Welcome back to another chapter of Random Branches! In the last chapter James and Ethan partnered up for an intelligence gathering mission. Ethan was captured in the process and James, disobeying orders, orchestrated his release. Ethan then returned the favor by turning the situation into an advantage for Sim Nation rather than the SUA. And now on with the story.
A few years passed. Ethan and James no longer bickering every day and becoming best friends only made Special Ops 1 that much stronger. Ethan’s double cross strategy was going perfectly. They even let Ethan give them true information from time to time to reduce the chances of him getting found out.
The war was slowly turning around. Sim Nation began to get hope that it would win.
And back home at the Rand-Zenteri residence, Albus Rand had turned 18 and also moved out of the house. That saddened James a bit. He had hoped to be home in time to see his cousin and best friend graduate. But that had happened a few years ago.
James was waiting outside of the abandoned warehouse they had found. Isaiah was inside interrogating a prisoner. The other four were back at the base camp packing things up. He perked up when Isaiah came outside but frowned at the look on his friend’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“The… the final stage of the war is beginning tomorrow,” Isaiah said.
“What do you mean?” James asked.
“Lackey said that the final stage of the war on occults would begin with them obliterating Moonlight Falls. Lackey said the group would arrive in Moonlight Falls tomorrow. I can’t let them take my family away, James.”
“Then I’m going with you,” James said.
“This is pack related. I don’t want to get you in trouble with the military. You’re going to Officer School when the war’s over. You can’t do that if you get dishonorably discharged.”
“You do realize your father considered my grandfather to be pack. And considers all those related to him as pack, right? I’m pack whether you like it or not. Not to mention, you’re my best friend. How can I let you go into hell alone?” James said, “We’ll still call and alert the rest of the military. Say we’re going ahead to give them the best shot. They can’t evacuate everyone far enough over night. We’re the closest team to Moonlight Falls if memory serves me right.”
Contrary to Isaiah and James’ initial thoughts, the military higher ups were just fine with the team going in to help Moonlight Falls prepare for war.
The reunion between Isaiah and his father Alistair was bittersweet. It was a prelude to a meeting with the Immortal Council on how to proceed. The council didn’t take long to decide its course of action. Evacuate those who can’t fight to the fairy realm with a sincere apology to Mother Fay. Those who could fight stayed behind to protect Moonlight Falls.
The mundane warning signal went off at precisely 6 am. They weren’t expecting Sim Nation to arrive until noon at the earliest. So it had to be the SUA and it appeared they were coming in from all sides given that all of the warning signals were going off.
The battle went on for days. Both sides took heavy casualties. Special Ops 1 miraculously did not suffer any losses, though Derek was shot in the leg. But in the end, Sim Nation won.
James was walking around trying to find other wounded, Sim Nation soldier or SUA rebel. His mind kept flashing back to the various people he had killed during the fight. He knew it was justified. It was kill or be killed. But it didn’t sit well with him.
He eventually came across a house where the mailbox had Rand on it. Apparently, the Immortal Council had decided to let the Rands keep their house in Moonlight Falls. Leave it as a place for them to go if they needed a safe place to go. Matias had mentioned it to James at the end of the war for a change of clothes and James had just stumbled upon it. James looked through the place and the only clothes he could find that were his size were in his great-grandpa Sinbad’s room.
James was passing by the cemetery and saw Lucian crying over a broken grave. He stepped into the cemetery and said, “What’s wrong?”
Lucian looked at James and said, “Eleanor’s grave. It was destroyed during the battle. The spell that kept her here was tied to her grave. Her grave being destroyed means the spell is broken. She may have been old fashioned and would have preferred it had Moonlight Falls stayed one hundred percent occults, but she was a good friend. There is also no longer any founder on the Immortal Council.”
“Unless Eleanor chooses a founder who died as her replacement,” James said.
“She could do that. I know she was already thinking of leaving the Immortal Council after the war ended and she would have asked for the spell to be removed. I just wish she had gone at a moment of her choosing.”
James didn’t know what to say so he put his hand on Lucian’s shoulder and said that he would just let him be alone for the time being.
James then just continued to walk through the town.
“Hey, cutie,” Terena said, bringing James out of his reverie.
“That’s a new one and a bit inappropriate,” James said.
‘I’ve wanted to say that since we met. It’s now safe to do so. I don’t plan on staying military. I just want you to know how I feel before you find anyone else. I’ve caught you looking at me like I look at you when I think you’re not looking. I want a shot at being yours.”
James just stared at her for a second. Had he fallen for Terena and not realized it? Surely Isaiah would have said something. Love creates pheromones and surely the werewolf would have smelt them.
“Still here, James?” Terena asked.
“Yes, just wasn’t expecting what you said.”
“So you don’t like me like that?”
“Didn’t say that,” James said quickly, “But I suppose my subconscious just answered the unasked question. I wouldn’t mind at a shot at being yours either.”
“Took you two long enough,” Isaiah said.
“You knew and didn’t say?” James asked.
“Yea, werewolf here. I didn’t say because it would change group dynamics. And it could possibly affect how effective we were. I noticed it before the ploy with Ethan started. But it could have made that ploy even more risky for Ethan had plans gotten sloppy out of love.”
“You’re probably right,” James admitted. Isaiah then left the love birds alone. “So, Terena. War is over. What do you plan on doing as it pertains to living arrangements?”
“I haven’t thought about it much. My parents used to live in Sunset Valley as I mentioned when we first met. But shortly after the war started, they wrote me saying they were headed back to elven lands. Which is a good week’s travel under the best conditions. My parents were raised in elven lands, I was born and raised in Sunset Valley. I’m too accustomed to human society to really ever fit in in elven culture. My twin’s got a small apartment in Sunset Valley. She doesn’t even have a guest bedroom.”
“You could stay with me if my parents and uncle don’t mind. We’ve got a spare bedroom or two. I’m the last of my siblings and cousins to still have the house as our permanent address. My grandfather also lived with us until he passed away years ago. I didn’t even meet him it was so long ago. So I don’t think my parents or uncle would mind another person. I’m headed back there for a bit before going off to military school.”
“You sure they won’t mind? I could use somewhere to stay until I head off for vet school.”
“Pretty sure, I’ll call them and ask,” James said and called home. After talking with his dad for a few minutes and being put on hold for not very long, his mom came on and told him to bring the girl home. It was thirty minutes before James could excuse himself from the phone. “Sorry about that, my mom just had to make sure I was fine and wasn’t lying to make her feel better. They are absolutely fine with you staying with us.”
Terena smiled, “Thank you. Are you sure you’re fine? I might be physically fine, but mentally, far from it. Elves aren’t a violent race by nature and I don’t like killing. This battle is going to haunt me for a while.”
“Physically I am. Mentally, I will be fine. I’ll cross the mental scars with my mother when I’m home. I’m not having that conversation over the phone where I can’t hug her or touch her to assure her that I’ll be fine. She gets anxiety attacks really easily. She’s been hospitalized a few times when it got out of control and she can’t calm herself down. Anyway, I’ll be going home, but going home through Bridgeport.”
“Isn’t that more than a bit out of the way?” Terena laughed.
“Definitely, but I want to surprise my cousin and best friend. He’s in a band and they are in Bridgeport currently. Plus, I’ve always wanted to see Bridgeport and maybe we can con Albus into giving us a tour. And we can stop by your sister’s. She may have your stuff.”
And that’s it for this chapter! How will James adjust to not being at war? Will James and Terena last or will the events of the war cause a rift? Find out in chapters to come.
Progress towards Obi’s Goals:
- Become Private Investigator – Achieved Chapter 2.19
- Complete 30 cases – Completed about 21 cases
- Snoop 10 locations – Snooped 5 locations
- Write 5 papers on findings – Wrote 1 paper
- Reach level ten of Private Investigator Career – He’s at level 7
- Go through 5 garbages and 5 mailboxes – Gone through 4 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 16 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, painted Hermione’s behind the scenes Chapter 3.15
- 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 3
- 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 towards James’ goals:
- Join Military Career – Completed Chapter 4.0
- Level Ten Military Career
- Max Athletic skill – He’s at level 3
- Max Hardiness skill
- Buy out a business
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
- James – Become Astronaut