Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 9: The Romanized Unikis

Carlo Uniki stretched in front of his new house, sore after using his muscles in ways he wasn’t used to.

“Well, we’ve finished all of the building,” his sister Carissa said. “Now how are we going to survive?”

“We could try farming again,” Carlo suggested.

Carissa made a face. “We already tried farming, back in the desert. We didn’t even get to harvest our first batch before the volcano erupted. We should do something with more immediate results.”

“Someone sounds smart,” a voice from behind them commented.

The siblings turned around the see Emperor Domino Allah standing in their front yard.

“Thank you, Highness,” Carissa said, curtseying.

“Do you have some suggestions for us, then?” Carlo asked.

“I do, actually,” Emperor Domino said. “Carlo, I could use you at a place called a restaurant. It’s where food is served to the public for money. You could do some different odd jobs there. Carissa, I can see you doing some other odd jobs around the Empire, maybe even ending up getting paid to make appearances at our upper class parties. What do you two say?”

Future Sims would say that Emperor Domino offered Carlo a job in the culinary career and Carissa a job in the slacker career.

“What do I say?” Carissa repeated incredulously. “I say you’re being very kind, and thank you very much!”

“The same goes for me, Emperor Domino,” Carlo said.

“Great! It’s settled, then. I have just one condition,” Emperor Domino said. “You get the jobs and keep them only if you visit with Grand Abbot or Mother Serenity every weekday to get some education. I’m not going to employ brainless cavemen in my new civilization.”

“It’s a deal!” Carissa said enthusiastically.

Carlo agreed as well, though slightly more suspicious.

When Emperor Domino left, the two siblings faced one another.

Carissa squealed. “Isn’t this great?”

“I wonder why he’s helping us,” Carlo said.

“Because he’s a wonderful Sim that we were right to elect leader!” Carissa said. “He saved our lives once, and now he’s doing it again!”

“You’re not getting a crush on him, are you?” Carlo asked.

“Pfft, as if,” Carissa said defensively. “Why?”

“I’m just looking out for you, sis. He’s probably not going to marry anyone in Rome.”

Carissa stared. “Where else would he find a wife?”

“Where do you think Grand Abbot and Mother Serenity and Mars came from? Elsewhere. Somewhere out there, more Sims exist.”

“And what makes you think he would go traveling just to look for a wife when there are plenty of available girls here?”

“You are getting a crush on him!”

“Am not!”

Carlo sighed. “He just strikes me as really arrogant, even more than Cosimo. He’s probably going to be looking for some exotic quality in a wife, rather than someone from the community he grew up in. In fact, I’m even a little bit surprised that he stooped to offer us jobs. It’s not like we’re close friends of his or anything.”

More staring from Carissa. “Next thing I know you’ll be questioning why he saved all our lives when the volcano erupted.”

Carlo chose to ignore that statement. “And why did he talk so disparagingly of how our lives were when we lived in caves?”

“He’s just psyched that we get to broaden our horizons, and he doesn’t want us to miss out on the incredible opportunity!”

Carlo doubted that, but he gave the appearance of agreement for harmony’s sake. The subject was dropped.

The Uniki household quickly adopted a routine of rising for education during the day, working in the evening, and studying at night – during the weekdays, anyways. Weekends were different. They had fun on Saturdays, and they attended the chapel for the Plebeians on Sundays.

They eventually found out about the Slaves, and Carlo’s dislike for their Emperor strengthened. Carissa still defended their ruler, but even she had to admit that the situation with the Slaves was bad.

“On the bright side, though, at least we’re not Slaves,” Carissa said.

Carlo exhaled sharply. “How can you say that? Don’t you feel bad for them?”

“I know you love family a lot, Carlo,” Carissa said, “but you have to learn to appreciate the moment. You can’t get so upset at others’ misfortunes, or you won’t be able to carry on with life.”

Carlo still seemed bothered, though.

Carissa discovered a method of distraction.

She was walking home from work one day in the rain, when she heard an animal whimpering between two buildings. She followed the sound and found a tiny puppy struggling to get out of a mud puddle.

Her heart melted. She had never seen puppies before – only grown wild dogs. She gently picked the animal up and, accepting the stains she would get, placed the puppy under her shirt against her skin to try to warm him up.

She brought him home to Carlo, who instantly fell in love with the creature and named it Kidd.

With the name came permanency. Kidd stayed with the Unikis.

Carissa was grateful to note that taking care of Kidd meant that Carlo thought and worried less about the Slaves.

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 8: The Romanized Nunas

Olaf and Dori Nuna paid their fair share of labor towards the upper class and religious buildings and then settled down to make a home of their own.

At first, as they were wondering how they should earn their living in the new world, they contemplated farming.

However, their oldest child Linda went wild the first time she came across painting supplies in the convent.

“Mom, Mom, look at this!” Linda said, splashing paint onto a canvas to resemble a flower.

“Your daughter is very artistically talented,” Mother Serenity said, coming up behind Dori and Linda. “Would you be interested in allowing her to contribute to the art world? I believe, one day, her paintings will be highly coveted.”

Dori talked the suggestion over with her husband, and the next day, the entire family paid Mother Serenity a visit.

“Will you show us how to make art easels, paint brushes, and paints?” Olaf asked. “Our entire family would love to learn how to make paintings.”

Mother Serenity agreed, and the Nunas set out on the journey of an artist family. The road was not easy, and Olaf and Dori had little time themselves to devote to learning their trade. Olaf was busy cleaning the house and serving food and taking care of their littler children, and Dori was busy taking care of herself to make sure she didn’t pass out, which was easy to do with her pregnancies.

Linda got the most practice for the first few years, and her paintings were the only ones that sold during that time. Since she adored painting more than the rest of them and had more time to devote to it, this made sense, but it didn’t bring as much income to the family as they had hoped.

Linda’s ultimate goal was to paint something worthy of being displayed in the Emperor’s home and something worthy of being displayed in the Cathedral. She had never set foot into either building, but she imagined that they were even prettier than the sanctuary of the convent.

So the young girl practiced her artwork every day, keeping her dream in mind.

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 7: The Romanized Nanos

Omu and Dani Nano built their new home near a large pond.

“It just makes sense,” Omu said to his wife. “Since I’m a Plant Sim, I need to be out in the sun as much as possible. This pond is rich with fish, so I can stand here and fish all day with hardly a break.”

“I like the idea of fishing for our family’s living,” Dani said, balancing her baby daughter Daria in her arms over her popping-pregnant stomach. “All of our kids past toddler age can help out, and we’ll surely grow closer together as a family, spending so much time together like that.”

Dani’s prediction came true, as siblings turned into friends and then best friends simply from talking to each other as they all fished.

In fact, fishing together was so bonding that the oldest boy ONeil fell in love with their guest Carla Unki, and vice versa.

Carla felt a thrill of delight at her and ONeil’s first kiss. She wanted more – more lovers.

Out of respect for the family that had taken her in, however, Carla made herself satisfied with continuing to court ONeil – for now, at least.

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 6: The Romanized Allehs

Demian and Isi Alleh, the instant the upper class homes and religious buildings were finished, decided to stick with what they knew best to do. They started their own family farm.

Although they had less land to themselves in Rome than they had had in the desert, they managed to fit a similar-sized field next to their new home.

Their six children helped out when extra hands were needed, especially while Isi was pregnant with her final child. But for the most part, the family discovered that they had more free time to play with each other and teach the younger children early skills, such as walking and talking.

“Are our kids just smarter now, or would all our kids have walked and talked at such a young age if we’d had the time to teach them?” Isi wondered to her husband.

Demian smiled at his wife as she held their youngest child in her arms. “It’s probably our extra free time. I think we’re going to enjoy life here in Rome. Our kids have more opportunities here. Unlike back in the desert, if one or more of our kids don’t want to farm, they can find some other method of earning their way in the world.”

Isi cuddled the baby. “I enjoy our new clothes, too. They require more material, but I like the way they’re more modest. There’s not as much skin showing.”

“In the desert, these would have been extremely impractical and hot. We probably would have had several heat strokes each day,” Demian said. “But they’re better here in the cooler climate.”

“I think we’re going to enjoy life here in Rome,” Isi echoed Demian’s earlier words. “I hope the others turn out as lucky as us.”

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 5: The Romanized Ungis

Yami and Ida Ungi slipped into their new Roman lives with ease, as if they had been born to make such a transition. Their kids loved the new large home, and they especially enjoyed banging on piano keys.

“Ida, Emperor Domino has asked for my help,” Yami told his wife one day soon after they had begun their new lives. “He wants me to help keep the peace in our new society.”

Readers might identify with Yami’s dialogue better if they called his peace-keeping occupation a career in law enforcement.

“Keep the peace?” Ida asked, mildly alarmed. “Is our community getting violent?”

“No, no, I don’t believe so,” he said quickly. “It’s just that, well, any community has its little arguments, like the Unkis back before the volcano erupted. Maybe if some Sim patrolled the community on a regular basis, trying to mediate or even physically stop fights, conflicts like the one that tore my sister’s family apart could be avoided.”

“Oh. Okay, that makes sense,” she agreed.

“I’m going to get stronger,” he vowed. “Rome will be the safest place on earth, if I have any say in the matter.”

Unfortunately, Yami eventually discovered that he actually had very little, if any, say in any matters. Inevitably, he discovered the Slaves’ horrifying living conditions and the Slave Lottery.

“Honey, what’s wrong? You’re scaring me,” Ida said one night after Yami got home from his rounds.

His face was frozen in a mask of horror, and he didn’t say a word.

“Yami, talk to me!” she pleaded. She was nearing her delivery date for her fifth child, and she didn’t think she could handle this stress, even if Donny’s invention was helping her through nights.

“Ida,” Yami began, taking his Plant Sim wife’s hands. “We’ve made a terrible mistake. We thought life would be better here, but Rome has turned into something very ugly.”

“Yami, what’s going on?”

“We knew we were fortunate to get the Emperor’s help in building our new home. And we knew that some other Sims built their own, plainer homes. But we didn’t know that the Slaves are so bad off that they live in tiny, cramped huts and can’t get proper baths on a regular basis. I don’t even know if they have enough to eat on a regular basis.”

“What?” Her heart thumped painfully.

He debated on whether he should tell her more.

“We should help them, Yami! We have more than enough; we can share!”

“Food and hygiene aren’t their biggest problems, Ida. I was just at the Nainu house. Azia was doubled over sobbing, screaming for Mars to bring her husband back to her.”

“What did he do to him?” she whispered.

“Oden is dead. Emperor Domino came up with a sick lottery that kills one Slave at random every so often. Oden was the first to die, although he did nothing wrong.”

Ida stood up abruptly, very dizzy.

“Ida, careful!” Yami said sharply, pushing his wife back down and putting her head between her legs. “Breathe, love!”

“What can we do?” she asked weakly.

“As best I can tell, we just need to keep our heads low and not cause trouble,” he said, sounding defeated. “Mars is a very powerful Sim, and he seems to be backing up everything the Emperor does. He’s not blindly following Emperor Domino, like I was. Mars is very well aware of everything.”

Ida started crying.

Yami put his arms around her. “It’s okay, honey. We’re Patricians. As long as we don’t do anything to upset the Emperor or Mars, we and our children will stay well away from slavery and live in peace.”

Ida wondered how they had sunk so low as Romans as to ignore the sufferings of others for their own safety.

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 4: The Romanized Allays

Deyzha and Donny Allay stood hand-in-hand in front of their new home as their five kids ran all around and through the yard and rooms.

“What a beautiful place,” Deyzha said, a little bit nervous about setting foot in such a place.

“Our Emperor has been good to us,” Donny agreed. “But I won’t be able to sit around idle. I’ve been talking with Grand Abbot to see what I can do to help our community in this world.”

“And?” Deyzha prompted.

“You’ve heard about science by now, right?” Donny asked. “All the laws that make the world work the way it does, like making fish breathe underwater and plants grow with sunshine and water?”

Deyzha nodded.

“Well, that’s also how stuff like indoor plumbing and candles have been made. I think it’s really interesting, and I’m going to try to learn more about it so I can make new things, too.”

“Honey, that’s wonderful!” Deyzha said. “I wish you the best of luck. Don’t you worry about us as you work; I’ll watch over the kids and learn whatever they’re learning. That’s enough for an old lady like me.”

“And yet, still as beautiful as the day we met,” Donny said.

Deyzha smiled and leaned in for a kiss.

“Ewww!” their kids yelled some feet away.

The parents laughed.

That afternoon, Donny left to start working at a place he had built and called his lab. Readers will identify his new creative streak as a career in science.

Meanwhile, Deyzha took care of the kids. They found that they had no need for Slaves at the moment, even though they had built a sleeping area large enough for a single Slave.

Life was happy for this family, if a little bit crazy. The kids went wild for their new lifestyle, getting into everything and leaving their new toys scattered all over the house. Deyzha was sort of hard-pressed to keep up with all of them. But theirs was a happy family, nonetheless.

Donny, meanwhile, discovered that his one weakness as a Plant Sim was worsened in their new lifestyle as “civilized” Sims. He was expected to spend more time indoors, out of the elements, which meant that he wasn’t getting as much sun as he should. Often, in his lab, Donny would be caught with the inspiration to build something new and useful, when suddenly he collapsed from lack of sunlight. Upon waking up when some helpful passer-by dragged him outside, he discovered that he had completely forgotten whatever had inspired him.

Finally, Donny discovered a way to resolve his problem. He found out how to mimic sunlight with indoor lights. Making them was a long and expensive process, but he made as many as he could afford and set them up in his lab and home. He rarely lost consciousness after that.

Donny publicized his invention, and a few families who could afford to supply the material for him got him to make some of these new lights for them. Some lights went to other families with Plant Sims; some lights went to the convent or monastery or chapels in consideration of the Plant Sim visitors.

At any rate, Donny was proud that he had made even one thing that proved useful to his new Roman society.

Meanwhile, Deyzha watched her oldest child Alfredo grow into a fine young man. She knew that he would need a good wife some day, so she invited Tosca Nanu from another Patrician family to live with the family for a while in hopes that the two teens would fall in love.

Book 2: Starting Over; Chapter 3: The Romanized Unkis

Cadenza stood in front of her new home and marveled.

“What a dump,” she said incredulously. “It’s a third the size of what we’re used to.”

Yinna placed a hand on Cadenza’s shoulder. “We knew this would be difficult. I’m sorry, honey.”

“Ah, Mom, you don’t have to apologize. We’ll show them,” Cadenza said, turning to give her mom a hug.

Eric, meanwhile, gave his youngest daughter Quiteria a tour of the home he had just finished building with what meager resources they had had left. The inside had two rooms with a few beds. On the outside, they had a tiny pond, a tiny field, a food-prepping area, and a couple of holes in the ground that would serve as toilets. They would have to visit the Plebeians’ public bathhouse when they got too stinky.

“Cool!” Quiteria said. As a child still, any new environment was an adventure.

Yinna smiled sadly at the little girl’s bliss.

Cadenza sighed. “I have only one complaint.”

“The Emperor’s Slave Lottery?” Yinna asked.

“Well, that too. But I was thinking more of, where am I going to get a husband? Is anyone in Rome sympathetic enough to us that he’d be willing to join our household instead of me join him?”

“Maybe you should go look for another community,” Yinna suggested. Eric came up to her and held her hand, and the couple smiled at each other. “It’s how I met your father.”

“Yeah, but you knew where the community was in that case. According Dex, it’s all gone now. Besides, the way there was covered in lava last we saw. I don’t know of anywhere else.”

“Isn’t Mars from some place called Greece?” Eric asked.

Cadenza shuddered. “Like I would want a husband from his homeland.”

“A homeland doesn’t define a Sim, Cadenza,” Yinna chided gently. “Your father and your grandparents came from a place that promised death.”

“Well, Mars is promising death, all right.”

“Grand Abbot and Mother Serenity are also from some other community,” Eric offered.

Cadenza groaned. “I’m going to take a walk,” she said, needing to clear her head.

“Work will surely be waiting when you come back,” Eric said, getting started on planting seeds in the wake of the fertilizer Quiteria was dumping.

Cadenza waved in response as she set out.

What was she doing?

She was feeling way too much pressure to get married, that’s what she was doing. Because if she didn’t find a husband, she wouldn’t be able to pass her family’s name on to her daughter. The Unki family name would die with her, with all of her mother’s expectations. She would be about as big a failure as her brother Cosimo.

She needed to stop thinking about this. The pressure would drive her crazy, and then she’d not only be less desirable to any potential mates, but she wouldn’t be able to help her current family at all.

As Cadenza wandered, her feet seemed to take her directly to a beautiful wooded area with a large pond. It wasn’t too far from the Slaves’ homes, and she could actually see the Plebeians’ homes in the distance.

By the pond, a stranger stood fishing.

He was exactly her type, she couldn’t help noticing.

“Who are you?” she blurted without thinking. She thought that he must be from their community, but rarely did she so completely not recognize someone.

He looked her way and smiled. “I’m Gaspare. You?”

“Cadenza. Who are your grandparents?”

He seemed puzzled. “Does it matter?”

“It might,” Cadenza said, shrugging. “Here in Rome, nearly everyone is descended from one or more of three couples who founded us back in the desert a couple generations back.”

“I see. Well, I’m no Roman. Does it make it hard to mate here, with so much inbreeding?”

“A little bit. But I have problems aside from being related to everyone that’s keeping me from getting married.”

“What’s that?”

Before she knew it, Cadenza found herself baring her soul to the stranger. At the end of her story, Gapare asked her out on a date.

“What’s a date?” Cadenza asked blankly.

“A date is a courtship method back in my homeland. Two Sims who might get married spend time together and get to know each other and have fun together. If the date is a success, it’s possible that the two Sims involved will get married.”

“But we don’t even know each other,” Cadenza said, shocked but more than a little bit flattered.

“That’s the point of a date,” Gaspare said, laughing.

“Okay,” Cadenza relented. “Let’s go on a date.”

The date turned out to be everything Cadenza could have dreamed. Gaspare made her completely forget her hardships, and she felt free like she hadn’t felt since Cosimo had been disinherited and Cadenza was selected in his place.

As she spent more and more time with Gaspare, her troubles faded further and further away. The Slave lottery. The tiny new home. The pressure to create a family. They all eventually vanished.

When Gaspare proposed to her at the end of the date, she didn’t even have to think before accepting.

“But you know you’ll have to take my last name,” Cadenza reminded him.

“I know,” he said, giving her one of his devilish grins that made her wonder what he was up to.

“And you’re okay with that?”

“Remember I told you I’m a youngest son? We really wouldn’t be much better off if you took my last name. And you have something worth fighting for here. We’re going to earn your family the respect it deserves. Together.”

“Together,” Cadenza repeated. A word had never sounded more beautiful.

Before the clock struck midnight, Grand Abbot performed the wedding ceremony for Cadenza and Gaspare in the Slaves’ chapel. Cadenza returned to her parents and sister with a husband.