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Chapter One – Meeting a friend

Arya woke up to a sound of a distant siren, a very strange sound that, even feeling oddly familiar, she couldn’t quite place. She looked outside at the vast empty station surrounding her and saw nothing else but the light mist. The UV lights where set to sunrise intensity so she decided to eat some breakfast before taking off to explore the vast underground complex.

Being ready to go, Arya exited the train car and headed off north to the closest tunnel. Reaching the first exit of the station she heard a voice; it was female, but with a light synthetic feel to it. Probably a recording coming out of the old PA systems. Turning on the reactors must have turned on some of the auxiliary systems as well. The PA was announcing that the time was 8:47AM and the current topside temperature was 93 degrees with an estimated high of one hundred and five. About the temperature she didn’t know, but the time was way off; her wrist-watche showed a quarter past ten.

Arya entered a broad concrete tunnel with doors leading to small offices and labs; most of them had windows filled with dust and cobwebs. Looking at the tunnel, she couldn’t see the end of it, the sharp curve to the right was barely visible in the distance. It’s going to take a long time exploring this place, she thought.

Most of the equipment in the labs was still in one piece; dusty but intact. Some things where broken, but the majority of it felt like the place was abandoned just like that. No rushing, no panic, people just left and never came back. Did the war ever reach this place? There were no blast marks on the walls, no bullet holes, nothing. And no dead bodies either; she was expecting to find some remains lying around.

Arya started exploring the labs, trying to find some terminal that still worked. It wasn’t that difficult, they were built to last. She kept finding references to the Resonance Cascade, the Anti-Mass Spectrometer and an unknown crystal sample, but she could’t find the link between them. She knew that there was a Resonance Cascade that made the Dimensional Rift open and caused the Seven Hour War, but what had that to do with the Crystal Sample.

She also found the personnel files; they weren’t of much use, but her grandfather was listed there. It said he worked at Sector C Test Labs, Anomalous Materials. There were also detailed maps of the transit system along with some info about the retinal clearance system. She needed to get access to the entire complex, who knows how the security system is and what parts are still working. She quickly transferred every infotmation into her eBox, left the room and headed towards the security area.

According to the newly found map, it should be located at the Central Transit Hub in Area 9, just on the other end of the Train Station. At least now she had some more detailed info on the complex.

Arya reached the big metal doors leading to the security offices and proceeded to open them. As soon as her hands grabbed the doors, a rasp male voice begged her to stop, almost giving her a heart-attack. She quickly turned around, pointing her grand-father’s Glock to the source of the voice. Her eyes opened wide, her jaw dropped wide open. It was a vortigaunt. A living breathing vortigaunt. The alien quickly raised his arms, all three of them and told her he was a friend.

She lowered the pistol and asked him – Who… are you?
– I am called Healer in your tongue and i know of you. We have exchanged voice patterns many times with the grandfather.
– “We”.? Ah, yes of course, you are a collective consciousness… Wait. You have met my grandfather?
– That is affirmative. He was a great man. His work was of the utmost importance to our liberation from the slavery of the Combine.
– Wow.Are there any others here?
– Alas, no. Most of my kind left after they were freed by the Freeman. The few that remained behind with me are now part of the essence. But I am not alone here. There are still others like you with me.
– Really? You mean, this complex is not abandoned?
– Most of it is now abandoned and in decay, but a small part deep inside is still alive. Where we live awaiting the return of the Freeman.

That was begining to be a little too much information. Freeman returning? What was the vort on about? He was dead.