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The soft rumbling of the dam slowly faded. The airboat’s engine shutdown echoed in the narrow hydro plant. Gordon stepped out and examined the area, Twilight followed close behind.
“This doesn’t look like much like a highly secured laboratory.” Twilight noted.
“Well,” Gordon reloaded his magnum, “it’s hidden.”
They wandered behind the tall water tanks, kicking over barrels and wooden pallets. An open blast door welcomed them in, but Twilight instantly felt the eerie feeling of being watched. The large blast doors slowly slammed behind them. Lights flashed on, blinding them both. Two cameras popped out of the wall above a slit-shaped window in the wall and beeped at their presence.
“We’ve got something,” a female voice buzzed on the intercom. “Ok. It-it’s human. Er, one is... Actually, I’m seeing two contacts.” The voice seemed unsure. “Hello? Take it easy in there, you’re safe now.” The steel plate covering the window slid open, revealing a woman and the controlman. “Look, you’ll have to forgive the scanning process- we can’t take any chances.”
“Dr. Freeman? Gordon Freeman?” The woman chuckled. “You’ve made it this quickly! Well, Eli is going to be amazed, not to mention relieved!”
“Ur, Gordon what’s going on?” Twilight became uneasy as the steam hosed them down and the laser slowly proceeding up and down.
The woman noticed Twilight and looked at her strangely. “Gordon, what is that in there?”
“Erm- Hello!” Twilight spoke up.
“It- It talks!” the woman was cut off.
“There is Kelly, our scout. And Doug, the driller. Steve is the explosives specialist. Then there’s Hunter, our number one weapon expert.” Wilson said, showing Dash out the door and into the main room. A smug came over his bearded face. “And I’m the team leader.”
“What do you guys do anyways?” Rainbow Dash asked Wilson, who unlocked the door to the crate room.
“We’re part of the resistance, high-class fighters against the Combine,” Liz answered.
“What’s does the resistance do?”
“We fight.” She paused boldy. “For all of humanity!”
“So you guys kick alien butt for a living?!” Rainbow Dash became excited. These guys were awesome!
“Hell yeah, beat shit up all day.” WIlson pushed open the door, letting Fluttershy out. He rubbed his hands. “What do you do all day?”
“I fly around and I, uh... race!” Dash greeted Fluttershy with a nod and gently patted her back, though otherwise ignoring her presence.
“Really? That’s, uh... cool.”
“You bet, I’m the fastest flier in Equestria!”
“What’s that? Like, a race track?”
“Wilson, you idiot, thats where they came from!” Liz scolded.
“Yeah, well, I’d like to see Dashie here race a Gunship and win. You know, without crashing into any windows.”
“I bet I could!” Dash eagerly clapped her hooves together.
“Wilson! Jeff! Outside now,” Hunter called up from above. Dash could tell the fatigue in her voice. “Possible code: Alpha!”
“Gotcha! Be up there!” Jeff threw his launcher over his shoulder and ran upstairs.
“Gotta go, stay down here!”
“I should go too, those boys can’t handle the Combine on their own.” Liz said, hopping over the ammo crate she sat on. On her way out, she picked up two SMG grenades.
“Wait!” Dash yelled to the rebel, who was already up the stairs. “What’s a code: Alpha?”
A rooftop battle was raging overhead. Chatter over Combine radios and the blunt force of bullets cracked at the surface of the building.
“Get down!” Wilson yelled over the roar of the Combine dropship. Combat soldiers jumped out with pump shotguns, firing into the crowd of rebels. “Fuck! They found us!”
As if the consequences couldn’t get any worse, a hunter chopper lowered down to street level and its turret began searching for targets. Steve ducked under cover, picking off ground units with his pistol. He motioned Doug, who was already taking aim.
“Doug! Chopper!” He yelled. “Damn it! Shoot the mother fucker down!”
Doug scrambled to reload his rocket launcher.
“Jeff!” Liz called, “Knock ’em dead!” She tossed over a grenade round.
Jeff quickly shoved the round into his SMG, and took aim at the assault group of Combine soldiers. Squeezing the trigger, the smoking round shot out like a rocket and exploded, sending bodies flying off the rooftop. He then took cover behind an air vent and opened fire with his remaining rounds.
“Shoooof!” A rocket shot overhead. The building shook the basement walls, threatening to bring down the building.
“It’s gonna be allright, Fluttershy, I bet they’re winning.”
“The Combine. They said they’re like aliens that came from another planet, like us, but they enslaved everypony.”
“They pretty much took the whole planet hostage.”
“I don’t exactly know, they left that out.”
“W-what are they doing now?” Fluttershy began to shiver. Dash put a comforting hoof over her shoulders.
“Taking back what is theirs I guess. ”
“Wilson, ten-two! Eight o’clock!” one of the rebels shouted.
“I’m hit dammit, ten-two down and out! Liz take the point!”
“On it.” Liz took Wilson’s rocket launcher and shoved a fresh rocket down the hatch. It clicked and the laser turned back on. She fired in the direction of the Combine gunship and led the heat seeking rocket. It blew up a chunk of the gunship’s large fan. It lost control and dove down to the street below.
“Fucking nice, Liz!” Jeff yelled. “Doug! Code: Nine, take it out!”
“Roger roger, Willy.”
“Don’t call me that,” he pointed at Doug, and turned towards Jeff, who was helping the rest of the team: Kelly, Steve, and Hunter. They had been pushed under cover during the first wave of Combine ground droops.
“Wilson, we have a problem.” Hunter pointed at a Strider that was raising up to the rooftop. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
“Driller, how about that code: Nine, eh?”
“I’m working on it!”
“Zzzzzzz-CRASH!” The Strider’s cannon beamed through the building, sending it crashing down in rubble.
“So you’re telling me that you ended up on Earth, because of Kleiner?” The woman asked Twilight.
“Well it was both of us, I sent a magical surge, which somehow got caught into the signal that his teleportal was sending. My magic read it, and sent us there. I think he called it, a resonance cascade.”
“Oh my!” The woman gasped. “Another one? How is that possible? And what exactly is your ‘magic’ composed of?”
“It’s energy that ponies can manipulate through telepathic thoughts or actions. Hard to explain to something, erm, someone who has never heard of it.”
“How many of you are there?”
“Well I don’t know about ‘of me’, but six ponies teleported here. The rest are with Kleiner.”
Gordon tapped his foot and gave the woman an annoyed frown.
“Gordon, I’m Dr. Mossman, Dr. Judith Mossman. I’ve been hearing about you since long before the Black Mesa incident. Oh-” Mossman sighed. “Black Mesa. I do so envy you working with Eli and Dr. Kleiner when they were at the top of their field. Ah- there we go! You can come through now.” The scanners stopped, and the blast doors creaked, and slid open.
“I’ll take you two down to Eli right away... he would never forgive me if I kept you waiting,” Mossman chuckled, leading Gordon and Twilight down the corridor of the base. She stopped to enter a passcode on another blast door. “We can certainly use the extra help around here. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last few months, but things would go much faster if we had more people with your training.” She chuckled.
“Could you kiss any more ass?” Gordon thought. Twilight giggled at his remark.
“We're closing in on a reliable local teleport technology, something the Combine still hasn’t mastered. Eli thinks their models are string-based, similar to our Calabi-Yau model, but they fail to factor in the dark energy equations. They can tunnel through from their universe, but once they're here they're dependent on local transportation. If they knew what we were doing with entanglement-” She walked into the elevator and chuckled. “Oh, listen to me, I sound like a post-doc. I’m just so excited we’ll finally have the chance to work together. Where was I?”
“I don’t know, you were saying something boring.” Gordon grinned.
“Doctor Kleiner compressed the Xen Relay far beyond anything he imagined at Black Mesa. We've figured out how to use Xen as an unexpressed axis, effectively a dimensional slingshot, so we can swing around the borderworld and come back local space without having to pass through. Oh, there’s Eli now!”
The elevator dinged and came to a stop at the laboratory floor.
“Ah! I’ve finished repairing the teleporter! It should perform within acceptable parameters now. Barney, could you please reboot the rotors?” Dr. Kleiner said, pushing up his glasses.
“Does this mean they can go back?” Barney said, motioning toward Pinkie Pie as she poked at the large containment tubes. The rest of the ponies huddled up and conversed about home.
“Ah wonder where Twahlight is,” Applejack said. “I hope she’s awlright.”
“Who knows what she’s going though,” Rarity agreed.
“Maybe she exploded!” Pinkie, still prodding at the test tubes, copied an explosion with her forehooves, scrambling them in the air. “Or maybe she was disintegrated!”
“Pinkie Pie! Watch your mouth, this is our friend!” Rarity scolded. “Hey, wherever Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy run off to?”
“Ah thought she was watchin’ the Doc,” Applejack said, pointing to the teleporter room. “Haven’t heard from them since.”
“Maybe we should go check on them?”
“Yeah, good Idea.”
They walked into the room and looked around for the missing ponies. Barney was fiddling with the levers and Kleiner was on a ladder, closing up the teleporter.
“They aren’t in here!” Rarity gasped. “Now where could they have gone?”
“Y’all two haven’t seen two ponies in here have yah?”
“Nope, everyone was in the other room last we checked.” Barney said, continuing his handy work.
“No hold on Barney, the two with the wings. They had come in here a while ago.” Kleiner said.
“Now how in the hay did we lose two fully grown ponies?!” Applejack stomped her foot, “Fluttershy wouldn’t jus leave like that either. Somethin’s up, they would have came back by now.”
“Dashie and Flutter, um, fluttershyie are gone?! Oh noooooooooooo!” Pinkie yelled.
“Gordon! Heh, let me get a look at you man! My god you haven’t changed one iota! How do you do it? Now let’s see, the last time I saw you, I sent you up for help after the resonance cascade. Heh, I never thought it would take you this long for you to get back to me!” Eli chuckled. “Welcome to the lab anyways, it’s not Black Mesa, but it served us well enough.”
“It’s going to be a lot more like Black Mesa with Gordon here to help.” Mossman smiled.
“Right you are! M.I.T Graduates are far and few between these days. We’ll get you out of that Hazard Suit and back into your lab coat where you belong.”
“Let me just finish up some work, I’ll see what I can dig up.” Mossman walked to the elevator and turned, “Doctor Freeman, It’s been a real honor. I’m looking forward to us working together.”
“Now Gordon, why don’t you introduce your friend here? Kleiner never said you’d be bringing company!” He motioned Twilight.
“It’s nice to meet you, sir. My name is Twilight.” She held out her hoof.
“Oh!” Eli smiled, “She can speak!”
“Finally someone who doesn't call me an ‘it’!” Twilight noticed his courtesy.
“Trust me, if you seen what I seen in Black Mesa, you’d understand.” He lightly stomped his hooked-leg.
“Explains why you haven’t started yelling yet.”
“I can see you’ve been taking care of Gordon here?”
“If it weren’t for him, I’d be toast, shredded, or shot. You know there are things out there that want cake?!”
“I should see up on that. Erm- Gordon! You sure made it here pretty quickly, how’d you deal with all the Civil Protection?”
Gordon simply smiled and patted his crowbar.
“Well, Twilight, feel free to look around, just make sure to put it back!”
Twilight looked around at the strange technology. It was somewhat like Kleiner’s lab, but a bit bigger. She took notice of a strange head-shaped object held in a container. Eli caught her curiosity.
“We’re still not sure what that does... My daughter brings in the strangest things sometimes,” he explained. Gordon saw a picture of a family in the corner of the room, he walked up and examined it. “You remember my wife Azian, don’t you? That picture and Alyx were all I managed to carry out of Black Mesa,” he said sorrowfully.
The sliding doors on the far side of the room slid open. Alyx stepped in the room and instantly locked eyes with Gordon. “Ah, Gordon! The vortigaunts said you were here! I can’t believe you made it so quickly on foot!”
“I believe he broke your record honey.” Eli chuckled.
“Well he earned it- Agh! Gordon, what is that?!” Alyx pointed at Twilight.
“Whoa, Alyx! Let’s calm down, she’s a friend.”
“I just wanna know what it is!”
“My name is Twilight, I’m a unicorn, alien. From a different universe.”
“Heh- I thought what I find was strange.”
“She made it here all the way from Kleiner’s lab with Gordon, I’m sure there's an explanation for this.”
“Erm, you may not believe this, based on other reactions,” Twilight rolled her eyes, ”but it’s because of a magical pulse sent through a cross-dimension at the exact time. In layman's terms, Kleiner’s portal is like a radio, and my magical teleport interfered.”
“Another resonance cascade. Luckily, it never opened any more portals.”
“That’s what happened with the Xen crystal,” Alyx finished.
“Xen crystal? I’ve heard of it, but only from Kleiner.” Twilight said, “Gordon hasn’t said much about it.”
“He’s a man of few words.” Eli chuckled.
“Alyx,” Mossman said, walking out from her office, “I thought you were on watch?”
“The vortigaunts relieved me so I could come see Gordon. Anyway I should be in here working on the portal.” Alyx replied, annoyed.
“I have the repairs well in hand. Someone misjudged the capacity of the combine thyristor.”
“Are you blaming me?”
“No, it was a calculation error, not a mechanical problem.”
“Then maybe you should let me do the calculations next time, as well as the installing.”
“Alyx, really... sometimes I think you deliberately misunderstand me.”
“Ahem. Alyx, why don’t you take Gordon and his friend to check out the gravity gun.” Eli smiled
warmly at Twilight.
“Sure! Come on, Gordon, lets go have some fun.”
“The zero point field energy manipulator is not a toy, Alyx!” Mossman scolded.
“Lets get out of here.”
“Coming, Twilight?” Gordon asked, seeing Twilight gaze around.
“Wha- oh yeah.”
Alyx opened up a door with keypad and leaded down a hallway.
“So I seen you met Dr. Mossman, she is one of the main reasons I spend so much time outside. You should hear her drone on about how it should have been her in the Black Mesa test chamber that day. I’m sorry, I shouldnt be talking behind her back... it just gets a bit claustrophobic down here.”
(Alyx pointed down a long, narrow hallway. The lights flickered and a rusty gate blocked the way.
“Thats the old passage to Ravenholm. We don’t go there anymore... Come on.”
She showed them through another airlock into an area outside. Tires, boxes, and rusted barrels littered the area. The dust was freshly settled on the ground, but lifted into the air as they walked.
“So here we are, the scrapyard. This is the gravity gun my father was talking about. You can call it the zero point energy field manipulator if you really want to.” She opened up a glass case and handed the device to Gordon. The device was metallic, but the front end glowed a dull orange.
“It’s designed for handling hazardous materials, but we mainly use it for heavy lifting. Give it a try. The primary trigger emits a charge, you can punt stuff and send it flying. I found it handy for clearing minefields. The secondary trigger lets you grab things, you can send them flying with the
primary. Once you have picked something up, you can drop it gently by pressing your secondary trigger again. Pick up some stuff and toss it. You can also pull stuff over from a distance. Try grabbing those barrels from that ledge up there.”
Twilight simply used her magic to pick up the barrel and gently set it in front of Alyx.
“Um, well Gordon was supposed to do that, but alright. Gordon, try launching some tires across the-” Twilight had already sent every tire zooming through the sky. “Erm, Ah!”
Alyx ran and jumped up onto a platform. “Gordon try stacking some boxes to get up here.”
Twilight trotted over and her horn began to glow. She picked up Gordon and set him up next to Alyx. “Just trying to help.” She giggled. Alyx looked annoyed, but shrugged it off.
Alyx led them to a large, open area. The ceiling exposed to the blank, gray sky.
“Now let me call dog, he loves to play fetch. Dog! Come!”
“What was that?” Twilight asked, looking confused.
“Erm- what is that sound?”
“Buurrzztt!” A large robotic machine came tumbling out of a shack on the opposite side of the junkyard.
“What- is that...”
“This is dog, my dad built him to protect me when I was a kid. First model way about yay-high,” she said, holding out a hand just above waist height. “I’ve been adding to him ever since. Haven’t I, boy? Ok dog lets play catch with Gordon and his friend here. You will need to use the gravity gun, Gordon. Twilight- erm- do whatever you do. Go ahead, dog. Throw!”
Dog threw a series of boxes, Gordon caught one, Twilight caught twelve. She was a better aim when they threw back, but it still worked out alright.
“Ok Gordon, let’s try something else. Throw something bigger, dog.”
Dog ran over and checked around for a box, instead he grabbed a whole dumpster.
“No Dog! No, boy, put that down!” Dog suddenly dropped it and looked alarmingly to the sky.
“What is it, dog? Oh my god what was that?” she said, looking to the sky where a swarm of flying metal objects was passing overhead. “Scanners! The combine is sweeping the area! We have to head back to the lab. Come on!”
They ran out and back into the airlock. The ground shook beneath them with a distant explosion. Alyx ran to the terminal and called Eli.
“Dad it’s Alyx are you there?”
“What's going on in there?”
“Where are you, Alyx?”
“We are in the scrapyard airlock stuck in a full autocycle.”
“Is Gordon still with you?”
“He is right here.”
“Good, I want you three to-” Another explosion shook the tunnel and the power shut off for a moment, before red emergency lights kicked on.
“Dad?” The screen shimmered back to life on backup power.
“Take Gordon out of here, head for the coast! Do not go through Raven-” The monitor cut off.
“Dad? Dad! Damn it! Dog open the airlock get us out of here! Hurry now!” Dog began pulling the doors apart. “Tear it apart if you have to, just get it open! That's enough, dog.” Alyx kneeled down and crawled through the opening. Twilight and Gordon followed behind.
They bolted back to the lab. Gordon and Twilight lagged behind, catching up. Suddenly, the ceiling caved in between them and Alyx, blocking the way out. Alyx’s voice called out, and she peeked through the only crack in the rubble.
“Gordon, Twilight, you need to get out of here, I can't leave my father. Dog, take
them to the Ravenholm tunnel, then circle around and try to meet up with me.”
Gordon and Twilight looked down the dark, eerie hallway leading to Ravenholm. Twilight became slightly nervous.
“I don’t like the look of this...”