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The Uprising is an ongoing conflict fought between Earth's Human and Vortigaunt resistance network and the Combine Empire. Xenian aliens are also partaking as an undeclared third party, fighting against both sides. The war takes place about 20 years after the Black Mesa Incident and the Seven Hour War, during the Combine's occupation of Earth.
Prior to the Seven Hour War, the Black Mesa Incident had caused Portal Storms to spread across the planet, attracting the attention of the Combine Empire. Their motive for invading Earth is unknown, though it can be assumed they wished to take control of the planet's natural resources and enslave its population. The Combine invaded Earth through the use of the Storms and rapidly defeated all of Earth's armed forces in what became known as the Seven Hour War. Dr. Wallace Breen, former Black Mesa Administrator negotiated a surrender on behalf of the surviving Humans. As a reward, he was instated as the interim ruler of Earth by the Combine and aided them in rounding up the remaining Humans into large, tightly controlled cities. Breen chose City 17 as his de facto capital, and the planet's main Citadel was constructed there, as the headquarters of the Combine Overwatch on Earth.
Earth's new rulers governed with a calculated oppressiveness, restricting Human liberties and assimilating Earth's natural resources into their empire. Dissenting Humans were captured and transformed into Stalkers, or simply killed. A Suppression Field was activated to prevent Humans from breeding, another measure to control the population more effectively. Many Humans were assimilated into the occupational army on Earth, all of the Combine's infantry forces on Earth consisting of trans-Human troops, augmented with Synth technology.
In response to the Combine's occupation, a number of escapees from the Combine's iron grip formed the Resistance, a highly decentralized, loose network of guerrillas, outlaws, spies, and citizens dedicated to overthrowing the Overwatch's rule. Unable to combat the Combine's powerful armies directly, the Resistance instead sought to undermine the Combine. Many of the more experienced Resistance members, such as Barney Calhoun, infiltrated the ranks of Civil Protection, relaying information to the Resistance. Others smuggled weaponry, set up supply caches for other members, and helped civilians escape the Combine controlled cities. The Resistance set up a sophisticated network of bases throughout City 17's outlying area to help ferry escapees to the countryside. Others set up dedicated outposts such as Ravenholm (until its destruction with the exceptions of Father Grigori and the Shorepoint Base and Team), Black Mesa East, White Forest, and a significant presence along The Coast.
According to Judith Mossman, the Combine was aware of the Resistance and its activities, but their efforts to undermine them were largely ineffective on the whole, and as such, the Combine did not consider them an appreciable threat. Nevertheless, they suppressed Resistance activities at every opportunity, raiding the homes of suspected resistance members or sympathizers, and destroying Resistance outposts. The most infamous of these was Ravenholm. Rather than attack the town directly, the Combine shelled the settlement with Headcrab Shells, with only one known survivor. The Resistance had made significant headway in technological developments, such as the Teleportation technology worked on by Isaac Kleiner and Eli Vance, the anti-Strider weapon developed by Arne Magnusson, and plans to shut down the portal between Earth and the Combine Overworld, a plan which could not be put into effect until The Uprising had them sufficiently distracted.
The Combine's empire spanned several dimensions and became Earth's overlords after defeating all of its armed forces combined in the Seven Hour War. After negotiating Earth's surrender with Dr. Wallace Breen, they established the former Black Mesa Administrator as Earth's interim ruler. Once all of Earth's population had been rounded up into tightly controlled cities, they began the subjugation of Earth's populace and assimilation of its natural resources. Earth's oceans had receded significantly by the time of the Uprising, and the cities became comparatively safe under Combine rule after Xenian wildlife infested the countryside. The Combine's control of Earth was brutal and calculated; while it did not consider the Resistance an appreciable threat to its rule, it suppressed Resistance activity whenever possible.
The Combine often raided the homes of suspected Resistance members or sympathizers, commonly using the pretext of one home being raided as an excuse to search the entire block. Captured Humans were either killed, transformed into Stalkers, or integrated into the Overwatch. The Combine's forces on Earth almost entirely consisted of trans-Human infantry forces, augmented with Synth technology such as Striders. Their formidable technology and weapons prevented the Resistance from direct confrontation; however, despite this, they lagged behind the Resistance in some areas. The Combine utilized dark energy cosmic strings to form their portals, which required an enormous amount of energy to sustain, and could not tunnel to another location on the same planet. The Resistance, on the other hand, utilized the Xen relay, allowing them to transport to another location on the same world. The Resistance also possessed the technology to shut down portals using the old Xenian resonators.
Course of the War
Return of the Freeman
Gordon Freeman was inserted into City 17 by the ominous G-Man approximately 20 years following the Black Mesa Incident. Intercepted by Barney Calhoun, who had infiltrated the ranks of Civil Protection, Freeman was sent to Isaac Kleiner's hidden lab to evade the Combine. A quasi-mythological figure since his disappearance after the Black Mesa Incident, Civil Protection teams began trailing him. The disturbance quickly garnered the attention of the Combine Overwatch, promising additional food rations to citizens as rewards in exchange for cooperation, whilst deducting rations from entire apartment blocks whom had been collectively charged with "permissive inactive coercion".
Freeman was almost captured by several of these patrols until his rescue by Alyx Vance, who escorted him to Kleiner's lab. Kleiner intended to teleport both of them to Black Mesa East, the largest Resistance stronghold outside of City 17. A teleporter malfunction, however, resulted in Wallace Breen becoming aware of Freeman's presence in the city, whilst also forcing Freeman to reach Black Mesa East on foot.
In response, Breen put the Citadel on full alert, a status which had seldom, if ever, been seen by the city's populace. Thousands of Scanners, Airwatch, and Civil Protection teams were deployed in an attempt to locate Freeman. To restrict Freeman's movements and prevent a coordinated effort by the Resistance to aid him, Combine surgical strike teams launched raids on all known bases along the so-called "Underground Railroad". Citizens who refused to aid Civil Protection teams were threatened with permanent off-world relocation. Similarly, Civil Protection teams who prematurely terminated their assignments were threatened with permanent off-world assignment.
Although most of the outposts along the Railroad were silenced, they failed to acquire Freeman and he escaped to Black Mesa East. Acting on intelligence from a Combine informant, Combine troops launched a major raid against the base, neutralising it and capturing Eli Vance, along with his research on the Xenian relay teleporter technology. Using this knowledge, the Combine constructed a facsimile at Nova Prospekt. Nevertheless, the Combine failed to acquire both Alyx and Freeman. Freeman was forced to navigate through the zombie-infested town of Ravenholm to reach the Resistance outposts along the coast, intending to rendezvous with Alyx at Nova Prospekt to rescue Eli.
Though firm control over the coast eluded the Combine, the Resistance's hold on the coast was tenuous at best. Tracking Freeman from base-to-base, the Combine deployed its Trans-Human military arm with significant synth support to the coast, launching systematic raids against these settlements. Though many of the smaller observation posts and the strategically important Bridge Point were overrun, large raids against Shorepoint and New Little Odessa were repulsed. A determined assault was launched against Lighthouse Point which was carried with heavy casualties, although Freeman escaped to the Vortigaunt Camp. Freeman's journey along the coast had also loosened Combine control over many of the posts they had occupied.
Attack on Nova Prospekt
Approaching Nova Prospekt, Freeman disengaged all the Restrictors, and, utilising the Myrmidont's pheropods, managed to overrun and breach the perimeter with hordes of Antlions, whilst Alyx infiltrated via the rail route. With the Restrictors offline, the Antlions swarmed into the facility en masse, stretching the garrison's defensive capabilities to the limit. The Overwatch ordered the garrison to deprioritise containment of the Antlion incursion in favour of neutralising Freeman, and killed all captured Resistance prisoners to prevent a breakout.
While the Antlions laid waste to the facility, Freeman successfully rendezvoused with Alyx Vance at the train depot. Together, they located both Eli and Judith Mossman, in the process exposing Mossman's role as a Combine informant. Using the Combine's facsimile teleporter, Alyx intended for all four to escape directly to Kleiner's lab. However, while distracted by Combine troops, Mossman teleported herself and Eli directly to the Citadel, leaving Alyx and Freeman to fend off the Overwatch.
While the pair were successful in defending against the Overwatch's attack, their assault damaged the teleporter. Once they were sent to Kleiner's lab, the teleporter's primary reactor exploded, destroying the prison entirely. Alyx and Freeman were stuck in the teleporter's cycle for over a week and were almost listed as missing by the Resistance. Nevertheless, the destruction of Nova Prospekt, a hated symbol of Combine oppression and cruelty, was taken as a signal by the Resistance to mobilise against the Combine's Sector 17 arm. The uprising had begun.
Battle of City 17
Prior to the destruction of Nova Prospekt, the Uprising had been limited to Combine raids on the Underground Railroad and Resistance bases along the coast. Civil Protection units had also been raiding the homes of suspected resistance sympathizers. The destruction of the Combine's only teleporter, and the hated symbol that was Nova Prospekt, the Resistance mobilized and armed against the Sector 17 Overwatch. For a full week, the Combine's attacks drove the majority of the population into the arms of the Resistance, while both sides became embattled in a bitter deadlock. Civil Protection found it nearly impossible to hold back the Resistance's guerilla attacks, and Overwatch reinforcements were sent in. At the time of Freeman and Alyx's return, the Resistance largely controlled the suburban districts, while the Combine held the strategic areas in and around the city center. Despite the Combine's vastly superior technology, they found urban combat against a determined guerilla army difficult to counter.
Freeman and Alyx joined with Calhoun, whose Resistance cell launched attacks against the Combine's generators within the city center. However, Alyx Vance was captured shortly thereafter by the Combine, and taken to the Citadel. Proceeding deeper into the city, Freeman and Calhoun's cells found the Combine's field headquarters; the Overwatch Nexus. Infiltrating the building, they disabled the building's suppression device, allowing reinforcements to flood into the central areas of the city. A determined Overwatch counterattack, replete with Gunships and Striders was eventually beaten back by the Resistance, impairing the Combine's counter-offensives into the city. With the Resistance closing in on the Citadel, the Combine turned loose the Striders and Gunships. Despite inflicting severe casualties on the resistance, they could not prevent the elusive rebels from reaching the base of the Citadel. Freeman managed to infiltrate the Citadel by traversing an old sewer network that ran under the city.
Once inside, Freeman allowed himself to be captured and taken to Breen's office. Mossman, in a bout of guilt, freed Eli, Alyx, and Freeman, after learning of Breen's plans to kill them. Breen fled to the Citadel's reactor, intending to teleport to the Overworld. Freeman managed to overload the teleporter's reactor, causing it to explode. The G-Man prevented Freeman's death; however, the Vortigaunts intervened with his plans, burying Freeman and Alyx in the rubble at the base outside of the Citadel. The explosion of the teleporter's reactor blew the top of the Citadel away, and overloaded the building's power grid, causing a fatal meltdown of the Citadel's Dark Energy reactor core. As a result, the city's force fields and thumpers shut down, allowing Xenian wildlife to invade the city. The destruction of the main Citadel in City 17 also damaged the Combine's worldwide network, isolating Combine forces on Earth.
The overload of the Citadel's reactor had caused the formation of an infant superportal, into which the Combine wished to transmit a message, requesting for reinforcements to destroy the rebellion. Alyx and Freeman managed to stabilize the Citadel's unstable reactor, giving the Resistance additional time to evacuate more citizens. Meanwhile, the Combine withdrew the bulk of its forces from City 17, leaving behind only a handful of rearguard units in a desperate bid to stall the Resistance's escape. When the final trains of refugees left the city, the Combine sent their transmission packet, overloading the Citadel's primary reactor. The shock to its power grid caused the Citadel to explode in a Dark Energy flare, destroying the remains of the City and most of the surrounding area.
Battle of White Forest
The destruction of the Citadel and the destabilization of its main reactor had caused an infant Superportal to begin forming, which if matured could be used by the Combine to bring in reinforcements to defeat the Resistance and reoccupied the earth once more. Since the destruction of the reactor and the retreat of the Combine from City 17, the remaining soldiers intended to use the Citadel's unstable reactor to send a transmission packet to the Combine Overworld, requesting reinforcements. However, to send this transmission would overload the reactor, causing it to explode. Freeman and Alyx managed to obtain a copy of the transmission, and temporarily stabilized the reactor core, giving the Resistance more time to evacuate citizens out of the city, however, the transmission was sent in the end, causing the Citadel to explode. Meanwhile, the Resistance had evacuated their forces and had taken refugees in White Forest, while Judith Mossman had gone on a mission to investigate rumors of the existence of the Borealis.
Alyx and Freeman began to make their way to White Forest; however, Alyx was critically wounded by a Hunter, and almost died. Due to the intervention of the Vortigaunts, however, she survived, and the two continued on their journey. They found themselves advancing parallel to a large contingent of Combine soldiers, who had re-grouped from their defeat at City 17, planning to attack White Forest. A large detachment of Overwatch soldiers and Hunters ambushed the pair at the White Forest Inn but were beaten back, allowing the two to escape. Soon after reaching White Forest, the Overwatch launched an attack against the base, and managed to breach the compound. Despite them gaining a foothold, the Resistance managed to fight off the attack, and the Combine withdrew.
In the meantime, Magnusson, Kleiner, and Vance worked on decoding the transmission packet and using its information to seal the Superportal with the old Xenian resonator in Earth orbit. However, the Resistance's observation teams had spotted a significant force of Striders advancing toward White Forest, escorted by Hunters. Knowing that a single Strider could destroy the rocket, Magnusson directed Freeman in the use of an advanced anti-Strider weapon; the Magnusson Device. The Resistance mobilized their troops, after which the Combine launched their main attack; around two dozen Striders, each one escorted by two to three Hunters. This force destroyed many of the outlying buildings; however, the valleys and hills were not ideal terrains for the Striders, and they were easily ambushed by Freeman using the Magnusson Devices. The attack was eventually repelled, and the rocket was launched successfully. The Superportal was sealed shortly thereafter, stranding the Combine on Earth.
Following the victory, Alyx and Freeman prepared to leave White Forest in search of Mossman and the Borealis. Isaac Kleiner wished to use the Borealis, previously thought to be a legend, against the Combine, whereas Eli Vance believed the technology to be far too dangerous, and urged Freeman to destroy the ship. Shortly thereafter; a pair of Advisors attacked the Hangar, killing Eli Vance, and presumably learning all of the information he knew of the Resistance, before being driven off by Dog. However, this was undone in the ending of Half-Life: Alyx, in which a younger Alyx Vance managed to save her father with the assistance of the now-freed Gman. However, this caused Alyx to be put in stasis by the Gman. In the post-credits scene, Eli Vance wakes Gordon Freeman, and tells him that Alyx had disappeared, before handing Gordon his crowbar, telling him that "we've got work to do."
Engagements of the Uprising