Disclaimer: I don't own Half-Life.
Chapter Twelve: T-Minus One
Following Alyx down the corridor, Gordon looked down at the Gravity Gun he was now being forced to carry. Without the aid of a strap to keep it over his shoulders, it really was quite heavy. He wondered how he had been so athletic and aerodynamic with it flailing about behind him.
He noticed that Alyx had stopped, and looked up. He could hear Dr Kleiner and Magnusson going through their various checks for the launch, their voices crackling over the radio system looped through the base.
"Tested and operational. Pre-flight alignment complete," Kleiner informed with a steady, efficient tone. It reminded Gordon of all the successful experiments they had run in the test chamber back at Black Mesa.
Alyx was tapping away on the keypad beside the metal hatch ahead of them.
"What's happening with the rocket?" Gordon asked, shifting his grip on the Gravity Gun in an attempt to get more comfortable.
"The launch is in its final stages," she said, pressing the last control and opening the door. She continued as he walked through, leading him into the room Magnusson had briefed him in earlier. "The portal's close to opening, but Dr Magnusson's sure we'll be in time to stop it."
"Tracking beacon," Magnusson mused. "Well, there's another bit of cruft we can ignore. Support equipment powered down."
Gordon followed her to the left and through a doorway he hadn't noticed when he had been here before. It took them into a corridor stretching off to the left and right, with a window on the wall opposite looking into a busy control centre. Gordon could see an elevator waiting for them at the end of the corridor on the right.
Inside the office, the only light came from a slew of monitors suspended from the walls, several civilians busy working at several stations along the wall. Magnusson was off to the right, stooped over readings on a console. He double-glanced at Gordon as he attempted to make his way past.
"Hold on a moment, Kleiner," he said definitively, and made his way toward him.
Gordon stopped on the spot, not sure what to expect.
"Ah, Freeman," he said with a forced civility, hands behind his back. "Well… I see the Magnusson device performed flawlessly." A look of great discomfort came over him, his dark gaze averting from Gordon, then to Alyx in embarrassment, before finally locking onto the ground beside him. "I feel compelled to… thank you… personally… for saving my rocket." Scratching the back of his hand, his mouth moving about as though tasting the next few words, Magnusson brought his gaze up to meet Gordon's. "So, um… thank you."
His head pulled back out of subconscious fear, Gordon exchanged a wide-eyed glance with Alyx, who was similarly amazed.
"Ahem, well, that's enough chit-chat," Magnusson announced, mercifully unwilling to drag the moment out any longer than necessary. He promptly straightened his back, chin held high and declarative finger held in the air. "I've got a rocket to launch."
With that, he turned on his heel and returned to the control room, slamming the door behind him. Alyx and Gordon were left in relative silence, only Kleiner and Magnusson's voices echoing through.
"Satellite payload powered and ready."
"Wow," Alyx said quietly. "For a minute there I thought you were going to get a hug."
He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Can you imagine?"
They both shuddered.
Blinking herself out of it before him, Alyx pointed over her shoulder at the elevator. "Let's go to the control room. We can get a great view of the launch from there."
The weight of the Gravity Gun still bothering his shoulder, Gordon followed along without complaint anyway. No need to trouble Alyx with his frankly embarrassing weakness. Once inside, Gordon rested against the back of the elevator and propped the Gravity Gun by his ankle. He let out a relaxed breath, grateful to be away from… well, everyone. Except for Alyx, of course. He quite enjoyed having her around.
"Well, here we are again," she sighed, smiling as she pressed her palm to the button beside the elevator doors. The grated doors slid shut, and the elevator started moving up. After watching the walls roll past for a moment, Alyx turned to him. "While you were out having fun, I found an old helicopter I was able to get working. I've got it all packed up and ready to go."
Gordon managed an exhausted wince. "For the Borealis?"
Smirking sympathetically, Alyx nodded. "Never a dull moment, huh?"
"If I had time to sleep, I'd dream of dull moments," he sighed.
Alyx laughed. "We'll run shifts flying the helicopter; you can get some sleep then."
"Oh, okay," he said blankly, half-listening to Kleiner and Magnusson.
"What's this one? 'Flight termination system… check range with backup safety sites…?"
"That must be an ancient entry. There are no backup sites. If we fail, the best we can hope for is that the rocket falls on the enemy. Now… inertial navigation systems…"
Something clicked in his brain, and he frowned. "Wait, I'm going to be flyinga helicopter?"
She gave him a sarcastic smile as the elevator arrived with a clang, jostling them a little. The door scraped open, revealing launch control. A tall, impressive window displayed the two silos in front of them, bathed in the light of the setting sun, contrasted with the darkened clouds on the horizon. Beneath the window, control panels and consoles ran along the wall of the lower floor. A wide console was on the upper floor, a few steps on either side of it leading down to the lower level.
Eli and Kleiner were the only two inside, the former busying himself beneath the window, while the latter ran through the checks with Magnusson, whose face loomed over them from a large monitor in the top right corner of the room.
"Wait a moment," Kleiner mused, "I'm seeing a payload anomaly of approximately eight and a half pounds."
"Well, that's within tolerance, certainly not worth scuttling the-"
"We're back!" Alyx interrupted cheerily, and Gordon couldn't tell if she knew how irritated Magnusson was, judging by the silent huff he was having on the monitor.
A smile on his lips that put Gordon at ease, Eli turned to face him. "Ah, Gordon."
"At last," Kleiner breathed gratefully, visibly relieved.
"Hell of a job you did out there, son," Eli nodded, hands on his hips.
He shrugged, adjusting his glasses. "Well, I, uh-"
Magnusson cleared his throat above them, chest puffed out. "Ah, let's not forget that with the Magnusson device, those Striders practically destroy themselves."
Everyone around Gordon seemed to share a smile at that comment, and Dr Kleiner adjusted his glasses with a smirk.
"Yes, well, I think perhaps Gordon had something to do with their success."
His face was going red. He could tell by the way his ears were burning.
"Are you blushing, Gordon?" Alyx asked amusedly, intently studying his face and only making the whole thing worse.
An overdramatic groan from the monitor drew their attention (thankfully) back to Magnusson.
"I suggest we adjourn this meeting of the mutual admiration society until after we have launched our rocket!" he cried, throwing his hands into the air vehemently. After taking a breath, he started tapping away at something off-screen. "I believe we're ready to start the auto-sequence."
"I believe Gordon should have the honour," Eli said, and Gordon's warm blush quickly gave way to a chilled horror.
Before Gordon could even utter an objection, Kleiner was happily nodding away. "You'll hear no objection from me."
He walked to the back of console on the upper level, pulling himself up and pressing a button there. With a mechanical whirr, a raised plastic square, yellow and faded, rose out of the control panel, finally flipping open to reveal a big, glowing red button. Reluctance stirred within Gordon. Big buttons never ended well for him; they always ended up sparking and malfunctioning and occasionally blowing up.
"It's all yours, Gordon," Alyx said, gesturing to the panel.
Casting an unsure look at the others, Gordon slowly made his way over. Eli's encouragement. Kleiner's anticipation. Magnusson's impatience. And Alyx… she just seemed happy to be here.
It was Alyx that Gordon spared a smile for before pressing his palm down on the button. A digital timer started in front of him, counting down from thirty. The doors on the silo closest to them parted with a loud, metal groan, and a flock of crows flew away, cawing in protest. A little plastic hula girl on the control panel shook her torso around with the vibrations.
"Silo doors open," Magnusson said slowly. "Stations, everyone. Power to main thrusters. Steady on…"
The clock began to close in on ten, and Kleiner's voice was remarkably calm as he counted down. "T-Minus, ten, nine-"
"We're launching!" Magnusson said grandly.
"-eight, seven, six-"
An anxious tingle began to grow in Gordon's belly. He half-expected a previously unnoticed Strider to stomp into view and destroy everything. Part of his brain started planning how he would get through the window and out into the open to fight it when he felt something on his hand. Looking down in alarm, he saw that Alyx had wrapped her hand around his, squeezing tightly with her eyes on the window.
Something about the gesture gave Gordon strength, and maybe a little faith. Something to believe in. Finally.
"We have… we have-"
"-three, two, one."
With a speed that rendered it a grey blur, the rocket blasted up into the sky, the engines producing a flash of light that made Gordon squint before trailing off above them.
"Lift off!" Magnusson cried, arms dancing in the air. "We have lift off!"
Looking up, Gordon could see that the window stretched onto the ceiling, allowing him a view of the trail of black smoke that followed the quickly disappearing rocket into the sky. Magnusson, meanwhile, was laughing like an idiot.
"Oh…" Alyx gasped, "wow…"
"Yeah!" Eli yelled, pumping a fist in the air.
Kleiner was similarly enthused, grinning inanely. "We did it!"
"We sure did!"
Muttering to himself, Magnusson moved his shoulders about to loosen himself up. "Oh, I must get control of myself. Deep breaths, deep breaths…"
Everybody was laughing, breathless at the very notion that maybe, just maybe, the human race was going to win one. Even Gordon couldn't remove the ridiculous grin from his face. Though that may have had to with the hand currently clamped around his, he couldn't tell.
Hands on hips and shaking his head at the marvel flying above their heads, Eli turned to face them, and his eyes darted down to their interlocked fingers. Self-conscious, they both jerked their hands away, and Gordon tried his best not to look sheepish as he scratched away at a small stain on the control panel.
"Fantastic," Eli uttered, still sounding amazed and in awe. Glancing up, Gordon saw the biggest smile he had ever seen from Eli as he looked at him and Alyx. "Heh."
Letting out a breathless sigh, Magnusson waved his hands down. "Now… now, it is still too early to celebrate. We need to reach altitude and transmit the signal."
"Too right," Kleiner added, an educational finger in the air. "The clock is ticking."
"We couldn't have cut it any closer if that was our intention," Magnusson grumbled, his previous demeanour back with a little more force than necessary, as though there had been a build-up of grumpiness while he had been laughing and smiling.
Glancing from Magnusson to Eli, Alyx walked to her father with worried hands clutched in front of her. "It… is going to work, right?"
The smile melted from Eli's face, and he shrugged. "It has to."
"That's not comforting," Gordon said quietly.
Dr Kleiner, meanwhile, was already at work again, tapping away on an old computer. "Once the rocket is in range of the portal, we'll be able to switch on the Xenium resonator."
"Well, let's get outside," Eli said, his metal crutch of a leg clonking against the floor as he crossed to a door on the right side of the room. "I'd like a better view of the fireworks."
Alyx nodded to Gordon for them to follow, and they joined the elder Vance at the door as he tapped in the code. The metal door slid open without a noise, revealing a little airlock area between them and the outdoors.
"There should be quite a show," Kleiner agreed, his enthusiasm giving way to a slightly sad smile. "Regrettably, I can't come out with you. Magnusson and I will need to keep a close eye on the rocket's trajectory."
"Aren't you going to see us off?" Alyx asked, disappointed.
There didn't seem to be any doubt in Kleiner's mind, and he adjusted his glasses with a widening smile. "Just as soon as this is wrapped up. I wouldn't dream of letting you go without a proper goodbye."
"Okay," she replied, satisfied. "I'll hold you to that. You too, Dr Magnusson," she called, leaning over to get a better look at the large monitor.
He seemed absorbed in thought, tapping his finger against his chin. After blinking himself out of it, he offered a quiet, "Indeed."
Eli and Alyx went through the passageway first, and Gordon followed after a nod to Kleiner and Magnusson. He watched curiously as Eli touched Alyx lightly on the arm.
"We'll catch up with you in a moment, sweetheart," he said, giving her quick peck on the cheek.
Though she gave a confused look to both Eli and Gordon, she said nothing, instead moving outside and suddenly brightening when she spotted something.
"Dog, there you are!"
An affirmative, mechanical hoot followed, and Eli laughed and shook his head before turning to him. His smile faded a little, and a grave darkness filled his eyes.
"Gordon, hold up a second."
Gordon checked over his shoulder, and saw that the door back to launch control had closed behind him. He nodded that it was safe to talk, though more for his own piece of mind. Finally. They could talk about Him, about everything Gordon had been put through, the reasoning behind it all.
"The more I think about that warning from our friend, the more I'm convinced it has to do with Borealis," Eli said, giving Gordon a warning look. "Don't be deceived. That ship should never be used. You've got to destroy it." He glanced over his shoulder, and sighed. "Whatever the cost."
Frowning, Gordon opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by Alyx's voice.
"Where are you two? You're gonna miss it!"
"Be right there, Alyx," Eli called over his shoulder, forcing a cheerful tone.
"Eli," Gordon managed, hesitant but desperate. "I can't just… go, we need to… I need to know about him, about Alyx, and…" the words died in his throat, his resolve weakening with every word.
Eyes closed, Eli let out a breath through his nose, trying to remain calm. "I know, Gordon, I know. But there are more important things happening right now than just you and me." He looked up at him, searching his eyes. "And I think you know that."
"I…" Moisture stung his eyes, and he blinked it away, searching the walls of answers. All the anger he had felt earlier, the outrage at being lied to, at being used… all of it was melting away, replaced by something that had pushed him on through all of Black Mesa, through Xen, the Nihilanth, City 17, the Citadel, Breen, all the Striders, soldiers, zombies and all the other creatures from hell he had been forced to face up against.
Responsibility. He had to do it, because no-one else could. It had been true all those years ago when Eli had asked him to go to the surface for help, and it was true now. Once more being asked by this kind, good man to do what no-one else could. No-one else felt the same sense of responsibility and burden about Black Mesa, and what happened there. No-one else knew Him, could understand the terrible forces that were manipulating everything that was happening here and now.
No-one else had been through that hell and known that they had caused it.
His breath shaky, but his will determined, Gordon nodded silently.
Eli put his hands on Gordon's shoulders, speaking gently. "Gordon, thanks for everything you've done. For Alyx, for all of us. I couldn't be prouder if you were my own son."
Gordon really wasn't used to this level of sentiment, and cleared his throat uncomfortably.
"Now when you get back, we've got a lot to talk about."
That elicited a laugh from him, and he finally managed to look Eli in the eye with a wry smile. "We really do."
"Come on!" Alyx called.
With an amused grunt, Eli nodded to the open doorway. He clapped an arm on Gordon's shoulder before walking out with him into the open. It was a stone platform overlooking a road that drifted off into the forest ahead of them. There, on the horizon, was the Citadel portal, the blue ribbon of energy thicker and brighter than ever. A large warehouse was on their left, the entrance to which was a stone corridor separate from the building, the door of which was closed, for the moment.
Alyx was by the fence that ran along the stone platform, and glanced back at them anxiously.
Dr Kleiner's voice blared out from loudspeakers planted on the corner of the building they had just emerged from. "Eli! Gordon! Alyx! Look at the portal!"
Wearily, Eli rubbed his eyes. "Dear God, this has to work…" he whispered desperately.
He moved forward to join his daughter, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and bringing her in tight to him as they watched. Dog had planted himself a few feet behind, legs splayed about like gorilla. Feeling out of place beside Alyx and Eli, Gordon decided to watch from Dog's side. The robot gave him a happy nod before returning its gaze to the portal.
"We've activated the resonator!" Kleiner announced.
Dog leapt to his feet excitedly, and Gordon's chest tightened.
"This is it!"
Nothing seemed to happen at first. But then Gordon noticed the ribbon of energy weaken and thin, gradually whittling away to the barest of white squiggles against the darkened clouds.
"Woah… yes!" Alyx gasped.
Finally, the white energy coalesced into a bolt that shot up into the glowing blue core in the clouds, dispersing it with a flash that blurred Gordon's vision for a moment. The barest of thunderous rumbles echoed through the air. The only indicator the portal was ever there was an ethereal hole in the clouds.
"YES!" Alyx cried, practically leaping onto her father in a celebratory embrace. Gordon found himself abruptly yanked up into Dog's arms, who shook him happily before dunking him back to the ground and rushing to Alyx to give her the same treatment.
"The portal has been neutralised!" Kleiner called, Magnusson's borderline insane laughter continuing throughout.
Finally released by Dog, Alyx looked back at the portal, then to Eli and Gordon. "We did it!"
"We sure as hell did!" Eli grinned, walking to Gordon and shaking his hand with great zeal. "And not a moment too soon."
Hands on hips, the elder Vance looked up at the speakers above the doorway, smiling ear to ear at Magnusson's deliriously happy voice. Alyx took that moment to grab Gordon in a hug, which, in a moment of delirious happiness, he returned.
"My rocket! Oh, my rocket works! I told you it would all work! I knew it would work! I'm a genius!"
Dr Kleiner cleared his throat, his voice suddenly all business again. "Now, Magnusson-"
His voice was cut off abruptly, presumably by Kleiner himself. Alyx and Gordon slowly moved away from each other, and he tried to keep his smile relatively small.
"I'll bet the Combine aren't too happy right now," Alyx smirked to her father.
"You got that right, sweetheart," he chuckled, turning away from the spectacle that had only a few seconds ago been in front of them. He smiled warmly. "But we've got plenty to celebrate." His eyes darted over to the closed door leading into the warehouse, and his happy demeanour faded somewhat. "I wish you didn't have to head off so soon. If only it weren't so critical…"
"It's okay, Dad," Alyx said quietly, moving over and running a hand up and down his arm. "We'll find Judith and bring her back."
With a metallic clang that made Gordon jump, Dog jumped around so he was facing the warehouse, like he had heard something. He promptly leapt up on top of the stone corridor and stomped off into the distance at speed.
"Dog? Hey, where are you going?" Alyx called, before sighing with a tired smile. "What a nut." She tilted her head up, cupping a hand over her mouth as they moved to the door. "Don't go too far!"
She led the way, opening the door into the corridor and then another off to the right, taking them into the warehouse. They were on a metal gantry, like an observation platform for whatever had once gone on in here. A helicopter sat in the middle of the warehouse, long and black with the propellers swept back like the ears of a sheepish dog. A small elevator led down to the floor below.
"Well, there she is," Alyx said. "Gassed up and ready to go."
Eli started walking for the elevator with Alyx, and Gordon followed along. "Remember to keep in constant contact. We have no idea what to expect."
Stopping her father with a gentle hand on his arm, Alyx gave him a smile that tried to be reassuring. "Don't worry, Dad. We'll be all right."
A weight seemed to push down on Eli's shoulders, and he gently reached to his daughter, cupping her face in his hands.
"I just… I just wish all of this didn't have to fall on you, Alyx. Your mother would be so proud."
Her eyes glistened, and she bowed her head, her voice barely a whisper. "Dad…"
Eli kissed her forehead tenderly. Gordon felt incredibly awkward at that moment, and suddenly found a smudge of dirt on the Gravity Gun very interesting.
"Come on, Gordon," Alyx said quietly, her voice ever so slightly uneven. "The chopper's waiting for us."
Gordon whipped his head back up, and he nodded sombrely, following them into the elevator. Eli pressed a button, and the elevator doors slammed shut behind Gordon. With a low metallic crank, the elevator slowly lowered itself to the ground floor.
"Are you sure you have everything you need?" Eli asked, looking to both of them.
"I think so," Alyx replied, visibly going through a mental checklist in her head.
"Are there guns?" Gordon said abruptly, the thought having been weighing on his mind since Alyx had mentioned the helicopter.
"Guns. We, uh…" he glanced between them, and that awkwardness rose in him again. "…need guns."
Looking relieved to have something to laugh at, Alyx smiled at him. "Yes Gordon, there's guns." She returned her attention Eli as the elevator reached the main floor. "Dr Kleiner gave us the Borealis co-ordinates. We'll keep the hailing frequency open on the chopper radio in case Judith tries to reach us again."
"Good idea," Eli nodded thoughtfully, walking out with them into the open. "She could well make another attempt."
Sighing, Gordon looked over at the helicopter, wondering how long the journey would take. Travel sickness wasn't something he usually suffered from. But then again, he had never travelled in a helicopter. Weren't they bouncy and rough and-
A sudden, sharp headache interrupted his thoughts, the sheer magnitude of the pain making him drop the Gravity Gun. His vision became obscured by a blackened tunnel that seemed to bore into his eyes, and all colour vanished from his surroundings.
Oh, God. Here? Now? Wincing, Gordon looked up at Alyx and Eli, saw they were in a similar state.
"Oh no," Alyx cried. "Dad! Gordon! Help!"
With an abruptness that knocked the wind out of him, an invisible wall slammed into him, tossing them along the floor and into the wall. Gordon tried to get up, found he couldn't. The windows on the opposite side of the warehouse cracked and shattered, the roof and metal walls bending and shrieking out of shape. An Advisor slowly floated through the gap, heading for Eli.
Gordon was yanked up into the air along with Alyx, and could only watch as one of the Advisors made a beeline for Eli. Scrambling in midair, Alyx tried to reach for her father.
Struggling against the weight of whatever was pressing down on him, Eli desperately clawed through the air for her hand. "Alyx!"
With a painful jolt, Gordon and Alyx were pressed against the wall, scraping upwards until they were overlooking the warehouse. They both struggled against their invisible bonds. Nothing worked. Ethereal green wisps of light coalesced around Eli, who was bowed over on the floor. Gordon could see his hand edging toward a pipe that had been thrown loose by the Advisors' telekinetic attack.
The Advisor hovered ominously over Eli, spindly metal arms that seemed to be a new addition stretching out for him.
"Get away!" Alyx cried desperately.
"Listen to me! Destroy that ship!" Eli growled up at them, latching a hand on the pipe and lurching to his feet. "Whatever it takes! Destroy it!"
Eli whirled on the spot, pounding the lead pipe across the Advisor's bulbous white head. It squealed in protest, and Eli brought the makeshift weapon up for another strike. The Advisor brought back a long metal arm.
"Dad, look out!"
The Advisor lashed out, throwing Eli around and face down onto the floor, the pipe skittering away. It held a metal hand down on him, keeping him locked to the floor as another Advisor hovered through the opening in the wall, rending metal effortlessly as it moved past.
The Advisor holding Eli moved aside as the other came up behind it, wrapping both hands around Eli. The now unoccupied Advisor floated up to them, staring at them intently. But Gordon didn't care.
"No…" Gordon growled, fighting against what felt like a metal clamp across his body. It was like being in those coffins in the Citadel all over again. Only now he was watching something much worse. Where were the others? Surely the sentries should have noticed something going on by now?
The Advisor brought Eli up towards it, the back of his neck exposed. A terrible nausea came over Gordon as he recognised what was about to happen.
"Dad! God damn it, let go over him!" Alyx snarled and spat, her shoulders thrashing wildly. She spotted the fleshy tentacle slowly emerging from the Advisor, and her throat seemed to constrict as she spoke. "Oh my God!"
Though he couldn't see what was going on, Eli knew what was to follow. Steely eyes fixed on Gordon, pleading silently.
Look after her.
Jaw clenched, Gordon nodded.
A sad acceptance rolling over his face, Eli let his gaze rest on Alyx, eyes welling. "Close your eyes, honey!"
Tears stained her cheeks as she stared right back at him. "I love you, dad!"
His voice breaking, Eli shook his head ever so slightly, waiting for the strike that was being prepared behind his back. "Don't look!"
"No!" Alyx was almost hysterical now, her struggle intensifying as she saw the tentacle lean back, ready to strike.
Gordon's fingers touched the crowbar by his side, but he couldn't do much else. There was nothing he could do. Everything he had done, all the impossible things he had accomplished… and he couldn't save the life of one kind, good man.
The Advisor's tentacle lashed out, puncturing Eli's neck, a geyser of blood spurting out like a fountain. Eli's head dropped, eyes closed as his body twitched under the attack.
"Oh my God, no!" Alyx wailed in anguish, wide eyes helplessly locked on the horrific spectacle.
Tears stung Gordon's eyes, furious breath hissing wildly through clenched teeth as he pushed against the bonds pressing against him. His attention was so focused on Eli, the was caught off-guard by the other Advisor looming in front of him, and Gordon found himself and Alyx slowly floating towards it. It grasped both of them with eerily thin metal claws.
Alyx looked back at him desperately. "Gordon…"
He looked over at her in horror. They were all going to die. Gordon squinted at the daylight peering through a hole in the ceiling above the Advisor. A pointed silhouette abruptly appeared, and Gordon's heart jumped when he recognised it.
With a roar more ferocious than any Gordon had heard in his life, Dog leapt down through the hole in the ceiling, hitting the Advisor feet first and body slamming it down and out of Gordon's sight.
"Dog!" Alyx shouted, relieved and frightened at the same time.
The Advisor's invisible hold on them abruptly ended, throwing them at a downward angle into the hard ground, tumbling along roughly. From the floor, Gordon watched as the Advisor scrambled and squealed along the floor, bleeding and injured, desperately trying to escape Dog's rage.
It finally managed to achieve flight, swooping out of the warehouse and through the window. The other Advisor, still 'feeding' on Eli, watched it go with an air of panic before removing its tentacle from Eli's neck. Yet more blood spilled out, staining Eli's clothes and splashing against the shallow pool that had gathered beneath him. The creature tossed Eli away like so much trash, leaving him to roll and skid to a messy halt on the cold warehouse floor.
Dog charged into view, glaring after the two retreating monsters. He turned and shrank, his head ducking down in sorrow as Alyx ran into view, falling beside her father's body. Blood stained her hands and legs as she cradled his limp body, and Gordon only then realised that that was what it was; a body. It wasn't Eli anymore.
"Dad! Dad, please!" she gasped, desperately shaking him. "No… oh my God, no…"
Gordon couldn't bring himself to move, though every part of his will and mind were screaming at him to do so. He couldn't speak, couldn't even breathe. He just lay there, staring up at Alyx, her head buried in the nook of Eli's neck. Her shoulders bobbed as she wept, her voice thick with anguish and grief and pain.
"Dad… please…" she whispered, her voice barely audible. "…don't leave me…"
Unforeseen consequences. This is what He had meant. He had known, and gloated, choking a laugh when He had mentioned Eli to Alyx's comatose body. A quiet rage grew in Gordon, intensifying with every passing minute. But more than that, he felt fear. Fear of the unknown, of life without Eli. He had seemed untouchable, invincible.
And now Gordon was looking at his dead body, shaking in Alyx's weeping arms.
What was going to happen now?
(A/N: Well, that's all for now, folks! It's been a fun ride, especially considering I hadn't originally planned on writing the Episodes. Definitely glad I did, though, so many moments I enjoyed writing.
I'm also glad that you guys enjoyed reading - the reviews really do make all the difference. Never stop!
Of course, I'm talking as though this is the end. Didn't Valve say there were some surprises to be announced this year? Episode Three could be just around the corner for all I know.
So, thanks for all the reviews, everyone. It's been great!)