Reagan Sloan had already been in town for days when she came across the Wolffs’ “Settlers Wanted” recruitment flyer.
Reagan came from a place not entirely unlike the one she’d immigrated to, but with one significant difference: where she was from, nearly everyone was Game-Aware. They knew they weren’t “real” people, but digital representations of people made up of zeros and ones, and they somehow understood the mechanics of their game-universe well enough to manipulate them.
Back home, she’d lived mostly in the background, occasionally mistaken for someone important. Here, the local versions of everyone she’d known were long dead.
“More than dead — dead and culled,” Reagan thought aloud.
The Goth mansion, where she’d served as a maid not long ago, stood empty; their proud bloodline faded to dust just beyond reach of the typical single-minded focus of a Legacy Player.
And Oakenstead, the lot that once held the sprawling estate of the wealthy, oft-misunderstood Landgraab family, now bore the somewhat-less-sprawling estate of the 5th generation legacy family whose save game she’d willingly relocated to — the founder of which had bulldozed the Landgraab’s occupied house to the ground in her first few hours of existence.
“Just can’t catch a break, can you Geoffrey?” she smiled, recalling the awkwardness of her former acquaintance.
Why the melancholy, and why hadn’t she introduced herself to her hosts? Reagan wasn’t Gloomy. She wasn’t a Snob, or a Loner.
She hadn’t planned it to play out this way — she certainly didn’t set out to be secretive — but ever since arriving here Reagan had felt like keeping a low profile. She hadn’t come across a single overtly Game-Aware sim here yet. While it might sound creepy, being somewhere where folks went about their days without realizing the true limitations of their own existence, Reagan discovered that she actually liked it. She found that she could relax and enjoy being in a place where the average person wasn’t obsessed with subverting their own mortality or concerned with conspiracy webs and epic wars between good and evil.
Was it wrong to just want to be a regular old ignorant person-sim? You know, live a life. Die a death. Start a family somewhere in between, maybe, if she was lucky. Let someone else worry about the world beyond the world, for a change.
Reagan was doing pretty well for herself here, besides. Got herself a cute little house. Made headway on her Collector aspiration. Went on a few dates. Even found a quirky live-in boyfriend who was tolerable enough, and seemed perfectly willing to help with her other goals.
The Wolffs did seem like decent folks, though. She’d already met Malcolm by accident, and he appeared to be as genuinely kind in “person” as he was in the blog. Of course, she didn’t tell him anything about her origin or the metaphysics of the Simverse. As far as he knew she was just another local townie who may or may not still be here in the morning.
She’d come clean to them eventually.
Or, maybe she wouldn’t.
The Skinners, on the other hand, weren’t at all shy about announcing their presence. The Wolff estate was their first stop the moment they left the Gallery.
The woman who entered was a knockout. She had an almost Bella-like charm about her – that disarming, stand-out kind of beauty that you can’t really recreate in CAS.
“Hello, Mrs. Wolff? I’m Ravon Skinner, and this is my husband Joel.”
Ravon lost her happy face midway through the greeting, when her eyes rested on the rustic, mismatched bits of our eclectic decor.
Ede gave a quick half-smile and motioned to Malcolm to take over – home visits from strangers made her a bit surly, and this one seemed like it was gonna be extra-challenging.
“Malcolm Presley,” he introduced himself. “Welcome to Willow Creek.”
The Skinners hailed from Skinnerville, and were offshoots of another established legacy family. As they weren’t the heirs, they didn’t need to remain there — Ravon and Joel just wanted to settle somewhere to raise their own Big Happy Family.
“Somewhere where our contribution will be fully appreciated,” added Ravon with a glowing smile. “We’re very excited to be able to help with your little..” her voice dimmed to a whisper, “population problem.”
The Skinners were looking for housing today. Joel described their needs to Malcolm, and summarized that he would be happy with anything that was clean and had room for his studies and their future children.
“Oh!” Joel remembered, “and I’ll need room for a rocket too.”
Malcolm laughed. “For something so massive, it’s easy to misplace those things, isn’t it?”
Simple enough request, though. Joel seemed pretty easy-going – Malcolm could see the two of them developing a natural friendship. Ravon’s tastes, however, were a little more discerning.
“I’m sure you can see that we’re expecting,” Ravon appealed to Cooper, likely able to sense her Family-Oriented nature.
The room fell into an awkward silence. Malcolm froze as he watched Cooper’s mouth begin to twist into a familiar pre-explosive grin.
“I think I know just the place!” said Malcolm quickly, before Cooper could show herself, and ushered the Skinners outside just in time.
He brought Joel and Ravon to Umbrage Manor, which was pretty much the fanciest unoccupied home in the neighborhood.
“Here we are,” Malcolm said. “What do you think?”
For some reason Ravon’s eyes were stuck on Malcolm.
“The house, Mrs. Skinner?” Malcolm poked, “Do you like it?”
“Oh. Oh!” she squealed, finally seeing it.
“You can thank your husband for that,” Malcolm redirected gently. “He gave the specs. I just walked us here.”
Joel went inside to check the place out, while Malcolm looked for an opportunity to politely excuse himself and Ravon took a moment to lay down some guidelines for the use of her new sidewalk with her new neighbor.
Jarrett, not sure how to react to this, traded “I dunno, man” glances with Malcolm and then crossed the street to continue his jog.
And Mrs. Skinner walked slowly up the stairs and into her new home, her eyes fixed on Malcolm the whole way.
Malcolm returned home to find his own dangerously beautiful wife waiting up for him.
“How’d it go?” Ede asked.
“Good. They’re all settled now – just across the street from Easter and Jarrett, actually.” Malcolm said.
“Ooh, you’re all knotted up.” Ede dug her thumbs into her husband’s tight shoulder muscles.
“That was.. somewhat awkward,” he admitted. “The wife seemed awfully friendly toward me at the end there.”
“Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones,” Ede offered.
“I hope so,” he laughed, relaxing a bit.
“Either hormones or she’s been ensorcelled by your sweet ass,” Ede teased. “If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone!”
Malcolm almost choked. “Not funny!”
“Aw..” Ede pouted playfully. “C’mere.”
“I’ll protect your virtue,” she whispered into his ear.
“You enjoy this, don’t you,” Malcolm said.
“Only this part,” she smiled.