Vortigaunts are a fictional extra-dimensional species in the Half-Life series of video games by Valve Corporation. In Half-Life and its three expansions, Vortigaunts are frequently encountered by the player as hostile non-player characters in Half-Life and later as allies in Half-Life 2. The Vortigaunts are depicted in Half-Life as being an enslaved race in an alternative dimension called Xen , subservient to a large creature called the Nihilanth , which itself is a slave to undisclosed masters. In Half-Life 2 , the Vortigaunts have broken free of their slavery following Gordon Freeman killing the Nihilanth at the end of Half-Life , and actively assist the player and other humans in resisting the Combine occupation of Earth. Vortigaunts are shown as a very communal and cultural race, believing in a force that binds the fabric of the universe and each Vortigaunt together, as well as producing a tradition of poetry and music. Vortigaunts also display the ability to summon and command electrical energy without the need for technology. This ability is used for various activities, such as a means of attack, powering electrical equipment, and healing.
1. Slaves, They Were
The Vortigaunts taxonomic designation: Xenotherium subservilia ,  or "Subservient Alien Beast" , formerly known as " Alien Slaves" or " Xen Slaves" , and affectionately known as " Vorts " by their allies, are a sapient alien species found throughout the Half-Life Series. Long before the Black Mesa Incident, the Vortigaunts' homeworld was invaded by the Combine , forcing the survivors of the invasion to flee to Xen. When the Black Mesa Incident occurred, their master, a being known as the Nihilanth , viewed the rift that opened as a chance to escape, and directed the Vortigaunts to invade Earth. Following the death of the Nihilanth, the Vortigaunts have chosen to ally themselves with the human-led Resistance in their bid to overthrow the Combine rule of Earth. 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 , including the Alien Grunt and the Nihilanth. 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.
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Biologically bound to the Nihilanth, they were enslaved and cast as workers and soldiers. Many of them followed the Nihilanth to Xen and when freed by Gordon, they made their way to Earth. That would mean that humans and Vortigaunts continued to fight until they were forcefully subdued by Combine rule. The new relationship was bred from the shared contempt towards their captors.
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