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The Battle of City 17 was the first major engagement of The Uprising against the Combine. The oppressed citizens of City 17 took to open combat against the occupying Combine forces after the destruction of Nova Prospekt, a hated and feared symbol of Combine power. Due to the actions of Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance, the Resistance began openly attacking Combine forces in the city, resulting in a protracted battle which lasted for over a week. The battle ended with the destruction of the Citadel, isolating Combine forces on Earth, the destruction of City 17, and the mutual evacuation of the Resistance and Combine forces from the city.
Prior to the battle, the citizens of City 17 had been living under the iron rule of the Combine forces occupying the city, headed by interim administrator Wallace Breen. For years the Resistance had limited itself to clandestine infiltration into the lower ranks of Civil Protection to intercept weapons shipments and assist the rebels. While the resistance had a loose network of established outposts to assist citizens in escaping the city to the comparative freedom of the countryside, they had never directly opposed the Combine in battle.
When the G-Man inserted Gordon Freeman, a messianic figure to the Resistance due to his involvement in the defeat of the Xenian invasion during the Black Mesa Incident, into City 17, he immediately garnered the attention of Civil Protection. When a teleporter accident resulted in him briefly appearing in the Citadel, Breen put the Citadel on full alert, and in a bout of hysteria, deployed surgical strike teams to destroy the rebel's outposts and isolate Freeman.
Civil Protection moves in
Barney Calhoun, longtime friend of Freeman directed him to take the Underground Railroad, a loose network of rebel bases to help him escape the clutches of Civil Protection. In response, the surgical strike teams deployed Manhacks into the underground, flooding the tunnels and isolating individual rebel outposts. When Freeman was given the use of the Airboat, the Combine deployed Hunter helicopters, however one was heavily damaged, and another was shot down, resulting in Freeman escaping to Black Mesa East.
Acting on a communication from double-agent Judith Mossman, a detachment of Civil Protection raided Black Mesa East, resulting in the capture of resistance leader Eli Vance. Eli's work on the local teleport technology made him an invaluable target. Both Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman were able to evade the Combine forces, with Alyx utilizing the train service to reach Nova Prospekt, while Freeman was forced to move through the zombie infested town of Ravenholm, and move along The Coast.
Tracking Freeman's movements to the coastal areas, the Combine deployed troops from the Overwatch to attack all known bases held by the Resistance. Loosely defended, many of the rebel settlements fell, including the strategic position held near the bridge. Failing to capture Shorepoint and New Little Odessa, the Combine launched a determined assault against Lighthouse Point, eventually capturing it. Freeman however, managed to elude the Combine forces, and made his way to the Vortigaunt Camp.
Attack on Nova Prospekt
Utilising the Myrmidont's aromatic pheropods, Gordon Freeman could now control the hordes of Antlions burrowed beneath the beaches along the coast. With the help of the Antlions, Freeman managed to neutralize the Combine's beach defensive perimeter, and launched an attack against Nova Prospekt's main exterior defences. Despite determined resistance from the prison guards, and an attack by two gunships, Freeman and the Antlions destroyed the outer perimeter. With the thumpers deactivated, the Antlions breached the facility's defenses en-masse.
Severely over-stretched and outnumbered, the Combine forces defending the prison began to take heavy casualties, unable to counter the swarms of Antlions attacking the facility. While the Antlions laid waste to the prison, Freeman was able to rendezvous with Alyx, who had infiltrated Nova Prospekt by stowing away on the Razor Trains. They located both Mossman and Eli, discovering Mossman's role as Combine informant in the process. Using Mossman to activate the Combine's adapted teleporter, Alyx intended for all four to teleport directly to Kleiner's lab. However, while distracted, Mossman teleported herself and Eli directly to the Citadel, leaving Freeman and Alyx to fend for themselves against the Overwatch.
While the pair was successful in holding back the Overwatch's attack long enough to use the Combine teleporter to escape, the Combine's attack had damaged the teleporter. Once the teleport sequence was completed the device exploded, destroying Nova Prospekt in the process. However, Alyx and Freeman were trapped in the teleport cycle for over a week. The destruction of a hated symbol of Combine oppression galvanized the population into rebelling against the Combine, and they began to openly attack their overlords. The battle had begun.
The Uprising begins
For almost a week with the absence of Freeman and Alyx, the citizens of City 17 took up arms and mobilized against the Sector 17 forces occupying the city. Both sides became embattled in a bitter deadlock, after the Civil Protection forces found it near-impossible to hold back the Resistance during urban combat, and called in substantial Overwatch reinforcements, replete with Synth support units. While the Resistance managed to largely gain control of the suburban districts, the Combine, with their superior firepower and control of the air, held the strategic areas around the city center. Amid brutal house-to-house fighting, Freeman and Alyx managed to join with Calhoun and several Resistance soldiers, who were in the process of disabling Combine generators throughout the inner city, loosening the Combine's grip on those sectors.
However, Alyx was captured shortly thereafter by the Combine and taken to the Citadel. Proceeding deeper into the city center, Freeman, Calhoun and several resistance troops managed to locate the Combine's field headquarters, the Overwatch Nexus. Infiltrating the building, they disabled the suppression device, allowing reinforcements to flood into the central areas of city. Determined to re-capture their command post, the Overwatch launched a fierce counter-offensive, replete with large detachments of foot soldiers, gunships and a large force of striders. The counter-attack was eventually beaten back, impairing the Combine's defensive maneuvers against the Resistance.
With the Resistance penetrating deeper into the city center and closing in on the Citadel, the Combine turned loose their reserve gunships and striders. Despite tearing apart the urban districts and inflicting severe casualties on the Resistance, they could not prevent small groups from reaching the base of the Citadel. While the rebels battled the Combine forces on the surface, Freeman managed to infiltrate the Citadel by using an underground sewer. Once inside, despite killing scores of soldiers throughout the facility, Freeman ultimately allowed himself to be captured, and was taken to Breen's office. Mossman, in a bout of guilt, freed Alyx, Eli and Freeman after learning of Breen's plans to turn them over to the Combine Overworld.
Final hours and destruction of the Citadel
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 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. The overload caused a shock throughout the Combine's global Citadel network, isolating Combine forces on Earth, and deactivating City 17's forcefields and thumpers, allowing Xenian wildlife to invade the city. The overload of the Citadel's reactor had also caused the formation of an infant super-portal, into which the Combine wished to transmit a message, requesting for enough reinforcements to destroy the rebellion. However, the energy required to send the transmission would also cause the reactor to explode, destroying the city.
With the Resistance forces still fighting the Combine forces, with both sides concurrently fighting the hordes of Xenian wildlife, the rebels did not have enough time to evacuate as many citizens as possible. Alyx and Freeman managed to stabilize the Citadel's reactor, giving the Resistance enough time to complete the evacuations, however they could not stop the transmission packet from being sent, and the inevitable destruction of the city. Meanwhile, the Combine withdrew the bulk of their forces from City 17, leaving behind a scattered rearguard to stall the Resistance's escape. When the final trains of refugees left the city, the Combine sent their transmission, 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.
- The battle for the city is likely based on the Battle of Stalingrad, which also involved fierce house-to-house fighting and was a major turning point in an armed conflict.