"What're you going to do if I die out there?"
"You're not gonna die, Gordon."
"I'm serious, Barney. What are you going to do?"
"Gordon... the sun will fall out of the sky, the Earth break into a million pieces, and fire's gonna lose its heat before anything out there's going to kill you, okay? If you get killed, that's pretty much the end of the world."
"But if it helps at all, I'm gonna go find Breen and kill him with my bare hands, Advisor or not."
"... actually, yes. That does help. Thank you, Barney."
( Do your duty, Arjun, as your nature dictates. )
There are other Gordons today. So many other Gordons. There's Floyd with the good
fake HEV suit and there's two guys with moderately acceptable fakes and there's about five or six more with fakes that only fool the eye as long as they're intact. They're all going to be targets, more than anybody else. The Combine knows( All work fetters, as all fire gives smoke. Only selfless duty saves. )( "The Combine's reckoning has come." )( Pride will lead only to your moral ruin. )
what's coming for them. They know it's in Gordon's hands. It doesn't make sense for it to be in anyone else's. ( If, filled with pride, you say, 'I will not fight,' it is all in vain. )( "How could one man have slipped through your force's fingers time and time again?" )( You are foolish. Fight you will, your nature will make you fight. )
Maybe he should've given it to Barney. Maybe Shephard. For security's sake. Give it to someone else, let the Combine target him
, give it more of a chance-( Your karma will make you fight. )
No. Target or not, he is
the best chance the vermifuge has. The best chance all the Resistance's plans has. It gets to the Worm with him or it doesn't get there at all.( You will fight in spite of yourself. )
In North Dakota, the Gene Worm complex was pipes and wires and plastic- lots of plastic, everywhere. In Chapada dos Guimarães and Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa it wasn't much better, all metal fencing and hastily erected structures on their way to becoming permanent ones. The pipes that fed the monster in Poland were still visible under the open sky, surrounded by prefab mazework.
This is not like that. This place is different. The Combine have been here from the beginning and they meant to make this place permanent from day one. The buildings here are reinforced to kingdom come, the wires doubly and triply redundant. There are pipes, there's got to be, but they're buried too far down to reach. There's a few walls here and there to herd foot traffic away from the feeder railroads that come in from all over Asia but there's no maze. There's just the little buildings full of Overwatch and Synths and manhacks, there's the generators, there's the charnel-houses (can't mistake those for anything else, not ever, ever).
The ground here is desert, and barren. And soaked, with each passing moment, with more colors of blood- gray from the Hunters, spattery thick pinkish-gray from the Striders, unknowable unnamed colors from the crab things with their back-cannons, and red and red and so damned much red everywhere
- ( you don't look as if you have any trouble killing things )
The skies overhead are screaming. Kreyu the dragon's tearing the mega-gunships apart, and what she's not getting, Ben's Veritech is destroying, and everything else up there, everything,
is dying in a hail of lasers and energy bolts and lightning. There's flying Synths the likes of which Gordon hasn't ever even imagined
being flung to the ground in smoking, shriveled bits because they crossed the Black Lion's path.
Soon. He's going to release the drone and it's going to take off. Soon. It's going to thread through the falling chunks of helicopter and Synth and gunship and shrapnel and it's going to slide right on past all the Combine defenses and snake its way around the charnel houses and the defense grids and soon it's going to dump everything it has where the Worm can breathe it in, and the Worm will scream the way nothing else in human history has screamed, and there won't be an explosion because there's nothing to
explode but it's going to flail and spasm and vomit and die
, and the stink it leaves will drift away until there's nothing left but Earth air.
So very soon.
But a lot of other things have to die first and they're all between Gordon and the limit of the region where they can chance releasing the drone and so he's got Work to do. There's blood on the ground. There needs to be more.( I am the beginning and ending of all things )
He can make that happen.( I am the tip of God's arrow fallen to Earth )
The Resistance is behind him one hundred per cent in this. Because everything that's in front
of him is dying in waves.
"Hello, you've never met me before. I'm really very sorry about that, it would've made things happening today so much easier..."Gordon isn't listening. There's a cloud of manhacks coming his way, and a squad of Elites behind them, and not even enough cover to shelter a mouse. Fight and win, or die.
The weirdo in the moon-marked outfit, Janny had to admit, knew his stuff. She'd been extremely suspicious of the idea of being copilot on a giant robot thing out of some kind of weird pre-Combine Japanese entertainment expo
, but damn her if the the robowhatsis wasn't working, and working better than any actual
military tech she'd ever seen.One day he's going to ask Alyx what powers the Gravity Gun, exactly.
That calm, clear rasping voice, not a hint of anger or rage...yet. It was there, oh yes, and carefully leashed up, and waiting patiently. It uses zero point energy, yes, but he'd like to know the mechanism that allows it to siphon that energy off and snatch the beastly little viscerators out of the air."Someone here told me about...someone you've taken in. Used really. I do so hope you're hearing this Breen...because right now someone's found the bad news."The Elites don't die right away, of course. Their armor's thick enough to protect them from the manhack blades to some degree.
They weren't attacking Synths, so much. The Synths were throwing themselves at the ... robot thing, really, she should've gotten its name out of that Moon Shadow guy... and splattering to pieces on the drills that popped out of its surface. Drills. Seriously. All over the place. Not that she objected, since it meant she got to smash drill-covered fists and sunglass-shaped blades into things that oh so very
desperately deserved it, but Lord Almighty, it was weird.But they stagger, and that's all the time Gordon needs to snatch up the remains of a hunterchopper rotor with the Gravity Gun and fling it at them, edge first."That's right. Lesson one: Humans can gain immunity to psychic attacks."
Then there was a growling laughter, long and low and nasty."Lesson two: we can fight back..."He jumps over the corpses before they've even stopped moving. There's no time for raiding the bodies.
Janny didn't like the sound of that. And she was the co-pilot, for Pete's sake.They're closing on the border of the drone release zone. He's not sure he has time to waste on killing, at this point."And Lesson Three....I AM THE PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE MASCOT."He has to get closer and let the vermifuge drone go before any more of his people die.
The whole damn robot thing erupted
in drills and thrust one hand skyward. Janny just shook her head and wondered, Who the hell does he think he is?
, and concentrated on plotting a path to tear the Combine buildings a couple of new ones.Somebody else can do the shooting now. Somebody else is going to have to. He has to run like hell.
The Hunter splattered across five yards of landscape behind him didn't kill him. Came close. Didn't. Won't kill anyone ever again.
Standing hurts. Moving's better. Keep moving, forward, forward
, fast as you can barrel, head down, gunbarrel glowing orange. Throw what you can. Shoot what you can't. And move, move, move, move.
Until you can't. Until you stumble, look around. Until you see they've lost track of you. Things, in the sky, there's things flying, small little things. Too big for manhacks. Too small for choppers. Must be drones, but they're not over you, they're not seeing
you. The suit's gray and orange but it's mottled in alien bloods. All the colors scattered all over the landscape. That's your camo, your salvation- their blood.
You'd laugh if you could. Maybe later. You have a thing to do now. A load to take off. A drone of your own to let go. Looks like Combine make. Was. Isn't any more. Human work inside there now, and alien- salarian. The Gene Worm's death, the vermifuge. You're close enough now. The trip's short from here. The drone can make it to the tower. The Worm will breathe its death in, sure as that little drone rises, sure as it flies-
It's raining, you realize distantly. Not water. Metal.
Not scrap metal. Drones. Whole ones. Not yours. Theirs. Not destroyed. Intact. Just- shut down, switched off-
They saw you this whole time. Saw you coming. Knew what you carried. Waited for you to let it go and shut off all of theirs so the only thing left in the sky was yours
, so every last one of their fliers can concentrate its fire on that blessed little bundle of death-( now we are all sons of bitches )
It's a foul and awesome display of firepower and you can't be bothered to watch it. No time left to start again, just to switch gears and move to the alternative-
there's an alternative. There was always
an alternative. You're just gonna need a little help getting it to the target now.
Cue up the headset. Find the signal, make the call. They saw where the drone went down. They know where you are."Drone is down, I'm going in. I'm going to need cover."
And if you know them at all, so do your own people.