united under two skies

Chapter 9

The only light in the small room was the dull red glow of the cigarette as Rex drew from it feeling the rage subside. He sat on his bed quietly smoking staring at the modified armor in front of him trying to make his mind go blank, when a pair of hands began messaging his shoulders. Rex looked back to the scarred face of a woman dimly illuminated by the glow of his cigarette. She would be more attractive except for the long scar that went from the base of her neck almost to her jugular to her left temple.

"Go away Mirada" Rex says shaking ash into a small tray; the smoke barely masked the smell mint on her breath "You've been dead for twelve years"

"Oh Rex, baby why are you always so cold to me" she whisper into his ear "Didn't you say you'd love me forever?"

"Yeah I did" Rex replies "but the whole till death do us part clause applies here I believe."

The hands disappeared and Rex fell back onto the bed to find Benny standing above him.

"Wow Baby you really look like shit"

"Are all of you going to annoy me tonight?" Rex says moving his arm over his eyes.

"No just a few cats wanted to say hello Buddy boy" Benny says lighting a cigarette "You know living in your head aint bad lots of skeletons to talk to"

Rex sits up and flicks the depleted cigarette through Benny into another ash tray "I really need to look into an anti-psychotic."

The door opened and light shown through harshly illuminating Rex on his bed. He looks up to see Veronica standing in the doorway flashing that look of mild concern and fear he only saw after one of his slips.

"Don't worry I'm fine" Rex says getting to his feet "What did our new friend have to say?"

The expression dropped replaced by her usual rebellious smirk "She's a frumentarii"

"What the hell's a frumentarii doing this side of border? I thought they were all occupied with the mid-west brotherhood" Rex says changing his shirt "Regardless this is the second attempt to kill me this week."

"She says her order was direct from Octavian himself" Veronica replies "Apparently he's united the more important fragments of the legion."

"How our friends to the east taking all this?" Rex asks as he lit a cigarette and took a long draw.

"They're holding their territory for now, and the largest cluster of legion forces is situated around the center of the old legion territory" Veronica explains.

"We need to increased eastern patrols and shore up our outposts" Rex says grabbing his duster, pack, and gun "And get word to big Mt. ramp up production of securitrons with those new specs, and tell them I'll be arriving tonight ahead of everyone else make sure they have my rooms ready"

"Will do" Veronica says following him out and points to the woman/ "What do we do with her?"

"Throw her in the black site for processing" Rex says lighting a cigarette "Have them milk her for any more info."

"Okay but where are you going?" Veronica asks ordering two spec ops soldiers to carry the woman away.

"War's coming possibly from two sides" Rex says digging out his transportalponder from a bin and flicks a switch activating the teleportation device "I'm going to pick up a few things before heading to Big Mt."

"Please don't tell me you're going to do what I think you're going to do" Veronica says rubbing her temples.

"We'll need them if we want to win" Rex says grimly "I don't care what they were used for in the past but now with the tech and science from the other universe we can use them"

Veronica only looks at him and nods before taking a small gold key from her pocket "you'll need this."

"Thanks" rex says placing his hands on her shoulders "Don't worry if anything comes up you can just punch it to death like you always do."

Veronica nodded and Rex turned around to leave his house and made sure the woman was carried bound and gagged by two soldiers before being thrown into the back of a waiting armored truck manned by the black clad soldiers. Rex nodded as he passed and the stoic soldiers saluted before securing door and speeding off. As he walked through the streets filled with people baking in the afternoon sun Rex lit a cigarette and found a quiet corner devoid of people before pulling out the transportalponder and turning a knob on the back to a notch marked 1, before aiming at the sky and pulling the trigger and disappearing in a flash of blue light.

In a flash of blue Rex arrived in the center of the Villa and drew a small but powerful transmitter from one of his duster's pockets. He activated it and the scream of ancient speakers rang out across the Villa. He could hear the few remaining ghost people left in the Sierra Madre cry out their otherworldly moan and seek out the source of the noise.

He and G/D had cleared most of the ghost people out when he had returned for the Vending machines and Christine, but there were at least a dozen left. The old ones, G/d called them. They were the oldest and most mutated of the ghost people and also the smartest. No trap or assault plan ever worked on them and they mostly stayed out his way when he rarely visited, and when he did they seemed to almost consider him an otherworldly figure. Perhaps it was because he had awoken the old hotel or maybe it was because he could kill their kind quickly and efficiently. He use the speakers to distract them because it was easier than dealing with them directly. Regardless they served as an extra layer of security around the Casino against anyone who stumbled across this hell hole. The red mist still hung in the air, so Rex quickly made his way across the courtyard, through the gates, and up into the ancient Sierra Madre.

He made it through the lobby and up through the many floors without incident. He had ripped out the holographic projectors years go and so the Sierra Madre's halls went un-patrolled. When he arrived at Vera Keye's room he used Veronica's key to open the door and immediately went to the small elevator tucked away to one side of the room and descended into the depths of the Sierra Madre's vault.

He entered his password into the vaults out ward computer and the door opened with a swoosh as the stagnant air was replaced with the slightly less stagnant air of the outer vault. He entered the room passing the slightly charred remains of Elijah, now only a barely recognizable as human skeleton thanks to the holorifle round he too to the chest, and approached the table strewn with gold bars and pressed the small button on the underside of the table disarming the shaped charge beneath. Rex went over to the small terminal and entered another password and opening the panel in front of him. Originally it had been a monitor but Rex had converted it into a vault for storage of extreme materials.

With a creak a tray of six vials extended out of the compartment and Rex walked over to inspect them. He pulled a small carrying case from his pack and grabbed each of the vials. They were three tubes filled with different goo's marked:

F.E.V SAMPLE #102

XZ113 LOT #76

ZZ332 LOT #23

The other three were filled with a fine glowing red and black powder marked:

SPECIMEN #9 CORE SAMPLE #1

SPECIMEN #22 CORE SAMPLE #5

SPECIMEN #18 CORE SAMPLE #3

Rex sealed the container and stowed it in his pack before leaving the vault and sealing the door behind him. When he reached the surface he shifted the nob to the 2 and fired leaving the Sierra Madre in silence once again.

In another blast of blue light he appeared outside the entrance of a cave much to the surprise of the guards. They wore the traditional tribal armor of the Dead Horses mixed with the standard armor of the Mojave military and after realizing who he was they let Rex through with a bow. The soldier was one of the Elite soldiers Joshua was training to be the special forces of the Mojave. He found Joshua sitting behind a desk cleaning and loading dozens of pistols nodding to Rex as he enters the room.

Joshua once known as the burned man had been the leader of both the New Canaanites, the tribes of Zion, and the Special Forces division of the Mojave for two years now and had led them with strength and sternness ever since Rex helped him take down the white legs. Joshua had spared their leader Salt Upon Wounds thanks to Rex; He knew what it was like to be consumed by rage and that was the only reason he was able to talk Joshua down that day. Joshua never let him forget that; every time they met it was the same nonsense of how God sent him to stay his hand and how he was a god send for all of the Mojave. Rex didn't put much faith in religious omens or prophecy, but he let Joshua make his speeches and generally enjoyed his dramatic tone.

Rex leaned against the wall of the cave and lit a cigarette. The smoke wafted across the ceiling of the cave into a small hole in the ceiling directly over Joshua's head. He finished his chore and stood looking over to Rex.

"Rex it's good to see you" Joshua says walking over to Rex "The tidings may be dark but the lord's light will guide us."

"So I take it you've heard about the Legion?" Rex asks taking a long drag from his cigarette.

"Yes I talked with your assistant" Joshua says with a hint of annoyance in his voice "We stand ready to lend our help if this new Legion dares to rise against the Mojave."

Rex picked up the annoyed tone in Joshua's voice. He and Veronica hated each other.

"That's why I'm here we might be facing off against the Legion and the NCR; I'm here to pick up that thing I left with you for safe keeping"

"Of course follow me" Joshua says gesturing for Rex to follow. He leads rex through the maze of tunnels and they eventually come to door with two dead horse guarding a metal door fitted to a cavern entrance.

The two soldiers opened the heavy steel door and Joshua and Rex walked through the door way. They found themselves in a small caver with a small metal pedestal in the center. On top of the pedestal sat a small silver orb about the size of a baseball. Rex walked to the pedestal and grabbed the sphere and gave it a twist causing the sphere to let out a popping sound as the seal was broken. Inside was a single black flower with dark green tendrils poking out of its tightly bound petals. As fresh air hit it the flower opened a little wider and the tendrils moved towards Rex's hand, and he clasped the lid back on sealing the orb once again. He placed the orb in his pack and nodded to Joshua who led him out and after saying his goodbyes Rex turned the dial on the transportalponder to 3 and dissolved in an explosion of blue light.

?

Far above the Mojave in the upper atmosphere Mothership Zeta orbited the Earth, and its captain, Alyssa, gazed down upon the irradiated planet in silence. She was tall and stoic with a long scar across her face that on any other face would have detracted from her looks. Her long black hair was tied back in a single long braid that came to her waist. Her tanned skin was dark in the low illumination of the room; she hadn't left the room in three days, not since she had evacuated what remained of the Capital Wasteland's population on to the ship.

She had the image of Maggie being torn to shreds had been burned into her mind. Every time she shut her eyes she heard the young teen's screams as she and most of the rest of the people of Megaton were dragged away by a horde of mutated monsters as they tore through Megaton's walls and dragged its populace to a gruesome death.

It was the Enclave. The last remnant of them anyway, after almost six years of hiding from the brotherhood they destroyed the purifier after introducing a mutagenic toxin into its reserve tanks that exploded into an aerosol once the massive machine was destroyed. The toxin hit the bustling community that had sprung up around the Purifier and transformed the people living there into twisted horrors that sought out any living matter and devour it. Alyssa had tried to stop it but was only able to evacuate a fraction of the population of the Capital Wasteland before the massive horde devoured it whole.

Rivet city, underworld, and the citadel took the brunt of the horde for as long as they could with underworld being completely destroyed and the brother hood of steel barely managing to evacuate 1/3 of the people of Rivet city. The brother hood lost most of its scribes, half of their knights. Sarah , who now led the Brotherhood after father died of cancer two years prior, led an evacuated of what was left of the brotherhood and Rivet city to Mother ship Zeta through the teleporters Alyssa had given them for study. When they arrived at her base Alyssa immediately dispatched the auto mated scouting ships to pick up any survivors. She went planet side with Fawkes and Dogmeat to assist but could only save a few before the fast moving abominations spread throughout the Capital Wastes

Harold was gone along with all his followers, his promise of trees returning to the wasteland gone forever. The kids at Lamplight were evacuated with only a few lost. Their banished at Big town weren't so lucky, they slowed down the horde long enough for the lamplighter to board the drop ships. The merchant caravans of Canterbury Commons were devoured along with their base. After only a day the abominations had spread out to every corner of the wastes and would have made their way to the wasteland beyond if Alyssa hadn't ordered the death ray fired on the already desolate waste. All that remained was scorched earth now, that and silence.

She couldn't believe that her parent's life work had been used to cause such destruction. All her life she wanted to be like her father, a healer. When she left the vault she used her healing skill to help the people of the wastes and even united them under a common flag, albeit after she shot several people in the face, but in the end she failed them both her parents and the people of the Capital wasteland. In the end all she brought was chaos and ruin.

She brought a small folded up picture from the pocket of her fatigues and unfolded it. It was a picture of her and Amata taken a week before Alyssa's father left the vault to restart project Purity. Amata was smiling and Alyssa was looking up from one of her father's medical Journals. As she looked at the phot of her with her oldest friend she allowed a single sob to escape her before straitening and returning the photo to her pocket. Amata was dead along with Butch and all the other Dwellers of vault 101. They opened the doors to join the evacuation of Megaton just as the abominations attacked; they couldn't close the doors in time and the vault became a trap for its dwellers.

As she stood there in silence the door opened behind her and Sarah Lyons walked into the dimly lit room. She saw Alyssa standing there brooding and for a moment considered not delivering the bad news she carried with her. Sarah knew what it was like to lose men, even in a no win situation it could severely affect any commander. She had lost most of the brotherhood, but Alyssa just lost the entirety of the capital wasteland.

Alyssa had spent all her days in the last six years guarding caravans, offering medical treatment from her home office in Megaton, and acting as the head of the small council that handled the ins and outs of the capital wasteland. She ran herself ragged every day only to have the Enclave destroy it all. Alyssa had always been a compassionate person, something Sarah gave her flak for constantly, but she also admired that about her friend. When they had first met as strangers in the ruins of D.C the only thing Alyssa was worried about was whether she and her team were wounded or not despite the small army of super mutants all around them.

Alyssa had a way with people and knew just how to deal with any situation involving conflict whether it be through diplomacy or if the situation called for it a shot gun. The only reason the wasteland held together was because of her guidance and warmth, and now she was the one who needed guidance.

"Alyssa, we need to talk" Sarah says watching Alyssa snap back to reality "Our food stores will run out in three days, we need to find somewhere to resupply."

"Three days? That's all we have left?" Alyssa asks rubbing her temples "I knew we shouldn't have dipped into the emergency stores in the hold last winter, stupid, stupid"

"It wasn't stupid, we saved lives Alyssa, that food staved off starvation in three communities" Sarah says looking Alyssa in the eye "We saved hundreds of lives that day and now we need to do it again"

"You're right Sarah, I'm sorry" Alyssa straightens and steels her features "We could head to New Vegas, I've heard its thriving and maybe they'll resupply us for some tech"

"Good plan as any" Sarah says nodding "If those caravan rumors are true, then New Vegas will have more than enough resources to help us."

"How is everyone?" Alyssa asks looking back out at the earth.

"Good considering what they've been through" Sarah explains "Arthur is helping move our equipment around and staying out of the way, Fawkes is helping the scribes get the malfunctioning reactors back online, and Lucas is helping keep the peace amongst the refugees."

"Good, have the pilots set course for course for New Vegas immediately" Alyssa ordered and withdrew the sling carrying her custom combat shotgun "I think it's time you and I tried our luck.

/

Rex appeared in a flash of blue light in the middle of a grassy courtyard between two of the Big MT.'s many labs.

"God dammit why doesn't this thing ever take me to the sink anymore" Rex yells and presses the button again only to appear on top of the domed building housing the Think Tank. He sighs and presses the button again and appears about ten feet above Dr. Klein's work station and falls on top of the floating brain bot.

"Who dares desecrate my all-knowing cranium" The brain bot says as he spins flinging Rex onto the floor.

"It's me you pompous idiot" Rex says standing up "The damn Transportalponder is acting up again"

"Oh it's you, our penis toed leader" Klein says "Why are you interrupting my important research?"

"You were playing that stupid asteroid game again" 0 says from below them.

"Silence only my superior mind can see the true value of this training program it maintains my already superior reflexes" Klein booms back his voice cracking with feedback as he did.

"Whatever Klein, are my quarters ready?" Rex asks lighting a cigarette.

"Yes those annoying appliances of yours have been reactivated and your brain has taken up its old tank" Klein says turning back to his game.

Rex scowls for a moment before turning and walking down the steps dodging the techs and scientists moving around the think tank sorting samples and messages from across Big Mt. He nods to several of the administrators and just before exiting the room Dala jets ahead of him and blocks his path.

"Hello little Teddy Bear, have you time for an observation?" Dala asks.

Rex sighs and touches his nose before doing various stretches and took a long drag of his cigarette before blowing out the smoke slowly. Ever since he had restored the Think tank's true intellect (including Klein who oddly enough was the same idiot either way) their individual quirks seemed to be amplified as much as their intelligence. Dala for instance loved locking Rex in a room for her "Observations" if he didn't appease her when he visited Big Mt. Rex had taken a play from Mobius when he restored the Think Tank placing a suggestion in their minds not to experiment on humans without consent or orders. Most of the time anyway.

"Oh thank you that is all I need" Dala says floating back to her station mumbling about teddy bears.

Rex walked through the small junction room and through the door into the Sink. The auto-doc welcomed him with his usual gruff voice:

"Welcome back Rex, how's the heart holding up?"

"Still ticking like a Rolex sawbones, the lungs are a little funky though" Rex replies tapping his knuckles against the auto-doc.

"Well maybe if you didn't smoke more than the damned toaster they'd work better" The auto Doc retorts opening and closing his hatch for effect.

Rex ignores the auto doc and heads to the Sink Central Intelligence Unit as it lights up.

"Evening sink, how are things progressing here? I haven't gotten a status report in more than a month" Rex asks pressing buttons and changing the display to a holographic map of the facility.

"Oh very good sir, all projects are continuing on schedule and Sub-director Gannon has been successful in keeping the Think Tank in line while Director Tyrone is running a tight ship as always." The S.C.I.U replies "And may I say Sir is looking very sharp today."

"Nice try you kiss ass, we both know I look like shit" Rex says slicking back his hair "Send a message to Arcade to get his ass over here"

Rex walked away from the S.C.I.U to his room, saying hello to the light switches and Blind Diode Jefferson and ignoring the toaster and Muggy, and places his pack on the bed before stripping down and entering the shower. He had it installed after moving the Mojave's scientists to Big Mt. along with a small sink and toilet. They thankfully had no personality programming and lacked a voice.

The water poured down his skin and sent scalding heat through Rex as he scrubbed the grime and dust of the wasteland from his skin. His skin was covered in faded scars, burns, track marks, and bullet holes earned throughout his life. After getting out of the shower he looked at one in particular; a small almost invisible scar under his left eyebrow given to him by a rad scorpion when he was six. He still remembered how the stinger barely grazed his face as the massive arachnid attacked him, and how the tip managed to cut him as he dodged the stinger. His father had to shoot the thing six times before it went down and then grounded Rex from his comics for a week for disturbing the things nest. After he got dressed he went into the brain room where Arcade was chatting with Rex's brain.

"Rex good to see you around here again" Arcade says shaking Rex's hand "From what I've heard things have been getting crazy out there."

"You don't know the half of it" Rex says "The legion's about to make a move I just know it, and we have the god damn NCR plotting against us; oh and a crashed alien ship from another universe."

"Just like the old days" Arcade says laughing "You know Rex these things tend to follow you around"

"Precisely why I thank the heavens every day you decided to leave me here while you go gallivanting about in the wastes" Brain said his tank flashing with every word.

"Keep in mind I can place you back in my head anytime I'd like Tyrone" Rex says lighting another cigarette and once again wondering why his brain preferred to be called Tyrone.

"Last time we tried that, the melding of our independent personalities proved to be too much, and I craved that poison nicotine for a month afterward" Tyrone replied in a fussy tone.

"Fine, did you read over those schematics I sent?" Rex asks rubbing his temples. He and his brain always bickered. He found it both Ironic and funny.

"Yes we did, and Rex what we have here is amazing" Arcade says "The fabrication and R&D departments are already pumping out prototypes based on your recommendations and experiments are under way with the new software and tech samples you sent us."

"Good we'll need to get to work before Shepard and her crew arrive with the Normandy" Rex says grabbing a small black drive from his pack along with a mobile terminal from the Normandy "This contains all the information from the Normandy's computers; I'll fill the tech team in on how to use the new computer, and I have a few ideas on how to integrate their holographic tech with our own."

Rex dawned a stark white lab coat marked and gestured for Arcade to follow as he left the room detailing what he wanted done and his plans for the future tech. As they left the room Tyrone flushed himself back through the tubes to the Nexus, formerly the forbidden dome, where he oversaw the entirety of the structures many labs and testing areas. The next few hours were spent readying labs and facilities around Big Mt. for the arrival of the Normandy and making sure the preparations were completed to begin the study of the other world's technology and sciences.

?

Alyssa appeared in a flash of orange light next to the small white probe and walked forward through the jagged opening in the rocks and out onto the burning hot sands of the Mojave. She was dressed in a beat pair of lightly armored pants, a white tank top, a light leather jacket, and combat boots. Her shotgun dangled from a strap at her side and her medical supplies were in a small pack strung across her shoulders along with her ammo pouch. Sarah appeared from the crack wearing full power armor without a helmet and void of any brotherhood symbols as a precaution to being recognized or drawing attention. To a normal person they'd look like a skilled doctor and her body guard.

They had fired the probe into an outcropping of stones silently that morning. They were half a day's walk from the Strip near the mountains, and they walked down the slope and towards the Strip for about an hour before coming upon what looked like a depot of some sort with groups of people boarding and exiting trucks. They cautiously entered the depot and found a kiosk with the label Civilian Transport.They each bought a ticket to the Strip and waited for their truck to arrive. They sat at one of the many benches bolted to the ground by their terminal and drank Nuka Kolas from a machine nearby.

"This is crazy we had at least four years on these guys and they already have public transport after two years" Alyssa says looking over their surroundings "I mean even Moira never got those old trucks moving"

"Yeah and this level of organization suggests some kind of military presence for peace keeping as well as a command structure" Sarah replies eying the securitrons escorting each truck as they rolled out onto the road "The roads are rebuilt and safe, at least mostly protected, and the people aren't too twitchy."

"Yeah, so far this is promising" Alyssa says stroking her braid, a habit she's kept since childhood "If we can meet with this Courier person maybe we can negotiate something"

Their truck arrived and they boarded along with a half dozen other people. Alyssa and Sarah took a seat near the back of the truck near the exit. A man sat across from them in a smudged business suit and read a newspaper while a family of four took the seats to Alyssa's right and a soldier sat at the front with his back against a panel watching the cabin.

Cautious aren't they? Alyssa thought to herself examining the other passengers. The family to her right consisted of a skinny woman about half the size her husband who was obviously a laborer judging by the calloused hands and deep tan. Their two children sat between them a young boy with a tangle of dark black matching his father and a girl who was at least a foot taller who's head was shaved and had the ghostly fuzz of pitch white hair atop her head. The children seemed to be occupied by a large beetle they passed between each other and the parents were smiling as their children played. The man across from Alyssa read his paper silently not bothering to look up at all, even when the truck jumped after going over a bump. The soldier on the other hand watched everything in the truck with the determination and dedication only a trained soldier could possess. Alyssa sat back and looked to Sarah who was staring out the window watching the Mojave pass by behind them.

"Are you two new to the Mojave?" Alyssa heard a voice with a deep southern accent ask and she turned to find the young mother looking at her.

"Oh yes, we're looking to set up a medical practice here" Alyssa replied smiling.

"Oh you'll just love it here, Sylas and the kids and I just finished the probationary period and are going to pick up our citizenship forms at the capitol building" The woman says smiling "We have a lovely little home in Good Springs you see, my Sylas is the best brewer in the Mojave and the lovely folk over in Good Springs can't get enough of his brew, so much so that there's people lining up to give him the capital to open a brewery."

"Marie can you stop talking the lady's ear off" the Man says (in an equally thick accent) looking to Alyssa "Sorry Ma'am the misses loves to brag."

"Oh not at all" Alyssa says smiling "It's good to know there's a decent brewer around"

"See Sylas I'm not bothering anyone, and what did your momma always say about bragging?" Marie asks her husband.

"It's not bragging if it's true" Sylas says rolling his eyes.

"Exactly, now stop interrupting our conversation" Marie says turning back to Alyssa "Like I said you're gonna live it here, there's a place for everyone and the big man around here is quite the silver tongued devil. When Sylas and I were applying for citizenship the courier actually came into the building on some business or another and talked to us, can you believe that? A farmer and a tavern girl from Austin meet the leader of the entire Mojave, and let me tell you he's not much to look at but when he got talking it makes you feel like some big wig from the NCR"

"Wow he sounds amazing" Alyssa says.

"Oh yes indeed no wonder he runs things around here the man could talk a snake out of its fangs I tell you" Marie says laughing.

They rode the rest of the way to the strip with Marie chattering all the way and when they arrived and Alyssa and Sarah said their goodbyes Sylas handed Alyssa a note with the family's address in Good Springs.

"Now if you two need a place to stay anytime soon you come give us a ring, ya 'hear" He says smiling "Marie's takin a real liking to ya and I can tell you all are good people"

"Thanks if we're ever in the neighborhood we'll stop by" Alyssa says as the family walks to the capitol building.

"What a nice family" Alyssa says placing the note in her pocket.

"Yeah if you have ear plugs" Sarah says looking around the strip.

Alyssa laughs as they walk into the crowd of people and towards the Lucky 38. As she walks Alyssa loses the smile and steels herself. Time to get to work.


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