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/qst/ - Mitsuba Archive


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BdZloneS0Y
At 8:58 AM yesterday, the Anomalous Materials lab ran the Anti-Mass Spectrometer in an examination of sample GG-3883. At the time, you were undercover for the CIA, under the designation “Gabriella Oppenheimer ''. What should’ve been an easy mission turned into a lovecraftian hell.

As you tried to save those you could, the physicists called the United States Military for aid. Instead of the National Guard, or the army being sent, the scientists were responded to by a branch of USMC special forces. Command said there were to be no civilian witnesses.

As your own country seemed to eat itself in this time of crisis, you did what you could to evacuate those important, or even simply those who had aided you, or needed to aid themselves. You served the Americans before the American government when you could, but weren’t forgiving towards the marines who put their orders before the lives of the science team, but you did accept those who surrendered, and went AWOL to serve the Central Intelligence Agency. Marines, for all their training to follow orders, were not happy with the command to kill United States Citizens.

Throughout all of this, you still followed orders, and your orders brought you here, into the anomalous materials lab where it all started. Into the test chamber. With the very laws of physics breaking down the closer you got to the epicenter of the resonance cascade, you knew that there had to have been an immeasurable source of residual power within the test chamber, and you found exactly that deep within. As Dr. Saulson described, the vortigaunts had contained the effects of the universe's most powerful source of energy- an unbalanced vacuum, and were slowly radiating it by warping time, preventing the build up of zero-point energy the prolonged resonance cascade created from boiling the planet.

While Poskanzer and Wells moved for the surface to contact the Central Intelligence Agency, you, Kirchoff, and Dr. Saulson devised a plan to burrow a wormhole into another universe with the destroyed components of the anti-mass spectrometer. In the process, you made a deal with a division of Xen’s invasion, giving them brief access to your mind for their assistance and nonaggression. Under cover of the Xen Controller’s immunity to projectiles, you moved into a pit created by the anti-gravity of the test chamber, and the collapse of the machine's main emitters. Within, your team filled a centrifuge with exotic matter, and got it to start spinning. As you fought off Race X, and the massive spacetime bending worm grown into this pit, you found yourself being tracked and watched by red eyed creatures in the darkness, augmented antlions with impossible to decipher motives.
(cont.)


http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Black%20Mesa%20Black%20Ops%20Quest
>>
>>4813244
(cont.)
By freezing the portal worm with liquid oxygen, you were able to find a moment’s peace, given you precious time to search through the rubble that, in the extreme cold, became superconductive, causing chunks to levitate. Searching through debris, you found a dead vortigaunt, while the other remained missing. The dead vortigaunt however died holding the remains of an unknown alien drone, off of which you found a flamethrower, a double edged sword in the now oxygen rich environment made by the boiling liquid oxygen.

In further search of the missing vortigaunt, you saw an anomalous repeat in time showing Johannesburg being pulled by an antlion. Partially due to your own inaction, the man was killed swiftly by a hydra, a blue spiked serpentine creature with the same biotics as the antlions. You burned the creature alive, and then fought across the entire pit for the possession of Johannesburg's body, while the portal worm began to reawaken. As you stole back the corpse of the physicist, the portal worm began to move the massive claws it had been using as only anchors just a moment ago, while bringing in more of Race X’s forces. However, with some of the remaining exotic matter taken from the labs, Dr. Saulson tore the creature’s eye open, and you put a bullet in its brain. Now, as the creature expends all its energy on the path to the grave, bringing tons of random objects, creatures, and materials into the pit, you and your team push the centrifuge upwards, towards the colossal orb of dark matter.

If Saulson is correct, it’s only minutes until either this massive ball of energy is torn into another universe, or unleashed to boil the planet.
(cont.1)
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>>4813245
(cont.1)
https://pastebin.com/Lte0sgmY
>Don’t get close to the centrifuge, but throw a flashbang up near it to hold the creatures off while you move in behind them.

Only a few seconds after you manage to stabilize yourself in the air, you reach down to your belt and grab one of your few remaining flashbangs. As shots slam into the centrifuge, spore grenades spilling out burning biochemicals with a deafeningly loud crack. One hand holds against the chunk of rubble, while you pull the flashbangs pin out with your thumb.

“Flash!” You shout, before chucking it through the chaos. The lever flies off into the chaos while the grenade smacks against the centrifuge, barely bouncing a few feet before you cover your eyes, a deafening crack tearing through the noisy air. The shocktroopers on the ledge scream as the flash of blinding light burns their sensitive eyes. As the afterimage leaves the creatures blind, you quickly kick off the piece of rubble, moving from metal chunk to metal chunk as more material enters the world around you through the portal worms death throes.

Flailing in zero gravity, a hound eye worms into this universe, screeching in confusion alongside other creatures. Collared vortigaunts electrolyze into reality near a scientific desk covered in papers, which only a few seconds later is accompanied by a white van decaled with the Black Mesa logo. You start kicking off crates, chunks of metal, and walls alongside the ruined machinery as the chaos rages on. With each new object tearing its way into the pit, the massive ringing storm of portals gets that little bit lighter.

Swinging around the massive dying claw of the portal worm, you pull your shotgun off your back, kicking yourself off a section of wall from somewhere else in the facility with the word “Lambda” written on it. You grab the back of the claw with one hand, stopping your flight up the pit while you load three more twelve guages into the tube, seeing the creatures from below and behind as they hold their pained eyes or fire off wildly at the afterimage.

With one little shove, you send yourself drifting up and back as you line up the Spas-12’s sights against the shocktroopers muscular back. You pull the trigger, once, twice, and the blind shocktrooper is slammed by the buckshot, first knocking him off the claw, next killing him. His allies hear the thundering shot that kicked you back, quickly turning around, but firing blindly.

Immediately, you push yourself off a large crate covered in a military tarp, moving quickly away from the large volley of shots. After a few seconds of floating through the air, you bump against a massive chunk of concrete and wires from the machine thrown into the air. Stopped in place once again, you align your sights on the distracted eye, seeing something large, covered in leds fly up behind the creature.
(cont.2)
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>>4813246
(cont.2)
Down below, the antlions have grabbed the body of Johannesburg, and with no second thought or check, they run confident they have their prize… or still holding onto it. All around, the many wounded antlions burrow into the rubble, scattering like rats away from a sinking ship, taking a visibly looted corpse with them. Meanwhile, Kirchoff and Saulson are farther down into the pit than you, only slowly moving upwards, the former taking brief potshots in the air with the revolver. With little control of the gun’s massive recoil, his shots go wild. Looking to Saulson, the physicist is tentatively holding the marine’s mp5, occasionally firing wild, light bursts, mostly at nearby xenian wildlife that’s been pulled through the storm of teleportation all around you.

With a desperate fervor, the shocktroopers start to turn back towards the ascending centrifuge, just as they regain their vision. The creatures yell out guttural chants as they once again open fire on the centrifuge, firing rapidly, and desperately. Some of them start to hack up spore grenades, but with your sights already lined up, you flick the weapon and blast one of them in the side. The creature is knocked from his perch, losing hold of mucus that was to became an explosive while you send another shot into the back of one of the shocktroopers, causing it to arch its back in pain and scream. A few of the creatures fire at you, this time able to see.

Even as Saulson and Kirchoff manage to get their first accurate shots at the aliens, the marine putting a three-fifty seven straight through the skull of a shocktroopers, while Saulson pummels one with nine-millimeter riot rounds, the shocktroopers that turned around blast you with electricity as you kick away. As you try to escape the concentrated volley, you’re hit with one, then two, then three shots of electrical ball lightning, burning you through your suit. Every muscle in your body spasms, while the servos of the powerless suit are burnt with electricity.

As you twitch and burn in zero gravity, feeling your body get ever so close to the threshold adrenaline can’t possibly hold you up for, the final, killing blow from the shocktroopers never comes. Arcs of residual energy sting at your skin and neck as you look to the shocktroopers desperately firing volleys from what remains of their full force at the centrifuge.

By the time you look at it, it’s reached the mouth of the pit. During that trip, a loud, ear piercing alarm starts to blare out from the centrifuge. Saulson had told you an alarm would sound when it’s damaged, and the volleys of shots got to it, eliciting a sound like a nuclear siren. The sound fills the air, almost overtaking everything else in it’s warning.
(cont.3)
>>
>>4813250
(cont.3)
It’s too late though. As the centrifuge gets further away, the shocktroopers shots begin to fade into the atmosphere as they lose energy, or go stray.

Saulson mentioned a choice. Crack the centrifuge open early, and results will be guaranteed, along with the likely death of everything in this chamber without an act of god.

Let it fly naturally into the ball of dark matter, and you’ll all have a chance to run, to escape, and to survive, living to experience the unforeseen consequences this extra chaotic reaction brings with it.

Either way, like a plane taking off from a runway, it’s far too late to stop this plan now.

>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.
>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
>Write in.
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>>4813250
(cont.3)
It’s too late though. As the centrifuge gets further away, the shocktroopers shots begin to fade into the atmosphere as they lose energy, or go stray.

Saulson mentioned a choice. Crack the centrifuge open early, and results will be guaranteed, along with the likely death of everything in this chamber without an act of god.

Let it fly naturally into the ball of dark matter, and you’ll all have a chance to run, to escape, and to survive, living to experience the unforeseen consequences this extra chaotic reaction brings with it.

Either way, like a plane taking off from a runway, it’s far too late to stop this plan now.

>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.
>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
>Write in.
>>
>>4813250
(cont.3)
It’s too late though. As the centrifuge gets further away, the shocktroopers shots begin to fade into the atmosphere as they lose energy, or go stray.

Saulson mentioned a choice. Crack the centrifuge open early, and results will be guaranteed, and controlled, along with the likely death of everything in this chamber without an act of god.

Let it fly naturally into the ball of dark matter, and you’ll all have a chance to run, to escape, and to survive, living to experience the unforeseen consequences this extra chaotic reaction brings with it.

Either way, like a plane taking off from a runway, it’s far too late to stop this plan now. The wormhole will be created, it has to, you tell yourself. The fork in the road is strange and confusing. What is certainty worth to you in this chaotic endeavor?

>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.
>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
>Write in.
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>>4813250
(cont.3)
It’s too late though. As the centrifuge gets further away, the shocktroopers shots begin to fade into the atmosphere as they lose energy, or go stray.

Saulson mentioned a choice. Crack the centrifuge open early, and results will be guaranteed, along with the likely death of everything in this chamber without an act of god. The unwanted elements within the centrifuge will be purged by the blast of antimatter annihilating itself, which will turn everything else to plasma. The exotic matter will be left to worm a hole in spacetime unfettered. and bring both the dark matter, and the explosion with it. The reaction will be clean and ideal, with no rogue elements or unforseen consequences, but deadly to you, Kirchoff and Saulson.

Let it fly naturally into the ball of dark matter, and you’ll all have a chance to run, to escape, and to survive, living to experience the unforeseen consequences this extra chaotic reaction brings with it. it won't just be the energized exotic matter creating this portal. Ironically, without the explosion of the centrifuge, it will be a chaotic war of quantum elements creating this wormhole. The antimatter within the centrifuge will fight against dark matter, and the very materials of the centrifuge itself will fight it. You don't know what unforseen consequences this could create, not even Saulson does, but in doing this, you will have control over your own survival, at least for the time being.

Either way, like a plane taking off from a runway, it’s far too late to stop this plan now.

>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.
>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
>Write in.
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>>4813296
>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.
The oppenheimer lives up to their name. Time repeats itself, but the choice inevitable.
Yet it may not be a choice if certain elements interfere. After all, time repeats itself...but is not inviolable.
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Apologies for not having the update done today guys, I got held late at work and didn't wanna start before work to give more time to vote. It should be done tomorrow. Apologies.
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>>4815461
Just as well, I don’t want to be the sole decider of our ultimate fate
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>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
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>>4813296

So it's shoot, kill ourselves and save the planet or don't and survive for now and get fucked later? Oh dear....
>>
Where are the vortigaunts in all this? Will they blow up if we do this? If so, I say we
>”I hope they cannot see, I am the great destroyer.” Shout at Kirchoff and Saulson to get the hell out of this chamber as you run yourself.
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>>4813296
When in doubt, kiss the girl.
If there's no girl present, shoot the centrifuge.
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Rolled 2 (1d2)

>>4813601
>>4816670
>Shoot the centrifuge. (1)
>>4816038
>>4816549
>Run for the surface. (2)

I don't really want to do a tiebreaker roll here, but I it's been quite a while now. I will do a tiebreaker roll and get to writing, although the vote will still be open, in case anyone wants to throw a final vote to break the tie. Let me know if you guys would rather wait for another vote than doing a tiebreaker role as well, because doing a roll here feels dirty.
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>>4816831
Also, I'm just gonna add here that if someone throws down another vote to break the tie in place of the roll, I will close the vote after that, to avoid ending up with another tie. Thank you to the people who already voted, and thanks for reading along this far.
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>>4816831
> Shoot the centrifuge!
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>>4816913
>No regrets, Miss Oppenheimer
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>>4816831
>Shoot the centrifuge!
I got hopelessly left behind by the quest months ago and I've been kinda lurking ever since, but I'll come out of the woodwork to vote one last time. Unless it's not the end, of course.
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>>4817028
Oh, didn't notice that the revote had closed anyhow. Ah well, can't say I wasn't here.
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>>4813601
>>4815583
>>4816038
>>4816436
>>4816549
>>4816670
>>4816913
>>4817028
>”I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” Push through the pain and burns, and reload the M99 so you can put a hole in the centrifuge.

Centuries, hell maybe millenia ago, you’re no historian, mankind came to the conclusion that so long as another person remembered your name, death is final. As you pull the heavy M99 Barrett around your shoulder once again, your muscles straining against its weight, a small part of your mind, and old part that never managed to be overwritten by years of CIA training, hopes that they were wrong. No one will remember what happened here, not for long, not if the nation is to survive.

Your eyes glaze over Kirchoff and Saulson as you look back up at the massive orb of Dark Matter, it’s pulsating halo of light warbled by some horror of science almost seeming to call to you. Saulson is staring at you, watching you pull the bolt back, the casing of the last shell ejecting from the chamber. Under the visor, you can’t tell if he’s horrified, hopeful, or some mix of both. You don’t let it stop you, nor do you let yourself well up any final memories as you take a deep, pained breath, load in a new cartridge, and line up your sights. Drifting in zero gravity, arms shaking, you have to practically wrestle the gun into alignment in the path of a moving, tumbling object.

You hear a sound of panic, and the voice of Kirchoff shouting “Where the hell are you going!?” Apart of you wishes you could apologize, tell him it’s worth it, or explain, but there’s no time. For god's sake, a part of you wishes you could bring yourself to pull your finger off the trigger, and run, but that’s not possible, not for you.Nearly three hundred thousand American lives rest on the shoulders of three human beings in this hell. The choice Saulson presented you with is an illusion, because you were given the powers you have under the obligation that you would protect those three hundred thousand, and for that reason, you keep your eye in the scope. The centrifuge passes over your crosshair, and you pull the gun's crisp trigger.

There are no final seconds to watch a blazing fireball engulf you, no moment of rumbling before reality crushes in on itself. There’s no time for you to apologize to Saulson or Kirchoff, or even let your mind wander to some old comforting memory of your life before under a different name.

The stock kicks you like a mule, just before a flash of blinding white light overtakes your vision, while every other sense disappears in the same instant. No thoughts run through your mind, no sorrow, no regret, nor pride or hope for your country. There is nothing except for the glaring afterimage of a painful white light, and a thumping pain kicking you in the side of the head, hitting you over and over like an electronic heartbeat.
(cont.)
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>>4817258
(cont.)
The thumping pain begins to blur together as nothingness passes, and in tangent with this, the white glare fades, becoming darker and deeper, darker and deeper as nothingness turns into a fog of something you don’t quite understand yet. The first thing you can put a name on is fear, even before you begin to remember why you feel it. Hand in hand behind the fear, an unavoidable wash of regret hits you, while the white light turns to grey in all but one little spot in the nothingness, though you fail to even comprehend either of these developments as anything other than primordial sensations.

At first, as thought returns to your free floating existence, you understand your fear once again. Does your sacrifice mean anything? Did anyone survive? Was it worth it? You ask nothing as thought continues to return. In those last moments you had only seconds to make a decision.
You wish you could’ve said goodbye to Kirchoff, to Saulson, or even Guttman, Vance and Kleiner, or hell, said anything, to anyone before you pulled that damn trigger.

The fading glare of white, interspersed with crimson lines and dots hanging in the nothingness blur out of focus as you’re occupied with the millions as your hit with the memories of your short life. Your mind wanders back to names you’ve thrown away under CIA orders. However as the static haunting your mind continues to lift, the emotions are suddenly swept up, encased and surrounded by a fortress of pragmatism and composure, as you begin telling yourself what you told yourself before the trigger. You don’t know where you’re going now, or what god thinks of what you did in that test chamber, and the more you regain your sensibilities, the less you care. You did what you coul, you died for your country, and you will never know if it worked.
https://youtu.be/ktNS-Ec-Y3o
(cont.)
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>>4817263
(cont.)
When your thoughts begin to calm, you finally start to come to the realization that you don’t know what’s happening. You focus once again on the blurred lights before you once again as a million questions run through your mind. Are you dead? Are you going to… heaven, hell, something else? Before, the stark white afterimage has faded into a grey blur, with glaring red dots interspersed along side a blurry pink tinge that seems to oscillate as resolution returns to this new reality in tune with the dulling of the migraine’s pain, and the waning of the static clouding your thoughts. The only place the white isn’t fading is a large smudge on the right of your vision, fixed and static.

Now that you give this non-reality your attention, it’s details begin to give way with more haste. The pink hued grey quickly begins to turn into a deep, inky blackness, broken up by millions of infinitely thin lines running across it, all running between the red glares of light, which all seem to stare at you, like red biotic eyes in an inky smoke. There are hundreds of networked glares before you, like stars in the night sky, but eclipsing a significant chunk of them is a white square in reality, turned directly perpendicular to where you’re looking, and offset to the right.

Suddenly, within the white square, you see a dark shadow cast through it, as though it were a hole into some physical reality where light still existed. You hear an actual sound, as though there were physical air in this state of non-existence. As you watch the shadow approach the threshold into this prison of an afterlife, the thumping pain in your head suddenly kicks you like a truck, causing the white afterimage to return and fade briefly. When the pinkish-grey returns to a networked set of crimson glares, you now see a human leg, dressed in a suit, and dress shoes stepping through the door.

If it weren’t for the composure you’d died with, you would be making your best attempt at strangling the being that is walking through this door into your personal hell. He’s still dressed in a blue, well kept suit, his hair perfectly combed even after the anarchy he strided through like a national park. He walks through the threshold into non-existence as though it were any doorway, moving in a perfectly straight line until he’s dead center in your vision, and turns to you. At that moment, the white square of light suddenly slides shut.
(cont.)
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>>4817266
(cont.)
The blue suited man’s sunken skin, tired eyes are pulled into a smug smile as he stares at you, or at least whatever you are in death. “Misssss Oppenheimmer…” He begins. “My condolences. Iyyy mUst say these circumstances are… surpISssing, but not... unconsidered.” The blue suited man takes a few steps to the left, slowly. There’s another pulse of pain through your head, bringing back the glaring white afterimage. When the blur fades, the map of networked glares is almost exactly the same, except for a small, slowly growing point of green light. It arcs and pulsates like electricity, every so often slamming against the network surrounding your death, sending another agonizing pulse through your head. “I… do sincerely wish I had more to oFFerrr you, but you were unncooperative on your part.”

A million questions run through your head, but in the brawl of your mind, one suddenly echoes through the nothingness slightly louder than the others. “Am I dead or not?” You ask the suited man.

“I’m afraid yourRr… ssurrvival is irreparable,, for the time beeIng.” He hisses with a smile. “However, your emploYers were adamant on a... contingency. I had… hoped one that I could provide you some… controlll, over, but you’ve made your choice.” As he says that, the growing bore of electricity shocks one of the nodes, and you’re hit with another afterimage. This time instead, you catch a glimpse of a familiar sight, barely making out the face of Dr. Richard Guttman before it fades, and he seemed to be holding something small, black, arcing green in his hands.

>”MY employers? Mean the CIA? Who are you talking about?”
>"For the time being?"
>”Choice? I never made a choice? What does Guttman have to do with this… contingency?”
>”Did Saulson’s wormhole at least work? Was it worth it?”
>”So then why the hell are you here? Just to walk me into hell?”
>”Please, no more of this… let me die or… reincarnate… I don’t know.”
>”If you can die, I hope they have a nice cut of hell waiting for you.”
>”Just… do me a favor and show me the people I extracted. Are they okay, at least?”
>”If I’ve died for your insanity, you owe me a favor. Don’t mess with Guttman’s kid.”
>Write in.
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>>4817270
>>"For the time being?"
Why does the Advisor want us living, we've been anything but nice to it.
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>>4815583
I am really glad that this update got a good turnout, honest to god, thanks to all of you guys for reading so far.
>>4816913
I miss old gmod days man.
>>4817028
>>4817035
Sorry I lost you there man, but I'm glad to have you anyway even if your vote doesn't count.
>Unless it's not the end, of course.
I'm gonna be honest with you man, I've been writing this with zero planning for the last year, even I don't know if it's the end. I will still say, regardless of wether or not these next few updates end up being the true end, the next few updates will put a wrap on this chapter, and I'll probably be running or writing something different for a bit sometime soon.
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>>4817270
I hope you don't mind if I choose a few. I have quite a few questions for him, after all.
In order of priority:
>"For the time being?"
>”Choice? I never made a choice? What does Guttman have to do with this… contingency?”
>”Did Saulson’s wormhole at least work? Was it worth it?”
>”MY employers? Mean the CIA? Who are you talking about?”
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>>4817297
>I hope you don't mind if I choose a few.
I did write up this list of questions with the intention that you guys would be asking lots of questions, so that's perfectly fine.
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>>4817297
+1
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>>4817287
>>4817297
>>4817998

>"For the time being?"
>”Choice? I never made a choice? What does Guttman have to do with this… contingency?”
>”Did Saulson’s wormhole at least work? Was it worth it?”
>”MY employers? Mean the CIA? Who are you talking about?”

https://youtu.be/ktNS-Ec-Y3o

“For the time being?” You blurt out. “Am I dead or not?” You ask again. “What… is this? If you can… bring me back or… let me go, why not now?”

The suited man’s smile twists up further. “Iiii would describe your circumstance as… betwween lives.” He starts to walk towards the right of your vision, past the growing electrical anomaly, gesturing his hands by his waist as he speaks. “Certainnn… infrastructure is required to renew an existence as yYyou’ve come to understand.” He stops walking, and looks downwards to what can vaguely be called the ground. His position eclipses the electrical anomaly as he continues, “Your circumstancess have come as a disssappointment to my… employersss seeing as you have rendered yourself unn-able to participate in the events of the coming month, however the… successor in this contingency plan should complete yourr assignmentsss in the time being.”

The growing electrical anomaly sparks into the red network once again, as you think about what he’s said. “You’re talking about Guttman, right? You said I made a choice. What did you mean, I never made any choice?”

“With yourRrRr… refusal to transfer ownership of the contingency…”the suited man steps to the right, continuing, “your employers have found it appropriate to…” as he continues to the right, you don’t see the electrical anomaly again, instead you see the crimson networked lights still eclipsed by a fog of darkness, but within the fog is an image, like a window staring into a point and time in existence. You see, cradled in your own gloved hands, the CIA backdoor you found sparking a green glowing energy along it’s plastic casing. You focus on it, as the blue suited man continues speaking, “rRrelocate the device.”

“It was on me down there, shouldn’t that thing be destroyed?” You say, or perhaps think, it’s hard to tell the difference anymore.

“This wass accOunted for in the…” As he speaks, the blue suited man walks back to the left, covering the image of the device while he turns to you, folding his fingers together.“-contiInngency. Your emplLoyers were not interested in gAambling, Agent Oppenheimer.”

“You keep saying employers. Who the hell are my employers?” You ask, getting impatient with the vague responses. “Do you mean the CIA? And… who’s gonna bring me back? Are they the ones with this infrastructure… does it have something to do with the migraine?”
(cont.)
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>>4819183
(cont.)
The suited man lets out a little chuckle, his voice straining against the sound. “Agent Oppenheimer Ihh’m afraId I’m bound by certainNn… restrictionnnssss. I’m sure you understand the necessityY of obfusscation when dealing with suUch delicate informationn. a I cAn inform of is that your emploYers are a separate party from theEe, developers of the technology in use. I’m awarRe you’ve learned an awful lot about the coming years, more than any other of your organization. However despite this threats strANGlehold on- your mind, they are disinterested in your suRvival now that you have accomplished your assiGnment. Other partIEs have… placed considerable trUst in you, and wish to… retaIn their imvesstment.”

The suited man walks further to the left, revealing the growing electrical anomaly once again. Thumps of pain resume, hitting you with the glaring white afterimage everytime electrical arcs jolt into the red glares of light, or one of their thin lines between it. Each time it disorients you, renders all thought into a meaningless static before you recover. Pushing through the pain, and confusion, you ask another question. “W-well, did Saulson’s plan… the wormhole, at least work? Was this all worth it?”

The suited man raises his chin, and once again pulls his sunken features into an almost gleeful expressions. “It was a relatively clean execution of your assignment Agent Oppenheimer. You’ve prevented some rather regrettable consequences...” After he says that, you’re hit with a sudden burst of static overtaking your mind, smashing you with the glaring white afterimage again, but when it fades away this time, you don’t see the electrical anomaly, the suited man, or the network of red lights. Instead, you see another man, a calm, approachable fellow sitting at a desk, behind him a backdrop of a sunny city street.

“That’s right Jane, sunny skies today. Despite reports of jet fighters shattering glass yesterday, the military is urging people to step outside and enjoy the weather, as there will be no more planes flying overhead for the foreseeable future. No word however on when residents of Gallup and the areas surrounding it will be allowed to return to their homes. The president however will be making a statement at eight o’clock tomorrow morning about the mysterious evacuation, so stay tuned for more information.”
(cont.1)
>>
>>4819183
(cont.)
The suited man lets out a little chuckle, his voice straining against the sound. “Agent Oppenheimer Ihh’m afraId I’m bound by certainNn… restrictionnnssss. I’m sure you understand the necessityY of obfuscation when dealing with such delicate informatioNn. All I cAn inform you of is that your emploYers are a separate party from the, developers of the technology in use. I’m aware you’ve learned an awWful lot about the coming years, more than any other of your organization. However despite this threats strANGlehold on- your mind, they are disinterested in your suRvival now that you have accomplished your ahssignment. Other parties have… placed considerable trust in you, and wish to… retaIn their imvesstment.”

The suited man walks further to the left, revealing the growing electrical anomaly once again. Thumps of pain resume, hitting you with the glaring white afterimage everytime electrical arcs jolt into the red glares of light, or one of their thin lines between it. Each time it disorients you, renders all thought into a meaningless static before you recover. Pushing through the pain, and confusion, you ask another question. “W-well, did Saulson’s plan… the wormhole, at least work? Was this all worth it?”

The suited man raises his chin, and once again pulls his sunken features into an almost gleeful expressions. “It was a relatively clean execution of your assignment Agent Oppenheimer. You’ve prevented some rather regrettable consequences...” After he says that, you’re hit with a sudden burst of static overtaking your mind, smashing you with the glaring white afterimage again, but when it fades away this time, you don’t see the electrical anomaly, the suited man, or the network of red lights. Instead, you see another man, a calm, approachable fellow sitting at a desk, behind him a backdrop of a sunny city street.

“That’s right Jane, sunny skies today. Despite reports of jet fighters shattering glass yesterday, the military is urging people to step outside and enjoy the weather, as there will be no more planes flying overhead for the foreseeable future. No word however on when residents of Gallup and the areas surrounding it will be allowed to return to their homes. The president however will be making a statement at eight o’clock tomorrow morning about the mysterious evacuation, so stay tuned for more information.”
(cont.1)
>>
>>4819190
(cont.1)
The camera shifts to a young, dark haired woman sitting right next to the man, she smiles, and says, “Thanks Marcus. State officials are also warning against false reports from unverified sources. Many are making unsubstantiated claims about the evacuation, including stories about UFOs, or communist involvement, alongside other claims. Some state officials fear that terrorist groups may attempt to use this situation for their own game through misinformation. This network has set up a hotline for questions and facts about the evacuation, don’t hesitate to call the number below.” Added to the video is a rolled in banner, showing a simple eight-hundred phone number. And finally, Crownpoint police are telling citizens to be on the look out for anyone driving an SUV marked with the following symbol.” The phone number rolls away, and in the corner of the screen you see a picture of the Black Mesa logo. “The identity of the subjects are currently unknown, but they are believed to be armed and dangerous. We will report further information as it arises.”

The video freezes on its final frame, then begins to fade, returning you to the networked prison that seems to be your resting place, where the electrical pulsing has become faster and faster, each time rattling your mind. The blue suited man is still here, smiling coyly at you. “Well, Agent Oppenheimer, while I don’t intend to avoId,, you, I have other matters that requIRe my attenTIon. I must be going soon, unLEss, you have some final request?” He clasps his hands together. “With aAaAlll you have- given in your assighNment, I would not blame you for… asskiIng something in return.”

>”Make sure the Vance family comes out of everything okay.”
>”Leave Guttman’s child alone, I know you threatened the kid.”
>”I saw that the United States isn’t going to last long. Make sure something’s left, after whatever comes.”
>”I know you need Breen for something, but at least make his life hell for as long as you can.”
>”That kid I pulled out, Enrico Fermi, find his dad for me, and have someone less hideous than you make sure he’s alright.”
>”No, nothing, I'm done working with you. Please, just let me go peacefully.”
>”Don’t leave me here alone, please.”
>Write in a simple request from the suited man.
>”Wait, one more question. What… what happened to Kirchoff and Saulson, the vortiguants… the people I saved?”
>Write in any other quick questions you have.
>>
>>4819190
(cont.1)
The camera shifts to a young, dark haired woman sitting right next to the man, she smiles, and says, “Thanks Marcus. State officials are also warning against false reports from unverified sources. Many are making unsubstantiated claims about the evacuation, including stories about UFOs, or communist involvement, alongside other claims. Some state officials fear that terrorist groups may attempt to use this situation for their own game through misinformation. This network has set up a hotline for questions and facts about the evacuation, don’t hesitate to call the number below.” Added to the video is a rolled in banner, showing a simple eight-hundred phone number. And finally, Crownpoint police are telling citizens to be on the look out for anyone driving an SUV marked with the following symbol.” The phone number rolls away, and in the corner of the screen you see a picture of the Black Mesa logo. “The identity of the subjects are currently unknown, but they are believed to be armed and dangerous. We will report further information as it arises.”

The video freezes on its final frame, then begins to fade, returning you to the networked prison that seems to be your resting place, where the electrical pulsing has become faster and faster, each time rattling your mind. The blue suited man is still here, smiling coyly at you. “Well, Agent Oppenheimer, while I don’t intend to avoId,, you, I have other matters that requIRe my attenTIon. I must be going soon, unLEss, you have some final request?” He clasps his hands together. “With aAaAlll you have- given in your assighNment, I would not blame you for… asskiIng something in return.”

>”Make sure the Vance family comes out of everything okay.”
>”Leave Guttman’s child alone, I know you threatened the kid.”
>”I saw that the United States isn’t going to last long. Make sure something’s left, after whatever comes.”
>”I know you need Breen for something, but at least make his life hell for as long as you can.”
>”That kid I pulled out, Enrico Fermi, find his dad for me, and have someone less hideous than you make sure he’s alright.”
>”Crawl back to the hole you came out of, and just let me die, I'm done.”
>”Don’t leave me here alone, please.”
>Write in a simple request from the suited man.
>”Wait, one more question. What… what happened to Kirchoff and Saulson, the vortiguants… the people I saved?”
>Write in any other quick questions you have.
>>
>>4819199
>"I want some peace in my last moments, at least the last moments I have until you do whatever it is you're up to. Get rid of the migraine. It's only going to keep throwing a fit."
And with the migraine out of the way, if he grants that request, I suspect we may be able to follow that green energy...
>>
>>4819199
>”I saw that the United States isn’t going to last long. Make sure something’s left, after whatever comes.”
>>
>>4819216
+1 to this
>>
>>4819199
>”Wait, one more question. What… what happened to Kirchoff and Saulson, the vortiguants… the people I saved?”
>>4819216
+1
>>
I'm sorry guys, but I'm not gonna be able to put out an update today again. I didn't slip at all last night, and had a longer shift at work then expected. Apologies.
>>
>>4819216
>>4819382
>>4819512
>>4819703
>"I want some peace in my last moments, at least the last moments I have until you do whatever it is you're up to. Get rid of the migraine. It's only going to keep throwing a fit."

“Can you get rid of this migraine?” You ask quickly. “I still don’t know what the hell it is, but I just want some peace for a few minutes before I die… or whatever you’re doing with me.”

Looking to the “ground” and frowning, the blue suited man begins slowly strolling right, slowly eclipsing the electrical anomaly as he speaks. “Agent Oppenheimer…” he pulls his chin up, pressing the ends of his fingers together. “You musst forgIvVe the obfuscation of yourRr,, conditionn, but for reasons I’m unable to divulge... yOur request negates certain… eventualities

“I’m dead aren’t I?” You snap back. “Do I have to be in pain for my last moments?”

He looks towards you directly, then smiles, “I believe I may have an… alterRrnative, that could PRovide some… rRelief.”

“Define relief.“ You command. “What’re gonna do?”

“It would be benefffICial for the both of us if I simply numb you through these painful mOMents.” He says, as the electrical anomaly slams into the crimson network once, scattering your thoughts while a massive thump of pain racks your head, the afterimage fading away quickly to show the suited man glazing over the crimson network with his eyes. “Such a deal would... giIVve... you the peAce you request, and would prevent any unNECcessary interference over the coming decaAdes.”

“What interference are you gonna get from a dead woman?” You respond, focusing on the growing electrical anomaly, as it begins to bloom around the figure of the suited man, surrounding his sunken features with a flickering green hue. The man holds his features in a smile as he stares dead at you, listening to you continue. “You said it yourself, I’m dead.”

The suited man is silent for a moment, before to his right, a portion of space simply opens, like a sliding door, revealing a glaring white light behind it. The electrical anomaly shocks the crimson network once more, hitting you with a painful thump, and when you’re consciousness reorganizes, and your vision returns, you see the suited man turned towards the door. “Agent Oppenheimer… intelliGence is it’s owWwn daAngerrrr…” The blue suited man begins walking to the left, leaving you with a full view of the electrical anomaly, and your own paranoia.

“What intelligence? There is no intelligence. I’m dead!” You shout again, as your own paranoia runs through a million different possible meanings of “numb.” Whatever he’s doing, he’s somehow taking away whatever the hell you haven’t lost here. You watch intently as he steps through the door without, a word, letting it hang open for a moment before it slides back shut, squeaking like metal sliding against metal.
(cont.)
>>
>>4819216
>>4819382
>>4819512
>>4819703
>"I want some peace in my last moments, at least the last moments I have until you do whatever it is you're up to. Get rid of the migraine. It's only going to keep throwing a fit."

“Can you get rid of this migraine?” You ask quickly. “I still don’t know what the hell it is, but I just want some peace for a few minutes before I die… or whatever you’re doing with me.”

Looking at the “ground” and frowning, the blue suited man begins slowly strolling right, slowly eclipsing the electrical anomaly as he speaks. “Agent Oppenheimer…” he pulls his chin up, pressing the ends of his fingers together. “You musst forgIvVe the obfuscation of yourRr,, conditionn, but for reasons I’m unable to divulge... yOur request negates certain… eventualities

“I’m dead aren’t I?” You snap back. “Do I have to be in pain for my last moments?”

He looks towards you, as though staring into you warping his sunken features into a smile, “I believe I may have an… alternative, thaAt could.... PRovide some… rRelief.”

“Define relief.“ You loudly demand, as once again you’re hit by the migraine, kicking you with every growth of the electrical anomaly. . “I just want to be alone in my head for a moment… please. What are you doing? ”

“It would be benefffICial for the both of us if I simply numb you through these painful mOMents.” He says, as the electrical anomaly slams into the crimson network once, scattering your thoughts while a massive thump of pain racks your head, the afterimage fading away quickly to show the suited man glazing over the crimson network with his eyes. “Such a deal would... giIVve... you some peAce in these MOMents, and would prevent any unnneccessary interffference over the coming decaAdes.”

“What interference are you gonna get from a dead woman?” You respond, focusing on the growing electrical anomaly, as it begins to bloom around the figure of the suited man, surrounding his sunken features with a flickering green hue. The man holds his features in a smile as he stares dead at you, listening to you continue. “You said it yourself, I’m dead.”

The suited man is silent for a moment, before to his right, a portion of space simply opens, like a sliding door, revealing a glaring white light behind it. The electrical anomaly shocks the crimson network once more, hitting you with a painful thump, and when you’re consciousness reorganizes, and your vision returns, you see the suited man turned towards the door. “Agent Oppenheimer… intelliGence is it’s owWwn daAngerrrr…” The blue suited man begins walking to the left, leaving you with a full view of the electrical anomaly, and your own paranoia.
(cont.)
>>
>>4823187
(cont.)
“What intelligence?” You shout, as your own paranoia runs through a million different possible meanings of “numb.” “How- How the hell am I supposed to gather intelligence while I’m dead?” The migraine thumps you again, as you push your own “voice” to sound more desperate, more solitary, not even sure whether or not it’s genuine anymore. “I can’t contact anyone, I can’t record anything. I’m dead. Why can’t I just be done?” Whatever he’s doing, he’s somehow taking away whatever the hell you haven’t lost here. You watch intently as he steps through the door without a word, letting it hang open for a moment before it slides back shut, squeaking like metal sliding against metal.

Then There you’re left alone, in the absolute silence of this limbo, or maybe hell, you realize after the migraine strikes you again following another arcing of green electricity into the crimson network. He’s going to numb you, information is it’s own danger, that could mean you might start forgetting, might stop feeling, your thoughts could slow down. Did he want you to ask for that, you wonder, knowing his grasp on time.

As your barely trained paranoia takes over, the migraine slowly begins to dull, but your thoughts don’t become clearer as the pain eases, the moments when the migraine isn’t striking simply start to seem indifferent to the moment’s it is. The uniform red network of lines and dots begin to blur along with the flickering arcs of electricity. Meaningless static begins to fill your brain, uncontroversial and interesting both to you and the migraine. Slowly, your mind begins to feel numb, the pain drifting away.

If there was some definition of life that you still fit in, you can feel yourself slowly drifting away from it… or more likely your mutual friend is pulling you from it, before something known only to god rips you away.

>Keep yourself focused, uncover something before you die. (Roll 3d6+3, and write in any ideas as to what’s going on to better your odds.)
>You’ve done what you could. Try and think of something comforting, and accept the closest you can get to peace. (Feel free to suggest Gabby’s final thoughts.)
>>
Rolled 3, 1, 4 + 3 = 11 (3d6 + 3)

>>4823189
>Keep yourself focused, uncover something before you die. (Roll 3d6+3, and write in any ideas as to what’s going on to better your odds.)
Fuck it. We've felt the vortessence multiple times, we've even tied ourselves to a vortigaunt's mind and become one with him in the past.
We should try to uncover a way to tap into the vortessence in our final moments, imprint our conciousness on it. Or at least our memories.
He's confident, and he left. This may be our best chance to do something even he wouldn't expect.
>>
Rolled 2, 6, 5 = 13 (3d6)

>>4823189
>Keep yourself focused, uncover something before you die. (Roll 3d6+3, and write in any ideas as to what’s going on to better your odds.)
G-man is trying to turn us into a sort of puppet or drone by making us disassociate. We need to focus on ourselves and use the electrical energy for ourselves
>>
Rolled 3, 6, 3 + 3 = 15 (3d6 + 3)

>>4823189
>Keep yourself focused, uncover something before you die. (Roll 3d6+3, and write in any ideas as to what’s going on to better your odds.)
>>
I'm sorry for not being clear in the prompt, I should have said more than just "roll 3d6,", but I was intending on having the roll be called for after the vote, and being done in the old method of best 3d6 out of 4. Would anyone object to me taking one d6 out of each sequentially (First from first, second from second, third from third), and taking a final roll of a d6 for the fourth?
>>
>>4824379
its been a long while so i forgot
my bad g
>>
Taking three sequential dice, the current the roll is 3+6+3, plus a static three. If anyone would like to roll a final d6, even if it means rolling a second time, then if it's better than any of the rolls I'll put it in.
>>4824488
Don't worry about it. I probably should have recognized that it's been a while as well and explained things over, and also should've checked the thread earlier instead of letting two other people roll the same way as well before saying anything.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d6)

>>4824537
my tentative second roll, ignore it if someone else comes along
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>4824537
>>
>>4823268
>>4823659
>>4824239
>>4825058
>>4825531
>Keep yourself focused, uncover something before you die. (Roll 3d6+3, and write in any ideas as to what’s going on to better your odds.)
>15

Since joining the CIA you’ve known it’s a myth that the only privacy is in your head, and it’s for that same reason you’ve spent the last decade of your life turning your head into a fortress. That decade isn’t going to waste, he isn’t winning this, you tell yourself. Dead or not, you have a right to your own head. Every thought feels like a struggle as you think of a way out. You recognize that green electricity, having been on either end of it’s combat effectiveness, and more importantly, its connection to the mind of your vortal allies, and it was arcing off the device you found in the ruins of the anomalous materials laboratory. If there’s anything still connecting your mind to the real world, it’s through that damn electricity.

As your head feels foggy, and clouded, you for the first time try to “move,” if you can even call it movement with no body. The entire universe seems to lurch around you, as your increasingly scattered thoughts spill in the direction of the electricity, almost scraping against the dimension around you, while each and every one of the glowing crimson glares suddenly flares brighter, the networks seeming to pulse, hitting you with another thump of pain, this time without the stark white after image.

The migraine clamps down on your mind, and for a brief second, you feel a phantom sensation of your brain stem, clenched by a thousand needles, but it’s not there’s no body to seize, alone in your head. The thumping pain grows more and more rapidly as you smear your mind across this realm, getting closer and closer to touching the electrical anomaly, occasional white glares of light flickering through your vision. You’re barely even able to remember why you’re doing this, pushing through the rapidly increasing pain as more and more meaningless information is flooding into your brain.

The migraine begins to cram down even harder, and pain searing in your head as every single one of the red glares seems to stare you down, but even with your mind in it’s muddled, dissolved state, you’re still able to understand that this is your only chance to get out of this grand plan you’re being sacrificed for. As you’re once again struck by the afterimage, your thoughts barely recovering this time, you hear something loudly echoing in the distance.
(cont.)
>>
>>4825773
(cont.)
“VITAL ALERT.” Something distant seems to echo, coming from both within and without your own mind, from every one of the crimson glares in a chorus, the distinction between your own thoughts and the network of red becoming blurrer by the second. “INTERNAL BIOTIC RESISTANCE DETECTED.” You’ve heard that voice before, and you know it’s watching you, like giving the twisted conscience of the migraine an internal monologue. Pain sears down on you, but the numbing of your mind negates it, the pain dull as your own ability to process what’s going on anymore.

Before you, you simply see a flickering blurry mess of red, black, and green lights, remembering only that you need to approach the green light, to understand it, and to use it. All the growing arcs of electricity spark out from an infinitesimally small point. Every thought that isn’t dissolved by the numbing of your own mind feels as though it’s been surgically excised by the prison surrounding you, barely able to hold on to anything but the pavlovian instinct your mind is left with, but thankfully some primitive part of your sedated brain has grown to recognize this infinitesimal, to see it as a safe haven from the constant, thumping pain of the migraine.

Your mind is crushed and battered more and more by the migraine, but like a starving animal, you keep pushing through it, the information static having overwritten so much of your mind that you barely understand how this can save you, just that it has to, pushing yourself through, squeezing as the migraine tries to rip you back in. You struggle harder and harder against the migraine, pushing through the constant pain, your only senses being pain, and the constant cracling green surrounding you on all sides, like the event horizon of a black hole enveloping you… until all in a shorter moment, the pain begins to let off, as well as the numbing.

The green remains all around you, your thoughts and vision still blurred and confused, but in the muddy lights up ahead, you see something red stare directly at you, only to feel yourself being pulled, away from the migraine, through the bright green tunnel, and then a plane of inky blackness. Exhausted, confused, and in an immense amount of pain, you barely register that something’s dragging you away, even as the migraine still clings to you like the tentacles of an octopus, kicking you over and over again as you begin to process where you’ve ended up.
(cont.1)
>>
>>4825774
(cont.1)
Your vision is still pitch black, but you can’t bring yourself to be concerned about that, as for the first time since you died, you hear a sound. Many sounds, some of them words familiar but incomprehensible, but with your mind exhausted, your head throbbing, you don’t think too deeply on it, but the first one you hear is accompanied by the feeling of electrical shocks in one's hands, a deep, pained grunt ripping through clenched teeth while a warbled crackling sound resonates through the hand. When the pain and sound is over, something plastic is left in clenched palms. You feel like you know something about this, but you’re far too tired to fight the migraine over your right to think about it. Silenced gunshots crack in an orchestra, drowned out by the whup-whup-whup of spinning helicopter blades, and accompanied by more warbled electrical crackling, and a loud, ear piercing ringing.

You recognize men shouting “Keep it moving!” and “Liftoff in thirty seconds!” You feel something tight, and constraining over your face… no, not your face, it’s lips move without your command. You’re certain you should recognize his voice, but your mind is blurry, muddy, and confused, and even listening to it brings about another kick from the migraine, that brings an unexpected wince to the man’s face.

“I pay my taxes, can’t I get a comfier bag?” Suddenly, as the male voice says this, he’s shoved into a hard seat. Old instinct tries moving limbs that you feel as if they were your own, to turn the force of the shove against the one pushing, only for the limbs not to listen, the arms bound by something plastic regardless. Another incomprehensible set of words is uttered by a gravel voiced man, and the world begins to shift around you as something moves. You feel yourself ascending, turning, and ascellerating for a solid few moments, before suddenly every other sound is drowned out by a boom.

[CONTINUED IN THE EPILOGUE]
>>
I still can't believe I've been writing this quest for more than a year now. Before I get to writing the epilogue, I just want to say thanks again for reading this insanity so far guys.
>>
>>4826215
>A year
Is it really that time again?
>>
>>4825777
Oh Guttman, we've put a lot of pressure on you.
>>
Since the epilogue might take a little while, I'd like to ask you guys if there's anything you'd like to see in the epilogue in terms of certain characters or other entities , so you know where they end up before the possible next chapter of the quest. It won't go more than a week or so in time past the Black Mesa Incident.
>>
>>4827595
Definitely want a status update on our vortal allies and their previous masters.
Our handler getting the care package we sent with riley would also be good...
Wonder if they think we're dead, or if they've got agents looking for us to make sure of it due to the fact that we let several civilians in on state secrets.
>>
>>4827595
Well, Kleiner and Eli are a given, some info on our crew would be nice, especially Mari and Reilly. Also was there any butterfly effect with Shephard? We never got to read his diary, the one time G-man is called G-man
>>
>>4827595
I'd like to see what Gordon and Barney are up to
>>
Apologies for how long the epilogue is taking guys. Anxieties about creating a good ending are slowing me down, and work isn't helping this week.
>>
>>4832003
Don't worry, think about it this way, only a few qms actually get to write an epilogue, you already went through the hard part.
>>
File: blackhawkcrash.jpg (34 KB, 920x541)
34 KB
34 KB .jpg
Since the full epilogue is taking forever, I'm gonna start posting the earlier parts of the epilogue day by day. Let me know what you guys think.
>>4833021
I appreciate the patience man, thanks. I hadn't thought of that.
https://youtu.be/ejpfFX4mugI
Dr. Richard Guttman’s head pounds as he picks himself off the ground, broken ribs stabbing him with pain with every movement. Pieces of metal stab through him, blood rolling down his head as he yanks a black-fatigued body, the only one he could even hope to remove from the warped nest of buckled metal and burning fuel, out of the crashed helicopter. Immediately as the body drops down against ruined pavement does he check for breathing- then a pulse, then he begins to press down on the pilot’s chest, compressing over and over against the protests of his own body. The neurologist begins to feel dizzy as blood spills from his head, thankfully sheltered from the freezing chill of the desert night by the raging inferno of the

After a minute or two of desperately trying to get the dead pilot to breathe, the doctor simply leans back, straining in pain with every breath. Exhausted and defeated, he looks out to the desert around him, seeing nothing but arid shrubbery, and distant mesas, including the one he had left behind. Black Mesa towers above him, it’s nearby ground level entrance feeling like a doorway into hell, where glowing tracer rounds, the lightning-like flash of artillery shells, and alien energies glow visibly in the night. The blasts ripple through the air, mixing in with the chirping of crickets, and extraterrestrial calls of interdimensional creatures, but underneath all of it, Dr. Guttman suddenly hears a voice, faint at first, chalking it up to symptoms of a concussion, before he hears it again.

The neurologist approaches the blazing wreck of the black hawk, still unsure of whether the voice was real or not, but fearing that it’s familiar owner might be trapped within the inferno. With every step closer, the roaring fire feels a thousand times hotter, until the wind suddenly changes direction, forcing him back away as the fire licks at his skin. The voice however, doesn’t stop, whispering something once again, and this time, he makes out the word “down” repeating. Not sure what it means, he looks around, glancing down to where the bent rotor has stabbed into the arid soil, seeing sparks of green electricity arc off the ground and up the metall, and at the center of those arcs is a small chunk of plastic, slowly melting in the intense heat. Quickly, Guttman reaches down, burning his hand as he grabs the device, wincing and clenching his teeth before he quickly throws it away from the fire, the cold outside chilling it quickly, before moving away from the fire himself, grabbing at his bleeding head. He sits down, sandwiched in a comfortable spot between the blaze and the frigid night.
(cont.)
>>
>>4834206
(cont.)
“Three eight four point nine five” The sound of a female voice suddenly runs through Guttman's mind, like a thought so vivid one almost fails to recognize their own internal monologue. He darts his vision around him again, before he realizes he sees nothing, and starts to look towards his own injuries, searching for anything the dead pilot might have to save the living, pulling off a bleeder pack before he hears the same words again. “Three eight four nine five.”

As he unravels a set of bandages, starting to ignore what any sane man would assume are hallucinations, he spots a radio on the chest of the dead pilot, with a simple led display reading “386.72.” He stares at it for a moment, hearing the familiar female voice in his head once again, and grabs the radio, setting the channel until he hears a drone of static, and then once again hears the voice of Oppenheimer, listing off numbers in a slow, droning tone. Pulling off a small dust cover, he moves switches until they align with the list of numbers, until he suddenly hears a male voice, this one garbled by the radio.

“Day word?” The anonymous man says, yet neither Gutmann, nor the hallucinations of Gabby’s voice seem to have a response.

He hangs silent for a moment, before simply saying, “I’m not an agent, I’m a neurologist, my name is Dr. Richard Guttman.”

“This is a secure channel. Unlawfully accessing this network is a federal crime.” The voice responds. “Your transmission will be tracked.”

“I’m at the base of the Black Mesa research facility. I worked with agents Oppenheimer, Poskanzer, and Reilly,”

The last two sentences on the line were, “Stay where you are.” Followed by a clattering of a headset being taken off, then “Get in contact with Agent Reilly.” Afterwards, the line goes silent, but within a fraction of the hour, a distant sound of helicopter rotors echoes in the night, growing rapidly louder and louder until a glaring white light slams into his eyes, fading away to show him a spotlight mounted on a jet black MH-6, with a GAU-19 pointed in his direction. Then, all of it lowers as a black, female silhouette in the helicopter shouts “That’s him.”
[CONTINUED TOMORROW]
>>
>>4834208
Ghost Cop has retroactively become foreshadowing, or was it always foreshadowing?
>>
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>>4834275
>or was it always foreshadowing?
I wish I had that kind of foresight man.

Hours later, a unit clad in black stares over the battlefield, a radio-protected Black Hawk carrying them over an irradiated pit, one that used to be the location of the anomalous materials labs. As they fly over the pit, one of them shouts out “USMC, 276,” eliciting a flurry of gunfire from an M240, sending tracers down towards the pit. The marines scramble for cover, one of their own men getting dropped quickly by the first burst. The shots continue back and forth, what little small arms fire the marines can put out often failing to connect, or bouncing off the armor.

The helicopter rapidly begins to descend into the pit, it’s pilot shouting “Thirty minutes until detonation. Regroup at twenty.” Ropes slip down into the floor of rubble, men and women clad in black hazmat suits rapidly descending, their geiger counter going from a tick to a rapid screech. With only hand signals, the operatives split off into squads of four, sweeping across the crater as the helicopter ascends. Advanced thermal optics makes any attempt at hiding in the rubble futile. Marines trekking across the rubble in the desperate hope of an escape route are gunned down by aerial machine gun fire and precisely aimed bursts of MP5SDs.

After the initial fighting has died down, the operatives are left to jog across the rubble, scanning with weapon mounted flashlights and advanced thermal optics. The first sign of life they find other than cockroaches and burnt alien flesh is a vortigaunt. The creature begins to crawl its way out of the rubble at the sight of the CIA, only to have a boot put on its neck, and a trigger pulled. The creature dies a freed vort, even with a collar on his neck.

Deep in the center of the rubble, the radiation is intense enough to push geiger counters over their limit The operatives dare not go their, and with even a look its easy to tell nothing lives. The concrete and metal that hasn’t vaporized or boiled melted down, and rehardened into a smooth plane of radioactive alloy. Having quickly covered the “safe” area around it, they circle up and up towards the lip, finding more freed and lost aliens, or the occasional human corpse, most dead from the initial blastwave.

However, as their twenty minute timer runs its course, one of the operatives suddenly signals a halt, then points. Quickly and quietly, the group moves in, moving rubble and debris out of the way until they spot wrinkled silver, covering a twitching leg. The group quickly pulls out the rest of the unknown human figure, first unveiling the head, wiping away caked dust to reveal a middle aged face under a protective visor. With all the movement and disturbance, the man’s begun to awaken, immediately faced with the end of a suppressed USP.
(cont.)
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>>4836259
(cont.)
The man’s eyes go wide, and adrenaline jumps into his veins. Dr. Arne Magnusson scrambles back, stuttering and tripping over his words in fear while the gun tracks his head. Running from up above, a female voice muffled by a gas mask shouts “Hold fire! Hold fire!” breaking the disciplined silence of the operation. The anonymous agent of the CIA pulls their finger off the trigger, and lowers it slightly, still leaving the barrel pointing towards Magnusson’s chest. “Take him in for questioning.” Commands Marietya Poskanzer.

“Better have a good reason.” The agent responds. “No time to call an extract detail.”

“If Oppenheimer’s dead, then he’ll be able to explain what happened here.” She responds. “He was working to fix it himself before our team arrived.”

The agent nods, and lowers his gun. As Marietta sternly commands Dr. Magnusson on his every action, Heisenberg descends early to pull the physicist up. Meanwhile, the squad makes their final, depressing sweep, finding no more signs of human life. With a swift haste, the unit returns to heisenberg, raising up to the hovering black hawk on rappel ropes. Even as the last operative is still pulling himself into the helicopter, Heisenberg tilts his nose hard forwards, increasing rotor power hard. The helicopter quickly ascends, beelining away from the facility, moving inline with the winds as the co-pilot reads, “Eight minutes until detonation. Push Vne.”

As Heisenberg nods, and tilts the nose further, Magnusson asks through a hastily made blinds created by taping over his hazard suits visor, “Detonation?” There’s no response. The entire helicopter is silent, with the exceptions of the pilots own communications, until suddenly the copilot says, “Everyone shut curtains, and make sure you’re strapped well, rides about to get bumpy.”
Magnusson sits silent, processing for a moment, before suddenly saying, “Dear god... “ The squad suddenly eyes him as he speaks blind. “Do you have any consideration of how much a nuclear explosive could exacerbate this situation?!” Having started in his usual arrogant tone, but is beginning to scream, straining his voice. “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU COULD DO!” He starts to push himself forwards, fighting against kevlar restraints. The operative nearest to him places his hand on the physicist's chest, and then asks his commander “Permission to incapacitate?”

Before anyone is able to respond, Heisenberg warns, “Instruments out, hol-” the pilot shuts up as the helicopter noses forwards against his own will, a deafening burst of air leaving the ears of every human within the helicopter deafened and ringing. Had their ears still worked, the agents might hear the massive roar of the atomic shockwave, accompanied by bright white light peaking from the protective curtains over every window.
(cont.)
>>
>>4836261
Once again, apologies for how slow the epilogue is moving.
(cont.)
Heisenberg grunts as he struggles with the stick, yanking the nose back up, and controlling the spin as megatons of force gust past the blackhawk. As instruments return to life, they immediately begin beeping and warning, altitude, pitch, speed, all thrown into havoc.

“Remove curtain!” Heisenberg shouts loudly as he struggles with the controls. His copilot quickly pulls the protective curtain open, showing the helicopter speeding over the ground, losing altitude. Yet just the same as the shockwave nearly slammed them into the ground did the mushroom cloud save them, sucking in millions of tons of air and dust from the desert, pushing back against the helicopters’ speed, and letting heisenberg pull up. Letting out a huge breath, he announces to the squad behind him. “We are clear of the blast, five by five. Home in forty minutes.”

The squad of operatives all let out their own sights of relief, but Magnusson’s nerves don’t release. “Dear god.” Magnusson shouts, his hands visibly shaking. [i[“They’ll know. They’ll see us.[/i] Dear god what have you done. Wh-what have I done… what have…” He takes in a deep, shaking breath. “They’ll know.”

The operative throws up a hand, signalling him to stop. “Who will know?”

Magnusson brings his shaking hands up to either sides of his head. “I don’t know.”
[CONTINUED TOMORROW]
>>
Actually, it won't be continued tomorrow. While I was writing the epilogue, I decided it might be a good idea to give you guys some control on the world building up to a possible sequel, and if I did I wouldn't be able to continue writing the epilogue until after the choice was made, so I'll post it today.
It felt as though it was another lifetime when Dr. Isaac Kleiner found it normal to be at a desk at four in the morning. Studying, theorizing, calculating, even grading, all held him awake until birds chirped the next morning, back in simpler years working for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before the other day he would’ve told himself it was simply nostalgia and dismissed the feeling, but now the only way he could shake the regret was the calming distraction of physics calculations.

He took another sip of his coffee, not sure wether or not his hands were shaking because of the chill of the air’s room or the thoughts in the back of his mind sticking like cancer. New readings had been brought in to his makeshift library of recovered Black Mesa texts and satellite readings, and so here the physicist was calculating what that meant for a warzone, his eyes hurting as he stared at the massive spreadsheet of numbers on a computer, plugging them in to complex formulas on paper. Every time he carried a digit, a voice in Kleiner’s head reminded him that digit meant human lives, hundreds, then thousands, then billions as the numbers grow larger in his notebook.


The numbers grow intense, bringing Kleiner to check both his calculations and the models over and over again, getting more and more frantic. Eventually, he sets down his pen, and just stares at the paper for a few minutes, occasionally glancing to the models to confirm before he sighs and stands up, convinced that these numbers can’t be showing him the full picture. Sore muscles held together by stitches and bandages carry him across the room, towards the door, however before he has a chance to open it a man a whole two decades younger than kleiner enters the room.

The man nods solemnly as he holds a brown packet of data in his hands. “Dr. Kleiner!” Dr. Wallace Breen exclaims. “I see you’re still awake as well. We’re all nervous in these hours I’m sure.”

Kleiner first looks through Wallace, then past him as he replies, “Indeed. Have you seen the data we’ve been sent recently? It seems there must’ve been some sort of error. Some of the energy readings they’ve sent us would have a considerable effect on the astronomical balance of the Solar System.”
(cont.)
>>
>>4836401
(cont.)
Wallace blinks his eyes wide, drawing his head back slightly as if in awe. “Truly fascinating Dr. Kleiner. I caution you to not make any hasty judgements about the value of our benefactors in US intelligence reporting skills. We’re entering a new age of scientific endeavor with this data, there’s much we’re yet to understand.”

“I still fear it may be possible that we are deliberately not being granted complete information.”

Breen waves his fingers, dismissing the thought. As he speaks, he begins to walk towards Kleiners desk. Kleiner reluctantly follows. “I have had long conversations with the men and women handling these covert operations teams. I can assure you that they are of the highest expertise, and that any information being removed from the picture is strictly unnecessary towards furthering our research.” Dr. Breen places the packet of information on Kleiner’s desk. “Speaking of which I’ve come here to discuss rather serious matters. The administrators in the CIA who have done so much to aid in the survival of our staff have chosen to soften the blow of these events for the american public.” Dr. Breen opens the docket of information, revealing a title, accompanied by a lying seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
(cont.)
>>
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(cont.)
There's no hiding a nuclear blast. A cover story is necessary, which leaves a grim choice for the central intelligence agency, because the american people will want blood.
I've provided you guys with some out of character knowledge here, because I want you guys to pick what sounds more like an interesting story rather than simply what sounds best. Feel free to make other suggestions as well, or ask for more metaknowledge.

>“INVOLVEMENT OF US BASED MERCENARY COMPANIES FUNDED BY UNKNOWN FORREIGN AFFILIATE IN THE BLACK MESA INCIDENT.”
Expect backdoor deals, corporate espionage, and lots and lots of scapegoats. Other defense contractors will gain an interest in the black mesa incident.
>”INVOLVEMENT OF CITIZEN MILITIA GROUPS IN THE SUPPLYING AND HARBORING OF BLACK MESA INCIDENT PERPETRATORS.”
America eats itself alive, entrenching militia groups, going so far as to declare some small towns sovereign. Number one, that’s terror.
>”CONSPIRACY OF UNITED STATES CONGRESSMEN’S ROLE IN BLACK MESA ATTEMPTED NUCLEAR COUP.”
Pause of american democracy as the news and public institute a witch hunt, and executive powers take hold of the federal and state governments.
>>
>>4827621
>>4827662
>>4827740
And just to be clear, I will get to all of these best I can, this isn't the end of the epilogue or anything, I just think it might be good to break up the text walls with some choices.
>>
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>>4836410
>“INVOLVEMENT OF US BASED MERCENARY COMPANIES FUNDED BY UNKNOWN FORREIGN AFFILIATE IN THE BLACK MESA INCIDENT.”
Mercenary companies, you say? And other defense contractors?
At the very least, Cave Johnson and his company are fully canon. But I'll admit to a hankering for a little bit of the absurdity of Mann Co and the shenanigans of certain teams.
>>
>>4836410
>”CONSPIRACY OF UNITED STATES CONGRESSMEN’S ROLE IN BLACK MESA ATTEMPTED NUCLEAR COUP.”
Pause of american democracy as the news and public institute a witch hunt, and executive powers take hold of the federal and state governments.
>>
>>4836410
>“INVOLVEMENT OF US BASED MERCENARY COMPANIES FUNDED BY UNKNOWN FORREIGN AFFILIATE IN THE BLACK MESA INCIDENT.”
>>
>>4836432
I've honestly been considering running a sort of mann-co heist quest after this one for a little bit now, though I won't make any promises.
>>4836889
>>4837002
I'm gonna give you guys more choices in the epilogue, it's honestly just more fun to write for this with you guys involved.
>“INVOLVEMENT OF US BASED MERCENARY COMPANIES FUNDED BY UNKNOWN FORREIGN AFFILIATE IN THE BLACK MESA INCIDENT.”
“And now a shocking update on the situation surrounding Gallup and its surrounding areas. In a somber announcement from the national guard, reports of a nuclear detonation over the Black Mesa atomic storage center were confirmed.” The newscaster goes silent for a second, staring into the camera. “The FBI has confirmed the bomb used in the detonation was one of the ones stored in the facility after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, and there is no word yet from the military. A press meeting from the President is expected tomorrow at six PM mountain time reporting soon to be declassified information and soothing the nation.”

Barney Calhoun watches this report while sitting at a seedy bar, keeping his head low while rapidly eating a greasy sandwich on stale bread, letting an over-poured beer sit half empty. The hand not on his sandwich rapidly twitches and shakes, only occasionally scratching at his chin where a five o’clock shadow has begun to grow. He stares absently across the bar while chewing a bite, before a fat old man nudges him on the side.

“You believe any of this shit?” The man says, pulling a finger off his foamy drink. “I’ve been keeping up with it.”

“No.” Barney says, pulling his head back up. “Least not the official story. Whole country’s crazy. Usually I can't even watch it but I got friends... .” Barney catches himself, then says, “Pushed out of their places in New Mexico over all this.”

“Damn.” The jolly old man takes another sip of his beer. “Kinda friends are these?”

“Just drinking buddies and colleagues,” Barney smiles, and takes a sip out of his own beer, “They were the kinda guys you get into all heaps of shit with.”

The old man chuckles, before he looks to the newscast, which is now showing a display of fallout over a map of New Mexico. “No point watchin’ the news these days. Tell you there’s shit going on they’re not telling us.”
(cont.)
>>
>>4838633
(cont.)
“You’re preaching to the choir pal.” Is all Barney says.

The man starts nodding, taking another sip. “Smart kid. Tell you what they’re not talking about man. Bilderbergs. See, the FBI, they were doing research into private armies when all this craziness started. They started seein’ all these training operations modeled after the plant. They were training to attack Black Mesa”

“Where’d you hear about this?”

“Buddy o’mine writes his own newspaper. Got his own sources.”

Barney just says, “Huh. Well do me a favor next time you see him and ask him about it. What’s ughhh…”

“An update on the investigation following armed fugitives fleeing the Gallup area, who are now believed to be closely connected to the Black Mesa nuclear attack. Following the arrest of Dr. Rosenberg, detectives have pieced together sketches of the three remaining suspects.” The three pictures pull up on screen, one of whom is captioned with the name “Barney Calhoun.” \

After a few seconds, most of the bar staff, and a few customers are looking at him. With a hand on his pistol, Calhoun sets down his sandwich, throws what little money he has in his pocket down onto the bar, and quickly walks away, quickly striding out of the bar, and towards an SUV he had hastily spray painted black a few days ago. He wastes no time starting the engine before he pulls out of the parking lot and drives northwards.
(cont.)
>>
>>4838635
(cont.)
Among too many bruises and cuts new and old, Vance’s own knuckles still hurt after being hurried away from Breen’s “meeting.” A shouting match had let his anger at Dr. Breen slow boil into a deafening shouting match, not with Breen of course, as the patient bureaucrat had sat still and silent while a suited CIA operative demanded Vance sit down. He had no intention of hurting anyone until he finally began to simmer down, and in a brief moment of silence, Dr. Breen interjected, “I sense a sort of… selfish emotional reaction to this plan Dr. Vance. If you would like we could discuss further i-”

For a few seconds as he watched the bureaucrat twirl towards the ground from an emotional punch, he felt as if god had reinvigorated him in order to bring down heaven’s wrath. Then, two suited men tackled vance to the ground, dragged him away as he shouted “You damn weasel Breen! You ordered the test! My little girl-” Was all he could say before everything went dark with a kick to the face. It took so much to get a man like Dr. Vance angry, and after all the pain that the last few days had brought, the camel’s back broke like a dam.

The physicist later awoke here, in a silent concrete room with nothing but a security camera and two chairs, waiting alone in the room. At first, his pride ran high, making him feel almost invincible until the feeling slowly drains as he thinks of his daughter, of the kind of people he’s surrounded by. As the clock ticked, Vance slowly began to curse himsel, feeling like a damn fool for hitting Breen. He felt like he was trapped between two separate hells, risk his and his daughter’s safety trying to fight for Azian’s memory, or let the CIA run off blaming it all on nebulous corporate entities. “Mercenaries funded by anonymous offshore accounts,” was the words Dr. Breen had relayed to Vance, and apparently soon, it would be relayed to the whole country. They wouldn’t know, may never know what really happened at Black Mesa.

Dr. Vance’s anger turned to sadness, his limbs began to shake, until he took a deep breath closed his eyes, and turned his chin up to the ceiling, quietly began praying to himself, calming his nerves as he tried to think ahead for the coming weeks. After about fiteen minutes a well dressed man in a suit walked into the room, and by then, Vance had made a decision.

>Cooperate fully with the CIA, take no chances with attempting to flee or telling the truth.
>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for asylum.
>>
>>4838633
(cont.)
“You’re preaching to the choir pal.” Is all Barney says.

The man starts nodding, taking another sip. “Smart kid. Tell you what they’re not talking about man. Bilderbergs. See, the FBI, they were doing research into private armies when all this craziness started. They started seein’ all these training operations modeled after the plant. They were training to attack Black Mesa”

“Where’d you hear about this?”

“Buddy o’mine writes his own newspaper. Got his own sources.”

Barney just says, “Huh. Well do me a favor next time you see him and ask him about it. What’s ughhh…”

“An update on the investigation following armed fugitives fleeing the Gallup area, who are now believed to be closely connected to the Black Mesa nuclear attack. Following the arrest of Dr. Rosenberg, detectives have pieced together sketches of the three remaining suspects.” The three pictures pull up on screen, one of whom is captioned with the name “Barney Calhoun.” \

After a few seconds, most of the bar staff, and a few customers are looking at him. With a hand on his pistol, Calhoun sets down his sandwich, throws what little money he has in his pocket down onto the bar, and quickly walks away, quickly striding out of the bar, and towards an SUV he had hastily spray painted black a few days ago. He wastes no time starting the engine before he pulls out of the parking lot and drives northwards.
[Epilogue Continued.]
>>
>>4838644
Among too many bruises and cuts new and old, Vance’s own knuckles still hurt after being hurried away from Breen’s “meeting.” A shouting match had let his anger at Dr. Breen slow boil into a deafening shouting match, not with Breen of course, as the patient bureaucrat had sat still and silent while a suited CIA operative demanded Vance sit down. He had no intention of hurting anyone until he finally began to simmer down, and in a brief moment of silence, Dr. Breen interjected, “I sense a sort of… selfish emotional reaction to this plan Dr. Vance. If you would like we could discuss further i-”

For a few seconds as he watched the bureaucrat twirl towards the ground from an emotional punch, he felt as if god had reinvigorated him in order to bring down heaven’s wrath. Then, two suited men tackled vance to the ground, dragged him away as he shouted “You damn weasel Breen! You ordered the test! My little girl-” Was all he could say before everything went dark with a kick to the face. It took so much to get a man like Dr. Vance angry, and after all the pain that the last few days had brought, the camel’s back broke like a dam.

The physicist later awoke here, in a silent concrete room with nothing but a security camera and two chairs, waiting alone in the room. At first, his pride ran high, making him feel almost invincible until the feeling slowly drains as he thinks of his daughter, of the kind of people he’s surrounded by. As the clock ticked, Vance slowly began to curse himsel, feeling like a damn fool for hitting Breen. He felt like he was trapped between two separate hells, risk his and his daughter’s safety trying to fight for Azian’s memory, or let the CIA run off blaming it all on nebulous corporate entities. “Mercenary company Integral-US funded by anonymous offshore accounts,” was the words Dr. Breen had relayed to Vance, and apparently soon, it would be relayed to the whole country. They wouldn’t know, may never know what really happened at Black Mesa, instead, the same government that had both ordered him dead and saved his life would use black mesa to wage a fake war against an imaginary enemy, and if vance didn't agree to be their actor, who knows what the CIA would do.

Dr. Vance’s anger turned to sadness, his limbs began to shake, until he took a deep breath closed his eyes, and turned his chin up to the ceiling, quietly began praying to himself, calming his nerves as he tried to think ahead for the coming weeks. After about fiteen minutes a well dressed man in a suit walked into the room, and by then, Vance had made a decision.

>Cooperate fully with the CIA, take no chances with attempting to flee or telling the truth.
>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for protection.
>>
>>4838662
>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for protection.
>>
>>4838662
>>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for protection.
>>
>>4838662
>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for protection.
>>
Apologies guys, I won't be able to put out an update today, work got in the way.
>>
>>4839200
>>4839315
>>4840369
>At the earliest possible opportunity, take Alyx and try to get out of the country, possibly sharing secrets in exchange for protection.

Vance had already calmed himself when- in the stead of an interrogator, first came a man he recognized as a psychologist named Strauber, walking in with a wide, comforting smile. “How’s it going Dr. Vance?” He asks, as if nothing had happened. Over the next few hours, the psychologist talks to him, and Vance tells the doctor everything he thinks the CIA wants to hear, that he intends to comply, that the stresses of the past few days had gotten to him, and it seems as if the psychologist fully understands the assault of Dr. Breen. After a while, he tells Dr. Vance, “I think I’ve learned a lot here Dr. Vance. Let me talk to someone about getting those handcuffs off.“

“Thank you.” Vance says, not at all grateful for the CIA returning the freedom they took. “I think I’d like to talk to my daughter for a while.”

The psychologist, who was about to poke his head out of the room, holds up a hand as if to slow him. “I think there will have to be some discussion before then.”

“Discussion?” He nearly shouts, before calming himself, remembering who he’s talking to. “She needs to talk to me, do you know what she’s just been through?”

“I think it might be best to maintain some isolation for a while to ensure there aren’t any rash decisions made.” The psychologist says, before finally poking his head out of the door and speaking to an agent outside. The operative enters the room without a word, and swiftly undoes the handcuffs around Vance’s wrists before walking out. The psychologist smiles briefly, before saying, “We’ll give you some time to think things through,” and leaving through the heavy metal door.
(cont.)
>>
>>4842842
(cont.)
Vance is left alone in the silent room. At first he expects someone to return after a few minutes to ‘discuss’ things further, but instead he’s left alone in the room for hours, given no human contact, even until Vance’s eyes begin to feel heavy. Every footstep outside the hall seems to echo in his own head at the promise of some opportunity. Dr. Vance begins to wonder whether they somehow already know he plans to dessert the place. Worries begin to creep back up on him. What were these people doing with his daughter? What were they going to do to him? Eli’s nerves haunt him even as he eventually passes out in a cold metal chair, reliving a twisted memoriam of the last few days in his dreams.

Meanwhile, in the hushed upper echelons of the pentagon, military officials are scouring New Mexico for the remains of an evacuated division. Thousands of HECU marines, each and every one of them holding classified information that could dissolve the stability of american democracy. Without a word from United States intelligence, the men were gone, alongside numerous operatives of the ISA. It was a mad scramble to found the disappearing HECU division, with officers and the ISA tripping over itself in the search. Meanwhile, every report on the subject the CIA sent left the military chasing down wild geese during the precious days they had before the marine’s possibly reached the press, or worse; foreign intelligence. From the pentagon’s point of view, they were running through a maze where the walls changed whenever they weren’t looking, and they went nowhere. That was true until weeks later, a meeting in a closed room took place between two individuals, one representing “Intraverse Electronics,” and the other representing Joint Special Operations Command.

While the department of defense ran through the labyrinth blindfolded, Dr. Vance was looking for any hole out of his prison, but instead of a rat-hole, he met a rat who had once gone by the name Shaffner, revealed by Agent Oppenheimer to really be Martin Holland, a corporate spy planted in Black Mesa. Held by the CIA just as the rest of them were, Holland was looking for an ally in getting out, especially as the CIA pried information from him, cutting through his discretion like butter. As Vance regained his freedoms, Holland had learned of the father’s troubles, and came to Eli with promises of freedom.
(cont.)
>>
>>4842843
(cont.)
Both nervous and skeptical, Vance kept his distance initially, looking for other options, but finding none. After the second day in a row without seeing his daughter, Vance began to work with Holland. While Holland was nowhere near as experienced in subterfuge as the CIA, he knew surveillance, and where it’s holes were. Over the course of weeks, the two combined their skills, Holland finding cracks in the security, while Vance peeled apart the computers he had been allowed for the sake of research, getting Kleiner, and a few other rescued scientists he could trust in on the conspiracy at the same time. The group, lead by an increasingly paranoid and tired Dr. Vance slowly pieced together an electronic computer system right underneath the CIA’s nose, using an encryption system that not even the message’s receiver should’ve been able to decode, which Holland insisted would not be a problem. After a few weeks, they managed to send an encrypted message to Holland’s employers- “Intraverse Electronics.”

Without a decryption key, neither the receivers at Intraverse nor any potential listeners should’ve been able to read the conspirator’s message to Intraverse, yet both of these two groups were able to decode the message with ease.

Behind closed doors, only a few details would ever be recorded about the JSOC-Intraverse meeting, such as the names of the two men who met, Commander Bryan D. Brown and CEO Skitch Fletcher, the latter of whom was a billionaire defense contractor and former head of Aperture Science’s computing research department, and the latter of whom was the commander of JSOC. The two men walked out with an agreement. Commander Brown held in his hand important information, not the location of the missing marines, but where they could find that out, and in return, they had four names to acquire and hand over to Intraverse Electronics, including Martin Holland, Dr. Eli Vance, and Alyx Vance., Isaac Kleiner, among others, as well as a copy of a supposed FBI report that was rapidly approaching it’s official date of publication.

But as a Delta Force unit prepared to assault the Black Site to secure the conspirators, guns were pointed at the scientist’s heads after they were thrown into concrete rooms. The CIA had read the conspirator’s messages as well somehow, and were now ripping out more information with wet rags and threats of death.

[Continued Tomorrow.]
>>
>>4842846
Dang. So Holland got out, what happened to Wells?
>>
Apologies for the slow speed lately again, but I am gonna have to delay the next post until tomorrow, sorry.
>>
Only three hours after that deal was made did a troop of A-Squadron of Delta-Force arrive three miles out of the triangulated coordinates of Holland’s message. Only two men commanders in the department of defense knew about the operation, Commander Brown of JSOC and Commander Bosewick of the ISA, both having skipped the chain of command, directly briefing squad commanders and pilots in New Mexico at Kirtland Air field, while the rest of the pentagon kept on the wild goose chase for the missing HECU division in New Mexico.

Outfitted with ghillie suits and PCVs that Commander Brown had to personally steal from a classified armory in the Pentagon, the troop crawled across the cold desert, the only sounds accompanying their breathing the constant crickets. First contact came an hour after landing. As an unmarked black hawk hovered over the operators, the men sat perfectly still. Surrounded by arid shrubbery, the ghillie suits turn them into another part of the scenery that the helicopter’s light washes over, simply ignoring them. As it leaves them in the dark, the squad glances between each other, suddenly far more concerned about the resources of their enemy. Once the rotors of the helicopter become distant and quiet, they quickly get on their feet and start to move.

The troop slowly approaches a barbed wire fence, staying low as regular patrols of men in full black uniforms, or dodging spotlights. Through the lense of thermal goggles the men spot a flag at half-mast, pulling their goggles up to see stripes and stars. “Grant, these are Americans. Equipment looks ours too. We sure about this?” One of the operators asks.

“Keep quiet.” Major Grant snaps back. “We avoid lethal force as much as possible until we can figure out who we’re dealing with. They could have acquired these weapons illegally.”

“Bullshit.” Another operator replies. “We’re not the ATF.”

“Quiet.” The major says again, before signalling his team forwards, ahead of the rest of the troop. Moving with speed and coordination, they stack up against the fence, covering from a prone position in all directions while a soldier with wire cutters opens the fence up. The men spill through single file into a courtyard, accompanied by other teams moving quickly as possible. Some teams quickly climb the ladders up into the guard towers, quietly attempting to capture the black clad guards hostage until, with no regard for their own lives, make a move on the soldiers, some shouting or others attacking. A few of the teams quickly fire their silenced pistols, silencing the guard before anyone can hear them, or wrestling them to the ground and knocking them unconscious.
(cont.)
>>
>>4846696
(cont.)
One of the operators even took a knife wound, a careful stab between the ribs barely prevented by the PCV. The operator quietly winces as his team holds behind, one of the men quickly treating him with his bleeder pack after a silenced 45 round took the black clad guard down. A few of the men quickly rummaged through dead or unconscious guards, searching for some identification, only to find nothing linking them to any militia, country, or private army.

Increasingly worried, the men begin to push in through the courtyard, past black vehicles, occasionally halting their entire advance as workers grab tools left outside or suited men walk past, speaking into phones or earpieces, with cryptic subjects such as, “Recovered assets,” “conspiring escapists,” and “asset disposal.” During a quiet moment, when the troop is left alone in the vehicle yard, an operator named Espera says, “Gotta be blue on blue. Men in black shit.

“Hold on.” Someone shouts from outside the yard. “Director, perimeters cut. They’re here.”


“Move in quick.” One of the team majors says quietly, signalling all the men to start moving forwards. Lights suddenly come to life, illuminating the entire yard with a loud crack. A few operatives are caught in the bright light for just a second. They try to slip into the dark, but an automated detection system tracks them perfectly. With a thundering bang, a sniper drops one of the men with a precise headshot. The others dive for cover, and start glancing towards where they last saw their teammates, only to see an inky blackness, there eyes having adjusted to the light.

Only one of the teams stops to protect the men held down by a sniper, while the others quickly rush in. Breaching the doors with shotguns and frag grenades, some of the men are instead greeted with automated guns standing tall on tripods that quickly respond to the breach with a hail of five-five-six, mowing down the first man to enter before the ones behind him gun down the stationary target. After turrets drop, men quickly sprint in just as the spotlights, which had just finished off the men in cover, turn towards their position. The troop bolts into the main building, suddenly now facing random workers intermixed with men in black suits. A confusion mess of men shouting and waving guns has the workers throwing their hands into the air, the operators shouting at them to hit the ground, and while the men in suits hold up there hands, they only do so just long enough for the operators to move past or glance towards other units, when they either bolt or pull out their own concealed pistol, killing and operator before they’re gunned down themselves.
(cont.)
>>
>>4846702
(cont.)
From interrogation rooms, where Scientists like Vance and Kleiner are handcuffed, bruised and beaten, shouting can be heard through the walls, loud footsteps, and gunshots. Before Dr. Vance, an agent puts down his “tools of interrogation,” looking behind him as he wonders what’s going on. The agent moves out, leaving Vance alone as the sound of silenced gunshots grows closer and closer, often covered by loud MP5s firing, or a squealing alarm attached to every automated gun turret. As the chaos of war gets closer and closer, Vance’s nerves grow stronger, his muscles shaking as he wonders who the hell Holland’s contacted. Quietly, he shuts his eyes, and begins to pray, practically begging heaven to keep his daughter safe, until suddenly the metal door bursts open, and on it’s other side Vance sees a bloody man dressed in a ghillie suit.

“Identify yourself!” The soldier shouts as he and his team file into the room, now reduced to three men. “IDENTIFY YOURSELF!”

“Eli! My name is Eli Vance!” He shouts, closing his eyes as he prepares to be shot, only to feel a strong grip pull him to his feet by his shoulders.

“He’s on the list.” An operator says as he breaks open Vance’s handcuffs. “Move!”

Eli holds his hands in the air as he’s quickly hurried into the hallway, hearing a man shout into the radio, “Custer this is Sherman-One-Acting hostages are in two, we nee-”

“Rear!” One of the operators shouts, bringing Vance’s attention to the rear of the formation, where other bloodied physicists are hitting the deck as silenced shots rip up the ranks, yet don’t seem to be coming from a shooter. The bullets seem to come from absolutely nowhere until suddenly one of the operators a hail of seven-six-two down the line, over the heads of numerous operators and civilians, tracer rounds striking the air and bringing out female grunts of pain and splatters of blood, until a black clad woman fizzles into reality.

Not distant, a team of delta operators tear open filing cabinets, desk drawers, and throw hole computers to the side, sending papers flying in the search of some sort of information, something to give the deaths of their fellow operators some meaning as they lay siege. Some of the operators glaze over the covers of cryptical named files, but do notice an important seal stamped onto books and reports. “They sent us after the fucking spooks!” One of them shouts as he rifles through the pages of a document labeled ‘Contaminated Assetsl.’ “Fucking CIA! What the hell is this mission?”
(cont.)
>>
>>4846706
(cont.)
“Shut the fuck up Rockel.” A burnt Major Grant shouts through the commotion of gunfire. “No words unless you found something.”

“I did Major.” Operative Rockel shouts back, picking up the pamphlet, pointing to a page that details a breach of information coinciding with a failed Marine Corps operation, granting the mission a meaningless codename, ‘Forgotten Sheep.’ “These assets are marines Major, Contamination means they knew too much.”

Major Grant skims over the document, before quickly folding it up and pocketing it. “Look for anything labeled Forgotten Sheep!” He yells to his men, only for one of them to suddenly jerk and hit the ground. His team immediately takes cover among the desks, but Grant instead fires off a 40mm smoke grenade through his underbarrel launcher. Quickly, the room fills with a thick smoke, and the men pull down their thermals. Realizing this, Marietta Poskanzer quickly flicks off the invisibility of her suit, fading back into visible light while jumping into cover. Kim Reilly follows suit, having flanked from behind through a window. Short of Black Mesa, this situation is military intelligence nightmare, and both Poskanzer and Reilly know it. Delta is not going down easily, and fighting them risks death, or far worse, capture and interrogation. For the sake of national security, the two spies haven’t even been informed of HECU and the ISA operative’s fate either, only knowing that it would be a major blow to american stability.

>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.
>Don’t risk national security by letting Delta take this information, hold out while blind until Grant’s team retreats or dies.
>>
>>4846713
>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.
>>
>>4846713
>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.
>>
>>4846713
>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.
I wonder if MC would become like a vortigaunt?
>>
>>4846713
>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.
>>
It's gonna be another two day update guys, but it should speed up a bit a soon, with work clearing up again, apologies.
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>>4848878
Just caught up after dropping off in thread 12 due to life. As always mate, this is excellent shit ans i've no problem with you taking it slow.
Gabbie getting the Gordon treatment and the whole epilogue are absolutelly great my man. Cant wait for more.
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>>4849374
I really do appreciate that man, thank you so much for hopping back into the quest when you could. It's good to hear you're enjoying things.
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>>4846729
>>4846967
>>4847244
>>4848876
>Don’t risk dying or being interrogated by the DoD, pull back and regroup with the remaining CIA spies and operatives in the blacksite.

“Back back back!” Marietta shouts as rifle rounds whiz past her head. Across the room, Reilly can barely hear this even with the aid of the small earpiece. Just as importantly, Major Grant hears this as well, and gestures his men to keep their weapons down as the two agents immediately begin running back, but one of his men instead takes aim at Marietta as she dashes away from the room, slamming her in the rib with a `-five-six round, almost knocking her to the ground as her PCV barely protects her vital organs. Marietta catches herself on the desk as adrenaline distracts her from the pain, and begins to run.

Meanwhile, instead of leaving through the same vent she entered, Reilly uses the unfortunate distraction bought by Marietta to make for the door herself, quickly slipping around the side walls, at first avoiding the attention of the rogue delta operative, thermals restricting his field of vision as he pushes suppressing shots into the door. However, the smoke slowly begins to thin, letting Reilly just barely make out his position as the rounds leave a distinct trail in the smoke. Before Grant can move forwards and pull the marines gun down, she raises her own pistol, slamming down the trigger once, twice, three times until the shots stop, then as Major grant watches his operator drop to the ground, Reilly dashes out the room, but leaves a frag grenade in the room, which one of the operators sees in his thermals, shouting “Frag frag frag!” bringing every single waking operator to hit the ground, cowering behind desks and cabinets while the grenade blows with a deafening crack. Shrapnel thumps against the metal and the walls, in some cases punching through metal to bounce off hardened helmets or punching into PCVs.

As the smoke dissipates, the soldiers slowly begin to stand up, quickly scanning the area with their guns, the sound of shouting and gunfire still ripping all around them now mixed in with helicopter rotor. Major Grant suddenly barks to his still standing operators, “Back to the books! Back to the books!” He quickly moves over to one of the men who’s knelt down by the overzealous operator, quickly pulling the kneeling troop back. “Find the docs we need so we can get him the fuck out!”
(cont.)
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>>4851047
(cont.)
Without question, the operator stands up again, leaving his dying companion as the team quickly rifles through documents, men shouting documents between each other, Rockel ranting once again, “Why the fuck are we raiding americans? This is bullshit.” The men ignore Rockel, even as their thoughts echo his sentiment. Shots begin to get closer as one of the men looks at a document labeled “Forgotten Sheep Repurposing.” He flips through pages, his eyes getting wider and wider as he skims over words such as “Test subject,” “Disposable agents,” and “Resource acquisition” all coldly placed as plans regarding the survival of US marines.

“Sir! Look at this. They’ve shipped HECU up north.” Shouts operator Aikhem. “ Got em all underground like it’s a fucking concentration camp.”

“What?!” The Major shouts, as every operative turns towards him. “What do you mean?”

“They’re throwing forgotten sheep into some sorta caves. Says they’re using them for ‘Merriweather territory expeditions.” He tilts the page towards his Major. “Look at this, serial numbers. Project returns.”


Major Grant nearly pulls the whole book out of Aikhem’s hands, but instead tears out a page of listed serial numbers. “Rockel, tell me what these numbers mean!”

“On it Major.” He shouts back, before another one of the operators, a grenadier named Boer suddenly grabs the Major’s attention.

“Major, got another list of codes here. Forgotten Sheep.” He says, holding up to Boer. Almost instantly, the Major is directly behind Boer, looking down the list. He starts flipping through the pages even before he takes it from Boer. Immediately, he notices three distinct letters placed before each code, M, K and I. Picking a random letter, the major starts looking around the room at the cabinets, organized by letters. Picking a random letter, he moves for the ‘m’ cabinet, pulling at it only to hear the lock jiggle. Aiming swiftly with his laser sight, he puts a silenced five-five-five six into the cabinet, tearing apart the lock with a loud metallic bang.

Quickly, Major grant rifles through the files, taking a random number from the ‘M’ category, pulling out a file by the serial number following M, and opening the folder.

“SUBJECT ADRIAN SHEPHERD.” The docket reads. “MISSING IN ACTION.” The major skims over the document, not knowing the soldier, but confirming quickly that this is in fact information on a HECU soldier, even quickly looking at a diary contained in the folder to see the word ‘HECU’ written within. As Major Grant is about to swap to searching ‘I’ cabinet, he hears Boer shouting once again.
(cont.)
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>>4851052
>
(cont.)
“Contact door!” Is all the operator shouts before attempting to open fire on a well dressed silhouette. His iron sight aligns perfectly on the suited silhouette, and he pulls the trigger down, only for the M4 to click, its round having failed to chamber. The rest of the men point their arms at the doorway, but as though not even knowing about the secret civil war going on around them, the silhouette had continued.

“Fucking spooks.” Rockels mutters, before the men lower their guns only slightly, returning to some of the documents they were skimming over. Rockels, having one of the numbers from the torn page frantically rifles through the documents, until he finds one of the “Returns” listed in the page, pulling out the manilla folder, opening it, and simply staring at it, like it had slapped him in the face and he was wondering why. The first document stored in folder EX-2833 showed a creature, unlike any other he had ever seen. Three legs legs plated with curved alloy covering it like an insects chitin, all converging on a bulbous body with two horizontal eyes, and a small pair of talons drooping below.

“Found in Merriweather territory approximately three days after spatial stabilization, neutralized by Forgotten Sheep I-8338 and subsidiary units.” The document describes just below images of a gruesome, messy dissection, revealing chunks of metal, plastic and machinery within the creature’s body, often melding seamlessly into the organic pieces. “Sir.” Rockels calls. In the chaos and commotion of war all around him, he doesn’t hear his unconfident call. “Sir!” He shouts again, grabbing Grant’s attention before swinging the docket around to his team. “What the fuck is this?”

[EPILOGUE CONTINUED TOMORROW.]
>>
As the chaos of Delta force’s bloody assault on the CIA blacksite tears apart the rigid order of the last few days, Dr. Richard Guttman moves low through the hallways of the blacksite, occasionally ducking into offices as soldiers or men in jet black uniforms run past, searching around him, occasionally forcing the neurologist to hide in any nook or cranny he can find, or worse, dash away unarmed, thankfully rarely chased, but the neurologist had already taken a shot tearing into his hip. Blood stains his jeans and lab coat, wincing as he limps down the stairs looking for some sort of shelter, taking panicked breaths as he returns to the insanity he had thought he had created.

A pistol he took from a suited man with an exit wound the size of an apple blown in his chest is held up high, the inbuilt flashlight lighting his way into the dark basement, where the sounds of gunshots are muffled by the concrete. He moves passed sliding doors forcibly pulled open after the power was cut by Delta, seeing papers strewn across the clean white floor. As he moves deeper into the blacksites basement however, he begins to here distant voices barking orders, one of whom he recognizes as the wavering, stern voice of Dr. Magnusson.

Guttman’s wise enough to know that Magnusson is not a man with good survival skills, even if he may be a good leader and brilliant physicist, but also realizes is that the man’s life is worth far more than his from the perspective of the CIA, and if there’s anyone intent on getting the surviving science team out alive, they’re looking for Magnusson. Wincing through the pain of his wound, Guttman jogs through the basement.

As he gets deeper into the Blacksite’s seedy basement, other sounds begin to drown out the voices of physicists and covert operatives. The first sounds he begin to hear are Delta operatives barking orders between each other behind him, causing him to push his loosely field dressed wounds harder as he strides through destroyed labs, but as he descends deeper, he starts hearing things that almost make him want to try his odds as a barely trained civilian with a silenced .45 against special forces. The agonized cry of a creature that can barely be considered human anymore rips out across the basement as he moves through rooms with dead bodies in military fatigues. By now the sound of military boots is getting closer, and Guttman begins to jog, dearly missing the fruits of his tax dollars in the form of military grade armor that had saved his life so many times in Black Mesa.

(cont.)
>>
>>4852841
(cont.)
The operators behind him move steadily and methodically, having pulled their thermal optics up in favor of weapon mounted lights, scanning for information as they clear rooms. When they push into a room of dead bodies in military fatigues on an autopsy table, the sight is almost enough to distract them from the white coated movement in the opposite doorway. Just catching a glimpse of it, the major of the group raises the sights of his gun, flicking the flashlight off before he and his men flick their thermals down.

Guttman quickly runs across the room, hearing inhuman screams tear out every time his shoes hit the ground, coming from directly behind the frosted glass to his right. His field dressing begins to fall apart as he pushes himself, leaving his clothes to rub over the raw, bleeding wound, tearing it even further open. In spite of the other rooms having had a tornado tear through them, this lab in the bowels of the blacksite is untouched, and the moans and cries of its cell’s occupants provide a good explanation as to why, even if bulletproof glass holds the damned creatures away. Despite his endurance so far, Guttman’s fractured hip and torn muscle gives way beneath him, even as adrenaline blocks the pain from his brain. His leg surrenders to gravity, and he falls to the ground with a thud, and shuts his eyes awaiting execution as he hears boots moving in behind him.

“Identi-” Is all the major gets out before hearing another one of the blood curdling cries accompanied by a super-human thud against the frosted bulletproof glass, grabbing the attention of every single operator, staring at the once human abomination through thermals. The men are all silent for a moment, not even sure what they’re looking at. A few pull their thermals up, only to see bloody, bony fists slamming against the frosted glass, and nothing further away. One of them does the sign of the cross across his chest, while the major finishes his sentence, sounding ever so slightly less confident. “Hands up! Identify yourself!”

Before hearing those words, Guttman was totally convinced these men were sent to do HECU’s job for them, and the neurologist might’ve gripped his pistol if he didn’t know it would be suicide. Not hearing a gunshot followed by the world going black however makes him wonder if they actually have any intention of keeping him alive for long enough to find a way out, and he mutters, “Richard Guttman.”

“Not on the list!” The major shouts, and Guttman slams his eyes shut once again, ready to be shot, only for nothing to come. “What do you do hear?”

“I’m a doctor.” He says loudly, still holding his hands where the Major can see clearly. “Medical doctor, I did brain scans in Black Mesa.”

“Place that got nuked?” The major responds. “You sure?”

“‘s a fuckin’ mutant.” One of the Operators mutters quietly from under his Ghillie suit as he continues pointing his gun at the door.
(cont.)
>>
>>4852845
(cont.)
“CIA pulled you out, that where these other doctors from?” The major begins, but before he even finishes his sentence does a small blinking light running on emergency power begin to flash red, just as the doors to the frosted glass cells release a small pneumatic hiss, and shift slightly, now unlocked.

“We got hostiles!” One of the operators shouts, immediately bringing the Major’s attention three hundred sixty degrees around, towards where a door is slid open with an inhuman force, nearly buckling off the railing as the heavy frosted glass drives it into the wall. Before Guttman can even make out what’s on the other side of the door, the soldiers open fire. Immediately, Guttman looks towards his exit, where he was running from the marines originally, now faced with the zombies as well. He begins to pull himself, his broken hip agonized as it drags his leg along with him.

However, moving in the darkness beyond the door, Guttman sees a black clad female crouching down. She goes unnoticed by the Delta team as they unload into the zombies just unleashed. Each soldier fires off an inhuman amount of rounds center mass into the creatures disgusting maw of gore and ribs, not even noticing the parasite still alive after each kill into one of the headcrabs leaps off its dead host, latching onto the helmet of an operator, who immediately lets his rifle fall to his side, grabbing at his head, tearing it off, throwing it to the ground and stomping it with a loud grunt.

As all the chaos unfolds around him, Guttman decides whether or not it's worth it to try to keep moving towards the unknown assassin, or to either hope Delta doesn’t want him dead, or the CIA intends to prevent them from doing otherwise.

>While they’re still distracted, the assassin motions for Guttman to move quickly, before she moves into the darkness while Guttman follows best he still can.
>The assassin instead signals Guttman to stay with Delta, and then disappears into the room beyond, and leaves him to be secured by Delta.
>>
>>4852847
>The assassin instead signals Guttman to stay with Delta, and then disappears into the room beyond, and leaves him to be secured by Delta.
>>
>>4852847
>The assassin instead signals Guttman to stay with Delta, and then disappears into the room beyond, and leaves him to be secured by Delta.
>>
Next update will be up tomorrow, this choice is probably the last one in the epilogue. If I recall correctly, the only requested stories I haven't gotten into yet with are Mari Reilly, Gordan and the vorts, so if there's anything else you guys would like to add to that list of requests feel free now.
>>
The black clad woman simply holds up a hand to Guttman, telling him to keep quiet and keep still as the marines gun down the newly freed zombies. The sonic reports of the shots begin to ring in the neurologists ears, even with the silencers reducing the initial crack. As Guttman lays on the floor, wondering why the hell the CIA wants him to stay with the marines, the assassin that released these creatures slips away into the dark room ahead.

The small horde, while putting the fear of god back into the operators, is quickly clearing out, but among the bodies numerous small headcrabs are scuttling about, camouflaged by thermals among the still warm pile of corpses, shots occasionally cracking against the creatures by random chance, killing the headcrabs instantly with a meaty thunk. However amongst the last few zombies are far more headcrabs that’ve avoided Delta’s firing line. One of the creatures rears its legs, then leaps towards a soldier, followed by others all leaping in quick succession, each one looking for a new host. A few of the early ones are shot right out of the air, slamming by the round’s force right back into the wall behind them, while the rest slam into the chests, heads and necks of soldiers, immediately biting down into either ghillie, kevlar, or in one poor Operator’s case, a human trachea. The operators first screams, then gurgles in pain before he drops to the ground, desperately gripping onto the creature, trying to yank it back off futilely, while other unharmed soldiers tear the creatures from their armor, pulling knives or sidearms to execute the headcrabs.

As the dying soldier drops to the ground, the creature is knocked off by the impact, rolling along the ground towards Dr. Guttman. Even as the pain in his hip and the increasing blood loss makes him woozy, he grasps at the gun stored in his belt, barely able to hold it as he raises it to the creature, first firing a premature shot that bounces straight off the metal floor, crashing into the body of a dead zombie with a weighty thunk. His shaky hand swings the gun a little further, first smacking the parisite with the tip of the suppressor, then placing it loosely against the headcrabs leathery hide. With a single trigger pull, the headcrab dies, its innards splattering against the ground.

As the last few headcrabs, or the once human abominations they created are cleaned up, the marines quickly kneel down next to the dead operator, who’s quickly bleeding out, and no longer breathing. Immediately recognizing that the man is far beyond saving in this hell of an operation, the soldiers just leave him there, only sighing while some look at Guttman, and others look at the headcrabs, as well as the zombies they created.

“You know about this shit?” One of them shouts, pointing rifles at the woozy neurologist, who stutters out an incomprehensible response.
(cont.)
>>
(cont.)
“Shut up Higby.” The major responds. “He’s in shock. We gotta get him outta here.”

“He’s not on the list Major.” Higby responds.

“Don’t care, we’re here for information.” The Major says, kneeling down to reapply the neurologists hastily applied bandages, “He’s gotta know-” Is the last thing Guttman is able to remember before waking up to the sound of helicopter rotors.

Somehow only two hours had passed, yet the operation felt like a small lifetime Major Grant thought from his crouched position in the courtyard, the rotors of an Osprey blowing desert soil into his wounds. The wounded and the civilians are being pushed quickly into the landed ospreys. Behind him, Grant can hear one of the men on their list shouting and fighting the marines pushing him in, insisting that he be allowed to join the search team for his daughter. Unless the search team was already on their way back with the girl, they’re not finding anything in time. In fact, Grant could hear behind him the troop leader shouting “Alright, bring them up on comms.”

Grant sits silently, watching the night, hearing the sounds of men shouting now mixed in with the crickets. The troop’s radio technician tries, and fails to raise the final search party once, twice, three times, before suddenly signalling his Delta troop to give it up. “Time’s up. Get the doc on board so we can get out of here.”

“She’s still in there!” Eli almost immediately enters a frenzy, shouting “Let go of me!”

Delta’s operators ignore him, dragging him by ziptied wrists into the helicopter as he screams, tears welling in his eyes as the Colonel in charge of the operation simply waves him inside. Dr. Vance is yanked into the Osprey shouting, “Alyx, Alyx honey! Please!” until the ramp door shuts on him, and he’s forced to sit.

Major Grant takes a deep, shaky breath, trying not to think of his own kids, quickly distracting himself by thinking about the mission. Why the hell are we raiding the CIA? The question had ran through his head silently a million times, wondering why America was fighting itself. Grant wasn’t a fool, he had seen politics get in the way of the militaries mission, but politics had never had american troops shooting at american troops, and here he was hearing stories from his men about aliens, mutants, demons and ghosts. He couldn’t bring himself to believe it, but he trusted his men. Were they drugged? Hypnotized? It didn’t matter. Those were real dead Americans, his men and the CIA’s, maybe even civilians, killed with American bullets fired from American guns. A rug can’t be kicked over it., and know that he was already “contaminated” with information, this unit would be brought back into the insanity. This was a secret civil war he was fighting.

“Major.” Rockel breaks silence. “Ain’t the kid on the list?”

Major Grant lets out a long sigh, and just says, “I wish I could look too Rockel.”

[CONTINUED TOMORROW.]
>>
I said before I hoped things would speed up, but its not working out, apologies, update should be up tomorrow.
>>
An unmarked van was sitting parked, lights off at a location of no particular concern to anyone known to the american public. From the skies, the van was too dark in the night to even pick out unless one had already been told of its location, and even if one were to stumble upon it, its only noticeable feature would be that its model was too cheaply made to be of use to anyone of importance. And yet, in spite of its totally unremarkable appearance, it was currently the second most important vehicle to the Central Intelligence Agency, the first being the emergency tram silently gliding on underground rails towards this van.

Within that tram, agents, operatives, and staff are all laying out documents on the floor, quickly assessing what they could retain from the nightmare of a raid. Marietta Poskanzer and Kim Reilly are an important part of that national intelligence frenzy, the last two spies left alive from Black Mesa, their own memories vital in separating the CIA’s own false leads from the truth written down in cryptic codes.

As they work in the back, the sound of a wailing child is filling the cabin, while the closest person to a guardian Alyx still has, a child psychologist named Dr. Taylor Jonas, holds the kid as she screams out, crying for her father. Dr. Jonas desperately tries to hush Alyx, telling her things like, “Don’t worry dear, we’ll find him, we’ll find him.”

Meanwhile, in the center of the tram, Marietta mutters between her fellow CIA agents. “We heard Delta talking about a list.”

“Assassination targets?” A slightly overweight, bearded man Agents Poskanzer and Reilly had silently come to realize was their handler during their time at the black site.

“No.” One of the Operatives responds. “Cameras showed them being loaded into Ospreys.”

“Damn.” The handler mutters, before staying silent, looking over the mess of recovered data strewn out before him. The sound of Alyx screaming her head off, and the whirring of the tram flying through the tunnel. He leans in close, away from the prying ears of Dr. Arne Magnusson and Dr. Breen as their colleague's daughter cries. A few meters further, a boy, Enrico, another kid pulled from Black Mesa, sits silently and awkwardly. “Alright. Was the neurologist taken?”

“We heard his voice on the way out, then Delta shooting after the zombies were released. It’s possible he’s alive with them, but unlikely.” Reilly responds.

The handler nods. “You said the neurologist had a connection with the boy, and a kid up north, near Forgotten Sheep?”

“Yyyes, yes sir.” Marietta says, almost peeling back for a second, not sure where he intends to take this.

“Good.” The handler responds. “That gives us pull. We get in contact with Bush Center, tell them top priority is finding Vance and the Neurologists and getting contact with them, let them know we have their kids, and that they're safe, but that they have to work with us from wherever they are. Objections?”
(cont.)
>>
>>4859402
(cont.)
Each and every person listening has objections to the plan well up from their conscious, quickly silenced by the pressure of national security.

“Good.” Handler John Ames mutters, nodding before he moves on to the next subject matter, as though he hadn’t just planned out a ransom of abducted children. “We also need to accelerate the false flag, and fast. Do we know if they have a copy of the report?”

“Not sure, but it’s likely.” One of the operatives explains, before Marietta adds her own addendum.

“After we backed off, we listened to the room's bugs.” Marietta explains. “They saw pictures of aliens. That might be good for us. They could be thinking they’re being led on a goose chase again. That gives us a few days where we can get to the press before JSOC, or whoever tipped them off.”

“Tipped off?” Suddenly exclaims Dr. Wallace Breen, speaking over the sounds of Alyx’s screaming. Within the CIA’s circle of information, every single head turns to the prying ear. “Who do you believe tipped them off?”

While every agent and operative silently weighs the costs and benefits of silencing Dr. Breen, the handler raises his head up above the group, and states, “Holland first admitted to working for Lockheed Martin as a corporate spy, then later admitted to working for Intraverse Electronics under advanced interrogation techniques. Dr. Breen, which of these companies is more likely to infiltrate your facility?”

Dr. Breen lets his face warp into a reassuring smile. “He must be leading you astray then. The only company that ever even considered industrial espionage on our main facility was our old rivals at Aperture. You yourself should know they liquidated their assets and nationalized their research. Our security standards are far too advanced to be worth the information to anyone more rational.”

Handler Ames knows damn well the story Breen is referring to isn’t true. The official story tells of a gas leak, gross negligence killing thousands and ruining the country, but in truth, not even the CIA knows what happened in Aperture. The facility became an information black hole, but what the handler silently notes is that many of its researchers into artificial intelligence left a few weeks before the death of the company, citing safety concerns. Those men founded Intraverse. Holland's second admittance was right. “You and Magnusson both knew Vance. If you could help Dr. Jonas with calming Alyx, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Both Dr. Magnusson and Dr. Breen furrow their brows, but the handler just nods towards Alyx, and the pair silently moves across the room. With every murmur between the echelons of the remaining CIA staff covered by the screaming of four year old Alyx Vance, the two can’t make out another word from their ‘benefactors’ until the tram pulls up at a small camouflage service hatch beneath a van too old and cheap to be of use to any serious organization.

[Continued]
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>>4859405
Imagine if the resonance cascade happened inside aperture science instead of black mesa. All those aliens being slaughtered in randomized tests...
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>>4859508
almost like pottery
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The George Bush Center for intelligence was in a state of controlled anarchy in every floor, staff running through it’s halls, some demanding “I need tenth fleet on the line. Shukra requests are backing up here, get the navy on the goddamn line,” “No identification on Sherman yet.” This hurricane of bureaucracy filled even the mess halls and restrooms, where overstressed agents shout at anonymous contacts through burner phones.

In fact, the only place the chaos doesn’t spill is a single corner, with a shredder, who’s grinder feeds down a chute, into an incinerator. Around it stands “Marietta Poskanzer”, and “Kim Reilly.” The pair stand silently, dressed in simple blue dress uniforms, while Reilly holds up a set of manilla folders, each one holding lists of names, some forgotten while others only recently deceased. One of the files features aliases neither of the spies recognize, until the last name, which simply reads “Gabriella Oppeneheimer.”

Reilly hands half of the documents over to her fellow spy, and both of them begin to feed papers into the shredder, one by one, erasing these people from human history, as well as every identity they used to hold. The only survivors of this purge are a set of documents detailing the lives of agents that never once took on new names, nor did they ever go to Black Mesa. Instead, their lives take on a fantasy of international operations, telling the false story of political espionage, secret foreign wars, and international crimes just gripping enough to prevent prying eyes looking for an important, while not important enough to stick in the mind of a docile american public, while another story of humanitarianism and heroism is broadcasted on the news, given brief little segments telling of international conflict before being overshadowed by the blooming story of corporate intrigue surrounding Black Mesa.

The last few documents in Marietta’s hand go into the shredder, paper clippings sliding down into a blazing inferno of lost memories and dead souls. While Reilly holds one last document. Quickly, she flicks the document's current name, “Gabriella Oppenheimer,” before filtering it into the shredder. The two silently watch the document disappear, removing the woman known as Gabby from any official history. When the last few crinkles of unshredded paper are dragged through the slit by the whirring electric motor, Marietta is about to walk away before Reilly suddenly speaks. “Known but to god, ghost cop.”
(cont.)
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>>4862711
(cont.)
Marietta chuckles slightly, and jokingly salutes the shredder before her face sinks, and she follows solemnly after Reilly as the two move on to other duties, both convinced Gabriella Oppenheimer no longer exists outside of a recovered set of digital recordings of the Black Mesa incident, locked away by the CIA. Unbeknownst to them, small pieces of her mind still exist, some chunks silently held in the minds of millions of Vortigaunts, living in the space between their minds, beyond the veil of reality, while the other chunks sit coterminus with an advanced system classified to all but a few, even those parachuting down upon the submarine housing that system, carrying a simple message from JSOC.

By the time Gabriella Oppenheimer is officially declared to not exist, the tenth fleet’s radar and communication teams are already in a frenzy, having detected a C-17, openly declaring itself as “Sending a boarding party under the authority of Joint Special Operations Command.” As the tenth fleet tries to figure out what the hell is going on, and why they’re being boarded, the team of SEALs are already dropping out of the C-17, following after a boat jettisoned out with parachutes. With no warning, Admiral Curie questions whether he has the authority to shoot these men out of the air, or even the means given that none of the weapons within the fleet of the submarine could shoot a paratrooper out of the air. As he hesitates, the officers directly beneath him begin to shout, telling him to dive, or to consider them hostile, he gets another message.

“Sir,” His chief communications officer shouts. “The C-17 is demanding we open the hatch of our command vehicle. They’ve made threats to blast it open if we don’t comply.”

The Admiral of the classified fleet stands almost dumbfounded for a minute or so, his mouth agape, before he suddenly just nods, and says, “Let them in,” he clears his throat once, saying far more confidently, “Let them in.”

The seal team moved swiftly into the airlock, and were never seen again. Only a small number of biological organisms, slowly and silently slipping north through the deserts of New Mexico, know the reason those SEALs died. They see it through the the fraction of Gabriella Oppenheimer that escaped through the CIA dongle the vortigaunts modified. They know the deaths of those men was not the decision of Admiral Curie, having seen a deadly neurotoxin fill the airlock through the entranced, delirious consciousness of The Oppenheimer.
(cont.)
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>>4862712
(cont.)
As they move north, towards the flock of Forgotten Sheep, they leave markings of the many heroes of Black Mesa, each one of them right under the noses of the national guard soldiers dressed in radio-protective gear. The soldiers find these cryptic pictures after the vorts have dodged away, bioluminescent drawings of freeman illuminated by flashlights, the stars, or the distant firestorm above Black Mesa. The confused soldiers of the national guard see The Freeman, The Shephard, The Calhoun, The Vances, and The Magnusson, with almost heroic framing, surrounded by the horrors of Black Mesa wiped out by nuclear detonation. They move upwards, seeing the future before them and the past behind them like the directions of a map, yet still not realizing that as they spy on the tenth fleet through The Oppenheimer, the Tenth Fleet’s prized cargo stares right back at them, without them even realizing.

The Vortigaunts, leaving a trail of dead collars that have slipped off through atrophy alone, move upwards, slowly converging on The Guttman’s, The Poskanzer’s, The Reilly’s, and the Holland’s future location, surrounding a forgotten flock of sheep that has begun to grow unruly.

[Continued.]
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>>4862715
OH FUCK, NOW IT'S REALLY RAMPING UP
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Next epilogue update will be up tomorrow, I guarantee it, and it will also likely be the last one until the squeal quest. It's been a god damn pleasure writing for you guys.
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>>4864418
I'l be honest mang. At some point my brain started to fry on plans of action and I just read it like a book. Thank you for writing
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>>4864418
Thanks for everything Lazlo
It's Been a great quest and I wish you luck
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>>4864418
I'm with >>4864579, but it's still been very entertaining to follow the whole way, even if I did get lost midway. BMBOQ has the honour of being only the second quest I've followed all the way from the start that has managed to conclude successfully, so you can give yourself a big pat on the back for making it this far and fuck that voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough. because it's been telling blatant lies. I await the sequel to jump back in - will it be a timeskip to HL2, or do you have other plans?
>>
Dr. Richard Guttman, after being pulled out of hospital bed with a fixed leg that seemed to shock the medics and other patients around him, now sits silently within a cold concrete room, staring at, or perhaps through, his own reflection in a mirror on the other edge. As he stares at it, he hears a familiar voice. Since the helicopter crash just outside of Black Mesa, he’s kept silent about it, quietly monitoring his own symptoms, having personally researched the causes of his own hallucinations, every chemical he might have been exposed to, head trauma, although despite his knowledge of the human brain, he was no psychologist. For all he knew, he was just going insane. The voice of Oppenheimer repeated, “Watching, watching, watching,” in his head. He already knew this, what that mirror really was, but the voice didn’t want to shut up, so instead he distracted himself. An interrogator was going to walk in, or maybe a psychologist, or hell, maybe he would just be gassed in this very room, but either way, it didn’t hurt to start thinking up a cover story.

He already told the operators of Delta Force that he was a neurologists for Black Mesa’s medical team. Maybe that would loosen the questions, if they knew he wasn’t a scientist but a doctor of medicine, or it would just give them more reason to consider killing him and wiping his name from existence.

As Dr.Guttman straightened his story out, trying to organize in only his head what he could and couldn’t lie about, what the others who had been captured might say, and anything he could tell them to better the odds of his own survival, he suddenly heard the sound of a heavy steel door opening. Dr.Guttman looked up, to see the door opened, and beyond it, a simple white glare of light. His eyes grew wide, and his breaths went heavy, staring at the hole in space time where a simple locked door used to be. The room was silent for almost a minute, the white light spilling across the room as he considered standing up, and walking towards the door, only to drop the idea as footsteps echo into the room.
(cont.)
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(cont.)
Through the hole in reality, comes a man dressed up in a blue business suit, holding a black briefcase. The last time he saw this man, the briefcase sported the minimalist orange logo of Black Mesa, but now it holds a new brand, one he doesn’t particularly recognize. All it shows is a stylized human eye drawn in simple blue lines, flanked one either side by a gold line that approaches the eye, zig zags, then stops right before touching the eye, before reappearing on the other side. Like the logos of Black Mesa, and Aperture, it’s deliberately drawn so inoffensively in simple lines that it might as well be invisible to the american consumer, which after the hell Black Mesa put Guttman through, grabs his eye even more. He was almost prepared to ask what company that logo belonged to, but then caught the face of the man wearing that briefcase once again, the sunken eyes that almost seemed to stare beneath his skin, and he decided to hold his tongue for the moment.

“Dr. Guttman, in the flesh.” The man says, as he places his briefcase on the table in the center of the room. “iiIiI, underRstand our last discussion caused some,, disPUte.”

“Why shouldn’t I strangle you right now?” Guttman responds in a flat tone, thinking about the vision of his son. The boy’s chest was torn open and crushed simultaneously, blood welling up from the mouth, tears still drying on his kid’s face. Guttman knew it was a terrible idea to blur that out, but he couldn’t bring himself to regret it just yet.

“I… assSSure you such brash actIon would be… regrettable, doctor.” He says, sitting in the chair across from Guttman on the metal table. “Of course they would also fail in fulfilling your sspeciffic intentions.”


Suddenly, the concrete walls all around Guttman are simply gone, fading away to show crowds frozen in time, people scurrying, climbing over each other to board boats, people getting trampled for evacuations. However in the middle is a man holding a pistol, keeping the horde of desperate people away from a young boy, hugging close to his leg.

“What do you want?” Guttman responds loudly. “You know I don’t have it anymore right? The dongle is with the CIA, or maybe the military grabbed it, I don’t know, but I don’t have it.”
(cont.1)
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>>4865825
(cont.1)
The suited man pulls his sunken face into an assuring smile, holding up his hand for Guttman to stop. “That agreEement is, nonrenewable.” Suddenly, the frozen scenery of people desperately climbing onto boats, now simply an inky blackness. “However… a new position has opened, for whIch you have coOme rRrecomended.” As he speaks, Guttman’s eyes fick around, occasionally seeing little glimpses of red, like the eyes of wild animals appearing in the darkness, all disappearing as soon as he looks at them. “Many… wWittnessses-” and as the suited man says that, suddenly a glare of white light nearly blinds Dr. Guttman, but the suited man continues talking as the neurologists eyes slowly adjust to the light, “remaiIin in use, and for rRrather- uninformed endeavors.”

Guttman’s eyes readjust to the light, now seeing that the steel table has moved into some sort of underground cave, lined with blinding white spotlights, their wires hooked onto stalactites, illuminating the backs of men in simple marine corps fatigues, kevlar and gas masks. They all hold pistols, a few with flashlights as they stare through a hole in reality. Through that hole is what Guttman at first confused for the night sky, only to see the ground below it lined with the same alien flora and fauna that overran Black Mesa, with strange rays floating through it. Looking behind him, Guttman also sees men in much better protective gear, pure black MOPP suits and PCVs pointing integrally suppressed submachine guns, not at the portal to another world, but at the backs of the marines.

As Guttman had been looking around at the area, the suited man had stood up, now walking to the right of the steel table, leaving his case where he sat. “If you.. dOo wish for… insurance for your son’s surVIval, I expect you to bury the merriweather venture, Dr. Guttman. And everrRyone involved.” The studied man looks up to a pipe, running down the cave wall, approaching the portal before it digs into the rock. On that pipe is an orange lambda, and the words, “Allied Processing.”

“Where is this?” Guttman asks, and the suited man simply doesn’t respond, even as he says it again, almost shouting, “Where is this?!”

The lights all begin to fade away as the investor looks back down to Dr. Guttman, eventually returning the world around him to nothing but the table, the investor, and occasionally red blinks of light from somewhere in the inky blackness. The investor walks past the table, grabs his suitcase, and says “You’re aware of thHe payment… Dr. Guttman, but thHOse watching you know of… unforReseEen consssequences.”
(cont.2)
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>>4865827
(cont.2)
The sterile fluorescent light returns all around Dr. Guttman, as the investor turns his back on the neurologist, walking towards the door, as the concrete walls return. The suited man touches the handle of the steel door, then gives one last look to Guttman, “Unsure these lose ends are… dispoOssed of, Dr. Guttman.” He opens the door, revealing the white glare behind it, and walks through, letting the heavy steel door slam shut, with an echoing sound of metal crashing and buckling against the frame. Just like that, Guttman is left in silence in the concrete room, the only sounds being the buzz of the fluorescent lights, and “Watching, watching, watching,” repeating in his head once again. Guttman sits there, contemplating what the hell he just saw, until suddenly the door opens once again.

A man steps in, in simple fatigues with a patch, showing an arrowhead surrounded by the words “Joint Special Operation’s Command,” and right above it, is another patch with four stars in a box, arranged horizontally. The name, “Bryan Brown,” is stitched onto his woodland camouflage shirt, but otherwise he wears no metals, pins or stripes. In his hands is a manilla folder, papers bulging out of the seems. He nods to Guttman, and sits down in the chair opposite to the doctor, where the suited man just sat.

“Dr. Guttman,” Brown says. “My name’s Commander Brown. I’m not going to ask you any questions, because I’m going to ask you for a favor instead.” He places the folder onto the desk, and opens it, showing maps of the border between north and south dakota, behind them other pamphlets, labelled “Forgotten Sheep,” and “Merriweather territory,” spill out of the stack. The maps are dotted with different suspected locations of “Forgotten Sheep,” alongside military installations, data about the local towns, and… a picture of Dr. Richard Guttman’s son. “Dr. Guttman, don’t you have family down here somewhere. Kid and an ex-wife right? You know, making it out of Black Mesa, surviving a nuclear bomb, private armies, and if what the CIA says is true, working with an agent, that shows serious skill. We could help you out here, get you a new job in your comfort zone, get custody, hell maybe we’ll throw in one of those cars we’re always promising the sailors.” The Commander chuckles, and Guttman only smiles cautiously. “You just gotta do us a favor, head down here-” the commander taps on the map, near a marked spot labeled ‘Kauravas County,’ “-and help us find some people. Good people.”
(cont.3)
>>
(cont.3)
Of course, Commander Brown knew he was asking for no simple favor, he was asking a damn neurologist to commit high treason, to take part in the secret civil war that seemed to be brewing. He knew Guttman wasn’t dumb, but he was a general, not a diplomat, this was his best negotiation, and as he watched Guttman’s face, he knew the civvie talk wasn’t working. Yet despite that, Guttman shook his head slightly, and said, “I’ll do it if you tell the marine’s you’re looking for not to shoot me.”
>>
On that cliffhanger, I declare the quest over. I know someone requested a chunk of the epilogue be dedicated to Freeman, but he's kind of radioactive as a character in this, since he's deliberately left a blank slate, which is hard to do when writing. He's in the same place he is at the end of Half Life 1, so I decided to just skip it, apologies to the guy who asked.

Also, you guys are too nice to me I swear, thanks all of you for reading, seriously. This whole thing has been an adventure. I've spent a year on this getting better at writing, and I still cannot express how great it is to know that I've made something you guys have enjoyed enough to stick around a year with me.
>>4863080
Prepare for unforeseen consequences. Also, thanks for sticking with it so long man, and wading through my insanity.
>>4864579
Thanks man, I'm really glad you enjoyed reading. Brain frying seems like a common theme among readers, so I think I'm gonna think about what might be causing it to make participation a little easier in the future.
>>4864629
Thank you man, genuinely.
>>4865156
Thank you so much as well for sticking around man, and don't worry, I am already proud that I've managed to make it to an end, at least because it means I'll be able to step away and write something else for a bit. After writing half life for so long, a temporary change of scenery is gonna be nice.
>and fuck that voice in your head that tells you you're not good enough. because it's been telling blatant lies
I don't know what to say other than I really appreciate that. I've been on edge for the past year, and I do need to get control over my damn nerves.
>I await the sequel to jump back in - will it be a timeskip to HL2, or do you have other plans?
The sequel will be in the time leading up to the seven hour war, with all the intrigue that the epilogue built up, and the choices you guys made, paying off, with the combine, portal storms, and other stuff slowly leaking in, while you learn about some of the other new elements going on in the background. You guys'll probably be playing as Guttman for that one.

I'm gonna think about a quest to run inbetween this one and the sequel, just something short term so i can step away from half life for a bit. I've been throwing around a few ideas ion my head for a bit now, a tf2 quest where you rob the shit out of MannCo, a Frostpunk quest set in america where oil fuels the cities instead of coal, a business quest based around gunrunning in space (titanfall themed maybe?), and an original quest set in either a "fantasy" society or sixties-ish tech era society at the very end of the universe. I'd like to hear what you guys think about any of those ideas as well.
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>>4865874
Congratulations, you finished a quest! Truly the greatest mind of our generation.
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>>4865874
I've seen you being nervous about your writing a lot - seriously, you need to calm down about that. Your worst critic is always yourself, as I'm sure holds true for most people. This anon included.

The Six Hour War, huh? I don't believe we have any canonical information about what happened in the leadup to it and during the "war" itself save for "something something portal storms and aliens arrive and stomp everything" and even in fanon it's very underexplored so you're going to be pretty much writing a brand new story for that. Hold onto your butts, because the plot train is about to completely run off the end of the rails.

I know very little about TF2 so no comment on that. Frostpunk and space trucking would be cool and a very different style, but they sound like long-term quests rather than the short to medium term break you seem to be looking for. Not sure what you have planned for the other two.
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>>4865874
Congratulations on a great quest!
I like the sound of the TF2, frostpunk and 60s universe quests but you should make whatever you feel like, you've earned it.
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>>4865874
So Kirchoff and Saulson are vaporized?
That's a bummer. I liked Kirchoff...
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>>4865883
>>4865960
Thanks guys.
>>4865898
>seriously, you need to calm down about that
You're right, and I'm hoping that having a completed quest under my belt might help out with it. I've got a lot of old writing projects sitting unfinished in my google docs, and the longer this quest went on, the more I feared it might become one of those, either due to players losing interest or me not having the time or energy to keep it going, so for future quests or anything I write for that matter I'm gonna try reminding myself about this quest, and the fact that I can actually finish these sorts of things.
>I don't believe we have any canonical information about what happened in the lead up to it and during the "war" itself save for "something something portal storms and aliens arrive and stomp everything"
Well not unless you consider that thing I won't even name. Although I will take a minute to recommend this video to you guys as (as far as I'm aware) the only good piece of fiction around/during the seven hour war so far. Goes into loads of detail about how governments, economies, and people were affected, all with a detached DEFCON style atmosphere. https://youtu.be/eD2aqWjfOxk
>>4866492
That reminds me, it's time for the triage at dawn. What better to mourn with?
https://youtu.be/iy61r3Qkm6o
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>>4867432
It's always nice how Half Life is written so open as to allow anything to be possible.

Though with HL:A and the upcoming HL3 projects, it looks like the world is gonna stay the focus.

Then again the xen-life on earth in HLA is pretty varied. And if the Borealis is in play, who knows what'll happen.

Looking forward to whatever else you're writing man. It's dense, but it's a gud read.
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>>4867647
Also kinda wish we'd run. We only put off inevitable harm to some extent. Even if we died saving two more people to tell the story.

But the sacrifice of three saved hundreds of thousands who had no idea of the level of bonkers that was going on. So in the end, it's as good a move as it got.
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>>4867654
Lastly, going over the timeline:

there's only a month between this shitshow and the Seven Hours war. Guttman has 30 days to essentially figure out which lives need to be saved.

Also there's nothing stopping ya from running two quests. One regularly and one half-hazardly when you're overwhelmed with the first. That's basically what the Star Wars Interregnum guy does.
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>>4867658
I think Lazlo deserves a bit of a break. As a writer, burnout is very common, especially if it's a side job or a hobby.