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Half Life: Full Life Consequences, the quadrilogy of Half Life novellas which follow the Freeman family tree, presents a post-Combine world with stark differences.
Overall, it seems that Combine rule has been reduced to collective forces controlling only metropolitan areas, as the first story shows that John Freeman is working as a scientist in an office. Not only does the Combine not have any influence, but industry, infastructure, and even internet communications have returned to the populace.
Gordon Freeman is still a prominate figure, preferring to live in hostile areas, where Xen creatures and Headcrab Zombies are still a threat. Gordon has internet communications, as he is able to send a message to John for his help.
One of the few odd nitpicks is why John keeps clothes and a motorcycle on the office roof, but this is easly looked over. It is unknown how tall the building is, or if John is ramping off the roof, and onto a hill nearby, as it would be dangerous to do such stunts with an improvised or salvaged motorcycle. But this does show that John is fearless, and will stop at nothing to help his brother where he was.
Though Johns living area is quite clear of danger, he quickly comes across one or two headcrab zombies. It seems to be either a zombine, or perhaps a metrocopzombie. Just like how the zombine and regualr zombie are able to string a few fragmented sentences together, John is able to have a short conversation with the headcrabofficer. This seems to be mostly for John's own entertainment, seeing that he didn't really have to talk, he could have just kept driving, or ran them over.
John then continues his quest to help his brother where he is. He notes that the countrysides are nice, with colorful imagry with the plants, birds and the sun, symbolizing the freedom from oppression.
Eventually John reaches Ravenholm. This is another interesting writing chioce, seeing that Ravenholm has surely destroyed, if not extremely irradiated from the Citadel collapse. There could be a few explainations to this:
- This is an alternate timeline story, where the Citadel was not destroyed, at least in the fashion presented in Episode 1.
- This is Ravenholm that was far enough away not to be obliterated and/or irradiated (to a certain degree) from the Citadel collapse.
- Another town is called Ravenholm (It is called Ravenholdm at one point, and not mentioned again, so it is difficult to discern which one is correct) that happens to have the same infestation as Gregori's Ravenholm.
- This town was named in honor of those who were lost at Ravenholm, and happen to fall under the same fate; The Combine discovering it and shelling it with headcrab canisters.
Opposed to the countrysides, Ravenholm is dark and bloody, symbolizing the death and destruction that has occured there.
John finds a house, inhabited by zombie ghosts, and whether these are ghosts or headcrab zombies, is left unknown to the reader. These can be interpreted as Johns inner deamons of self doubt and cowardice. He demands that they leave, and the ghosts respond back that this house is thiers. John feels for them, and blows up the house to kill the ghosts to be at peace, as if to exorsize the zombie ghosts within him.
Afterwards, John quickly discovers Gordons location (leading to the Famous Error, Gorden Freeman, which many fans have dubbed as "The Third Brother"), where he is fighting one of the games bosses. It is unclear what he is fighting, but his email does say that he is fighting "aliens and monsters", so he is most likely fighting a Antlion Guard, or another ferocious Xen creature. He could be fighting a Hunter, seeing that they are what the Combine use for large open areas outside of cities, but the Hunter does have eyes, which is what John targets when he shoots the creature.
John arrives in time to assist Gordon in the final blow against the creature. The two hardly have time to celebrate, or even catch up with each other, as John looks up in the sky and sees another danger, to which Gordon tells John to save himself. John flees, but looks back to see Grondon get stepped on by the creature, and vows revenge for Gordon.
This creature is most likely a Strider, being carried by a Dropship. The Strider is the only entity that uses its feet against its targets. The Dropship explains how it came from the sky. The Strider also does not have a face or eyes like the last boss. The Strider theory is expanded in the Second book, "What Has Tobe Done".
John Freeman retreats back to the office, where, in the heroes journey model, is in the abyss phase, where the hero recieves a difficult blow, and must find a way to recover, if at all, determining the heroes further courses of action. He loses his bike in the process, having to walk back, symbolizing the fact that he is now alone. When his bike ran out of fuel, he jumped off the bike, and fell on dead peoples hands. This is seen as the dead literally reaching out to John, in the form of some persons macabre trophy collection. John sees these hands, and alludes to Gordons death by saying, "Gordon Freeman is now these hands... I must kill the next boss and live up to full life consequences!" After attacking a tree in frustration, John finds eggs that have fallen out of the tree. In an emotional reversal, he puts them back home safe, saying, "These birds don't have to see Gordon Freeman yet. It's not time."
When he returns to the office, He recieved an email from his mother, hoping that He and Gordon will return soon for Thanksgiving. This shows further evidence of the loss of Combine control, that common folk are able to use the internet, as well as returning to normal life, such as the celebration of holidays. It could be interpreted that this story is happening in the Fall, though this Thanksgiving could be based off of the liberation of (most of) Earth from Combine control.
This email saddens John, who decided that he should return to Ravenholm, and face his demons. It is here that we learn that John is a serious motorcycle magnate; he has a souped up combat bike, capable of carrying a lot of ordinance. Before this though, he checks the internet, which must be the primary, non-VVortigaunt method of Resistance communication, to find if there is any weakness to this creature which had supposedly killed Gordon. This helps further the evidence that the creature is a Strider, explained more below.
John encounters more zombie ghosts at another house. The symbolic purging of the other ghosts failed, leading John to flee when Gordon was killed. John decides to take another tactic, offering the ghosts friendship if they move next to the countrysides, which is symbolic of peace and freedom. The ghosts reject his offer, and John is forces to kill them, but not before the ghosts offer up a foreshadowing remark: "You will be one of us!"
John advances slowly to the next boss, oserving him from a distance. The boss can be heard laughing at John, so he fired a rocket at the boss, becuase it is vunerable to rocket fire. Mentioned above, this weakness to the rocket helps determine that it is a Strider, along with its electronic yells and whoops, and be seen as 'laughing'.
After John defeats the Strider, he finds the remains of Gordon. He beings to weep as he tells his fallen brother about defeating the Strider. John takes a momentary glance at Gordon, and realizes that he had not seen the headcrab on Gordon. Gordon then stands and accuses John of letting him become a zombie, and vows revenge on John.
The reader is left with a cliffhanger ending, one that would not be resolved for years.
In a twist, this tale is not titled as Full Life Consequences, as a ingenious plot device to hide the twist ending.
As theorized before, the Combine are left to only lord over metropolitan areas. The story takes a moment to refresh the story of the dark and scarry Combine world.
We see our new hero, Henry Freeman, and we wonder what his connection to Gordon Freeman or John Freeman might be. Young Henry lives with his mother in sorrow and squalor. He laments to her as to why Combines are here. She tells Henry how Combines are from science and outter space, who in turn, hate humanity. It is here we see the author show how one day the dominance of science over society will bring about cold, calculated and antipathic change. Henry Freeman and the civility hate oppression, but are afraid to make a stand.
While about in the city, Henry witnessess Combine brutality against a young woman. Asking his mother why, she simply states, she is human, and they are evil Combines. It strikes the reader that Henry Freeman's mother simply wants to put her head down and walk away unseen. Henry, though, finds something within himself and decides to take a stand. He demands that the Combies stop beating the girl. The Combines threaten Henry with their weapons. Henry's mother gives her life to protect her son, as the Combines shot her in the head when she defended him from the Combines. The cCombines only laugh, their words dripping with creulty and sarcasam, thier masks, unfeeling, yet almost sneering.
It is interesting to point out that at this point, humans have been called humens, and it is not explained why. It could be surmised that it is a corruption, a slur against humanity as a whole, so widespread that humans themselves use such a term to describe themselves. It only shows more evidence to how powerful Combine propiganda and media control has over the populace lives.
Henry Freeman mounes his mother, and in her last words tells him to escape. He vows revenge, and with an unquenchable fire burning within, he wrenches from the Combines and shoots them in thier hearts, as they had torn apart his. He decares, "This is not over!" This fire burned in the people as well. Over the years, the pain and sorrow built, untill this one spark, this one young man set this fire ablaze. The people rebelled, fighting Combines, improvising weapons, and chrrering on Henry Freeman.
"Combines," says Henry Freeman, as if to parallel fight and pain, "We are not scarred no more!" He lead the army with a rebel yell. The people now had someone to rally around.
The army fought their way to the City's Citadel, when they encountered the Overwatch forces in full, as numerous terrifying Striders outnumbered buildings. They blocked thier way, as if they were one counciousness saying, 'Where do you think your going?'
Henry Freeman orders the army to charge, and a battle that hasn't been seen since the great battle of City 17 rages. As if a miricale, Henry finds a Gravity Gun, and one has to wonder if like Gordon, there is someone else pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Through the gunfire and explosions, Henry puts down his head, and whispers a declatarion, "Combines, it is time to do what has to be done, and live up to my family name."
Henry looks up and sees the death; people being shot, massive explosions, and impalements by the spikes of striders. Yet through this, Henry remains apathetic. It is only when he sees that humanity is fighting a loosing battle does he realize this truer purpose. He saw how strong and biig the Combines were, but he no longer cared for his safety. The gravity gun, seemingly powered by his own rage and innser strenth, gained the power to throw the mighty striders at whim. Combine stronghouses became rubble at the feet of Henry Freeman, giving the humans a chance to win the battle. The Gravity Gun was also able to throw Combies themselves into the air, as if they were Henry's playthings.
Above the city, a Combine Superportal opened, and hundred of thousands of Combine reenforcements spilled though. Leading the Combine forces was a figure shrouded in darkness, whose voice boomed over the battle, "You are surrounded. Prepair to die."
Henry Freeman knew that if humanity lost, then the world would be plunged further into darkness and sorrow. "Fight!", Henry rallied again. He knew that is was going to be a futile gesture, when the sun itself seemed to go nova. The light blocked out the city, as a man decended from his portal, his voice louger than the dark man. "Combines," John Freeman said, "Leave. My. Son. Alone."