"That felt strange," Harry said as he and The Leewit stepped off the receiving pad.
"Yeah," The Leewit agreed thoughtfully, "it felt more like the world moved than we did."
Sally and Linda appeared on the pad behind them in a flash of light as the two magic users examined their surroundings. They stood in an atrium, light panels in the ceiling providing artificial sunlight for the trees and bushes sitting in decorative planters on the polished white marble flooring.
"Everything's so shiny and clean," Harry said as he looked up, watching people in white jumpsuits with colored accents, pass through enclosed glass and chrome walkways leading to different sections of the upper levels.
"The Institute is the last bastion of humanity, created when the bombs fell and the brilliant minds at The Commonwealth Institute of Technology realized something had to be done to preserve civilization," Sally said proudly.
"It's really cool," Linda added, making Sally sigh.
"Come on, we have to get you to Dr. Holdren so he can make sure you haven't gotten radiation sickness from the wasteland or picked up any diseases while you were up there," Sally said.
"I'd know if we were sick," The Leewit said confidently, "but I wouldn't mind taking a peek at your hospital."
"So the giant bugs are because of radiation?" Harry asked, recalling some scifi shows that Dudley had watched where that had happened.
"Yes," Linda agreed, "radiation causes mutation, which isn't good for a growing body."
"I wouldn't mind being a little bigger," Harry said, "but if I grew like they did, I wouldn't be able to fit in a building."
The Leewit grinned. "I don't think we'll have that problem, it takes generations for growth like that to occur."
"That's kind of a relief," Harry said, looking faintly disappointed.
"Why…" The Leewit trailed off and began to laugh.
"I'm missing the joke," Linda said with a frown.
"I was just thinking of rampaging through one of the ruined cities like a giant ape, carrying her in my hand while stomping on giant insects," Harry admitted.
"That does sound like fun," Linda said with a grin.
"You'd never find enough to eat," Sally pointed out. "With the amount you'd need to eat the most you could get is about thirty feet tall."
"I think there are some super mutants who made it to twenty feet, so you'd still tower over them," Linda encouraged him as they passed through a glass walkway.
"And we're here," Sally said as she lead them past a pair of Assaultrons and into the Bioscience Division Medical Bay.
"Ah Sally, Linda," the Division Head greeted them with a nod, having heard the names they chose for the mission through the crows, "I see you've managed to rescue our two visitors from the hellscape above without any problems."
"Yes Dr. Holdren," Sally agreed, "It was a remarkably easy mission."
"I'm glad to hear it," he said, as he pulled a Geiger counter from a drawer and scanned the four. "You are all surprisingly free from fallout," the blond haired man said curiously, "I was sure we were going to have to run you through decontamination."
"That was probably because of your cleaning spell," The Leewit told Harry.
"Well, whatever you did, it was remarkably effective," Dr. Holdren complimented Harry. "Have either of you noticed any signs of radiation poisoning? The symptoms would include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fever, dizziness, disorientation, weakness, fatigue, and blood in vomit or stool from internal bleeding."
"No," The Leewit answered for both of them, "I would have sensed that and taken care of it."
"You know a… spell, to heal radiation sickness?" Dr. Holdren asked curiously.
"I know of several patterns I can use to prevent or remove excess radiation before it can get that far," the little blonde agreed.
"Fascinating," Dr. Holdren said, thinking of ways they could test such skills using Synths. "Well, I'll still need to get blood samples to insure you haven't caught anything from the wasteland and to find out what immunizations I need to give you."
"We're clean, but I understand the need to check," The Leewit said, offering her arm.
"Do you two need to get checked as well?" Harry asked the two older women.
"Nah, we're Synths, we're immune to everything," Linda said proudly.
"That's why you have plastic bones," Harry said with a nod. "Not sure how that makes you immune to getting sick though."
"How'd you know about the bones?" Linda asked before Sally could.
"Magic," Harry replied. "I've been learning to sense all sorts of things."
Dr. Holdren approached Harry with a syringe and Harry extended his arm without thinking about it.
"As Synths we are genetically engineered to be more resistant to diseases than humans are," Sally explained.
"You don't consider yourselves human?" The Leewit asked curiously.
"They aren't," Dr. Holdren said firmly as he placed a small bandage on Harry's arm, "I can show you where we construct them."
"How you make a person doesn't matter," The Leewit waved it off, "the fact that you have does. I'm a telepath, I can tell they are both not only sentient but sapient as well."
Dr. Holdren felt conflicted about the idea of Synths being human and was unsure why. He put the thought aside and tried to come at it logically. "With just a few words I can reset them to when they were first programmed, like an Assaultron."
"I can do the same to any human you'd care to name," The Leewit said bluntly.
Harry quietly watched the discussion second hand through Leewit's mind as she could clearly see Dr. Holdren's thoughts while Harry could just feel his emotions. "I can do it with one word and a hand gesture," he offered, finding the knowledge of how to do it and how difficult it would be to do it correctly popping up.
"Really?" Dr. Holdren asked, as he'd assumed the Leewit would be Harry's superior in all fields of psychic ability as she was the one training him.
"I'd probably make a real mess of things," Harry admitted with a shrug, "but I've got a spell for it."
Dr. Holdren tapped his chin in thought and The Leewit watched fascinated as he put together several disparate facts to arrive at the correct conclusion in an amazing display of intelligence. "You both use different methodologies in the use of your… magic. Do you even come from the same vault?"
"That was amazing!" Harry exclaimed.
"Got it in one," The Leewit agreed. "While we both have the ability to use magic, our traditions are completely different."
Harry's stomach growled loudly. "Sorry," he apologized.
"You're still recovering," The Leewit reminded him firmly, "you have nothing to apologize for." She turned to the Doctor. "Do you have a cafeteria and what type of currency do you use?"
"We don't use currency, all basic amenities are provided to everyone in The Institute," Dr. Holdren assured them.
The Leewit nodded. "Then if you'll excuse us, we'll stop by later to see what the test results are."
"Sally, Linda," Dr. Holdren said, "take them to the cafeteria and see that they're assigned a room and given a tour after lunch."
"What have you learned from their blood samples?" The Director asked, having gotten all the division heads for an initial report.
"I'll start with the female's blood sample," Dr. Holdren said and tapped a button on his remote to display it on screen for the group. "She has no negative recessive traits I can identify. I'm certain her vault had deliberately engineered them out of their population."
"Does that mean no negative recessive genes or just none we have a record of?" Dr. Li asked, just to make sure she understood.
"The latter, though the former is also possible," he acknowledged. "Much like our Synths, her muscle density and neuron reactivity are well above mainline humans as they exist at this time."
"So her vault is also working on redefining humanity," the Director said, pleased.
"It appears that way," Dr. Holdren agreed.
"How well does her modified DNA stand up to radiation?" Li asked curiously.
"It takes near lethal amounts before it begins to show any damage," Dr. Holdren replied, "and is likely the reason she was completely unconcerned with surface radiation levels, her talk about psychic healing methods aside."
"Can you identify the mechanism that provides such protections?" the Director asked intently.
"Not yet," Dr. Holdren replied. "It's going to take a substantial amount of time to map out her genome and understand all its functions."
"We going to need more samples?" Justin Ayo asked.
"I've already cloned a tank of her blood," Dr. Holdren waved it off, "we have more than enough to test to our heart's content."
"I assume the male's sample is similar?" the Director questioned.
"Not at all," Dr. Holdren replied. "My supposition that they were from two separate vaults was confirmed by them and the philosophy behind their alterations is completely different."
"The male's sample has an average amount of negative recessive traits that I can identify, though at least a third of his DNA sequences are completely unknown to us and will require extensive study to understand, but its reaction to radiation is… unprecedented," Dr. Holdren said. He tapped a button on his remote and a recording of the male's DNA being subjected to high levels of radiation was being displayed with a rad counter off to one side.
"Not quite as resistant as the female sample," Li noted. "Is it repairing itself?!"
"Indeed," Dr. Holdren agreed. "While his DNA isn't as resistant to damage, it will attempt to repair itself. I had to use increasingly deadly amounts of radiation to overwhelm it as it became more efficient at repairing the damage and resisting it as well."
"How stable are their psychic abilities?" Justin Ayo asked. He considered them a massive security breach and a danger to The Institute, but had to admit between their abilities and the equipment they carried there were some definite possibilities to increase security and make The Institute impregnable.
"I've seen no signs of instability," Dr. Holdren reported, "and the fact that they say they have separate traditions means it has to be at least stable enough to pass down."
"Can we upgrade the Coursers with it?" Justin asked.
"Perhaps in the next generation," the Director said thoughtfully. "We have to learn more about their vaults before taking any direct actions that could be misconstrued as either hostile or an insult."
"I was planning on having 'Sally' ask to borrow one of their tablets," Dr. Li offered. "I'm sure whatever files it has on it will give us an idea of what their vaults are like."
"Well reasoned," the Director said with an approving nod. "Where are they currently?"
"Testing range," Justin replied. "The boy loves ray guns and jumped at the chance to fire some."
"That's appropriate for his age," the Director said thoughtfully. "We'll meet again after dinner to go over any additional information we've acquired. You're all dismissed."
Dr. Holdren waited until the other division heads had left before approaching the Director.
"The female subject… The Leewit is telepathic and stated that Sally and Linda, Synths B2-50 and B2-51, are as sapient as any human," Holdren said.
The Director nodded. "Lacking any qualified psychics ourselves we've never been able to lay that question to rest. I've always been of the opinion that the Synths who have broken their programming are demonstrating true sapience, which is somewhat unfortunate as at that point they have also demonstrated they are a danger to The Institute and need to be dealt with."
Dr. Holdren nodded, in full agreement on the subject of threats to The Institute.
"Of course, that does not tell us if all Synths are sapient upon creation or if they develop it over time or even what percentage develop it," the Director replied. "If The Leewit is amenable you may take her to see a Synth being created and set the matter to rest."
"And if they truly are sapient?" Dr. Holdren asked.
"Then some minor changes will have to be made to what is considered appropriate treatment of them," the Director said. "Whether people or machines, they are still created to serve a function, just as we all are, so I don't see any major alterations in operations being required."
Holdren considered that for a few moments before nodding. "I can see your point. Thank you for speaking with me on the subject."
"It is my function," the Director said, a slight trace of amusement in his tone.
"Just line up the sights," Evan Watson, the head of Power Distribution, said patiently as Harry lined up his shot downrange, aiming at a silhouette of a Deathclaw.
Harry fired, the laser rifle making a chirping sound as a bolt of light seared a hole in the target's head and the room was suddenly plunged into darkness. "Did I hit the wrong thing?" Harry asked.
"No," Evan said with a sigh, "it's just a rolling blackout, we should have power back in a few minutes. My guess is Bioscience went over their power allowance and caused this."
"Lumos," Harry incanted easily, causing a ball of white light to appear a few feet above him. "Anything we can do to help?"
The mostly bald man chuckled while examining the ball of light curiously. "Not unless you know how to run a fusion reactor and repair a Beryllium Agitator," he said with a grin.
"I know something about fusion reactors," The Leewit said confidently.
"As long as you've got all the pieces I can fix it," Harry said. "Might take me a few tries, but I have a spell for it."
"Really?" Alan asked, surprised at both their responses.
"Depends on the type of fusion plant," The Leewit said, "but they pretty much all function similarly." She considered the supplementary power plants that some ships had which required Beryllium, all of which she should have operational and repair manuals on her tablet for. "Lumos," she muttered, creating a ball of fire above her hand so she could get her tablet out without spilling anything.
"You'll get it eventually," Harry encouraged her.
"Not if it turns out to be a talent and not a regular skill," she replied as she searched her bag.
"Then you'll just invent your own version," he said confidently, feeling the smile she was hiding in response.
Alan examined both light sources and figured out what was different about them with just a glance. "You're creating light while you're creating fire," he noted. "Both useful skills, but not exactly the same thing."
"His spells are very hard to figure out while the patterns I use have detailed instructions," The Leewit explained with a shrug. "Attempting to figure his spells out is not easy."
"But the explosions as we try are a lot of fun!" Harry said cheerfully.
"They looked like a lot of fun," Linda agreed, while Sally just rolled her eyes, used to her 'sister's' childishness.
The lights came back on and the two magic users let their spells flicker out.
"Before we go trying any more explosive experiments, let's go get the fusion reactor sorted out," The Leewit said.
"It was a high tech eggbeater," Harry said numbly.
"Made out of Beryllium," The Leewit agreed, amused that he was still going on about it as they got ready for bed.
"I thought it would be some high tech laser array or something," he complained.
"That's a completely different part of the reactor," she replied, trying not to laugh.
A few minutes later they were curled up in bed and The Leewit used her belt to tie them together.
"An eggbeater!" Harry complained.
The Leewit squeezed him to get his attention.
"Goodnight Harry," she said firmly.
"Night, Leewit," he replied, realizing he was being silly. 'A bloody eggbeater,' he thought one last time before he let the warmth and comfort of Leewit's presence lull him to sleep.
Typing By: Abyssal Angel
AN: Seriously, it looks like something you'd find in a futuristic kitchen!