Disclaimer: I don't own Half-Life.


Chapter One: Undue Alarm

The darkness surrounded him. Consumed him.

Seconds passed.


Rubble flew past him, swirling in a vortex in front of him. Dr Breen's face, captured on a monitor.

"Tell me Doctor Freeman, if you can; you have destroyed so much. What is it exactly that you have created? Can you name even one thing? I thought not."

Gordon tried to move, found he could.

What the hell was going on?

The spiralling rubble disappeared into the void, swallowed up in the blink of an eye. Colours swirled into being around him. He saw the Citadel, stark and cold against the warm early morning sky. Everything blurred, like some expressive painting by… some… expressive painter. Gordon never was into art.

He floated up to the top, like a dream. And then, suddenly, he was standing on the balcony, watching the Dark Fusion reactor overload. Alyx was stood by his side. Gordon could move, but slowly, leaden.

The reactor exploded. Light pushed out towards them, and Alyx shielded her eyes. The explosion stopped, as it had before. Before He had appeared. What was this? Just some horrific game, showing him what he had lost?

Then he heard something. A deep groaning. Over and over again, like a chant, in a language he had only heard a few times before.

Blurs of bright purple light cascaded from different points, some in the distance, some closer, beside Alyx. They coalesced into the shape of Vortigaunts unlike any Gordon had seen before. Swirling deep purples and neon pinks covered their bodies. Their hands clasped together as though in prayer, they swung their arms in front of them, over and over again. It reminded Gordon of witches stirring a pot.

Two of them stood on either side of Alyx's frozen form. Their praying motion stopped, and they grasped an arm each. She gasped, forced into life and motion. The explosion remained frozen, and Gordon with it. Panicking, Alyx looked at the two Vortigaunts holding her. Gordon tried to say her name, to attract her attention.

Her eyes abruptly closed, and she collapsed, held up by the spindly arms of the Vortigaunts. Then, without a noise, the Vortigaunts vanished, folding away like a sheet of paper, flattening themselves out of Gordon's field of vision.

With a distant boom, the explosion continued, consuming Gordon in white light. He tried to squint, but still couldn't move fast enough to protect his eyes. Coloured dots peppered his vision as something else appeared in front of him, silhouetted from behind by the blinding light. Footsteps echoed, and the shape took form.

It was Him, walking towards him through one of the white doorways He was so fond of. It slammed shut behind Him with a metallic clang, leaving them in darkness. Gordon could still see Him, though, stood in front of him, only the slightest of smirks taunting him.

He took a raspy breath to speak, when something interrupted Him. A blue light, flashing like lightning. Then on His other side, distracting Him. Gordon could hear Vortigaunts chanting. And then he could see them as he was pulled back, sliding along on some invisible conveyer belt.

Half a dozen Vortigaunts stood in front of Him, their backs to Gordon as he continued to move away. Their clawed hands were out in front of them, projecting spools of luminescent blue energy that blocked Him from moving. A deadly scowl deepening his creased features, He viciously adjusted His tie with both hands.

"We'll see," He growled, "about that."

That was when Gordon realised the one thing He lacked; his briefcase.

Was that the source of His power? Was He vulnerable without it? And how could the Vortigaunts take it away? Had they always been capable of this? Why hadn't they done it before now? And they knew about Him. All that time they were muttering their backwards riddles, and they knew? Gordon wished that he could move, or even speak. There were so many things he would have liked to do to Him while He was defenceless.

Two more chanting Vortigaunts appeared in Gordon's peripheral vision, standing on either side of him. They put their hands out towards him, bathing him in the same shimmering blue light. Gordon's gaze was locked with His as everything faded to white, all sound disappearing.

Gordon closed his eyes to shield himself from the light. Everything went black.

Opening his eyes, Gordon found himself still surrounded by darkness. Just as his heart sank, suspecting Him of playing some cruel mind game, he noticed something he had never experienced in the void.

A smell.

Several, actually. Most of them burning. And he could see his stats, provided by the HEV suit. A point of light shone down on him from above. He realised he was lying on his back. That was when he noticed a pressure, pushing down on his chest.

Quite a lot of pressure, actually.

In fact, ow. Lots of ow.

"Ow," he coughed, voice hoarse from the dust and smoke that wisped around him. Where was he?

Something moved at the point of light, revealing yet more. A grey, stormy sky grumbled angrily high above. A metal hand swooped in from above, removing more of the darkness. As the light spilled in, Gordon noticed they were rocks. It was rubble.

Gordon grinned. He was buried in rubble! He was alive! Alive and being squashed by rubble, yes, but still… alive was good.

The source of the metal hand quickly made itself known; Dog's misshapen head sprang into view, shoving itself down into the hole and staring right at him. His single red eye narrowed, studying him before widening in excitement. Dog yanked his head back, banging it against an overhead rock.

As Dog shoved more rubble out of the way to get a better look, Gordon heard something that made his heart skip a beat. A gentle voice he had given up any chance of hearing again. A part of him had been mortified that the next time he would see her would be another twenty years in the future - just one more person he had let down. And yet, here he was.

And here she was. "He's gotta be here somewhere… any luck over there, Dog?"

Debris mostly cleared, Dog reached into the makeshift pit and grabbed Gordon with both hands, pulling him up with remarkable gentility. He held Gordon up like a trophy, studying him with a happy red gaze.

"Dog, I think I've found something," Alyx said from somewhere off to the right. Dog looked over at her and lowered Gordon to the ground next to her. She continued on, staring at a pile of rocks in front of her. "Drop what you're doing and help me over…"

She looked over, the words dying in her throat. A smile erupted on her face that he couldn't hope to match, but he found himself trying anyway.

"Oh my God. Gordon!"

Suddenly, she was upon him, arms wrapped around his neck in one of the strongest grips he had ever felt. He didn't think even Barnacles matched up. His arms moved up and down awkwardly by his sides, uncertain. Should he hug back? Arms around her waist, or should he put them higher up?

Exasperated, Gordon went with the safe option and put his hands behind his back. Painfully and wonderfully slowly, Alyx pulled back a few steps, arms dropping down. Her clothes were dirtier, and her gloves covered in dirt and powdered rock. Gordon noticed a new scar just above her right eyebrow, small like a scratch.

"I was so worried…" She realised she was staring and quickly averted her gaze, tucking hair behind her ear sheepishly. A small cough of a laugh emerged, and Alyx fished something out of her jacket pocket. "Oh, hey, I found these," she said, moving towards him with whatever they were.

They slipped over his face and rested on his ears. He smiled.

"My glasses," he said contentedly, bringing his hands up to adjust them. Alyx's hands were still on them, however, and there was an awkward moment while their hands touched and their eyes met.

Dog made a noise that was the closest approximation of a robot clearing his throat that Gordon had ever heard. Looking over, Alyx laughed.

"Hey, the Gravity Gun. Give it to him, Dog."

Gordon caught himself staring at Alyx, and blinked, looking over to Dog. The robot held out the Gravity Gun in a massive palm. It didn't look any worse for wear, though it wasn't glowing a brilliant blue anymore. Ah well, orange would have to do. With a smile, Gordon gingerly plucked the Gravity Gun from Dog. In response, he jiggled up and down on the spot, his head nodding wildly.

"There, Gordon," Alyx said, grinning, "Dog's happy to see you. I can tell."

Blowing out a grateful breath, Gordon stroked Dog's head. "I was happy to see him, too."

Alyx gave them a moment before stepping in, bending over to look Dog in the eye. "Okay, Dog. Go get the monitor set up so we can check in with my Dad."

The robot hooted affirmatively and hurtled off towards a high ledge behind Alyx. He vaulted up onto it and thundered off out of sight behind a wall. Gordon took a moment to look around. They were in the bottom floor of a completely destroyed building; the only walls that remained were about the same height as two Dogs standing on top of each other. A fire crackled in the corner, embers flickering off into the open sky. Flakes of ash floated down from the sky like falling snow.

"He must be worried sick about us," Alyx said with a smile. "He was so sure I wouldn't find you here."

Gordon tipped his head to the side in a 'fair enough' gesture. If the situation were reversed, he wouldn't have expected to find him here, either. Except maybe in pieces. A sudden, explosive bang interrupted Alyx's next few words, and they both looked up.

It was the Citadel, still towering up into the clouds, although maybe not quite as high anymore. Although now it was an angry, swirling red vortex that swallowed the tower. Lighting flashed periodically at the top, though whether it was actually weather related, Gordon couldn't tell. Judging by the swirl-y, vortex-y thing, he guessed it was probably portal related. He sighed inwardly. He was a scientist. He shouldn't be using terms like 'swirl-y' and 'vortex-y'. That's what spending five days straight fighting and shooting did to you, he supposed. Oh God, had it really been five days?

"The Citadel's really coming apart," Alyx murmured, eyes on the tower. She looked back to him. "I still don't know how we got out of there. The last thing I remember is… Breen falling… huge explosion… and then I heard Vortigaunts. Next thing I knew, Dog was digging me out of the rubble. You?"

Oddly enough, that was pretty much Gordon's story, too, barring one particular detail. It was nice and disconcerting to be able to share these weird experiences with someone.

He nodded. "Same."

Alyx sighed. "It's all so strange... we should-"

"Alyx, come in!"

It was Eli, his voice distorted and strained through static.

Alyx whirled around, then back to Gordon, her face alight. "It's my Dad. We've been trying to reach him for hours," she said, backing up to the ledge. She clambered up easily, leaving Gordon down below as she grinned, "Wait till he hears we've found you! Come on!"

Sighing, Gordon brought the Gravity Gun shoulder strap over his head, brushing dust from his hair that made his nose tingle. Alyx laughed and stretched a hand down to him. Smiling, Gordon took it and pulled, trying not to appear too much like the playground nerd that he was as he fumbled for footing.

Eli's voice echoed out from behind Alyx as she managed to tug Gordon up onto the ledge.

"Alyx, sweetheart, come in!"

"Thanks," Gordon said quietly, straightening his askew glasses. He followed Alyx to the sizeable monitor that had been set up in the ruins of the building, all manner of equipment, both aged and advanced, hooked up to it. A delicate looking aerial stuck out of the corner of the monitor, and Gordon couldn't help but watch it as it dangled in the wind.

Alyx, meanwhile, pressed buttons and twisted dials while she tried to get a signal. "Dad? Dad, are you there?"

"Alyx? Alyx, come in!"

"Hold on a sec, there's so much interference."

Gordon cleared his throat, and Alyx looked at him. "Um… the, uh…" He pointed to the aerial.

"Ah," Alyx noted, before talking over her shoulder to Dog. "Hey, Dog, give me a hand with this." The robot clutched a hand to it, twisting it this way and that as Alyx worked the controls. "Hmm… okay, little to the right… okay, hold it there! We got it."

Eli's worried face filled the screen, stretching and blurring with each rumble of the clouds above.


"Alyx, where are you? Please, God, tell me you're out of the city…"

An awkward look crossed Alyx's face, like she was a teenager confessing to her father. "Well, not quite yet-"


"But listen, Dad, we've found him!"

"You found Gordon?" Eli moved in closer to the screen to get a better look.

Gordon ducked in and gave a little wave. "Uh… hi."

The older scientist just stared at him, his gaze gradually travelling down until he was staring off into space. "I don't believe it…" Eli shook it off, and all but glared out at them. "But listen, you two need to get out of the city! The Citadel could blow at any moment!"

"There's no question that it will, I'm afraid," Dr Kleiner announced, bustling Eli into the background with his customary finger waving about in the air. Gordon couldn't help but smile, but quickly found it fading when Kleiner's words actually sank in. "Our remote sensors indicate the process is accelerating towards a Dark Energy flare."

Kleiner addressed them directly, unaware of the panic slowly spreading across Eli in the background.

"Anyone left in the vicinity will be subjected to energetic events whose effects are beyond my powers of speculation."


"The ravages to cellular material are unimaginable-"

"Kleiner!" Eli cried, whirling the other scientist around to face him. "Stop!" His metal leg seemed to give way, and Kleiner stooped to catch him.

"Dad!" Alyx said quickly, reaching a hand out to the screen.

"Oh, dear…" Kleiner said sadly, helping Eli back to his feet. "Eli, I'm sorry. But surely, there's no need for undue alarm. Alyx is well out of harms' way by now."

Alyx and Gordon exchanged a guilty look before she said, "Well… actually, we're still at the Citadel."

"What?" Kleiner turned to face them with a look of doom that made Gordon's heart drop. "Oh dear, but there's really no time! The core is exceedingly close to collapse! Why, there's no way to get far enough without first…" The elderly scientist glanced around, looking regretful of the words that were about to come out of his mouth. "Well, nothing short of a direct intervention in the core could possibly retard the reaction."

"Izzy," Eli admonished.

A deathly pause followed before Alyx spoke again. "You mean… going in?"

"Into the core, yes," Kleiner replied quickly. "But it's far too dangerous to consider! The chamber will be bathed in radiation!"

Though every instinct in his head cried out for him to be quiet, Gordon put a hand in the air. "I… do have a hazard suit."

Turning it over in her head, Alyx nodded. "If we could find our way into the Citadel, it's possible we could-"

"Alyx, no!" Eli said definitively, shoving Kleiner out of the way to get access to the monitor.

"But Dad…"

The elder Vance was having none of it, however, and turned to his colleague. "Izzy, talk some sense into her!"

"I'm sorry, Eli," Kleiner said, adjusting his glasses, "but I don't see any other way. It… would help us evacuate more citizens…"

"We can do this, Dad."

Gordon thought of something he could add, but then thought better of it as Eli bowed his head and sighed. The man had been convinced, no need to start throwing doubts and arguments into the mix. Better to ask Alyx about it afterwards.

"Okay... okay, Alyx, okay. Just promise me... promise me that you won't take a single unnecessary risk."

"I promise," Alyx all but whispered, putting a hand to the monitor so she was touching Eli's cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too, baby. And Gordon. You look after my little girl. I'm trusting you to take care of her."

Solemnly, he nodded.

"I'll be praying for you."

"Don't worry," Alyx said confidently and quietly, "We'll see you soon."

The transmission cut out, leaving them alone once more. Alyx stared at the screen sadly, and sighed.

"Yeah…" she muttered, "Don't worry." With a heavy sigh, she rubbed her hands down her face, trying to wake herself up.

"You know," Gordon said slowly, "I'm the one with the hazard suit."

Alyx's hands froze, on her mouth, and she looked at him. "Yeah?"

His eyebrows raised, Gordon nodded his head towards her. "As in, uh… me."

Alyx paused, still staring. Dog was doing the same. "…I'm not following."

"So… you don't need to come. You could evacuate. You know. While I do this."

There was another moment where Alyx still didn't seem to catch on, but then she suddenly gasped, pointing a finger at him. "Oh…" She fixed him with an amused look. "Gordon… don't you think you've done enough alone?"

"I did okay at Black Mesa," Gordon mumbled, feeling a little insulted.

"Yeah, but you don't have to anymore." Smiling, Alyx put a hand on his arm. "We're in this together, Gordon."

"Uh…" He swallowed, not quite sure how to take that. "I, uh… thank you."

Alyx just nodded in return before dropping her arm and getting back to business. "Now, let's see if we can find our way into the Citadel from somewhere along the rim."

The rim? Gordon frowned. The rim of what? All he could see from here was debris and collapsed buildings.

The way ahead of them was blocked by the tail end of a gunship, and Alyx 'hmm'ed, considering it for a moment. "Dog, a little help, please?"

Without a noise of response, Dog clamped his hands on the propeller housing and hauled it upwards above his head.

"Thanks," Alyx said, patting his arm as she walked through the gap.

As Gordon followed her, he finally saw what Alyx meant by rim. They were in front of a canyon. When he thought about it, this was probably the same underground canyon he had used to gain access to the Citadel in the first place. Breen's portal device exploding must have levelled the area for miles around. Cautiously peering off the ledge, Gordon saw another ledge running along the cliff-face, going off to the left.

"Okay boy," Alyx said, facing Dog with her back to the canyon, "pack up and meet us on the far side of this ridge."

An affirmative hoot followed, and Dog blithely dropped the gunship propeller with an almighty crash before thundering off.

With a fond smile, Alyx turned on the spot before thrusting her arms out in panic when she saw the canyon. "Whoa. What a drop."

After a long pause, she looked at him. "After you, Gordon," she said sweetly.

"Oh, thanks," he muttered, giving her a tired smile before nonetheless lowering himself down onto the ledge below. It was only a couple of feet, and the ledge itself stretched out quite far. But that didn't stop him swinging his arms around like a cartoon character when he landed and it felt like he was going to topple backwards.

He heard a squeak of a laugh come from above, and he glared up at Alyx over his glasses.

Her eyes closed and biting her lip, Alyx waved a hand around in front of her. "Sorry," she managed, before she easily leapt off and landed in front of him.

Gordon shoved his glasses up his nose with his thumb, and stalked past her. "It's not that funny."

"Sorry, sorry," Alyx said, though she was still laughing.

With a low grumble in his throat, Gordon started moving, pressing his back to the wall and shimmying along the narrow path along the cliff-face. Now and again debris would tumble down, knocking bits of the path away, but nothing life threatening. Finally, the path widened into an open area of dust and debris, just over the ridge from where they had spoken to Eli.

Gordon looked out across the canyon at the Citadel as he walked into the open. There was an open section on the side leading to a random corridor. His gaze travelled down to the space between him and the Citadel.

"Mind the gap…" he muttered.

"Why's Dog taking so long?" Alyx murmured, now beside him, though facing the other way. She cupped her hands around her mouth. "Dog?"

A gasp escaped her, and Gordon turned. A piece of flaming debris the size of a truck tumbled from the sky, thrown from the Citadel. It was headed straight for Dog, still hidden behind the ridge.

"Oh my God, look out!" she cried, though too late. The debris crashed down, sending a cloud of dust billowing up and over the ridge. Gordon suddenly found it difficult to breathe, his chest tightening from shock.

Alyx continued shouting. "Dog! Dog! Dog, are you all right?"

There was no response, and Gordon swallowed, his throat dry. He had only just come back, surely the world wasn't that cruel.

Bits and pieces of rock and metal tumbled into the air from behind the ridge, until Dog finally sprang out, looking happy and oblivious to the worry he had caused. Perched on top of the ridge, he bent his head forward to look at the intensely relieved Alyx.

"Oh, thank God," she sighed, before adding angrily, "You scared the hell out of me. Now stay with us, and help us find a way over."

That bit of discipline taken care of, Alyx wandered to the edge of the precipice, arms folded.

"I cannot believe we're trying to get back in that place," she said, shaking her head. "This isn't gonna be easy."

Gordon took in the problem with a frown, trying to apply some kind of scientific method to this problem. He sighed and shrugged at Alyx, who then turned back to Dog.

"Well, Dog? What do you think? Any ideas?"

The robot looked a little surprised he was being asked before whipping his head around, searching for something on the ground. Holding his hand out like a pincer, a yellow glow not unlike the Gravity Gun emitted from his fingers, bringing a lump of rock to him. Gordon remembered playing fetch with Dog two nights ago. Well, two nights ago for him, anyway.

With a thrust of his arm, Dog sent a charge into the rock and propelled it across the abyss. It tumbled through the air for a long time before finally arriving in the corridor.

"All right, Dog," Alyx laughed, "That's not too helpful." Dog whined, and Alyx put her hand on her chin in thought.

"It worked, though," Gordon said, prompting a look from Alyx.

"Yeah, for a rock, Gordon," she admonished, before staring across the void in frustration. "There has be a way across. But how?"

Interrupting any further conversation, Dog started jiggling about excitedly on the spot, like a kid in grade school who knew the answer.

"Dog?" Alyx asked, looking a little troubled.

Then, without a moment's pause, the robot thundered off to the right-

"Dog, where are you-"

-before throwing himself over the ridge and disappearing.

"…going?" Smiling, she looked back at Gordon with a shrug. "Was it something I said?"

As if in response, there was a resounding metal crash from behind the ridge as Dog dug around for… something.

Alyx sighed, and Gordon suddenly got the notion that Dog did this sort of thing often. "Dog, what are you-"

An exhaust pipe flew through the air, quickly followed by a red van door. Gordon and Alyx stepped aside in opposite directions.

She shook her head. "I think Dog needs a few bolts tightened."

That comment got a response in the form of the rest of the red van flying through the air towards them, and Gordon's eyes bulged.

"Look out!" Alyx cried.

Gordon stumbled back to avoid the careening vehicle. He saw Alyx roll aside, picking up dust on her jacket. Dog appeared on the ridge, looking quite pleased with himself as he jumped down to the ground beside them. Alyx had that disciplinarian look about her again as she moved over to Dog.

"Dog, really. That was a little close," she scolded, and Dog ducked his head. "What's gotten into you, huh?"

While she was chatting to Dog, Gordon walked over to the van, trying to understand Dog's reasoning for this… gift. The van was missing tyres and doors, was rusting, falling apart… Confused, he looked though the cab at Alyx's conversation with Dog.

"How exactly is this supposed to help us?" she asked, leaning forward to chat to the crouching Dog.

In reply, the robot just looked at the opening in the Citadel. Alyx followed his gaze, then looked back to Dog.


Gordon understood just as Alyx looked back at him, the same look of disbelief on her face.

"Wait a minute," they said, in perfect synch.

"Oh no," Alyx said vehemently, shaking her head. "You're not serious. Are you?"

A hand resting on the top of the cab, Gordon closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the back of his arm. "He's serious, isn't he?"

"Well…" Alyx sighed. "Gordon, unless you have a better suggestion? He is a robot. He's done the math." Though he wished he hadn't, Gordon heard the murmured afterthought to that statement. "You, uh... did do the math, right?"

Looking up to see the response, Gordon saw Dog look shocked at the very concept of math before shaking his head.

"Uh-huh," Alyx murmured knowingly, patting Dog on the head before taking on a completely different tone of parenting; the lies to make the kid feel better. "I want you to get out of here as fast as you can," she urged. "Go find Dad at White Forest."

Dog whined, and she stroked one of the flaps on his head. "We'll catch up, don't worry."

The robot suddenly enveloped her in a bear hug, lifting Alyx from the ground and eliciting a delighted laugh from her. Delicately, Dog let her down to the ground, and she patted his arm.

"All right, all right. I'll miss you too. Now don't worry about me, I'll see you soon."

Without a word, Dog galloped around the van and charged at Gordon. He waved his hands around as the robot quickly closed in.

"No, Dog, that's okay, I-"

But it was too late, and he too was wrapped in a robotic hug, lifted into the air in a carefree manner that made him look back at the canyon behind him nervously. Then, with none of the care he had shown Alyx, Dog dropped him to his feet again, bobbing his head up and down happily.

A little breathless, Gordon smiled and nervously patted Dog's arm. "Thanks."

"The One Free Man," Alyx announced, "saviour of the world, enemy of the Combine… and afraid of hugs."

Resisting the urge to grumble, Gordon slipped into the passenger side. "You can drive."

Alyx just grinned as she clambered in, grasping the wheel with both gloved hands. Gordon cocked a questioning eyebrow at the gesture, and Alyx shrugged. "Makes me feel better."

The van shook beneath them as Dog got a grip. She took a deep breath, and focused her gaze across the chasm, towards their destination. "Brace yourself, Gordon."

He reached over to fasten his seatbelt, and a feeling of resignation washed over him as he grabbed thin air. No seatbelts. Looking around the cab, Gordon ended up shrugging and pressing his hands to the roof and seat.

"Okay Dog, let's do it," Alyx said, though it looked like she was psyching herself more than anything. "Before I change my-"

Dog lifted the van, tipping it forward and giving them a view of the canyon. Wow. It really was bottomless. A razor train trundled along a track very far below them, which also, helpfully, leant a scale to the sheer drop beneath them.

"Okay, okay…" Alyx chanted. Dog lifted the van up straight again. "Careful…"

The van tipped back, and Gordon pressed even harder with his hands.

Alyx sounded like she was squeezing her words out as Dog tossed them. "Hold on!"

Everything went quiet as they soared through the air, cold wind rushing against the nervous sweat on Gordon's forehead. Then they landed, scraping and banging against the metal floor before finally crashing sideways on with the wall. Gordon smashed his shoulder against the hard metal, prompting a very loud 'HMMM' from him and a helpful reminder from the HEV suit about a sudden impact.

"Whew…" Alyx extracted her hands from the wheel and turned to face Dog. "Good throw, Dog!"

Smiling, she looked back to him, and frowned. "You okay, Gordon?"

He nodded quickly. "Just need a minute for the suit to… do… medical things."

Unconvinced, Alyx turned back to look at Dog, who was happily jumping up and down at how successful his plan was. Gordon's attention, however (now that the HEV suit was doing its' job), was directed at the metal grating on the floor on which they had landed. It seemed to be… bending.

"Now go, Dog," Alyx urged, unaware. "We'll be just fine-"

The grating fell away, and the van lurched forward and down.

"Uh-oh. What now?"

Ignoring the pain in his shoulder, Gordon pressed his hands to the same spots of the cab again, and watched Alyx grab onto the wheel.

"Hold on!"

The van toppled into the chasm, falling through the darkness that was only occasionally illuminated by the occasional flash of light whizzing by. They hurtled into a diagonal tunnel, the metal of the van screeching and rending in the face of their horrific speed before they were launched from that into another chamber, this one full of the pods Eli and Alyx had been held captive in.


They passed through a sparking blue shaft of light, and Gordon closed his eyes, expecting pain as they passed through. Instead, all of his hairs stood on end. Finally, they rocketed through another hole in the wall, this one leading diagonally down into a corridor. They both lurched forward as the van collided with the ground, miraculously managing to stay in their seats.

The van scraped along the metal floor, heading for a guardrail overlooking a precipice. What was with the Combine and heights? The vehicle turned as it approached the edge, the back end smashing through the guardrail and poking over the side.

Then it stopped.

Gordon and Alyx both sat in silence for a moment, staring straight ahead. It was hot in here. Flames peeked through broken gaps in the walls and floor, the once smooth metal surfaces shattered and jagged. Sparks flew. The once cool blue of the Citadel had been replaced by an apocalyptic orange. There was a smell like burning rubber in the air, only sharper. It almost hurt his nose to breath it.

"All right," Alyx said quietly. "Let's get off before the next ride starts."

He nodded and shrugged. "Yeah. Okay."

They both extricated themselves from the van slowly, stopping for every creak and groan that accompanied their movements. No sooner had they reunited at the front the van did the vehicle give up the ghost and tumble back into the abyss.

"Holy crap," Alyx blurted, jumping back.

They could hear it as it fell, crashing between the narrow walls of the Citadel. Frozen, Alyx and Gordon stared at the spot the van had once occupied.

Unsurely, he glanced down the corridor. "Shall we-"


They started walking. Gordon kept a hand on the Gravity Gun to keep it at his side, and saw Alyx draw her pistol out of the corner of his eye. They crossed a bridge over the chasm and proceeded into a darker, musty corridor. Sparks flew from a panel on the wall far ahead of them, before finally exploding and showering the corridor in metal and circuitry.

Alyx gave the debris a cursory glance as they passed it. "Oh my God, this place is really coming apart."

The corridor ended at a small balcony overlooking another deep trench. Above their heads were the rails the pods were transported along. Before, this place had seemed insidious, cold. In the orange, flickering light, everything suddenly took on a far more demonic vibe.

Agape, Alyx stared down the immense chamber. Gordon busied himself looking for a way forward, and saw it in the form of another walkway on the left, a little further down. Tucking the Gravity Gun behind his back, Gordon vaulted over the guardrail of the balcony, landing quite smoothly on the smooth metal. He was getting pretty good at all this jumping and climbing stuff.

"This is unbelievable," Alyx muttered. "I had no idea."

"What?" Gordon asked, gesturing for her to hurry.

She had to tear her eyes away from the chamber before jumping over the guardrail and landing beside him.

"This place, it's… huge."

He looked at her oddly as they moved onward. "Yeah…"

"No, I mean… last time through here, I couldn't see a thing." Her gaze travelled upwards to the empty racks on the walls. "I was in one of those pods." She shivered inwardly, her head twitching a little. "I'm glad we're doing this together," she added, relieved.

Gordon didn't bother to say anything out loud for fear he would make an ass of himself. Which was highly likely. He wasn't really sure what was happening between him and Alyx. All he knew was that he enjoyed having her around, and not just in a 'Someone to help me kill evil aliens and also keep me alive' way. And he didn't want to do anything that would jeopardise that. And considering his tendency to drive away women with innocuous comments that always ended up getting him in trouble, it was probably best to keep his mouth shut.

The metal path took them through several more burning corridors before they reached a force field blocking their way. It led to a corridor going to the right, leading to a larger room they could see through an observation window beside them. Inside, Gordon saw the… creatures he had seen working on the Citadel, during his ascent to Breen's office. One of them had screamed as it passed him. It was a noise he never wanted to hear again.

One of them was directly on the other side of the glass, and would have been staring right at them if it wasn't occupied with the console in front of it. The other was further into the room, facing towards the corridor Gordon and Alyx would enter through. A thin red laser tunnelled from the metal visor seemingly welded to the face, although what it was shooting at, Gordon couldn't have guessed. Strange that these creatures were 'it's to him, and yet Dog was a 'he'.

Beside him, Alyx gasped. "Oh my God. Stalkers."

His gaze whipping from her to the Stalkers several times, Gordon pointed to the one closest to them. "Stalkers? Those are…"

After staring ahead blankly for a few moments, Barney sighed and went to checking his rifle once more.

"Do you know what Stalkers are, Gordon?"

For a moment Gordon considered a dry retort, but knew it wasn't the right time for it. Barney was talking about something specific, something to do with the Combine. He settled for shaking his head.

Barney nodded. "Good."

Those were Stalkers? That was what happened to Barney's friend? Turned into one of these… things? Even if you knew this had happened to someone… you wouldn't be able to tell who was who. Their identity erased.

"Well, they shouldn't bother us if we leave them alone," Alyx said gently, visibly shaken by them. She seemed to push it aside pretty quickly, holstering her pistol and moving to the console beside the force field. "I'll just disable this field, and-"

The wall of blue energy flickered on and off a few times. Gordon moved over to it, thinking that he might be able to slip through. It reappeared in full force when he reached it, though, and Gordon put that idea on the backburner.

"Damn, I can't get this down," Alyx muttered. "Something's…"

The way her voice disappeared drew Gordon's attention over to her. She was looking at the Stalker working on the console.

"It's that Stalker," she said, her voice husky. "He's holding it from the other side. We don't have time to look for another way around."

Tongue in cheek, Gordon looked around for something to use. Something that could get through force fields. Except he had now idea about getting through force fields. He'd seen Combine soldiers walk through them. How did they get through? Was it the uniforms? Some device on their uniforms?

Sighing, he turned away from the force field and the observation window altogether. A wide open canyon of a space stretched out in front of him, yellow mist down below making it impossible to see how far down this one went. He walked out onto the glass walkway overlooking a path below. A malfunctioning lift platform jerked and jolted up and down at the end of the walkway, leading to… whatever it was that was beneath him.

Clear pipes that looked like they were made of plastic ran over his head, weaving a tangled web before coming to a stop facing downwards at the end of the lower path. There was a button beside it, which Gordon assumed released something from said pipe. Keeping his eyes on the stretch of pipe in front of him, Gordon saw something about the size of a football rush past. He recognised the shape from driving along the coast.

A little more excited than he probably should have been, Gordon pointed a finger at the pipe, glancing over his shoulder at Alyx. "What about the… uh… electric magnet ball, uh… what do you call these?"

She looked up from the console appearing very confused, but then her face broke out into a smile. "Rollermines," she marvelled, running up beside him. "They could help us get out of here. Can you get one? I've got an idea of how to use one here."

"Uh…" Gordon cast a look to the platform bouncing up and down. There was a way down he could sort of see involving crawlspaces and what looked like broken ramps, but he really didn't want to go there. Then he looked at the pipe in front of him and hefted the Gravity Gun around. He nodded to the pipe. "Can your gun break that?"

Alyx shrugged, un-holstered the pistol, and shot the pipe. The surface cracked around the rapid fire bullets. "Guess so."

With a smile, Gordon blasted the cracked surface with the Gravity Gun, clearing a gap big enough for him to snatch one of the travelling rollermines. He backed up a few steps and kept his finger on the button; he remembered how painful these things were when they were left on the floor.

"Now what?"

"Dad taught me how to reset the targeting sensors on these things. A little extra juice in the right spot, and it's on our side. Hold it out where I can work on it."

He did so, and she pulled out the hacking device from her belt. With a loud static sizzle, the blue energy thrumming beneath the panels of the rollermine became a neon yellow.

"There it is," she said, slipping the hacking device away. "It's a lot more unstable, but it should last long enough to take out those Stalkers."

His thumb came halfway off the button when he glanced at her. "You're sure?"

"It'll be fine," Alyx threw casually over her shoulder, heading back to the console.

Acquiescing with a tilt of the head, Gordon released it, and winced. Nothing happened. Well, nothing happened to him. The rollermine trundled off quite happily through the force field, heading for the Stalker that was busy lasering… something. It didn't notice the rollermine charging towards it until it bumped against its' leg. A massive bolt of yellow energy sprang out between them, propelling both the Stalker and the rollermine away from each other. The Stalker hit the wall hard, and then slumped to the floor.

Gordon noticed Alyx's worried look as the rollermine did the same to the other Stalker. He opened his mouth to say something when he noticed the rollermine glowing red and beeping rather ominously, like a countdown. Finally, it leapt up into the air and exploded, the two of them protected by the observation glass.

"Okay, we can get through now," Alyx informed him, solemnly tapping away on the keyboard and lowering the force field. "Let's go."

He clamped his mouth shut and nodded, leading the way again. The room itself looked like a security station.

They moved on, coming out into another echoing chasm of a chamber. It felt odd to see these things from this perspective; last time he had been floating above it, struggling to take it in all at once. There was the worry about where he was going and if he was going to live, as well. Although that always seemed to be a major concern for him.

They had to move carefully along the glass walkway - it was difficult to tell where the broken gaps were. As they reached a corner going off to the left, a noise coming from a bridge ahead of them caught their attention.

They ducked down at the sounds of Combine radios.

"Soldiers," Alyx whispered, and they both watched as two soldiers walked out onto the bridge. "Looks like they're too busy trying to get out of here to worry about us."

An explosion followed the soldiers, throwing two more out onto the bridge and killing all of them. It dissipated quickly, and Gordon and Alyx moved around the corner and into the corridor waiting for them. That same corridor led them around and up to the bridge littered with debris and dead soldiers.

They exchanged a wary glance before they moved on, heading into the narrow, dark corridor the explosion had originated from. A chunk of machinery hung from the wall above their heads, looking not unlike the devices that had confiscated Gordon's weapons when he had first arrived in the Citadel. Their way was blocked by chunks of rock and more machinery piled up in front of them.

Gordon swung the Gravity Gun around.

"Hey, good idea," Alyx commented from behind him.

"Thanks. I… think this my first time using it for its' actual purpose."

She laughed, and Gordon was happy his ridiculously goofy smile was hidden from her.

Then, with a loud metallic thud, the machinery above them sprang to glowing life, blue energy striking out against the walls and floor. Alyx grabbed Gordon's arm and yanked him back, and they watched from the bridge as the blue energy sent the debris tumbling up into the air, floating without gravity as they dissolved into nothing. It reminded Gordon of the secondary fire of the pulse rifle. The reaction, too, dissolved, and the machinery powered down.

"Well, that was random," Alyx said, and Gordon nodded.

They promptly rushed through the corridor and out into the chamber beyond, the path along the wall eventually leading them to a bridge that looked like it was a force field in itself. Posts stood on either side of the 'path', green lights on the top indicating it was in working order. The bridge stretched far out across a chasm beneath them. Gordon was getting tired of all these big drops. Although, at the same time, that was good, because he wasn't feeling the same vertigo every time he glanced down.

He tapped his foot on the force field, and gave a satisfied nod when he surmised it was solid.

A Combine radio squawked from across the bridge, and soldiers emerged from a doorway on the other side. They were approaching the halfway point of the bridge when something big groaned. Looking over to the right, Gordon saw the entire wall taken up by a colossal version of the confiscation machine. Sparks flew from exposed circuitry at the top. The soldiers weren't paying any attention to it, however, and kept on coming even as a vortex of blue energy pounced out at them. It was like a hurricane turned on its' side, swirling violently and pulling every last one of them into the glowing blue light at the centre of the machine.

That seemed to be the end of it, and relative silence descended, punctuated only by the crackling of unseen fires and distant explosions.

"Holy crap," Alyx gasped. "We've got to cross through that?"

Gordon let out an exasperated grunt, his shoulders slumping. What was this machine even for? Why would the Combine need a confiscation device that big, and in the middle of this… chasm? Did Striders and Gunships come back to the Citadel with contraband? Giant, alien contraband that needed to be confiscated?

The vortex thrummed into being again, shaking the room around them as it swirled and groaned. Then, just as quickly, it vanished again.

"Okay," he moaned, "if we time it right, we'll be fine."

Looking equally disillusioned with the whole thing, Alyx nodded. "I'll be right behind you."

The vortex sprang to life again. Gravity Gun tucked under his arm so it didn't bounce about wildly, Gordon waited for the blue energy to wink out again before sprinting across the bridge. He was over with time to spare by the time the vortex started up again, though Alyx cut it much closer.

They were both breathing heavily, and Gordon rested against a guardrail, giving himself a moment. Alyx did the same.

"We made it!" she breathed, and Gordon gave her a thumbs up. After returning it, she nodded down the corridor. "Come on. Gotta keep moving."

Gordon grunted in acknowledgement and followed, casting one last disbelieving glance back at the bridge. Moving on through the darkness, they passed a force field on their left that blocked another corridor. Gordon eyed it suspiciously as he walked past, waiting for more soldiers to emerge, and ended up bumping into Alyx, who had stopped.

"What went on in here?" she said gravely.

Peering over her shoulder, Gordon saw the corridor had simply ended, overlooking a chamber bathed in red light. Unlike the rest of the Citadel, however, this red light seemed to be deliberate. After an unsure glance back at him, Alyx vaulted over the guardrail blocking their way into the chamber.

Gordon followed, a cautious hand on the Gravity Gun. It was a massive cylindrical chamber, stretching as far down as anywhere else in the Citadel. The semi-circular glass platform on which they stood was at the top of the chamber, though Gordon's view of anything above them was blocked by the ceiling, which matched the shape of the platform. A guardrail ran along the side of the platform. Leaning out, Gordon saw the chamber extend up further than he could see, though he thought he could make out the sky above them.

In the middle of the guardrail stood an upright tube, though it seemed more like a slide from a water park, the way the top was exposed. Metal, horizontal bars had been put in place to prevent… whatever went through the tube from escaping. Gordon's eyes followed the tunnel down below the platform, leading to a closed hatch in the wall just beneath their feet.

And further down below was something very odd indeed.

"What the hell are those things?" Alyx breathed, hands on her knees as she bent forward to inspect them.

Gordon knelt down to do the same, resting a hand on the glass floor. The red light was shining up at them from there, shining out from fixtures planted all the way down to the bottom. And stretching out of the chamber walls, like huge stepping stones leading down the chamber, were pods. At least, that's what Gordon thought they were. Each of them about the size of a car, looking like huge plastic milk cartons.

"Incubation pods?" he mused quietly.

Alyx 'hmm'ed. "Could be… but incubation for what?" She turned to the wall of the chamber. "Maybe this console has some useful information."

He got to his feet as Alyx worked on the huge console attached to the wall. There were too many controls to count in this place, indicative of the amount of maintenance these things needed. Whatever these things were.

"Let me see if I can pin down a path to the core…" she murmured, tapping away on the different keyboards faster than Gordon could follow. He checked around for exits. Other than the corridor they had emerged from which was now on the left, there was a force field blocking a corridor on the right-hand side of the platform. Alyx's hacking device would be able to get them through that. He guessed, anyway.

The monitor suddenly changed, the cool blue background and continual running text replaced by the image of Dr Breen, talking directly into the camera.

Alyx did a double take at the screen before looking back at him. "Breen? But how?"

It looked like one of the broadcasts, but there was something…

"It's me you should be concerned about. I can still deliver Earth, but not without your help. The portal destination is untenable, surely you can set the relay elsewhere. There's no way I can survive in that environment."

Breen paused, as though hearing a response from the screen. Then Gordon recognised it.

As though matching his thoughts, Alyx sighed relieved. "Oh, thank God, it's just an old recording." Shaking it off, she got back to work as Breen continued talking. "Let me see if I can find a map."

"A host body? You must be joking, I can't possibly- oh, all right, damn it, if that's what it takes. Just hurry, he's right behind me." He turned to face what Gordon remembered to be himself and Alyx. "Oh, shit!"

Gordon hadn't really had time to think about it before, but a host body? What did that mean? Some kind of transfer? And Breen had agreed to it, too. Did that mean he was still alive in some other body? Or did Gordon end up interrupting the process with the Gravity Gun, as he so often did?

The audio from the recording cut in and out, and the display quickly followed suit, followed by the same green creature Gordon had seen twice before now, both times in some form of 'conversation' with Breen.

Alyx glanced up and down from the screen to the controls. "What the hell?"

Without thinking, Gordon brought the Gravity Gun up. Then it vanished, replaced again by the blue screen.

Something hissed down below, and, casting their gaze down, they saw two jets of steam or smoke spurting out from either side of the hatch just beneath them. The hatch opened, and something was slowly delivered through the tube, travelling underneath the platform.

"What the hell is that?"

Gordon didn't answer, mostly because he didn't have one. It resembled the creature from the monitor, though without the eerie green light it looked more the colour (and shape) of a marshmallow. It was resting on its' side, though whether it was sleeping or dead… he couldn't tell. A slick, shiny membrane covered the creature, the lower portion of its' body hidden by a gleaming white metal shell. It reached the upright portion of the tube and was pulled upright by unseen machinery.

Cautiously, and with an eyebrow cocked, Alyx rapped a finger against the white metal shell.

And then Gordon saw red, literally. The flash of light blinded him, and his head pounded like someone had clubbed him around the skull with a lead pipe. He saw Alyx clutch her head and grab onto the guardrail for support. His hands letting the Gravity Gun drop, he stumbled over to her.

Another red flash, this one throwing him off course and to his knee. He pressed a hand to his temple, thought it did precious little to ease the pain. He felt hands wrap around his arm, and looked up to see Alyx heading for the closed doorway on the other side of the platform.

"Let's get out of here!" he heard her say faintly, though all he could really concentrate on was leaving, any way he could.

They both stumbled together towards the force field blocking the doorway and eventually collapsed against it as another flash hit them. Turning back to face the creature, they saw it finally disappear up the tube.

And, just like that, the pain was gone. Regrettably, the flashing colours in front of his eyes were not, and he blinked to try and get rid of them as they caught their breath.

"What the hell was that thing?" Alyx whispered, her voice trembling almost imperceptibly.

Gordon took a moment to close his eyes and take a deep breath. When he looked over at Alyx, he realised she was shaking, sitting in a heap on the floor. His hand hovering in the air unsurely for a moment, he finally brought it down on hers.

"Whatever that was, it's gone now," he said, trying to sound reassuring and cursing the fact that his voice was shaking too.

She seemed to appreciate the gesture, though, and nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right. Okay… let's get out of here."

With that, she hefted herself to her feet. Not wanting to seem any more or less shaken than her, Gordon stood up by himself, using the wall as a brace. Alyx used her hacking device on the lock beside the force field, deactivating it with a fizzle of sparks.

She pulled out her pistol and turned to face him, looking as though nothing had happened. Because nothing had happened. They were here with a job to do. Personal problems took a backseat, just as they had a Black Mesa. Concentrate on the goal.

Suddenly, on at least some superficial level, Gordon felt better. Grasping the Gravity Gun tightly, he nodded to her and they moved on.

"You get the information you needed?" he asked, keeping an eye on the corridor ahead as he spoke.

Alyx nodded. "Yeah. We're pretty close to an entry point, but we'll have to take an elevator."

He shrugged. "Better than stairs."

He saw her smile in the dingy light of the corridor, and felt a little better. They turned a corner and were confronted with the bright lights of a confiscation room, the same kind that had supercharged his Gravity Gun and suit before.

Cautious, Gordon put a hand out in front of her as they reached the entrance.

She looked down at the hand like she had never seen one before, then to him. "What?"

"Just in case," he said calmly, tapping the lambda symbol on the HEV suit as he walked into the room. Force fields activated at the entrance and exit as he reached the middle of the room, and he smiled.

"Gordon? What's going on in there?"

He turned to face her, pointing a finger in the air as the automated Combine voiceover took over.

"Confiscation field activated."

The same bolts of energy from before lanced out towards the Gravity Gun, pulled towards the orange crystal at the centre. His HEV suit bleeped affirmatively as power surged through it, filling it well past full capacity.

"Hey, it's doing something to the Gravity Gun," Alyx said thoughtfully, like the scientist's daughter that she was.

The reaction ended and the confiscation devices on the walls sputtered sparks and coughed smoke as they deactivated, exhausted. The force fields collapsed, and Alyx moved over to the Gravity Gun.

"It looks like it did in Breen's portal reactor," she marvelled, crouching down beside it. She looked up at him with a smile. "I'd say their security device backfired."

Clenching and unclenching his fists, Gordon nodded. The HEV suit was healing cuts and bruises he didn't even know he had. He had never felt better. Well, no, he had, actually, before Black Mesa. But he had never felt better since Black Mesa. Although Eli at Black Mesa East telling him he was getting a lab coat… that was a close second.

Alyx tilted her head, amused. "What's up with you?"


"You're… smiling."

He shrugged. "I feel good." To make his point, he walked over to a blank patch of wall and elbowed it as hard as he could. It clanged loudly, and Gordon stepped back to let Alyx inspect the dent he had left there.

"Woah…" She looked at him, frowning but gaping at the same time. "How does that work?"

"Supercharged the electrical field of the suit," he said lightly, trying not to let the feeling of satisfaction show through too much.

Alyx nodded appreciatively. "Cool."

Gordon tried not to grin. He had never been 'cool' in his entire life. "Okay," he said nonchalantly, scooping up the Gravity Gun, "let's get to that elevator."

"All right, all right, don't get too cocky," she admonished, giving a little shove as she sauntered past.

When he was confident she was no longer looking, he permitted himself a nerdy grin.

He followed her out into another huge chamber like the one he had been given a tour of when he had first come to the Citadel. As they crossed a glass bridge from one end of a chasm to another, an almighty hum gave pause to them both. It was coming from below. Looking down, they saw a gunship slowly hover up into view, looming over them like a thundercloud.

It tapered this way and that as it struggled to reach altitude, finally managing to wobble over their heads, leaving a rush of warm, exhaust scented air in the wake of its engines. That proved too much to maintain, however, and the ship crashed into the left wall, bounced against the right, and finally tumbled down into the abyss below, explosions bursting from its body until it disappeared into the yellow-y mist below.

Frozen and staring down, Alyx asked, "Did you see that?"

Gordon nodded. "Big."

They both blinked at the same time to snap themselves out of it and moved on. They followed the walkway around a corner and through a corridor, at the far end of which Gordon could see a misty orange chamber. A force field sat in the entrance to the chamber, maintained by a power core like the one he had helped Alyx disable in the city.

As they moved closer, soldiers emerged from a force field protected corridor on the right, almost colliding with them. Gordon whirled the Gravity Gun around, blasting all six of them around the corridor. It was over in a few seconds.

He moved on to the generator and removed the power core with the Gravity Gun, firing it into the chamber. As he waited for it to bounce around and explode, he looked back to Alyx, who was frozen with her pistol in front of her.

"Holy crap," she uttered simply. "That was… w-… holy crap, Gordon!"

"Yeah," he said, patting the Gravity Gun. "It's good."

The power core exploded, showing the chamber beyond in sparks.

"Well… yeah," Alyx said, as though it were obvious. She slipped her pistol away and walked over, heading into the chamber. He looked around as he followed her across the glass walkway. The chamber seemed to be a colossal elevator shaft, with a large circular platform extending out from the end of the walkway. How it was supported, Gordon had no idea, and didn't really want to question it.

"This looks like it could a transport elevator for the core," she called out from ahead of him.

They both looked down through the ice blue glass, and saw nothing but yellow mist below.

Alyx nodded, hands on hips. "Yeah, we must be on the right track."

There was a button extending out from the edge of the platform, and Alyx pressed it with an authoritative thumb. The elevator smoothly came to life, lowering them down into the yellow clouds. As it moved, the whirring sound of machinery became louder and louder, matching the increases in speed of the descending platform.

Sparks rained down on them from above, and a chunk of metal walkway the size of a van tumbled down on them. Gordon swung the Gravity Gun up towards it as Alyx ducked down, hands above her head.

The walkway stopped just short of Gordon's head, snatched in midair by the Gravity Gun. Moving over to the side of the platform, he let it drop down into the abyss.

"Nice catch," Alyx breathed.

The platform jolted, and they moved even faster.

"I think I can see a stop down below," Alyx said, looking down through the glass. Gordon followed her gaze and saw the glass walkway extending out beneath them. "Let's get off and see where it leads."

Gordon nodded, and squinted as more sparks showered down, followed by several more chunks of scorched metal and rock tumbling from above. None of them were a hazard to them, however, and any that were he easily managed to deflect. Wonderful things, supercharged Gravity Guns.

As they approached the stop, something dark loomed down on them, and they both turned their gaze upwards to see two pillars the size of Striders tumbling down at them.

"Can you catch that?"

"I can catch that," he muttered. He half-heartedly turned the Gravity Gun up at it, then let it drop. "I can't catch that."

Alyx stared at him. "You can't catch that?"

"I can't catch that."

The elevator reached the walkway, and they looked at each other, agreeing in unison.


Said run became more of a flying leap as the pillars crashed down through the glass platform, dragging it down into the smoky chasm below with a thunderous, quaking boom. They both lay on their side for a moment, breathing heavily as they looked back at the spot the platform had occupied.

"That was close," Alyx breathed, clambering to her feet and dusting herself off.

He did the same, minus the dusting. There really wasn't much point with the HEV suit, it would just get caked in blood and oil and dust and slime and sewage again. Not worth the effort of keeping it clean.

Alyx led the way towards a chamber that seemed unaffected by the destruction of the Citadel. The cold, harsh blues had remained intact in this area. Even the sounds of rending and burning and explosions seemed further away, more distant. He could even hear his boots echoing against the metal floor.

"Is this it?" he asked, nodding to a massive door at the far end of the room. The circular white symbol on the front denoted something important, he supposed.

She nodded. "I think so."

When they reached the door, different sections of it slid up in a seemingly random order, metal shifting and clanging loudly through the largely quiet chamber. It led into another room that looked largely the same, even down to the door with the white symbol. Gordon noted with some nostalgia that it was an airlock. Reminded him of the entrance to the Anomalous Materials lab.

The door slammed down behind them, and they waited for the second to open and lead them to the core.

Gordon blew out a preparatory breath. Hopefully this wouldn't get too complicated.

(A/N: Well, after saying 'maybe' so many times, I bit the bullet and started writing this. As if I could stay away, I'd miss Gordon too much.

But yeah, anyway, I've taken some liberties with the geography of the Citadel (as I will with a few of the upcoming chapters), simply because I didn't want things to get too repetitive. Of course, Half-Life is pretty repetitive in itself, just a lot of shooting and running and jumping, but hopefully I've managed to break it up and change it around enough that it's entertaining.

I'm really looking forward to tackling these chapters; I've got some ideas for them that I think will be pretty enjoyable. But! That's not for me to decide.

Well, that's all from me. Reviews, please!

Next Chapter: Direct Intervention)