Coursers

May. 18th, 2017 04:04 pm
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Okay, this is a lot of headcanons on this, but I have feelings about Coursers in Fallout 4. Please heed the trigger warnings because this is dark.

Coursers are slaves.

They are every bit as slaves as any gen 3s in the Institute, and are, in some very important ways, worse off.

A gen 3 synth in the Institute has a duty, they carry out that duty, they are just one of however many hundreds of synths in the Institute doing the same thing. They are, as far as the humans are concerned, invisible, about as important as the piping in the walls of the electrical wiring. It’s a pretty dreadful way to live, but in a place like the Institute it’s desirable, because you are basically invisible.

The Coursers don’t get that. There are few of them, and they work directly with the SRB. They don’t get to be invisible, they are always, constantly, hideously visible. To a bunch of people who consider them nothing but unthinking tools.

Imagine: A Courser goes out on a mission, the mission goes wrong. The Courser is badly wounded, there is blood everywhere, parts of them are open to the air that shouldn’t and it doesn’t matter how brainwashed they are- they cannot breathe, the pain is too much, they are seeing things they really don’t want to. They are snatched back to the Institute. The Courser gets fixed up, but cannot speak to anyone about what they have seen- because that would be defective. They have just to deal with it and, if it gets too much or trauma is piled on top of trauma until they can’t cope any more, they have their memories erased. 

And just ask Nate how well that works on fixing trauma. 

The Courser has terrors now, irrational and incomprehensible as the thing under Dunwich Borers. Senseless and impossible to understand without context.

Imagine: There are two Coursers. They are both very, very good at their jobs. Two SRB workers get into an argument over which one would win in a fight. They order the Coursers to fight and place bets. There is a pool. Coursers are tough, they are fast, they are strong, they fight for hours until the floor is covered in blood. Eventually a superior turns up and stops the fight. 

The workers sulk off, next time, they’ll be more careful. Z2 was totally going to kill X6, dude! The Coursers go back to barracks, try and mop themselves up, try and avoid those workers again but of course, that’s impossible.

Imagine: There are some scientists the Coursers know to avoid. Of course, they can’t do that forever, they get called by designation and besides, those scientists have favorites. Sometimes, another Courser might step in, hope the scientists in question would go with it and give their fellow a break (because they can’t take much more of this, they can see it in their eyes, and no amount of resets are going to help if it just happened over and over and over and over). The scientists say there’s a mission. Of course there isn’t. Coursers are smart, they know. They are smart. They are strong. They are physically perfect.

They are beautiful.

The scientists tell them to take their clothes off.

The Coursers work in the SRB. There are only a few of them. They stand out in clothes, in demeanor. They cannot hide. They are reset more than all other group of synths put together, and with every reset, their loyalty to the Institute is reinforced. They are unquestionably loyal. They will die for the Institute, follow every order, lay down their lives without question, without hesitation.

And go back every time to the same barracks, which is soundproofed because no amount of resets can stop them screaming in their sleep, break from programming to carry out small, repeated rituals. Z2 touches every wall a certain number of times. X4 breaks down their guns and cleans them, over and over even though the white plastic is blinding and the laser mirrors threaten to burn their hands every time they catch the light. X6 just sits on the edge of his bunk and stares into space, endlessly. He doesn’t speak. He’s not even really here, just- going away, inside himself for a while. They all have a little quirk, or more than one, or maybe they’re not so small any more. But they never talk about it, never suggest a reset.

They try and keep an eye out for each other, angle into taking over duties if one of them looks- bad. Not reset bad, but so badbad they don’t have a word for it. When the trauma and mess is just too big, too much. When they can’t even pretend to be a machine (because you can’t turn people into machines, but you can force them into pretending a pretty convincing facsimile if you abuse them enough), and the scientists are going to notice. They’ll order them reset. And when that doesn’t work it’ll happen again, and again, and again until it’s obvious this unit is defective and they are taken away.

The other Coursers are not sad. And maybe some of them even look forward to it a little bit. It must be quiet, at least, peaceful, all dark and nothing to hurt you. Of course that’s a wrong thought, wasting Institute material. Nothing is wasted in the Institute, they shouldn’t even be considering it. But it- sounds nice.

There’s a little more meat in the Coursers’ food the next day. They eat it anyway. 
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who is more likely to hurt the other?

Probably Nate directly, he can be a bit insensitive at times, and can blunder well meaning into emotional minefields. Nick more indirectly, his disregard for himself is painful to watch, and it hurts Nate for than anything in this new world.

who is emotionally stronger?

They are both very emotionally strong people. I think it would depend on what pressures would be put on them. Nate can withstand pain probably better than Nick, and can hold out better against torments directed at him. However, he wouldn’t be able to hold out against attacks to the people he loves. If someone threatened to hurt Nick, Nate would crumple completely, whereas Nick would be able to hold out.

who is physically stronger?

Oh Nick, definitely. Nate is actually pretty frail, due to his problems with food. Nick is still pretty sturdy, despite his age, and after he allows Nate to do a bit of maintenance, is much stronger than most humans.

who is more likely to break a bone? 

Nate. He does his best to keep his body in the best health he can, but in the end he’s still struggling to survive on starvation rations. However much milk he managed to keep down, he’s very aware he’s one bad fall away from a lot of broken bones.

who knows best what to say to upset the other? 

Oh Atom, that would be ugly. It’s hard to say, they are both so aware of each other’s pasts that it’s quite frightening how much damage they could do. Probably Nick, if it came down to it, but there is no other way they could hurt each other so much, even if they drew guns and opened fire. It would be the biggest, most unforgivable betrayal.

who is most likely to apologise first after an argument? 

Nate, most likely. He’s more used to it since he’s pretty often making blunders. Nick is a little more reluctant, as he’s a bit less ready to admit immediate fault, but he certainly will apologise, and make more of a deal of it than Nate. 

who treats who’s wounds more often? 

Usually Nate, actually. Nate’s own injuries tend to be easier to treat, a quick bandage and a stimpack is enough, and often he’s finished treating himself by the time Nick reaches him after a fight. Nick can’t always use stimpacks though, if the damage is more than skin deep, and sometimes needs help patching up hard to reach wires and bent metal struts.

who is in constant need of comfort? 

Nate, though he certainly isn’t a slouch in returning the favor. Nate’s needs are more obvious though, since he’s pretty useless in hiding his emotions. He’s fairly easy to look after, however, and Nick is getting pretty good at pre-empting what he needs, and dealing with any flashbacks or bad nights. Nick is more private, has issues that are less flashfire than Nate’s, but slow burning and constant. And a lot of things that Nate does- giving flowers, constant praise and declarations of love and just being an endless romantic- help him in return.

who gets more jealous? 

Nate. Nick does feel jealous at times, but Nate is pretty obvious in how he feels about him and it’s very hard to feel too insecure when you’re being given posies of flowers and having your boyfriend telling you pretty much daily how much he loves you. But Nick- has more of a past than Nate, and maybe a part of why Nate wants Nick to leave his human memories behind is that he’s sick of competing with the ghost of Jenny Lands. Nick is also a bit of a flirt, and Nate has a particularly withering death glare for when that happens. Irma still hasn’t looked him in the eye since.

who’s most likely to walk out on the other? 

It’s not really something that either of them do. Nate usually want to talk out an argument, and while Nick might shut that down if it’s just going to make things worst, he’s more likely to light up a cigarette as a pretext not to talk, and take a few minutes to sort out his thoughts and for both of them to calm down before trying to patch things up.

who will propose? 

Probably Nick, but that’ll take some time. Nate would want to, but after the trainwreck of his last wedding, he would wrestle with the conflicting urge to make that traditional gesture, or to let that last gasp of the old world to die with the rest. Nick would have to overcome his own self doubt substantially in order to do this, and then try and think of a way of proposing, and a marriage in general, that would suit them both and not feel like a farce to himself, or a re-tread of the worst time in his life for Nate.

who has the most difficult parents?

Well, Nate’s are dead, and Nick can’t even remember human Nick’s, so by default that would leave the Institute so- yes. Nick. Holy fuck.

who initiates hand-holding when they’re out in public? 

Nate, although Nick is becoming more and more comfortable in initiating it when they’re in friendly company (Goodneighbour, Sanctuary, or Arcadia). Nate doesn’t care and will happily take Nick’s hand (or kiss, or hug, or-) on the Prydwen. Because fuck you Brotherhood of steel.

who comes up for the other all the time? 

Not entirely sure what that mean? Both of them, probably, they’re attentive and care deeply for each other.

who hogs the blankets? 

It doesn’t really happen since Nate is the only one to need blankets, and if he’s cold, he’ll happily latch on to Nick like a limpet, since Nick basically radiates heat from his various processors.

who gets more sad? 

This can be hard since they are both prey to intense emotions, but in different ways. Nate tends to get hit by emotions as sudden and overwhelming as storms, which leave him completely prostrate, but pass in a short period of time and he can waver back to his own, rather happier self in a few hours. Nick’s are deeper, and much harder to shake. Something he carries inside him for days or even weeks. It’s the worst time, and in those times Nate wants nothing more than to reach inside Nick and pull out whatever sick, festering thing in inside Nick’s head.

who is better at cheering the other up? 

Nick. He’s very good at turning Nate’s mind away from whatever horrible thought or memory he’s caught up in, and getting him stable and on an upward keel. Nate feels utterly useless, when Nick is in a black mood. Can only try and distract him, keep him occupied with cases, and try and assure him that Nate loves him and cares for him and will always, always be there. It feels completely pointless, and Nick wishes he could tell Nate just how valuable these things are to him, and how much good it does him.

who’s the one that playfully slaps the other all the time after they make silly jokes?

Oh wow, if they did that they would never, ever stop. Nick is constantly making deadpan remarks or just general snark, and Nate is always ready with some weird pre-war reference or literary joke. I’d say whatever poor person is stuck with them is liable to lose it and just slab both of them silly. Piper and Cait have been driven to this more than once. Preston just looks around helplessly and wishes he were somewhere else. Dogmeat whines in embarassment. Curie tries to join in which just makes it worse.

who is more streetwise?

Nick. He’s been around more, he knows the Commonwealth. Nate is also rather more naive generally, which Nick loves, but does have to watch out for in case Nate gets caught up in something ugly like the Brotherhood of Steel Nate, really what were you thinking?

who is more wise?

Both of them, but in different ways. They are both rather thoughtful people on the whole, Nick is more practical, but Nate tends to have some very good insights as to people’s motivations and some views that Nick might not have considered.

who’s the shyest? 

Neither of them are exactly shy, but Nate is definitely more outgoing and open. Nick is personable, but usually finds himself taking a more background role, smiling as Nate chats and puts himself around enthusiastically.

who boasts about the other more? 

Nate. If you get him started He. Will. Not. Shut. Up. To the point Nick really wishes he would. Nate has a few topics he can talk about for hours, but at least he warns people first before going into a spiel about Atom. With Nick, it’ll be all ‘Nick is awesome Nick is so brave Nick is so brilliant’ for as long as it takes for whoever it is to run away. 

Nick is a bit more controlled, but when he and Nate are out together, particularly if Nate is all dolled up in is red dress and heels and maybe a bit of makeup, Nick isn’t above glancing around smugly to see if anyone is looking. My boyfriend. Mine.

who sits on who’s lap?

Nate. He will happily hop into Nick’s lap on any pretext. He loves being close to him, loves having Nick’s arms around him. The best place in the world. Nick put up a token protest to begin with, but has long since given up. Its just too good. Nate warm and happy in his arms, curling up surprisingly small. His hair in Nick’s nose, the feel of his eyelashes fluttering against the exposed wires in his neck. Perfect.
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If you have the ‘bad’ kind of mental illness, or deal with it in ways people don’t like: You’re made the villain, no one listens and they always make it your fault, not matter what you do.

If you have the ‘good’ kind of mental illness, or deal with it in ways people approve: People will help you up until it’s clear its going to be too much of a bother, then they prefer to leave you on ice in the hopes you magically get better, rather than supporting you through that long hard road.

September 2017

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