acts_of_gord: (right man wrong place)
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Black Mesa Central Complex
Sector C Control Facilities
Anomalous Materials Offices


There are certain things that earn a man respect: good mentorship, academic brilliance, scientific accomplishment; even the ability to overcome office politics. Dr. Isaac Kleiner had all of those in spades. What he did not have was the common sense to remember that his keycards had to be on the same side of his office door as he was at all times. In the afternoons it wasn't such a problem, as there were seldom deadlines to be met then- but this was morning, and there was work to be done. The sight of the older scientist crouched in front of his office door, peering hopelessly at the card reader, was... disquieting. At the very least.

“Ah. Freeman.” That was Dr. Magnusson, doing his best to smooth out a scowl of disapproval at the new arrival. “On time today, I see.”

Gordon had only been late once so far for the morning's work in C-33/a, but he had yet to finish his first full month of employment, so he bit back his response and just nodded. It was easier not to speak to Magnusson, anyway. The man had the sort of personality that didn't encourage talking.

“Not that it matters at this point.” Magnusson glanced meaningfully at the locked door. “It may be a while before any of us make it into the lab today.”

Dr. Kleiner snorted. “I'm telling you, Magnusson, we can get past this! I'm positive the security team'll waive protocol just this once-”

“Not too likely, Dr. Kleiner,” came another man's voice; Gordon turned in time to see one of the security guards- Calhoun, that was his name- arriving with a sheepish expression. “I just checked with the Area 3 boss. You used up all your mercy unlocks for the quarter already.”

“Oh. Oh dear.” Dr. Kleiner straightened up at that. “You're sure?”

“'Fraid so.” Calhoun spread his hands. “Officially, I can't help you.”

“I see.” Kleiner worried at his bottom lip for a moment. “What about unofficially?”

“Wellllll. . .” Calhoun eased his weight from one foot to the other, then back again. “That kinda depends.”

“On what?” Magnusson interrupted. “We're in a hurry here, Officer.”

Calhoun shot the scientist a brief, black look; Gordon concealed a smile. “It depends on whether you gentlemen would mind clearing out for a while. I can't say anything one way or the other. You never know who might be paying attention.”

Magnusson and Kleiner exchanged glances a moment.

“Sorry, Doc. I can't do anything if anybody's watching me.”

“Dr. Kleiner,” said Gordon suddenly. “I could probably get in there.”

“Hmm?” Dr. Kleiner blinked at Gordon, confuddled. “Dare I ask?”

“When did you become a lock picker?” Magnusson inquired, one eyebrow arched. “Have you been reading Feynman again?”

Well, he had been- especially the parts about breaking into safes at Los Alamos- but Magnusson didn't need to know that. Gordon silently counted to five before answering, “Not this time. They've been putting us through a lot on the hazard courses-”

“Yes, you mentioned you'd been considering making a run at the next hazard course decathlon,” said Dr. Kleiner.

Gordon nodded. “I've been doing pretty well at the tube crawl segments. Even around corners.”

“Son of a bitch,” muttered Calhoun, who'd recognized where Gordon's train of thought was going.

Magnusson looked back and forth between the two men. “Is anyone going to fill me in on the details of their plans today?”

“Eheh... you know, Arne, I don't think we need to be here right now,” said Dr. Kleiner. “We probably don't need to see what these two are planning. It'd just get in the way...”

Over a stream of indignant protests, Kleiner led the other scientist away. Gordon watched them go, then turned to Calhoun.

“You're gonna break in there, aren't you,” Calhoun said.

“Maybe.”

“You're gonna pry open one of the air vents and you're gonna crawl in there, aren't you, Freeman.”

Gordon suppressed a smile at that. “Possibly.”

“God dammit, Freeman, I oughta stop you right now for even suggesting that kind of damage to company property!” Calhoun paused. “I mean. You ought to know better than that, Mr. Freeman.”

“You don't have to be here for this, you know,” Gordon said. “I'm not going to object if you want to be somewhere else.”

“Like hell I will!” Calhoun retorted. “I'm gonna get Dr. Kleiner's key cards myself, thank you very much- and I'm gonna do it without ripping company property apart.”

“By picking a magnetic keycard coded lock instead.”

“... maybe. I'm not tellin'.”

Gordon snorted. “Look,” he said. “You heard Dr. Kleiner. We're all in a hurry today. We don't have time for an argument over methods- he needs those keycards. How do you feel about a compromise?”

Calhoun eyed him suspiciously. “What kind of compromise are we talking about here, Mr. Freeman?”

“Just this.” Gordon indicated the door. “You do your magic, and I'll do mine. Whoever gets into Dr. Kleiner's office first lets the other one know, and they walk out the door with the keycards. We clean up whatever messes we make, and the loser buys the winner a beer after work.”

That got a wide-eyed look; it took Gordon a moment to remember that Science Team personnel mostly kept to themselves after hours- “Okay,” Calhoun said. “Okay, you're on. But if you damage anything while you're in there-”

“It'll all be on my head, I know,” said Gordon. “Do we have a deal, then?”

Calhoun grinned. “You're on, Mr. Freeman.”

“My name is Gordon.”

“Mine's Barney,” said the guard. “See you in the office.”




Well, thought Gordon as he eased himself out of the vent and down onto one of the filing cabinets, that was surprisingly easy. That pipe crawl stuff came in handy after all. He braced one hand against the wall and looked around. Dr. Kleiner was, it seemed, an avid participant in the tradition of absent-minded professors; there were papers everywhere, scattered writing implements, sticky-notes tacked to the wall- but no sign of the keycards. He grimaced and swung his legs over the side of the cabinet. The suit wouldn't keep his landing quiet, but at this point it no longer mattered. There was no one underneath to hear, after all.

He probably should've let Calhoun in and searched the office together for the keys, but the prospect of opening the door with the prize in hand was too tempting. One quick sweep of the desk couldn't hurt, could it? Just a riffle through the top level of papers-

Hey, some of these looked familiar. Dr. Kleiner had been working on equations like these the last time Gordon was in his office at MIT. Only- he adjusted his glasses and peered more closely- only they were a lot less complicated at the time, a lot less fully developed. . .

Huh. 'Resonance Cascade'. Looked like Dr. Kleiner'd been hypothesizing again. This was purely theoretical stuff, unless Gordon missed his guess. Most of it looked like the mathematics they normally used to describe the probability of major quantum events, but Gordon had never seen any kind of maths used to describe the possibility of event momentum becoming self-propagating. It almost looked as if Dr. Kleiner had been trying to forecast the worst possible scenario that could result from the transferrence of quantum characteristics from one object to another, and project it onto the supraquantum scale-

The doorknob rattled. Gordon shoved the papers aside, grabbed the newly-revealed keycards, and grinned at Barney as the door finally swung open.

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Gordon Freeman

December 2012

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