BEGIN EPISODE FIFTEEN.
As Nova raided the soldiers for ammo, I couldn't help but stare up at the stars above and think back about all that had happened thus far...
And then time seemed to slow down to months within seconds.
I knew that feeling.
All too well.
I winced, and I'm pretty sure Nova did as well, or well, I think she would have if she hadn't frozen with the rest of everything.
"Haruhi." I didn't even need to turn around, she warped space and spun everything around so I was facing her. "About time you showed up."
"No time for chit chat-" Was it me, or was she her old teen-aged self again? Actually, more around the age when we graduated. Odd, considering last time I'd seen her she was about the same age as the rest of us- "And no time for internal rambling either! Older me couldn't be here because of temporal shenanigans, so I'm here in her place."
I hate it when she does that.
"Look, there are major events going down." she warped us back to the Spectrometer chamber, frozen in place as the crystal began to discharge it's weird energies. "Circumstantially simultaneous to this exact moment- in your past, I mean- someone some-when in some other somewhere-land opened a rift through every major dimension and alternate universe, using 'accidents' like these in combination to promote the rifts even further beyond their normal scope and range."
"Great." I rolled my eyes. "So let me guess, I've got to stop this guy and save every universe?"
"No." She shook her head as we warped to somewhere else on earth- Tokyo harbor, empty save a strange light show in the sky. "There's a team already doing that- Several, actually, but there's one that's specifically dedicated to stopping this jerk." And back to Black Mesa. Oh- goodie. A Missile launch chamber. Why do I have a bad feeling about this? "But right now, I need you and Tsuruya to curb the damage in this universe, and keep this guy from entering it directly."
"Wait. So how are we supposed to do this, exactly?" It had to be asked.
"Just keep doing what you guys already have been- Escaping." Haruhi insisted. "But just up ahead there's a rocket with a satellite inside. That satellite's got the capability to seal the rift that's been opened in this universe- at least partially- but it'll need to be activated later on, can't be here, not just yet. But you need to focus on the launch- that's the only thing we're actively needing here."
"If I remember right, some scientists were yammering on about firing some rocket anyways. So this all makes sense except for: 'Partially'?"
"The rift will be small enough that the guy we're trying to stop won't be able slip through it, meaning in order to enter he'll have to extend his plans to make it in here." she shook her head. "Look, the point of all this is that this guy is playing a chess game against all of time and space. If we can keep your universe safe, at least for the time it takes to throw everything off of his schedule and onto ours, then it'll give our tactical team the time to get in and take this guy, and all of his 'followers', out of the picture once and for all."
"That's comforting." I still don't like this. "So this guy's playing a chess game right? That means he can't directly affect this universe yet, so he has to rely on pawns. Those 'followers' you mentioned."
"Quick thinking. That's the gist of it, alright." she grinned. "I was just about to get to that!"
"I saw a guy hanging around this morning- or was it yesterday? I can't remember anymore- on the tram cart across from me at a toxic waste spill. He was giving off this creepy vibe like you do at times.."
Haruhi nodded. "I'll have someone jump back a bit, see what comes up... But we can't interfere with the past though, not with as unstable as time's become. In theory we could make a separate branch, but that won't do you two here any good." she shook her head. "Anyways, thanks for the heads up. Fill Tsuruya in, and one of me will get back to you as soon as we can, if at all. This is one of the few spots I could find that's not buried inside the black spot the Cascade is causing."
"Haruhi, wait!" I stopped her before she left. "Why? Why would stopping one universe from being entered do any good?"
She seemed taken back for a moment...Then grinned. "Think of it like a six way chess game on a four way board."
And before I could ask what she meant by that, I was dropped back to the exact spot I'd been standing on when Haruhi pulled me out.
"Damn it, Haruhi." I'd barely said it above a mutter, but Nova still looked up at it.
...And one restated explanation later (that really could have been avoided if Haruhi had just brought Nova into the loop in the first place)...
"RAWRR! That makes me so Megas mad, nyoro!" And out came the catchphrase. "She couldn't just warp us out but no! Gots ta leave us here to clean up some mega bad mess!"
Yup. All we wanted to do was escape, and instead Haruhi once again drags us into the land of the paranormal. Really, why can't we catch a break? ...But considering how bad a Resonance Cascade actually is...
I Really hate these dilemmas. Really, truly.
"I think at the very least, we should keep on with the number one goal of 'escape Black Mesa'." I began. "If we so happen to stop the Resonance Cascade at the same time...Well...I say it's a happy accident."
"Well, okay then..." She grinned at me. "But I think we should at least launch that rocket for sake of launching a ROCKET!"
"Well, considering that we've already test fired one, a real one is just the next logical step up!" I couldn't help but agree.
Obviously, we would have been going this way from the get-go anyways. The only available path out of this small canyon (besides the way we came in, of course) that wasn't locked tight was a set of airlock doors labeled "CAUTION: Blast Danger."
On the immediate opposite side, however, were more armed soldiers, across this massive pit that I believe a rocket should be standing. They spotted us, reaching for their weapons immediately...
Nova reached for a grenade...
And they exploded before she could get it off her belt.
"What the-" I didn't even have the energy to finish the sentence.
We just sort of stared at the three dead bodies, one sans an arm and a leg, lying there for a few moments.
"Did one of them just fumble with their grenade?" I had to ask.
"Either that or I threw one back in time." She replied. "But I think the former's about ten times more likely."
"Who knows." And with that we went for the blast door that those idiots had been guarding.
...Of course, finding that the stairs just beyond were rigged with explosives- six whole blocks of them, to be exact- made their stupidity make even less sense sense.
I groaned as Nova squealed with delight. "Can I keep them?"
"No." They were all armed with trip wires. Couldn't even start ascending the stairs or else- PCHOO. Up into the atmosphere we we went along with half the building.
We quickly strolled outside and took stock of our situation.
"It's like the bucket over a door prank." Nova said once her delight at seeing all those explosives wore down. "Only the military takes it too far."
"Well...They obviously don't want us firing off this missile." I noted, pointing up at the control room above us, obviously what those stairs went to. "But..." Wait a second. "Aren't control room windows normally covered in glass?"
"Yeah? I mean...Usually, I think."
"What do you think would happen if we tried to climb up the wall?"
Surprisingly, the wall climbing was fairly easy. There were plenty of things to stand on, the window wasn't that far up off the ground, and, much to my delight, there was a blast shield embedded into the upper part of the window sill! So that's why there wasn't any glass.
As we climbed through the small gap into the control room, we heard the sound of radios chattering on the other side of an open door.
Nova and I both motioned for silence at the same time, and that nearly made us laugh at the timing of it.
Didn't want those soldiers coming in, now did we?
After a few moments, we found the button that launched the rocket- already prepared and everything.
The blast shields slid down, sirens blared...
And through the gaps in the shields, we saw a brief flash of orange light and then an overpowering flash of white light. After the noise and light had settled down...We both realized that the guards outside had continued chattering on like the idiots they were.
I motioned for a grenade, then pointed at the door. She nodded, headed over, pulled the pin out of the grenade, and started counting in her head as she walked out into the hallway.
"Hey boys! I think you dropped something!" She threw the grenade like it was a ski ball, and then dove back into the control room just as...
Radios flared up in alarm for a few moments, then went silent. She grinned at me. "The Idiots had their backs turned!"
Wait. Really? Did they NOT hear the missile launching?
Examining the hallway the now dead soldiers had been guarding revealed that they had been watching the very door they had rigged with explosives.
Really? That much explosives and you decide to guard them on two sides? Our HEV suits aren't that durable... Adding in the fact that we just launched a missile behind their backs?
Really? Just... REALLY? This is what our tax dollars go to work for?
Soldiers that can't even hear a rocket launch happening right behind them?
We left the monument of wasted money behind, and returned to the tram tracks outside- Oh. Surprise.
One of the doors is now open.
"Haruhi?" Nova ventured.
"Maybe." I frowned, noting with vague alarm that the dead soldiers Nova had killed were gone.
It was then that a sniper shot rang out, hitting the ground just between our feet.
"Time to go!" Nova yelped
Inside the newly opened room, we found a ladder going down into the pits of Black Mesa yet again.
I regretted it immediately. Not only A: did we find another tram card, but B: we found boxes full of the Military's blue laser trip mines. Nova couldn't keep the joy off of her face.
Soon enough, after some wandering, we discovered the silo we'd just launched a missile from- flooding.
Not good at all. How did that missile even launch?
Regardless... What came next was an annoying amount of swimming that I'm not going to bother detailing. It was that annoying and that boring.
Well, that is until we came upon a room inhabited by some kind of sea creature- probably another alien- literally eating a scientist whole- oh, and there were more of those jelly fish barnacle things too.
"I'm getting real tired of Black Mesa." Nova groaned.
"Me too." I agreed.
Shotguns fired, aliens fell.
We moved on, right into a room full of barnacles and crates of ammo.
"Ooh look grenades!"
Before I could stop her, Nova hopped across the room towards a crate with grenades on the lid.
The crate broke the instant she put her foot on it.
Neither of us had time to react as a massive flash of green light filled the room- Aliens had teleported in.
It was like a reverse ambush! Like how the Military had before hidden in a box and popped out before, the aliens waited for us to jump into a single box before attacking.
Thankfully, the trap was set for one and not two. The alien closest to me was looking at the crate, back turned towards me.
Shotguns roared again.
"Damn those zappers!" Nova scowled.
Moving along, we found a massive generator chamber- which was designed to appear as three sets of massive pistons crashing down on top of each other.
"Joy." I grumbled. "The box smashing room all over again."
As we continued through the hallways and tunnels, fighting aliens where-ever they appeared, I couldn't help but wonder what was going on. I'd yet to see an alien Vs. Soldier encounter.
It was like they were both targeting us!
Then again, considering what Haruhi had just told us about someone arranging things to work for some un-seen goal, that was entirely possible.
After the third encounter with randomly appearing aliens in a server room (Nova, did you have to crash each server like they were your sworn enemies?), we found a scientist who kindly informed us that he'd been tracking our progress through our suits- apparently full of tracking devices.
"Well, it's better than going naked in this mess." The scientist offered when Nova gave him an incredulous glare, before he continued on with some 'advice'. "If you two are dead set on going to the Lambda complex, you'll want to stick to the industrial areas- there are so many security gaps in there that it's a wonder it was ever made a part of this facility!"
And so, with that piece of information delivered...
"Should we dump the suits?" Nova asked.
"Are you kidding?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. "These things are a pain to put on, let alone take off. And with all these aliens and soldiers..."
"Tracking devices. Really?" She crossed her arms and huffed. "I'd rather go around naked!"
I couldn't help but stare flatly at her as I tried not to think about the comment she just made. "If you did, you'd be dead the instant we ran into another ambush."
Still not thinking about it.
"Ehhh..." She looked to the side, blushing slightly. "I guess you're right. Damn you and your cold logic."
Damn it- Don't think about it- I wish it were as easy as that.
"Cold Logic. Yeah." Still not thinking about. "Anyways, let's get going."
Leaving the scientist behind, who looked rather amused at our squabbling (Don't think about it), we entered the next area-
"COLD LOGIC? !" I nearly snapped as the temperature dropped thirty degrees in a single second. "D-d-did you really have to say the 'C-c-c-Cold' part! ?"
"S-s-s-sorry." she stuttered.
We worked our way through the maze of frozen pillars and blindly attacking aliens as quickly as we could...
Which lead us straight to an elevator!
And up it lead...straight up into the warmer sections of the facility. Really, Black Mesa, did that room even have a purpose?
"Freeman!" Oh. A Security guard was running towards the elevator. "I was told to give you a message! Don't-"
And he fell with a single gun shot to the throat, not that we heard it fire- though the clattering of a bullet shell was a good audible cue.
Thankfully, there were crates on either side for us to hide behind.
After a few moments of silence, we realized that there were no soldiers that could have made that kind of shot and not have seen us.
Nova raised an eyebrow. "Really?" She had to ask. "Someone shot the messenger?"
I rolled my eyes. "Seems like someone's too big of a fan of music, really."
After a few moments, we decided to duck out of cover and investigate the...the...Surface Loading docks!
Wow. Sunset alrea- Wait. No.
Sun RISE. Damn it. Why is my mind playing tricks on me? "We haven't been down here that long!"
And then the same muted gun shots rained down from above- lithe figures in black suits were shooting at US. With suppressed guns!
"NINJA!" Nova cried out and flung a grenade- one of the ones from the alien trap.
...And down they fell. I'll admit that was a bigger explosion than I thought it should have been. And what was with the green light?
"That was too easy." I frowned as silence fell upon the area after the "ninja" hit the ground.
Then, I saw a Zapper jump down from above- Damn those Aliens are clever! Tagging an explosive with a teleport trigger! Now how the hell did they come up with that one? !
All that was thought in the single second it took as I raised my shotgun and fired.
The Zapper's multiple eyes widened as its body twisted from the impact and landed right on top of a dead ninja, also dead.
"Nice shootin'." Nova whistled.
The Surface Loading docks, of course, have surface access. And it just so happened that it was bottle necked through an armory, absolutely packed with military surplus. Rocket launchers, grenades, rockets... Oh, and suit chargers and wall-bound med-stations.
I stopped Nova from entering just outside that door.
"I don't like it." I frowned. That creepy feeling I'd gotten from that guy in the suit was just radiating from the room.
"Well...if it's a trap then I can use the grenades to break through!"
"Too much of a risk for you."
"You worry too much!"
"Nova. I don't think we should go this way."
"It's the only way TO go!"
"..." She would have stepped into the room regardless of any protest I could have made. And she did.
Yet again the trap was designed for only one person- an invisible, metal door slammed shut the moment she was through the frame, something that moved so fast it nearly chipped the paint off of my suit's chest armor.
"NOVA!" I banged my hands against the door as soon as I realized what had happened. "Damn it!"
I heard the sounds of a tussle inside, metal ringing as it was hit by, or hitting, something, and there were shouts and groans from whatever was going on.
And then a bullet pinged past my shoulder.
A Two stage trap after all!
I Spun around, spotting a heavily armored soldier standing near the door controls, on the level above me, aiming an MP5. At me.
But he wasn't firing beyond that first warning shot.
"HEY!" I roared. "What the hell are you doing!"
The Soldier laughed through his mask, free of radio cover, but still muted slightly by the cover it provided. "Just looking for information, Mister Freeman." I could just hear the grin through the mask. "See, I'm supposed to kill you dead, while we take your girl in for interrogation...But..." he laughed. "I'm looking for a friend of mine- was supposed to fly in at the start of this, but his chopper crashed. I don't suppose you've ran into him by any chance- a man by the name Adrian Shepherd?"
For a moment I just stared, then replied: "Here are all of the dog-tags from the soldiers that have tried to kill me and Nova so far." I fished the things out of a pocket and threw them up at the soldier above me. "The name doesn't ring a bell, so I don't think I've had the misfortune to run into him, or vice-versa." I then added. "Make sure those get to their families. Let them know we did it all in self-defense."
The man caught the mass of tags with one hand and shook them lightly as he looked them over. "Self-Defense huh?"
"Look, Nova and I are scientists." I began. "For absolutely no reason, soldiers and aliens alike have been trying to kill me and everyone I've met for absolutely no reason at all." he didn't seem to be taken back by that.
"No reason, huh?" he was still partially distracted reading the names.
"Yeah!" I scowled. "A Resonance Cascade was triggered entirely by the crystal sample that our administrator wanted scanned at a resolution beyond the scope's safest parameters, and adding in the fact that we were having technical problems all morning...?" I held my hands out to the side. "We didn't want any of this! All Nova and I have wanted through this whole ordeal was to get out of here and to safety, and both sides have seen fit to just target us both for being the idiots stuck in the center of it all!"
"Then why did you fire off that missile last night?" he asked, taking a moment to look away from his reading of the dog-tags. There was something smug in the way he said that.
"So someone did notice." I had to comment, with about equal smugness. "That missile contained a device that's supposed to stop the Cascade, or so I was told." I narrowed my eyes at the soldier, whose iron sight had not left their spot on my head for a single second. "To be honest, I'm not sure if most of the people asking me to fire that thing off were asking me to do it because I was wearing this suit, but I know that the one person who told me about it- right before Nova and I fired that rocket, by the way- wouldn't lie to me. Not after everything we've been through.
The soldier finished his check of the dog-tags, then turned his gun to the side and fired off into a nearby crate, which made me jump a little. "I like you, Mister Freeman." he laughed slightly as he lowered his gun to his side. Odd. That stance... "The Tracking Device is on your belt, the little silver plate over the belt buckle. Take it off and leave it here."
"And why should I believe you?" I inquired as I did as he asked.
"Oh, you'll see eventually." The man laughed and...Damn that's familiar. Why is this guy so god damn familiar? "They're taking Miss Tsuruya past the garbage compactor, using the left path. If you go right, you can out pace them. That will be your best bet at taking the guards out and rescuing her."
And with that, he nudged the gun into the controls next to him, and the door behind me raised up as fast as it had closed.
"Now get going." he ordered. "She's waiting for you."
"Thanks." I nodded, and then turned to leave, rushing down the corridors he'd said they hadn't taken Nova down, but as I did, I heard the man say something else...
Something that he shouldn't have known.
"Good luck, Kyon."
Damn it. This isn't making any sense.
I ran, as fast as I could.
How did that soldier know my old nickname? Damn it. With that name and the way he was standing, laughing- I KNOW him. How do I know him?
It doesn't matter. Not right now. I'll figure it out later.
Right now, I need to find Nova.
Damn it Black Mesa.
Just outside the exit area was a familiar set of canyons. I think we rode through here on the way into Sector C!
Damn, this is close. So close.
I kept running. No soldiers were shooting at me- no planes swooping down from the sky- No Aliens spawning.
I'd actually removed a tracking device! There was only One? I guess that one scientist didn't know that, but...
Gotta keep going.
True to the familiar-soldiers word, I out paced the bad-soldiers dragging an unconscious Nova past the trash compactor by a good minute.
This is going to be worth it.
Crowbar out in right hand...Let's hope they don't recognize me... I strolled out behind them, sprint to catch up...and...
"Excuse me, sir." I said simply as I reached up to tap one of them on the shoulder with my left hand. "You forgot something!"
_Forgot what?_Both stopped as they turned their heads around to face me.
The face-mask shattered under the force of the crowbar's business end, and the momentum carried through and smashed into the next soldier's face.
"Me." I finished as the two guards hit the ground, unconscious.
END EPISODE 15.
A.N.: And I'M BACK. X) well. To be fair, I haven't really left. But! I mean, I'm back writing this story! :) How long has it been since I last did an update on this? ...Dunno. Been too busy with my Xros Wars AU...Which ironically inspired the opening of this chapter. Heh. Anyways! I hope this chapter's up to standards. Well, maybe a bit more than this story's provided thus far, as my styles evolved a little since the last update. ANYWAYS! Promise fulfilled, this is the next thing uploaded, and I think I'll keep on working on this for a little while, maybe. Heh... I was hoping to have this out by the time the Black Mesa Mod was released, but a few days behind, that's not bad? Still in the spirit of the game, I think. _DTC