|Average height||5-6 ft.|
|Language||Vortiguese, flux shifting|
|Danger rating||Significant threat|
Vortigaunts are sapient beings belived to be native to the alternate dimension known as Xen.
They were enslaved and then forced to lead an invasion of Earth following the Black Mesa Incident, under the direction of the Nihilanth. Following the death of the latter, they have as a species chosen to ally themselves with the human-led Resistance in its bid to overthrow the Combine rule of Earth.
Anatomy and appearanceEdit
In appearance, a Vortigaunt is roughly humanoid with two legs and two arms, but has an additional arm protruding from its chest. This extra limb is a feature also found in the other bipedal, sapient species from Xen, including the Alien Grunt and Nihilanth. This similarity, along with other shared features such as red eyes and back-jointed legs, is strongly suggestive of a common ancestry with other intelligent Xen lifeforms. Apparently, this third arm is used for feeding, as both Vortigaunts and Alien Grunts are often seen bending over slain victims while feeding off of it. Vortigaunts have a mottled green-brown skin, sharp teeth, and clawed hands. Vortigaunts have a slightly hunched posture, and their faces are dominated by a large, single red eye, surrounded by five smaller eyes. Closer inspection reveals that the smaller "eyes" are simply additional openings that lead to one gigantic eyeball.
Society and cultureEdit
Vortigaunts are very intelligent and social creatures. They are often seen in pairs or groups, and are capable of developing intelligent strategies. When faced with a superior enemy, Vortigaunts will often run away from the scene, and if possible, will group together with others to form a stronger force. Vortigaunts possess their own method of vocal communication, which they refer to as "flux shifting". This method of communication involves both speakers vocalizing at the same time, which separates it from all known human languages. According to the Vortigaunts, flux shifting cannot be understood by "those whose Vortal inputs are impaired", which may suggest that other inaudible components are involved, perhaps explaining why it is incomprehensible to humans. Another explanation is that they are subtly suggesting - via the use of the word 'impaired' - that the senses of humans are not quite as 'advanced' as theirs.
Vortigaunts have learned to speak at least one human language; English. The Vortigaunts' use of English is slightly strange, however, as they use archaic, even Shakespearean, words and grammatical structures which are largely obsolete amongst present-day human speakers. It is not known whether this is a lack of understanding or a deliberate choice on their part.
Vortigaunts were an enslaved species to the Nihilanth, used as factory workers and drone soldiers. Based on comments made by the "All-Knowing Vortigaunt", it seems that the species has endured slavery for many generations, and enforced servitude appears to have formed the bedrock of their history and culture. Vortigaunts have many traditions, including an apparent oral tradition of passing down poetry and songs from generation to generation. They believe in a binding life-force which they call the "Vortessence" (see below), which could be a religion or a popular belief. Due to their use of this force, which remains untapped by the human species, the Vortigaunt species is capable of a form of telepathy, at least amongst their own kind. One particular comment made by a Vortigaunt - "We have lost all dear to us" - suggests that the they have lost their home world and civilization, yet are determined to start again alongside the human race on Earth. There also seems to be a possibility, based on phrases uttered by the "All-Knowing Vortigaunt" that they have a collective consciousness through time and space, and that each moment through time appears to them as one.
It is also worth mentioning that there seems to be a sort of practical afterlife available for Vortigaunts. This is suggested by one of the statements of the All-Knowing Vortigaunt: "What seems to you a sacrifice is merely, to us, an oscillation. We do not fear the interval of darkness." The statement implies that, whenever a vortigaunt dies, it passes into "the interval of darkness", from which it may be able to emerge anew, possibly in a new body or in an astral form. While they have their own language, Vortigese, Vortigaunts are also able to speak in English (and remark humorously on the etiquette of which language to use: "We vocalize in your auditory language as a matter of courtesy. [...] Unless we wish to say unflattering things about you."). They also tend to refer to some individuals by adding "the" before their name, such as "The Freeman" or "The Alyx Vance". Vortigaunts can communicate with one another telepathically through a life-force they call the Vortessence.
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, nearly hive-mind telepathy and, likely, their ability to take power from objects. They are also able to use the Vortessence to heal wounds and keep the dying from passing on. They can use their powers coupled with "the extract" of Antlion larvae to bring the nearly dead back to life.
The Nihilanth's powers and enslavement of the Vortigaunts were also gained through control of the Vortessence. Some Vortigaunts seem to rescue the scientist Gordon Freeman from Xen using the Vortessence.
The Vortessence is similar to the current human theory of String Theory in that atoms, the basis of matter is made up of "strings" which exist across dimensions because of their extremely small size.