Love Never Changes
Chapter 27

Copyright© 2020 by StarFleet Carl

“I’d say I was sorry that you two had to get dinner and sleep somewhere else, but I’d be telling a bit of a lie.”

James chuckled. “That’s perfectly fine, Ma’am. Seems some adult supervision was needed of the Security Forces. Once we told them that it was going to be share and share alike, and that if they had issues with that, to bring it up with you ... that took care of that. The ones that were being greedy were put on body disposal detail. A couple of hours of picking up what was left of the Pack got their attention.”

Deacon laughed. “Seems these tough guys had never actually had to clean up, before. It was an eye opener for them, for sure.” His tone changed. “And I know you needed to get some of it out of your system, too, boss. I’m really glad you have your wives, I think they help keep you sane.”

“You have no idea, John. Thank you. Is the monorail going to work like we thought?”

He nodded. “Seems to be. The first load last night was eight troops, four in power armor, and four scribes, to help organize things here. Second run of the night was eight more troops and two of those supply line robots, so they could learn how to get here and coordinate things. The problem is power, which is what we were afraid would happen. There’s a reactor, somewhere, that’s powering the lights in here. There’s capacitors that the monorail uses to get up to starting speed from a full stop, and those are drained with two runs in a day.”

“Then our first priority is to get the original Nuka-World power plant back up, it seems.”

James nodded. “One of the former slaves mentioned it, showed me on a map where it would be. It’s supposed to be infested with ghouls, and there are many other creatures specific to this Wasteland that we don’t have in the Boston area as well.”

He saw the look on my face. “And yes, they are all capable of being killed. How soon after lunch do you want to head out?”

“Immediately. We’ll plan on staying overnight there once we clean things out, unless it’s obvious we can make it back at night without an issue.” I stopped for a second. “Did either of you go back down and check with Sierra?”

“Oh, hell, no,” Deacon said.

“Good. We’ll leave her there until we get back, then.”

“Doesn’t that qualify as cruel and unusual punishment for Mr. Bradberton?”, he asked.

“Right now, I think the deal we have with him, he’s coming out ahead.”

They both looked at me, then Deacon said, “Apparently, I was mistaken. You’re not sane, not in the least. That was just bad.”

“Come on, Bradberton can’t hurt her, he’s armless. He hasn’t got a leg to stand on if he complains. He’s got no body to argue with, after all.” I held up my hand. “Okay, I’ll stop. What’s bad is that I’m not making these up. For some reason, when she woke up this morning, Piper had come up with all these, and a dozen more.”

“Oh, THAT’S why she was screaming this morning, not from...”

“Tickle attack last night, tickle attack this morning. I think she’s got it out of her system. I hope so, anyway. My fingers are almost as tired as my tongue.”

“Now that was just too much information, boss.”

James was just shaking his head. “Remind me when we get back to CIT to have a very long talk with Jerome. I need to be getting hazardous duty pay, just having to listen to you talk.”

I heard the noises behind me. “Ah, there’s the rest of the crew, now. I need to see what’s going on first hand before we grab lunch.”

“Um, you’re not wearing your power armor?”, James asked.

“No. I, uh, hurt it with that tuck and roll thing. Obviously, there’s a repair station, but I don’t have the raw materials to fix it, not until we get a workstation here up and running. I knew it was risky, but I think my temper may have gotten the better of me.”

“Oh, my god, you can make a mistake! You actually are human. About time we had proof of that,” Deacon said.

Piper walked up and heard the last comment. laughed. “I’ve had plenty of proof she’s human, Deacon. Although if I ever find out where she’s ticklish, payback is going to be a bitch.”

We spent some time checking out the entrances to Nuka-Town, making sure there were no weak spots. The traders and residents, with one notable exception, were almost pathetically grateful. Katelyn looked at me with angry eyes when I walked by where she was set up. “Why’d you have to fuck things up, Overboss? You could have had it all, made us all rich.”

“You’re obviously an intelligent woman. But what you failed to realize was that, at best, your plans would only work for a short period of time. Then someone was going to end up putting a bullet right ... about ... here.” I put my finger right between her jutting breasts, tapping her breastbone. “You were nothing more than eye candy, useful so long as you gave the Raiders information. After that, they’d simply fuck you, both physically and financially. Now, you’ve got a chance to actually get rich, if you’re smart enough. If not, can’t say I didn’t give you the opportunity.”

No one had ever talked to her like that, and it made her stop and think about things. “I’ll have to see what happens, then,” she said.

Maggy had heard me dress Katelyn down. “Governor Wilson is right, Katelyn. Gage and Shank were playing us, all of us. You’ve already seen what’s changed here. It’s not like me to admit I was wrong, but ... I was wrong about all this. We’ve got a chance here, not just to turn this into a trading post, but to make this place into something that none of us have had for a long fucking time. A home.”

Katelyn gave her a look of disbelief. “You’re not kidding, are you? How the ... but ... I don’t know for sure about this, I’ll have to think about it.” Her face showed how these thoughts disturbed her normal world view.

Maggy turned to me. “So, Governor Wilson, are we ready to go turn the power plant back on for Nuka-World?”

“We?”

“Hey, I’m the Mayor of this town. You said so. That means this is my responsibility as well, to help make sure things are done right.”

“Let’s have some lunch first, then go have fun.”

The route we took led between two of the parks, Dry Rock Gulch and the Galactic Zone. We came to one group of plants and flowers that had a bunch of ants. I let the others shoot them, so I could see how well Maggy did. She wasn’t bad, but even Gwen was better. As we got closer to the entrance to Dry Rock Gulch, Maggy said, “There’s tales of bloodworms here, so be careful.”

“Okay, just for our education, what are bloodworms?”, I asked.

“Critters that live underground. They burrow up, attach themselves to you like a leech, suck your blood until you’re dead. That’s what some of the others have said, I’ve not seen one myself. There’s signs at the entrance to the park, though. It’s supposed to be infested with a whole bunch of them.”

“Okay. Folks, you know the drill, just like with mole rats, then.”

Maggy was confused a little. Then she saw everyone ready their rifles, with them ready to shoot at the ground immediately. Except me, I had my pistol out. When we got to the entrance to the park, a cloud of dust shot up from the ground. “It’s the bloodworms!”, Maggy squealed. The first worm popped up into the air, from a tunnel. Apparently, the attack method they liked was to come burrowing up with speed, so they could leap through the air and then attach themselves to the victim higher up.

All that meant for my group was that we got some live practice with flying targets. Maggy was the only one who wasted ammunition, and even she calmed down when she realized how quickly the attacking worms were dying.

“How the hell are you all that accurate? I don’t think I’ve seen shooting like that.”

Piper looked at her. “Our weapons have all been tweaked and modified by Tina, and we’ve all zeroed them in so we know where they hit anywhere from 10 feet all the way out to 200 yards.”

“Damn, that’s ... huh, just something we never thought of doing. Really wasn’t needed, if you know where I’m coming from.”

I laughed, not pleasantly. “We do. That’s why there are no more Raiders. All of our forces, including the Minutemen, have trained to do this.”

We kept walking west. After a couple minutes, Maggy quietly said, “We didn’t stand a chance at all, did we?”

“Nope. So phrasing it politely, you chose wisely.”

“I guess we did. So now what?”

“Now, we stop for a minute. What do you see in that parking lot over there?”

“Shit, is that a deathclaw? Oh, crap.” She looked scared.

Deacon said, “Oh, good. It’s been a while. And we’re in a good spot to be able to get some good steaks.”

Maggy looked at him like he was nuts. I said, “Sure, John. Just a second.” One shot later, the deathclaw fell over dead. “Amazing how a single eye shot tends to cause issues for most critters.”

“We’re more than 200 yards from that thing! And the eyes are smaller than ... fuck, you can hit something that small, at this distance?”

Piper said, “She can. And regularly does. The rest of us, we’re only that accurate out to about a hundred yards. Although Curie, with a laser rifle, is good out to 300.” There was a roar from near the dead deathclaw. “Oh, must’ve been two of them.”

We had closed about 30 yards when the second deathclaw came charging out from around a bus that was in the parking lot. “Okay, ladies, target practice time for you. I’ve got your backs, but let’s make this just like we practiced, okay?”

Gwen, Piper, and Curie all immediately took up prone firing positions, snuggling down to the dirt. Maggy was looking at Deacon and James, calmly standing there with their rifles just cradled in their arms, looking unconcerned as several hundred pounds of death came charging closer and closer. Curie took the first shot, at 150 yards. I could see her beam strike the deathclaw just above the eye ridge. She cursed mildly at her bad luck, then got up. Piper and Gwen fired almost simultaneously at a hundred yards. Both of their shots hit the eye sockets on each side, where the skull was weakest. The creature took three more stumbling steps, then fell forward into the dirt, dead.

Maggy just stood there, cursing under her breath.

Piper got up, then helped Gwen up, then leaned in, giving her a quick kiss. “Good shot, you fired just before I did, so it’s your kill.”

Gwen smiled. “Thanks. I think you held off a split second, just so I could fire first.”

Curie shook her head sadly. “My shot was just slightly off target. I still find it difficult to maintain full concentration when at that range during actual combat.”

“Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll get it. You’ve got to time things to your heartbeats. To me, it looked like you were trying to follow the footsteps and fired right at 150 yards, not letting it get a little closer if needed,” I said.

She wryly smiled. “You’re right, madam. I saw it hit the proper range for my scope and even though I was tracking, I pulled the trigger an instant too soon.”

“Practice makes perfect. I’m sure we’ll run into other critters at range you can shoot.”

Maggy Black just shook her head at our conversation.

We headed up the road to the power plant. Some crickets attacked us. After everything else, I wasn’t too shocked that these crickets had mutated into giants as well. With their legs, they closed on us too fast to mess around, so I went into target mode. Shoot one, knock it down, shoot another, switch. The swarm had started about 50 feet from us. By the time they were within 10 feet, I’d just finished killing the last one and my rifle bolt clicked back, I’d gone through an entire 30 round magazine.

“Note for future reference. The crickets are tough little buggers.”

“You did not just say that, did you?”, Piper groaned.

“Hey, anything that it takes me three shots to kill counts as tough in my book. I don’t know if it’s their skeletal structure or what. And with those mandibles, I’d rather not see what they can do to either crops or someone’s arm, if it’s all the same to you.”

Maggy was quiet as we walked up the road. I had an idea of what she was thinking. A guardhouse was just ahead, with a disabled bus outside of it. “Hey, Maggy. Something that our experience has taught us is that if there’s a building and vehicle together, there’s probably some ferals. And the easiest way to deal with them is from a distance. Let’s have you take some careful, aimed, single shot fire at that bus, see what stirs up. And then take out whatever comes our way. We’ll back you up.”

“Um, are you sure? I mean, I’m feeling a bit useless here.”

“Dear, there’s only one way to get good at this, and that’s practice. You don’t think when I started shooting, I was this good, do you? It took me years of practice, thousands of rounds downrange, before I could do this. Here, before you shoot the bus, it’s about 75 yards back to that tree. Can you see that limb sticking out, about six feet up?” She nodded. “Okay, single, aimed fire. Let’s see how far off zero your rifle is. Three shots, please, from the prone firing position. Here, use this as an arm rest.”

She got down, put three rounds towards the tree.

“Okay, let’s try that again, a bit slower this time, make sure you’ve got a good sight picture. Think about your trigger pull like you’re lightly touching your clit, you don’t want to pull hard, just ease your finger back.”

All three rounds hit the tree, in a two inch group, about a foot high.

“Okay, do that again.” She did. These rounds hit almost the same spot. “Let me see that for a second.” I quickly adjusted the sight. “Now, one more time.” All three rounds hit the limb, the third one severing it and making it hit the ground.

“Very good, Maggy! Now, let’s get you facing the other way, put a full magazine in, and do the same thing. Take your time. If there are ferals, they’re running about 5 miles an hour, about 8 feet per second. It’s a hundred fifty feet, so it’ll take them about 19 seconds to get here. You bullet is traveling at 1000 feet per second. So if there are five of them, you’ve two whole seconds to get a good sight picture and gently pull the trigger, then switch to the next one. Take your time, and if the first round doesn’t kill it, you’ve got a full magazine.”

“Uh, okay, if you think so.”

“One last thing. You’re sighted at 75 yards. Since they’re closer, your round will be a little higher, so aim a little lower. You’ll see what I mean. Now, instead of you firing at the bus, I will, and I’m right here with you, so you can take your time and kill them.”

With that, I put two rounds into the front end of the bus. There were two in the bus that came running out. Maggy put one round out that was a flyer, then shot the first ghoul in the shoulder, a second later in the chest, killing it. She switched targets and put her first round center of mass, then a second in the same area when the first one didn’t drop it.

“Damn, I did it, didn’t I?” She started to get up. I put my hand on her back, holding her down.

“Stay put, I don’t like this.” I put two rounds into the building. That was what I thought, there was one of the glowing feral ghouls in there. It came running towards us, much faster than the regular ones. Maggy’s first round went low. Her second one was also low, but it hit the ghoul in the knee. Her third round took the leg off, dropping it to the ground about 20 yards out. It was trying to crawl closer, but couldn’t. I pointed to Deacon, who put it out of its misery.

“Okay, now you can get up. Not bad. Regular practice is what you need.”

Her face lit up. “Thank you! I’ve ... I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never done this before, not like this. It’s ... well, it’s hard, isn’t it?”

“Yep. And doing this is what separates the gangs from the soldiers. Three feral ghouls, one of the glowing, how many rounds would have been fired?”

“Probably thirty or forty ... each. Trigger discipline was something we didn’t have.”

“And that’s the difference. You effectively took 7 rounds to take all three of them out. What’s the most we’ve had coming at us at any one time, Piper?”

“Ten. You fired six times, took out six of them. Four of us fired twice, because we’re not as good at headshots at fifty to a hundred yards as you are.”

“Damn. I tell you what, if you were a man, I think I’d like to have your babies.”

Gwen shook her head. “Get to the end of the line. I’m first.”

Maggy’s looked was priceless. “Wait, what? How is that possible?”

Gwen looked smug. “Miracles of modern medicine. And I am married to her, so it’s also legal.”

“Okay, if we’re all done, I can tell there’s some bugs that we’ll need to deal with, and there’s a bunch of ferals on top of the power plant. So we’re going to have to be on our toes. Let’s get this done,” I said.

I let Maggy get a bit more target practice at the bugs. When we got to the top of the hill, there were several ferals hiding in the parking lot and in accumulated debris piles outside. Rather than have her deal with them by herself, all of us chipped in, cleaning them out in a short time. After that, we entered the power plant and worked our way through. Any time we had one that was at a distance, I’d have Maggy shoot it.

We finally made it to the roof. I got into the power control room, started checking out the terminal entries. “Huh, seems like they had some issues with the reactor, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. We get this up and going, I’ll send Allie out here with a crew to figure things out.” It took me a couple of minutes of playing on the keyboard.

“Maggy, see that big button there? Go ahead and push it.”

She didn’t hesitate, pushing it. The sun was behind us now, starting to set, so part of the park had been shrouded in darkness. Suddenly things lit up, and fireworks started going off over the different parks. It was obvious that some of the lights were out, but many weren’t.

“Damn, that’s pretty,” Piper said.

“It’ll stand out like a glowing jewel in the wasteland. A place where traders can come, where people can get supplies in safety, and a sign that we’re on our way back.”

I looked at Maggy. “That’s ... very eloquent, Maggy. I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t shocked that you’d come up with that.”

She looked ... satisfied. “I feel like I’ve finally grown up, if that makes any sense. I’ve a job now, one that’s important, and will make a difference in a lot of lives. People are counting on me, and I know I’ve got support if I need it. Does that make any sense?”

“It tells me I made the right decision. Congratulations, Mayor Black.”

I looked around the area. “Well, there’s lights and such, so we could make it back tonight. But I’d prefer to not run into things in the dark. Let me see here ... ah, good. Nuka-World Security, this is Governor Wilson, do you copy?”

It took a moment, then I got a reply on the radio. “Governor, this is Captain Larsen, Commonwealth Minutemen, in the NWSF radio room. I copy you, over.”

“Just confirming that the lights and such are all on down there.”

“Affirmative, ma’am. We had some nervous people when the fireworks started going off, but when they realized no one was shooting at them, things settled down. The capacitors for the monorail are charging nicely, too.”

“Very good. While there are some lights, just pass on that we’re going with our original plan, which was to stay here overnight. We’ll probably start clearing the parks and areas tomorrow morning, so everyone just be careful. I need an engineering team to come out and check this power plant out, there may be some issues. They’ll need guards.”

“Of course, Governor. Having power on this end, along with a repeater, has given us coverage here in the wasteland, and we’re getting a directional antenna set up so we should be able to reach the Boston area continuously in the next couple of days.”

“Very good. We’ll see you when we see you. Wilson, out.”

“Why does that particular sign off fill me with worry and dread”, James asked. “One would almost think you plan on clearing the rest of the parks out, starting tomorrow.”

I took a deep breath, then paused. “Never mind. I WAS going to say something, but I’m smart enough to realize the answer to it as well.”

Deacon was leaning against the wall. “Something along the lines of, have you ever done anything wild and irresponsible before like that, so why would we think so? Am I about right with that, boss?”

Gwen laughed. “You know that’s exactly what she was going to say. I’d say that if we threw the bodies out, that room with the pool table would make a good sleeping area for the night.”

James nodded. “There was a couch there, along with rugs and such. We can make it relatively comfortable for a short night without much effort. I suggest we relieve ourselves up here, on the roof, before going in. Things will just wash away with the rains. Does anyone need to change their Vault suit cartridges?”

Maggy had a puzzled look on her face. “Vault suit? You mean those uniforms you’re wearing under your armor?”

“Yes. They’re thermally regulating and contain appropriate waste disposal so that if we need to relieve ourselves and it’s not convenient to, well, do so, then we can just go in the suits,” Piper explained.

“You mean I’ve been holding it in all afternoon because I thought you were all so much tougher than me? Crap, where’s a corner, my bladder is about to burst.” Piper and Curie led her over, away from us.

“You two, go on down and start setting things up. We’ll be along shortly.”

“In other words, they want to have a woman to woman talk, maybe a little more, and don’t want us to hear their mysterious comments. Come on, James, I can tell when I’m not wanted,” Deacon said, seemingly in anger. His grin belied the tone of his words.

Gwen leaned over to me. “Are you sure about this? She’s barely a reformed gangster.”

“Oh, love, you misunderstand. I’m not doing anything for me or for us as a group. I...” I quit talking when the three of them came back. “I sent the men downstairs to start with preparations for the room. I thought we might take a little time, before joining them, to get to know you a little better, Maggy.”

She looked nervous. “Um, you know I’m from Diamond City. I was a pain in the ass, then. I didn’t realize it, I just rebelled against authority. William, Lizzie, and I, we all did things together. Um, not those things, if that’s what you’re thinking.” She looked a little guilty, with me calmly looking at her.

“I didn’t presume that you were fucking your own brother. Although if that’s what trips your trigger...”

Piper looked a little upset. “No, but I did. Once. You remember, Maggy. We had all been drinking after ... hell, I can’t even remember what had happened. William was so out of it, he thought I was someone else. Then when we all woke up the next morning, he was so embarrassed at what he’d done...”

Maggy said, “Yeah, I remember. Governor, my brother is homosexual. If that’s a problem, then let me know, now. He’s my family, so we can leave in peace.”

I smiled gently at her. “No worries as far as I’m concerned, Maggy. You know, in a few ways, you sort of remind me of myself, when I was younger. The whole power thing, not accepting the rules of society. So, what about you and Lizzie? Which way do the two of you swing?”

Her eyes met mine, then explored my face, looking for clues as to what I was asking. The only sound on the roof was that of the wind blowing for several long moments. She finally cleared her throat. “I ... I don’t know. That night Piper mentioned ... she and I went a little too far that night. That was then. Honestly, I’d almost like to get back with her, just to see if there really was anything there. Lizzie and me, I’m not going to lie and say we haven’t comforted each other over the years. We’re familiar. And in our line of work, we’ve not been able to do a lot of long term planning, if you know what I mean. I’ve never seen myself as a wife and mother, it’s just never been something I’ve given any thought to.”

She looked away from me, towards where all of Nuka-World was now aglow with light. “A sight like that, it gives a body pause. Stability. Family. I’ve not been philosophical for a long time. Get caps, keep going, keep building the gang, the world was out to kill you, so grab all the fun you can, while you can, before someone takes it away from you.” Her eyes had tears in them now. “I don’t have to live like that now, do I?”

The four of us took her in our arms. Piper said, “No, Maggy. No, you don’t. If you’d come back to Diamond City four months ago, and told me you’d like to get together with me, see if we could get something special going, then ... then I’d probably have jumped on the chance. I can be your friend. I’ll always be your friend. But my heart is with these three. We’re living life. We’re finding out more and more about each other. And we all love each other. We’d each take a bullet meant for one another. If you and Lizzie want to get serious ... or if you want to find someone else ... it’s up to you. There’s love out there, for all of us. You just have to find it.”

I leaned in, gave Maggy a gentle kiss on the cheek. “We’re all your friends, Maggy Black. Unless something changes, we won’t be your lovers. But we’ll be your friends, the shoulders you can cry on, the people you can share your darkest secrets with, the people you can scream to about how life sucks.”

“Thank you. Um, I hate to say this, but right now, I’m incredibly turned on. But ... and don’t take this the wrong way, because I don’t know how close all of you are, but I’d really like to take Deacon for a ride.”

“If you can convince him, then more power to you. But, what about birth control?”

“Oh, Lizzie has hormone shots she gives us every three months that do that. Neither of us wanted to bring up a kid in our lifestyle.” That made her look towards the park again. Her voice changed a little. “Now ... damn, now I don’t know. But either way, I’m still protected for another month.”

“Let’s go see what arrangements they’ve made for us.” Everyone followed me down through the roof hatch, then down into the office.

“Hello, ladies. For you sleeping comfort, we’ve managed to use cushions, cloth, and other things we’ve found, so that there’s room for a couple of people on the floor, three on the pool table, and some chairs further down the hallway for guards. We’ve also designated the far end of the platform as the ladies room. Being guys, we don’t have to be as picky where we pee.”

“Deacon, you’ve once again done an admirable job. James, my wives and I would like to have a bit of a discussion with you, if you’d please come with us. Deacon, Maggy has a question for you, and you don’t need to ask, I’ve already told her that whatever you decide is fine with me.”

James furrowed his brow in confusion, but followed the four of us as we went back downstairs in the power plant, leaving the two of them alone. “We’d skipped this area, since there weren’t any ferals visible. I’d like to see what’s behind this door.”

“Is there perhaps a secondary reason you’ve done this?”, James asked.

“Of course. We can’t continue to tease poor John. And with nothing going to happen with any of us more than already has happened, for quite some time, it’s not fair to him.”

“What about me?”

Gwen gave him a glare. “Seriously? Ellen, Jacquelyn, and Chase aren’t enough for you?”

He grew still. “You’re ... not supposed to know about that. I thought we’d been discrete with our meetings and such.”

“Yeah, well, your ‘and such’ still causes the bed to hit the counter in the kitchen at times, so it’s sort of hard to miss when I get up to pee at night,” she said with a grin.

He just got a stupid looking grin on his face. “Okay, I’m caught.”

While they were talking, I was breaking the security on the door. “Aw, isn’t this special. Who gets the next suit?”

“What’d you find, Tina?” She stuck her head in the door. “Oh, me, me, can I have it?”

“Piper, I suppose as a late Christmas present, you can. You’ll have to take it back to the Fizztop Grill tomorrow, though. I don’t have any spare cores on me, for you to wear it while we’re going through the...” My comments were cut off by the sound of pleasant screaming from above.

Piper turned red. “Yeah, I forgot that Maggy screamed louder than I do when she pops.”

Piper moved the power armor to near the outside door, then pulled the fusion core like she’d seen me do. We found some materials and other things to hang on the armor while we were waiting. The sounds kept going on for another five minutes, then faded down.

We slowly climbed back up to the break room. When we walked into the room, Maggy was sitting on the floor, next to John. She was running her hand over his bald head. He was red in the face when he caught our eyes.

“We found another set of X-1 Power Armor downstairs, we’ll have to take it to Fizztop before clearing the rest of the parks tomorrow. Let’s get some sleep, it’s going to be another long and hard day tomorrow.”

Piper smirked. “Hopefully for Maggy it will be long and hard tonight.” Curie and Gwen giggled.

Deacon shot back. “Jealous, Piper?”

“John, we’ve teased the hell out of you this last month or more. I’m just happy that I’m not the only one who can make Maggy scream like that.”

Maggy said, “Hey, now, I seem to recall you were almost as loud as I was. What do you do about that?”

I laughed. “Normally, one of us sits on her face, so she’s screaming right up into us. I tell you what, feeling that vibration right on your clit is something else.”

Maggy looked intrigued. “Really? I don’t suppose there’s...”

Piper shook her head. “Nope. But I bet Lizzie might like it, if you did it to her.”

Maggy’s hand slid down to Deacon’s crotch. “She’d like it if John did it to her. Let’s just take things ... one day at a time for now.”

I could tell that, while John had gotten a lot out of his system, he was bothered by what he’d just done with Maggy. I walked over, crouched down next to him. “Hey.” He had trouble meeting my eyes. “John, you know I love you. Always will. But not like that. You’re my brother, never my lover. And whatever any of the four of us did or do, in the end it’s teasing and cruel to you. It leads you on, let’s you think ... well ... you know. I can’t do that to you, can’t give you hope for something that’s just not there on my part.”

There were tears in both our eyes when I finished speaking. His voice was rough with emotion. “I ... Tina ... you’ve let me see the real me, not the bullshit that I was hiding behind with the Railroad, given me ... so much. You know...”

I put a finger on his lips. “I know, John. Maggy here is learning. Those four over there, they know. It’s okay.” I looked at Maggy. “You’ve not known us for long. How strong can you be?”

Her blonde hair was still askew from the intense sex, but her eyes were clear. “Piper, I’ve known for years. She’s changed. I saw that when we were cleaning out the other gangs, when we were coming out here. She’s ... fuck, all of them, really, including this guy ... they all love you. Implicitly. Completely. They’d follow you to hell and back, and some of what we were talking about while walking, it sounds like they have already. And will do it again, willingly, without reservation.”

She looked at me, at my eyes. “I’m not just talking about everyone in this room. I saw the way those soldiers from the Commonwealth talked to you, talked about you. Before I met you, I ... well, I thought I knew what strong was, what tough was. I was very, very wrong.” She snorted. “Shit, now you’ve got me doing it, too.”

“What?”

“I know why John loves you. Now, I know. I’ll be the Mayor here. I’ll do the best damn job I can as Mayor here. And if this lug wants to be here with me, I’ll let him. He’s ... adequate.” She had a smile in her voice and eyes as she said that, She shook her head. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

I rose from my crouch, then held both my hands down to them. Without hesitating, they both took one, let me help them stand up. “There was a couch in the room up on the roof, if you remember. May get a little chillier at night than in here, though.”

Maggy had a grin on her face. “We’ll figure out some way to stay warm.” She let go of my hand, stopped while John had to make himself let go of me, then looked me in the eyes again. “You’re a damned good woman. Let me know when the next trip to hell is, I want to be along for the ride.” She led him to the ladder and up to the roof.

I walked back to the couch, stripping my armor off. The rest already had theirs off, were sitting around comfortably. Gwen looked up at me, a knowing look in her eyes. “Not how you thought things were going to go originally. But perhaps better for everyone.”

Curie had been fairly quiet. “I am happy for Monsieur Deacon. As much as I enjoyed the taste, I still prefer that of the rest of you. James excluded, of course, as I have never tasted him. And it is so much fun making Piper squeak, I find it intensely pleasurable.”

Piper turned to Curie. “Has anyone ever told you that sometimes you talk to much?”

James laughed. After a moment, the rest of us did as well. “Well, no squeaking tonight. Some of us need our rest,” I said. James silently thanked me.

Curie and Gwen snuggled up together, Piper slid in behind me, while James took up station as far from us as he could, near the door. In a very soft voice that wouldn’t carry, Piper asked, “Why?”

I rolled over so I was facing her. “Deacon needs someone. He’s been attracted to me since we met, not because I’m any great beauty...” She pinched me, a frown on her face. “Love, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t think I’m nearly as pretty as any of the three of you. But you know what I mean about that. No, I’m strong, tough, and I don’t give up. Given her circumstances, I may have been her, if I’d been raised in this era. I don’t know if it’ll last, but Maggy reminds me a little of myself, especially with her determination to come with us.”

Piper grinned. “Hopefully, she’s coming with Deacon right now.” I pinched her back. “I deserve that. But yeah, I know what you meant. I think I love you even more now.” She gave me a quick kiss, then rolled over so now I was behind her. I unzipped her suit a little and slid a hand in to hold one of her breasts while we slept.

The next morning, we were woken by the roof hatch opening. Deacon and Maggy came down. “In case anyone wonders, it gets bright really early up this high. Oh, and I used my radio to let Haylen know you were in a building and out of touch last night. She was fine with that, things are proceeding normally.”

“Thank you, John. Anything else?”

“Nothing that pertains to what we’re going to be doing today. Well, actually, maybe. I was relieving myself this morning and noticed that there’s another building, just down the hill from here, but not on the road. Since we’re here, I thought you might want to check it out as well.”

We headed that way. I was letting Piper try out the power armor, so she’d get used to walking in it. We were almost at the building when I stopped. “Oh, good. Big bears. Unless you want, I’ll take care of them.”

Maggy shook her head. It took me four shots to kill both of them. “Damned thick skulls on these. Last time, I had one of them charge at me, while I was in my old set of power armor. Knocked me on my ass when it hit me. And ... Maggy, off to the left, see those bugs? Zap ‘em!”

She didn’t hesitate, spinning before I was done talking, and bringing her rifle up. Four bugs, four shots. I nodded in satisfaction. “VERY good, young lady. That’s what’ll get you an invitation to the next trip to hell.”

“Young lady? I know how old Piper is, she’s two years younger than I am. You can’t be more than 5 years older than me.”

John shook his head, chuckling a little. “Add a couple of hundred years to that, babe. She was alive when this place was still in operation.”

“Cryogenic suspension. Anyway, let’s see what’s in this building.” I opened the door. A feral ghoul started to raise up from behind a desk. I put him back down quickly. “Oh, sweet!”

“Madam, is it not unusual, for a children’s theme park to have so many suits of power armor?”

“Normally, I would think so. But this is the reactor area, and with the carrying capacity of one, maybe not. Either way, this one will be yours, Curie.” I quickly defeated the security on the terminal, opening it.

“Madam, why do you have such a large grin on your face?”

“If we get all three of our suits painted the exact same way, can you imagine the look on Arthur’s face when he sees us? Brotherhood of Steel, my ass. Here’s the Sisterhood of Steel! In your face, Arthur Maxson!”

Gwen was laughing at that. “Especially since all of these suits are more advanced than the armor the Brotherhood uses. I almost wish we’d find another one, even if I’d only be able to wear it for another month or so.”

I turned, to look at her eyes. “You sure about that, love?”

She nodded, a huge smile on her face. “Yeah. The tunnel will be done, so it’ll only be a week or so that I’ll be stuck below ground. And to know that in nine months, I’ll be holding our baby in my arms. I know you had that, with Shaun. I can’t wait to know it for myself.”

Maggy’s head turned between Gwen and I. “OUR baby?”

“I did say miracle of modern medicine, didn’t I? No males required. Don’t take that the wrong way, they have their uses. But since I actually don’t LIKE having sex with men, it’s much more useful,” I explained. “Mind you, I don’t mind having fingers or even a cock shaped toy or two inside...”

Maggy shook her head. “Okay, that’s just WAY too much information for now. And I like a nice cock shaped cock inside me. Sometimes the whole pounding is just what I really need.”

James and Deacon looked at each other. “Ladies, if we don’t get a move on, the estrogen levels in here will drown us all.”

My eyes were twinkling when I said, “It’s okay, John. You know the old saying. A good man is hard to find, but a hard man is good to find.”

I was hurrying out of the building, to avoid John throwing anything, when I heard Maggy’s rebuttal, “Yes, yes he is.”

My wives all laughed, with Piper saying, “Tina, I think she got you with that one.”

As we got closer to the road, we noticed the remnants of a military convoy ahead. “Oh, come on, this is ridiculous.” There were some barrels of radioactive waste, along with some feral ghouls resting. But on the back of a military flatbed trailer was another suit of X-01 power armor.

Gwen just laughed. “Sisterhood of Steel, indeed! Come on, let’s get it.”

 
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