It was a turbulent few weeks for the inhabitants of the earth. City 17, formerly one of the most beautiful remaining urban centers on our planet, was destroyed. An almost spontaneous uprising has destabilized the Combined Empire's two-decade stranglehold on humanity. It is a time of danger, but also of hope, and we owe much of it to a woman: Alyx Vance.
Vance has not received as much attention as her colleague, the theoretical physicist and military hero Gordon Freeman. But a recent chronicle of her early days in the Resistance has once again sparked interest in her background and accomplishments. The story itself is worth listening to in full. However, if you've limited yourself to official combination media for most of your life, you may want to refresh the context. To get everyone on the same page, we answer a few questions you may have about Alyx Vance that are too embarrassing for you (or are concerned with fighting head crab zombies and ant lions).
Who is Alyx Vance?
Alyx Vance is a leader of human resistance to the combine and the daughter of Eli Vance, a former physics researcher at Black Mesa.
Wait, secure a lot. What exactly is the combine?
The Combine is an interdimensional realm that has occupied the earth in the past 20 years. Their goal is to fully colonize our planet, strip its resources, force its residents into prison-like cities, and effectively exterminate humanity by suppressing our urge to reproduce. This plan was largely condemned by the resistance as well as many other inhabitants of the earth.
Yes, obviously. But what are they ?
Huge brain-eating psychic worms.
It is more complicated than that because the Combined Empire has absorbed many alien species. But the worm-like advisers, as they are called, seem to control the Combined Kingdom on Earth.
More practically, "combining" refers to the full range of the empire's biomechanical weapons, including its transmuman military forces. Generally, if a neighbor warns you of a Combine raid before screaming or falling silent, that's what they mean.
Why did the combine enter? And what is black mesa?
I am glad that you asked these questions together. The Black Mesa Research Facility was a top secret laboratory in the former state of New Mexico. As the name suggests, it was the site of the Black Mesa incident that indirectly led to the Combine's invasion.
In the early 2000s, a team of Black Mesa researchers discovered an alternative dimension called Xen Borderworld. A crystal of Xen was recovered on an expedition and the research team examined it with an anti-mass spectrometer, an extremely large device for testing exotic materials.
For unclear reasons, however, the test resulted in a so-called "resonance cascade" – essentially an unstable reaction that opened a gap between Earth and Xen. This allowed for the invasion of several hostile species, including those that we still see today, such as the Vortigaunts.
Hostile? Aren't the Vortigaunts our allies?
Definitely! Vortigaunts are an integral part of resistance – they can shoot electricity, heal wounds, communicate through a collective swarming spirit, and (somehow) look into the future. They have played an increasingly central role in the fight against the combine.
At that time, however, Vortigaunts were enslaved by an overpowering and apparently hostile being called Nihilanth.
Who is the Nihilanth again?
A giant floating clairvoyant fetus that ruled the Xen Borderworld.
And the nihilanth worked for the combine?
Actually the opposite. The nihilanth was a refugee from another combine invasion. It took up residence in Xen, either disappeared or died during the Black Mesa incident. We are somewhat vague on this point – all of our reports come from the Vortigaunts themselves, and human language does not seem to be complex enough to grasp the nuance of their explanations. But either way you don't really have to think much about it.
Then how did the combine get here?
Through a series of "portal storms": hurricane-like extreme weather events that create interdimensional openings. Portal storms are unusual at the moment, although they have increased significantly in recent days. But a wave of them hit Earth shortly after the Black Mesa Incident. Though probably related to the Resonance Cascade, it is difficult to be certain since Black Mesa was destroyed by a targeted nuclear attack and many records were lost during the Seven Hour War.
Did the combine really conquer the earth in seven hours? ? Couldn't we hold out longer?
Probably. However, most experts say that the Combine had a decisive advantage over the human armed forces. So the real question is: should have held the earth longer?
It is difficult to say. The rapid handover from Wallace Breen, who was the administrator of Black Mesa before being appointed planetary administrator, may have saved countless lives. However, since the Combine's obvious goal is human extinction, preceded by unspeakable atrocities and mass internment, the ultimate effectiveness of this choice is at best questionable.
But the resistance has recently begun to win the Combine. What has changed?
Mostly Gordon Freeman.
I always thought he was a myth.
That is reasonable! Few people have survived the Black Mesa incident, and some stories about Freeman are probably exaggerated. For example, it is unlikely that anyone could use a crowbar to neutralize hundreds of enemy aliens. And he disappeared without a trace for 20 years.
Eyewitness accounts, however, indicate that Freeman got off a train in City 17 about two weeks ago. Since then, the Combine's Earth headquarters (also known as the Citadel) has been neutralized – but not without massive collateral damage, as it appears to have caused an explosion that also leveled City 17. Apparently, he also helped resistance fighters close a "super portal" that might have allowed Combine reinforcements to arrive.
Does that mean Gordon Freeman single-handedly saved the world?
Far from it. Freeman was an important catalyst, and the resistance would almost certainly fail without it. But its greatest enemies and allies tend to simplify its accomplishments. Breen & # 39; s recent claim that "some of the worst excesses of the Black Mesa incident have been put right at his feet" is questionable.
Based on interviews with refugees from city 17, Freeman has played a major role in the front. The recent conflict left the leadership of the resistance leadership to large-scale logistics and strategic planning. Despite his scientific background, he is not involved in resistance research and development programs. Some reports found that Freeman doesn't speak at all. That may also be an exaggeration or a joke, but it speaks for the importance of its allies. That brings us back to Alyx Vance.
Right. Tell me so seriously about Alyx Vance.
Alyx Vance is also a survivor of the Black Mesa incident, even though she was a small child at the time, and the exact circumstances of her escape are unclear. Her father Eli has since helped lead the resistance. As a result, she basically grew up within the movement and receives extensive training in combat, engineering, and computer hacking. She is also one of the most charismatic figures in the resistance and maintains a tone of hopeful pragmatism that engages citizens in his cause. And in a movement dominated by first generation Black Mesa researchers, it delivers much needed new blood.
According to reports, Vance has accompanied Gordon for much of his journey over the past few weeks to provide firepower and help him infiltrate, combining facilities. Recent reports have provided much more details about Vance's previous life – and the history of the Resistance – before the recent uprising. But as I said, it's worth checking them out yourself.
Where is she now?
We are not sure. Rumor has it that she and Freeman are trying to find an arctic research ship called Borealis that was created before the invasion of a Black Mesa rival called Aperture Science. However, we are not sure what they want with this ship and we have received practically no new information since the super portal was closed. Hopefully we don't wait too long for an update.
Wait, one last thing. In my neighborhood, a thin man with a suit and briefcase sneaks around. But every time I try to catch him, it's like he's magically gone. Does this guy work for the combine? Is he really human? Should I be afraid of him?
We have no idea.