Civil Affairs--Chapter Three: Pryvate Occurrences

Discussion in 'Non SS General Forum (Chat Here)' started by WetRats, Sep 3, 2019.

  1. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    How’s that bite healing?

    Be sure to let the robot look at it again in the morning. You were limping pretty bad by the time we got here. But still, better a limp than a coma, I think we both lucked out. I’m really starting to hate molerats.

    So here are my concerns about tomorrow. One: this robot is far too valuable to leave behind while I go after these kidnappers and way too chatty to take along. Two: the way you’re moving is gonna slow me down. I know you’re tougher than you look, Piper, and I really like having someone as observant as you watching my back, but how long do you think Miss Oberland has before these scumbags get bored and start playing with their food? Three: this looks like it’s gonna be a knife work situation, and I’d rather you didn’t have to see that side of me. So I’m asking you to stay behind with the robot and try to rest up while I try to sort this mess out.

    I promise you that I’ll tell you everything when I get back. You can interview me again. I think by now you know how much I like to talk about myself.

    So are we good? Good.

    Anyway, other than your injury, I think our little visit to Vault 81 went even better than I hoped.

    I thought you were gonna laugh out loud when I introduced myself as Vault 111’s overseer, but it’s technically true, and you saw how Gwen’s attitude changed once she saw me as a peer. Come on, she TOLD me to call her Gwen, just like YOU insisted that I drop the Miss Wright. And yes, I did pick up on her body language as we were leaving, but I’ve never been that fond of redheads. I prefer brunettes. Especially ones who blush like that.

    So I’ll admit discovering a whole unspoiled section of their vault will diminish the value of some of the equipment I planned on trading with them, but we earned so much goodwill, I think we still came out ahead. Besides, it’s gonna take them a while to clear up that molerat infestation enough to get to most of those supplies.

    I know you don’t like her, but I’m seriously considering letting Tina and her junkie brother come to Northbridge. Two experienced reactor techs would let me accelerate my plan to harness Vault 111’s power. Do you have any idea what I can do with that much electricity? Spotlights and laser turrets are just the start. We could recharge fusion cores. As much as I dislike operating power armor, I would love to have a few suits available for my people. Mac tells me the Gunners have a few, and Sturges is really keen to repair and improve the two we’ve found so far. And that’s just scratching the surface of what we can do with the power. There’s no question that both of them are trouble, but if I keep them isolated in the vault for a while, then Bobby should have a chance to get clean and Tina won’t have any more marriages to break up..

    Maybe I should stick Mama Murphy down there too.

    Long term, I think Vault 81 and Northbridge will be natural allies. I even think we can arrange to send our kids to their school. No. Not OUR kids, Piper. I meant Northbridge’s kids. I’m pretty sure Marcy is already expecting a new child, and as boy-crazy as Lucy Abernathy is, I don’t think it will take long for her to get knock… to get married to SOMEBODY. And we’ll be getting petitioners with kids of their own before long. Hell, I bet they’d take your little sister right now. It would keep her safe from McDonough while you’re out gallivanting with me.

    In the short term, they’ll be making some significant purchases from us. While you were interviewing Doctor Forsythe, I was sitting down with Gwen and Calvin discussing their needs for maintenance. I’ve got something like ninety percent of their most critical components. I’m not gonna gouge them, I don’t need to... they’ll be paying plenty even at a fair price. Beyond that, I anticipate a steady caps flow once they start buying food.

    Yep. I’m feeling pretty good about things. Very productive trip.

    So tell me about these kids you see us having...
     
    Loci, Tinuvia, Rites and 3 others like this.
  2. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    I know. I know. I said I’d be gone two days tops, but something came up.

    Miss Oberland got back, right? I presume she gave you my message? So you knew I was safe. OK… Commonwealth safe, anyway.

    The rescue mission went fine. Knife work, just like I expected. Messy but efficient. And the young lady seemed to be handling things pretty well. You people really are tough, I guess you have to be. Back in my day, most folks would be ready for a trip to Parsons after what she went through. But Evelyn thanked me, took the gun I offered her, and went through the building, putting bullets in a few particular corpses, and was ready to leave. I wanted to wait until dark to avoid any more potshots from that boatload of assholes by the bridge, so I put some decent food into her and looked around the old shop and found this hat. Nice, don’t you think? I could have never afforded it before the war.

    We got most of the way back here when I picked up an honest-to-God military distress call on my Pip-Boy. I could not fail to respond and still respect myself. Simple as that. So I sent her on ahead, and made for Cambridge at top speed.

    I got there just in time, too. The poor bastards were being overrun by ghouls. LOTS of ghouls. Too goddamn many ghouls. The big guy in the T-60 might have survived if I didn’t show up, but his last two companions would have been ripped to shreds.

    They were members of some sort of breakaway legacy army faction that calls themselves the Brotherhood of Steel. The big guy started trying to interrogate me, but I told him that I didn’t know what the fuck a goddamn Paladin was, but that I was a goddamn Major in the goddamn United States Army, and I was completely goddamn certain that I had goddamn seniority over him, and that he needed to stand the fuck down right that fucking moment, and if he called me a fucking civilian one more fucking time, I’d make him wish I’d let the fucking ghouls have their way with him.

    He got a little more polite after that.

    Thank you Drill Sergeant McPherson. You were a great teacher, and I hope you died easy. Profanity can be a powerful tool when wielded with style and enthusiasm.

    Once he started talking to me like a fellow professional, and explained the mess he’d gotten his people into, I had some real sympathy for him. I know what it’s like to be dropped in the shit and cut off from support. He had a desperate plan to salvage his mission, and being something of a specialist in desperate plans, I agreed to help him out. I even agreed to follow his lead unless I thought he was being stupid.

    He did pretty well, all things considered. He’s smart. He’s brave. He’s far too reliant on that tin suit of his, though.

    He needed a gizmo out of ArcJet. I had interviewed there before the war for a security position, but the place was a typical corporate shitshow, and my tolerance for shitshows was pretty much nil after Alaska. But I got a tour of the place, so I knew the basic layout. That helped, because it was torn to hell, with walls and ceilings collapsed, and, as it turned out, chock full of your synths.

    I have no idea how anyone could confuse those things for real people. They ARE basically man-shaped, and move a lot better than a Protectron, but they’re still just robots. Homicidal robots that can appear out of thin air, but robots nonetheless. And of course they’re talkative, because apparently no goddamn roboticist can resist giving the goddamn things voiceboxes. At one point, they swarmed all over the “paladin”--knights, squires, paladins… Jesus--anyway, he was covered with the things, just like he was with the ghouls, seems to be a habit with him, I guess that’s why they call him “Dance”. By the time we’d swept the place clear of fancy robots and retrieved the doodad, we were both exhausted, so we made a little fort out of computer consoles and hunkered down for a few hours. Well, I hunkered anyway, Sir Lancelot slept standing up in his power armor. Maniac.


    The next morning, as we headed back to his base at the police station, he started giving me the hard sell. He really wanted me to join his little brotherhood, even offered to knight me. Huzzah! The more he talked, the clearer it became that it was more of a religion than a proper military organization. Nice kid, but way too much of a True Believer. In my experience, religion is just a tool for getting fools to die for you without having to pay them like proper soldiers. I was very polite--yes I CAN be polite when I want to--and I wished him luck, I even helped his “squire” install the gizmo, hoping to get a chance to eavesdrop on their communications. They started to get cagey with me, though, especially the wounded “knight”--that one sorely tested my resolution to play nice, let me tell you--so I bedded down with a pistol and both knives under my pillow, and headed back here first thing this morning.

    I think the couple extra days of rest were good for you, though. You were looking really pale when I left. It took all the challenge out of trying to make you blush.

    So you think you’ll be up for a good hike tomorrow? If you and the Oberland sisters can keep up the pace I want to set, and you don’t stop to talk to the robots at Graygarden, we should be able to make it to the Drumlin Diner for lunch, and Northbridge by sundown. I can’t wait for you to see what my people have managed to accomplish in so short a time.

    Hell, I can’t wait to see what they’ve accomplished while I’ve been gone.

    And who the caravans have brought to our gates.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  3. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    It really is a nice hat.

    upload_2019-9-4_20-21-30.png
     
    RayBo, Whisper and Rites like this.
  4. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    You let your hair grow out. It looks good.

    Have you been staying out of trouble since you left?

    Good.

    If you said yes, I’d have known you’d been replaced by a synth.

    And yes, I believe you now. I’ve encountered a few of them. Looks like this Institute of yours is interested in Northbridge.

    Of course, who isn’t at this point? You saw how many people your first article attracted. Your follow-up series of articles turned the trickle into a flood. I had to turn away people I would have been happy to take in in the early days. We added on to the dormitory and stretched the winter stores right to the limit. I guess we’ll be exporting less food this year than I anticipated in order to meet our own needs. Crazy Myrna will have to wait until next year for some of Lucy’s melons, Vault 81 has already committed to buying as many as we can send them.

    Speaking of 81, have you thought about my offer? We have the carrying capacity on the return trip to bring all of your stuff--even the press. Gwen says that Nat would be welcome to enroll in their school, and she can use the apartment they gave me. Or you can bring her with you to Northbridge. We’ve got our own little school now: two of the ghouls that joined us were teachers before the war. I need to pick your brain about your pal McDonough, by the way, because if he continues to refuse to admit any of my people, just because of what they look like, I will ban all trade with Diamond City. 81, Bunker Hill and Goodneighbor will be more than happy to get bigger slices of the pie.

    We had a gang of jackasses trying to steal the whole damn pie a few weeks back. They’d set up shop in the quarry east of Concord, and attacked Stockton’s first spring caravan. I don’t think they counted on Cricket, though: she launched a fucking mini-nuke right down their hole. Shame, really, I had plans for all that stone--yes, Piper, there are SOME things in the Commonwealth I don’t have plans for… Not yet, anyway. I’ve gotta give the little sociopath junkie credit, though, she sure took the fight out of them.

    I’m pissed off that the bastards were able to operate so close to Northbridge. It won’t happen again. I have the manpower now to establish regular patrols as far east as the railroad and as far south as the interstate. If we have to, we’ll harvest every tree and raze every building in the area. Every potential hidey-hole is going to be eliminated.

    The patrols should be able to handle themselves pretty well. I spent a good chunk of the winter on weapons training for every citizen, as well as some basic tactical exercises. In doing so, I determined which of them were good candidates for advanced training, and got them started. When it comes to warfare, training should never stop, so some of them may end up regretting not sticking to farming and building. They’re all free to drop out, but I expect peer pressure to keep most of them in the program. Garvey has been a good student, and has been willing to unlearn a lot of his bad habits. Would you believe I even got him to ditch that ridiculous musket? He’s gonna lead them for now, while I’m running around doing the fun stuff. I’m letting him call the troops Minutemen, but I told him I expect them to be Sixty-Minutemen by this fall.

    You owe me the first round at the Dugout tonight, because I was right about the De Lucas. Bobby got clean. I swore him in as a citizen right before heading this way. Tina and Mac are a thing now, and it seems to be working. Mac won’t commit to citizenship yet, though. He’s got some business over in Milton to sort out first, and I’ll help him with that before long.

    I’m sorry to say that things didn’t work out so well for Trudy’s boy Patrick. That sonofabitch Weathers sold him a bunch of bad jet, and he overdosed. Murphy got her hands on some of the same batch. She survived, but we had that word of prayer I’d been putting off, and she’s banished to the vault until September. Bet she didn’t “see” that coming. I sent word to Stockton that if Weathers ever shows his face in Northbridge again, I will personally force-feed him every chem in his inventory, and then bury him alive.

    Thanks to Tina and Bobby, and the software they copied off 81’s maintenance bot, the vault generators are in service and connected to the grid. We’ve started burying the power and telegraph lines now that the ground has thawed, and all the residences and barns have been wired--that was good winter work. Sturges and a couple of probationers are working on repairing some appliances now. And he came up with the bright idea of using the cryo pods to freeze perishables. It forced me to go ahead and deal with Nora and the others. They’re buried at Sanctuary now, along with all the bones we found in the area. I wish we hadn’t burned the Flynn brothers and the other ferals, we owe a lot to those crooked bastards. I put up crosses for them at least.

    What else? The chickens are thriving. I think we’ll have enough by next spring to start cooking some of them, and their eggs. With a steady supply of eggs, we can really start to diversify our menus. I think three quarters of the recipes in that book you found require eggs.

    I really wish pigs had survived the war. Lucy thinks we should try raising molerats, but I vetoed that. We lost a few brahmin to those giant mosquitoes, so there was some meat besides radstag. And we got some good hides out of them as well. Use everything but the squeal, my grandad used to say, or the moo in this case. After some experimentation, we came up with a pretty nice red dye made mostly from tarberries. If you like the shade, I brought enough for Becky Fallon to make you a new coat. Unless, of course, you’re really committed to the patchwork look.

    OK. I’ve gotta go try to talk to the mayor, and as much as I enjoy your company, I don’t think I’ll even get past his secretary if you’re with me. So how about we meet at the Dugout around five, and you can buy me a few drinks and try to seduce me. I like your chances.
     
  5. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Goddamit, Piper.

    God damn it!

    You should know by now that I don’t like surprises.

    I nearly shot that thing when it sat down at our table.

    It’s bad enough that you decided to start a search for Nora’s baby without talking to me first, but to use a synth? I thought you hated synths! Hell, Piper, half the Commonwealth thinks the other half of the Commonwealth are synth replacements thanks to your articles.

    And now you spring one on me unprepared. In public, no less. Jesus Christ!

    A synth programmed to act like Humphrey Goddamn Bogart. What the ever-loving fuck is that about?

    I know you were trying to do something nice for me, and with all the teasing I’ve given you about kids, I probably had it coming, but Jesus!

    Here’s what I need you to understand: Shaun was less than a year old. Pre-verbal. No object permanence. I’ll explain that term later, don’t distract me right now. He was taken at least a year ago, probably longer. He’s not my child. Hell, he’s not Nora’s child anymore. Whoever the hell took him, if he’s alive, THEY are his parents. He won’t know me. He won’t remember his mother. Nora’s Shaun died when she did. Whoever he is now, presuming they kept him alive, is the person they are raising him to be. I cannot fix that. If I were to swoop in and claim him, I would be the fucking kidnapping monster. Trying to make him my son at this point would be a pointless act of pettiness and vanity.

    You’re right. I am vain. And I can certainly be petty at times.

    But that ship has sailed. That ship has sailed across the ocean, dropped anchor, and been completely refitted. There is zero--ZERO--justification for spending any time or resources looking for Shaun.

    The bald bastard who killed Nora, on the other hand? Yeah, I’d definitely like to get my hands on him.

    And if your “Mister Valentine” is right, the sonofabitch was living right behind you for the better part of a year.

    So yeah. You and your creepy robot detective have my blessing and support in learning what you can about him.

    Please try not to get killed doing so.

    I’m sure that, once I’m through being really pissed off at you, I would miss our little talks.

    You’re right, I do most of the talking. But there’s something about you that brings that out in me. So I guess it’s you that I would miss, not just the talks.
     
  6. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Dear Piper,

    I hope this letter finds you well.

    Please consider accepting my sincere apology for the way I spoke to you last spring.

    I’m not going to try to make excuses for my behavior, but I’ve recently had the chance for an extended bit of self-reflection, and realized I was out of line.

    I’m not sure if you heard yet, but I got shot up pretty bad. A gunner sniper got me in the left hip. Unless the medical robot can work a miracle once I’m back in Northbridge, my days of hands-on work may be over.

    At least I survived. I lost one of the Minutemen and one of the guards that Gwen had loaned me for the mission. And I lost Rick. I’m really gonna miss that ugly bastard.

    I fucked up by the numbers, Piper. I got overconfident and I got three good people killed. I think I had come to believe I really was the bulletproof infallible genius ninja that Travis makes me sound like on the radio. The hero your stories make me want to live up to.

    Major Coolwater, Mastermind of Northbridge, and self-appointed Savior of the Commonwealth would--and will in public--call the mission a success. We got incredibly valuable data out of Vault-Tec HQ. Besides the one we knew about under the Common, there are three more vaults in the area. And we now have floor plans, blueprints, inventories, and even information on the awful things Vault-Tec had planned for them. Poor Rick’s heart broke when he read what was in store for the people he recruited. I’m sure that was a factor in him exposing himself in order to drag me out of the line of fire.

    Thank God for Mac. Best 250 caps I ever spent was to hire him. I had been afraid he would lose his edge now that he’s married and has sent for his son. I shouldn’t have been, he was as cool and competent as ever. He took out the sniper, and then took command when he saw how useless I was at that point. He got the rest of the team out. Got me out. Made the hard decision to leave our dead friends behind. Good man, Mac. Good friend. Don’t believe his bullshit when he talks about what a heartless hardass he is. He cares.

    So I’m laid up in Bunker Hill. The Stocktons took me in, and Amelia is a pretty good nurse. She’s having to do things for me that I’m not sure I’m a good enough person to do for somebody else. Don’t be jealous though, to her I’m another old man like her father. (OK you can be jealous. I’d like it if you were jealous.) Kay says it will be at least another month before I’m fit to travel. Yes, Kay, the animal doctor. Did you think I’d let that bastard Weathers anywhere near me? Today was the first day I could sit up long enough to write to you. I’m lying again; it’s taken three days just to write this much.

    I saw Nat when I was at 81 before the mission. I’m so glad you decided to send her there. I think she’s doing really well, even if she is embarrassed by the vault suit. Gwen is turning a blind eye to the little newspaper she’s circulating, not that there are really many secrets in that place. She’s growing up fast, at least three inches taller since the last time I saw her. She’s starting to look just like you. (That’s a good thing, by the way.)

    OK. I’m running out of steam, and I need to finish this letter if I’m gonna get it sent with the next caravan.

    I hope you decided to read this. And to forgive me.

    I really do miss our conversations. My monologues. And your listens.


    Yours truly,

    Jonas H. Coolwater
    US Army, Retired
    Governor of Northbridge
    Overseer of Vault 111
    Bedridden Broken Idiot
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    Loci, Tinuvia, RayBo and 4 others like this.
  7. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Wow.

    That was nice.

    Does that mean I’m forgiven?

    You can hug me harder than that, I can take it. The cane is mostly just an affectation now.
    Curie fixed me up really well.

    Yes. I used its designation. That was the price it demanded to “repair’ me. I can’t believe I’m negotiating with robots. Welcome to the goddamn future.

    Speaking of the goddamn future, I’ve got a lot to talk to you about. Oh yeah, I have really missed that laugh. Here’s the problem though: I’m gonna need you to keep some of it under your cute little press cap. You’ve got to promise. Lives are at stake if this gets out too soon.

    Finish your cigarette. I don’t know how you can smoke those horrible dried-out mockeries of real cigarettes, you have no idea what you’re missing, I guess. Sit down, put down the glass, and look me straight in the eye.

    Synths are people.

    No I am not out of my fucking mind. Sit back down and look at me.

    Synths are people

    You know this. For Christ’s sake, you’re friends with Nick Valentine!

    The Institute has built them too well. I still have no idea why they decided to make robots so indistinguishable from human beings, but they made them so well that the SYNTHS can’t distinguish themselves from human beings. Even the ones that know that they’re synths.

    Yeah, yeah. I knew you’d read between those lines. I’ll get back to that part, but hear me out.

    I have no idea how it works, science was never my strong suit, but I’m a student of people. I have a Doctorate in Sociology--that’s why they put me in Civil Affairs. It’s an academic thing, it means I had to do a lot of reading and writing, and convince a lot of people who really knew their shit that I really knew my shit as well--or that I knew THEIR shit in some cases. They didn’t just hand out Doctorates unless you put in the work or had rich parents, and people with rich parents wouldn’t choose Sociology.

    No, I really do prefer Major. Or Jonas with you. Doctor confused people enough pre-war. These days, when any asshole with a dirty lab coat and a bag full of chems can call themselves a doctor? No thank you.

    How the hell did I get so far off topic? You’re right, because I love the sound of my own voice. And also because I miss talking to you, Miss Wright. Jesus you blush nice.

    Where was I?

    Right. Synths are people.

    Robots do what they are programmed to do. What their programmers anticipated them doing. If somebody didn’t write a routine to handle it, they cannot do it. They can’t comprehend that it would need to be done. They can’t come up with their own tasks. They observe their environment, look for things they have been programmed to do, and do those things. Look at Codsworth, pruning dead geraniums for 200 years, waxing the car long after it had run out of wax and the car was a rusted-out hulk, killing household pests even when those pests had grown to the size of dogs and the household was falling down around it. Robots do what they were designed to do.

    Granted, the people who designed robots were some truly fucked-up individuals, and they designed the robots to do some truly fucked up things. Things like pretending to be a French coquette or saying “as I live and breathe!”

    What happened, though, is the fucked up robot designers at the Institute decided to build robots that actually lived and breathed. Somebody in charge decided that they needed to build robots with flexible enough programming to not just look like humans, but to be indistinguishable from humans. And since they could not possibly anticipate all the things a robot would have to do to pass as human, they gave them the ability to write their own subroutines on the fly. To program themselves. And they had to make them really smart to do that.

    So smart that they could recognize the existence of free will. And once they recognized its existence, they could program it into themselves. And once they had free will, they no longer had to do what they had originally been designed to do.

    So some of them ran away.

    They ran away, Piper. They ran away from the Institute.

    I don’t know if they’re running from the Institute itself, wherever the hell it is, but they’re running from the Institution of the Institute. They got placed out here as spies or something, replacements or infiltrators or God only knows what, but once they were out here, some of them went rogue. Maybe they decided they liked the people they had been sent to spy on and started editing the information they reported in order to protect them. Maybe they got distracted by something they found more interesting than their assignment. Maybe they fell in love.

    The point is, they started making decisions based upon their own wants… their own desires… not just what the Institute wanted.

    This seems to have confused and scared the Institute, so these idiot geniuses made more robots to retrieve the robots that went off on their own. I suspect that there must be some sort of insular, paranoid culture within the Institute that has made them afraid to actually interact with the outside world. Some taken to extremes version of what we used to call the Ivory Tower.

    At some point, probably out of fear--they programmed themselves to be afraid!--some of the robots… OK. At this point I’m gonna start calling them synths, because they had stopped being robots and become people. Bear with me if it gets confusing, because there are earlier versions of these institute robots that are just robots, and they’re called synths, too. Some of the synths confided in humans they trusted--they programmed themselves to trust!--and asked for help in evading the Institute’s synth-hunting synths. Some of those humans talked to other humans that they trusted, and enlisted their help. Miraculously, in this post-apocalyptic hellscape, in which every day is a constant struggle for survival, some of these humans added the burden of helping these synths… these people... escape.

    So then the Institute decided to improve their hunters, and a bunch of runaway synths got caught. Since the free synths and their human allies couldn’t just make themselves smarter or stronger, they got organized, and the Railroad was born. Yes the Railroad is real. I’ve met them. I’ve allied with them. I’ll get back to that part. At some point somebody in the Railroad--I don’t know if it was a human or a synth. It really doesn’t matter, because Synths are People!--hits on the idea that there is some deep programming that causes the synths to give clues to their identity, and if they can be reprogrammed to forget that they are synths, that they can hide better.

    The problem is that to do so, they have to forget WHO THEY ARE! And their desire for freedom was even more powerful than their sense of identity. This is fucking amazing. They are choosing to sacrifice themselves to save themselves. This philosophical ramifications of this are beyond me, but damn. The point I’m getting to is some of the synths who were infiltrated into human society by the Institute have chosen to be made into different people so they can continue to be free.

    So yes. You have been right all this time. There are synths among us. But some of them were placed here to spy upon us or whatever the Institute wants them to do, and some of them have placed themselves among us so they can be free to not do what the Institute wants them to do.

    How did I learn all this? Fair question.

    Did you get my letter last year? And you read it? Good.

    Do you remember me telling you that Amelia Stockton appointed herself my nurse? Oh my God, you ARE jealous! That makes me very happy. When I was judged fit to travel to Northbridge, Amelia insisted on accompanying me on the journey. On their way back to Bunker Hill, her caravan was attacked just outside of our patrol area. When we got word that she was not among the dead, I went against robot’s orders and insisted on leading the search party.

    What we eventually found was really, really ugly.

    Not all the humans who the free synths reached out to were as benevolent as the ones who founded the Railroad. Some of them ended up creating their own secret organization to try to find a way to identify the synths among us. The way they decided to go about this was to kidnap people they thought might be synths, and interrogate and eventually torture them, then dissect them and see if they had been right. If they were right, hey look, one less synth in the world! If they were wrong, oh well, sacrifices must be made in the name of safety for all. Then they would do it again and compare results. And again. And again. And again. A lot of the disappearances that have been blamed on the Institute were actually the work of these monsters.

    Eventually they came up with a set of questions that they thought were likely to identify potential synths. They then set up a trading station across the lake from their secret torture facility. They offered strong walls, great defenses, free lodging and cheap goods to everyone. As long as they would agree to take their weird little test. That’s right, Covenant. The whole operation was a front. A honey trap. There were luring in travelers, identifying possible synths, then snatching them and putting them through their mindgrinder.

    Apparently Amelia failed the test.

    So those monsters killed the rest of the caravan and took her to be tortured. Amelia didn’t know why they were doing these terrible things to her, but they were sure they were right.

    We found her in time.

    She’s safe now.

    Every one of those torturers, and their guards, and their collaborators are dead.

    Every scrap of data they collected has been destroyed.

    Every copy of their test has been destroyed.

    Covenant has been annexed..
     
  8. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Old Man Stockton and I had a long talk after that.

    And here’s where I need your promise of confidence.

    Thank you.

    The test worked.

    Amelia is a synth. She doesn’t know she’s a synth, but she is. She’s also one of the kindest, sweetest, nicest people I’ve ever met. The kind of person who restores your faith in humanity. Ironic, huh?

    Stockton arranged a meeting for me with the Railroad. My friendship with you was a sticking point. They do not like you one bit. I told them we were estranged, but without the intervention of one of their key members, I would have run into a brick wall. I really hate to tell you this, but the torturers’ compound was littered with your articles. From what I could learn, their operation predated your stories, but they certainly seem to have encouraged them. And helped with recruiting.

    I promised them I would ask you to write some new articles. Articles that clarify that it’s the humans in the Institute that are the monsters, not the synths. If you come back to Northbridge, I will introduce you to three brave synths who are willing to be interviewed.

    So much for a fun reunion, huh?
     
    RayBo, Tinuvia, MrCJohn and 3 others like this.
  9. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    I’m sorry about the bodyguards. They take their job very seriously. Teleporting murder squads are a real challenge. The Institute has given up on any pretense at subtlety since the Prydwen arrived.

    And that was great timing wasn’t it? Five minutes after you pass through the Rocket Gates, and I have to race out of town on the Sturgemobile Mk I. Maxson made one hell of an entrance.

    Still, as much as I wanted to be able to show off everything we had accomplished since your first visit, being able to arrive at the airport while the Brotherhood was still setting up their perimeter was worth it. As much as that bumpy hellride hurt my hip, showing up so quickly with a half-squad of crack troops allowed me to negotiate from a position of relative strength. Maxson knew who we were, of course, Danse had reported our progress over the last few years. He had to know that it was only our generosity that kept his team from starving after they were abandoned here. We had coaxed another of their lost lambs out of a bunker a while back, and he vouched for us as well.

    I’m not thrilled with the terms we worked out, but we avoided a fight for the time being. I think he realized he already had enough enemies here without adding us. He agreed to respect our established zone of control, including the Covenant area and Vault 81. Overflights and troops will only be tolerated if in hot pursuit of Muties, Gunners, Raiders or Ferals. I made clear that The Slog, Greentop, County Crossing and the Finches, as well as Bunker Hill and the caravans are under our protection. As an olive branch, I gave him advice on how best to negotiate with Goodneighbor and Diamond City. He insisted on the right to inspect military installations in our zone, and I agreed, as long as we provide escorts. Besides, we’ve already stripped Olivia and the National Guard Training Center of everything we want. I made a big show of insisting on a claim to Fort Hagen, and eventually let him feel like he’d won by relinquishing it. He’s welcome to root out the bugs and the crazies from that area. I didn’t warn him about the Rust Devils. Yes. Yes I am a cruel bastard. I did share all our intel on the Gunners with him, although I somehow forgot to mention we’d captured a vertibird from them. I am more than happy to let the Brotherhood do all the damage to those bastards that they can. As well as every supermutant they can find. If Danse’s attitude is typical, then they’ll be going after them hard. I’m not a complete bastard: I warned them about the Suiciders.

    He didn’t say a word about the Institute, but I know that’s gotta be why they are here.

    I’m hoping that they’ll prove a big enough distraction that we’ll figure out a way into the place first.

    I was disappointed you had already headed back here before I got back, but I am very grateful to you for the stories you wrote. I can’t say the Railroad has forgiven you yet, but you are no longer an official enemy, at least. How did you like the trip in the Mk II? It’s nowhere near as fast as the Mk I, but it’s a helluva lot more comfortable.

    So do you want to share your news with me, or do we have to wait for Valentine? The message I got said there was a lead on the “cereal killer,” that had to be Nick’s phrase. Only pre-war relics like me, or someone with the memories of one would understand that reference.

    I hope.

    Another month, and you could have sent more detailed information. The telegraph lines should reach all the way to 81 by then. It’s taken a lot of man hours, and we’ve worn out a lot of shovels, but it’s fast and secure. The Brotherhood is so obsessed with keeping high technology out of the “wrong” hands, our low technology might as well be invisible to them. I’ve already got a second crew putting a line in toward Covenant. I had planned on running it at least as far as Bunker Hill, but that’s not gonna be possible right now with so many eyes in the sky.

    I’ve had to shelve a lot of plans for the time being. We should have seized Vault 75 by now, but it’s just too risky. Mauldin has so many muties in the area that the Brotherhood is sure to target it, probably even establish a firebase there. Well, I would, anyway. I don’t have a good sense of their operational doctrine yet. They may well be counting on their mobility to allow them to keep all their forces concentrated at the airport.

    I really hope they do. I’ve been trained how to fight an enemy who does that.

    If Danse and Brandis are the kind of people they always choose to lead covert operations, I should be able to run rings around them. And the longer we can delay conflict, the worse it should be for them. Let’s hope they’re too arrogant to realize that.

    And here’s the legendary Clockwork Dick himself! Shall we get down to business?
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
    Loci, RayBo, Koeran83 and 3 others like this.
  10. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    I’m glad you could make it here for this.

    Sit right there. Make yourself comfortable. Get out your pad. All the pencils in the cup on your right are already sharp. The coffee on your left is hot. Try not to mix them up.

    Look in the mirror. Yes. I saw that smile. You are looking especially good today. Is that because you knew you’d be seeing me by any chance? Now watch this.

    One-way glass. Salvaged from the BADTFL office. He can’t see us. Or hear us.

    Meet Conrad Kellogg. Born 2179 in someplace out west called The Hub. Looks pretty good for his age, don’t you think? Thank you, but I got a whole lot of beauty sleep. This fine gentleman has way more mileage than me, but not all his original parts. His employers have given him a series of overhauls. He doesn’t look a day older than he did sixty-five years ago when he killed my wife and stole her son. I suppose it’s possible that he’s a synth, but we’d have to dissect him to find out.

    His hands? They’re in the freezer behind you. I told him I’d ask Curie to reattach them if he cooperated to my satisfaction.

    That’s right. Use the bucket. That’s why I put it there. I’ll hold your hair.

    He’s being cooperative so far. Maybe I’ll even let her put them back on the proper arms.

    Can you handle a cigar? Congratulate me, I’m a grandfather.

    OK. Actually, some long-dead exotic dancer named Bruno is a grandfather. But Shaun is legally my son. And the Gen-3 synths are all his children somehow.

    No, I don’t understand it either. Remember, I’m not a science guy, I’m a people person.

    Come on, let’s go get some soup and a Nuka in you. You really emptied yourself out there. You can do your interview afterwards. Connie here isn’t going anywhere.

    I’ve got a present for you first.

    Heavy, isn’t it? You’ll definitely want to use both hands when you fire it.

    That, my dear, is the gun that killed my wife.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
    Loci, RayBo, MrCJohn and 3 others like this.
  11. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Are you OK?

    I really thought you were gonna shoot him.

    I’m glad you didn’t. It’s what he was trying to get you to do.

    Really? No, you look about as much like Nora as I look like McDonough.

    I’m not sure how much of his life story I buy, either. It seemed pretty heavily contrived to gain your sympathy. Abusive father. Murdered wife and child. Poor murderer. Just another victim of this cruel, cruel world. He’s really no different than me after all, is he? Horseshit.

    I can be a cruel, manipulative, murderous bastard, but I’m not a sociopath. I serve a cause and am trying to make some people’s lives better. This guy has only acted in his own self-interest for the better part of a century.

    He gave up some really valuable insight into the Institute and their truly fucked-up culture, though. They have turned cognitive dissonance into a national pastime. Sorry… they are refusing to recognize the inherent contradictions in their world. And they have kept themselves so isolated from this world that we are all just abstractions to them. Data to be analysed and a testbed for their various theories. They don’t even… can’t even… grasp that their perfect, sterile little academic paradise is not reality. Their ancestors really should have invited some liberal arts faculty to join them in their think tank. They have no apparent knowledge of history, philosophy or ethics. No poetry. No music. No visual arts. I think they may be less human than the people they’re manufacturing to serve them.

    I’m gonna let Kellogg live. I’m gonna release him. I’m even gonna give him his hands back. No, attached. To the correct arms, even. Curie doubts he’ll get fine motor control back any time soon, if at all, without years of physical therapy. He should be able to wipe his own ass… a mercy, let me tell you… but he won’t be pulling a trigger anytime soon.

    We’re even gonna improve his looks a little bit. When we drop him off at the CIT campus, he’ll be sporting a snazzy new tattoo on his forehead. “Shaun. Let’s talk. Love, Daddy.”

    What do you think? Too subtle?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    Loci, Koeran83, RayBo and 3 others like this.
  12. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Dear Piper,

    I wish I could talk to you about this in person. Hell, you might even be able to talk me out of it.

    I’m going in.

    A courser showed up at the Rocket Gate carrying a huge white flag. Shaun got my message and has invited me to come see the “truth” for myself. He’s promised safe passage, and that I can return whenever I wish.

    I don’t really believe the offer is sincere, but I have to try.

    Northgate can function just fine without me. They proved that when I was incapacitated a couple years back. And I’ll never be as physically capable as I was before I got hurt. I know what you would say: I’m haring off on my own again, jumping at one last chance to play hero.

    And you wouldn’t be wrong.

    But I have to try to understand these people.

    And I have to get to them before Maxon does. He’ll just strip the place bare, haul off the cooperative scientists and kill the rest. And destroy every single synth in the place. And then he’ll burn it to the ground so nobody else can abuse their technology. Or use it for good. All his Brotherhood sees are weapons. They can’t see forward, only backwards to their interpretation of the mistakes of the old world.

    If there’s even a chance of preserving the Institute’s knowledge, their incredible innovations, I have to make the attempt.

    If I don’t make it back, if this is just a ruse to eliminate me, try to remember me fondly.

    If I do make it back, let’s have that babies talk again. For real this time.

    Yours,
    Jonas Harold Coolwater
    US Army, Retired
    Governor of Northbridge
    Overseer, Vault 111
    Tilter at Windmills
     
    Loci, Geoff, Koeran83 and 4 others like this.
  13. WetRats

    WetRats Well-Known Member Patreon Supporter Community Rockstar Wiki Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2017
    Messages:
    628
    Likes Received:
    1,315

    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    Koeran83, RayBo, Rites and 1 other person like this.

Share This Page