Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter, Obi finalized his divorce with Mindy and began to make progress in getting over her. Warning: this chapter does take a sharp turn. There have been a couple subtle hints in the past generation. And now on with the story.
It had been a few years. The boys were now teenagers as well. Obi had fully recovered from his depression, but was not wanting to date again. With Minerva being 16 and Albus having just turned 13, he didn’t feel the need to rush into finding a new wife. Especially since Aunt Leia was their mother figure already and had been since the pair was born. Obi himself quite enjoyed being single.
Leia was in her study one early afternoon when she suddenly felt the ground vibrate around her. She didn’t think much of it. Until it happened again. And again. Too close to each other to be an earthquake.
And then it happened two more times.
Leia began to panic. This wasn’t a set of earthquakes. Way too frequent for that.
She ran upstairs and then out to her front yard and stopped dead in her tracks. There were five huge plumes of smoke rising up from the city.
She ran back inside and turned on the television and put it on a national news station. And they were saying that there were reports of multiple explosions across a number of the major cities. Sim City got hit, Bridgeport got hit. There was no word yet on who did it.
She grabbed her cell phone and dialed Max. “Come on, Max, answer,” Leia said, but got dropped before he could answer. She then tried to call Obi. He was out who knows where on his investigations. But she had no luck with Obi.
Her phone vibrated and she looked at it. It was an e-mail.
Subject: We’re safe!
Minerva, James, and I are fine. We bugged our teacher enough and he called the middle and elementary schools to get a status update on them and they’re fine. So Albus is fine. None of us had a field trip today. They’re still discussing what to do about getting us all home. I think they might be sending the elementary school kids home first since they are the least able to understand. I’ll e-mail again as I know more.
Leia smiled at her daughter’s thoughtfulness.
Leia paced the floor watching the television while trying to call relatives and mostly failing. She caught the update that the Sims United Alliance had claimed responsibility for the bombings and called it punishment for letting occults run without check. She jumped when the front door opened.
“I’m safe, Leia,” Max said and hugged his love tight, “Who have you heard from? I haven’t heard from anyone yet. Jordan’s safe though. We were having lunch in my trailer when the explosions happened.”
“I got an e-mail from Hermione. She says she, James, and Minerva are fine. And according to her teacher, Albus should be fine as well. This is national, Max. More than just here got hit.”
“Where else?” Max said, worry lacing his voice.
“Sim City. Bridgeport, Lucky Palms. That’s all I’ve heard so far. Shit, Wolfie’s in Sim City. I need to call him. Why am I so light headed right now?”
“Leia, look at me,” Max said, “Take a few deep breaths. You’re having an anxiety attack.”
Two hours later, Hermione, Minerva, James, and Albus were all home safe. That calmed Leia down some, but she still hadn’t heard from anyone else. Max had told the kids to attempt to get their homework done as something to do while they waited for more information.
Half hour after the kids got home they got a call from Mission saying she was home safe as were her kids. A few calls also came in from those outside of the affected cities looking for an update on who was fine and who wasn’t and who was an unknown.
But no call from Obi and he hadn’t made it home.
Max noticed Minerva and Albus kept glancing at him with a quizzical look on their faces. “Hermione and James, stay out here with your mother. I want to talk with Minerva and Albus. Follow me, you two.”
Hermione and James nodded and continued to work on their homework.
Max led the two Rands into the nursery. “We don’t know anything about your father yet. That doesn’t mean he’s hurt or that he’s dead. He could just be helping out. Moving rubble and helping find survivors. Your father would do that. Leia’s not having an easy time with this. She is prone to anxiety attacks, though usually brought on by too many people. As much as you two are panicked and worried, I need you guys to maintain an air of calm around your aunt.”
“Uncle Max,” Albus asked, “What if Dad’s…”
Max smiled sadly at Albus and said, “Then you’ll be under the care of your mother unless she lets you stay here. Which Aunt Leia and I would not be opposed to. But let’s not assume the worst, okay?”
The hours slowly crept along. Max knew the longer they went without a word, the higher the chances of something having happened to Obi. He was brought out of his reverie by a knock on the door.
“I’ll get it, Leia,” Max said and stepped to the door. He stepped outside and saw that it was a police officer.
“Is this the residence of an Obi Wan Rand?” the officer said.
“This is,” Max said.
“Is Leia Rand available?”
“She’s not really in a good state of mind right now. And I think your news is going to make it worse.”
“And you are, sir?”
“Maximus Zenteri. Leia Rand’s boyfriend. All three of us live here with our respective kids. What brings you here?” Max said, getting a bad feeling.
“Obi Wan Rand is in the hospital. Intensive care in critical condition. They’re not sure right now if he’ll make it. We’ve imposed a no driving rule, but are granting exceptions for those with loved ones in critical condition who might not make it. This is your exception card for when you get stopped at the city limits.”
“Thank you for the exception and for letting us know,” Max said and bid the officer a good bye. He glanced inside and his heart broke. Leia wasn’t going to take this easily and they needed to be strong for Minerva and Albus.
Max stepped back inside and called for everyone to meet in the dining room. When they gathered he said, “That was a police officer at the door. Obi was hurt in one of the bombs or in the confusion afterward. He’s in the hospital in critical condition and they aren’t sure he’s going to make it.”
“And we can’t see him due to the rule about no going out,” Leia said, burying her head in her arms crying.
“Actually, we’ve been given an exception. Since we have a loved one in the hospital who they aren’t sure is going to make it. So grab some things to take to the hospital. We’re liable to be there for a while.”
By the time they got to the hospital, Leia was in a full blown anxiety attack. Which was not helping either Minerva or Albus. Max led them in and called a doctor over. “My girlfriend needs a sedative. Anxiety attack. Her brother’s here at the hospital due to the attacks today.”
The doctor quickly agreed and gave Leia a sedative. They got directions to Obi’s room and Max carried Leia there. He gently put her on the chair in the room before pulling the kids outside.
“Where’s Dad? If this is his room shouldn’t he be here?” Minerva cried.
Albus nodded, “Yea, where is he?”
“He could be in surgery,” Max said and hugged his niece and nephew. He glanced at his own kids and saw Hermione hugging James. I can’t do this alone and Leia’s going to be too worried to comfort anyone. I can’t pull Mission or Jordan away from their kids. Shit. Who should I… Mindy, Max thought.
Max took a deep breath and said, “Alright, Hermione. I’m putting you in charge. I can’t be strong for all of you and Mom, Aunt Leia, isn’t going to be up to it. I’m off to get someone to help.” They didn’t need to know who. He didn’t want to get Minerva’s or Albus’ hopes up over their mother.
He got to Mindy’s apartment and knocked on the door.
“What do you want, Max?” Mindy greeted.
Max took a deep breath to keep from going off. The pair hadn’t gotten along since the divorce. At all. “Your kids could use you right now.”
“Oh, and they couldn’t before? When the divorce proceedings occurred? Did you finally wake…”
“Are you even aware of what’s happening in the world today, Mindy? Did it occur to you that maybe your ex-husband got hurt in the bombs that happened in this city? And that your kids need you?” Max yelled.
Mindy just stared. “Obi… Obi’s been hurt?”
“Yes, he was off in surgery last I heard. The kids and Leia are at the hospital already. I have a card that allows me passage on the roads. Put your differences with us adults aside for a while, Mindy. Your kids need their mother. I can’t be strong for everyone and Leia’s not going to be up for it. She had to be sedated.”
“Let… let me go save my work and I’ll grab some things.”
Albus just cried into his sister’s shoulder. Uncle Max said that if Dad didn’t make it, he would live with Mom. The problem Albus had with that was he didn’t know his mother. He’d rather live with Uncle Max and Aunt Leia.
“Albus, Mom’s here,” Minerva said.
“Our mom?” Albus asked breaking the hug.
Albus looked and saw a woman with his skin tone walking beside Uncle Max. She also had the same blonde hair as Minerva. He also watched as his sister went to her and cried. Albus followed suit, a mixture of sadness and some joy at finally meeting his mother.
Hermione watched her cousins go run up and hug their mother. When she saw her dad sit down between her and James, she said, “Who did this?”
“The Sims United Alliance. They are very much anti-occult,” Max said.
“Aren’t they the ones responsible for murdering Eva?” James asked quietly.
“Yes, they are,” Max said.
“So what’s going to happen now?” Hermione asked.
“Civil War,” James said, “The SUA didn’t do all of this just for show. They want to rid the country of occults.”
And that’s it for this chapter. Will Obi make it? Is James correct in saying that Civil War is next? Find out in chapters to come!
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases – Completed about 19 cases
- Snoop 10 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 3 of each
Progress towards Leia’s Goals:
- Master Painting Skill – She’s at level 9
- Master Writing Skill – She’s at level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Paint 20 paintings – Painted 15 paintings
- Be friends with parents – Completed Chapter 3.7 behind the scenes.
- Get 5,000 in royalties (or sell 15,000 from paintings) – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13 at $6,828
- Paint family pictures (spouse, kids, parents if alive) – Painted Max’s, behind the scenes Chapter 3.14
- Join book club (if applicable) – Joined book club Chapter 3.10 behind the scenes
Progress towards Max’s goals:
- Join Film career (Plumbob Pictures Backlot, may need to place it) – Achieved behind the scenes Chapter 3.1
- Max writing – Level 2
- Max charisma – Level 10 – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Become level 5 celebrity – 5 stars – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.13
- Have kid – Achieved Chapter 3.10 with the birth of Hermione
- Reach Level 10 of the Actor branch – Level 10 – Superstar Actor – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes
Progress toward’s LTW’s
- Obi Wan – Perfect Mind, Perfect Body: Level 10 Logic, Level 10 Athletic – Logic is at 8, Athletic is at 10
- Leia – Professional Author: Earn $4000 a week in royalties – currently earning $4000+ a week – Completed behind the scenes Chapter 3.8
- Maximus – Superstar Actor – Superstar Actor – Level 10 – Completed Chapter 3.13 behind the scenes