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When we got home from the camping trip it was time to celebrate Ethan’s birthday. The kids were growing up so fast that every time one of their birthdays came around I would be shocked.

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He grew up to be a handsome young man who looked like Sebastian with just a hint of me in there somewhere. I thought his table manners would improve as he got older but it was still the same. After blowing out the candles he gobbled down two slices of his chocolate birthday cake back to back. I don’t know what’s wrong with this boy!

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The next day Phoebe came to visit us as she also celebrated her birthday and wanted to spend time with her teenaged cousins. I was slightly appalled by how short her pants were. Why did Adrienne let her out of the house like that? But she’s a good girl. Adrienne was worried that Phoebe’s pampered lifestyle at the Goth manor would make her become lazy in addition to being a slob but luckily she grew up to be a very active teen that loved sports and jogging. If only she could learn to pick up her dirty gym socks from off her bedroom floor.

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I’m so happy that our daughters are so close. Despite the slight age difference, Danielle and Phoebe are as close as twin sisters. They were always texting each other and you would swear they lived together or went to the same school instead of living in two separate towns since each one was so involved in the other’s social life. Danielle confided in her more than me which was understandable since Phoebe’s the only female member of the family close to her age.

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We decided it was time to redecorate some of the rooms in the house starting with the bedrooms. Since Christopher and Chloe left, their bedroom was unoccupied so with both Ethan and Danielle becoming teenagers we decided they would need more space. Sebastian and I redecorated Christopher’s room, which was the master bedroom, and turned it into our room.

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We gave our room to Danielle fixing it up according to her wishes. I thought she would want the colour scheme of the room to be pink just like she wanted when she was a child but she chose a more muted but feminine theme which she ended up loving once it was done.

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She also loved the new computer we bought for her birthday. In her spare time she would write children’s stories. They were mostly fantasy stories but they had well rounded characters and detailed settings. We were all impressed by how well she wrote her first ever children’s book that even her little brother Felix became her biggest fan. When I asked if she wanted to be writer when she grew up she told me no. She said writing was just a fun hobby and that she hadn’t decided on a career as yet. I hope she decides soon because it’s much better to know what you want to do while still a teenager so you can get a head start at building skills for your career. I know I don’t have to worry about her too much though, she’ll be fine.

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Ethan got Christopher’s old room from when he was a teen. The room had been vacant since after Mum died when Christopher took over the master bedroom and it was the one Ethan wanted in spite of it being the smallest bedroom simply because he could start from scratch. I was surprised by the number of furnishings, electronics and decorative items he managed to fit in there.

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We also redecorated Mum’s studio and turned it into my laboratory and study. I needed a space for all the collectibles I got during my space travels. Finally I had a place where I could work in peace without anyone coming in to use the gym equipment. One of my favourite things to do would be to head in there and just study some of the alien species and fossils I collected.

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I still felt overwhelmed every time I would head off to space in my rocket. Luckily my family was so supportive, especially Sebastian. Sometimes he would even join me on the rocket…for some fun.

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We never actually went into space with each other since Sebastian had no training so we would simply orbit the planet spending some much needed quality time with each other.

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Sometimes having three kids made it difficult to spend time alone since one of them always needed help with homework or something school related. It was cute the way they would all get together and do their respective homework assignments. It made it so much easier on me since they could help each other themselves.

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Soon enough it was Felix’s birthday but he became a teenager on a very hectic day for all of us. Danielle and Ethan were stressed out over homework they had yet to complete, Sebastian came home so exhausted that he went straight to bed and I had deployed on a space mission. Basically everyone forgot about Felix’s birthday and he was very sad about it.

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But Felix got over it in no time when he realised he and Ethan were once again able to attend the same school now that he was a teenager.

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Bentley was all grown up as well looking more and more like his father every day. I loved spending time with my niece and nephew since I considered them to be my own children as well. Who knew I would become so family-oriented over time.

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Not that I didn’t always love my family, but succeeding in my intellectual pursuits was of the utmost importance to me from ever since I can remember. I had always wanted to be the best at chess, the best at tinkering, and to travel amongst the stars and planets. Now I had fulfilled all of my lifelong wishes I was able to complete another major milestone.

I was given approval by SASA to travel to the planet Sixam via my own rocket. Usually they don’t allow such approvals but because I maxed out the rocket science skill I could now upgrade the rocket to include a wormhole generator which is the only way Sims could travel to Sixam. The planet had a naturally occurring magnetic force field surrounding it that would completely destroy any rocket ship headed in its orbit so for many decades Sims could not safely travel to Sixam until a scientist by the name of Nikolai Landgraab invented a wormhole generator which gave brave astronauts the ability to teleport to the planet while the ship maintained a safe distance from planet’s magnetic force field. But no other Sim had been brave enough or genius enough to recreate Landgraab’s wormhole generator – except for me! SASA had tasked me with the mission of collecting some of Sixam’s flora and fauna for experimentation as research into the benefits of Sixam’s natural elements ceased when the magnetic force field became stronger preventing conventional landing in the planet. Only Dr Landgraab used his wormhole generator successfully but he was an old man who passed away after his third mission to the planet. I became the second Sim in 30 years to step foot on Sixam…and when I did I was in a state of complete awe.

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It was beautiful, almost magical! As I expected, the trees and shrubbery were unlike anything I had ever seen as I stood around watching in amazement. The bright, neon colours of the flora were so captivating I felt like a child seeing a well decorated Christmas tree for the first time.

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I couldn’t change out of my suit for fear of suffocating to death due to the planet’s low oxygen levels and my oxygen tank level would only support me for two hours so I had little time waste in order to complete my mission. Not too far away from the wormhole station was one of the objects I had to collect. It was a rare type of ruby, blood red in colour that was extremely rare in our world but very common on Sixam. Dr Landgraab returned from his first trip with a few samples of it and scientists learned that this type of ruby had medicinal benefits when in a liquefied form which made it more valuable than any type of ruby a collector would find in the sands of Oasis Springs.

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The next thing on my list was an unpolished geode. The plant that spawned it looked like a chess pawn which was also very easy for me to locate. I felt like it called to me because it knew how much I loved chess.

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Also on my list was to collect various metals that did not exist or were rare on our planet such as solarium, shinolite, ozinold, blutonium and literalite. Those were a little tricky to locate and I was concerned about my oxygen levels depleting before I had the time to complete the list. Luckily I managed to find a cluster or gem rocks behind a hill-like structure which had all of the items I needed to complete the list.

As much as I didn’t want to I knew I had to get back to the portal so I could return to my rocket before I ran out of oxygen but then I noticed a moving figure in the distance and it captured my attention. As I got closer I realised what it was. It was a resident of Sixam, a real life alien! I wondered if I should go up to him and introduce myself. I wondered if it would even understand my language.

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I decided to be brave and introduce myself to the alien after all Dr Landgraab had learned how to communicate with them during his three short visits to the planet so I was fairly certain I would be able to do the same. I tried not to startle him just in case this alien attacks when surprised but as I was approaching, it turned to face me and then I realised it was not a ‘him’, but a ‘her’. “Greetings,” I said using as many hand gestures as I could think of to represent each word I spoke, “My name is Bree Sloane and I hail from the city of Oasis Springs from the planet…”

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“I know where you hail from. You must be from Earth just like Landgraab. Welcome, my name is Nikki.”

“You speak Simlish!” I said in shock as her Simlish was even better than mine and her name was Nikki! It was a common earth name and I expected an unpronounceable name with a lot of consonants.

“Yes. Landgraab taught us during his visits. He left us books that we learned from. They have since perished but the knowledge of your people’s customs, history and language has remained with us. My parents were the first to interact with Landgraab and they were especially saddened when he did not return to us. We assumed he expired.”

“He did. He took ill after his last journey and passed away.”

“To honour him they decided to name me after a variation of his first name hence why I am called Nikki.”

“It’s nice to meet you Nikki.”

“I am glad I found you Bree Sloane. The beaming sound of the wormhole alerted us to your arrival. Being a member of the High Council of Sixam I have come here to inform you that Sims of your planet are welcomed here… as long as you do not plan on pillaging and colonializing our home.”

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“We do not intend to do such a thing. I am only collecting items for scientific experimentation. You have my word.”

She studied me for a moment and then replied. “I accept your word. My telepathic senses tell me that you have no evil intentions during your visit but as a precaution against betrayal by future generations of your kind, our council has declared that only Sims of your lineage, either by blood or marriage, is allowed to travel to Sixam. If any Sim from your planet violates this rule or should one of your descendants attempt to harm our planet or our citizens then we will destroy the generator on our side, ceasing all contact from your planet forever. Is this understood?”

“Yes. If this is what the council has declared then it will be so. I will inform the leaders of SASA when I return home.”

“Good. Bree… your oxygen levels are nearing zero. I suggest you promptly return to your ship before you expire as well.”

“Ok I will. It was a pleasure meeting you Nikki. I shall return home now. Would you like to return with me? No member from Sixam has ever visited our planet before.”

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“We have but I suppose it was not documented by your people. What is the common phrase… been there, done that…? We know all about you planet and no offence, but we were not very impressed.”

I laughed a little as she was right. Our world is clearly not as impressive as theirs and I didn’t blame them one bit.

We bid each other farewell and then I went through the wormhole and teleported back to my ship and then headed back home. The other astronauts applauded me on my successful journey and the researchers were enthusiastic about all the samples I retrieved during my visit. Once I told the leaders of SASA what Nikki told me, that only members of my family could visit Sixam from then on, they were disappointed since I was nearing retirement age and could only do a few more missions before my health would not allow it. I had to sign my own pact with SASA – at least one member of subsequent generations of Sloanes must agree to be commissioned by SASA to travel to Sixam for researching expeditions regardless of their chosen career. It is a lot to ask of my future family members but it had to be done for the sake of science.

When I got home and told my family all about Sixam everyone enthusiastically listened but only Felix showed interest in the subsequent pacts I made with both the Sixam council and SASA.

“Wow Mum! I don’t know about Dani and Ethan but I definitely want to be the one to go there when I get older!”

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Felix was interested in finding collectibles be it frogs, crystals or metals. I could not understand the appeal but it was a harmless hobby and he had his bedroom so organised with these things in spite of him generally being a huge slob. His collection of MySim trophies was almost complete.

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I know the main reason why he got so excited about going to Sixam one day was so he could have the opportunity to start collecting space rocks. At least now I know my rocket will become a permanent fixture in our yard since every generation will have to use it at some point. I’d hate for my children or grandchildren to sell it when I die especially when I invested a lot of time, money and energy into building it. Just as Mum left her masterpieces on our walls, I can leave my rocket behind as something future generations can remember me by.

Finally I had accomplished everything I set out to do. There were some bumps along the way but I have contributed to major intellectual and scientific advancements and it’s something I am very proud of.

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