acts_of_gord: (contemplating)
[personal profile] acts_of_gord
There's something about what's become of space and time and physics here that's affecting their guns, their suits. It should take more energy than this to squeeze off a bolt from the pulse rifle. More D38 should be going into every pull of the displacer cannon's trigger. They should've run out of power long ago, should've been stranded somewhere miles away-

But that's the thing, isn't it. Space is wrong here, time is wrong here, everything is wrong here, and if it weren't for the intervention of trollish alchemy, there wouldn't be enough rightness left to keep their bodies functioning properly. They would have been dead forever ago.

But they're not.

And their guns are still working.

They don't complain.

There was a time, Gordon vaguely remembers, when Floyd Mason was an idiot who could just barely be trusted to operate a radio without winding up with the handset up his nose.

The sound of pulse rifle fire fills what passes for air, and the stream of molecule-dissociating flame spat at Gordon by one of the flame-jellyfish synths dissipates in an instant. The thing spasms and blows apart in a dozen directions.

As Gordon fires a bolt of zero-point energy at a Synth that looks like the unholy offspring of an Erector set and a Vortigaunt's nightmares, and latches onto one of the self-shattering crystalline things to punt it into a third Combine horror as hard as the Gravity Gun will allow, he wonders – just for a moment – if there's anything left of that idiot in the man fighting next to him now.

There is no warning. There's just-


It's not pressure from outside. It's that there's nothing in the world but pressure. Everything is crushing, unspeakable pressure, all at once, to the point where there's no room for thought-


He's not breathing. It's not happening. That's all there is to it. His body's forgotten how.


It takes everything he's got to convince his diaphragm to move, to haul in air handful by strained handful. To force it out again in the next moment, because his body can't remember how.


Another breath. He's pretty sure-


"MASON! Mason, are you breathing?"


The other man, despite the space-proof vest he wears, was turning blue. Was. He's remembered now, he's coming back to himself-


"It's the damn Overmind! We're close enough to get affected-"


Floyd swallows. Nods. Tries to raise his gun.


It falls from his fingers. Without the Gravity Gun's intervention it would've hit the ground and shattered.


"They're pressing on our brain stems." The words are each a supreme effort. "Trying to kill us. Directly."


"I dunno, Doc," Floyd forces out. "I don't know about trying."


"On your feet," Gordon says, and moves to brace the other man. "Keep breathing. I'll walk. We can get there-"


One step. Two. Three.


"Hey, uh, Doc? Just me, or have we got company?"

Gordon pales, because Floyd's right. The sky's not dark here because of oxygen loss or atmospheric phenomenon or spatial distortion, it's dark because the enemy is here.


"Doc. Tell you what." Floyd tears his eyes from the sky. "Lemme go."



A huge, labored breath. "Still got my teleporter. I can blink some of them out with me. That's gotta screw this thing up."


"Take the pressure off you."

He doesn't wait for Gordon's approval. He draws another breath, pushes himself away, starts running.


The last thing Gordon sees as the Overmind's psychic pressure starts to distort his vision is Floyd flailing his arms, and the last thing he hears is a series of profanities that would do Adrian Shephard proud.


He doesn't need to see to know which way he has to go, though. It's the one that makes every cell in his body try to shut down operation at once. The more wrong, the more right, until he's at the heart of the sickness-


But it's getting harder to keep both lungs and legs moving, the closer he gets. Every function, every least little thing his body ever did on its own, it's going out of autonomic mode and into voluntary, and he's got to pilot them all one after another. And there's only so much of him to go around-

(there is no distance between us )

Space is wrong here. Space is not one-

( no false veil of time or space may intervene )

( we weave the Freeman's life with hers )


This isn't how it ends.

Get up.

Gordon, get up.

You can do this. I know you can.

You are stronger than this. We are stronger than this.

We have fought gods and monsters, and won.

We have stared death in the face until it blinked.

We have stood back up every time we have been knocked down, and this will be no exception.

Somewhere in between the sound of her words and the sound of his own breath, he finds enough brain to think, I'm going to need a little help with that...

Something that feels almost like a smile ripples through his thoughts. I think we can manage that, some part of him thinks.

When the next FOMP comes from the Overmind, it's not the black of incipient unconsciousness that washes over him, but the blazing blue-white of Alyx's sustaining rage.

I love you, Gordon. Make them pay.

And he does.

There is no one left to hear him laughing, only ashes; and when even those have fallen and he takes a step forward, it is into a different kind of darkness.
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Gordon Freeman

December 2012


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