united under two skies

Chapter 5

Rex wakes up a few hours later and sits up in his bed. He grabs the half smoked cigarette from the ash tray to his right and lights it with small lighter in his mechanical hand. After fishing his pip boy from the mess of clothing at his bed side Rex stands up and walks across the room where a small safe sits buried under several thick books. He spins the dial and the safe pops open with a hiss as the pneumatic mechanisms released. Rex grabs a small roll of leather and unrolls it on his bed. The leather parcel is filled with a neat row of syringes each containing a dose of a different medicine or chem. He takes one syringe filled with a deep red liquid and a syringe of med-X before injecting the med-X into his neck and injecting the other syringe into the area around his mechanical arm. Pain spread through his body emanating from his left shoulder as he tenses letting the pain flow as he attempts to maintain calm deep breaths. Soon the pain passes and he rolls the leather syringe kit back up and stows it in his duster, still hanging on the hook by the door.

After washing up and getting dressed Rex leaves his home and walks out into the now shining strip as the Ultra-Luxe and the Tops now have their lights on attracting the many patrons now roaming the strip. He walked past the big casinos and the lucky 38 to the Freeside section of the city. Rex prided himself in seeing many people walking the strip, he had worked with the kings to make Freeside just a nice as the strip even going as far as demolishing the gates between the two sections of New Vegas. Connecting the two halves of New Vegas had been harder than anticipated considering the stigma created between those who operated within the inner strip and all those who lived in Freeside. After the construction bots cleared most of the rubble and repaired the roads and buildings people had a new respect for the area and attempted to force Freeside's residents away and set up shop in the newly refurbished area and when they did the Kings almost went to war with the remnants of the Omertas and the influx of people trying to move into the capitol. Rex and the Kings struck a deal; He would provide extra security for the people of Freeside and help them find jobs if the kings "encouraged" the many chem addicts to attend rehab at the new hospital built just to the south of New Vegas. So far it had worked wonderfully, Freeside's crime and chem addiction was down and the varieties of businesses new and old were flourishing.

Rex began walking down the strip as he usually did when he couldn't sleep watching the variety of people as they walked passed enjoying the lights and sounds of the strip. Soon he made it into Freeside and entered the Atomic Wrangler where he saw several of the Normandy's crew drinking, gambling, and generally enjoying themselves. He saw the scarred merc sitting at the bar drinking straight from a bottle of rum, the bald tattooed woman angrily yelling at a slot machine, and the hulking turtle creature was arm wrestling a super mutant on the stage. Rex had allocated each crew member five hundred caps from the high roller budget so they could enjoy New Vegas, and hopefully keep them on the strip. James Garret sat behind the bar wiping up spilled alcohol generally looking shifty.

"What's been going on with our new arrivals?" Rex asked walking over to the bar.

"A part from a strange look or two they fit right in"

"Thanks" Rex says before taking a small leather sack from his duster "Make sure the people know that there's nothing to worry about with our special guests".

James opens the sack and stows it under the bar before nodding and pouring Rex a glass of scotch "Of course chief; here's a drink on the house". Rex waves the drink away and lights a cigarette before walking over to the cashier's cage and changes out three hundred caps for chips and sat down at one of the black jack tables. As the dealer dealt he examined the tattooed woman as she angrily yelled at a slot machine. Bald woman weren't exactly rare in the wasteland considering the heat and various parasites like lice; what he found interesting was her multiple tattoos. Tattoos from the wastes tended to be crudely done or asymmetrical; these on the other hand were well done. They covered her mostly exposed upper body with an intricate mosaic that Rex found Interesting.

Rex watched as the woman clinch her fists and punch the machine as if she expected it to beak with a single punch. A harsh CLUNK rings out as her fist collides with the machine and she recoils in obvious pain for a moment before regaining her composure. Rex laughs audibly at the spectacle causing the woman to look toward him with a look of intense anger in her eyes before stomping across the room to where he sat.

"You find something funny fuckwad" The woman says slamming her uninjured hand onto the table sending the cards and chips flying.

"Yes I find it amusing when people try to punch solid metal" Rex says blowing a puff of smoke into the woman's face unimpressed by her tough façade. In response she grabs Rex by the collar and pulls him out of his seat and with her face inches form his she asks in a more of a growl than actual words:

"You lookin to get the shit kicked out of you carrot top?"

Rex scowls before grabbing the woman's arm with his mechanical one and twists causing her to release her hold before he flings the woman backwards. She yells out and rushes again only to meet the barrel of Rex's gun; she straightens up and laughs.

"Well what the fuck are ya gonna doe now big boy, shoot me?"

"No, I was thinking of buying you a drink" Rex says putting the gun away before gesturing to a server "Get the lady whatever she's drinking" . The server looks to the woman who throws an empty bottle of vodka over to her before turning back to Rex.

"First you point a fucking gun at me and now you wanna buy me a drink if you wanted to fuck me you should have just asked" The woman says laughing harshly looking Rex up and down "I might have let you after you picked your teeth up off the floor"

"I assure you my intentions are entirely pure" Rex says as his cigarette depletes and he takes another from the pack in his breast pocket. He lights one before offering one to the woman which she took and lit with a small lighter obviously taken from one the wrangler's servers as it bore the Wranglers logo. The server returns and the woman snatched the bottle from the woman before popping the cap of with her finger and takes a swig.

"Alright then thanks for the booze" The woman says placing the bottle on the table and sitting down before placing her own chips on the table. Rex collects his scattered chips and hands to them to a random gambler before leaving the gambling area to find Veronica entering the building with ED-E floating behind her. Rex walks over to the pair and says:

"I thought you hated the night life, Veronica"

"Not here for the gambling; we have a situation" Veronica replies as she hands a scorched piece of paper.

Rex examines the paper for a moment before recognition crosses his face.

"Where was this found?"

"It was found in the tunnels on the outskirts of the city; one of the patrols found it amongst other burnt other documents" She replies "What do you want to do?"

"Call the ambassador and get him here ASAP" Rex says as he leaves the old casino with Veronica and ED-E close behind.

/

Rex sat at his desk sending trails of smoke floating to the ceiling. The charred document sat on his desk alongside fragments of other documents recovered in the tunnels. He looked over the documents checking to make sure that he was correct. Unfortunately he was.

The NCR maintained an Embassy beyond the Mojave Outpost along with a small garrison of soldiers. After trade resumed between the two nations Rex had been abundantly clear that no NCR soldiers could enter the Mojave unless they were on leave or escorting diplomats. Ambassador Crocker was fired soon after the Hoover dam and the Mojave were lost and he was replaced by a man named William Renly who was appointed by the NCR's president personally. He was a corporal who served on the Dam who earned honors for fighting off the Legion before Rex forced the NCR to retreat. He had been a tough negotiator for the NCR combining tactical instinct with a silver tongue.

Soon Renly was escorted in by Veronica and the tall man took a seat in front of Rex before saying:

"You know I love these late night diplomatic calls but couldn't this have waited until morning Mr. Craster"

"Unfortunately tis matter couldn't" Rex says standing up and tossing one of the paper scraps to the diplomat. He walks over to a cabinet net to his desk and unlocks the largest drawer and drawing out a small camera like object. He placed the object on his desk and sat down again watching Renly examine the paper with a stern poker face, as he did Renly eyes would flick between the large scrap in his hand to the others on the desk and then to the device before returning to the paper scrap.

"You know what that is don't you?" Rex asks tapping buttons on the device "That is a fragment of a common NCR intel packet with scout notes and movement all over it dating back a few weeks. We found these documents in the tunnels under the city that a legion attack squad used to breach the strip and make an attempt at my life"

"I hadn't heard, but I will make it my priority to discover where this leak of information came from in a quick and efficient manner to help bring this mole to justice" Renly says placing the paper back on Rex's desk and standing up "If that's all then I really should get back to the embassy"

"Sit the fuck down" Rex says with a hint of barely restrained animosity "You're going to tell me why you gave legionaries Intel about the tunnel system beneath New Vegas or you won't be walking out of here alive".

"How dare you, I am an ambassador for the NCR and I don't have to take your accusations or your threats" He turns to leave before Rex flicks a fragment of paper onto his shoulder. Renly takes the paper and the color drains from his face. The paper fragment bore the NCR's diplomatic seal with his insignia underneath "You know I told those legion idiots to burn those documents thoroughly"

He turns and looks Rex in the eye before saying "I will not tell you anything even if you torture me"

"I don't believe in torture personally; if a man's in pain his perception is altered and really at the end of the day they're just gonna tell you what you want to hear" Rex says putting on a thick pair of sunglasses and pressing a button on the device sending a bright flash of green light at Renly "I prefer using this little wonder machine here; you see my friend that flash you just saw was actually a hypnotic suggestion mixed in with some harmless radiation"

Renly stiffens as a green haze fogs his eyes and he stiffens as Veronica re-enters the room with ED-E following behind her. Rex stands taking the glasses off and walking over to ED-E

"ED-E buddy, begin the records keeper subroutine please" Rex says taking a pair of reading glasses from Veronica and putting them on Renly "that should help with the vision distortion; now sit down"

Renly stiffly sits back down.

"Now I'm going to ask a few questions and you're going to answer me to the best of your knowledge" Rex says sitting down behind his desk lighting another cigarette "Let's start with who ordered you to give the Intel to the legion?"

Renly visibly struggles to stop the words from leaving his lips but after a moment he speaks "General Voorhees"

"Who is General Voorhees?"

"The greatest man I know, a better man than you" Renly says shaking violently "He's the only one who will do what needs to be done to better the NCR"

"Great more fanaticism" Rex says lighting a cigarette "What makes this man so special?"

"The general has always stood for the NCR even when the damn softies stationed him on the northern front" Renly replies "If he had been in command two years ago both the legion and your dirty, barely better than a tribal, ass would be in chains serving your betters you fu…." Before Renly could finish his sentence Rex's fist collides with his face knocking him to the ground.

"Stand up" Rex orders taking a long drag from the cigarette as Renly stands and faces him "Now are there any other plans on my life or that would cause any trouble in the Mojave?"

"No but once he learns the attack was a failure the general will have to respond" Renly replies as blood flows from his nose.

"Good, now lie down on your side in front of my desk" Rex orders pouring a glass of water on the tile for before smearing it with his foot; The ambassador does as he is told and glares up at Rex before Rex grabs the device from the table and turns a dial on the side before placing the glasses on again and pressing the trigger. A flash of blue emits from the device and sends a shock wave through Renly before he goes stiff. Rex takes the glasses off and places the device in his desk before crouching down and snapping his fingers in Renly's face and says:

"Ambassador I'm so sorry my assistant spilled water in here just before you arrived"

Renly snaps out of his daze as Rex helps him up "Um yes, thank you". Rex hands him a handkerchief and gestures to Veronica to lead him out.

Veronica supports the ambassador while apologizing profusely before handing him off to a soldier in the elevator.

"Make sure the ambassador gets back to his own people after you clean him up"

"Yes ma'am" the soldier replies supporting the shaken ambassador.

"Thank you Miss Santangelo, Mr. Craster should get back to me about whatever was so urgent" Renly says straightening slightly before going green and slouching again.

"Of course I'll have someone get back to you as soon as possible" Veronica replies with a warm smile as the doors close. She scowls for a moment before returning to Rex's office where Rex sat at his desk staring at an open wooden box with a single syringe of bright blue liquid. Rex nervously flicks a pen between his metal fingers as he stares at the syringe his right arm nervously twitching. His sleeve now rolled up revealing faded track marks that dotted his arm.

"You know that stuff doesn't go well with your anti-rejection drugs" Veronica says knowing what Rex is thinking "besides you swore off that stuff years ago"

"I know what it does; that's why I'm thinking about taking it again" He replies staring for just a moment longer before placing the lid back on the box before placing it in a small safe bolted into the bottom shelf on his desk.

"Thank you, you don't need that stuff you're more than capable of handling anything the legion or this General Voorhees can throw at you, and besides you've got us right?" Veronica says smiling reassuringly. Rex had never used that drug as long as she had known him, but he carried a dose with him to remind himself of what it made him into and from what he had told her it wasn't pretty.

"Yeah for better or worse we're in this together" Rex says lighting a cigarette as the sun rises behind him "Veronica, get every agent we have in the NCR to look into the general and his followers and get a contact to our new friends to the east make sure they can keep the territory they took from the legion and this Octavian asshole. Remember when all we had to worry about were radroaches and the occasional deathclaw?"

"Those were the days" Veronica says queuing commands Rex's massive super computer as she does an audio file activates.

"Come gather 'round people

Wherever you roam

And admit that the waters

Around you have grown"

"What's this?" Veronica asks raising an eyebrow.

"One of the files that Shepard woman gave us; I kind of like it" Rex replies sitting back letting the music play as he withdraws his pistol and begins to take it apart for its daily cleaning.

"And accept it that soon

You'll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you

Is worth savin'"

"I like it sounds familiar" veronica says relaying the commands into the computer's communications array "Who's the artist?"

"Some guy named Bob Dylan, apparently in our universe he was never popular" Rex replies as he tenderly handles each piece of the gun, and looks at his pistol's twin hanging on the wall bent by an explosion at the battle for the dam. The music played on as the sun rose over the Mojave and Rex not for the first time that day felt the phantom sting of a needle in his arm and the rush that came with it. Pushing that out of his mind he placed his concentration on the task at hand cleaning quickly and efficiently. Whatever the coming days held for the Mojave he would stand and face it with his friends and perhaps the crew of the Normandy if they could be used correctly.

"Then you better start swimmin'

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin'"

No matter how things changed he would weather on like he always did, and Rex would rather die than let the Legion or the NCR take the Mojave from him or its people.

I do not own "Times they are a changin" by Bob Dylan (though I wish I did)


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