Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chapter 20 An Uncomfortable Dinner

Through out dinner, I watch him as he eats and try to pick up clues that he was once a normal Neutral human.

Henri tries his best to not look up at me. He makes no comments about the food which I assume is a good sign because if he were unhappy, he would most definitely tell me that he didn’t like the cooking.

It’s clear that I have to ask him directly if I want answers. But he’s probably the sort who won’t want to answer questions about himself or his past. He’s my father, but at the same time he’s not. He’s a stranger, one who I’d rightfully be terrified of if I didn’t know we were related.

Still, I’m intent on asking him. I steel myself for it, hoping for the perfect time to make itself apparent.

Finally, he looks up at me. "What?" He asks me with as close to a perplexed look as he’s going to get.

He’s given me my opening whether he meant to or not. "Were you Neutral?"

He sighs and puts his fork down half in annoyance. I can almost see him mentally cursing Alex. From who else would I have gotten an idea like that? Right away I feel a bit guilty, worried that I've gotten Alex in trouble.

"We weren't called Neutral back then."

My mouth falls open. I didn't expect such blunt honesty from him. He slices through the lies with his simple admission. His eyes though aren’t on me as he speaks. He looks away from me, his face hardened and impassive.

He glances at me, apparently catching some of the surprise on my face. “What, they didn’t tell you that?”

No they didn’t. I’m torn between admitting it and telling him the honest truth behind my surprise. I clear my throat and the words slip out naturally. “Actually, I’m more surprised that you answered me. I was expecting a blow off.”

He sits back in his chair and eyes me even as he actually smiles, his eyes catching the light from the near by lamp. It’s so strange to have him actually looking at me like he’s seeing me for the first time. Now it’s my turn to ask him, “What?”

Some part of his look tells me he’s comparing me to my mother. I can almost see him shake his head, or maybe I’m just imagining it. “They didn’t tell you, did they?” He doesn’t really need me to answer. He pauses long enough for a sigh. “So they’ve started re-writing what actually happened. What else have they told you?”

I’m not meek by any means, but when faced with him actually looking at me and asking me questions about something that I’m learning to be ashamed of, I can’t help feeling like a kid again when I wanted to hide behind my mom’s legs. “Uhm, well they said it was rogue lab companies that did it. Illegally.”

Whatever slight amusement had been sparkling in his eye, it quickly flashes into anger. “So they’re writing out their involvement completely.” He looks away, his brows drawn down over his eyes.

It’s uncomfortable as he stews with that knowledge quietly, not even poking at his food. I poke at my food, but it doesn’t make it any better. I can’t help wondering why Mom never talked to me about this stuff. But then, she never really talked to me about her work either. I had no idea what she did in the government or what she was trying to do. But I never asked. I never showed any interest in any of it.

Henri says quietly, “They’re still doing it.” When I look up, he’s looking at me. “We were unwilling. A lot of our parents were tricked. Now they have a batch of people who are willing.”

“Who? Who’d be willing to--?” My question breaks off when it occurs to me that asking who'd be willing to do that to themselves could possibly be insulting to him and his people. While it's safe to assume that he doesn't exactly like what happened to him, I don't want to say anything that can be taken as an insult.

If he notices, he doesn't say anything. “They have a group of people who are their special forces created to protect their territory from us. They volunteer for it.”

I roll my shoulders, suddenly feeling a chill creeping up my spine. The idea that there are people who would willing do to themselves what seems to have been done to these people unwillingly somehow still seems wrong. It's something else I never contemplated. How would I? Who would even think such a thing? And if it is going on, if there are enhanced humans in the military for the Neutral side, it's something the average person like me obviously knows nothing about.

"Are you done?" I ask him, my eyes falling on the plate. There are only scraps left on both our plates, but I don't feel much like eating.

Henri softly grunts an affirmative, and I get up and take the plates.

Our eyes catch again when I reach for his plate, and I wonder if he can see the discomfort I'm feeling. I've never been great at hiding my emotions, and this night has been one filled with uneasy discoveries.

He doesn't say anything. As I go to wash the dishes, he puts away the left overs in the small mini-fridge. Another thing I try to mentally remember to ask him about later. I don't want to push my luck today.

Next Chapter -->


Just to completely ruin the tone here-- While getting the shots for this chapter this afternoon, these two made some of the strangest faces I have ever seen. Henri kept smiling at her which was not helping.

And any time I told him to eat his salad I got this from him.

I could see him saying, "Yaaaaay!" SO not fitting. Autumn salad is his favorite dish. I actually didn't know that. I only created the sim. But I don't really care about their favorite stuff for story telling.

I think this was Paula's face the second time he did that.

I'll pretend it was. Can't you see her going, "Really, Henri?"

And then while they were talking she made this face.

I think that was when Henri was smiling at her. Maybe she found it as distracting as I did. But I think I have a new icon for the two forums I do visit.


  1. Wow...what an interesting exchange! I was surprised by how much Henri responded to her. You know....I wonder if he took her fear for disinterest? If he thought she was entirely uninterested in everything going on around her, that would explain some of his attitude. Here he is, someone who has had something really awful done to him by the Neutrals--supposedly the civilized people of their world--and he knows his daughter wishes she were back there in that civilized place.

    This was definitely a thought-provoking chapter, and the subtlety of their interactions is really amazing. Wonderful!

  2. To be quite honest, I was more surprised that Henri is talking with Paula in that manner. He just seems so...secretive when it comes to her. It's really weird seeing him so open with Paula. (I'm not saying that he ISN'T holding something back, but I'm with Paula on this. I just expected him to brush her off.)

    On another note, I HATE IT when sims don't cooperate for a chapter. Every time I try to do a "serious" update, most of my sims just grin and laugh with one another. It's incredibly annoying, lol. (Leonard is the worst when it comes to this. :( )

    And I know I've said it a bajillion times, but Henri is one handsome sim. I love his facial expressions.

  3. Ha, great little outtakes at the end there! The last one reminds me of the smile that super-nice Sims do in TS2, mixed with a tinge of fear!

    But back to the story!

    I'm sort of surprised Henri was so up front with Paula and sort of not. He definitely seems like a taciturn man but it's like what I think I said to you once on Twitter. Henri also seems like the kind of man who would value knowledge and truth. He'd want to set things straight. I guess he'd also appreciate that Paula was so direct in asking him. You beating around the bush.

    There's a really interesting relationship forming between these two. It's going to be wonderful to watch how it develops.

  4. Haha, I love the outtakes, it makes for interesting pictures when sims decide to make faces you don't want.

    It's interesting, Henri seemed to learn almost as much as Paula did in that conversation. Whether that information is of any use to him or not is another story.

    Great chapter mate.

  5. Rachel, you know, that would explain his attitude. He'd probably look down on her, thinking she was the sort of person who wants to just bury her head in the sand and identifies with this place she thinks is so civilized, but he absolutely hates.

    Thank you. I have to admit I had trouble writing this one, sort of, so I'm glad that there actually is something here, lol.

    Nicole, it's true, he does seem like the secretive type, doesn't he? But I think Carla's (Sullivansims) is actually correct in suggesting Henri's probably a man who appreciates honestly and people who are brave enough to stand up and seek it. If before he thought Paula was burying her head in the sand, he was probably surprised to see her directly asking him anything.

    I think she surprised him too, lol.

    Also LOL at Leonard. Of course it would be Leonard.

    Thanks. He surprised me actually. He really did turn out to be a handsome sim.

    Carla, I do have to say thank you because of your insight into Henri. I think you are right, that he'd be a man who'd value knowledge and truth. So it would make sense that he wouldn't be impressed with Paula at first if he were expecting her to act like a typical Neutral.

    Yeah, their relationship also surprised me. I was sure that Paula would spend more time ducking and hiding from the man.

    Poida, I don't know that what Paula shared will be any use to Henri, but it probably did confirm some of his suspicions.


  6. Great exchange between these two characters. I'm wondering if even Henri was surprised by how much he revealed to this kid who has been dumped on his doorstep. Paula says that "he's my father, but at the same time he's not". I wonder if she's considered that the reverse is possibly true for him?

    I can almost hear his brain working overtime from here on how the "victors" have re-written history. That must rankle.

    My breath caught in my throat when I read the line "a lot of our parents were tricked" - his parents willingly handed him over to these experimenters? Even if he knows they were tricked, there's got to still be some hurt about that in there as well. Poor Henri!

    I can't say I'm surprised by the hypocrisy of "volunteer" experiments being used to control the rogue element which were experimented on through lies and deception. It just makes ironic sense that it would happen that way.

    Loved the outtakes. My sims do weird things like that to me all the time. I tee up a really tense moment and then all of a sudden they get the giggles or some such nonsense and by the time one has calmed down, the others are off doing their own thing.

    PS - just noticed you've got two of my blogs in your links to the side. Thank you!!

  7. I guess I'm not that surprised that Henri talked to Paula. After all, he had to have some point in insisting they eat together, and I doubt it was because he wanted to check her table manners.

    I am assuming he is sincere. However, take a look at the 'wonderful' civilization he is building. It's brutal. And if he 'wins', he can be the one to write the history. Paula should take care of herself and avoid taking sides as long as she can.

  8. Illandrya, wow, another insightful question. I don't think she's ever thought about the fact that the reverse is true for him too!

    The re-writing of history does more than rankle I think. Those kids they're lying to are becoming old enough now to be adults and be the next ones in power and to volunteer for special military programs.

    Yup, his parents handed him over. They didn't know, but it still had to hurt. And when he found out they had been tricked, now that rankled.

    Sims are just like actors, lol. I finally had to turn off free will 'cause Paula kept trying to get up and clean up.

    Also, I'm loving your stories. I just started on Veronika Storm.

    SB, yeah I kinda figured the same. If he was having them sit down to a meal together, some talking would have to go on. But I don't think he knew how to begin, and Paula cut right through to it.

    I know-- you're screwed no matter what side you pick really. And Henri realizes that his civilization is his fault. But we'll get to that as well.

  9. Argh! Paula makes me want to pull my hair out!

    So there she is... She finally asks a super question and then she mulls more over the fact Henri actually responded than over the answer he has given her. Then she allows him to question her instead of using the moment to ask as many questions as she can. How is she ever going to learn things this way?
    He gives her another chance to ask more by telling her about the volunteers and she responds with "Are you done?" Oh Noooo!

    Right! I've done my little rant now and feel better for it. :)

    You know I love Henri. I tell you everytime he pops up.
    I think Paula made him feel uncomfortable too by staring at him while he was eating without saying anything.
    I think Henri was relieved to see some spirit in his daughter. I don't think he has a lot of patiences for meek types.I loved the fact he smiled at her when she bluntly admitted she expected a blow off.

    I think the idea of introducing "volunteers" is superb! It makes so much sense.
    If the Neutrals are more advanced, then these volunteers must end up as "the finished product" rather than "experiments"... oh-oh, and possibly even more dangerous.
    That would make the Neutrals very powerful indeed. No wonder the Experiments need their fighters to be in top form. They have to fight each other to defend their pickings from the Revolution, but... What if the Neutrals decided to take over the territories they've lost to free the enslaved human population?
    They seem to adhere to a "Divide and Rule" strategy while they are continually improving on genetic manipulation. The fact that "half-experiments" like Paula are banned, now seems to suggest that they intend to keep their batch of "genetically enhanced people" as pure as possible.

    Fascinating! :)

  10. I am totally giggling at Henri's reactions, hahaha! It's so funny to see a usually-uptight character engage in a normal conversation and actually smile!

    Him comparing Paula to her mother sounded kind of sweet too. *happy sigh* It's the thought that he still remembers her mother at all. :)

    Also, I'm beginning to think that the Neutrals are the scary ones now. :S Oh gosh, when you switch sides, every thing looks different.

  11. Moondaisy, lol! I think she still feels weird. Like she says, if she didn't know they were related she'd rightfully fear him. Who wouldn't? He's gruff and in charge of a large and powerful group of Wildlanders, and everything she's learned has been that Wildlanders are dangerous and evil.

    Who knows what he's done?

    As for Henri, did you see the ten facts about him? Just making sure, lol.

    Ooh, I love to hear your thoughts. You're right on line with my thoughts, I'll admit that. Of course Neutrals would want to keep some "quality control" on enhanced humans, so of course they probably wouldn't appreciate half breeds.

    But that's all I can say! :X Seriously, lol.

    Ning, lol! That's cute that your giggling. I think Paula really surprised him. He wasn't expecting her to bother asking questions, probably figuring she'd be too afraid.

    Oh yes, he definitely remembers her mother. We will get to that, lol.

    Yes! Switching sides is important. I like to imagine that both sides are telling the truth in an argument, and I bounce from one side to the other. From Henri's point of view, Neutrals are the scary ones.

  12. I loved the ten facts about Henri and this chapter. He is showing some unexpected sides. I guess I had him pegged as rather sinister, creepy and dangerous, and though he probably is those things, he also has a lot more honesty and depth to him than I anticipated. Can't wait to discover more.

  13. First of all those outtake shots were so funny! I love when you can capture something like that so I hope you keep them coming.

    It was clear that Henri had a reason for having dinner with Paula. The fact that he answered her honestly, at least it felt honest to me, was surprising. Paula can be very disarming and he was definitely at a loss how to talk to her.

    I am sort of trusting Henri a little more although I do believe that Paula needs to keep her guard up with all of them. I also think she could be their undoing. Just a feeling I get and probably not justified...

  14. Third time lucky? Word Verification kept showing up blank for me.

    Firstly, I love outtakes. It kind of makes the character seem even more real than they were if that makes sense!

    I was surprised that Henry answered her too but again, a case of the victor rewriting history to lay the blame at someone else's door. I sometimes wonder why this is the case. The victor spreads their propaganda while the losing party stands by and is unable to defend themselves against the "truth" as told by the victor.

    Great snippet of information in this chapter giving us a different view of this world. Food for thought.

  15. Rad, I don't think Henri's even actually aware of all the sides he has. I love characters like that. He's even fooling himself!

    Gayl, lol, thanks. I do try when silly things pop up. For the most part, these guys are all well behaved actors and actresses.

    Paula is very disarming without realizing she's that way. Maybe that's her power. It is definitely a handy one.

    Henri is a tough one. I mean you can trust him, but it's like you trust him to do what's best which may or may not be what's best for you!

    Carnaxa, oh I'm sorry! I hate the word verification, but I was getting hit by a lot of spam. I'd rather not have it at all.

    That makes sense. It's true. Like Brandon with the toy car, lol!

    That's true. To the winner goes the spoils-- and all rights to the story. In this case, I think the Neutrals are more organized, so it's easier for them to rewrite history. The Wildlanders are just a rag tag bunch, trying to survive. Henri is the only one with a powerful group that sticks together and poses a threat. And that wasn't easy I imagine.

    Makes me wonder a lot about Henri's early life after the Revolution.

  16. Yes, what Carla said, it's very interesting to watch this relationship develop. Especially having gone back and reread "Burning Night" again, after all of this. (And curious, when does that piece take place, in relation to all of this?)

    Anyway, it seems like she's really growing to respect him, I think.

    And yes! That he remembers her mother is very telling. I always wanted to hear more about that!

  17. I'm wondering when that piece takes place too, lol. That was pretty much a preview I wrote before I had the story written. Oh how it's changed since then. Originally, it was only going to be 15 chapters or so! Now we're on Chapter 20 and we're hardly halfway through.

    So no place really (at the moment anyway). That was sort of my Stan Lee "'nough said" trick. The one that promises a drag out fight with Wolverine and the Hulk and then cops out in the middle of the story by giving them an enemy to fight together.

    Oh dear, excuse me. My nerd is showing!

  18. Another interesting 'talking over food' exchange that you do so well.
    This certainly shines a different light on Henri, who at first, I thought was some demented automaton king figure. This made him...more human.
    revealing on so many levels!

  19. Drew, thank you. Talking over dinner is certainly becoming one of my staples, lol.

    Oh I'm very glad to hear you say that. :D Good. There is definitely a lot more the Henri than meets the eye.