"Welcome to Kulo Seeri, Ms. Yoo. I'm John zan-Sophie, captain of the Wolves - the Nuidya military - and..."
"...and there's only one other member and she's been there longer..." the woman behind John interrupted.
John ignored her comment, and continued, "...and this is Aurora, my wife. So what about you, do you have anyone special in Apple Valley? Any family?"
Li hesitated for a moment. How would these Sims react to hearing about her family life? It hadn't exactly been perfect, but then... what was? She explained that she had been married, but it hadn't worked out, and that her children were now with her ex-husband - most of them.
As she had predicted, her hosts were unsure how to react to that piece of information. Aurora broke the awkward silence with an offer to show Li what few sights the new hood had to see.
"It's not much, but it's somewhere we can get together," Aurora said as they arrived at Kulo Seeri's one community lot, the park in the centre of the hood. "We haven't had much time to set anything else up, since we've only just moved in."
It wasn't Apple Valley Metro, that was for sure. But then what could one expect from a newly settled hood in such a remote place? This was one of the reasons Li had been invited to visit - the Nuidya were hoping to turn their new settlement into something more, and Li's experience as a city planner was, well, certainly much better than theirs, as one of the locals she met there explained.
"It's been the same old routine the same everywhere we've lived. Arrive, put up a few simple houses, wait for a storm to blow them over, leave. We've never had anything more than that, because we've never expected to stay anywhere. This time we want to have a proper community, with more places to get together and houses that aren't just three rooms."
Roma zan-Avira, the young Sim in charge of the Kulo Seeri building projects (well, the only Sim currently working on them) was eager to learn how things were done in SimNation, and what sort of projects Li had worked on in Apple Valley. After a discussion of plans and designs, Li returned to the house she was staying in to find two more Sims she didn't recognise - although how could she, when she hadn't been there a day - having a rather loud conversation with John about something she couldn't quite make out.
The two newcomers turned out to be Aurora's older brother Ben and his wife Angel, the one other member of the Kulo Seeri Wolves. Li had to admit that she found Ben rather attractive, but something about him reminded her vaguely of her ex-husband Tobi Sweeny. Maybe it was the hair.
Ben left after a brief "hi, welcome to Kulo Seeri", leaving Angel to explain why.
"Don't mind him, Ms. Yoo. He's not exactly the friendliest of Sims anyway, but when it comes to visiting other hoods... well. He's got a twin sister out in New Eden, see, and he won't admit it but I know he misses her. We just can't afford to spend what little we have left after fifty million moves to go out to visit or anything. As you might have guessed, we don't have a lot in general right now."
Li was already beginning to miss the comforts of home by the next morning, although she didn't say so to Aurora or John. It was obvious that Kulo Seeri was a relatively poor hood as a result of so many disasters, but its residents still seemed to be very proud of their hood and culture.
Roma had made it clear that the Nuidya weren't interested in skyscrapers and high-tech gadgets. (Li wasn't even sure they were interested in indoor plumbing - although that could just have been a side effect of being a newly settled area.) Aurora had also explained that it would be a long time before anything major got done, with hardly any of the residents having the skills to work on any building projects.
Li was starting to get a little restless. Aurora, Angel and Roma were all sort of her friends now, but she really wanted a little male company - perhaps now, in this new place miles from everything she knew, more than ever. That was the main reason she didn't argue too much when John, who she had noticed seemed to be avoiding her lately, suddenly started giving her a little more attention than maybe he should.
Before either of them had time to think about it, well, Li had lost one of her sort-of friends.
Things were very different after that. For the most part, no one in the house would speak to the other two.
Li's daily routine was disrupted as well, as she found herself needing to sleep in the middle of the afternoon...
...and then waking up at midnight with a craving for some food or another.
The wait ended in early summer, with the arrival of a baby girl named Kim.
Once Li recovered from the birth, she would move on to a new hood, a new assignment. Kim would be staying behind.
The first birth in Kulo Seeri. There is irony in that somewhere, most of the Nuidya agreed. We're just not quite sure how exactly.
VT says: Boy, was it hard work keeping this post to a reasonable length! All this took place over the course of a season (and pre-Solupian Calendar at that!), which when you always play one day at a time is Way Too Long as far as both picture-taking and playing one family are concerned. Kim is a little bundle of adorable though, and I have enjoyed the drama factor, which is always a bonus in the first few rotations.
Kim will be staying in Kulo Seeri with her dad and stepmother; Apple Valley's player has said this is probably for the best. Given Aurora's fertility problems (it would be the Family couple who got the bad die roll!) she looks set to become the first "only child" in Nuidya history. We'll just have to wait and see what side effects that will have. :)