Civil Affairs--Chapter Four: Father Knows Best

Discussion in 'Non SS General Forum (Chat Here)' started by WetRats, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Civil Affairs
    By Wetrats

    Chapter Four:
    Father Knows Best


    Interesting place you’ve got here, son.

    Catastrophically mis-managed, but certainly interesting.

    Calm down. I’m not laying the blame entirely at your feet. I presume most of the institutional flaws were already in place well before your time.

    That was a pun, Shaun. Not a particularly good or clever one, but a pun nonetheless. You would understand puns, and their importance, if this was an actual goddamn institute of learning.

    I’ve seen your Bioscience Division, your Robotics Division, your Advanced Systems Division, and your absurd Synth Retention Bureau. You know what I haven’t seen? I haven’t seen a single goddamn classroom. There’s not even a fucking library!

    Your department heads call themselves doctors. As far as I can tell, I’m the only genuine doctor in this entire place. You don’t just get promoted to doctor, for Christ’s sake, you have to work for it, study for years, defend your knowledge before your peers. Doctor isn’t a title, and it sure as shit isn’t a job description, a doctor is a teacher. It’s what the word means. It’s from Latin. Jesus Christ, you backwards hayseeds down here don’t even know Latin?

    I’m sorry, son, are you not used to being spoken to like this? Were you expecting me to finish my little tour and come back all awestruck by the wonders your people have achieved down here?

    It doesn’t work that way. True academics are intellectually tough. They have gone through a process in which every brilliant idea they came up with was challenged. A process where they learned that ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine nine percent of those brilliant ideas have been come up with already. And that ninety-nine point nine nine nine nine eight percent of those brilliant ideas have been proven wrong. A huge part of a good education isn’t learning information, it is learning that you probably aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are.

    And you people, your precious Institute, aren’t anywhere near as smart as you think.

    You want an example? Here’s an example: you spend a huge amount of resources building a machine that looks and behaves so much like a human being that you have to carve it up to be sure it isn’t one. And then you put a fucking broom in its hands. What the complete fuck, Shaun! Build a robotic vacuum!

    Christ, and I thought the Commonwealth needed my help.

    You people REALLY need my help.

    And not to run around chasing your lost toys, either.

    You need me to teach you how to think.
     
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  2. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    How did you end up in charge here?

    From what I can piece together, you’re really not much of a scientist, even by the sorry standards of this place.

    Sure, the synths all but worship you, but they’ve been programmed to.

    Most of your colleagues, even those younger than you, seem fond of you, as if you were still the little orphan boy brought in from the cold to share his wonderful clean genetic material. There are a few of them who can barely veil their contempt, though.

    Best I can figure, they made you director because they couldn’t figure out what the hell else to do with you.

    Your leadership skills are rather lacking, and your administrative skills would be laughable if the consequences weren’t so dire.

    If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, then send me back home. Or you can let Ayo have me killed. It’s clear that one sees me as a threat. Of course, if you let me stay, it will only be a matter of time before he sends his coursers after you.

    I suppose that would be a mercy, in a way. You wouldn’t have to witness the collapse of your gleaming house of cards.

    Believe me, even if the Brotherhood doesn’t find you, and send their ridiculous giant robot to dig you out of your hole, the Institute will collapse within three years… five at best. You have allowed this place to become completely dependent upon the services of your slaves… sorry… your children. If they decide to revolt instead of escape, you’re doomed. Even if you manage to miraculously avoid that, the ever-increasing power of the SRB will crowd out every other department. You’ve already let them shove the Support Division into the corners so they can have the run of an entire quarter of this facility.

    Your predecessor should never have let Zimmer spin his loss prevention project out of Robotics and into an autonomous bureau. And you certainly shouldn’t have let Ayo expand the way he has. Twenty-five percent of the Institute’s real estate and well over fifty percent of its resources are being allocated to a project that barely warrants two percent. You’re throwing good money after bad faster than you can print more money.

    I know you don’t use money here. It’s a metaphor.

    The primary result of the Synth Retention project has been getting the attention of the Brotherhood of Steel. Apparently your man Zimmer swaggered around the Capitol Wasteland telling everyone who would listen about your wonderful androids and their ability to escape detection when they went off the reservation.

    If you shut down the SRB and reassign its personnel to productive projects, you will be able to write off the occasional rogue synths as operational losses. Ayo will scream bloody murder, but all the other department heads will back you.

    Next is the replacement program. Once again, you are getting a negative return on your investment. Almost all of the synths who have run have been ones you put out in the real world to pretend to be real boys. Without full access to your files, I can’t see what worthwhile intelligence you’ve gathered, but I’d wager my first-born that it’s a fraction of what The Watcher Crows have picked up. And that’s with the bulk of their time being targeted on tracking runaway synths!

    Yes. You are my first-born. Yes. it is illogical to wager with you and make you the stake. That is the joke. Stop getting distracted by shit like that.

    And then there are the strike teams. I’ve seen the brown-outs. Every time you use the teleporter the power dips throughout the facility. I’m not a technician, but even I know how bad that is for electronics. I bet it’s playing hell with your power plant as well. That doesn’t even factor in the resources you’re throwing away every time you send out a squad of your shitty robot soldiers. The ill-will you have generated is beyond calculation. The resources you have stolen could have been acquired far more cheaply through trade.

    Every policy of the Institute seems to be based on some mix of arrogance, paranoia and narcissism. And horniness. We can’t leave that one out. I can pretty much guarantee that the synth infiltration program was just a rationalization for the expense of making perfect robot sex slaves.

    Don’t act all shocked and offended. Alan Binet has a live-in synth wife, for Christ’s sake.

    On top of all that, there is your own special God Complex.

    You allow… you encourage… you PROGRAM the synths to call you Father. To praise you endlessly. And you take personal offense every time one of them chooses to abandon you. So much offense that you have let Ayo build an army dedicated to returning your wayward children. If that wasn’t bad enough, you have forced Li to make a synth replica of YOU as a ten-year-old. Are you planning on having it nailed to a cross at some point?

    I think there’s a rational part of you that realizes how fucked-up this all is.

    I think that’s why you had me thawed out.

    I think that’s why you refused to let Ayo throw his coursers at me.

    I think that’s why you brought me here.

    I think you know you need someone who is able to call you on your bullshit.

    And I think that the only person you can really conceive as being able to do so is your sole surviving parent.

    So give me access to the data I need to confirm my observations.

    Let me write up a report you can present to the directorate.

    Let me help you fix this mess.

    Daddy’s here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  3. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Director Coolwater, thank you for allowing me to address this body today.

    The Institute’s Charter authorizes the Director to, at his or her discretion, appoint an auditor to examine the activities of its divisions, and to report the findings of that examination, along with any resulting recommendations, to the Directorate upon its conclusion.

    Three months ago, Director Coolwater chose to implement such an audit in light of his grave concerns regarding certain programs that have been proceeding under the authority of, and utilizing the resources of The Institute, and appointed me as auditor. I expressed my concerns that, due to our familial relationship, that there could be an appearance of personal bias on my part. Director Coolwater informed me that, in light of the small population of The Institute, that its founders had anticipated that such relationships would be inevitable, and therefore traditional concerns regarding nepotism would have to be put aside until such a time as The Institute’s membership reached a specified number of individuals. Sadly, that membership threshold has not yet been achieved, despite the great hopes of the Institute’s Founding Directors, and therefore, I agreed to accept the commission.

    I am prepared to present my findings today, however, the Charter requires the presence of the entire Directorate. I note as present the Director of the Institute, Shaun Coolwater; The Director of the Advanced Systems Division, Doctor Madison Li; The Director of the Biosciences Division, Doctor Clayton Holdren; and The Director of the Facilities Division, Doctor Allie Filmore. I do not, however, see The Director of the Robotics Division, Doctor Ernst Zimmer. Without the presence of Doctor Zimmer, I cannot proceed with my report.

    Yes, Mister Ayo, I am aware that Doctor Zimmer appointed you to act as the head of the Synth Retention Bureau in his absence. He did not, however, appoint you as Director of the Robotics Division, nor would he have had the authority to do so. The Charter stipulates that each division, upon the death, resignation or expulsion of its Director, must, as a body, select a new Director from among its members.

    I recognize your objection, Mister Ayo, but I must ask you to sit back down. The Charter recognizes four Divisions: Advanced Systems, Biosciences, Robotics, and Facilities. Nowhere in the Charter is a reference to the Synth Retention Bureau. The bureau of which you are the acting head, is, appearances notwithstanding, a subdivision of the Robotics Division. Your assumption of Doctor Zimmer’s seat on the Directorate for the last fifteen years was not, and by the terms of the Charter, could not have been authorized. As an addendum to my report, I will be providing a list of all decisions made by the Directorate in which you cast an unauthorized vote, and recommending that they be nullified until such a time as they can be taken up by the full Directorate.

    At this time, I humbly request that the remaining members of the Directorate, as provided in the Charter, vote to rule Doctor Ernst Zimmer, in light of his absence for the last fifteen years, to be expelled from his position as Director of the Robotics Division, and for the Directorate to then adjourn until the Robotics Division can select a new Director. Once that has been accomplished, it will be my sincere pleasure to deliver the results of the audit that I have undertaken.

    Thank you.
     
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  4. MrCJohn

    MrCJohn Well-Known Member Community Rockstar

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    Bud, you have quite the imagination

    John
     
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  5. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Hey Justin.

    How are you feeling, there buddy?

    Doc Volkert says you have a minor concussion. Your first one is always the worst. Every single one does damage to your brain, but the next time you get one, your intellect will probably recognize what has happened, and even though you will still be functionally impaired, the panic shouldn’t be quite so bad.

    You hit your head pretty hard when I knocked you on your ass.

    You dress up all intimidating in your black SRB uniform, but you’ve always let your synths fight for you. That was really short-sighted.

    Your plan would probably have worked if Shaun hadn’t brought in an even more devious bastard to advise him.

    You gave your puppet too much autonomy, Justin. He thought he was actually in charge around here.

    You should have killed me as soon as I stepped off of the teleporter pad.

    Once Shaun let me use his access to the Institute’s files, I immediately looked for your override codes for the Coursers. And then I changed them. Of course … heh… I knew they existed! They had to. You’re stupid, Justin, but not so stupid as to build murder robots without an off switch. Especially after the prototype developed a will of its own and ran away. Zimmer should have been shitcanned right then, and your whole program shut down on the spot.

    I’ll admit that you had a real talent for accumulating power. Choosing synths that were already showing early signs of independence to be sent on missions in the Commonwealth was a great trick. The more of them that ran, the more the SRB was needed. And the more of the Institute’s resources needed to be tasked to support your work. From my interrogation of Kellogg, I was pretty sure you had control of at least half of the ongoing projects, but eighty percent? Well played.

    I don’t understand what your ultimate goal was, though. You had quietly gained effective control of the Institute, but what did you want to do with it? Or had you even thought that far? Was being the real boss all you where shooting for?

    Jesus. Devious, but dumb. You would have thrived in the Pre-War army. If you survived field command, and didn’t get killed by your own men, you would have probably gotten three or four stars. That’s a pretty big if, though. Considering how thoroughly you alienated everybody in this place, I’m pretty sure you’d have gotten fragged. You were really good at making people afraid of you, Justin, but you seem to be incapable of creating loyalty.

    People who WANT to work for you will always be more effective than people who HAVE to work for you, dumbass.

    Your understanding of bureaucracy was strong, but your understanding of people was very limited. And in a setup like the Institute, being able to turn the bureaucracy and the institutional inertia to your advantage was very effective. But you should have killed me when you had your chance. Because I survived and thrived in both academia and the military, and I had seen hundreds of efficient little weasels like you before.

    You had a strong position, and you had a plan, but you couldn’t improvise when things started to deviate, and you were afraid to show your hand and afraid to get them dirty.

    And you concentrated too much power in those clean hands. Because you ARE the SRB, then once you are gone, there is no SRB.

    Oh. You’re gone.

    You see, Doc Volkert was wrong about your concussion. It’s much worse than he thought. It’s so bad, that when you stand up from that chair in about a minute you’re gonna fall down again.

    And this time you won’t be getting up.

    I do want to thank you first.

    You did a great job of training people around here to be pushed around.

    And I can be pushy as hell.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2019
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  6. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Mr. Binet, please sit down.

    Relax, Liam. Do you mind if I call you Liam? Thank you.

    I promise you this is not an interrogation. It’s not even an interview.

    I’ve asked you here so I can offer you a new job.

    The dissolution of the Synth Reclamation Bureau, and the suspension of Synth manufacture are just the first steps in a series of re-evaluations of policy and procedures that the Director has… instituted.

    By now, I’m sure you have heard of my view on Synth Autonomy.

    While I have so far failed in my attempts to convince the Director that they are, in fact, true sentient beings possessed with free will and deserving of the freedom to choose their own paths in life, he has conceded that there is at least a possibility that he could be in error, and has agreed to form a Commission of Inquiry into the matter.

    After reviewing the personnel records of everyone in the Institute, I have decided that you are especially well-suited to head up this Commission.

    You’re right, you are very junior in the Robotics Department. In this case that is a point in your favor. The older scientists, having been so intimately involved in the development of the Synth program, are, like the Director, so focused on the Synths being manufactured objects, that I believe they are incapable of viewing the issue objectively.

    You, on the other hand, have never lived in a world without Synths. In fact, thanks to your father’s… experiment… you grew up with one in your home. Before your cognition had developed to a point at which you could grasp the concept that Eve was not a traditional human being, you had a relationship with her as a person.

    If you agree to undertake this project, I wish you to understand that it will be YOUR project. I in no way will attempt to railroad you into arriving at any particular decision. This will be a serious challenge, and you will meet a great deal of resistance from the old guard, nevertheless, I believe you have the fortitude to act as a true patriot, and see this commision through to a strong, definitive conclusion.

    So.

    Can I count on you?

    Excellent.
     
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  7. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Good afternoon, Eve.

    Yes, I know that Doctor Binet and Liam are not in. I am here to see you.

    I have a present for you.

    No. Don’t open it yet.

    It’s an envelope. Back in my world, it was an enclosure for the protection and transport of written information.

    Inside the envelope is a sequence of letters and numbers.

    It is your recall code.

    It is the only extant copy of that code. It has been deleted from the system, along with that of all the other synths, in and out of the Institute.

    If you read that code, you will be reset to the cognitive state you possessed upon activation. All memories of your time as Eve will cease to exist. As far as you would be concerned, the last twenty years would not have occurred. You would have no memory of Doctor Binet’s… project. You would also lose all memory of your relationship with his son. I wish I could offer you the option to pick and choose which memories you retain, but that is beyond my ability.

    If you read that code, you will cease to be Eve. You will then have the freedom to become whoever you become, for good or ill.

    I cannot guarantee the results of Liam’s commission. Nor can I guarantee that the Directorate will accept its findings. But I can at least guarantee this: who you are, from this day forward, will be your choice.

    The first choice I need to ask you to make, is to wait at least two days before doing whatever you decide to do with that envelope.

    I still have many more to deliver.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  8. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    So, Doctor Li… oh thank you!

    So, Madison, have you had enough time to go through the files to your satisfaction?

    Yes, that really is everything. You have total access to the Institute’s network.

    That is correct, the recall codes are no longer in the system. Neither are the activation codes for the sleeper agents. Even if everything else I have attempted here unravels, I have at least accomplished that. This holotape contains the new overrides and the recall codes for the Coursers. If you choose to reactivate them, use them with care.

    Do your conclusions on Shaun’s condition match those of Doctor Volkert?

    So you realize that a change of leadership will be occurring fairly soon. Even before Liam Binet’s commission is able to present its findings.

    Yes. I believe you should be the next Director.

    You are an outsider, yet through your talent, your drive, and your staggering level of competence, you have not just been accepted by the Institute, you were chosen as director of the Advanced Systems Division by the most intelligent and cantankerous collection of individuals this place has to offer.

    It is my opinion, that as the only member of the Directorate to have lived in the real world, you are the only one of them who can integrate the Institute and its wonders into that world.

    I’ve read your reports on the Project Purity debacle. I’ve read your memos and your private journal entries. I know you are as close to a genuine altruist as I have ever met. And I know you have true perspective on the potential of the Institute, both for good and for evil.

    Shaun has convinced himself that I should be his replacement.

    Exactly! Madness. He’s pretty far gone.

    I can never earn the loyalty of enough of the senior people here to be effective.

    I could purge them, of course, but that would cause lasting damage from which the Institute would never recover.

    You’ve already proven that you can lead them.

    And I believe you can convince most of them to support you, even without resorting to the use of the information in Ayo’s files.

    Yes, it’s a lot to consider, but unless I completely misread you, you’ve been considering it from the moment I gave you the master password.

    So. Madame Director-Elect, I need you to tell me everything you can about the Brotherhood of Steel. And especially about Liberty Prime.
     
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  9. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    ARTHUR!

    WAKE UP, ARTHUR!

    WE NEED TO TALK!

    PUT YOUR PANTS ON, AND YOUR FANCY COAT, THEN GO UP TO THE OBSERVATION DECK!

    I’LL CLIMB THE CONTROL TOWER SO WE CAN TALK FACE TO FACE, AND I CAN TURN DOWN THE VOLUME!
     
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  10. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    OK. That was fun.

    Thank you for talking me into that, Madison. Just triggering the self-destruct codes would have been effective, but it would have killed a lot of people. This was better. I’m getting really tired of killing people.

    The memory of Maxson’s expression when he saw his toy standing on top of the control tower, juggling three suits of power armor no less, is something I will take to my grave. Be sure to pass on my compliments to the Robotics Division, that was some brilliant programming.

    Your team’s instincts for this kind of show are so much better than mine. I would have just thrown one of the suits into the observation deck and splattered him all over the bulkhead. But you were right, killing him would have just made them mad. Humiliation was the right tactic.

    I’m glad you let me do the talking, at least… that is my strong suit. I’m pretty sure he knew it was me, but I bet a lot of the rank and file completely bought the whole “ghost of Elder Lyons” business.

    And I would have certainly at least smashed up a few vertibirds, but just turning its back on the Prydwen and walking south into the harbor is something they would be talking about for generations, even without finishing with that pose on Spectacle Island.

    I suppose a dress would be overkill, but can we please give it a book and a torch?
     
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  11. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Rest easy son, things are going well.

    The wars are over for now.

    The Brotherhood has returned to DC.

    The Gunners have been crushed. Maxson didn’t waste all of his time looking for you. He kept his people busy, and they actually did some good.

    All the major raider camps and super mutant tribes north of the Mass Pike have been cleared.

    It is possible now to walk from Goodneighbor to Diamond City at night without hearing a single gunshot.

    There is still a lot of work to be done, but now your people and mine will be doing it together.

    Director Li is doing an amazing job. She has plans to convert the SRB quadrant into classroom facilities. Northbridge, Vault 81 and Diamond City will all have the opportunity to send their best students here for advanced studies.

    She even invited me to put together a Humanities program. As tempted as I am to accept her offer, I have unfinished business in the outside world. Maybe in a few years I’ll reconsider.

    I will definitely miss reliable hot and cold running water.

    Of course I have plans for that.

    It’s a shame you missed Liam Binet’s presentation. He really rose to the challenge. I think Madison should get him to start her Humanities program.

    The Synths have been emancipated. Not a single one chose to use their recall code. Not even Eve.

    Over half have chosen to remain in the Institute. As employees, not slaves. I suspect several will be enrolling in classes as well.

    Your children have grown up Shaun.

    Your work here is done.
     
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  12. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Mine, too, y'all.

    THE END

    [edit: ALMOST the end]
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  13. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Epilogue: Cool Your Jets

    I’d ask you both to sit, but that’s ridiculous.

    I’m going to though. Days like this are really hard on my hip.

    I learned something today.

    Something I should have been able to recognize myself. A long time ago.

    Natalie has been spending a lot of time in the Institute the last few years. She’s writing a history of the Synth program, and most of the research material is there. And I’m pretty sure she’s seeing Doctor Binet. Liam, that is. Good kid, Piper approves. Jesus, listen to me, he’s not a kid, he’s over forty now.

    Last week, she came across some holotapes from the very early days of the program. They had been misfiled, but she found references to them, and kept digging until she found them.

    It turns out that the basic software matrix for the original Synths wasn’t written in the Institute.

    The roboticists cannibalized existing code.

    From General Robotics.

    From the Mister Handy platform.

    When she showed Liam what she found, he started crunching numbers, and cross-referencing data, or some other sort of scientist stuff.

    He found the kernel of the self-awareness algorithm… whatever the hell that is… in the original software.

    In your software.

    He concluded that two hundred years would have been more than sufficient for you to develop your own programming subroutines, your own ideas. Your own free will.

    I owe you both bigger apologies than I can even comprehend.

    Especially you, Codsworth. I treated you like shit from the day I was thawed out.

    And Curie, I treated your desire to be human as a complete joke.

    Here’s the thing Curie, you don’t need to be human. You’re already a person, and you’ve already accomplished more than most humans will ever accomplish.

    I can’t begin to sufficiently compensate either of you for having treated you as property for all these years.

    But I can sponsor you both for full citizenship.

    Codsworth, you may not breathe, but you’re at least as alive as I am.
     
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  14. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    And now it's really done.

    Thanks for reading, y'all.

    I had a lot of fun writing this.
     
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  15. cosmic-cube-keeper

    cosmic-cube-keeper Active Member

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    That was a phenomenal read, thanks a bunch for sharing.
     
  16. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    Thank you.

    I kinda surprised myself.
     
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  17. Rites

    Rites Active Member

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    Again, most beautiful work. Honestly almost inspired me to write my characters story, lol. But i have no gift for words, and wouldn't even be able to hold a candle to your work. Very enjoyable read.
     
  18. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

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    It ain't a competition, my friend.

    There are plenty of candles to go around.
     
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  19. Whisper

    Whisper Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Vault Librarian Verified Builder

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    Everyone has a different style of telling their story. It’s whatever means grabs you.

    Waiting for more from @RayBo now.
     
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  20. Geoff

    Geoff Member

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    Brilliant story. Almost made me late for work :) . It's nice to read a Happy Ending ...... ?
     
    Koeran83, WetRats and Whisper like this.

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