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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 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, and often used 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.
Return of the Freeman
Gordon Freeman was inserted into City 17 by the ominous G-Man, approximately 20 years following the Black Mesa Incident. He was very nearly captured by Civil Protection and taken to Nova Prospekt, however he was intercepted by Barney Calhoun, who had infiltrated the ranks of Civil Protection. Attempting to keep Freeman from being spotted by the Combine, Calhoun sent Freeman to Dr. Kleiner's lab. He garnered the attention of Civil Protection on the route there, and was intercepted by several patrols, until he was rescued by Alyx Vance. Alyx escorted Freeman to Dr. Kleiner's lab, where he intended to teleport them to Black Mesa East. An unfortunate teleport malfunction, however, resulted in Dr. Breen becoming aware of Freeman's presence in the city. Aware of his superhuman triumph over the Xenian forces during the Black Mesa Incident, and well aware of his almost legendary status among the Resistance, the Citadel was put on full alert.
His sudden reappearance was cause for celebration amongst the citizens and the Resistance. In a panic, the Combine deployed thousands of Scanners in an attempt to locate Freeman, and let loose Hunter helicopters, along with Civil Protection units. To restrict Freeman's movements and prevent the Resistance aiding him, the CPs deployed surgical strike teams, and hit all known Resistance bases along the Underground Railroad. While most of the outposts were silenced, they failed to stop Freeman from escaping City 17 and reaching Resistance base Black Mesa East. Determined to capture Freeman, Breen ordered an attack on Black Mesa East, acting on intelligence from his informant within the Resistance, Judith Mossman. Breen was unable to capture Freeman, forcing him to proceed to the Coast through the zombie infested town of Ravenholm. Nevertheless, he was able to capture Eli Vance, and the secrets of his teleporter technology.
Tracking Freeman to the coast, the Combine Overwatch launched systematic raids along the Resistance's coastal settlements. They managed to overrun several of the smaller installations; however, they failed to capture Shorepoint and New Little Odessa. A determined attack was launched against Lighthouse Point, which was eventually successful; however, Freeman escaped onto the beaches. Utilizing the Myrmidont's pheropods, Freeman and the Antlions breached the perimeter of Nova Prospekt, where he intended to rendezvous with Alyx in an attempt to rescue Eli Vance.
Attack on Nova Prospekt
Both Freeman and Alyx had managed to breach the perimeter of Nova Prospekt, from two different routes. With the beach perimeter gone, the Antlions were able to breach Nova Prospekt en masse, sorely testing the Nova Prospekt's defensive capabilities. While the Antlions laid waste to the prison, Freeman was able to successfully rendezvous with Alyx at the prison's train depot. Together, they located both Vance and Mossman, in the process exposing Mossman's role as an informant for the Combine. 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 defend against the Overwatch.
While the pair were successful in holding back the Overwatch's attack, their assault damaged the teleport. Once they were sent to Kleiner's lab, the teleporter's reactor exploded, destroying the prison entirely. While Alyx and Freeman were stuck in the teleporter's cycle for almost a week, their attack on the prison was taken as a signal by the Resistance to mobilize against the Combine in City 17. 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 was 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 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. 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 refugees to 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, and the two escaped. 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 this 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 terrain 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.
Engagements of the Uprising