This is bad.
A horrible, musty smell hits Briar as she rubs her eyes, disoriented. She shifts her sore legs and there is the crackling sound of old paper. A little confused, she raises her head and sees that she is lying on a makeshift bed, with a quilt stitched of yellowed newspapers, chucked over a pile of crates and bulging rubbish bags. Well, that explains the smell. Crinkling her nose, Briar sorts out the fuzzy thoughts in her head. That’s right. She had gotten herself abducted… AGAIN.
Honestly, she can be so stupid sometimes. Sighing deeply, Briar swings her legs off the bed with some diffuculty. There’s a throbbing pain near her right ear and she gingerly reaches up to touch it. Who the hell had knocked her out, again? Oh yes; her idiotic failure of a father, Xander Clavell. Damn him. As soon as Briar gets out of here, she is going to find him and strangle him.
Of course, there’s the matter of actually escaping this little shadowed room first. A cell, most likely. Briar stands up and finds herself facing a big window. On the other side, three Sims are looking at her. The first one is a man sitting regally in a red velvet armchair, a man in a black suit and ghostly silver eyes. Briar doesn’t recognise him, but something about him gives her the creeps. The second Sim is a smirking Xander. She would know his ugly face anywhere. And the third…
Briar has to squint at the woman for a moment. She can’t believe her eyes. It’s Allie Beard, her soft-spoken, kind friend. She’s dressed in dark, snug-fitting outfit which looks like what a stylish action hero would wear, but there’s no doubt it’s Allie. A sickening combination of betrayal and anger courses through Briar. How had she not realised? Allie was the one to find her first after she had been attacked in the woods. Briar had believed her ‘walking back from party’ story, but now she realises that Allie had been the one to knock her out. Allie had been the one who had searched her bedroom, after all, Briar had left her at the villa to ‘babysit’ Isla.
Furious and hurt, Briar glares at Allie through the thick glass, trying to convey her anger. Apparently, she gets it, because Allie flinches and sadness flashes across her face. It’s hard to decipher in the darkness, but it looks like she’s trying to mouth I’m sorry. Psh, as if.
Her attention moves back to the red-haired man. “Can you let me out of here, please?” Briar snaps, already knowing it is futile. “Of course I can’t, Briar Kingston.” He says coldly. “You’re here because we need to have a little… chat.” The word chat sounds as if it is worthy of arrest. The man waves a hand gracefully at the two others. “If you would like to, Mr. Clavell, Miss Beard, please leave us.” It sounds polite, but it is a very clear order to Briar. Obviously, this man is the boss. Which means that he is the mastermind behind all that has happened to Briar in the past year.
“Okay… who the hell are you and what do you want?” Briar crosses her arms and stares at the man hard. He simply looks back with a chilling gaze. “I am Mr. Goth. And what do I want? Well, that’s a long story.” He gives a light, icy laugh. Briar leans against the wall, pretending to be tired, but trying to work out the strength of it. It’s metal, cold hard iron. “Try me.” She says as lazily as possible.
“Well, it’s true you can’t break through those walls.” Mr. Goth leans forward in his seat. “I suppose I could start with that Sunset Valley has always been the most stupidest town possible. Everyone is always happy, always prancing along with plenty of money, always discriminating anyone who is different. You of all people should understand.” Briar winces, because she does. “Okay, okay, but what does that have to do with anything?”
Mr. Goth folds his hands. “Everything. The Sims of Sunset Valley are so ignorant. So is the rest of Sim Nation, except for Moonlight Falls. Our country has always been said as idyllic, quite wealthy. Really, it hides astonishing racism, sexism, discrimination to anything different. You have no friends because you are labelled as mentally disabled. Anyone who believes in the supernatural are ‘insane’ and shut away in mental asylums. You read Dr. Grimm’s story, Briar.”
Briar nods her head reluctantly. Different emotions rise up against her will; anger at all the kids who had bullied her, the realisation that what Mr. Goth is saying is right. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” She admits. “But why are you messing with the supernatural for? What is that machine Ash was building?”
“Questions, questions.” Mr. Goth looks bored. “There’s a few hours till moonrise, though, so no matter. The machine in question is as you guessed correctly. A complicated machine which increases the strength of the moon’s lunar light. For the past few months, the population of supernaturals in this blasted country has risen dramatically. Along with the number of Sims beginning to doubt their belief in the supernatural. What is the point of this, you ask?” He says dramatically, getting into stride. “Once we reach a certain level of lunar light, supernaturals begin to get agitated and dazed and easy to control. That little bloodsucker, Clayton Alto, is a good example. It was fun controlling him.”
“With such control, I can build an army. An army of vampires and werewolves and wizards and fae to terrorise the ignorance out of this nation and bring down the delusional government. Control restored to those who have been downtrodden and shamed just because they don’t fit into society’s perfect mold. You, Briar, should support this fully.”
“I don’t! I have seen what you are like. You’ll use the supernaturals to hurt innocent people!” Briar brings back her fist and smashes it into the glass.
“Too weak.” Mr. Goth smirks as Briar hops around, clutching her sore knuckles and cursing. “And yes, you are right. People will live in terror of the supernaturals and my little gang of criminals will be able to do whatever they want. Your father is very excited for this.” “Let. me. out!” Briar slams her shoulder into the glass again, with no avail. “I’m afraid not. You can wait until we finish booting up the machine, and then…” He smirks even more. “We have no need to keep you alive anymore.”
Briar slunps down the wall. She is such a failure. In a few hours, she will probably be collected by the Grim Reaper. She searches every inch of the room for any weak spots and tries to unlock the heavy steel door. It’s no use. Briar just flops onto the newspaper bed and stares at the dirty ceiling.
She has no way to tell the time, but around an hour later, she hears someone running up the stairs. It’s Allie, who skids to a stop in front of the window. “What, here to gloat?” Briar snaps. “Nope, here to break you out.” Ash appears behind Allie and heads swiftly torwards the door.
Briar hasn’t been more glad in her life to see her twin brother. “Finally switched to the right side.” Ash inserts a key into the lock and opens the door. “Always been on the right side. Let’s go, we don’t have much time.” “Exciting.” Briar follows her brother out of the cell.
Upon breaking out, Briar gathers that the cell is in some sort of attic, full of crates and piles of dust. It’s shadowed and the ceiling is laced with spiderwebs. The wood creaks under her feet. Allie disappears down a set of stairs and she follows, trying not to trip and face plant.
At the bottom of the staircase, there’s a rich red room that looks like a hallway. A woman with long blonde hair is standing guard at the bottom, and Briar is about to knock her out before Ash calls out. “Its okay, Briar. Anastasia, we have to go.”
Briar follows Allie through a maze of luxurious rooms with a gothic, antique sort of feel. When they exit into the cold evening air, she realises that she is at the Goth Mansion. The sky is pink; it must be nearly six o’ clock. With a wave of dread, Briar spots a full moon slowly floating up into the stars. Allie runs along a cobbled pathway until they reach a wrought iron gate wreathed with ivy. Through it, Briar can see Mr. Goth, Xander and the lady in red, who must be Mrs. Goth, talking near a familiar machine.
Ash draws level to her and turns his head. “We’ve got to stop them from turning on the machine.” He whispers urgently. “If they do, it means they will be able to control every supernatural in the country, and then Mr. Goth will start destroying everything, Sunset Valley first.” Briar nods slowly. “Okay.”
The sky darkens as Ash opens the gate and strides forward. The lady in red whips around, her lip curling and her eyes glowing. “I’ve see you’ve changed your mind.” She says icily, her eerie gaze moving around the four Sims. “Never mind. It’s too late. Thank you for your service… but you’ve broken your contract.” Mrs. Goth smiles. “And that means I have more guinea pigs to continue my research.”
Xander marches over to his son. “You’re a disgrace of a son.” He spits. “I’ll enjoy setting werewolves on your family.” Ash steps back. “And you’re a disgrace of a Sim, a husband and a father. F*** you.” Xander slaps Ash around the face, then raises his fists and swings a blow at his son, who blocks it and slams a foot into Xander’s stomach.
I never knew Ash could fight, Briar thinks, enjoying Xander’s missed blows and howl of pain. However, there is a bigger matter at hand. She has a vague plan of taking on the boss herself, after all, it’s her vast improvement in self-defence skills which have earned Briar quick promotions. Before she can confront Mr. Goth, the man whistles and two werewolves lope out of the woods nearby, snarling. Damn. Change of plan.
One attacks Allie and Anastasia, who luckily seem to hold their own. The courtyard deteriorates into a vicious fight, with the other one leaping at Briar. She jumps to the side and kicks the werewolf hard in the rib cage. Unfortunately, a fog decides to fall upon the garden at that exact moment, clouding Briar’s vision. It must be the effect of the ever strengthening full moon, which shines almost painfully bright in the night sky. She looks around frantically, trying to locate the werewolf. There’s a dark silhouette to the right, and she throws a punch. From the ensuing yelp, Briar guesses she had hit the target.
There’s a shout from nearby and Briar stumbles as an explosion rips through the night air, and a red flash, bright as the sun, burns away the fog. When she looks up, her eyes smarting, she sees Ash standing by the machine. Mr. Goth is snarling with a hand covering his eyes and the other clutching his stomach. “You… didn’t.” He rasps. “You underestimated the worth of sacrifice.” Ash replies.
When the glow dies down, Briar sees that the lens is cracked beyond repair and wires are popping. How had Ash done that? She glances at the base of the machine, light still flashing across her vision. There’s a tiny red button. Not understanding, Briar stares at Mr. Goth, whose mouth is gaping. What had Ash said about sacrifice?
When a convulsion ripples through the man, Briar tries to get up, but her head is spinning. What the hell is happening?
It’s killing him.
Ash stands over Mr. Goth, whose body is now shaking with violent spasms. Briar pulls herself to her feet, pain pulsing through her. She ignores it and just watches. It’s horrible. Before long, the red-headed man stops moving.
Briar is confused and nauseous at the same time. She had just witnessed the quick, sudden death of a criminal mastermind, and she has no idea how it had happened. Xander and Mrs. Goth lie curled nearby, trapped in similar convulsions. Why isn’t herself, Allie and Anastasia affected? This shouldn’t be so easy. A mystery shouldn’t be resolved so fast and so easily. Something is off.
And when Ash’s hands fly to his own stomach, Briar understands.
The tiny red button. It must have been designed as self-destruction. The people nearby would be taken down as well. But someone, Mr. Goth maybe, had designed it so the person to hit the button would be killed as well. Simple… but horribly effective. A almost fool-proof plan on the assumption no one would sacrifice themselves. Which means…
“Briar, listen to me.” Ash’s looks straight at her twin sister and terror courses through her. “I’m sorry I’ve been so distant from you. I’m sorry for pushing you away. I’m sorry for all the times I hurt you and angered you and generally broke what twins should have.” He stumbles, and Briar catches his arm, a terrible fear building up inside her. This can’t be happening this can’t be happening this can’t be happening.
“I know! I understand it all now.” Briar cries, tugging on her brother’s arm as he kneels on the ground, his body shaking. “But we have to get you to hospital now, okay?!” Somehow, if she believes her twin is going alright, it will be okay. Ash looks up at her, his brown eyes pained. “I built it myself, Briar… I know what the mechanism did. Lethal electric current to anyone in the proximity of two metres.” “It hurt you, yes, but we can fix it, just please please come with me!” She tries to pull him up, but he is simply too heavy and weak.
“Stop being silly, Ash!” Briar drops down next to him, despairing. “That’s my twin sister.” Ash’s voice is ragged, and horribly quiet. “I’m sorry you had to be dragged into all of this. I tried to always protect you, but in the end…” “You never did stop protecting me.” Briar finishes his sentence painfully. It’s too late. Her twin brother is dying and there’s nothing she can do.
“Don’t leave!” Briar clutches her brother’s hand, wishing that it’s her in his place, because Ash doesn’t deserve this. He doesn’t deserve death.
Ash closes his eyes. “Tell her hello from me… in a few… months.” “What?” Briar says desperately. “I’m sorry… I’m… leaving but remember… I love you.”
Briar holds on to the last of her twin’s life in his eyes. “I love you too.” She whispers. “You’re the bestest twin brother I could have… ever hoped for. And I’m sorry… I ever doubted that.”