hecu_marine: (Default)
When the Combine took over Earth, there were places they didn't really bother with. The Xen incursions of the prior four years left parts of the world depopulated, and frankly, without the resources the Universal Union was most interested in, those places just weren't worth the bother. It would be wrong to say human civilization flourished in those places. Flourishing implies the ability to reproduce and continue. But it managed, more or less. Some people just don't know how to lie down and die.

They weren't Resistance, exactly. That would require them to be actively engaged in the fight against the Combine. But in the southernmost reaches of the Rust Belt, the people in the places where Earth's extraction industries had once been and gone? They kept right on living. Not the way they used to; it was too dangerous now, between Xen wildlife and the occasional lazily roaming synth. In the tunnels that used to be the mines, or under the buildings that had been mills, they kept on going. When the opportunities arose they took to the surface for as long as they needed, and they gathered or hunted or raised what they could. It was a hell of a situation to be in, but hell, they hadn't had it easy before. Why should now be any different?

That was the thing about the Rust Belt survivors. They had long, long memories. And they were good at getting old things to keep working long after they should've logically given up the ghost. Generators, for example. Electrical lighting. Radios. You never knew what might be coming your way; if the Combine got angry real fast, or if the Resistance actually made a move, you wanted to know. Who knew. You might need to throw in with them if that was what it took to be left alone.

Or, you know, you might pick up on Combine reports about the destruction of the Scab. And if you listened real close you'd hear that the Resistance stole more than they destroyed. Score one for humanity, right?

. . . did they just say that? Did they just say to keep an eye on the sky for the helicopter with the Marine in it? Since when were there any of those even left? And where was that son of a bitch going?

. . . well, long story short, the survivors had long, long memories, and Tim Hutchence wasn't the only man with good reason to be mad as hell at the prospect. Either someone was lying, or someone had been laying low for a damned long time, and either way there was at least one survivor who'd lost family at Black Mesa twenty years before. And he was going to get some answers, thank you very much.
hecu_marine: (helicopter)
Some time ago, between Scab Labor and Making Tracks. . .

"Stop that, Tim."

Tim Hutchence made a face. "I'll scratch if I want to," he said. "Who died and made you a medic?"

The other man, a tall, horse-faced fellow with shoulders long hunched by habit, poked him in the shoulder. "Bug juice didn't cure it. You should take it more seriously."

"Seriously, ten Boom. You're sabotage, not medicine."

"The medics are busy," ten Boom said. "I'm here. They're not. And you're scratching. Stop it."

Tim rolled his eyes but dropped his hand. "All right, all right… not like I had my hand under the bandage or anything…"


"Sorry." Tim leaned back against the corrugated metal wall. They hadn't pulled back out of the Scab's ruins yet. The shed was all the shelter they had for the wounded. And there were plenty of those still unaccounted for; the few medics he had under his command were digging through the rubble to find them.

A thought occurred to him; he glanced over at ten Boom. "I'm not hearing anything overhead. Did that Marine get a landing site after all?"

ten Boom nodded. "Worst landing I've ever seen," he said, "and he threw up after- but yes."

Tim snorted. He'd had cousins in the Corps, several of them. That Shephard kid brought up way too many memories. If it weren't for that ID card the kid was carrying, Tim would never have believed him anything but a fake… and there wouldn't've been air support against those gunships, and half his people would be a lot worse off than just pinned down by rubble. Tim didn't have to like him to admit that Shephard had been valuable.

He also had to admit that from here on out, his Resistance cell was going to be running small, covert ops at ground level, at least until they decided what their next strategic move was. There were a lot of opportunities now, between knocking out the Scab and just having all the extra equipment they'd managed to take. And, well, while that hunter-chopper had saved their lives, it probably wasn't going to be as much use hereabouts as it could be elsewhere…

"Jan." ten Boom glanced his way again. "Question. If it was up to you, what would you blow next?"

ten Boom's eyebrows rose a moment; then he shrugged. "The old Johnstown line. The Combine have razor terminals east of there, big ones. I worked on them years ago-"

"You worked on everything."

"Yes. Well." ten Boom shrugged. "The line from here to Johnstown. The western lines, to City 23 and the rest of the west, those are bigger- but cut the rail to Johnstown and it will give the impression we plan to move east, to take the terminal and hack the razor network. They'll waste time reinforcing their supply lines while we go after industrial sites."

Tim nodded. "Sound thinking," he said. "Mind if I send someone else to do it?"

ten Boom's expression took on a faintly injured cast.

"We've got to do something with that helicopter. I need you and your squad for our move into the Rust Valley. Let Shephard and that Aperture girl do it and buy you and yours the time to get busy."

There was a long, thoughtful silence. Then ten Boom nodded. "All right," he said. "It should work. I'll go and find him."

"Good luck."

"Don't scratch while I'm gone," ten Boom warned him, and ducked out the door.

Tim closed his eyes and wished the day was over. It was a sentiment he'd echo again in a few hours' time, when the Marine would send back his frantic radio message about the call drawing every single unassigned Combine unit north to White Forest, and about who he'd rescued from the razor trains.

Not that it would make time pass any quicker either way.


hecu_marine: (Default)
Sergeant-Major Adrian Shephard

October 2016

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