Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Thirty

Previous chapter: The First Bloom.

Chapter Thirty: Declamation.

As Hera was playing random snippets of music on the piano for her morning practice, Francesca asked Attie to come upstairs. "Oh Attie," she said to her cousin. "I have a poem for you."

The Lion grumbled as she waited for Francesca. The plump girl took out a book and began, "There's an adrenaline maniac in the house, whose steps are full of bounce."

As Francesca went on, Attie snored. Francesca stopped halfway through her poem and pouted at her cousin. Attie woke up with a start and looked at her with little black eyes.

"You're no fun."
"You're no fun," said Francesca. "That was supposed to be a nice poem for you."

"I don't think it was particularly fun," Attie snarled.

Meanwhile, the music downstairs stopped suddenly. Hera remained at the piano and placed a hand on her nose.
"Eureka! I can play Korobeiniki by memory!"
The blue-eyed woman was happy. "Now I can play Korobeiniki without referring to my notes," she chirruped. Back upstairs, Attie was making her disdain clear.

"I don't take too kindly to poetic types like you, they're too frippery, too wishy washy, and you don't know how to make a stand!" Attie snapped at Francesca.

"Okay, okay, you don't have to yell at me," said Francesca. "I thought you'd like the poem I composed for you."

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Nine

Previous chapter: Francesca's Secret Project.

Chapter Twenty Nine: The First Bloom.

Hera broke an unusual idea over lunch one day, as Isabel tried out a new recipe of eggs and wine. The slightly alcoholic batter went into the pan, and Isabel wasn't sure what should happen.
Isabel freaked out when she saw her wine infused omelette catch fire. "Oh no! I don't want a flambe!"

Francesca noticed Hera staring at her noodles. "You have the same dish I do, why are you staring at mine?"

"Because you eat like a glutton," Hera remarked. Francesca rolled her eyes. "A glutton whose brains are working overtime to burn away your excess," Hera explained. Francesca continued eating.

"Fran, what do you think of me getting a rocket ship kit?" Hera asked. Isabel gaped at the smoke after she beat the fire out.

"How much does it cost?" Francesca asked as Isabel tried to flip the eggs over.

"I'll have to look again, I was too excited thinking about rocket ships," Hera said. Isabel ended up dropping the omelette on the floor. "You should stick to the basics," Hera addressed the elder Lion. "It's unhygienic to put them back."

Isabel grumbled as she put the dropped omelette aside for compost and made scrambled eggs instead. "Waste of good rice wine, if you ask me," she muttered. Hera went back to eating her noodles.

"Where's Attie?" the blue-eyed woman asked suddenly. "She hasn't been in the house all morning."

"Went out jogging, as usual," Isabel said, scooping the eggs into a plate. "She'll have lunch with me later."

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Attie looked worried over lunch, so Isabel asked her what was wrong. "I'm curious whether Fran can defend herself. She keeps saying she can, but she's really little," said Attie.

"Why don't you test her? I don't think three years would really make her little, anyway."

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"What would you do if someone tried to mug you?" Attie asked Francesca after lunch.

"Kick them, of course!" Francesca replied. "Why do you ask?"

"I'll test you!" Attie growled and leaped onto her cousin.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Eight

Previous chapter: Run, Lion, Run!

Chapter Twenty Eight: Francesca's Secret Project.

It was one of those days when Francesca slept in. The Lion Twins woke up early and were chattering over breakfast.
"You know why Fran's hiding in her room so much?" Isabel asked her twin.

"No, but I know she should come out soon, or we'll forget about her."

"She's going to make an impression by writing poems about us. Now, don't let her know that you know, she only told me," Isabel said with a big grin. "I've no idea who she's going to start with."

The Lions cleared up their plates and went back upstairs, chattering away. Hera got up and helped herself to a sandwich. She stood by the fridge, whistling tunelessly.

When Hera finished the jam sandwich, she rinsed the crumbs off her hands and went back into her room, still whistling loudly. She didn't notice as Francesca slipped into the dining area and pondered some poetry. The brunette took out a book with a lotus emblazoned on its cover.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Seven

Previous chapter: I'm Georgina Amelia!

Chapter Twenty Seven: Run, Lion, Run!

Francesca thought Attie's senses would return that afternoon. She was wrong. When she tried running by herself, Attie came upstairs and started criticizing her running.
"Chest up, stomach in!" Attie shouted. "Faster! Go faster! You're like a snail!"

Francesca tried to go faster, but not too fast. She didn't want to fall down and break her snubby nose.

Attie continued blaring about Francesca's running.
The Lion wasn't satisfied, she continued pointing at the ground and shouting about foot posture. "Toes forward, you fool!"

It went on for a few minutes until Francesca gave up. Sweat dripped down her back and her brown hair was clumped up. She got down from the treadmill as Attie grumbled about unhealthy sims.

Francesca finally saw Attie's sports clothes. A tiny shirt and really short shorts with red pantyhose. "What is she thinking by dressing like that?" Francesca wondered to herself. She plodded off to have a nice long bath.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Six

Previous chapter: Stirred Memories.

Chapter Twenty Six: I'm Georgina Amelia!

The sun shone brightly that morning. A pair of lions were snoozing in their beds. The younger one woke up first and looked around.
Attie kicked the blankets away and swung her long legs over to the floor. She hopped out of bed with a big grin. "I'll make a cake and surprise my friends," she thought as she pulled the blankets back. She scurried downstairs. Isabel slept on, unaware of her twin's plans.

Attie put some eggs, flour, and vanilla essence in a bowl. She stirred the things together, trying to turn the bowl on its side.

"Ah! Sheesh!" Attie squealed as the bowl did a somersault and water splashed on her. She put the bowl upright and mopped the counter. "Alright, no more stunts," she said to herself as she stirred the cake mix with some milk.

She got it done and stuck it in a pan, then put the pan in the oven. "Plain vanilla today," she said. "There's always milk to spruce it up, or some other topping."

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Five

Previous chapter: Francesca's Cry For Help.

Chapter Twenty Five: Stirred Memories.

The morning after Francesca went to attend the writers' convention, Isabel was drawing something on the balcony easel. It was of a supernova vomiting fire into a lake of sulfur.

"I didn't want to worry Francesca," Isabel said to herself. "But I had nightmares too, just not as much as she did. An underworld, a city suspended over a lake of fire and brimstone. Villains spewing out of the underworld like lava..."

She put some finishing touches on the painting of the supernova. "I think this reflects my nightmares pretty well," Isabel thought as she stepped back. "Maybe a brunch will help me feel better."

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Isabel helped herself to some steak that Attie had cooked the evening before, and went over to where the younger Lion was running. Attie puffed out her small chest as she ran. "Someone's feeling proud today," said Isabel. "So much on display, huh?"

"Yep," replied Attie. "Why shouldn't I be proud of my figure?"

At that moment, Hera walked out of the downstairs bathroom and passed by the Twins. She stared at Attie and gestured wildly behind Isabel's back.
"Put some clothes on!" yelled Hera.
"Put some clothes on!" yelled Hera. "You think you can run around in a bra and shorts? Do you feel lucky, tart? Do you?"

"If you're going to quote Dirty Harry, you should at least do it properly," said Attie. "Besides, I'm not going to put on more clothes till I finish this run."
Hera threw a little tantrum.
"I suppose you think you're hot stuff, Attie," Hera said crossly. "I think you look lame showing off your skin like that."

Attie turned up her nose at Hera. The blue-eyed woman went over to the fridge and took out some slices of French toast in a huff. She sat down beside Francesca, who had a bowl of curry noodles in front of her.

"How's things?" Hera asked. "I heard you went to a writers' convention yesterday. Was it fun?"

"It was fun, I learned a number of things about the market for game stories. You know, keep it simple, don't load it up unnecessarily, the average gamer tends to go for the game rather than the story," Francesca rambled on. Hera nodded to be polite. "Also, one should tie up loose ends before stopping a project."

"Why?" Hera asked curiously.

"Tethercat Principle. It's the assumption that the last thing you see at the end of the show will continue offscreen."

"I see. You've learned a lot there."
"Oh no!" said Hera.
"Speaking of the Tethercat Principle, I saw on the net a few days ago that SuperHeroQuest is being abandoned in favor of CelebQuest," Francesca complained in her brassy little voice. "The last thing shown in SuperHeroQuest was the city's Heart being stolen and an alien preparing to mess up time! Now we'll never know if the heroes will make a comeback or fight off Messer Time unless someone coughs up a big wad of cash."

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Four

Previous chapter: Ponderous Afternoon.

Chapter Twenty Four: Francesca's Cry For Help.

It had been an unusually cold night. Francesca tossed and turned in her sleep. She clutched her blankets close to her. She muttered, "No, not dad! Don't punish him! It's my fault for losing the heart!"

A few minutes passed as the sun rose. Francesca muttered again, "I'll do anything! Anything to keep my dad safe! Even let you use me..." By the time the sunlight trickled into the room, Francesca broke into a fit of weeping, still fast asleep. She woke up, sniffled, and shuffled down for a quick breakfast of a chocolate jam sandwich. She walked away from her housemates, chewing the sandwich as she did so.

Isabel got up from her seat and followed Francesca upstairs. Francesca waited on the balcony, unsure of what to expect. She couldn't stop thinking about her bad sleep. Isabel came out to the balcony and went over to her cousin. "Is it your nightmares?" she asked.
Isabel asked what was wrong.
"Yes," said Francesca. "They've gotten even worse."

"What happened?"

"Well, in the dream, my dad got so ill from his cancer that he was about to die. Then I lost a powerful artifact trying to sell it on the black market, and everyone believed the propaganda that I can't be trusted at all. Not to mention that more propaganda in the dream said that heroes will never win."

Isabel watched as her cousin took a deep breath. "In order to save my dad, I had no choice other than to sell myself as a concubine to an eldritch abomination in human shape," said Francesca. "It's the same series of dreams every time, or something close to it. I wish I knew what was wrong."

"It's okay, it's okay. There's no bad man here."
Isabel tried to console her cousin by saying, "There's no bad man or monster or anything here, alright? People aren't all so stupid as to swallow propaganda whole."

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Three

Previous chapter: Ponderous Morning.

Chapter Twenty Three: Ponderous Afternoon.

After the Lion Twins went to work, Hera got up from the piano and headed to her room. "Ah, a long day of gaming without either of them nagging at me," she thought. "Plus, Francesca's too young to nag on their behalf, even if she's their cousin. She's officially nineteen. Simple birthday for herself, she's not too fond of the hubbub."

Hera turned on her computer and stared at the game collection on the desktop. "Now, should I pick the Sims as made by early Maxis, Firefly's Stronghold, Fallout 3, or Call of Duty Black Ops?" Hera ran through the options and counted their advantages, "Sims nostalgia, Stronghold's awesome soundtrack, Fallout and Black Ops guns... I feel like nostalgia today."

Hera loaded the Sims and picked a household at random. She was engrossed in making the miniature people run about on their little errands when a fire erupted from the greaseless barbecue machine. The Sims jumped up and down, screaming for help.
"Oh really now?" Hera sighed. "Why can't these Sims draw a bath and throw the bathwater on the fire? That's what I'd do, except for electric and grease fires."

The people in the game continued screaming about the fire, so Hera forced one of them to call the fire station on a landline phone. Eventually, the fire was brought under control. Hera muttered, "And to think I started with the third game in the series, where bad cooking brought bad food instead of guaranteed fire."

Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Two

Previous chapter: Evening Matters.

Chapter Twenty Two: Ponderous Morning.

The day was rather cold. Attie rolled out of bed and pulled on a blood-red turtleneck. She slipped some short jeans over her skinny legs. She felt rather awkward for turning out her guest so suddenly the previous evening. She took out her phone and composed an apologetic message for Nathalie to read.

The younger Lion went downstairs after sending the text to Nathalie. When she got to the bottom of the steps, she glanced at her twin sister.

Isabel was jogging on the treadmill and looking at her housemates, who were busy talking nineteen to the dozen over breakfast.

"My mom emailed me yesterday, she said that one of my British cousins will come over to the States in the next few months," said Francesca. "Before she heads off to the Journeyman Uni's base camp in upstate New York, she's going to spend a month or two with my parents to get her bearings."

"Working off the jet lag, I take it?" Hera chirped. "What's your cousin look like, or act like, for that matter?"