Having dismissed smarty for the evening you put on the remainder of your fatigues but kept on the sandals since no point in putting on boots just to take them off. You returned to your house while ringing out your damp boxers. “I’ve had worse excuses.” You say aloud as you head inside and put the boxers in a hamper before picking up the hamper and heading out the gates so your disappearance would hopefully not wake the fluffies.
Your sandals gently slapped on the floors as you made your way to your room and dumped your laundry in the chute. You only had an hour or so until people took off work so you checked your terminal for urgent messages. Both bio sciences and retention were requesting a meeting.
You exited your room promptly after logging off and made your way to retention first. “Good evening Director Johnson.” The receptionist at the desk added. “The acting director left early but he left me the following report if you showed up while they were out.” They add handing you a sealed manilla envelope. You nod and proceed to the back to sit down and read. It was a bureaucratic thanks for my efforts of accounting for 20% of the missing units and that my sector was now clear of ‘Hmmm… Thirty three signals dropped off our scans in the last two days.’
The most likely culprit, death. Second most likely, they’ve moved somewhere that we don’t have coverage or that produces interference. Interference could be anything ranging from radiation to being inside a particularly developed building or industrial complex. You filled out some paperwork to requisition the last known coverage areas of missing signals and to report if the signals show up again elsewhere in the coverage so that he could deploy more eyebots.
It was the third and fourth most likely scenarios in his head that concerned you. The third being that fluffies suffering from hardware failure that induces smarty syndrome may no longer ping properly. You doubted a third of the fluffies in the initial incident would have hardware malfunctions, but it was certainly possible a portion of these did. You’d make a note for the appropriate departments to run tests of any captured smarties that hadn’t been fixed and reformatted.
The fourth but most troubling was if the disappearances were due to the assistance of the Railroad. It was entirely possible the railroad knew about the project all along and the mass release was their goal but considering how randomly they scattered them with the teleporter that didn’t make much sense…
Unless they had a means of detecting the energy fluctuations of arrival signals. In which case they could promptly send out search teams to very specific coordinates. . .If this was true, it would explain how such a group had managed to catch about the same number as the institute if you totaled your own and general recoveries. Whether or not this was your paranoia talking was uncertain but regardless you needed to pull this weed before it took root. You’d submit orders to increase surveillance of old railroad contacts and sympathizers immediately and to trap old safe houses and the dead drops and supply caches. You also wanted to seize an asset you’d left on the table for far too long that may have caused this. You’d request the cooperation of at least two coursers for a field mission and to have a battalion of synths on standby in case things got ugly.
True with the teleporter you could just leave if things got ugly but you had no intention of abandoning this asset and while you found Goodneighbors ‘an armed society is a polite society’ / libertarian attitude towards many issues refreshing… It had too many people taking advantage of these ideals to push drugs and crime and you had no problem purging those aspects (which you prayed would disperse the normal people) if necessary and occupying good-neighbor like you had done with Diamond city. But you knew John Hancock wouldn’t stand for this and would likely lead a defense against you or cause rebellion if they survived through occupation. This meant that if the operation went tits up and was discovered that you’d need to do something about them…
You found yourself very saddened at this. You and Hancock had some good times. You prayed the operation could remain covert so you wouldn’t have to do what you knew you would do in such a situation…
You Submitted your paperwork on the way out saying “I’ll be by in the morning to talk specifics.”
You make your way over to Bio science hoping showing up a half hour before shift change wasn’t overly rude. As you look around you catch them from a side glance and approach. “Director Holdren.”
“Director Johnson, it’s a little late. Is this about the meeting?” he inquires.
“Yes, I can reschedule if you need.”
“Oh probably not.” He adds digging out a clip board. “The results so far from the samples you’ve provided have indeed indicated that newborn units do not have components or much in the way of signs of its development meaning they’re un-trackable by current means. It’s a shame that containment efforts will have likely already have failed by the time some of these ‘Fluffies’ have reached a point of development that we can be confirm if the component will be produced within their body. The way he says ‘fluffies’ though sounds dismissive as if it were a name he had not settled on.
“I assume you mean due to the rate of reproduction?” you inquire.
“Quite so. The first batch will be nearing sexual viability and a second is probably already being developed by the original surviving escapees.” He adds with a sigh.
“Hey while I have you, I wanted your opinion. Do you think the hardware issues for smarties could be causing them to be undetected by the scans?”
“An interesting theory. It would probably depend on severity. . . I assume you want us to test this for you?” He adds sounding mildly disappointed.
“If you wouldn’t mind.” You add attempting to be pleasant.
“Sure I’ve got some interns that need some field experience anyway.” He adds dismissively looking at the clock.
“Great. As a thank you im curious. Would a Brain specialist help you at all with project Giddyup buttercup?” You add casually.
“Actually yes.” He adds quirking an eyebrow.
“Then just consider voting in my favor if a vote is called tomorrow.” You add with a smile.
“Noted.” He adds no strange to the politics of such votes.
“Also out of curiosity… Can we make a fluffy without a consciousness?”
“Probably but we’d need a proper reason or it wouldn’t be approved.” He adds dismissively.
“It’ll be part of tomorrows vote if there is one. I may have found a way of moving a programmed consciousness between synthetic bodies and if containment fails I think we could use this to fast track fluffy courser development. And if we lose containment it could be useful for Fluffy field study if MIT ever gets off the ground.”
“I wont ask how you know about that.” Holdren adds tensely not knowing how much director johnson knew about what had been going on in his absence. “Have a good night.” He adds seeing the minute hand finally reaching the top of the clock.
Time for bed. After you made it to your room you lay in bed with a hint of disappointment. Why were you doing this to yourself? . . You were going to take some time off and enjoy a few days of precious moments and firsts from Peaches foals but instead you might well be conquering a city instead…
“No… Had to be me. Someone else could have gotten it wrong.” You say before drifting off to sleep.
‘Looks like I was right.’ Earl thought to himself. One of the commonwealth traders he dealt with confirmed there was somebody named ‘johnson’ who lived a day or two by foot in a place called ‘Sanctuary Hills’. Apparently, they had a bounty on fluffies as well. The convenience and coincidence was a little unnerving to be honest.
He had less then a week to decide since the walk would get more and more difficult for her as time went on and they’d have to transport her otherwise which you were against. So it was either soon, or in a few months. Earl couldn’t complain though, Bessie was a diligent worker and provided incredibly rich and creamy milk. Shame it gave you terrible gas if you didn’t limit yourself or cut it with something but some days you just dealt with it and you and Klem had fart wars throughout the day and evening. You might try processing some into butter and cheese and see if that helped.
Raider reluctantly did his share of general work but where he really shined was keeping Klem entertained. Their relationship had even begun to improve a little. Raider had been outfitted with some leather ‘armor’ if you could call it that, more like padding. This allowed the two to be a little more liberal with the rough housing without excessive bleeding all the time. “Where you two off to?” Earl inquired as he saw them heading to the gate.
“Gonna show dummeh Kwem dat Waidew no scawed of mowewat and gib fowebah sweepies to nestie.”
“Sure you’s dun wanna come? I ‘majin it gon be a gud show.” Klem adds excitedly. He was carrying his varmint rifle and his hunting knife.
“Nah I think im good.”
“Speciaw fwiend~” Bessie added waddle trotting up. “Stay safe.” She adds adjusting his green neck bandana so it wasn’t scrunched up before brushing the side of his face with hers in a display of skinship.
“Raidew bwing ou’ back somefing gud.” He adds with newly invigorated bravado.
“Bessie twust you Kwem. No make Bessie sowwy for do dat.” She adds with a pat of her hoof on his leg.
“Awh geeze… Way to take dah’ fun ou’ of it.” He adds with a sigh knowing he has to be a bit more diligent in protecting the asshat of a smarty now as he unlocks the gate.
“Gu’bye!” Bessie waves as the two leave before pushing the gate closed with her head.
“Good girl Bessie.” Earl added getting up as he heard a ding from the kitchen timer. “Looks like those two are gonna miss out on snacks. Come on girl~” You add waving her up to follow you into the house.