united under two skies

Chapter 8

"… Then we saw Rex running down the street buck naked with about ten Great Thugs chasing him down the street" Veronica exclaims giggling uncontrollably.

"Wow" Shepard says finishing her bowl of stew "how the hell did he get out of that one?"

"Luckily the Thug captain's girl he was screwing managed to throw him his guns in time and he managed to hold them off until Veronica and ED-E could get out to help him" Christine says grabbing the dishes and carrying them over to the sink "I can only imagine Rex gunning down Thugs in the buff "

"Trust me it was hilarious; his skinny butt shining in the moonlight" Veronica says going into a laughing fit.

Catherine chuckles as she returned to the table "If he ever gives you shit just mention this story and that will shut him up".

"It seems like our universes aren't that different after all" Shepard says thinking of her own childhood "I grew up on a spaceship flying from one Alliance base to another, and we had to deal with roving packs of mercs and pirates"

"I guess so, but it must have been amazing getting to travel across the galaxy like that" Veronica says getting that misty look in her eyes she brandished on the elevator.

"Not really, it was cramped and stank of recycled air" Shepard replied remembering the tight quarters of her childhood "Mom and Dad always tried to make sure I was comfortable though, but they had their careers to think of and I made it work until I was eighteen and joined the Alliance military".

"Followed your parent's footsteps huh we can understand that" Veronica says "we both grew up in the Brotherhood of Steel and then became scribes."

"That's one of the old factions that formed after the Great War, right?" Shepard asked she had read some of the materials Rex had provided on the area the night before "The guide book is really extensive about but doesn't have anything to about the Mojave branch recently"

"There's a reason for that" Catherine says bowing her head slightly "The Mojave Brotherhood doesn't exist anymore."

Shepard noticed the look and changed the subject and changed the subject "So Rex was talking about arming the Normandy's crew do you two mind showing me where I can stock up."

They brightened at that and Veronica says slipping her power fist on and making for the door "Oh yeah Rex asked me to show you the stock at the Depot; I can take you there right now if you'd like"

"Thanks I feel almost naked without a weapon "Shepard said getting up from the table and follows for a moment before turning to Christine "Thank you for the food"

"Oh don't mention it, and just a word of advice" Christine said as she wiped her hands off "Don't be so tense around Rex like we said he's not as shady as you think".

Shepard nods and follows Veronica out of the room to the elevator and when the doors close Veronica turns to Shepard and says "Thank you for not ogling the scars".

"Don't mention it" Shepard replies in truth she barely noticed them "I barely noticed, in my line of work scars are a dime a dozen I stopped noticing them years ago."

"Thanks, she's been through enough as it is, but the moment they see her face people stare" Veronica says visibly angry "Wastelanders see crazy things everyday but the moment a chick gets a few scars on her face she's some kind of freak."

"I guess that's another thing our universes have in common" Shepard says shaking her head "idiots".

Veronica smiles at that and the doors open. She leads Shepard through the lobby, out onto the strip and down a side street to a small stone building in the shadow of the Lucky 38. She opens a garage door to reveal an old fashioned car. Shepard had seen pictures of cars from the fifties that resembled this one but at the same time didn't. It more resembled a civilian vehicle form her universe but boxier and definitely dated, as she examined it veronica got in and turned the ignition bringing the engine to life with a purr as the micro-fusion cell activated.

The top folded down and Shepard hopped in as Veronica hit the gas sending them into a sharp turn and down the street and out of the city into the wide expanse of desert. Veronica wasn't particularly good at driving, but she made up for it with enthusiasm grinning giddily as she sent small dust devils in her wake as the car flew across the asphalt. As they got farther and farther away from the city Shepard noticed roving packs of securitrons darting between the many buildings scattered across the sands. The buildings themselves bellowed smoke and fleets of trucks could be seen bussing in workers or carrying product out.

They arrived in Primm in no time and as Veronica pulled in Shepard saw Rex's "shop". It seemed that the massive building in front of her had been some kind of hotel before being converted, it even had a roller coaster attached now converted to connect with train tracks leading off to the north. Workers moved in and out of the building carrying boxes of what Shepard assumed was ammo and weapons into a small fleet of trucks parked out front. Veronica led her through the front doors into an entry way populated by several men and women behind desks each answering a call from the multiple phones on their desks.

Veronica nodded to one of the receptionists as they passed and the girl barely nodded as she wrote down order details with efficient sweeps of her hand. They walk through a hallway into a massive room filled with dozens of boxes stacked in neat rows and Shepard heard the faint roar of machinery far off like it was being muffled by the walls.

"They make the best weapons in the Mojave here" Veronica explains approaching one the rows "Rex stole the Old world blueprints a few years back and he opened this place shortly after we took over."

"Where does all this product go?" Shepard asked.

"Mostly to the private sector; mercenary companies and the like" Veronica explains withdrawing a glimmering black sub-machine gun "We supply the Midwest brotherhood of steel with arms and ammunition along with other factions around the Mojave."

"Wow" Shepard says opening a box and examining some of the guns "I'll need sniper rifles, shotguns, sub machine guns, pistols, and assault rifles."

"Certainly we've got a bit of an overstock at the moment and you pick from our best stock" Veronica says grabbing a clipboard from an employee.

"Alright let's get shopping" Shepard says cracking her knuckles.

/

"So you crashed a space station into a moon?" Rex asked smiling in disbelief.

"You bet your ass those floating jellyfish still have a warrant out for me" Jack says taking a bite of the hamburger steak.

"Wow and I thought I was hot shit for tossing a few nukes" Rex says taking a long drag off his cigarette.

"I was stupid as hell after the crash the Hanar had Mercs after me for months until the other mercs got tired of replacing their dead friends" She said; a wicked expression on her face.

"I know how that is, In the last two years I've been through at least ten different assignation attempts" Rex says rolling his eyes "You'd think they'd stop trying after at most five fuck ups."

"You must make a lot of enemies Carrot Top" Jack says taking a long drink from her cup.

"You don't know the half of it" Rex said flicking the depleted bud of his cigarette across the room into the ash tray by the door. He had gone through his entire supply of special tobacco talking with Jack; they had begun their talk at lunch several hours ago. He found her stories interesting and once she grew a little more comfortable talking with him she was much less hostile in her phrasing.

"So I've been sharing my war stories for hours, but you haven't told me shit about you" Jack said finishing the last of her drink and banging it on a table to get the waitress's attention before saying "You've just been feeding me the tour guide bullshit"

"Not much to say really" Rex says flatly "grew up in a small town called Dust left when I was 14 worked as a mechanic and a gunslinger mostly a gunslinger though. After that I worked as a courier delivered a nuclear trigger to a small city accidently triggered a small time nuclear holocaust. Then a few years later I got shot in the head by a guy named Benny and through a series of events I ended up right here with you."

"Lots of holes there carrot top" Jack said smirking "and you know most people don't just casually say they caused a nuclear holocaust single handedly."

"Most people wouldn't so casually say they brought down a space station either" Rex says smiling as he leaned back and changed the subject from his past, He liked Jack but she didn't need to know too much " So how'd you end up on the Normandy? You don't strike me as a person who would just willingly board"

"Shepard broke me out of prison and helped me drop a bomb on the hell hole I was raised in" jack says looking away for a moment.

"You were raised by Cerberus right? That pro human organization" Rex asks.

"How do you know about Cerberus?" Jack asks suspiciously.

"I read about them in the codex" Rex says quickly realizing the nerve he just touched "From what I've read they're just like an organization that used to exist here called the Enclave".

"Mother fuckers all around, I never understood why Shepard worked with them" Jack says fuming "although the shiny new ship probably helped, and we did deliver a huge fuck you to the Illusive man when we took down the Collectors."

"Indeed" Rex says standing up "Well Jack I think I've taken enough of your time I should probably let you get back to your fellow crew members."

"Thanks for the grub carrot top" Jack says standing up "Maybe I'll let you buy me dinner next time."

Rex places a couple dozen caps on the table and says "It would be my pleasure Jack".

Jack walks out of the restaurant and Rex watches her go admiring her. Just before she leaves the restaurant she looks back sees him watching, winks, then flips him the bird and lets out a jaunty laugh. Rex smiled to himself and laughed as well before walking out of the restaurant to see the tattooed woman disappear into the crowd.

He lit a cigarette and said "My pleasure indeed".

?

Shepard pulled Veronica's car up next to the hulk of the Normandy where the majority of her crew was milling in and out loading waiting trucks and strapping down exposed metal panels. The truck carrying the new weapons came to a stop just behind them and a crew of workmen unloaded several of the boxes. Shepard left the car and flagged Garrus down from his perch atop the Normandy directing traffic.

When he reached her Shepard said "Merry Christmas" before opening a crate revealing a high powered sniper rifle made of black metal. Garrus picked it up and looked down the sights mock aiming at birds and buildings.

"Well balanced, if a bit of an antique by our standards" Garrus said fiddling with the gun's scope "Still using gun powder I assume"

"Yeah of course" Veronica says annoyed at his comments "Finest powder and weapon you'll find outside of the NCR".

"It'll do" Garrus says loading a single round into the gun "My dad trained me on this old rifle that belonged to my great grandfather which was fun until I broke it trying to load the damn thing"

"How'd that go?" Shepard asked.

"Oh great once he realized that his old man had it insured years ago" Garrus says chuckling before shooting a crow out of the sky around four hundred yards away "Bought my mother a new kitchen."

Shepard gestured for the other crew members to grab a weapon. The squad members each equipped themselves with their usual armament or at least their equivalents while the rest of the crew grabbed service pistols and rifles. The crew tested their weapons and made quick adjustments before returning to work. A few hours later after the crew was armed Shepard ordered any and all of the remaining cargo to the warehouse or to the rooms of the crew before she watched the Normandy be lifted on top of a metal platform and surrounded with metal rigging. When that was done Shepard began walking back to one of the trucks to get back to the Strip, Veronica had been called back to the strip by Rex a few hours before, when Thane appeared by her side silent as a shadow.

"How are you Siha?" He asked in his quit voice.

"Fine I've been dealing with getting us armed" Shepard replied grabbing his hand "I'll be glad to get the Normandy repaired; How's EDI holding up?"

"She is fine; Joker on the other hand won't leave the ship" Thane says squeezing her hand softly "I don't believe he realizes how he acts around her."

"Ah yes, I think it's kind of cute" Shepard said smiling "Maybe when we get back we can hook them up with an android body or something"

Thane just chuckled and they walked back to one of the trucks and got in. They watched the Normandy shrink as they rode back to the strip hand in hand.

?

Rex sat in his work shop tinkering at a small machine resembling an old radio; ED-E floated behind him recording his grumblings. As he worked Rex measured out brackish red liquid from a container into a small glass phial before placing it into a slot connected by a green wire to the machine's generator while another few wires connected to the other pieces of the machine. He flipped a switch and the machinery whirred to life sending energy into the tube making the liquid shift and glow red before a blast of red energy sent Rex flying from his chair into a pile of junk on the other side of the workshop.

"Trial #4 unsuccessful" Rex says sitting up and lighting a cigarette as ED-E unfazed by the blast floated over to him with a concerned beep.

He stands up and walks back across the workshop and examines his once again scorched workbench. He collects the fried machine and throws it on a pile of similarly destroyed machines of various sizes and designs before grabbing the bottle of liquid and staring at it intently.

"Possibility of match 100%" Rex says "perhaps a slightly different molecular structure; needs further testing and refinement at the MT."

Rex placed the small bottle into a lock box filled with similar ones, each filled with the liquid. He stowed the lock box in a shipping crate and sealed it.

"Remind me to collect the solid form from Klein" Rex says "This could be our ace in the hole if Shepard is still hiding something juicy from me, which she no doubt is"

ED-E beep in confirmation and then proceeded with several low beeps followed by three long high ones.

"What do you mean that's dishonest?" Rex asks raising an eye brow "I agreed to help them fix their ship and figure out that device noting more."

Another series of beeps this time in an almost disappointed tone.

"Don't you dare tell Veronica about this" Rex says scowling "What she doesn't know won't hurt her."

More disappointed beeps.

"How about you show a little loyalty E; I mean who fixed you up when you were collecting dust in Primm? Was it Veronica? No it was me" rex says patting the robot's chassis "you and I have been through more shit than a methane farmer just trust me, okay buddy?"

ED-E beeped somberly than in an almost apologetic tone beeped again.

"Thank you, now let's see about a few upgrades for you old buddy, the computers they brought over are so much more…"

Rex trailed off as a sudden smell it his nostrils, it was faint but still there, the smell of burnt broc flower petals. Commonly used by the legion before battles to ward in preparation speeches.

"Powerful, we can really give you an overhaul" Rex continues reaching forward and opening ED-E's front where the handle of a pistol poked out of the robot's circuits; it was a custom gun that fired a single solid slug of melted steel and plasma through a mini rail gun. The problem was it only had one shot and Rex didn't know where the attacker was. He closed his eyes as he grabbed the gun's handle all the while still talking.

Rex listened and could faintly hear the soft almost silent sound of a padded foot touching the ground as the attacker moved around a stack of parts. He grab the gun and whipped around firing the gun low causing the pellet to explode at an angle dousing the assassin's legs in molten steel and plasma. The assassin screamed and fell dropping a curved blade as their legs caught fire Rex grabbed a small fire extinguisher and put out the fire before it spread across the assassin's body.

A feminine scream rang out as the helmet fell off revealing a chestnut haired woman as the assassin. Rex grabbed three stimpaks and a dose of concentrated med-ex from a first aid kit and plunged them into the assassin's burnt legs and pulled her up by the collar plunged his hand into her mouth and roughly pulled out the false tooth containing the cyanide this caused her to gag and vomit slightly but Rex barely noticed. He pulled her up and carried her to a clean work table and laid her on it before commanding ED-E to go and get Veronica and a doctor.

When the small robot was gone he grabbed a bottle of anti-septic and poured it over the assassins legs causing her to jolt in pain. Rex held her down with his robotic arm as the stimpaks went to work re-growing the burnt flesh.

"Regenerating flesh after a major burn's a bitch aint it" He says tying her to the table "Now my lovely little nightingale we're gonna have a chat."

"Fuck you swine" She snarls spitting in his face.

"Now now don't be that way little birdie and I thought we were friends" Rex says punching her in the stomach "Now be a little nicer and the amount of pain you're going to feel will be considerably less."

"Rexy…"

The woman was coughing uncontrollably, now her eyes were bloodshot and bulging.

Rex on the other hand felt alive, his heart was beating faster than it had in years and the familiar surge of energy was flowing through him.

"You know I might just enjoy this little chat; haven't gotten to beat the shit out of a legion bitch in years" Rex says his smile becoming a sneer. He could feel the old gears in the recesses of his brain bringing up emotions and drives he thought he had buried years before.

"Rexy"

In his rush he almost didn't hear it, but he caught it. He turned to see a little red headed girl crying as she clutched make shift doll. Her tuft of fiery red hair was messy from sleep and he could see that she had been spooked by something maybe another nightmare.

"Rexy I had a bad dream"

The energy left his body and the only thing left was a faint warmth. He walked over to the girl and knelt down wiping the tears from her face.

"Oh that's too bad Rosey, but I'm here now so don't be afraid" He wrapped her in a hug and as he did the violent rage inside him faded as did the phantom girl fade back into his memory. Rex sighed and lit a cigarette as he stood forcing his body to calm down. Veronica arrived with a doctor and the modified mesmatron.

The doctor went to work reviving the woman who had fallen unconscious. While he did that Veronica looked to Rex who was sitting back smoking in a chair with his eyes closed.

"What happened?" Veronica asks flicking the cigarette from his mouth.

"Legion assassin; I got a little carried away went into a rage" Rex replies "She pulled me out of it"

Veronica knew who she was and also knew she shouldn't continue questioning "When she comes to I'll question her you can go get cleaned up."

"Sure" Rex says standing and walking up the stairs to his living quarters and his ghosts.


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