Before Floyd Mason left the Borealis, Alyx gave him a thorough run-down of the procedures necessary to make a secure radio transmission back to the ship. Wonder of wonders, Floyd actually remembered it long enough to get the protocol set up at the local Resistance base. In the twenty-odd hours since then, communications have been short and sporadic: they made it to the base, they're filling the locals in on the Gene Worm... and there's an American here who claims to be The One Free Man.
Alyx isn't overly concerned about that last piece of news. She knows it's happened before, back in City 08, and feels confident that Gordon and the rest of the shore party will settle his hash quickly enough. Mostly, Alyx wishes she could be there to witness Gordon's confrontation with the impostor firsthand. That would be a sight to see.
Now, Floyd reports that the false Freeman is going to make a speech. Alyx managed to talk him through setting up a small camera and patching in a video feed. The image is staticky and the camera is so far off center that the podium is barely in the frame, but it'll serve. she's patched it through to one of the main monitors in the control room, and a substantial crowd of onlookers has gathered there to watch. Alyx herself is, of course, right in front.
She wishes she had popcorn.
So far, there's nothing on the video feed except another crowd of people massed in front of the makeshift podium. Then a murmur of noise rises from the crowd as they look at something off-camera. A similar sound ripples through the crowd on the bridge as two figures walk into view. Both of them are wearing HEV suits.
The feed is too grainy to get a good look at the impostor. He's slightly shorter than Gordon, and his suit is yellow where Gordon's is orange, but Alyx can't make out any more details than that. He swaggers up to the podium, with Gordon trailing just behind, looking as uncomfortable as ever to be in the spotlight.
The man in the yellow suit steps up to the podium and raises both hands for silence. "Ladies and gentlemen," he begins, "You're all no doubt aware of the strangers in our midst today. What you may not know is that they've brought with them some alarming news. The Combine's evacuation of civilians from the cities of Europe was for a more sinister purpose than we ever could have imagined..."
"He talks a good talk, I'll give him that," someone murmurs from the vicinity of Alyx's shoulder.
"So did Cubbage," mutters a voice Alyx recognizes as Barney's. "If he's gotta pretend to be somebody he ain't, how capable can he be?"
"...but there is a ray of hope. This same group of strangers has the equipment and means to destroy this 'Gene Worm' once and for all. It's been successful against Combine forces in Australia and the Americas. And the transmissions intercepted by our own Janusz Prohaska suggest that the Gene Worm in Africa has fallen as well..."
Alyx's eyebrows lift. Now there's an interesting statement. She'll have to contact this Prohaska person directly. If the transmissions mean what he thinks they do, that means they have one less Gene Worm to fight, but it also means that those protecting the two remaining might know they're coming...
Her attention snaps back to the screen when she sees the man in the yellow suit gesturing at Gordon. "This man," he says, "came to our shores claiming to be Gordon Freeman. Now, a lesser man would be upset that someone else was pretending to be him, trading in a reputation he hadn't earned. But I met him, and I talked to him, and he's seen the light. He won't be using my name anymore, now, will he?"
If Gordon had any verbal response to that, it would be lost in the cheers of joy and cries of outrage arising from the crowd. But he doesn't. He just stares at the man in the yellow suit, too gobsmacked to be angry, at least for the moment.
On the Borealis, there's no cheering, but the outrage is mingled with shock. Some of those assembled--not the majority, but a not insignificant number--are new enough to the Resistance for a seed of doubt to be planted. Could the man they've been following really be an impostor?
Alyx, for her part, just stares blankly at the screen.
"And just to show there's no hard feelings--" the man in yellow wraps his arm around Gordon as though they've been close personal friends for years-- "This man will have the honor of fighting by my side when we take on the Gene Worm."
The crowd noise grows ever louder--there might be a small riot in the making. The Borealis crew won't get to see it, though--something knocks the camera loose, and the video feed goes blank.
The crowd on the bridge starts to disperse, still arguing vociferously.
"Incredible. All this time, I thought he was really Gordon Freeman..."
"I can't believe it. I won't believe it."
"But how can we know?"
"It's bullshit! I know Gordon Freeman, I knew him in Black Mesa--"
"And whose word have we got on that?"
Only two people linger behind. One is Judith Mossman; the other is Alyx Vance, who continues to stare at the blank screen as though rooted to the spot.
"Alyx?" Judith gently lays a hand on the younger woman's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
The contact rouses Alyx from her trance, but only just barely. "Would you excuse me for just a minute?" she says, voice perfectly and unnaturally even. She doesn't wait for a response; she pushes herself out of her chair, turns smartly on her heel, and walks out of the room.