Chapter 16: Interloper

Accessing File: Vortigaunts

The Vortigaunts (taxonomic designation: Xenotherium subservilia, or "Subservient Alien Beast") are a sapient bipedal life form discovered by the Black Mesa survey team sent to Xen.

In appearance, Vortigaunts are somewhat humanoid, with two legs and two arms and an additional third arm protruding from the chest. This extra limb is a feature also found in other bipedal, sapient species from Xen. This similarity, along with other shared features such as red eyes and digitigrade legs, is strongly suggestive of a common ancestry with other intelligent Xen life forms.

Vortigaunts have mottled green-brown skin, sharp teeth, and clawed hands. Vortigaunts have a slightly hunched posture, and their faces are dominated by a large eye with a maroon Sclera and a Heterochromic red-yellow iris with a yellow pupil, surrounded by three smaller eyes.

Vortigaunts possess their own native form of communication, which is referred to as "flux shifting". According to the Vortigaunts, flux shifting cannot be understood by "those whose Vortal inputs are impaired", which may suggest that inaudible components are involved, perhaps explaining why they are incomprehensible to humans.

Vortigaunts believe in a binding life-force which they call the "Vortessence". Due to their use of this force, which remains untapped by humans, the Vortigaunt species can communicate with one another telepathically. They believe Vortessence is the fabric of the universe, made of "vortal cords", of which everything is woven (and therefore everything is connected). The Vortigaunts are able to read and control this force for their electrical powers, telekinetic abilities, clairvoyance, nearly hive-mind telepathy and, likely, their ability to take power from objects. They can use their powers coupled with "the extract" of Antlion larvae to heal the critically injured.

It has been hinted that death is not permanent for a Vortigaunt, and that they might have the ability to "reincarnate" into a new body after death ("What seems to you a sacrifice is merely, to us, an oscillation. We do not fear the interval of darkness.")


Gordon walks out of the tunnel and comes outside of the caves. Outside he sees some stone structures built into the mountain, right next to it were a couple of waterfalls, and ahead of it all he could see the tower. He was much closer to it now and he could see the cloud layer on it as it now blocked his view of the tower's top.

Looking around Gordon sees a gorge in front of him and his only way across was to use the long-jump module to hop across a few islands to get to the building. As he hopped over the islands, he sees a fence with an opening beneath it that he crawls into. As he moves through the tunnel, he hears what sounds like coughing above him.

'What's going on above me?' Gordon thought to himself.

He finds a hill going up and as he goes up it, he comes into a room with a few mats and a fire pit. Gordon then sees a what looks like a window, but without glass, and decides to look out of it. Outside he sees two alien Grunts with a group of alien soldiers. What came as a shock to Gordon was that three of the soldiers were cowering before one of the Grunts.

"Galanga! Galanga!"

Gordon sees that a fourth alien soldier was on the ground in front of the second Grunt. The second Grunt raised its left claw and brought it down of the soldier's head killing it. Gordon didn't know what was going on from what he saw at Black Mesa the aliens were on the same side. But the soldiers were here in Xen were being persecuted and despite the power they have they weren't even fighting back. Gordon summons his crossbow and aims it at the second Grunt and fires it. The Grunt is killed, and the first Grunt turns around and sees Gordon.

"Ga la lung!"

The group of soldiers runs away when the Grunt turned its attention away from them. The Grunt looks back at them, but Gordon kills it. With the Grunts dead Gordon jumps outside and is approached by the other soldiers.

"Lung gah!"

"Chur lung gong chella gurr!"

"Churr galing chur alla gung!"

The aliens bow and Gordon assumed they were giving him thanks for saving them. Looking at these aliens he sees that like the first group he met when the resonance cascade started their eyes don't glow. The ones he saw in Black Mesa had glowing eyes so perhaps that had something to do with it.

"My name is Gordon Freeman." Gordon says to the aliens, but they seemed confused. He then gestures at himself. "Gordon. Freeman."

"Free…man?" One of the aliens says.

"Yes! Freeman, Gordon Freeman!" Gordon says as he then points at the aliens. "And what are you?"

The aliens look at themselves before realizing what Gordon is saying to them.

"Vortigaunts." One of the aliens answered.

Now knowing what they were called Gordon then asks them. "I need to get to the tower and stop the invasion in my world. Can you help me get to it?"

"Galanga." One of Vortigaunts says as it points to a pillar that went up and down, then a platform above them with an open door.

"Thank you." Gordon says to them.

Gordon then waits for the pillar to come down so he could get on it. Once he was on it and it brought him up, he uses his long-jump module to get to the platform with the open door. Once inside he sees that it's an elevator and pushes a button on it for it to take him up. With the Vortigaunts he left behind one of them finds a rock and carves the Lambda symbol into a wall before it and the rest of its group start bowing to it.

"Freeman." The lead Vortigaunt said leading the rest of its group in some sort of chant.

The elevator brings Gordon as far as it could go and when he sees the door open, he finds himself in a room with an energy barrier blocking a doorway. On the other of it he could see Vortigaunts maintaining a teleporter as some of them go through it. Once they are done using it the Vortigaunts working on it take notice of Freeman. The Vortigaunts talk to themselves for a bit before one of them decides to let Gordon through.

Going through the doorway Gordon sees that he's on a small street between two rows of housing. One of the Vortigaunts motions Gordon to a doorway into a building down the small street. Heading the alien's advice Gordon goes for the doorway and along the way he spots a few Vortigaunts roasting Headcrabs over fire pits. Apparently the Vortigaunts eat those nasty looking critters. When Gordon gets to the doorway, he finds a staircase that leads him to a room with windows. Inside he finds a capsule from Black Mesa carrying supplies and a green button. After getting the supplies Gordon goes over to the green button and presses it. On the other side of the window he sees a Vortigaunt directing him to go back to where he entered the camp.

Suddenly Gordon hears a klaxon alarm ringing out. Some of the Vortigaunts outside cower at the sound of the alarms and suddenly two of those alien floaters teleport into the air. They then start emitting some weird signal and the Vortigaunts scream out it pain. As they turn to face Gordon their eyes start to glow just like the ones Gordon faced. This brings a sudden revelation to Dr. Freeman.

"They're being controlled!" Gordon exclaims. This new information reveals so much why the first Vortigaunts he met weren't violent, why the ones in Black Mesa were aggressive, and why the ones he saw being menaced by those Grunts didn't fight back. The Vortigaunts are being enslaved!

(Mind Games by Crowbar Entertainment (Black Mesa Soundtrack) Starts)

Two more of alien Controllers (Gordon's new name for the floaters) teleport into the area. A few of the Vortigaunts begin shooting the glass in front of Gordon with lightning and the controllers telekinetically lift up some objects that they throw at the glass shattering it. Gordon then summons the Gluon Gun and sprints on to the room and takes aim at the nearest Controller. He fires a stream of energy that makes contact with the controller and vaporizes it. The closest Vortigaunts are released from its controller and rush inside of the buildings to get out of the fight.

"Kill the Controllers and free the Vortigaunts." Gordon says to himself as he dodges an energy blast from a Controller. "That's good to know."

Seeing some Vortigaunts take aim at him Gordon uses his long-jump module to get passed them and closer to the last controller. He fires and vaporizes it freeing the rest of the Vortigaunts. Gordon sees the Vortigaunts motioning him to come to them near were he first entered the village. Once he gets to them, they motion him to enter a nearby vent.

(Mind Games by Crowbar Entertainment (Black Mesa Soundtrack) Ends)

'I guess the teleporter won't lead me to the top of the tower.' Gordon thought to himself as he crawled into the vent. He makes it into an elevator that he then turns on. However, instead of taking him up of down it goes forward and the wall in front of it disappears. It takes him outside and then it takes him down.

Once he's out of the elevator he sees some higher ground above him with two large drilling devices and a Gargantua passing by on a higher ledge. Gordon looks around and finds a path along the wall of the hill. He takes it and eventually goes up a stream that had cut through a cave. While following the stream it takes him through some large roots that he managed to get through and up a few naturally occurring walkways. Eventaully his path takes to the top of a ledge he jumps down from and onto a new aea.


(Shadows of Death by Crowbar Entertainment (Black Mesa Soundtrack) Starts)

Gordon hears the sound of a Gargantua and sees one in a cave blocked by roots. It backs up and charges through the roots. Gordon took the opportunity to sprint away from it. He follows a path that went up a stream and through some large roots that he had squeeze through.

As he makes it through a cave Gordon sees the front path blocked by more roots, however a second Gargantua was on the other side of it and it sees Gordon. Gordon hears the first Gargantua behind and quickly looks around for another path. He finds an open ledge down to a new area and decides to take it.

As he gets to the new area, he sees another Gargantua behind more roots. Gordon turns right and runs down a new pathway. As he's running, he hears footsteps in front of him and charging out from the path in front of him is a new Gargantua.

"A fourth one!?" Gordon exclaims as he sees a tunnel on his right that he runs into. The path takes him to where the fourth Gargantua originally was. Looking around Gordon sees a ledge below that he can use his long-jump module to take him to. Once he gets their he sees that the only two cave entrances on it are blocked by roots and behind each one was a roaring Gargantua. "Seriously!? Am I in some sort of video game chase scene right now!?"

Looking around Gordon sees another ledge below him with trampoline plant in the distance. Just as the Gargantuas broke through the roots Gordon uses his long-jump module to reach it. He touches the pad and launches him up to the level above the two Gargantuas he escaped from. As he lands, he lands on the right side of a rock wall Gordon sees a Gargantua on its left and the creature sees him, it roars and ignites its flames. As Gordon lands he goes back to running and as he moves up the new path, he passes by another rooted off cave with a gargantuan that breaks through it. He approaches a ledge and uses the long-jump module to get to a ledge on the far side.

As he lands, he sees he fids himself in front of another rooted off cave with a Gargantau in it. He starts running up the new path and finds a trampoline pad that he tales to get across the chasm and to a new area. Gordon lands in front of a Gargantua and immediately turns to his right and runs under a root. As he's running Gordon finds a root that he runs up and finds an area with a root wall, but it has an opening in it's center that he gets through by long-jump module.

He continues running and comes to an area with another rooted off cave with a Gargantua behind it. Gordon sees his only path blocked by a large root wall. He quickly examines it and sees a hole in it that he leaps through and continues running with the previous two Gargantuas still on his tail. He approaches a ledge facing the tower and on it's two sides are two more Gargantuas burning their way through some roots. He keeps sprinting and makes it to the edge and uses the long-jump module to get across the chasm.

Gordon lands and turns around to see the four Gargantuas along with four more on other parts of the island roar in frustration while firing off their flamethrowers in the air. Breathing a sigh of relief Gordon takes a couple of trampoline pads to take him up to a new pathway.

(Shadows of Death by Crowbar Entertainment (Black Mesa Soundtrack) Ends)

Gordon surveys his surroundings and sees several tunnels sending out what appeared to be water and some of the tunnels appeared to have bars blocking them. Considering how close they were to the tower Gordon realizes it must be some sort of sewer system leading into the tower itself. After examining them Gordon manages to get through one and goes against the current of the water. He does this until he makes it through a set of bars that were melted, and he comes into a new area.

As he looks around Gordon finds more entrances blocked of by bars. He finds one set of bars near him with two odd green sacks around it. He summons his pistol and fires it at one of the sacks. One of the sacks explode and causes the other to explode as well releasing a green liquid that eats through the bars. He runs through it and comes across an air vent above him that was sucking up air. As he got under it he got sucked into it.


It sent him through the vent until it spat him out into a room behind a control room separated by a metal fence. On the other side Gordon could see three Vortigaunts working on the consoles. Gordon looks for a way out and sees that his only exit is blocked by an energy barrier. The Vortigaunts stop what they're doing and take notice of Gordon. One approaches the fence and turns to an alien looking power cable in the wall and pulls it out. Gordon turns to see that the energy barrier is offline now. Gordon nods his head to the Vortigaunts and leaves the room.

As Gordon enters a wide room, he sees that he's in some kind of factory. All around he could see large pipes filled with a green fluid being sent to somewhere and vats mixing the liquid and sending it into the pipes. And manning the controls of the factory were the Vortigaunts who helped Freeman along the way. They helped by glancing at power cables for him to unplug and plug, as well as outside pumps on the vats for him to ride up to reach his destination.

Though it was not that easy as Gordon would battle a few alien Controllers when he least expected it. He made certain not to kill the Vortigaunts who were mind controlled as it wasn't their fault that they were being forced to fight.

Eventually Gordon made it to a part of the factory that showed him what was being made. Inside a large he saw rows and rows of alien Grunts contained within the green liquid showing him that they weren't a naturally occurring race. In another part he came to an area with what looked like a giant piston sending up Hivehands. Using the long jump module and clear areas among the walls with rows of Hivehands he was able to navigate his way up to the next floor.

On the next floor the Vortigaunts direct him to an area with two large pistons in a room surrounded by walls with alien Grunts hanging on them. The Vortigaunts then direct Gordon to the cables that he should unplug and plug to aid him to increase how high and low the pistons should go. With that done he's able to ride the machines up and leave the cloning area. Finding himself in a tunnel system Gordon is able to navigate his way out of it and finds himself in an area with a metallic structure in it.

Heading for the structure Gordon is met by alien Grunts that teleport in to stop him. Summoning his SMG and occasionally switching to his shotgun for close quarters combat Gordon was able to fight his through them. As he looks for a way through, he finds a vent sucking up air. He enters it and is sent out to the top of the structure and finds a ramp on his left and right going up. Coming down the right path he sees a Vortigaunt that motions him to follow it.

He follows the Vortigaunt up a ramp and is met by two others and in front of him are two rows of glowing green crystals lined up along the walls. The Vortigaunts then motion Gordon to a small metal structure above the ramps and they open a door on it to reveal a red crystal that glowed bright. Gordon didn't know why they wanted to show him this and then he sees the Vortigaunts motion to the crystal and then to the collars and manacles they're wearing.

"I understand." Gordon says as he summons the Gluon Gun. He notices a green glow around the gun and then fires an energy beam at the red crystal. Gordon also takes notice that the Gluon Gun's energy on his HUD isn't being depleted. The green crystals must be emitting an energy wave that's recharging the gun. The red crystal begins to crack and is then destroyed in a small explosion.

The manacles and collars around the Vortigaunts begin to fall off and they cheer. One of them stops and approaches Gordon. The Vortigaunt raises hand a green glow is emitted around it. Gordon himself briefly glows green before it goes away as well as the glow in the Vortigaunt's hand.

"The Freeman has freed us." The Vortigaunt said in English, though there seemed to be a speech impediment when using R's and S's. "We have dreamt of this day."

"You can speak English?" Gordon asked.

"Yes, through the Vortessence we have been able to extract the knowledge to speak your language through the mind of the Freeman." The Vortigaunt explained. "And with the Vortessence I have shared that knowledge with the rest of mine kind."

"Vortessence?" Gordon asked.

"A binding life-force, the source of all of our powers." The Vortigaunt explained as his three hands glowed green. "We are a tapestry woven of Vortessence. It is the same for you if only you would see it. Though we are unsure if your power is your ability to harness it."

Gordon looks to the manacles on the floor and looks back at the Vortigaunt and asks, "What is all of this and why is your world invading Black Mesa?"

"Hmm, the world that you call Xen is not our world." The Vortigaunt explained. "We came from another from a different universe entirely. Our planet was home to many different races and was at peace, until they came."

"Who?" Gordon asked.

"The Combine, an immense and powerful inter-dimensional organization. Comprised of both allied and enslaved species, with the collective goal to dominate and absorb the Multiverse into its inter-dimensional empire; the Universal Union." The Vortigaunt explained. "They came to our world and sought to enslave us, many races perished and those that survived fled here to Xen. We knew that it was only a temporary solution and that they would find us again and that was when the Nihilanth came to power."

"Who's the Nihilanth?" Gordon asked.

"A member of a race that ours shares a genetic ancestry with." The Vortigaunt explained. "His kind was hunted to extinction with only himself as the only survivor. Using his vast powers and greater intelligence he enslaved our kind and created the life forms you call Grunts, Controllers, and Gargantuas. He built an army to one day conquer a world out in the Multiverse so he could better prepare for the Combine's return."

"But the Nihilanth found something in your world when the barriers were weakened at Black Mesa." Another Vortigaunt said. "A gem of great power that he believes may offer him protection against the Combine."

"I saw that gem when the resonance cascade started." Gordon said to them. "I heard it calling me. Do you know what its capable of?"

"The Nihlianth has learned of telekinetic abilities from it, an ability he already has, and an ability in the gem that can allow one to open portals across space and dimensions." One of the Vortigaunts responds. "Such power cannot be in the wrong hands if this gem truly called to you then you must be the one to reclaim it."

Suddenly a high-pitched whine is heard, and the group sees a group of alien Controllers flying toward them. The door out of then opens to reveal a pair of alien Grunts stepping out. Gordon was about to fire upon the approaching enemies but the Vortigaunts stepped in front of him.

"We are free from your control! And no longer are we afraid!" One of the Vortigautns said as his hands glowed green. When the Grunts got close to him, he slams his hands on the ground and sends a shockwave that knocks down the Grunts.

An approaching Controller sends out energy spheres towards the group but one of the Vortigaunts telekinetically lifts up one of the downed Grunts and uses it as a living shield. After The shots are blocked, he uses his telekinesis to toss the Grunt at one of the Controllers. The Controller is hit and falls to the ground. The Vortigaunts send out their lightning blasts at the other Controllers. In the ensuing crossfire one of three Vortigaunts is killed and another is injured With the Cotnrollers all dead the injured Vortigaunt turns to the surviving Grunt.

"Node and nexus, feed upon this life!" The Vortigaunt says as he blasts the Grunt. The Grunt is dead, and Gordon sees some sort of energy leave it and enter the injured Vortigaunt. Whatever it was the Vortigaunt was healed from all of its injuries.

With the battle over Gordon looks at the dead Vortigaunt and says, "I'm sorry about your friend."

"What seems to you a sacrifice is merely, to us, an oscillation. We do not fear the interval of darkness." A Vortigaunt says before looking at the room the Grunts entered from and sees a portal. "That portal will take you to the top of the tower. There you will find the portal to the Nihilanth's main chamber. Go. Our paths diverge. Even as we speak our kind is rebelling against the Nihilanth's forcing and have begun to escape this island. Some go to the far reaches of Xen and others go to Black Mesa to help your kind alongside our kin in your dimension that have been liberated."

"But be warned the Nihlianth's power is great and his mind helps run the facility." The second Vortigaunt said. "Without him it could cause an explosion that will destroy this island."

"I understand looks like that gem might be my way home now." Gordon says. "Thank you for your help."

"Our bonds are of nature and require no gratitude." The first Vortigaunt says before he brings all three of his hands together to bow to Gordon, as did the other Vorigaunt as well. "But remember: There is no distance between us. We are coterminous."

After a few seconds the Vortigaunts leave the pose and begin climbing down the metal structure from it's outside walls. Gordon turns to the Portal and walks toward it.

'This nightmare is almost over. If I can take down the Nihilanth then I save everyone and the whole planet.' Gordon thought to himself as he nears the portal. 'If I'm lucky I maybe able to warn someone about this Combine in case they one day come to my universe and invade Earth.'

Gordon steps through the portal and disappears.


Meanwhile at Black Mesa

When Gordon freed the Vortigaunts he didn't just free them in Xen we freed them across the dimensions. The Vortigaunts in Black Mesa quickly turned on their oppressors and unleashed their full power on them. The survivors in Black Mesa were shocked to see this especially when the Vorts (a nickname Valhallen came up for them and was quickly adopted some of the survivors) spoke English and told them everything about the invasion. However, the Vortigaunts only told Krunk, Valhallen, and Living Bullet about the Gem of Bond as their clairvoyant showed them that they were the only ones they should tell about the gem.

"Great Scott!" Dr. Kleiner exclaimed. "An inter-dimensional empire bent on conquering the multiverse and its an actual type 7.0 civilization. And here I thought the research the Lambda team made was enough to win a Nobel Peace Prize."

"The Freeman is currently approaching the Nihlianth's chambers." A Vortigaunt said. "We will see him clearly in the chambers soon."

"Okay…on to a more important things," Barney said though a bit uneasy about the Vortigaunts clairvoyant abilities as it just weirded him out on how they can see events that will or might happen. "We need to get the rest of the transport capsules ready for Gordon. If this Nihilanth is as powerful as the Vortigaunts say it is then Gordon is going to need all the help he can get to kill it."

"I'll help gather up the depleted uranium-235 batteries, Dr. Freeman will need them for the Gluon Gun and Tau Cannon." Living Bullet said. "Dr. Vance make sure the transporter is ready, we need Gordon to have everything he needs to throw everything he has at that monster."

"Got it." Eli said as he approached the teleporter and thought to himself. 'You've done so much more than what anyone has asked of you Gordon. I pray to God that you succeed and come home safely.'