Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw has shared a blog post in which he tells a story that could have been that of Half-Life 2: Episode Three: the follow-up to 2007's Episode Two that fans have longed to be released but which is now unlikely to ever be made.
Laidlaw worked on the entire Half-Life franchise from its beginnings in 1998 until its unresolved ending ten years ago. He left developer Valve in January 2016 intending to start writing his own stories.
The potential plot of Episode Three was revealed in a post called 'Epistle 3' on Laidlaw's blog, written as a letter penned by protagonist Gordon Freeman to players.
Laidlaw's website is currently down, but a cached version of the post can be read on Archive.org.
The letter doesn't use the Valve-owned character names, so Freeman is Gertrude Freemont, Ph.D, Eli Vance is Elly Vaunt, and so on. A rewritten version on Pastebin replaces the names with the real ones.
Episode Two left players on a cliffhanger immediately following the death of Eli at the hands of the alien 'advisors'. Shortly before his murder, Eli told Gordon and daughter Alyx to head to an Aperture Science research vessel called the Borealis.
In Laidlaw's apparent continuation of the story, Gordon and Alyx travel to Antarctica to find the Borealis when their plane is downed. They soon discover an outpost of the villainous Combine, built around the location where the ship is "oscillating in and out of our reality".
The pair find Dr Judith Mossman, who provided the Borealis coordinates and claims to be working as a double agent ultimately aligned with the resistance movement. She is able to keep the Borealis in place, in our existence.
They venture onto the ship with Combine in pursuit. Aboard they discover that Aperture scientists had created a field around the Borealis which they hoped would teleport it from one place to another. It worked to an extent, just not as intended.
Gordon, Alyx and Judith, dislodged from time while on the vessel, see various worlds in the past and future, some on Earth, some not, including what looks like a Combine staging area for an interplanetary invasion.
Judith wanted to take the ship to the resistance, while Alyx wanted to destroy it, as Eli wished, while in the apparent Combine world. They argue, fight and eventually Alyx kills the doctor, whom she distrusted and blamed for her father's death.
Carrying out Alyx's plan, the G-Man - a mysterious interdimensional agent seen throughout the Half-Life series - appears to both Gordon and Alyx, who has seen him before. Alyx leaves our existence with G-Man.
Gordon continues the plan, but the Borealis' destruction barely leaves a mark. Before he's killed, Freeman is plucked out of existence by alien vortigaunts acting in the same way as G-Man.
Laidlaw, writing as Gorodn, then talks about what happens next, or what could happen next, with Gordon removed from existence and separated from Alyx.
"Enough time has passed that few remember me, or what I was saying when last I spoke, or what precisely we hoped to accomplish," Laidlaw writes. "At this point, the resistance will have failed or succeeded, no thanks to me. Old friends have been silenced, or fallen by the wayside. I no longer know or recognize most members of the research team, though I believe the spirit of rebellion still persists."
He then refers to this being his "final episode".
It's not clear why Laidlaw posted the blog, or how closely it resembles the story that would have been told in the hypothetical game.
In a tweet confirming the post as legit, he refers to the story as "a genderswapped snapshot of a dream I had many years ago," also referencing that his blog is down.
Valve attempted to move ahead with Episode Three following the release its predecessor a decade ago, but the project never formulated. Stories have been heard regarding what it might have entailed, but not the story that would have been told.
Half-Life fans will continue to believe that the series is not completely dead, but with so much time passing between games, releasing another episodic title seems unlikely. If the series did return, it could well be as something else.