The Resistance is a powerful covert network of humans and Vortigaunts with the shared goal of defeating the Combine and removing Wallace Breen from power.

The Resistance has no central command structure, however, there are central figures. Eli Vance, Barney Calhoun, Arne Magnusson, Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman are examples of Resistance leaders. The Resistance is divided into two areas: Combat and Research. Scientists such as Eli Vance command the science division, whereas leaders such as Barney Calhoun and Gordon Freeman tend to command the combat section. Gordon Freeman is a man of very high regard among Resistance members, something of a personal hero to them, due to the fact that he was able to not only survive the Black Mesa Incident (which only half a dozen people are confirmed to have survived, and even fewer confirmed to have survived the Seven Hour War), but actually put an end to it.

The core Resistance army is divided into four sections: regular resistance troops, who are fully fledged resistance members, equipped with body armor and supplies (some are trained medics as well); the civilian militia forces, who are citizens who have just gained weapons; the refugees, who are tasked with aiding the escape of civilians and fighting the Civil Protection; and the Vortigaunts, a very intelligent Xen species, who are adept at combat, and are able to use the Vortessence to spy on Combine activities. The Resistance is also aided by citizens, who help the troops and refugees by leaving behind caches full of food, weapons, ammo, and medical supplies.

In the Combine-occupied world, humanity readily utilizes stolen Combine technology. Aside to weapons and armor, the Resistance has been seen to utilize the Hopper Mine, the Turret, the Thumper, the Rollermine, and Dr. Breen's Public address system, among others. Humanity also uses its existing technology well, scavenging and repairing radios, transmitters, receivers, T.V. Screens, cameras, computers, etc. Cars, watercraft, and structures are built by hand. Despite the Combine rule, the Resistance science teams have created weapons like the Magnusson Device and the Gravity Gun, and a teleporter smaller and more advanced then the Combine's teleporter at Nova Prospekt. Perhaps the greatest asset to the Resistance are the Vortigaunts. The Vortigaunts, as stated above, are very wise and very well versed at combat, and are able to communicate with all Vortigaunts instantly. Their history with the Antlions could prove handy in the future.

The Resistance was an underground movement in City 17, where most actions were covert. Spies like Barney Calhoun infiltrated the Civil Protection, in order to keep attention away from Dr. Kleiner's lab, and assist civilians in escaping City 17. Outside of the city, however, the Resistance is able to make frequent offenses against the Combine, and provide itself with sufficient defense. The Resistance had taken over a vast portion of the Coast, taking major bases such as Lighthouse Point and New Little Odessa. The Resistance's lack of numbers in this area however meant that they were frequently under attack by Combine raiding parties, and they struggled to hold onto their gains.

The Resistance generally operates as a shadow movement similar to many terrorists or rebel organizations in the modern world; unable to take on the Combine Empire directly, the Resistance seeks to undermine it by strategic moves. The Resistance held several strong points in and around City 17, such as Kleiner's Lab and Black Mesa East, before both were destroyed by the Combine. Ravenholm was also a major Resistance stronghold, before a Headcrab Shell bombardment killed the entire population of the town, with only one known survivor.

The Underground Railroad{C}

Citizens of City 17 who choose to escape to Black Mesa East, a very large resistance base, have a very hard time getting there. The only known path is through City 17's canal system, which is subject to frequent raids by Civil Protection officers, hoping to capture or kill any unfortunate refugees, as well as Xen wildlife such as Barnacles, headcrabs, and zombies. This is how the Resistance Underground Railroad was formed.

Resistance members created the Underground, a series of safehouses that help Resistance soldiers and Citizens escape to Black Mesa East, using coordinated safehouses and radios, and an Airboat to lend to refugees. Unfortunately, while Gordon Freeman was moving through the Underground Railroad, most of the stations were tracked down and destroyed by the Combine Civil Protection. Members of the Underground Railroad include Joe and Matt.

Resistance technology{C}

Possessing no means to mass manufacture weapons, the Resistance doesn't have standard issue weapons like the Combine forces do. They generally use anything they can find or scavenge from the enemy. The Resistance makes use of any resources they can find, often building things out of scrapped parts and making specialized equipment, such as the Crossbow and Gravity Gun, and vehicles, such as the Scout Car, the Airboat and the Muscle Car by hand. It is however imaginable that they would have access to weapons not produced by the Combine, such as the Colt Python and Annabelle.


The Resistance was formed shortly after the Seven Hour War in response to the Combine takeover. A loose band of guerrillas, outlaws and spies dedicated to overthrowing the new world order, they were unable to take on the alien empire directly. So the Resistance instead worked at undermining it by infiltrating the ranks of Civil Protection, smuggling weaponry, setting up a sophisticated underground with bases at Ravenholm, Black Mesa East and White Forest, and by helping civilians escape the Combine controlled cities.

Many of the Resistance's key members are Black Mesa Personnel who survived the Black Mesa Incident and the events that took place afterward. Other key members are former officers of pre-Seven Hour War national armies (like Colonel Odessa Cubbage) or seem to have become leaders due to useful knowledge or experience.

From its formation until the Uprising, the Resistance mostly operated underground, with safehouses, hidden bases and concealed supply caches in and around City 17. One of the few exceptions to this appears to have been the Coast, where the Resistance had sufficient strength to operate more openly, with a number bases and outposts, including Shorepoint Base, New Little Odessa, Bridge Point and Lighthouse Point. Operating from these positions, they regularly sparred with the Combine forces in the area. Over time, though, the Combine made significant inroads into the Coast, destroying many of the smaller outposts and condensing the spread out Resistance forces into larger groups at the main bases. Bridge Point was taken over and occupied, possibly due to the significance of the railway bridge beside it, which the Combine Razor Trains use.

Also around this time, Ravenholm, a secluded mining town connected to Black Mesa East, became one of the main Resistance settlements in the City 17 region, and was home to many escapees from City 17. Upon being discovered by the Combine, the town was subjected to a massive Headcrab Shell bombardment with only one known survivor. After this disaster, the passage between Ravenholm and Black Mesa East was sealed off.

While some small strikes took place against the Combine, most of the advances that the Resistance made during this time were minor; although the support they enjoyed from the citizen population was considerable, the Resistance had not the capability to attack the Combine openly. This changed with the return of Gordon Freeman, who thanks to his actions at Black Mesa had become to be a figure of legend among the Resistance. Shortly after his arrival in City 17, Gordon made contact with Resistance members Isaac Kleiner, Barney Calhoun, and Alyx Vance. After the teleporter meant to take him to the main base Black Mesa East malfunctioned, he was instead sent on his way through the Underground Railroad network to Black Mesa East. Meanwhile, the Combine, who learned of Gordon's presence when he was accidentally teleported to Dr. Breen's office, launched a citywide sweep to find him, cracking down on the Underground Railroad stations and flooding the tunnels and canals with Manhacks. With many safehouses and stations destroyed or discovered during the crackdown, the railroad disintegrated and most of its members were either killed or captured.

Although Combine forces pursued him every step of the way, Gordon managed to escape and made it to Black Mesa East. But shortly after his arrival it, too, was attacked and destroyed. Eli Vance and Judith Mossman were captured, while Gordon, Alyx Vance and Dog escaped.

Even despite these blows, the Resistance held together, and their hopes were gradually amplified by Freeman's feats against the Combine.

After escaping through Ravenholm, Freeman helped fight off a Combine raid on Shorepoint Base base and made contact with Alyx Vance. They had learned that Eli Vance and Judith Mossman had been taken to Nova Prospekt, and Alyx resolved to go there and rescue him. Gordon set out along the Coast to reach Nova Prospekt, helping to fend off an attack on New Little Odessa along the way. Finally, he reached Lighthouse Point and joined its personnel in fighting off a determined Combine attack. Despite their efforts, the base was overwhelmed and presumably destroyed.

After reaching the Vortigaunt Camp, Freeman attacked Nova Prospekt with the help an army of Antlions and, once inside its train depot, met up with Alyx Vance, who slipped in by Razor Train. Fighting their way through the facility, they found both Eli and Judith, but discovered that Judith had betrayed the Resistance and had been working for the Combine. Alyx and Gordon captured Judith and rescued Eli, and intended to use the Combine's teleporter to teleport themselves to Dr. Kleiner's lab. Instead, Judith tricked them and teleported herself and Eli to the Citadel, leaving the two to hold out against scores of soldiers while the teleporter charged up the second time. They managed to teleport themselves to Dr. Kleiner's lab, destroying the teleporter and the entire facility in the process. The destruction of Nova Prospekt was the first major victory for the Resistance, and it was taken as a signal to begin the uprising. The Resistance, who had previously only operated underground, engaged the Combine forces in open warfare, with many citizens joining their ranks. This marked the start of the Uprising.

Lasting over a week, the Battle of City 17 was a costly Resistance victory. The Citadel, as well as City 17, were destroyed, cutting the Combine forces on Earth off from the rest of the empire. The remaining Resistance forces, having evacuated from City 17 before its destruction and regrouped at the White Forest base, began preparing for the after effects of the Citadel's destruction. The meltdown of the Citadel's core created a superportal, which the Combine would use to bring in huge reinforcements once it had grown large enough. To counter this threat, the Resistance prepared and fired a rocket carrying a satellite which, once in orbit, would close the superportal. The battle to protect the rocket during its launch was furious, but the Overwatch attack force was eventually beaten back by a small force led by Gordon Freeman. After the main force was defeated and as Gordon and Alyx Vance were preparing to leave for the Arctic, two Combine Advisors made a surprise attack, during which Eli Vance was killed.

Meanwhile, Judith Mossman had discovered the Borealis, which carried Aperture Science technology. A debate raged over whether to destroy the ship or use its technology, and it is unknown which opinion won. Mossman was cut off by Hunter and Elite attacks, and her escort was killed, so Freeman and Alyx will probably journey to the Borealis through use of a helicopter to rescue Mossman and decide what to do with the technology.

Vortigaunts, formerly known as Alien Slaves or Xen Slaves, and affectionately known as "Vorts" by their allies, are sapient aliens found throughout the Half-Life series. Long before the events of Half-Life occur, the Vortigaunts' homeworld was invaded by the Combine, forcing the entire species (excluding the ones enslaved by the Combine) to flee to Xen. When the Black Mesa Incident occurred, their master Nihilanth viewed the rift that opened as their chance to escape, and directed the Vortigaunts in the invasion of Earth. Following the death of the latter, they have, as a species, chosen to ally themselves with the human-led Resistance in its bid to overthrow the Combine rule of Earth.[2]


In appearance, a Vortigaunt is roughly humanoid with two legs and two arms, but has an additional arm protruding from its chest. This extra limb is a feature also found in other bipedal, sapient species from Xen, including the Alien Grunt and the Nihilanth. This similarity, along with other shared features such as red eyes and back-jointed legs, is strongly suggestive of a common ancestry with other intelligent Xen life forms. Apparently, this third arm is used for feeding, as both Vortigaunts and Alien Grunts are often seen bending over slain victims, feeding on it. Vortigaunts have mottled green-brown skin, sharp teeth, and clawed hands. Vortigaunts have a slightly hunched posture, and their faces are dominated by a large, single eye with a maroon sclera and a heterochromic red-yellow iris with a yellow pupil, surrounded by three smaller eyes. They also have a navel and four nipples, suggesting not only that Vortigaunts are placental (give live births), but also that they might be a species that is very similar to Earth mammals. Another interesting feature of the Vortigaunts is that they have no tongue or teeth on their lower jaw,[source?] yet they can speak English fluently, albeit with a strange accent and some sort of speech impediment when using S's and R's.[2][3][4]

Intelligence and culture{C}

Vortigaunts are very intelligent and social creatures. Throughout the Half-Life series, they can be seen in pairs or groups, and are capable of developing intelligent strategies. When faced with a superior enemy, Vortigaunts will often run away, and if possible, group together with other Vortigaunts to form a stronger force.[5]

Brief glimpses into Vortigaunt culture can be gained by occasional speeches given by them in Half-Life 2, and in scenes during the original Half-Life. In the original game, Vortigaunts were enslaved by the Nihilanth and used as workers and drone soldiers.[5] Based on comments by the All-Knowing Vortigaunt, it seems that the species has endured slavery for many generations ("We have endured these chafing bonds for eons, yet a single moment of further servitude seems intolerable!" as he says)[2] and enforced servitude appears to have formed the bedrock of Vortigaunt history and culture up to the events of the first Half-Life. In Half-Life 2, Vortigaunts make occasional references to their species' culture. Vortigaunts have many traditions, including an apparent oral tradition of passing down poetry and songs from generation to generation.[source?]

Communication and the "Vortessence"

Vortigaunts posses their own native form of vocal communication, which, in Half-Life 2, is referred to as "flux shifting", and can be heard in rare instances when two Vortigaunts are engaged in conversation. This method of communication likely involves frequencies which are not discernible to the human ear.[source?] According to the Vortigaunts, flux shifting cannot be understood by "those whose Vortal inputs are impaired", which may suggest that other inaudible components are involved, perhaps explaining why it is incomprehensible to humans.[2] One of the most fantastic and enthralling examples of flux shifting is during the aftermath of the first Hunter attack in Half-Life 2: Episode Two, when the Vortigaunt that saves Alyx calls out over an immense distance to communicate with its kin, using two short but apparently highly descriptive calls.

By the beginning of Half-Life 2, Vortigaunts have learned to speak at least one human language, which, in the English language version of the game, is predictably English (in some international versions of Half-Life 2, Vortigaunts speak the appropriate language for the country of the game's release, i.e.: in the French language version of the game, the Vortigaunts speak French). However, the Vortigaunts' use of English is slightly strange, as they use archaic, even Shakespearean, words and grammatical structures which are largely obsolete amongst present-day English speakers. They also tend to refer to some characters by adding "the" before their name, such as "The Freeman" or "The Alyx Vance".

Vortigaunts believe in a binding life-force which they call the "Vortessence".[2] Due to their use of this force, which remains untapped by humans ("We are a tapestry woven of Vortessence. It is the same for you if only you would see it.", as said by the All-Knowing Vortigaunt), the Vortigaunt species can communicate with one another telepathically. They believe Vortessence is the fabric of the universe, made of "vortal cords", of which everything is woven (and therefore everything is connected). The Vortigaunts are able to read and control this force for their electrical powers, nearly hive-mind telepathy and, likely, their ability to take power from objects. They can use their powers coupled with "the extract" of Antlion larvae to bring the nearly dead back to life (however, it is shown in Episode Two that they cannot do this alone).[6]

It is also suggested that death is not permanent for a Vortigaunt, and that they might have the ability to "reincarnate" into a new body after death ("What seems to you a sacrifice is merely, to us, an oscillation. We do not fear the interval of darkness." as said by the All-Knowing Vortigaunt).

Behavior and skills{C}

In Half-Life and its expansion packs, Vortigaunts are common enemies in both Black Mesa and Xen. While they usually attack aggressively, they often become timid when injured, preferring to run away rather than risk further combat and possible death. There is one area in Xen that houses a small number of peaceful Vortigaunts. However, if one is attacked they will become aggressive. Vortigaunts have two modes of attack: an energy attack in which they fire powerful green lightning-like energy beams that require a vulnerable period of "charging-up" before being unleashed, and when close to opponents, a claw attack. Significantly, in Half-Life all of the Vortigaunts wear green collars and wrist bands. Later events reveal these to be a means by which they are controlled by a remote master, the Nihilanth. Vortigaunts often act as support for Alien Grunts, making the Vortigaunts more likely to be able to use their attack, as the player is usually concentrating on killing the tougher Grunts. Throughout the game, the Vortigaunts can be heard taunting the player with what sounds like the word "die", and shouting a word that could be perceived as "Gordon" when the player approaches.

In Half-Life 2, their electrical attack is far more devastating, as it tends to kill whatever it hits immediately and knocks the target back a considerable distance. Only objects with significant mass can resist being knocked back, such as the Strider (which appears to be fully immune to the beam) and Antlion Guards. These attacks occur twice during the single player game: when Gordon's view is restricted by rubble and when the Vortigaunt extracts Bugbait from the Antlion Guard. It is also suggested that Vortigaunts can siphon an opponent's life-force with their energy beam attack, as they are heard saying phrases like "Give over your essence!" or "Empower us!" during some of their attacks in Half-Life 2. In the Half-Life expansion Decay, the player plays as a Vortigaunt in a bonus mission, and the beam attack does indeed 'steal' life-force from enemies.

The beam attack is revealed fully in Episode Two, where a group of Vortigaunts use it to defend an underground outpost from a massive Antlion attack. It is shown to be powerful enough to kill Antlions and Zombies, and causes a shock wave strong enough to knock over other nearby foes. Freeman's Vortigaunt companion uses this ability to aid him in his attempt to raid an Antlion nest.