Ben's eyes widened at the revelation of Eli's death. It couldn't have happened! "No." he muttered. "No, that can't be true!"
"I'm afraid it is...." another voice came from the crowd. The source eventually walked out to reveal itself. It was Mike, who walked over to give Ben and Emily a hug, while everyone else watched.
"I thought you were dead, too." he simply said in a flat tone. "We all did."
"Well, sorry to surprise you." Ben simply replied. "Things are very quiet around here..."
"They are." said Mike. "Eli's death has had a very large effect on us." Ben thought about this. He knew Mike was right. Eli was seen as a great leader by many rebels here. His passing had brought a devastating blow to morale.
"Where's Alyx?" Ben asked. "I need to know that she's alright."
"She's in the med-bay." Emily answered. "I wouldn't even go there, she needs time to grieve."
"She's been there for a while, Emily." Mike replied. "She hadn't come out of that med-bay ever since she first went in there four hours ago." He sighed, then continued with "I think her father's death may have broken her."
"I'll go and talk to her." Ben suggested. "We've known each other since Black Mesa. I'm one of the few people she trusts, so I hope she'll listen to me." With that, he started walking off towards the med-bay, alone.
"Sounds like this has happened recently." Shepard said. "What happened?"
Emily and Mike looked at each other. Who was going to explain? Emily nodded her head then looked back at Shepard.
"It happened earlier today in the hangar." she began. "We had just disabled the super portal and...."
"Hold on a second." Scorch interrupted. "I know of portals, but what the hell is a super portal?"
"It formed above the ruins of City 17." Mike answered. "The Combine were going to use it to bring in reinforcements. If they succeeded, the outcome would've been far worse than the Seven Hour War. I think I remember hearing Eli say that this time, we wouldn't last seven minutes."
"But you destroyed this super portal though, right?" Fixer asked.
"We did." Emily replied. "It was thanks to Magnusson, who launched a rocket that used a xenium resonator to take it down."
Sev noticed that there was signs of a battle, both inside and outside the base. "Looks like it wasn't easy." he said.
"The Combine launched an assault in an attempt to destroy the rocket." Emily continued. "If it hadn't been for Freeman, they would've done it."
"Let's get back to Eli." Shepard said. "How was he killed?"
"He was seeing Alyx and Gordon off, who were going to find Judith Mossman." Mike said. "Apparently, she had found a big secret that vanished from Aperture Science. It was a ship, but I couldn't remember the name."
"The Borealis." Emily reminded him. "Eli wanted the ship destroyed, because he deemed it too powerful and dangerous to use."
"According to Alyx, as they entered the hangar bay, two Combine Advisors attacked." Mike continued. "They killed Eli, and would've killed both Alyx and Gordon too, if it weren't for Dog."
"Dog?" Shepard asked. He was confused. Who was Dog?
"Alyx's pet robot, you could say." Emily answered. "Or more like a guardian. Eli built him to protect her when she was little."
"He may act like a dog, but he's anything but." Mike said. "I watched him take down a freaking Strider somewhere out in the perimeter."
"Sounds like a droid I'd definitely have as a companion." Scorch happily commented. Emily and Mike looked at him, then at each other in confusion. "Sorry." he quickly added. "Where we come from, we call them droids."
"OK." Mike said. "Anyway, that's where it ended."
"You have my condolences on his loss." Shepard said, putting a hand on Emily's shoulder.
"And mine as well." Boss added on. "I bet he was a good leader."
"Thanks." Emily said. "He was a good leader."
"Let me take you guys to see Magnusson." Mike offered. "He's the one in charge right now."
"Very well." Shepard replied. "Lead the way."
Ben made his way towards the med-bay. As he passed through the door, he noticed the unusual ammount of silence. He looked round and saw various things, such as medical equipment, a couple of computers and beds.
He saw Alyx knelt down, on her knees, with her eyes closed, in the middle of two beds, each occupied by someone. The bed to her left had Gordon Freeman on it, while the one on her right had her deceased father lying on it.
"Alyx." Ben said. "You need to talk to me." Alyx said nothing, and remained where she was, not moving.
"My parents are dead too, you know." Ben tried again. "I know what you're going through." A few moments of silence passed by.
"It all happened so fast." Alyx said at last. "I honestly thought that we could live a normal life again after all this is over." She shed a few tears. "Now, I'll never be able to live a normal life."
She looked up at Ben. "Where were you?" she asked. "We all thought you were dead. Losing you too would've made things more difficult."
"I was captured." Ben replied. "They wanted me to give the location of White Forest. I didn't, so they tortured me."
"Then how did you escape?" Alyx asked again.
"The Alliance sent a strike team in to rescue me." Ben continued. "I nearly died, since they had a droid with them."
"I was in a near death situation, too." Alyx said. "Gordon and I were on route to White Forest, and we came across a mine. At one point, a Hunter jumped me and it left me in a critical condition." She turned round, showing the holes the Hunter had made in her back. "If it weren't for the Vortigaunts..... I'd be dead."
Ben didn't know what to say. Alyx herself had nearly died, yet she lost her father earlier today. She has had a rough day. However, someone needed to take control of things around here, since the Combine might, and probably will, retaliate. He had dedicated himself to the Alliance, so he's out of the question. Kleiner and Magnusson themselves are only scientists. Being Eli's daughter, Alyx is the only one who could step up, as long as Ben could convince her. He needed to try.
"Alyx...." Ben began. "I know you've had a very rough day, but you need to listen to me."
"Why?" Alyx asked. "It's over. My father's dead, they've won."
"No, they haven't." Ben insisted. "Not unless you step up to take charge of things around here."
"Why would you suggest that?" Alyx asked. "I'm no leader."
"No, but I know for a fact that the Combine know of this place now. They will return, or maybe their allies will."
"Allies?" Alyx asked. "The Combine have no allies!"
"They do." Ben quickly replied. "The Collective, which is comprised of many factions. Cerbeurs was the one that took me back in City 17."
"You mean those yellow and white soldiers I saw?" Alyx asked again. She recalled seeing those soldiers back in City 17.
"Yeah, those are the ones." Ben answered. "We won't stand a chance against them. Their technology is years ahead of our own."
"Are you suggesting an evacuation of the base?" Alyx asked. "We can't simply run away, you know! And what of my father? We can't leave his body here!"
"Eli deserves a burial somewhere safe." Ben assured her. "Alyx, please listen to me! That Combine assault earlier has compromised the whole facility!"
Alyx thought about this. Ben was right. Thanks to the battle earlier, the Combine knew the whereabouts of White Forest. It isn't safe anymore. However, at the same time, she wanted revenge for her father. She was so angry at the Combine that she'd rather just stood her ground and fight them off should it come to it. However, she knew that if she didn't evacuate, a lot of good people are probably going to die. She decided to trust her friend on this.
"I'll give the order out as soon as possible." Alyx said quietly, nodding her head. "The unarmed and wounded must come first though. My father's body included."
"Of course." Ben agreed. "But where are they supposed to go?"
"Barney recently mentioned that he's setting up a camp about 30 miles from here." Alyx answered. "I'm hoping that the Alliance will escort them there."
"We'll have to talk with Shepard about that." Ben said. "But I don't see why they wouldn't help. They've helped us in City 17, anyway."
"You have a point, there." Alyx agreed. She heard some groaning and turned round. She saw Gordon sitting up on the bed, than turned to placed his feet on the ground.
"Seems like Gordon's waking up." Alyx said. She turned back to Ben. "Go and get some lunch. I'll come and find you once I've had some time with him."
"Sure." Ben simply replied. He turned round to walk out of the room.
"Ben, wait a second." Alyx called from behind. Ben turned round to face her. "Thanks for coming by." she said. "It's nice to know that I'm not alone."
"Alyx, we've known each other for a long time." Ben said. "You know I'll always look out for you." He gave a small wink at Alyx, who smiled back and watched as Ben placed his helmet back on and walked out the med-bay.
Meanwhile, the rebels are all having lunch in the cafeteria. It all seemed unusually quiet due to Eli's passing. Some people were having fish and chips, while others preferred sausages and eggs for lunch.
Emily was sitting at a table alongside Sev and Scorch, while Shepard, Boss and Fixer have followed Mike to find Magnusson. None of them were hungry, so they just sat and watched as rebels got their meals and ate them.
"So, how did you two meet?" Scorch asked Emily. He was trying to start up a conversation.
"Who, me and Mike?" Emily asked.
"No, you and Ben. What's the story?"
Emily smiled. "Well, it really is a long story." she began. "We met in City 17 about two years ago. He was a member of the Resistance, while I was just a regular citizen living in peace."
"Thought you hated the Combine...." Sev wondered.
"I do." Emily replied. "I say peace, but it's more like slavery. Everyone was left to their own will, but there were a lot of laws under the Combine rule. Break one, and the consequences were severe."
"Did you have any family back then?" Scorch asked.
"No." Emily answered. "My parents died during the Seven Hour War. Some survivors saved me and I lived with them over the years to come."
"I am so sorry to hear about that." Scorch said solemnly. "It must have been hard growing up without your folks."
"It was." Emily said. "But that was a long time ago, and I'm still alive, so there's that."
Sev nodded his head. "Indeed. That doesn't explain how you and Ben met, though."
"I was just getting to that." Emily quickly said. "One day, I discovered something I wasn't meant to see. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it was intel that the Resistance could use against the Combine. It was a wild goose chase. Civil Protection raided our apartment, and killed everyone there, except for me. I barely escaped with my life."
"Then, how did Ben find you?" Sev asked. "Or did you find him?"
"One of our group was in contact with the Resistance." Emily continued. "However, Civil Protection must have found out. Knowing that the intel would be useful, the rebels sent a small group to infiltrate the city and retrieve the intel. Civil Protection then raided and killed everyone, while I escaped with the intel. I was cornered by a metro cop, but Ben appeared and shot him in the head. We both escaped afterwards."
"That was interesting to hear." Scorch said.
"Glad you liked it." Emily replied. "Ben saved my life that day. He's a good man that I will never forget." She let out a deep breath. "Now, it's my turn to ask questions." she said. "I want to know something about you two."
"Well, there's not much to say about us really." Scorch began. "Other than the fact that we're both clones and...."
"Wait a second." Emily quickly interrupted. "You're both clones?"
"Yeah." Sev answered. "Same goes for Boss and Fixer. The four of us are clones." He looked at Scorch. "Let's show her." The two took off their helmets.
Emily's mouth was wide open with surprise. They both looked exactly alike. "Wow." She exclaimed. "You both look precisely the same!"
"Not something you see every day, is it?" Scorch said as he put his helmet back on.
"Not at all." Emily agreed. "I didn't think that something like that was possible."
Just that moment, they heard the sound of a door opening. Emily looked to her right and saw Ben walking towards them. As he approached them, he took his helmet off and sat down next to her.
"Glad to see you cheered up a bit, Emily." Ben said.
"Been telling these two how we both met." Emily replied. "Did you know that these two are clones?"
"Yep." Ben simply said. "Sounds cool, doesn't it?"
"You already knew of this?" Emily asked. "When did they tell you?"
"Round the time we met on the Citadel." Scorch answered. "Me and Ben became friends quite quickly."
"I would love to go back there." Emily wondered. "It looked like paradise."
"Hopefully, if we win this war, I'll take you there." Ben said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go and get some chow in me. I'll try not to get anything on my white armor." Before he could get up, Emily grasped his hand.
"You have no idea how I felt when I didn't hear anything from you after City 17." she said.
"I bet, sweetheart." Ben replied. The two leaned in for a quick smooch on the lips.
"Sheesh, get a room you two!" Scorch exclaimed. "We're sitting right here!"
Emily giggled. "I like these two already."