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Epilogue by Super Chocolate Bear
Doctor Wallace Breen tried to slip his hands into his lab coat and, for what must have been the billionth time in years, frowned when he realised he wasn't wearing one anymore. He hadn't worn one since Black Mesa. And yet, here he was, once more trying to shuffle his hands into the enormous pockets in some vain attempt at pretending that things were the way they once had been.
As he turned a corner and watched the Elite soldiers open the door for him, he remembered that things were irrevocably different. He reminded himself of what mankind had to gain from these changes, and why they were important.
It still didn't stop him from wanting his lab coat, however. Maybe he would request one. He was the Administrator of… well, the world. If anyone could make odd and quirky demands such as a lab coat, it was him.
The lab was cold. Unsurprising, considering its purpose, but Breen had been under the distinct impression that the process no more involved freezing than a microwave involved fire.
His eyes fell on the subject at the far end of the room. Walking up beside the Elite Combine soldier studiously working at the control panel in front of the subject, Dr Breen clasped his hands behind his back.
"I take it Aldrich will not be joining us."
Breen smiled serenely and bowed his head. "Of course. Obviously something important."
"A report is in progress."
"Excellent, very good." His eyes locked onto the still form in the alcove in front of him. "He isn't a danger at the moment, is he?"
At that, the soldier paused, stopping his inane tapping on the panel. "When severely damaged, the subject falls into a self induced coma in order to heal itself."
The administrator stared at him. "Coma? So he's not in stasis yet?"
"We wait for the healing process to complete before we enable stasis."
"So what happens if he wakes up and you don't freeze him in time?"
A single, haunting red lens settled on him. "Then we die."
"Ah." He returned his gaze to the subject. "I'll just… wait outside-"
Indeed he was. The subject was beginning to stir, the helmet swaying slightly before it finally shot up, fully aware. The soldier slammed a hand down on the control panel in front of him. Breen, now backed up to the thoroughly sealed door, frantically watched as the subject took a step forward. Then, with a flash, he stopped.
There was more than a little relief flowing through that distorted voice. He looked over his shoulder to Breen, who quickly recomposed himself, buttoning up his jacket and brushing away nonexistent fluff. The gesture in itself reminded Breen of another man important to this situation… crisp suit, pale skin… and that damned briefcase. So many secrets inside.
Clearing his throat, he walked over to the soldier. "How many people died catching him again?"
He glared at the soldier. These hyper-intelligent Elites grated on him sometimes. It was only because they were so good at their jobs that Breen occasionally - occasionally - allowed them to get away with such blatant insubordination.
"Because I want to know. If this…" he waved his hand around, "thing is to kill who we need it to, then I need to be assured of its skill."
"It had skill."
Breen's glare intensified. "How much?"
"It began in the city when it escaped. Forty three Civil Protection Officers dead. No wounded. Then it reached the outskirts, following the railway. Twenty one Overwatch soldiers dead. No wounded."
No reply. His red gaze simply focused on the grey armour clad thing in front of him.
"Elites?" Breen emphasised, placing a hand on the control panel.
"Two. And a Hunter. No wounded."
Breen nodded, impressed. He wouldn't like to be anywhere near the thing when it was finally released, but still… impressed.
"How did we finally catch him?"
The quiet scoff was barely audible, but there. Breen let it go by. It was his use of the word 'we', as though he had had anything to do with the capture. But he needed the information, and he knew for a fact that this Elite was one of the best on offer. At least, according to Aldrich.
"I ran him over with an APC. Four times. And then crashed him into the cliff-side."
Once more impressed, Breen nodded. "You did well."
No reply. None of the Combine were particularly good with compliments, giving and receiving.
"Hopefully it will be enough when the time comes."
"Nothing could beat that thing. Not one on one."
Breen slipped his hands into his pockets, his fingers feeling the biting cold. "Yes, well. We'll find out."
He turned and went for the door. "Turn out the lights before you leave."
The metal door slammed open compliantly, and he stepped out into the corridor beyond. Hopefully it would be enough. Because Breen had worked hard for what the world now had.
And he would be damned if some low level employee in a glorified radiation suit was going to ruin that for him. This was his world, damn it. And no-one was going to take it away.
(A/N: Well, everybody, that's the end. From myself and on BlindAcquiescence's behalf, I'd like to say thank you for reading and reviewing. We hope you enjoyed it!
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