It’s a new year and I have found Shawn. Except there is no Shawn. Shawn is a synth. The Shawn I see in the last of Kellogg’s memories when I dream isn’t real. He’s limp and lifeless in a glass room where “Father” can tinker with him. The body of the child I never truly had turned out to be nothing but a hobby for an old man.
The old man claims he is my Shawn. He says Kellogg kidnapped him sixty years ago, not ten. And even though I wanted to say he was full of shit, even though I wanted to kill him, I couldn’t do it when I looked in his eyes. Those eyes are still the same.
But if they can put those same eyes into that little boy, who is to say they couldn’t put them in an old man?
Why would Kellogg look nearly identical from my memory of Nate’s murder from when I murdered Kellogg if those dates were supposed to be sixty years apart?
Once again it keeps coming down to counting the dates.
This…Father…who claims to be my son, he was the one who released me from the Vault. He was the one who put Kellogg in my crosshairs. He has been orchestrating nearly every encounter I’ve had since I woke up. And with his ability to make robots indistinguishable from humans, it’s likely I have no idea how deep the rabbit hole truly goes.
I hacked into his terminal and was able to retrieve Kellogg’s personnel files. They truly do go back over sixty years, including records of his augmentations and longevity. Either this is false information meant to confirm “Father” or it’s the truth. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing at the moment. And that old man who claims he’s my son continued to use him even after learning what he’d done.
He wants me to stay here. He wants me to see what he’s accomplished. He wants me to be proud of him.
That’s why he woke me up.
Because he was curious if I would survive.
He was curious if Kellogg or I would die.
He was curious if I would find a way into the Institute.
But the old man stacked the deck in my favor. All these scripted events and breadcrumbs have been strings pulling me along a story he wants to tell. It would be touching if I wasn’t so manipulative.
I don’t know how to leave this place but the old man keeps saying I’m not a prisoner. He also insists I meet the department heads of his Institute before discussing anything further. He wants me to see his justifications for his actions.
This is not the first time I’ve been trapped living somewhere dangerous. I know how to play this game. Smiles and courtesies and calculations and stories. Make them feel safe while maintaining vigilance.
I don’t know what else to do now that there is no Shawn for me to Find. All I can do is survive and observe.
The sun rises as we approach Sanctuary Hills. Despite the bombed out houses and machine gun turrets posted at the bridge, it’s actually quite pleasant to look at the shimmering creek low with mist. I can see why so many people have settled here already. It’s why Nate and I moved here once he served his time.
We were going to be a normal family. Live a quiet life. Try to recover and heal together.
The adoption process was almost as arduous as the “transition” process I went through while Nate was in Anchorage. Nothing but endless questions and brain scans and psychological screenings and genetics testing to make sure you were the Right Kind of abnormality. The kind that can be covered up and never spoken of again.
If there’s one thing I can be thankful for about the times I’m living in, at least we’re no longer under the thumb of the fucking Enclave government anymore. There’s no more sense in pretending to be normal anymore. And at least Nate can finally sleep.
Dr. Amari, Desdemona, and Tinker Tom are waiting by the towering sensor array. It’s everything I can do not to punch that damn doctor in the face. But it’s not her fault. I made her do this to me. And what’s worse is I know I wouldn’t still be alive if it wasn’t for what she’d done.
It’s no mystery to me how I’ve gone from a chubby children’s therapist to a gunslinging murderer in the span of three months. It’s not as if I’m unaware that my instincts to draw and aim my gun with a steady hand come from a man who was doing this longer than I’ve been alive. But I still killed him.
“Oh thank goodness! When I heard from Nick about your condition I came straight away. And of course you already know Tom and Dez,” She approaches me with her tarnished stethescope.
“Get. The Fuck. Away.”
“I am here to add these last few components,” I hold up my backpack, “To shoot up a shit load of Psycho, Buffout, Mentats, and Jet,” I rattle my lunchbox full of drugs, “And then I am going to teleport into the Institute and murder every moving thing that comes between me and Shawn.”
I snap the biometric scanner into the console Tom has been Tinkering with. A couple red lights turn green.
The military circuits fit into the base of the gigantic beam emitter. Bright blue flashes swirl around the base of the stand. Now we’re starting to look like a damn teleporter.
Tom looks excited beyond his dreams, the blue flashes reflecting back in his eyes, “The signal is starting to rise! I don’t know how much time we’re gonna get before it peaks.”
Desdemona approaches me and hands me a holotape, “I don’t know how much time you’ll have when you’re there or if this will even work, but please take this with you! It will provide everything we know about The Institute and give you the means of contacting Codename: Patriot. He’s sympathetic to our cause and will likely be for yours as well!”
The whirring and spinning deafening noises manage to even drown out the stacks of gas generators needed to keep this thing running. I stand in the middle of the platform, surrounded by the blue light stinging my skin.
“Nick!” I call out, “Thank you! For everything!”
Suddenly the blue lights go pure white, flooding my entire field of vision. It feels as though my body is somehow being squeezed through a keyhole until just as suddenly…
My gun is already drawn but there’s nobody else here in this cold metal room. It feels too much like the Vault.
There’s nowhere for me to go but forward as the voice of a man is piped in all around me.
“I am known as Father. The Institute is under my guidance.”
A round glass elevator arrives as I enter the next room. It’s a trap, but there’s no other option.
“I know why you’re here. I’d like to discuss things with you, face-to-face.”
Yeah, more like gun-to-face, motherfucker.
I punch the only button in the elevator and it lowers me into a large atrium. There is a vibrant scene of people walking about in white jumpsuits in the bright white clean test tube of a world. The voice keeps droning on about saving humanity from itself or some other creepy bullshit I don’t care about.
This place looks like it was straight out of a comic book. It’s obviously very advanced, even for the time I came from. But I already know their weaponry and combat skills ain’t all that impressive. And that’s what’s about to really matter.
Then the elevator stops.
I step out and walk into the next room.
And there is Shawn.
He’s not a baby anymore. I knew that already but it still hurts. But he still has those same eyes. Why is he locked in a glass room?!
“Shawn! Shawn I’ve been looking for you for so long…”
He looks startled. A dagger goes through my heart as he screams, “I don’t know you! Father! Father help me!”
“Are you okay, honey? You’re not hurt are you? Shawn, what do you want me to do?”
“Father help! She’s trying to take me!”
“Shawn please. I am your mother. These people took you from me and your father when you were just a baby. I know it doesn’t make sense but I’m here to make it right.”
A door slides open and my pistol is already aimed at an elderly man’s face as he says, “Shawn, S9-23 Recall Code Cirrus.”