Love Never Changes
Chapter 31

Copyright© 2020 by StarFleet Carl

Emogene set the drink down, came running over to me, throwing her arms around me. She gave off a grunt, due to hitting my combat armor, then stepped back. “I have to be dreaming, there’s no way this is possible.”

“Hello, Emogene.” I nodded to her mother. “Good morning, Wilhelmina. You look just like I remember. I apologize for not stopping by sooner, but I’ve been rather busy these last few months.”

Edward stepped back against the pool table. “You’re her, aren’t you? I’ve heard things, when I’ve been out getting supplies. Some mysterious woman, came out of a pre-war Vault, that’s been turning the Commonwealth on its ear. Uniting all the groups, killing the Raiders, putting the Institute out of business...”

“Technically not the last. Just ... changing their direction. Oh, pardon my manners.” I turned to my group. Piper had an amused look on her face. “I failed my introductions. Ladies, James, this is Wilhelmina Cabot and her daughter, Emogene. That’s Edward Deegan, he’s been working for the Cabot family since he was about twenty. This is James, with CIT Security, Piper, Curie, and Cait, Maggy Black, the next Governor of Commonwealth of New England States.”

Emogene had stepped back from me, reaching out and shaking each of their hands as I introduced them. She noticed the names on the armor. “Their last names are Shannon?”

“Cait’s wearing borrowed armor, her last name isn’t Shannon, at least not yet. Of course, my last name isn’t that, anymore.”

Emogene leaned back. “Really? I didn’t think you ... um...”

“You remember the Battle of Valdez, the Battle of Anchorage? I was up there, working for RobCo. Ended up in one hell of a fight, the army came to the rescue. Someone had the bright idea to send me and the surviving officer from the rescuing group on a war bond tour. You remember how we used to go out and drink, what’d happen afterwards. Which, by the way, is one reason I don’t get drunk any longer. Net result, I ended up pregnant, and ... ended up married.”

“So I’m Tina Wilson, now. And, courtesy of a change to the laws in the Commonwealth, I’m married to Piper, Curie, and the lovely woman whose armor Cait has borrowed, Gwen. Gwen couldn’t come with us, she’s pregnant with our baby.”

Wilhelmina looked at me in shock. “You’re ... but ... I knew that you and Emogene had a fling at one time, I didn’t really approve, but it was Emogene, after all, but ... how did the laws get changed? There’s no one to change them, since the bombs fell.”

“Emogene, do you remember those law classes we both took?”

“Yes, I could only audit them. Due to ... well, our unique circumstances, I couldn’t actually get credit for any of them, but I could still learn things.”

“Having time to learn ... that’s one advantage for all of you. I ended up with my JD, passed and was admitted to the Massachusetts and Commonwealth Bar Associations. Under a weird little quirk in the law we used to joke about, which came about because Massachusetts was a Commonwealth originally and not a state, and dating years way back, was that in an emergency, the ranking member of the Bar Association could act as the Governor until a new Governor was elected. That law was never changed.”

Emogene had been sharp before. She still was. “That means that you’re the ranking member of the Bar Association, even though you’re the ONLY member of the Bar Association, and thus you’re the Governor of the Commonwealth. Nice!” Her smile faded. “But ... that also means that, if a super majority of Commonwealths convene, that unless someone has more seniority than you, that you’d also become the next President of the United States.”

“That’s one of the things I like about you, Emogene. You’re at least as intelligent as I am, probably more so.”

Before we could say anything else, there was a loud bang coming from another room. I shook my head. “Jack still can’t figure out how to get the thing off Lorenzo’s head yet?”

The door to the dining room opened, a black haired man wearing a lab coat, with his glasses askew and some smudges on his face, came walking out. “I’m sorry about that, I thought I had it figured out this ... time ... Edward, you didn’t tell me we were having guests.”

“Uh, yeah, sorry, Jack.”

Emogene interrupted. “Ladies, sir, please, have a seat. Edward, could you get us some of the good bourbon.” She cleared off a couple of seats, so we’d all have someplace to sit while Jack straightened himself up, putting his glasses back on straight and wiping his face with a towel. Edward brought some snifters out, giving everyone a drink.

“What’s going on, Emogene? I haven’t seen you act like this in ... a while. Who are all these strangers, and why are they in our house?”

I chuckled. “Jack, I haven’t been a stranger to you since, what, 2060, when I was 17? I think that was when we first met.”

“The Policeman’s Benefit Ball. I’d just had a dose, so I looked younger than normal. I don’t even remember who I went to it with, I just remember who I came home with. The gorgeous, yet very dangerous, young lady that no one would dance with.”

Piper said, “Hang on. Some of us are still trying to get caught up here. We all know about Vault 111, with the whole cryogenic thing, that’s why Tina spent more than two centuries on ice. Are you saying you haven’t?”

“Well, no, of course not. I was 15 when Daddy went on that expedition, Jack was 20. When Daddy came home a few years later, with the artifact on his head, it was pure luck Jack had been working on something at the Asylum for helping insane people, and it was able to contain Daddy. It still took Jack another 12 years to figure out how to utilize samples of Daddy’s blood in our serums.”

Jack exploded. “Emogene, have you lost your mind? Why are you telling all of our family secrets to these people?”

I laughed. “Jack, I’ve known those family secrets since 2060, starting the day AFTER the Policeman’s Benefit Ball. You were so busy working in the old dining room, like you just were, to even recognize that I was in the house. I’ll grant you, Em and I kept the door to her room closed most of the time. But damn, we hung out and did things together for more than a decade after that.”

My voice got quiet. “I think you were what kept me sane after my Dad got shot.”

Emogene looked sad. “I probably was. But that’s also when I realized that all you and I could do was have some fun together, and that’d be it. I ... I couldn’t have a life with you, no matter how much I wanted to do so.”

“Because I would grow old and die. And you wouldn’t, so long as you had Lorenzo’s serum and some way to process it.”

There were tears running down her face. “Yes,” Emogene quietly said.

“Well, if that’s the only problem, then I don’t think we’ll have too much of an issue. So, Em, we’ve brought Cait along so she can get to know us a bit better. Would you like to join us for a bit?”

Jack looked at me with shock on his face. “I DO remember you now. What do you mean, it won’t be an issue? I’ve spent centuries researching Lorenzo’s blood, and how to process the serum from it. I’m ashamed to say that it only partially has worked on mother. She still ages approximately one week for every year that passes. Emogene and I share Lorenzo’s DNA, so it fully works on us. But I can only get so much blood from Lorenzo, and it’s difficult to do.”

“Jack, you’re ONE scientist. Curie, how long did you research the universal cure?”

“Doctor Collins finished me in 2078. I began my research that year, finishing creating the universal cure in 2204.”

“Universal cure for what?”, Jack asked.

“Every disease known to mankind. Unfortunately, some organ and tissue damage that can be caused by severe radiation poisoning is not a disease, and thus, while the cancers themselves that radiation can cause will be cured, the organ or tissue damage itself cannot be fixed. Even my newly discovered Stimpak may not be enough to reverse that severe of damage.”

Jack did a double take. “I’m sorry, you don’t look a day over 25.”

“Of course not, monsieur. I have only inhabited this body for three months.”

Jack looked dumbfounded. I chuckled a little. “Minor detail, Jack. You weren’t the only scientist to survive the war. I believe you’ve heard of MIT, became CIT when the United States changed to Commonwealths, since you used to teach there. They survived, too. And they’ve not been researching just one thing since the end of the war, they’ve been researching a LOT of things. Including how to create people from basic DNA, as well as cloning blood and body parts, in case of injuries or illness.”

He looked even more astounded. “Creating life ... artificially. My God, that means that it may be possible for those scientists to clone Lorenzo’s blood, even. But ... would they consider helping? Could we even trust them with such a secret?”

I had a huge smile on my face. “I think I could put in a good word with the Director of CIT, to, uh, check your research. I know they’re already working on DNA studies of ghouls, Edward, in case you might want to trade your body in for a new one that’s ... well, fully human again. That research just started, though, so I don’t know how far along it is. It’s part of the reverse engineering of the FEV virus that they’re working on.”

“A human body? I wouldn’t ... look like this anymore? I’d have ... functioning parts again? And yes, I mean what you think I mean.”

“Like I said, they’re working on it, but it’s possible. It depends upon how badly the radiation has mutated your own DNA, in combination with the FEV virus that is what really turned you into a ghoul. They can fix a lot of things, though, now. Em, you figured out that Piper, Curie, and Gwen, who isn’t here, are married to me.” I got a big smile on my face. “As I said, Gwen is staying at ... home ... for now. She’s pregnant ... with my baby.”

“I don’t see what that’s a big deal. Scientists have been doing artificial insemination for decades, well before the war, and well as embryonic implants.”

“You miss the point, Jack. No males involved. Take all of the original DNA from a male sperm, so it’s completely empty, then replace it with the DNA from my own egg. Then the sperm with my DNA in it can fertilize the harvested egg normally, then be implanted onto the uterine wall, allowing the child to grow normally.”

He got lost in space for a few minutes. In the meantime, Em was thinking herself. She said, “My God, that’s brilliant. You’re right, that would work. You’d have regular joining and then cellular division, so it’d be a baby with, technically, no father. They’re that advanced at CIT now?”

“Pretty much. The only issue they’re working on, simply for safety sake, is no pregnant women are allowed to teleport, since that’s never been studied.”

Jack looked at me in shock. “Teleportation? They’ve mastered it? I ... I thought that was only science fiction?”

“After you’ve been studying what’s sitting on Lorenzo’s head for, shit, nearly 400 years? Seriously?”

“Yes, well, I apologize, you’re right. I still want to know how you think that CIT could be trusted with our secret, though. What kind of good word could you put in that would make someone not do something unethical with my research?”

At that comment, James, Piper and Curie all broke out in laughter. Em looked at them, their reaction, then at me. I could see her realizing the answer. Then she took it a step further, with her question. “So, in addition to being the Director of CIT, and what I figured earlier, what else do you do?”

I looked at Piper. “Now do you see why I understood your infatuation with Cait, why I really have no issue with it?”

She nodded. “We’re going to need more power armor.”

I held up my hand. “Inside joke, dear. As I said, which Jack didn’t hear, I had been put into cryogenic storage on the day the war started, in 2077. I came out of it in October of last year. I mentioned I had been pregnant. My son was a baby when I went on ice. He was kidnapped, by some scientists, while I was still frozen. When I came out, I had one goal. Find him. I did that. In the process, I found out how really fucked up this world is. I decided to try to make it a better place. I’d like to think I’m doing so.”

Emogene looked down. “For the longest time, after the war, I felt more alive than I had in ... a long time. Then ... I’m ... I’m sorry, Tina. I could have done more, should have done more. I just reached the point where things seemed ... hopeless. So I quit caring. That was wrong of me.”

“I won’t argue with you, dear, but I don’t know how I would have reacted if I’d had to live through the endless years and decades. You remember Mrs. Underwood, from the Boston Library? She’s a ghoul now, we’ve talked about how having to live through year after endless year can really damage the psyche.”

Jack interrupted. “You still haven’t said how you know CIT will help.”

“God, you haven’t changed a bit, have you, Jack? It’s all quite simple. As Emogene has already surmised, I wear more than one hat. The Militia of the Commonwealth is called the Minutemen. They’re about 300 troops strong right now. I’m their General. There’s an organization, up from Columbia, called the Brotherhood of Steel. They’ve got about 300 troops here in the Commonwealth right now. With the actual head, their Elder, away on a mission, the command of all those troops is on the sole Sentinel, which is their second in command of everything. That would also be me. As for CIT, all I need is a mirror to put in a good word with the Director. Again, me. Lastly, like Emogene figured, I’m Governor of the Commonwealth of New England States, all of it.”

I shook my head. “No need to get into future changes right now. But in answer to your question, Jack, yeah, I can get help.”

Wilhelmina had been quiet for a long time. She looked up at me. “I gather from your discussion that you do still have feelings for my daughter, even after all this time. I’m from another time, so I can’t say that it’s within me to approve. I mean that, literally. Lorenzo was 15 years older than I when we met, just after the end of the war. Keep in mind I’m referring to the American Civil War. I was 15, which was considered of courting age then. So I was 60 years old when Jack figured out the serum, in 1910. Physically, he’s right, I’m still less than 70. But in my bones, in my mind, I feel every one of the 438 years that I’ve been alive.”

She snorted. “Alive. Not really. Existing is more like it. I’ve had nothing to live for, for more than a century. I think that our life anymore is a curse upon us.”

“Wilhelmina, can you remember when you didn’t feel that way? When life was fun, an adventure?”, I asked.

She shook her head. “It’s been so long, I don’t know that those memories are even inside my head any longer.”

Curie and Piper looked at each other, nodding. “Memory loungers, with Doctor Amari.”

“James, you want to escort them there?”

“No, ma’am. I’ll call Jerome, I’ll have someone meet them outside. I know it’s only down the street, turn at the Mass Fusion Building, and they’re in Goodneighbor. They’re your wives. I’m still YOUR bodyguard. And ... something makes a lot more sense to me, now. Why, with all the places in the Boston area that you were upset that Preston passed over, you weren’t upset about Parsons Insane Asylum. You already knew what was there.”

I looked at Emogene, who had that glint in her eye I remembered. “See what I have to put up with? Competent subordinates, who actually think for themselves.” Maggy chuckled at that. “Go ahead, James. Call someone and have them meet them outside.”

Edward said, “What about the sentry bot?”

“Oh, I turned that off.” I held up my wrist. “I found more source code in Nuka-World and copied it here, gives me control of any robot I can establish a radio link with.” I looked at Piper and Curie. “You’re sure about this?”

They both came over and gave me a kiss. “Keep Cait safe, my love. Wilhelmina, you’ll want some comfortable shoes, it’s a walk, but not that far. And don’t worry, one of us will teleport back to CIT, to keep Gwen company at night,” Piper assured me.

There was a knock at the door. Edward shook his head, went and opened it. “Hello, I’m Jasper. James called and said an escort was needed?”

Wilhelmina stopped at the edge of the door. “You know, I don’t think I’ve set foot out of this house for more than a hundred years. Thank you, young ladies, for your kindness.”

Jack was dumbfounded. “What’s happening here?”

Emogene shook her head. “Jack, you never did get it.” She looked at me. “Do I need a set of that combat armor, too?”

“I’d like to say no, but all things considered, it’s entirely possible. Even though we’ve pretty much cleared the Boston area of super mutants, feral ghouls, and Raiders, there are still way too many creatures in the wild that could come in or that we haven’t seen, and getting shot would pretty much ruin your day.”

She laughed, the same laugh I remembered. “You’re so right, Tina. I’m guessing that as the head of ... well, everything ... you have someplace that I could get some.”

“Sure. Edward, can you try to keep Jack out of trouble? We’ll be back, eventually,” I said.

It seemed that things just really started clicking after that. The next week was almost a blur, introducing Cait and Emogene to what was going on in the Commonwealth. After leaving Cabot House, we flew back to Sanctuary and got Emogene equipped properly. We picked up Deacon and Lizzie there, to come with us. A trip to the Castle that evening, to discuss training and military planning with Preston and Ronnie Shaw, including how many troops to send to Nuka-World. The next morning, we took the boat trip to Bar Harbor. The Nakano’s now had three boats making the run, with the commandeering of Allen’s supply ship when it had docked in Bar Harbor.

Meeting and explaining to Brooks and Mariner what was planned actually went better than I’d thought. Mount Desert Island still had the Fog, but the plan to isolate Atom’s Spring like they’d done had worked. Literally, the biggest issue was the sheer volume of wild animals on the island. Longfellow was telling us about bagging a hermit crab, which Emogene thought was hilarious until he showed us the transit van that the crab had been using as a shell, and how that one crab had enough meat to feed the whole town and all the troops on the island for three days.

She was smart enough to apologize, profusely.

Since there were a lot of animals still out there, I led everyone on a hunting expedition the next morning. I was curious to see how well Cait could shoot, and if Emogene had kept up with what I’d taught her. I was going to leave Maggy and Deacon in Bar Harbor, but they weren’t having any of it. We ended up over on the far side of the island, at the drive-in theater.

Once we saw what was there, I knew the ghouls that were there wouldn’t stand a chance against us. So I decided to make this a teaching moment. “Okay, everyone can see that those ghouls are all congregated down towards the screen. The only ones I want to fire weapons are Lizzie, Cait, and Emogene. Single, aimed shots, only. There’s only a dozen or so of them, so you have plenty of time to take them out before they get to us.”

The three women looked at me like I was a little crazy, while James, Deacon, and Maggy were all smiling. Maggy said, “Go ahead, I’ve been through this already. You can do it.”

Cait was a better shot than either of the other two. She killed five of the ghouls, Lizzie and Emogene each got three, and I got the last two that had made it too close. The last ghoul skidded to a stop right in front of Emogene.

“Wow! That was ... holy shit, Tina, I ... I...” Emogene had a wild look in her eyes. I’d seen it before. Rather than letting her follow through with it, I simply walked up to her and gave her a slap on the cheek. “What the fuck?”

“We’re in a potential combat zone. You have to maintain control, at all times, when in dangerous territory. If I hadn’t been here, if it’d just been the three of you, two of you would be injured or dead now. Just because the enemy in front of you has been dealt with does not mean that there’s not something coming up from the side that, because you were so focused on what was in front of you, that you’re safe.”

With that, I spun to my right, putting two shots into the wolves that had been creeping up on us from the side. I knew James had seen them and not done anything with them, so I could use them as an example. I winked at him, a slight nod from him in return.

“And that would have put all three of you out of commission. This isn’t a cage fight, these aren’t Raiders, this isn’t Hogan’s Alley. This is reality.”

All three of them looked ashamed, which was what I wanted. I nodded at them. “Now that I’ve chewed your asses a little, I’ll tell you, you did pretty good against the ghouls. You had time to get into stable firing positions and did so. Accuracy was fairly decent, the three of you took out 11 targets, fired 18 rounds total. I’m a little disappointed in you, Emogene. You’ve not kept up your training. Three shots to take down a single running person. And of course, all three of you failed in situational awareness. Which is also not surprising.”

“As a training exercise, not bad. If this had been for real, it would have been bad.”

Cait argued, “What do ye mean if this had been real? I thought those ghouls wanted to eat our faces? That’s pretty darned real to me, darling.”

“Of course they wanted to eat your faces. But Piper asked me to keep you safe, so at no point were you in any actual danger. Come on, there’s something I want to show you. James, would you get some of the meat from those wolves?”

“For the record, ma’am, I’m against this. But ... since I also know better than to argue with you about it when you want to prove a point, some fresh wolf chops, coming up.”

“Tina, you’re not thinking about what Teddy mentioned, are you?”

“Of course I am, John. That’ll put a serious crimp in the critter population.”

“Fuck. Oh, well, it’s not like we haven’t done it before.”

“You misunderstand, John. WE’RE not going to do it. I’M going to do it, and the rest of you are going to watch. Call it a serious object lesson for our newest three additions.”

They followed me into the swamp. One of the town residents was there, doing a little fishing. “Howdy, ma’am, folks. What are you doing out here?”

“Thought I’d do the Captain’s Dance. Are you up to witnessing it?”

“Seriously, ma’am? You don’t need to do that to prove anything to any of us. We all know what you’ve done. That’s ... that’s dangerous.”

“Like I said, are you up to being witness?”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll be ... back there, watching.”

“Give me the meat, James. The rest of you, go with Dottie. Don’t argue with me on this, James.”

“What the hell are you doing, Tina?”, Emogene asked.

“Something to help the residents of Bar Harbor. And showing the three of you what I expect of people that are with me, with us.”

I went a little further into the water, while they moved up to safety. I double checked my rifle, made sure it was ready. Giving it a toss, I threw one of the chunks of bloody meat into the water. I stood very still, while the smell of the blood permeated the water. It took less than a minute. Three mirelurks came up and out of the water, charging me. I still stood still, until they were all within 30 feet.

My rifle came up, and I fired three shots. All three mirelurks fell over backwards, dead. I spun, shooting the fourth mirelurk that had been coming up behind me. Things calmed down after a minute, and I threw another chunk of meat out. Two of the mirelurks that shot out those sonic attacks came out of the water. I killed both of those with a single shot each before they could use their attacks, then pivoted to kill the other two mirelurks that came out. That was followed by the shaking and roar as a Mirelurk Queen rose up from the middle of the swamp.

I put my rifle up and pulled my pistol. The Queen shot acid at me, which I dodged. She moved a little closer, then shot a group of eggs at me. I quick fired six shots, shooting each of the eggs in flight. She started charging closer, so I holstered the pistol, brought my rifle back up, and fired four shots. Her carapace caused a bit of a wave as she fell over, dead.

I switch magazines, then pulled out some single rounds and reloaded while walking back to where everyone was waiting.

Maggy shook her head. “That’s the third Mirelurk Queen I’ve seen you kill. It’s taken you fewer rounds each time. I know we can’t have them around, but ... dammit, I felt like my heart was going to jump out my throat when you put your rifle up and pulled your pistol.”

Lizzie was nodding. “I ... I wasn’t paying as much attention in Nuka-World as I should have been. I was coasting, not pulling my weight. That’ll never happen again.”

“Don’t look at me, Lizzie. Those are the two you need to apologize to.” The three of them walked over a little.

Cait and Emogene were still a little shocked at what they’d seen. Emogene summed it up in two words. “How, why?”

“How is simple. I’ve never quit training, and I fought in real combat, against Chinese soldiers, more than once, even though I was a civilian. Why is also simple. Someone was going to need to clean up these creatures at some point. This allowed me to use them as a teaching lesson for you. Always be prepared for combat, be the best you can be at it, because you never know when you’ll need that skill. Not in the world we live in today. It’s not the world we wanted, but it’s the one we have. We need to be ready and willing to do what we can to help make it better. Even if it’s dangerous.”

I gave the three of them the job of guarding all of us on the walk back to Bar Harbor, with free fire ability. If they saw a legitimate target, they could shoot without asking. It went better than I anticipated, with two of them seeing and shooting a Gulper at the same time, while the other shot an Angler that was attacking at the same time. They were only about five seconds slower than I would have been. I’d also had the others tap me on the back when they saw something – and they were only two seconds slower. I just hoped my lessons sank in.

We were met at the new City Building for Bar Harbor by Brooks and The Mariner. “We heard from Dottie what you did. Amazing. But pretty much what I’ve come to expect from you. Um, is it going to cause an issue with you if Brooks and I ... um ... end up a bit closer than either of us anticipated? Since you cured me, I’ve found some things are a bit more, um...”

I giggled. “It’s all good. But I think if the two of you are going to make anything official, you really ought to have a name.”

“I’ve decided to go with Maureen, actually. Is there anything else?”

“No, we just came up here so that Maggy could meet the two of you, and she could see some of what she’s going to be responsible for when she takes over for me.”

Brooks said, “I don’t know if you know or not, but ... there’s actually several more of us that have visited DiMA, and are helping him. He’s ... changed. I think for the better, it’s just odd having him active now on the Island, helping all of us rebuild. We’re discussing getting some synths onto the mainland, maybe get a bridgehead there, once we finish completely clearing the Island.”

“Take your time, get the radioactive trash cleaned up as best you can first. We don’t need a repeat of the Fog any time soon.”

We left the Island when the boat showed up again a couple of hours later, after I made sure and introduced everyone to Erickson. He promised Maggy to train a dog for her. We slept on the boat ride. Once we were back to the mainland, Katie took us to the airport. After getting off the bird, there were two troops wearing Brotherhood armor that greeted us.

“Good morning, Sentinel. I’m Knight-Sergeant Gavil, this is Knight Lucia. Welcome to the airport. I presume you’re here to check on our guest?”

“That, and to make sure that training and equipping of the former Gunner soldiers has gone according to plan. A group of them was supposed to come here, gear up, and go to Nuka-World for deployment.”

“Yes, ma’am, they’ve done that already. We’re ... well, we’re so far ahead of schedule with things, it’s almost not funny.”

“What do you mean?”

“Those robots. We have one of the workstations here, of course. With the amount of labor that the robots have freed up by moving supplies, we’re almost ready to start rebuilding some of the airport itself. Our job is supply and logistics, because as you’re well aware, and have made certain, while troops fight the war, it’s the beans and bullets, as it were, that actually win the war. We’re basically ready for whatever the Prydwen brings back.”

Knight Lucia said, “Yes, ma’am. It took us six years to build the Prydwen, two to gather materials, four to actually make her. Elder Maxson told us what you wanted. It’s taken us two MONTHS, and we have enough materials gathered here to build another. We just need Proctor Ingram and that robot ... PAM, sorry, I forgot her name ... back. The scientists at CIT have given us access to their computers to help with design.”

Gavil then said, “Mr. Swann has also been very helpful. And I mean that. He can’t do precision work, but he’s been moving beams, clearing old airplane wreckage, and at the same time, helping teach classes for the Squires. Right now he should be resting in his hangar.”

I blinked. “You’re letting him live in a hangar?”

“I know, he doesn’t actually NEED a building to live in, but ... damn me if I don’t like the man, no matter what he looks like. It’s just down here, at the end of this section.”

“Thank you. We’ll check on him. Carry on with your duties.” They saluted and left. I shook my head in amusement, then led my crew down to the hangar building. There were two large doors open on our side, and I walked on in. James and Maggy followed me, but the rest stopped at the doorway in shock at the sight of Edgar Swann.

“Hello, Edgar, Brian. How are things going?”

“Ah, hello, Director. Edgar and I were just discussing which pairs of genes I would need to splice for the next step in his treatment.”

Edgar said, “That is correct. I believe the modifications to the cytosine uracil uracil nucleotides was accomplished by replacing the first uracil with an adenine.”

“That makes sense, if they forced thymine into it to translate proteins directly from DNA. I think I can switch that without too much trouble, which only leaves us 53 more to go.” Brian saw I looked a little lost. “Apologies, I realize this can be esoteric if you don’t know what we’re specifically talking about.”

Edgar looked up and smiled. “If I didn’t tell you enough before, thank you. While I’m sure that we’ll run into issues, I suspect that by this time next year, I’ll be a whole new man, as it were.”

“You’re welcome, Edgar. I presume that everyone here is treating you well?”

He laughed, which shook the inside of the whole hangar. “I would say they’re more scared of you than they are of me. After all, I’m just a big, scary looking, monster. You’re the GOVERNATOR.” He chuckled. “I know that you don’t like that, I can tell, but the story of that fight is hilarious.”

“James, remind me to beat you severely about the head and shoulders for my allowing you to get a crowd to fill that theater.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He said that so deadpan that I had to laugh.

“Edgar, since it will take a while for you to get changed, I have some information for you. When the Prydwen returns, I’ll probably be accepting a new job, and if that does happen, Maggy Black here will be taking over as Governor.”

“Yes, I remember her from when you and I first met. It’s a pleasure to formally meet you.” He held out a finger for her.

She stepped forward and took it in her hand. “The pleasure is all mine, Mister Swann.”

“Well, we won’t keep you, this is just part of my duties, making sure that everyone is actually doing everything they should be doing.”

“Our pleasure, ma’am.” Edgar nodded and smiled, which was terrifying to see.

Once we were out of the building and out of earshot, Deacon said, “Um, Tina?”

“Yes, John?”

“FUCKING SWAN? From Swan’s Pond? Are you KIDDING me?”

Maggy turned to him. “Edgar has been a perfect gentleman. We had coffee and cake with him when we first met. I swear, John, where are your manners?”

She and I then broke out in laughter at the expression on John’s face, James joining in a second later. In a low voice, John said, “It’s not funny, you know. It was one thing, in the Glowing Sea and finding Virgil inside that cave and him being a super mutant. At least I didn’t know anyone if he’d killed them. Then you introduce us to a super mutant that is a dog trainer, of all things, and lives in the old bowling alley in Bar Harbor. Swan is a behemoth. Now I understand why they said he was moving things. He could squish you into jelly with his bare hands. And I know a couple of people that he did kill.”

“That was when he was Swan, genetic freak experiment of the Institute. Now he’s Edgar Swann, citizen of the Commonwealth, and Brian is working to help him return to his original body, albeit hopefully and intentionally keeping his super-genius.”

Emogene glanced my way. “Algernon?”

“Exactly. Except we believe reversible.”

“Indeed. Any idea how long that will take?”

“It could be weeks, years, or may never happen. The FEV virus is a tricky thing. Brian was a super mutant for almost two years, but he’d also already made what he thought was his own cure before infecting himself. It didn’t restore him to completely original status, though. He retained muscle mass and ... virility.” I grinned at that last. “The woman he’s with needed some relief from being rubbed raw, actually. So enjoyable, but painful, sex.”

“Water soluble lubrication would work for that,” Emogene said.

Deacon grumbled, “Ladies, I really don’t need to hear this, thank you, though.”

Maggy chuckled. “What’s the matter, lover? Your virgin ears can’t handle this kind of talk? Of course, your ears are about the only thing virgin left, if what Lizzie and I have been doing with you is any indication.”

“Ooh, toes, too? Kinky!”, I laughed. Deacon turned a very bright red and quit talking.

We went back to where Katie was waiting for us. “Ma’am, is your radio turned off?”

I checked. “Damn, I must’ve turned it off during the boat ride back.” I flipped the switch on the side of my combat helmet. “Unit calling Wilson, go ahead.”

“Tina, this is Piper. Could you pick up Jack and Emogene, bring them to the Memory Den, in Goodneighbor?”

“Copy that, Piper.” I turned to my group. “Something important with Wilhelmina, I’m guessing. We need to get Jack and go to the Memory Den.”

Katie set us down outside Cabot House. Emogene and I ran in. “Come on, Jack, there’s a problem with Mother. She needs to see us.”

“Oh, what? I feel like I’m right on the edge of a breakthrough, can’t it wait?”

“You ignorant asshole, this is Mother we’re talking about here. You’ve been on the edge of a breakthrough for the last fifty years. Get your ass outside or I’ll let Tina shoot you a couple of times.”

“Edward, are you going to let her talk to me that way?”

“Um, Jack, yes, I am. I remember how good a shot Tina was, so I’m certain it’d only be a flesh wound, just to get your attention.”

Jack let out a huge sigh. “Oh, very well.” He put the chemicals down he was working with, took his gloves off. “Where do we go?”

I made a pointing motion to the door. “After you, Jack.” He started out the door, with Edward following him. Emogene turned back to see me taking the vials on the counter that were labeled as Lorenzo’s serum and slip them into a pouch. She met my eyes and nodded in agreement.

It was a quick run for us to Goodneighbor. There was a workstation set up in the entry to the neighborhood, with people bringing scrap to it. A scribe was talking with the crew working on improving the neighborhood, making sure things were being done. The whole of Scollay Square was starting to look much better.

Hancock was there, supervising. “Hello, Governor! I tell you, this is making a huge improvement for us.”

“Walk with us, Hancock, we need to see Amari.” I kept going. “I’m glad things are getting better here. I’m making a few changes to how the areas are governed. Geneva is now Mayor of Diamond City, in an election. You’re in charge here, obviously. The Commonwealth is three territories, the Boston area, Nuka-World, and Mount Desert Island. Each territory has it’s own supervisor. For Boston, that’s Nick Valentine. And my replacement as Governor of the Commonwealth will be Maggy Black, here.” We were at the entrance to the Memory Den.

“Maggy, would you, Deacon, and Lizzie, please update John on the rest of the details?”

She nodded. “Certainly, ma’am. Mr. Hancock, I’m Maggy Black.” She held her hand out for him to take it, keeping him outside while the rest of us went inside.

“Sweetie, they’re all downstairs with Amari.”

Piper and Curie were standing by the memory lounger that held Wilhelmina. Amari was at the computer console. “Ah, thank you for coming, Governor. I presume these are her children, Emogene and Jack?”

“What’s this all about?”, Jack demanded. “I have important research to conduct.”

“More important than your mother’s life?”, Piper asked.

“Wait, what? What are you talking about?”

Emogene and I both turned at the same time and said, “Jack, shut up.” I pointed to her to continue. “Seriously, brother, if you’d listen for once instead of blathering on, you might learn something.” She turned back. “Our apologies, please continue.”

Amari couldn’t quite conceal a small smile. “Yes, obviously you’re her children. As I was saying, thank you for coming. The Governor knows and understands what we do here at the Memory Den, which is allow people to experience memories that they may have forgotten, some good, some not, but with full senses, letting you relive things.”

She looked at the pod, where Wilhelmina sat still. “Due to the unique circumstances of your mother’s life, we utilized my pod here instead of the normal ones upstairs, as those pods are for general use, while these are capable of much more. Your mother has been looking through the memories of her life, including some that she had forgotten, and through the interface that I have with the pod, has communicated to us her wishes.”

I was puzzled. “I know how you can stay in contact, Doctor, while we’re inside our memories. But I was an observer only, not able to interact with what was going on in those memories.”

 
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