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Spoilers for what happens once you get into the Institute, and for the quest where you look for Virgil’s serum in the FEV lab

Butch:

I got nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why did I buy Uncharted? Why?

What about you? How was the weekend? 

Feminina:

Good weekend. I actually did quite a bit in game terms. Made meaningful progress on the main story, in the sense that–gulp–I made a choice. Now one of the factions hates me. Siiiigh. I just wanted to be loved by everyone, but there was no way to proceed without antagonizing someone, and sometimes, eventually, after you’ve done everything else you can think of to do, you just have to proceed.

On the plus side, Hancock admires me, so we’re well on the way to a lasting friendship there. Turns out he DOES like it when you do chems. I’m not sure why he didn’t seem to react the first time I tried, but lately he’s into it. Someone to party with now that Cait’s gone sober!

He also said he appreciates a person who’s not afraid to get their hands dirty, and, well, that would be me. My hands are dripping with the blood of legions, and filthy with the loot of legions’ corpses. You and me, Hancock.

Oh, and my five lovers.

Butch:

Ah, so THERE’S that point. How close am I? A ways? Am I, all of a sudden, HAPPY I bought Uncharted? You must be close now to the endgame. I gotta get playing.

Gotta have that chem buddy, I suppose. But Cait’s still hot. Hancock is not.

You and your crowd: You, me, her, him, that other guy, whatever that is…..

Feminina:

Yeah, I reached a point. Choices had to be made. This was a choice between two of the various factions, leaving my relationships with others unaffected, so I’m not sure if the next step of the main story will involve paring it down further, until I’m left with only one group of allies, or what. We shall see.

Desdemona is trying to get me to side with the Railroad over the Minutemen, but so far it’s been an option where I can say “I need to think about it,” so I haven’t actually had to pick. Although she won’t talk about anything else now, meaning that Randolph Safehouse mission I’m supposed to talk to her about will never be marked completed, but so be it. I can only handle angering one group of people at a time.

I’m not really sure how much actual game is left. I’ve picked up several more quests as a result of this choice, so I have some stuff to do before I have to proceed, but probably not that much. Or, you know, a few months’ worth. It’s hard to say.

Butch:

Hmm. Interesting. Maybe more will reveal when I go to the Institute.

The railroad and the minutemen are at it? I thought EVERYONE liked the Minutemen! Except, you know, the poor schmuck who Garvey keeps bothering. You know, me.

You’ll get to the end before I will, that I know.

How far am I from choice parts? Soon? Please? Please say soon?

Feminina:

Definitely go to the Institute and talk to people, and things will start to shake out in terms of picking sides and things. It’ll take a while, because this game, but the process will at least be set in motion. The Institute! It’s where the action is!

Yeah, I’m not sure what Desdemona’s issue is with the Minutemen. They’re so well-meaning! I mean, she says they’re anti-synth, and I suppose they are in the sense that pretty much everyone is afraid of synths and the Institute, but…they’re fine with Valentine and Curie. Nobody in the Minutemen has said boo to me about Valentine or Curie (or Hancock, or the Vault-Tec guy, or any of the numerous ghoul settlers), unlike the response I got from the Brotherhood when I went around them with Valentine and Hancock. (“He’s half-dead…a bullet in the head will fix that,” is a nice example. Also, “I can’t believe you associate with that…thing.”)

The Minutemen honestly seem like the least offensive group around (other than that Garvey is always bothering me about settlements in trouble), which is why I chose to build my Relay with them. And they don’t seem particularly firmly in opposition to the Railroad, certainly not the way the Institute is, which is why I hesitate to be like “oh yeah, Minutemen totally suck, I’m RR all the way.”

Oh–on an incidental sidenote, another one of my settlements was attacked by synths recently. Hey now–I’d been to the Institute by then! I was at least nominally friendly with the Institute (as much as I was friendly with everyone)! Why synths attack my settlements?

Butch:

OK, I just went to the Institute. And….um…..well then.

THAT I did not expect. I’m not sure WHY I didn’t expect that, but I didn’t expect that.

So I met Father. As it were. And went to biosciences. And found Virgil’s serum in the FEV lab. Hmmm. FEV lab. That’s not sympathetic. Did you find the FEV lab?

So what did you say when Father asked if you could ever love robot Shaun?

And yeah! The Minutemen are chill! I keep sending ghouls to the settlements. And what about the Slog? That’s all ghouls! Toy loving ghouls.

Actually, they’re almost too chill. Happy with gourds.

So I also got a quest: Underground Undercover. I’m supposed to contact this dude. I’ll let you know, but I have a feeling it’s RR specific.

I am not joining the Institute. They don’t know it yet, though. No need to spill.

Feminina:

So. Yeah. Father. It’s very peculiar to have the child I’ve been searching for all this time turn out to be called “Father.” And that little fake-out where you first meet synth-Shaun and it’s like “oh, he’s still a kid, I COULD have a parent-child relationship with him!”

And then…no. Actually that will not be happening. I did kind of expect this, at least in the sense that I kind of expected Shaun to be considerably older than a kid and in a position of some authority…not that I specifically expected him to be 60 years old and called Father. (He does look oddly like me, since we have the same skin tone and I have bleached white hair right now.)

I kind of rambled in and out the first time I was in the Institute, so I actually only just got around to exploring the FEV lab and finding Virgil’s serum. You’re right: not sympathetic at all. What’s up with that, Father? (Also, what’s up with the dead cats? I’ve seen live cats wandering around, but why were these ones here? Pets to soothe the super mutants?) Such an interesting contrast between that trashed, grimy lab and the gleaming, shiny appearance of the rest of the Institute. At least it appears Virgil’s attempt to get the program shut down was successful…nothing going on in there lately.

I was non-committal about the possibility of loving robot Shaun. I was pretty noncommittal about everything, in fact. Didn’t want to alienate anyone right off the bat, but…in practical terms, no. I don’t want a synth copy of the kid I lost, thanks. I mean, I’d be nice to him if I found him out on the Railroad, or whatever, the same as I would any synth I met who wasn’t trying to kill me, but…no. If there’s an implicit offer there to reprogram him to believe I’m his mother and give me a chance to ‘raise’ the child I never had the opportunity to know…I’m going to pass. It’s too weird. Bad enough my actual child is now twice my age and heading up the organization that took him from me, killed my husband, and left me frozen for 60 years. I have sufficient issues to cover in therapy without adding a complicated relationship with a mechanical child.

Also, there are my five lovers. Like I said, sufficient issues.

Although wouldn’t it be some sort of interesting final image if you wind up walking into the sunset or something with synth-Shaun? They are, apparently, trying to replace humanity with an improved version (“mankind, redefined”)…who better than me to be the parent figure for that new version?

Man, now I hope that’s the end. Also, that I can walk into the sunset with synth-Shaun AND my five lovers. Or however many I can rack up by the end.

It’s the dawn of a new era for humanity, baby.

Butch:

That fake-out was great. And that it went on as long as it did. Well acted, too. Pleading with him to calm down, thinking he wanted to see “mommy.” Tough stuff.

You bleached your hair? Hipster.

Lots of good contrasts in the FEV quest. We’re so used to supermutants being evil enemies (and strong ones at that), and here we have prisoners with cats. Did you read the logs, too? “Female, mid thirties, moderate health….” puts a new face on it. Again.

Ah, see, for the “can you love this Shaun” I said straight up “Of course not. He’s not you.” And Jessica added, without prompt, “He’s not even human. He’s a machine!” So here’s Jessica, and me, for that matter, being all about everyone to this point. I’m down with Nick. Hell, I TOLD Nick that he could be anything. That he WAS, in essence, a person. I’m ok with ghouls, even did crush on a robot, and slept with a synth at least a few times. But when it’s Shaun? Nope.

Which is funny, cuz I had no problem telling Nick he WAS Nick, and he didn’t even look/sound like Nick. But even though this looks and sounds and THINKS it’s Shaun, nope. So we’re cool with difference as long as it’s not too close to our hearts? I mean, let’s say the real Nick Valentine’s lover was alive. She’d probably have no problem with fake Shaun, but she’d take one look at Synth Nick and be all “No. You’re NOT him,” even though we’re cool considering him Nick.

Here we are again, turning over the metaphor.

“I have sufficient issues to cover in therapy without adding a complicated relationship with a mechanical child.”

T SHIRT!

“Also, there are my five lovers. Like I said, sufficient issues.”

BACK OF THE SAME T SHIRT!

I have to say, I’m not at all sure how this game is gonna end. Which is strange in games. I mean, we pretty much knew how DA, or TW3, or even FO3 was gonna end. This? I have no idea.

Feminina:

Best. T shirt. Ever.

That’s interesting that “of course not” gave that response. Me being all evasive, I didn’t get that direct contrast between “synths we’re cool with (pretending to be people we don’t know)” and “synths we’re not cool with (pretending to be people we care about),” but it’s a good call on how far we’re willing to go with the ideals of synths as people.

And “He’s not even human” is a very interesting comment indeed. Not “the very idea of trying to ‘replace’ my lost child is abhorrent,” but specifically “the idea of trying to replace my lost child with something that’s not even human is abhorrent.” Suggests that if Father had offered you, say, a young clone of himself, it might have been worth considering, but a mechanical replica isn’t?

So synths are human enough to be helped, seen as valuable companions, and even lovers, but not human enough to be part of the family (after all, you married Cait, not Curie).

Interestingly, your character is sounding kind of sympathetic to the Institute at that point. Did you get Father’s line about “synths don’t ‘want,’ they’re machines” when you said something about what they want (in regards to synths leaving the Institute)?

They don’t want, they’re not even human. They’re on the other side of a line.

Incidentally, I’m still quite puzzled by the Institute’s long-term plan…according to Father, they’re trying to build better humans using (radiation-free) human DNA and synth technology, right? So their ultimate goal is some sort of cyborg? (This is based on what he says to you in your first conversation. Clearer explanations have not really been forthcoming. But “mankind, redefined” certainly sounds as if what they want is to eventually have a ‘better’ human, presumably using synthetic and organic components since they needed Shaun’s pure DNA so much and since synths–and teleportation–are their main technological breakthrough.)

And yet they’re SO dismissive of synths as beings capable of independent desires. How are you ever going to get to ‘replacement humanity’ if you’re clinging to this idea of your AIs as purely mechanical? I mean…if you’re building a person, you have to treat it like a person. Right?

Or maybe the goal is to build perfect, clean-DNA cyborg bodies and then transplant human minds into them, and they’re only bothering with synth consciousness because…they want to make sure the cyborg bodies can process consciousness? That…could work from a plot standpoint…

Although it’s pure speculation, since as noted, I haven’t really gotten a clear explanation.

Butch:

Yup. Even with liberal Jessica (me) there’s apparently a line.

It’s starts with “It’s not my son” and turns into “it’s not human.” It’s not even close to being him, and it isn’t even US. Me. Whatever. It’s even interesting that when Father says “They’re [synths] all a part of me….and you.” I thought “Um, no, dude. They aren’t. They aren’t me.” I’m cool with them, but no. There’s a line.

I did marry Cait.

But you know? I thought this as I typed the last bit: How do I know she’s not a synth? I THINK she’s not cuz she told me. But what if she’s lying? Or if she doesn’t know, like the dude in FO3? Sure, we KNOW about Curie. If I find out Cait’s a synth will I still dig her? Probably.

No way I’m sympathetic to the Institute, though, dude. I’m so not. The way they treat synths sucks. Just idly saying “you’re going to be disassembled” cuz some dude didn’t clean right? Because he didn’t get a good enough cleaner? Shitty. How does he know they don’t WANT? Indeed, the character we’ve met with the most wants is Curie. She wants to see fucking EVERYTHING. She wants to go everywhere. She wants to feel every feeling. The humans (or who we think are) barely want anything, or they want LESS. Garvey’s fine with gourds. Danse is fine with the BoS. Piper’s fine with her little paper. Cait wants FEWER chems in her life. Even Tec Rep wants some steak knives. Curie? She wants it ALL.

Nope. I’m so selling these dudes out.

I mean, not only do they treat synths like shit, they treat surface HUMANS like shit. Dumping them in tanks, etc. They’d do that to Piper/Cait in a heartbeat. Fuck ’em.

I dunno about the long term plan. Maybe they’re nuts. Or deluded. Virgil certainly thought so at the end.

It’s also interesting that they want to redefine, and the Institute (who we don’t really like) wants to preserve. Go back. Only the RR seems to want to just be.

Hopefully, a clear explanation will be forthcoming. Or I’ll be pissed.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m really not into the Institute’s dismissive view of surface humans. Look, these people are living up there, doing the best they can with a bad situation, sometimes trying to help each other. I was one of those people, damn it! Trying to do some good in the world as it is!

You’re hiding out down here in this pretty hole, building robots to replace them and sneering. It’s not a good look.

I really want to know more about the Institute and about Shaun and all, because I want to understand what the heck they’re trying to do (and I’m rather morbidly curious about what my 60-year-old son has grown up to be), but…I don’t much like the Institute. Despite their universally bad reputation, and my personal history with them, I was keeping a semi-open mind given that there was so much we didn’t know about them, but the more I learn, the more I don’t think they represent me.

Butch:

Me too. Though I’m kind of annoyed the brotherhood was right.

Feminina:

So true.

Butch:

I do find wandering around meeting people to be a bit tedious. Can you leave and come back?

Feminina:

You can, as long as you’ve talked to the guy who installed the relay equipment on your Pip-Boy. (Which I think you’ll do almost immediately because I think he’s one of the people Father specifically tells you to go talk to?) You can fast-travel out, do whatever, fast-travel back…

I agree, the wandering and meeting, while key for accumulating information/quests, gets old. I bailed on it after a few people, went and did some other stuff above ground, and then went back and did some more wandering/meeting later.

I have to admit, the shiny hole in the ground IS pretty compared to the rest of this benighted post-war world. I can see being kind of tempted to just go hang out there and enjoy the greenery and the waterfalls. No wonder these people never want to leave.

Butch:

Except some do, or are forced to. Did you overhear the dudes in the bioscience area talking about a family thy left? How their kid would be about ten?

Feminina:

Yeah, there’s that too. Not all is well beneath the shiny facade! No surprise there.

It’s not just the synths who want to escape…

Butch:

But did they escape? Or we’re they pushed out?

You know what’s gonna drive me nuts? Found a magazine. On one of those balconies. For real.

Now I gotta check them all…….

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