The being known as the GMan watched coldly as Freeman fell, arterial spray painting the floor a macabre crimson. How disappointing, this one had shown such promise. Looking past the rapidly cooling body the GMan pulled at the universe's strings. A dead Freeman was no use to his employers. It was as easy as changing the channel, flicking to another iteration. Another Freeman. A Freeman who would see the soldier on time.This was hardly the first dead Freeman and it would not be the last. Most didn't make it very far. Another Freeman. Another Cascade. Another dead body wasting his infinite time and finite patience.
There were already Freemans who he'd sent along. Waiting in that space between time after making the correct choice to be further iterated upon. Not enough. Never enough it seemed. His employers wanted variations. They wanted variety.
Most Freemans were the same. Same horrible hair. Same disgustingly thin skin. Same. Fatal. Mistakes.
But there were some that were different. Some who stood out from the others either in personality or personage. Some with more to fight for than the others be it sibling or child or spouse. Some who went through the Incident with others. Some who broke the fabric of their reality after exposure to Xen. Some who managed to defeat the point of him looking for a human. Not many of those received a job offer even if they defeated their iteration of the Nihianth. Too many variables. They were, however, entertaining.
It had been a long streak of failures. Dead Freemans. Dead Shepherds. Dead Calhouns. And Crosses, and Greens, and Vances, and- An iteration with his child was in order. For the most part he left Tommy to his own devices. The man had his own iterations to observe. His own experiments and theories. It was quite a shame to pull his child's friend away simply because they made an excellent specimen. Tommy was not employed as he was. He didn't understand the reasons for the GMan's work. Tommy hated him in the iterations he took Freeman away.
He slipped quietly into his role, and watched. Watched Freeman pace anxiously in the tram. Watched Tommy introduce himself as if they hadn't met ten thousand times before. Watched that inscrutable entity that called itself Benry follow Freeman. Watched the Cascade as he'd done innumerable times. It was easy. Simple work to wind down the day. After an iteration with Tommy he would be expected to go to an entertainment center. A movie theater. A night at home with his boy. Simple relaxation.
Then in the morning he would return. Rewind. Restart. A new batch of iterations. More dead Freemans. More frustration. Perhaps he'd work for a while on the Shepherd siblings. Perfect the military boys even if he hadn't found a use for them yet. The angry one put on quite a show when provoked. Or perhaps he'd try again to find a Calhoun worth ripping out of time rather than letting them continue on. The Freemans liked him, most of them. Some even found him a vital companion. It would do well to have collateral. Redundancies. A means of controlling Freeman past the Vance girl.
The web of reality stretched far beyond him. Even he was iterated upon, he knew. His employers had made it no secret. There were many ways the future could go. Many of which he was privy to. More of which he was not. He watched his son pulling at the strings of his own reality and wondered how much their vision overlapped. He wondered what would become of them. What would become of all the Freemans that lived but were not chosen. What would become of the Shepherds and Calhouns and Crosses and Greens with a dead Freeman. What would become of him and his boy if his employers ever tired of their iterations.
Freeman failed to make a jump, landing with a disgusting fleshy snapping sound. The bones in his legs had shattered. Rewind. Restart. Reiterate. This one would do better.