[This is part of an ongoing series. See my ‘Half-Life Story‘ page for more information.]
CHAPTER 2 – REMEMBRANCES
I shuffled about my office, shifting papers and organizing miscellany, when Brice walked in.
“Your door is open,” he commented.
“Yeah,” was all I replied. I continued rummaging around, apparently keen to avoid conversation, though not really sure why. I tossed a crude map of City 14 onto a pile of other maps. Then I penciled in the last remaining details of Brice’s rescue excursion into a log. Each section of the Resistance tries to maintain a precise log of activities carried out against the Combine. This way, leaders can compare notes and share what they may have learned about the enemy or what progress may have been made in a particular area. Once finished, these were placed into a locking briefcase.
My gun lay on the far corner of the desk; a COP .357 Derringer. Sure, there are plenty of other guns in ready supply. This one, however, is my personal weapon of choice. It is always on my person when I am outside the office. Always. I have it for the same reason I have a piece of submarine for a door: security. And this piece of security is my favorite. We found this gun in a leveled police station somewhere in the outskirts of town. Since it takes both .357 and .38 Special type ammunition, common in handguns and hunting rifles, I never have to worry about running low. Imagine a gun one can conceal in his palm, but instead of one barrel, it has four, with two on top and two on the bottom.
For legal reasons it was originally constructed to fire one barrel at a time. Yet in this day and age there are no rules. With our enemy the Combine ravaging the earth, all bets are off. My customized COP can fire all four rounds at once if I wanted. Just flip a little switch above the handle grip and the main firing pin inside the gun will lock with three others that were added in so that all four bullets can be triggered at once. If I choose to use a single shot, then the main firing pin will automatically rotate to the next round. Once all four rounds are spent, the small gun easily cracks open like a shotgun to dump the empty rounds out and thumb the new ones in. Whether I fire one round or four, this gun is good for defense if I have nothing else on-hand.
I later found out that COP stood for Compact Off-Duty Police, as it was a handy backup for off-duty policemen. It was for a time when service men felt it their duty to serve the people of their country, whether on duty or off-duty. It was a role fit for a civilized society; where the government was benevolent and maintained a policing force that cared about the protection and safety of its citizens. Civil Protection was a name derived from that original notion. In reality, it was nothing more than a ploy of propaganda. I now played the part of a service man against all odds; against the reign of a tyrannical dictator. It is the least I can do to keep the memory of our past heroes alive.
I recall the time I preferred a simple Heckler and Koch USP Match semi-automatic pistol. A basic hand gun. This was my first gun, easy to wield – just point and shoot – and it emptied rounds as fast as I could squeeze the trigger. In all honesty, people are easy to kill. One round from any gun can kill if aimed right. This is why I felt it sufficient to use a simple pistol at first. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sufficient once the monsters started showing up. That’s when I knew I needed more.
Anyway, when I had the pistol, I only used it for self-defense of course, though it was no consolation for how horrible it felt to fire upon a human being. What else could be done? People went crazy. Chaos ensued during the Seven Day War. The invading Combine challenged the world’s best military. That war marked the beginning of an anarchy that ended in the Combine’s victory. That was a horrible few weeks. If you’ve heard how quickly a normal group of sane citizens could revert into frenzied rioters and looters when a mere power outage occurs, then you might have a slight picture of the carnage I witnessed during the first few weeks of this new dark age. Next door neighbors even tried to break into my apartment with kitchen knives and a sawzall.
Do understand, the world received battle damage astronomically beyond any combination of wars in earth’s history, and in the shortest duration. There wasn’t a single large city unaffected. With the failure of all world governments during the course of this war everyone was fending for themselves. Hence, anarchy ruled for several months until the Combine established its army on earth. And such an army it became. At first, however, it was all-out war.
Most believed the earth still had a chance to kill the invasion off. But it was Dr. Breen, the administrating physicist of Black Mesa, who pacified the world at this crucial junction, and by his campaigning he guided popular vote to eventually accept a new reality, even as wild aliens swept through the countryside. Word of a disaster at the Black Mesa research facility spread quickly, but knowledge of what actually happened that frightful day was pure speculation. It is said that an otherworldly portal was ripped open, invisible to the eye and unpredictable in its output. Dr. Breen used this hearsay to his advantage, arguing that the spread of monstrous creatures to a global scale was inevitable. By their method of entry onto the earth, and the ease by which they reproduced and occupied themselves within the American continent, they were a deadly reality that could destroy the human race.
He strung us in despair only long enough to fully entice us with his solution. The human race would be destroyed unless something was done about it. Certainly the human race was the most adaptable and innovative species ever to inhabit this planet, but the process is now much hindered by disunity of thought within the multitudes of self-aware homo sapiens. Natural selection has fared well enough for the animals of this planet for millions of years, and under natural circumstances the same applied to humans in the face of their own difficulties through the centuries. However, the crisis they then faced was no natural occurrence. An unnatural blending of two worlds has taken place. New species have been introduced into a new environment not fit to sustain them, and they too will attempt to adapt, at the expense of the native inhabitants. Just as the introduction of foreign zebra clams into Lake Michigan literally clogged the lake’s economy and wildlife, so these creatures will choke the earth of its own economy and wildlife. Only two solutions existed. The answer which came most easily? Eradicate every last intruder with swift action, strict maintenance, and brutal suppression. Such would be the case when scorpions enter your home. You must take preventative measures immediately to keep them out. You must check your shoes before you put them on. Anything that would provide support for the intruder is to be removed.
Even though the experiment failed, Dr. Breen found a way to keep blame off himself. In fact, he immediately propagated a motion for martial law over the facility. The marines moved in on Black Mesa with orders to kill everything that moves. In efforts to contain the situation, and perhaps contain hearsay against Dr. Breen, everyone employed at Black Mesa was effectively sentenced to death alongside the intruding aliens.
At first, Dr. Breen embraced this plan, pushing for it with a wildly enthusiastic following from the higher ups, eager to eradicate every last remnant of the secret science facility. However, as it became apparent that the contamination had spread beyond the confines of desert surrounding Black Mesa in the middle of New Mexico, he cautioned that effective coordination which would last relied upon the appointment of a chief adviser to this project, someone who knew the situation best and could provide reliable guidance to the various endeavors required. All said, Dr. Breen offered that he was up to the noble role. He suggested that his qualifications provided the best service toward what needed to be done. As administrator of the Black Mesa facility, his high government standing added to the persuasion.
Not that he was a particularly charismatic person, but his speeches to the masses made sense. He gave gave the world their option, and everyone truly felt that it was the only viable and reasonable option. The panic of worldwide destruction coupled with the convincing advice of a renowned scientist made room for government adjustments the world had never seen. The pace by which he accomplished this task surpassed a century of progress by the United Nations. Within a day multitudes were calling him a worldwide savior. Thousands of others called him the Antichrist; it was no use. Before a week passed world desperation instilled an unprecedented outcome: Dr. Breen was appointed supreme potentate of the world. A cabinet was quickly compiled to represent different areas of expertise. They offered advice for the potentate and filtered orders to the respective areas of need. It was certainly a good way to get things done fast and ensure that no one resisted and got in the way of fast needed progress and cooperation. All said and done, Dr. Wallace Breen now held free dominion over the terms of global attack and surrender.