unless she wants to move them all to the suburbs or something, maybe she is best off to just go hide out with the kiddies, close her eyes to it, and let him do his thing?

    But this is good! And so very revealing! Something in me has been wanting to side with Michael from the beginning, and now I know why. And that hug was just perfect!

    But this Gina chick! What does he see in her? lol! Except maybe an easy piece of ass? I hope he doesn't let her get too close, because she seems dangerous to his (and Edy's) well-being. I can't wait to hear her story!

    Great, GREAT chapter!

  9. A quality Laura comment is a comment worth waiting for. Especially if it's a long comment. Those are nice.

    I'm so glad that this is believable. I couldn't see it going any other way in my head. I was worried I portrayed him as too cold early on. Which he is, because as you all know, he sort of has to be.

    I'm also glad that you're siding with him. I wondered if I could ever justify him. The world is so alien, and he's rather alien as well himself (to me even). But I really do love him as a character. My own personal little anti-hero. (And Edy's too really.)

    Thank you for giving me your take on that question! I figure the fun part of this will be the differing opinions on that subject. All of these characters do have their own moral compass based on their experiences. No one can be right or wrong, and I wouldn't be offended if someone really didn't like the fact that someone like Michael can kill and can do it so easily.

    Of course, there's still more to go to give you fodder for thought. I promise it'll be fun! Or at least interesting.

    Ah Gina. Yeah, she's something else. I'm still trying to figure Michael and Gina out but another story kept horning in. I'm hoping to hide away and see if I can't get some serious work done this weekend while not being covered in sleeping cats.

  10. This is a very intriguing chapter.

    Did I actually say what a handsome Sim Dave is? I'm sorry he has to die. But it is perfectly clear to me that Michael can't let him live. It is an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth out there.

    I'm still not sure I know the total reason for the war. Is it simply a case of the experiments want to take over or is there more to it?

    I also wonder whether the special powers are genetically embedded in the 'experiments'. I suppose they have to be, because the 'experiments' seem to feel they can wipe out all the labs and the people who created them...?

    I can now see why it was not a 'gift' when Mchael showed Edith a way out of the lab. It never occurred he was using her eyes, because by opening all the right doors for her and making sure there were no guards around it seemed clear to me that he obviously knew the way out and therefore the Outside?

    Michael was eight (?) when he made contact with Edith... I think children of eight have already developed a conscience of sorts, but then Michael may have been taken as a baby...

    I was surprised he thinks in terms of Edy 'hating' him, that he even understands the concept of her 'guilt' and that he is compassionate enough to give her a hug... 'console' her as it were. These concepts require emotion, emotional involvement and understanding of the simian (human) psyche. But then Michael is an excellent strategist and to know his enemies I suppose he must have learned these things even while being held captive and totally deprived of a normal upbringing?
    It would be nice to know how. His relationship with Edith would have been insufficient. The leap from'seeing' things in someones head, through someones eyes and 'understanding emotions' (I'm thinking of the scene in the playground) is huge - especially if he was basically 'using' Edith's mind when he was still a child.

    Sorry to repeat this, but again... at what age did the lab start experimenting on him and how was he held captive there? I keep thinking it must have been an atrocious experience for him (given who and what he became)but maybe I'm wrong. It's hard to assess to what EXTENT his personality and soul have been damaged by the lab.

    I love this story and I am very excited we will learn more about Gina in the sense that she is another 'experiment'. I also look forward to the 'Southlands' and Paula's story.

    Wonderful chapter! Fantastic story!

  11. Moondaisy, I, as always, and the same as everyone else, thank you very much for your thoughtful and well put together comments. Let's see if I can try my best to clear things up.

    First things first, Dave is SO handsome a sim! I'm sure there's a story there as well, and one of these days I hope to go back and see his story too. So he might be able to be featured in his own story. I think that might be fun.

    There isn't really a "war" as in someone's declared one. It's that people are fighting for food, shelter, territory, and safety. Some have larger territory than others, like the Southlands.

    There might not have been guards in the first place. Edy's dad says in the last chapter that he's the only one with the codes. He seems to feel safe from the outside.

    As for his knowing the way out, I could probably guess. I mean, people had to come in at some point, and he's probably been testing his powers, and might have seen something in someone else's memory. (I think that's another aspect of the story I should delve into actually! As in personally, not necessarily to post unless I come up with something good.)

    As for my take on Michael... (All wonderful questions and points by the way). From my personal studies of children and child development, I can't get too technical because I can't remember much, but this is what I'm thinking: Michael was probably taken as a toddler to young child (I'm thinking around age 4 specifically, experiments might have started on him when he was six). Young children have usually developed a form of right versus wrong. The thing is that it usually develops more as they grow older from influence from the parents and other children.

    I imagine he was probably loved as a child and a toddler, so he doesn't suffer from something like Attachment Disorder. But he was isolated during key developmental years when his growing conscious would have been tested, when he should have been playing with other children and learning to interact socially.

    So I think he does have a basic understanding of right and wrong. He's not worried that Edy hates him because of the stuff he does (I realize that's not clear now) but because of what he did to her. You'll see that next chapter.

  12. Thank you so much for clearing this up! I understand the 'war' concept better and the extra information on Michael was very valuable.

  13. I hope the Michael stuff makes sense and is believable. I don't usually do research before hand for character development; sometimes I stumble across it afterward. Which is what happened when I took my child development class. (Man, I wish I had those notes! I even did a case study on a fictional character of mine.)

  14. Well, I don't have any deep thoughts or intelligent things to say like everyone else - LOL - but I am caught up now on this story and I am still enjoying it very much. I've often found myself thinking about it over the past few days. It's quite a read, and I look forward to following it on a regular basis from now on. Well done!

  15. lol, Catherine. That's okay. I am happy that it is enjoyed! That's the most important part for me.

    And you'd found yourself thinking about it? I could hug you for that. Oh heck why not? *hug* XD That really does mean a lot. Hopefully the other stories will be up to par with this one.

  16. Oh wow, the tension is so high in this one. Exciting that he did delve into her mind, I actually feel bad that Dave got caught, though I don't know his full story, and I don't think I feel strongly that Michael should be killed.

  17. To be honest, I feel bad for Dave too, and I haven't delved into his story yet. I'm sure he has one though. Everyone does. (Except for the random sims I've created to take up space in the pictures. Those guys don't count. They're like extras. XD)

  18. Eek. Sorry, I don't have any lengthy observations here either, just got back from my trip and will be trying to catch up, but I wanted to comment here on the way Michael reacted to Edy, the blanket of comfort he offered her, astounding in its raw emotion.
    At least to me.
    Gina must sense this connection between them, her hate is palatable.
    And Dave was caught?

    great, great update, hope to read some more soon.

  19. Hi Drew. It's okay. Comments are always nice, especially if you take the time out to make them. I'm sure you're busyu catching up with a lot of stuff being back from vacation.

    Oh Gina. I'm posting up a special piece that spilled out from her when I was working. I think the peek will be interesting.

    Yeah, poor Dave.

  20. I am so glad that Edith finally showed some nerve and was able to stand up to Michael, even if it meant that she might trigger Michael's rage.

    And after reading some of the comments, I've found my answer to my question from the previous chapter. I never realized, as someone above me said, that it wasn't to let Edith see green grass for the first time in years, but so that Michael could see the world outside through Edy's eyes.

    It's amazing how manipulative Michael can really be. Even at a young child.

    You said that children, at least by six or so, develop the sense of right or wrong, and I agree with you. But Michael seems wiser than his years, and has seemed that way to me from the get go. So therefore, he's known what right and wrong could possibly mean, though he's been so out of touch with the world that he may not realize that by using Edith the way he has/is is not correct.

    Does that make any sense? Sometimes my thoughts sound cooler in my head than they do once I write them!

  21. Edith appears meek, but I think she's actually a very strong character. You'd have to be to not go crazy following Michael around. Of course, I also know things that were cut because they were too distracting but are hinted at later. (Specifically chapter 11.)

    I know, twisted, right? He could be doing both despite the idea of both motives sounding contradictory. Both be human and inhuman in one action.

    And yes, exactly! Well put. He may know some rights from wrongs like he knows math, but not realize it because he is out of touch!

    Makes absolutely perfect sense to me.