Love Never Changes
Chapter 17

Copyright© 2020 by StarFleet Carl

The answers to my proposals were all yes. I hadn’t really been worried, too much. After we got done with kisses and hugs all around, Piper, being the reporter, had to ask, “When ... where ... did you get those made?”

“I didn’t. One of the things that ... Father ... and I talked about was the three of you. How much I loved each of you, could never choose between you. He had them made for me before he passed away.”

Gwen was looking at her ring. “It’s beautiful. What’s the metal and the stone?”

“Each of them has a single diamond in it, half a carat in size. The metals are different, though. Yours is white gold, Piper’s is platinum, and Curie’s is palladium. He chose them specifically for each of you, based upon your interests.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re primarily in administration. You’re less likely to be out and about getting shot at unless something changes. Curie is still the scientist, and palladium is less reactive with certain chemicals she might encounter. Platinum is a catalyst for many reactions, and is also very, very tough ... so that was a given for Piper.” I held up a hand. “Those were his words, not mine.”

“That’s fine, I know I’m not in the same shape physically as these two. I’ve been doing workouts, though, so I don’t get armchair spread. You know the funny thing is, I’d more or less resigned myself to living the rest of my life down here. Now ... I don’t think so.”

Curie leaned over and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. “So, I am not the only one who has spent too much time inside a Vault, I think. You will see, the world outside, it has dangers, of course, but the wonders far outnumber those.”

“One more thing, Gwen. Here, put these bracelets on.”

“What are these for?”, she asked, looking them over before doing so. “I see Piper has a set like them, but Curie doesn’t.”

“They allow me to bring you with me if you want to visit CIT. Curie doesn’t need them, at least until we get the chip out of her head. My Pip-Boy has been specially modified.”

Her eyes softened. “I ... forget ... at times, like this, when I’m holding her hand, that Curie is...” She stopped, not quite sure how to continue.

“A created person. That’s the phrase. A synth is a robot, either Gen 1 and all metal, or Gen 2, and metal with an obviously fake covering. Everyone else are created people, like Curie, James, Edward and Elizabeth.”

“Wait, you mean they’re both ... all three of them, with James included ... what’d you say, created people? I had no idea.”

“That’s the point, Gwen. There is no difference. One of the biggest things that CIT is working on is figuring out how to create ... well, babies. Since the created people can grow, if they can make it so that they don’t have to program anything in them, literally simply grow them, then we adults can raise them as adopted children. Of course, the three of you don’t have to do that, if you don’t want.”

Gwen laughed. “Last time I looked none of us had the proper equipment to do it any other way. Not that I mind, in the least.”

“The old joke was about using a turkey baster. But there’s a donor available. Father. He left ... materials ... so that, while it wouldn’t be from me directly, any child you might have would at least genetically be my grandchild. It’s called artificial insemination. I’d want to make sure that Curie was checked, with her being much closer to the source genetically, just in case, but there’s no reason we couldn’t have more kids than just Shaun in our family.”

Piper shifted in her seat a little. “Tina, love, you do realize that the thought of having a baby that’s as close to being yours as possible is making me just a bit horny, right?”

“I thought that simply waking up in the morning was enough to make you that way. At least since we’ve found out how to stop your snoring,” I jokingly said.

“And it’s one I greatly appreciate. But I just had a thought. You gave us rings. Are we all just marrying you, or we all marrying each other as well?”

Curie sat up, from where she had been resting her head on Gwen’s shoulder. “I was under the impression that we were all marrying each other, no? In that case, should we not also give madam a ring as well?”

Gwen said, “Actually, that’s what I was thinking, too. And something between each of us as well. Otherwise we’d be cheating on Tina if we did anything with each other. I freely admit I think I fell in love with her the moment I saw her. The two of you are like the whipped topping and cherry on top of the pie, more to love.”

Piper said, “I don’t think anyone of us was a cherry, but that’s a different conversation. Technically, Curie was, but her body wasn’t.”

“True. I was corrupted from being a pure and innocent woman by you. Thank you. I find that being human and getting corrupted that way to be quite satisfactory.”

“Speaking of getting corrupted,” Piper started, taking her combat helmet off to let her hair down. “I know you had thought about getting back to Sanctuary tonight.” Standing up, she walked around behind me, leaning forward so her hair was brushing my neck, her lips catching me in the hollow. “I don’t suppose there’s anything I could do to persuade you otherwise, is there?”

Gwen said, “Yeah, Tina. Just look at poor Curie. She’s been working her fingers to the bone.” She took Curie’s hand, brought it up and started licking and sucking on her fingers. “I think she needs a break.”

“You know, it’s a good thing these Vault suits recycle some things, otherwise I’d about bet this room would smell pretty strong right now. I’d be flooding my panties if I was wearing any.”

Gwen giggled. “Yeah, I had a heavy-duty exhaust fan put in my room. Care to check out the improvements?” Curie was leaning against Gwen, Gwen with one hand rubbing her groin through her suit. Piper had switched sides, and I could feel the skin from where one of her magnificent breasts was rubbing on my neck.

“As far as I’m concerned ... stop that, Piper, at least until I finish talking ... we’re all marrying each other. We can figure out the ... finer points of ... not those fine points, Piper, get your boob out of my ear ... of how we raise our family later. The three of you don’t need to give me ... give me ... oh, hell, we’ll finish this later, give me those lips!”

She eagerly complied, our tongues doing the dance of lovers while I finished turning in the chair so I could eagerly grasp her waist. I kicked her legs apart, pulling her into my lap without thinking. That caused both of us to stop and laugh, as our combat armor collided with a rather painful thunk.

“You’d think that at some point we’d think about this stuff first,” Piper complained.

“Shut up and get your armor off. Gwen, can we...”

She interrupted me. “Move into the bedroom. Oh, yes.” The three of us left our armor and boots in the front office, but still had our Vault suits on. Piper led us in, then when Gwen shut the door behind us, stopped, turned around, and looked at me. Curie was right behind me, Gwen behind her.

“When I went into that Vault for the first time as the bombs fell, it felt like a nightmare. I woke up and saw Shaun taken, I felt that my heart had been ripped from my chest. When I woke up again, all I felt was rage and anger. That’s all behind me now.”

Piper leaned in, kissing me. I felt Gwen and Curie behind me, letting their hands run up and down on my body. My tongue danced with Piper’s for a minute, then I pulled back. Curie reached around me, started unzipping my Vault suit, pulling it down. Her tongue ran down my backside as she pulled my suit to the ground, then stood back up.

“It took a nuclear war, but I’ve found love. True love. My world is the three of you, my loving wives. Sisters, mothers, wives. God, I love the sound of that.”

Piper looked up into my eyes, hers filled with love and lust. “You know what? You talk too much sometimes.” She brought her lips to mine again. I unzipped her Vault suit. She started pulling it off. Behind me, Curie turned her head backwards, to give Gwen a solid kiss. Piper kicked her Vault suit off; I felt her skin and mine touching fully, my leg slightly forward so I could feel the moisture leaking from her.

Curie ran her hands up and down my body, then turned around, taking Gwen in her arms. They continued their tongue duel as their hands ran up and down each other, before finally pulling their Vault suits off. Piper and I reached up, each of us taking the others nipples in our fingers, playing with them, rubbing our breasts together.

Once the two behind us were nude as well, they both moved up behind me again. This time Gwen reached forward, rubbing her hands along my back and sides. We were all giggling a little at how pleasurable it was. Once Curie was fully nude, she rubbed her body along my back, then turned to face Gwen, taking her in her arms. Piper pulled from me, nodding behind me.

I turned my head, saw Gwen nod, then turned around to face her and Curie. Gwen spun Curie around, reaching around her for my breasts. As Curie brought her lips to mine, Gwen bent her head behind her and began kissing Curie on the neck. I could feel Piper behind me, kissing my shoulders while her hands continued rubbing my sides and butt.

Curie crouched a little. Gwen let go of my breasts, which were empty of hands for only a moment as Piper took over cupping them and tweaking my nipples. Gwen licked her fingers, then reached down between Curies legs, running her fingers in and out of her slit. Curie gasped, continuing to kiss me while Gwen rubbed in and along her dripping pussy. I felt Pipers kisses getting lower and lower on my back, until suddenly her nose was between my cheeks and she was planting kisses on my rose, her hands holding onto me from both sides.

After a minute more, Curie gave a little gasp into my mouth, then pulled back from me. She motioned Gwen forward. Gwen moved up to me, taking my face in her hands. “I love you so much, Tina!”, she whispered, then began licking my lips, letting her tongue explore them before probing further behind them.

Curie had taken position behind Gwen, kissing her on the back, letting her hands slide down to return the favor by fingering Gwen’s moisture filled slit. I felt Piper move from directly behind me to one side, continuing to kiss me on the cheek, while her left hand came around and started rubbing on my engorged clit. I could feel my body quivering with an impending orgasm. Piper continued, moving faster now and I hit my peak at the same time as Gwen. We both muffled our cries and moans in each others mouths.

I moved over to the bed, crawling in on my hands and knees. Piper came up right behind me, spreading my cheeks open and licking the juice from inside. Gwen went onto her back, her face under mine with a pillow under her head so she could continue kissing me, while Curie got on her knees, her tongue taking the place of her fingers from a moment ago and lashing Gwen about the clit.

I could see Curie’s tongue licking, swirling around Gwen’s clit, then burying itself deep inside her, while at the same time, I felt Piper doing the same to me from behind. I came again, as did Gwen. Curie crawled up and took Gwen’s face from me, kissing her and letting her taste herself. Piper simply came up behind me, continuing to kiss me until she reached my ear. Then I turned my head and enjoyed myself off her tongue, cheeks, and nose.

Piper lay back on the bed, pulling Gwen onto her lap so her head was resting on Piper’s breasts. Gwen turned her head, licking and sucking on them, nibbling on the nipples that were jutting out. I moved down between Gwen’s legs, spreading her open with my fingers and letting my tongue savor her juices. I let my tongue run up and down, my teeth just barely touching her distended clit. She was moaning in pleasure.

Gwen’s moans came out even louder when Curie opened Gwen’s legs a bit wider and joined me. I turned and kissed her, enjoying her own flavor mixed with Gwen, then we both went back to work, our tongues and lips driving Gwen to another quick orgasm. After she shuddered her release, flooding my mouth with the wonderful flavor of her juices, she slid back down from Piper’s lap and turned over, burying her own face between Piper’s legs. Curie had gotten up while I’d moved back so Gwen could move this way. Curie straddled Piper’s face, lowering herself onto Piper’s greedily extended tongue.

That did end up being one way to keep Piper from screaming so loud she deafened us when she finally came, having her nearly drowned out by shoving her tongue and mouth deep inside Curie. I had been gently rubbing Gwen on the back and butt, giving her gentle kisses while she’d pleasured Piper. Curie leaned forward when Piper began cumming, so I moved up to kiss her while she was cumming herself.

After the two of them recovered, the three of them ganged up on me. Piper licking and sucking on one of my breasts, Gwen on the other, while Curie practiced her licking technique on my clit. At some point or other, I think we switched around again, but I was so high from orgasms I’m really not sure.

One thing I was sure of when I woke up the next morning was that I was in love with, and loved by, the three most wonderful women in the Commonwealth. Piper was asleep on her back, her legs intertwined with Gwen’s from where they had been rubbing each others pussies together. I was sort of at an angle, my head resting such that my nose was only an inch or so from both of their pubic mounds. I could smell their aroma; it was so exciting.

But I also felt Mother Nature coming on as well, with my bladder rather full. I gently raised my head, looking for Curie. She wasn’t in bed with us, she was sitting on the toilet, looking at her fingers. Without waking the others, I slipped out of bed and padded over to Curie. Even in bare feet, she still heard me coming.

Quietly, she said, “It will not stop. I pee, I wipe, there is blood. I put my hand there like a compress for a bandage, but it does not clot. The blood continues to slip out. What is happening to me?”

“Remember our discussions? Congratulations, you’re having your first period in this body.” I turned the water to the shower on. “I suggest that you hop up and start in on a shower. It’ll make you feel better, and we can figure out what they use for sanitary napkins or tampons down here. Also, my bladder is about to burst.”

“Oh, apologies, madam. This ... I was so full of love and affection for you, for all of you, that I was afraid this was something that would cause an issue, that I might not be able to be there for you in the future if I could not stop the bleeding.” She got up and moved into the shower, adjusting the temperature a bit.

I sat down, feeling things were a little squishy down below, but letting loose with a very nice stream. “It’s an old joke. How can you trust a woman? We’re the only animal that can bleed for days on end and not die.”

From the bed, Piper said, “I heard that. I think I’m about to resemble that remark. I’m going to be VERY careful getting out of bed, because I’m for damned certain I’m starting today.” Gwen laughed a little at that as they untangled from each other.

“One nice thing about our birth control, I only have about a twelve-hour period and then I’m done. I’m not due until tomorrow.” She stopped. “Yes, just a little on the sheets. Not a big deal, we can get that out. A hot shower does sound good right about now.”

I joined Curie in the shower while the others took their turn on the toilet. Piper had been walking a little funny. I saw why when she got up. She had a fairly heavy flow; some was still leaking down her leg. “Come on, let’s get cleaned up. Gwen, I’m quite certain that even after all this time, you have to have something they can use in here.”

“Actually, that’s one thing we’ve had to improvise a little, but it works. They’ll be in the second drawer, in the corner cabinet. Um, it’s basically a modified sanitary napkin. As you know, a Vault suit can store and recycle wastes. These ... you’ll see.”

I saw. It was basically like the old belt, going around the waist, with a cloth and simple absorbent strip in the necessary spot. Gwen said, “We just wear them, then run them through the laundry. The Vault suits recycle everything else, and we’ve plenty of the chemicals to charge the canisters.”

Piper was drying off by now. “Doctor Sun has a limited supply of female things, as he calls them, that he sells. That’s what I’ve been used to using, but they sometimes make me itch. Thank goodness Nat isn’t at that stage yet, but we’ve talked about it.”

Gwen looked at me, a towel around her middle, her breasts hanging free as she was drying her hair. “Tina, I have a serious question for you. Do you want me to stop the birth control that I’m on? It’ll take probably a month to work its way out of my system.”

“Unlike a man, who only thinks with the small head, I actually have a brain. Having said that, ultimately, it’s your body, Gwen. If you want to have a baby, then we can make that happen.” I dropped my towel. “You’ll probably always have a few stretch marks like these if you do. And from experience, there are times you’re going to want the little runt out of you, when your bladder capacity is about that of a thimble, or you feel like he’s running laps on your stomach. But ... holding that child in your arms for the first time, feeling him nursing at your breast ... at least for me, that made up being married to someone I really didn’t care for. I don’t know what it’d be like with a spouse that I truly loved.”

Piper giggled a little, then groaned when a small pain went through her. “Ugh. I do so hate this time of the month. I was laughing because I was just wondering, since I’m the reporter, since the plural of mouse is mice, if the plural of spouse is spice?”

“That’s just bad. It almost makes me rethink my decision to ask you to marry me.” My grin showed her I was kidding. “However, this does bring something up. Traditional marriage is between two people. Four people ... do we call ourselves a quad, or what?”

Curie said, “Well, since we are all close, then sister-wives sounds appropriate to me for Piper, Gwen, and myself It does not feel correct to me to call you my sister, as you are so much more than that to me. You are, quite literally, the grandmother of my physical body, my personal savior for freeing me from the secret Vault.”

“I’m not going to let anyone call me Grandmother until they’re actually grandchildren, Curie, so that’s not going to work.”

“I understand. Matriarch would be appropriate, but that evokes mental images that are unpleasant. I do recall what Father said. Ours is an unconventional lifestyle. We may end up adding someone else to our marriage group. But you shall always be the leader of it. Therefore, I simply suggest that we call you by your name, but when we refer to you to others, we use the title of Mother.”

Before I could object, Piper said, “If you get that job that Elder Maxson is trying to get for you, then you’ll literally be the Mother of a reborn country. It fits. To us, you’re our Mother-wife.”

Gwen chimed in. “It’s going to be confusing enough, anyway. If all the ... created people have chosen Wilson as their surname, there’s going to be enough of that name running around the Commonwealth in the future to make future genealogists nuts. Not that I care a lot about what happens long after I’m dead, I’m just thinking about us, what we do for last names. I’ve never married before, but I don’t think Gwen, Piper, and Curie Wilson actually work well.”

Piper eagerly said, “Your maiden name was Shannon, right? So, we could use that.” Gwen and Curie quickly nodded their agreements.

I sighed. “I guess I don’t get any say in this, do I?” I looked around. “You do realize that we’re acting like we’re all already married, right? I mean, not a one of us is actually dressed, and yet here we are, butts hanging out and having a serious conversation.”

“May as well do that, love. As yucky as I feel right now, even though I love the sight of your beautiful body, I really don’t feel that romantic myself,” Piper lamented.

“Let’s get dressed and see what trouble everyone has gotten into while we’ve been busy.”

We did just that. Piper and Curie both ended up just carrying part of their armor. Their breasts were too sore for the pressure of it pushing on them.

Edwards was waiting at the security desk for us. “Ladies, ma’am. I’ve a few things to report from overnight.”

“If nothing is a life-threatening emergency, then come with us and let me know while we get some breakfast. We seem to have only had pie yesterday, and I’m hungry,” Gwen told him.

“Thank you, ma’am.” He opened the door from the security office to the Vault itself, where James was patiently standing. We walked by and James joined our group going to the cafeteria.

Maria saw us coming, bringing out a pitcher of coffee and a pan of rolls. “I’ll be right back with plates for the four of you. Just have a seat.”

Gwen said, “Is it just me, or is something up with her?”

Edwards said, “It’s not just her. That was what I wanted to talk to you about. The engineers that James here brought in spent all night working all over the Vault, said they could sleep later, we were fascinating to them. The reactor is now running at 150% of the levels it was before, so we no longer have any power shortages. Half the things – the ventilation system, hot water heaters, two of the big freezers for the cafeteria and one of the stoves – that were broken have been fixed. They’re both sleeping now, but plan on fixing ... well, everything else ... later today.”

“As if that’s not enough, after they delivered the workstation and supplies to the entrance, one of the vertibirds went to someplace ... the Airport, I think they called it ... and brought back two troops in power armor like you had when you first visited us and half a dozen workers. They worked with Tina and Sturges to clear the area around the entrance to the cave, set up defenses, plant some crops on the surface, build shelters ... even a place where we can have an actual trading post up there, if Alexis wants. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t believe it.”

“What about Edward and Elizabeth?”, Gwen asked.

“Oh, they’re working shifts now. They’ve got two of my guards working with them, moving crates and doing full inventories on everything that we hadn’t finished in the other Vault. They’ve got something sort of like a Pip-Boy that they’re able to enter things into, and it stores it in a ... just a second ... sortable database, is what they called it. Couldn’t remember the name. Oh, and they’ve also got a couple of residents and the kids from Miss Katy’s school hauling things that aren’t useful to the surface, so they can be broken down by that workstation and turned into useful components to make other things.”

Gwen muttered, “Damn, sounds like I’m out of a job, then.” Before any of us could say something, her expression changed. “And that’s not a bad thing. Not anymore.”

Maria and Mark Summerset came over, each of them with two plates and silverware for us. They put our food down, then Maria saw Gwen’s hand. Her eyes lit up, then quickly looked at Piper’s hand and Curies hand. I saw this and smiled, moving my own hand from where I’d had it on my lap.

Casually, I said, “Ladies, I know you had thought to get me a band as well. I ... put this on, just before we left Gwen’s office. It was given to me by Robert House. Well, one of his people, anyway. I didn’t like it then, not for what it represented, took it off, but never got rid of it. I think we can consider it as from all three of you.”

It was a single, one carat diamond on a simple band.

Curie stated, “That doesn’t appear to be platinum.”

“No. Because of what I did in Alaska, they had it made from iridium.”

Maria was dancing around, giving all of us congratulations kisses and hugs. Edwards looked at her like she’d gone crazy, then realized WHY she was doing that.

“Overseer, you’re engaged to be married? To ... all three of them?”

Gwen smiled. “Well, I did say that it wasn’t a bad thing that I might be out of a job, didn’t I? With the changes that have happened, will continue to happen, I think it’s about time we changed things up down here, anyway. I’m thinking of a vacation, let you discuss how the Vault, or ... what would we call it, the community ... should be run, while I’m gone. Mayor, Vault council, just what.”

“But ... we’ve always had an Overseer. Someone in charge,” he argued.

I interjected, “And that’s not a bad thing. Keep in mind, there now actually is someone in charge of the entire Commonwealth of New England, entrusted with enforcing the laws, making sure that the people can actually survive and thrive. Small settlements don’t have to have an individual leader, just cooperation. Larger groups, like Diamond City and Goodneighbor, have someone in charge that the people can come to when they have a problem. But that person is also responsible for listening TO the people, and is also accountable for their actions, to the Governor of the Commonwealth.”

He frowned. “That’s all well and good, but why would Overseer McNamara need to be replaced running our Vault? She was doing a great job before you came along, nothing personal intended in that comment.”

I smiled. “It’s a conflict of interest, though.”

He looked puzzled. “I don’t get it.”

Maria looked Edwards with pity. “Because they’re getting married, silly. Gwen can’t be our Overseer and in charge of us if she’s married to the Governor.”

Edwards finally understood. “Oh, NOW I get it. I’m sorry, it’s ... there’s been a lot of things change around here in the last month, and I’m afraid I’m not caught up at times.”

I had to laugh. “Tell me about it.” That got my ladies laughing as well.

I was surprised it only took us two hours to actually get out of the Vault with Gwen in tow. Nat almost didn’t want to go; this was the first time she’d been able to just cut loose and be a kid. The Vault residents were all congratulatory to Gwen and us. Allie and Rosalind were planning on remaining for another two days, finishing things up.

When I asked Edward how much longer they were going to stay, his answer took me aback. “We feel very comfortable here. I suspect that we’ll both end up staying here once our assignment is done. As for that, it’s going to take us at least another two weeks. It’s ... good ... to feel needed and wanted, and our efforts will be making a difference in these people’s lives.”

“I know. That’s one reason why I’m doing what I am, for the Commonwealth.”

I almost didn’t recognize the outside of the Vault when we left. One of the Brotherhood troops saw me, saluting. “Good morning, Sentinel! We have about another half a day until we’re done here, then we think things should be secured.”

“I would certainly hope so. I didn’t expect to find a full-fledged guard post, complete with security lighting and turrets.”

“Yes, ma’am. We knew we’d need to make things as secure as we could, considering where we are. Scribe Lewis came up with the initial plan, and then we refined it to fit the situation. We’ll also have a small barracks here for those of us remaining on extended duty as guards.”

“Remaining?”

“Yes, ma’am. Since this is a Commonwealth community, it’ll be under the protection of the Minutemen, and those of us remaining here after the Prydwen leaves will assist with that. Elder Maxson wouldn’t allow more than 25% of our total force to volunteer to stay, so there was a bit of a competition.”

I took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “Sounds like I need to have another talk with Arthur. It’d be nice if I knew about that.”

“Sorry, ma’am. When the Prydwen is successful, we’ll ALL be under your authority. I think Elder Maxson is simply planning ahead.”

“Very well. Carry on, then.”

We walked over to where the vertibirds were sitting. Bennett saw us approach, starting the engine. “Tina, what was that about?”, Gwen asked. “The Brotherhood will be under your authority?”

I hopped up and in, then turned to help everyone else in. “I’m going to kill Arthur. He’s putting the cart before the horse, I hope.”

Piper helped Gwen buckle in. James took station at the mini-gun, just in case. Curie, Nat, and I were ready, so Bennett took off. Gwen didn’t have a helmet, so she was exposed to the full noise and wind from the flight, her eyes wide with fear and excitement as it finally hit her that she was going further from the Vault than she’d ever been in her life.

Twenty minutes later we landed at Sanctuary. “Bennett, grab some downtime. I don’t plan on leaving until morning.” She nodded, thanking me.

“Oh, my. That was ... wow!” Gwen’s face was flushed. “We just flew through the sky, like a bird.”

Piper laughed. “Hopefully you’ll get used to it, but never lose the wonder of it.” Her face then made a grimace. “Ouch. Reminder to self – don’t belly laugh for a few days.”

We walked up the hill towards the housing area. Dog and Shaun were running down to meet us. “Mom! Mom! You’re home!”

I picked him up and spun him around. “For the rest of the day, son. Then I have to go back out again.”

“Aw ... okay.” He grinned, giving me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m just glad you’re back now. I’ve been busy while you were gone.” I put him down, taking his hand as we walked up. “Sturges and Tina showed me how to do so much. I asked them why they weren’t using an actual terminal to run the workstation, they said they didn’t have one, only the Pip-Boy. So, I built one, from some of the spare parts left over from when you came to get me.”

Piper said, “Say what? You built a working computer terminal?”

“Yeah. I had to have some help using some of the tools, because my hands just aren’t big enough yet. But this was something I learned from Doctor Li in Advanced Studies months ago. I think it’s neat that I’m able to use stuff I learned to actually make things.”

“Yes, yes it is.” He led me to the workstation, where a working terminal with keyboard was set up. “Did you have an issue with an operating system?”

“No. I just copied the one from the Pip-Boy, then made some changes to it since it wasn’t on a portable device. A terminal works a lot better, I think. It’s also easier to input new things than before, too.”

“Do you mind if I check this out, Shaun?”

“No, Mom. I ... well, they let me hook it up, but then Sturges and Tina left, and no one will let me test it.”

I took my armor off, then pulled a chair up so I could sit at the terminal. “Come here, I have a knee for you to sit on. Let me see what we’ve got here.”

I started looking at the code, then felt my old skills just flow into my fingers. I sort of heard Curie exclaim at how fast the screen was scrolling, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was taking in the code as a gestalt. After about three minutes, I paused.

“Wow, Mom, that’s faster than I wrote it. You reviewed it all?”

“Yep. See that line I highlighted? This is why it’s a good thing that you didn’t test it before someone else reviewed it. That’s part of the original programming, and your changes to the reference identification would have caused a system crash. I don’t think anything too bad would have happened, but it might have destroyed some of the internal electronics in the workstation itself.”

“Really, Mom? I could have destroyed it?” He sounded upset.

“This one’s not on you, your programming was perfect. These were designed to only take input from a RobCo terminal. That was our way to keep Vault-Tec from stealing them. That’s why the Pip-Boy works, it’s got RobCo programming in it. But ... just a second here.” I changed the line to reflect that the terminal now attached had a RobCo identification number. “And now ... execute.”

The workstation hummed just like normal, the exit hopper opened up, and two teddy bears fell out. “Wow, Mom, for me?”

I smiled and nodded. “One for you, one for Nat.”

He hopped off, running over to pick it up. “No, Diohgi, you don’t get to play with this one.” Dog barked. “Who’s Nat?

“That’s Piper’s little sister over there. What’d you call him?”

“Diohgi. It’s just making the letters in dog into a word. Sounds better to me as a name. Hey, speaking of names...”

“Oh, sorry. This is Gwen McNamara. Gwen, this is my son, Shaun.”

She held her hand out to him. He ignored it, running up to her and giving her a big hug. Gwen was a little taken aback by that. “Hi, Miss Gwen! I’m so glad to meet you. I’m the luckiest boy in the whole world!”

She asked, “You are?”

“Sure! My Mom loves you like she loves Piper and Curie. That means that when you’re all married, I’m going to have four Moms! No one else that I know has more than one.”

Gwen looked up at me. I could see in her eyes that she’d already fallen for him. “Show him your ring.”

She held up her hand. “Wow, that’s pretty! Miss Piper, Miss Curie, do you have one?” They each held a hand out, showing off their rings. He let go of Gwen, then turned to me. I simply flexed my hand, showing my ring.

“Congratulations, ma’am, ladies.”

“Thank you, Haylen. I don’t suppose that Rhys has given you one yet?”

“Not really a Brotherhood tradition. Nothing against it, it’s just that what we do tends to get rings damaged in combat. So, if we get engaged, we give the other person one of our ID tags to wear. Not as romantic, but it is practical.”

“So, are you wearing one of his tags, then?”, I asked with a smile.

“Oh, yeah. He’s got one of mine, too. I’m not letting anyone else get their claws in my man,” she fiercely replied.

That got a laugh from all of us. Haylen then asked, “When will the wedding be?”

“That, we haven’t figured out. I figure that these three can come up with something over the next few days and simply let me know. We do know that the Pastor at the church in Diamond City can do the ceremony.”

Piper frowned. “Next few days? What are you talking about, Tina?”

“Gwen needs to learn all about life above ground, especially dealing with weather and the occasional radiation storm. The three of you, and Codsworth, can help teach her.”

“That sounds like you’re planning on leaving us here, or something.” She crossed her arms in anger.

“I’m not real thrilled about it myself, but for this trip, yeah. That missing girl, I need to go track her down. Field conditions aren’t the greatest for when you’re dealing with your periods, the chance of getting an infection is too high. Don’t worry, I’m quite sure that I’ll have enough people with me to handle whatever we come up against.”

“Just so long as you’re not going to treat us like second class citizens because we’re your wives. I won’t tolerate that, not in the least,” Piper firmly stated.

“Sweets, I love you. You know that. Hell, by next month, when I’m back to normal, I’ll be staying at home with you, too. I’d love to just sit and eat bon-bons and ice cream while we discuss stuff for hours. Can’t happen right now, though. I don’t know how long it’s going to be before Arthur takes the Prydwen west. I’m damned sure of one thing, though. You and I both know that if he succeeds, my days of doing anything but sitting in an office are done.”

Gwen had knelt down and was chatting with Shaun about how life in a Vault compared to life in the Institute. She heard my last comment, though. “Just a second, Shaun. Tina, you sounded a little bitter about that. I can see your travel and such as Governor of the Commonwealth might be restricted. What does Maxson taking the Prydwen west have to do with that?”

“He’s going to get the Brotherhood chapters in the rest of the country to work together, he hopes. Since they’re the remnants of the US Army, and the governments of their respective Commonwealths, with New England added in, that gives them a plurality and super-majority for recognizing leadership of the country again. The United States won’t just be a big land mass anymore that used to have a nation on it, we’ll actually have a central government running things again, complete with a President.”

“I could see where that’s a good thing, but what does that have to do ... oh, you’re kidding me, right?” She figured things out.

“They’re all military. The military answers to the civilian government. Once the other chapters agree, then there has to be a civilian in charge. The order of succession states that unless someone else shows up, then I’m it. President. Honestly, I’m hoping we can find someone else, maybe get an election. It’s not that I couldn’t do the job, I just really don’t WANT to do the job.”

Gwen had a wry smile. “That sounds familiar. I freely admit that being Overseer of a Vault is nothing like what you’re talking about, but I didn’t want it when I was chosen. But I know two things for sure – you’ll do an excellent job at it, and you’ll have us to support you the whole way.”

I choked up a little. “Thanks. You don’t know what that means to me. Really.” Looking around now, I asked, “Jacquelyn, where is everyone? I know where Sturges and Tina are, but it seems a little quiet around here.”

“They’re mostly working on the observation post up at Vault 111 today. We’ve come up with a way to move the empty shipping containers that were up there, so they’ve been put into positions. It’s just a matter of taking the things made here to up there, setting them up.”

I said, “Surely Mama Murphy isn’t hauling things around at her age.”

“She’s making sure everyone has plenty of water to drink and snacks to eat. Between here and the Abernathy’s, I think we’re growing enough to feed half the Commonwealth just between them.”

“Okay, that’s ... good. Shaun, if you used my software change, how long would it take you to build more of these consoles?”

“So, you’re not mad at me for doing that? I was afraid you’d think I wasted materials.”

“Lord, no. We’ve shown we can move a workstation from one place to another. If you can make even two or three more of these consoles, to run them, that’ll give us a huge leg up on rebuilding things, helping the Commonwealth tremendously. I’m proud of you for thinking of it in the first place.”

He ran over and wrapped his arms around me. “Thanks, Mom! I love you.”

Piper pushed Nat forward. “Hi, I’m Nat.”

Shaun looked at her. “Here, this is for you.” He handed over the second teddy bear. “Um, I guess if your sister and my Mom get married, that’s makes us related somehow or other. Can you play ball?”

Nat looked at him with a funny expression on her face. “I’ve never tried.”

 
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