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- "I have a brain injury...MY BRAIN IS INJURED!...Ow."
- ―Gary explains to a disinterested Alyx his situation.[src]
At some point in the past, Gary received a brain injury from the Combine, likely imparted by torture similar to that witnessed in Nova Prospekt's A7 block. He has subsequently set up an abode within the Quarantine Zone, drawing graffiti on walls and cooking caught Headcrabs.
Alyx first sees hints of a Vortigaunt's presence in the Quarantine Zone upon noticing pieces of torn cardboard suspended into the air to form the shape of an eye. She then follows this into a drainage ditch, where she encounters graffiti depicting events such as Gordon Freeman's defeat of the Nihilanth and various scenes from Xen. Upon finding the main entrance, Gary greets her as he prepares a Headcrab for cooking, and beckons her inside to hear his story. Alyx reluctantly follows despite her urgency to rescue her father, Eli Vance. Gary explains the imprisonment of his kin and requests her help in rescuing them. Alyx initially refuses, insisting that she needs to save her father first, upon which Gary replies that Eli is already dead. On witnessing her panicked response, he corrects himself, explaining Eli will die at some point in the future, and Alyx will not be able to save him on her own. With some further conversation, Alyx agrees to help his fellow Vortigaunts, prompting him to suddenly declare she has saved his kin: when she points out otherwise, he reasons that she will. He then directs her to look to "the Northern Star" to save his kin and her father, before offering her sustenance for the journey via the Headcrab he was cooking.
After Alyx derails the train carrying Eli to Nova Prospekt at Fairview Junction, she attempts to free her father from one of the Combine Cells. However, Eli loses his grip and nearly falls to his death, only to be saved at the very last second by Gary, who uses his energy to lift Eli to safety. He promises to escort Eli back to Russell's Lab before reminding Alyx to look for "the Northern Star."
Alyx later discovers "the Northern Star" is actually the Northern Star Hotel, now being used by the Combine as a substation to power the Vault; the substation's energy source being a trapped Vortigaunt, whom Alyx liberates.
Appearance and Personality
While sharing a basic appearance with other Vortigaunts in the series, Gary notably sports some clear injuries that suggest he was previously held captive by the Combine as a slave or for some other purposes, with some remaining circuitry left on his body and a stamp on his chest reading "CP" (presumably Civil Protection). Gary's personality is vastly different from other Vortigaunts encountered in the series, likely due to his prolonged isolation and severed communication with the rest of his species, as explained to Alyx that he is "alone in [his] head." He has difficulty distinguishing future events from present events, claiming it is "a matter of perspective."
Gary has some difficulty with human communication, which can make conversations with him a little awkward. However, he clearly has an affection for Eli and Alyx, presumably because he knows that Alyx will free the Vortigaunts from the Combine Power Stations over the course of Half-Life: Alyx, and possibly even that they will help take down the Combine in the time period of Half-Life 2. He gives Alyx a dead headcrab for "sustenance" and after Eli says he loves Alyx, Gary says to her "I love you too."
|Test your grip on a headcrab heart.|
|Receive a tasty treat.|
Behind the scenes
- The notion of a Vortigaunt preparing Headcrabs as a food source is reminiscent of a scene briefly witnessed in Half-Life 2 with Vortigaunts wearing chef hats similarly cooking Headcrabs for consumption in the kitchen of Black Mesa East.
- During early development on Half-Life: Alyx, Alyx would have been sent off by Laszlo (a version of the character from Half-Life 2 who was eventually changed to Russell) to find a Vortigaunt cut off from the Vortessence who had a message for her. Alyx would have found the injured Vortigaunt and, as a way of introducing the squeezing mechanic, have to feed him Headcrab hearts. Playtesters found the scene slow and rather dour, so the scene was redone to play up the comedy.
- Although the name is never used in-game by Alyx nor the Vortigaunt himself, the game's files confirm his name as Gary, with commands that include teleport_gary_introductions, and @gary_scratch_arm: the name was confirmed as his official name in The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx.
- The scene with Gary was known by developers as the "Swedish Chef Vort Sequence" after the character from the Muppets. This may have been influenced by the fact that Karen Prell, a Valve animator who also works as a puppeteer for the Muppets (and was responsible for animating the corrupted cores, including Wheatley, in Portal 2), did most of the animation for Gary.
- Gary's role in Half-Life: Alyx contrasts with the role ascribed to previous Vortigaunts in the series. Whereas prior Vortigaunts like Uriah and the Victory Mine Vortigaunt provided an air of mysticism and wisdom, Gary's eccentric nature coupled with Alyx's puzzled responses to his vague statements makes him more of a comedic character.
- Gary's humorous description of his brain injury appears to be a reference to a viral video of boxer Mike Tyson after a fight where he proclaimed "I broke my back...my back is broken...spinal."
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List of appearances
- Half-Life: Alyx (First appearance)