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Half-Life: A Place in the West

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Half-Life: A Place in the West
  • Ross Joseph Gardner
  • Michael Pelletier
  • Kristian Rossi
  • Ester Salguero
  • DC Hopkins


Publication date


Half-Life: A Place in the West is a fan-made digital comic created by Ross Joseph Gardner and Michael Pelletier[1] based on the Half-Life video game series. It takes place in between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, after the Seven Hour War. When sinister commandos begin kidnapping children across the American wasteland, a troubled father, an intrepid scientist, and an ancient alien warrior pursue them to a hidden city with a powerful cosmic secret. On September 30, 2016, the first chapter was released for free on Steam utilizing a new application presentation.

Additionally, the first two chapters of the comic were remade in 2020.


At a science complex in the New Mexico desert, an experiment goes very wrong, unleashing inter-dimensional chaos on an unsuspecting Earth. The aftershocks end with the arrival of a totalitarian order called the Combine, which forces a brutal police state on the last remnants of the occupied planet.

Now, some years later, a mysterious cosmic tower has materialised in a hidden city – a tower that may prove to be humanity’s salvation or its doom. A team of military commandos soon emerges from the city, sweeping across the American wasteland and kidnapping children for an unknown purpose.

In the wake of their devastation, a troubled father, an intrepid scientist, and an ancient alien warrior are each drawn to the strange city with the cosmic tower: New Franklin. Faced with warring clans, diabolical experiments, portentous dreamscapes, and the growing shadow of the Combine, they must unlock New Franklin’s mysteries before it’s too late – and the lives of everyone in the city hang in the balance.

Chapter 1: Following Portents[edit]

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"It's all gone. Snatched up by Black Mesa and ground to ash..."
― Albert Kempinski

In a ravaged America, a small enclave of refugees is attacked by a mysterious team of commandos. But they aren't Combine -- they're human. The only survivor, Albert Kempinski, learns the attack was carried out with the aim of kidnapping the enclave's two children, one of which is Kempinski's daughter, Ellen. Determined to rescue her, an unprepared Kempinski sets off into the harsh winter wastes, towards the hidden city from which the attackers sprung.

Along the way he is joined by an intrepid scientist, Leyla Poirier, and an ancient alien warrior called Dreyfus. They too are intent on finding the city, believing it to possess a powerful cosmic secret they hope will liberate Earth from the Combine's grasp. Together, the three embark on a perilous journey to a strange and uncertain destiny...

Interlude 1.5: The Vortessence[edit]

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"A web that connects us all. A kind of entanglement, I suppose, but the vortigaunts can feel it, channel it..."
― Leyla Poirier

In a flashback to Leyla and Dreyfus' journey across the Atlantic, we learn that a group of vortigaunts have gone missing searching for the Combine's lost Citadel in America. Dreyfus immerses himself in the vortessence - a web of consciousness permeating all space and time - in search of them, but is confronted with the past, present and perhaps future as he delves deeper into the withered strands that connect us all...

Chapter 2: A Very Modern Major General[edit]

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"Nothing is more important than staying connected to our past, for that is who we are."
― Cormac Long

Albert Kempinski and Leyla Poirier form a tenuous alliance to infiltrate the mysterious city to which they are both drawn.

Once inside, they discover a forgotten world in which the human spirit has been rekindled. This society of survivors has formed around a military leader called Major General Long, who puts Kempinski and Leyla before a council of the city's elite to determine whether or not they can remain. If their lie is exposed they risk death, but the pair struggle to see eye-to-eye in the city.

And on the city's outskirts, Dreyfus encounters two survivors of the Black Mesa Incident who reveal there is more to the city than it appears...

Interlude 2.5: The Hand of Destiny (is charred)[edit]

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"In being given a glimpse at the blackness lurking just beyond the threshold of our reality, the world went understandably mad..."
― Cormac Long

Beneath New Franklin squads of exterminators work to destroy the antlion tunnels that encircle the city. Perturbed by the appearance of Leyla and Albert in his city, Long seeks solace among his troops and their efforts to reclaim the city's land, but finds himself dwelling on a terrible choice he made during the HECU's escape from Black Mesa...

Chapter 3: The Pit[edit]

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"They say trade keeps the spirit of man alive. And believe me, there's no better place to prove that than the Pit."
― Hadley Upton-Brown

After a confrontation about the nature of New Franklin, Leyla Poirier and Albert Kempinski go their separate ways inside the city.

Leyla is drawn to a gladiatorial arena called "Kal's Pit", where she finds Hadley Upton-Brown and witnesses first-hand the brutal assertion of the city's combative spirit. Kempinski, adrift, starts up a connection with a kindly stranger called Julia Benjamin, who offers a different perspective on life in the city.

And back at City Hall, Major-General Long, suspicious of Leyla, makes a discovery that will change New Franklin forever.

Interlude 3.5: Nal Sidian[edit]

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"Black Mesa is gone, but they pursue its memory still. They wish to possess that which opened the gate, so they may open many more."
― Dreyfus

Now among the Opposition, Dreyfus is questioned on what he knows about the Combine and their plans for Earth. The vortigaunt tells of his time in a slave world called 'Nal Sidian', where he first encountered what he claims to be the power behind the many faces of the Combine...

Chapter 4: A Spy in the House of Long[edit]

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"Don't fall into the trap of thinking a belief in this land will save you... It won't."
― Sejal Rajani

As the fallout from the Pit spreads throughout the city, New Franklin's competing political factions are brought into open conflict.

Fearing events at the Pit will diminish his already tenuous power, Governor Moore moves to quell Sejal Rajani's Opposition - a group of dissenters with a radical plan for the city's future - forcing Major-General Long to resort to extreme measures to bring them both to heel.

And as Albert Kempinski grows closer to Julia Benjamin, he begins to see that she's hiding a secret about the city - a secret that may well lead the way to his kidnapped daughter, Ellen.

Interlude 4.5: The Vault of Saph[edit]

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"No, they're not children... Not anymore."
― Warren Absher

On the night of Leyla and Albert's arrival in New Franklin, something slipped out of place at the science station Remnant. Ellen, Albert's daughter, was drawn to the dreamworld of Saph by a mysterious figure in the shape of her mother - to the horror of her captors.

Chapter 5: The Eyes of the People[edit]

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"So too will it ultimately raise all humanity from the ashes...and bury the Combine in our ascent."
― Cormac Long

It’s the night of New Franklin’s annual masquerade banquet, and the city’s political rivals vie for dominance amongst a blind and apathetic populace seeking shelter from a wicked blizzard.

Governor Moore, aiming to install himself as the city’s leader, plots to assassinate Major-General Long at the evening’s end, whilst Long himself prepares to move against Sejal Rajani’s Opposition in an effort to apprehend the vortigaunt Dreyfus.

And on the fringes of the city, away from the lights of the masquerade, Albert Kempinski takes matters into his own hands to find his kidnapped daughter - with disastrous results...

Interlude 5.5: Containment[edit]

"Whatever you may think of us, we didn't intend for this to happen!"
― Black Mesa Scientist

In a flashback to the Black Mesa Incident, Jacob Williams and Simone Young wrestle with having been abandoned in the bowels of the facility by the government - with the Xenian forces closing in...

Chapter 6: The Prisoner[edit]

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"You feel the same way, Young? You've a long trail of dead vorts at your feet."
― Calvin White

With the execution of the Governor at the hands of Major-General Long, New Franklin is poised on the brink of civil war.

Colonel White, Long’s second-in-command, launches a devastating assault on the Opposition base in an attempt to capture the vortigaunt Dreyfus. In response, the leader of the Opposition, Sejal Rajani, lays the groundwork for a counterattack against City Hall. However, she faces unexpected resistance from the head of the power plant, Leonard Banks, who is harbouring a dangerous agenda of his own.

And in a secret prison beneath City Hall, Leyla Poirier meets Long’s captive son, Kurt, and learns the dark truth about her journey to America.

Interlude 6.5: The Enemy in the Clouds[edit]

"Innumerable black towers rise across the multiverse, each one linked, casting a net in which to constrain time and thought."
― The Forlorn Philosopher

Close to a century prior to the Black Mesa Incident, two mysterious operatives are dispatched to a Combine experimental station on a distant world to complete a secret mission. There they discover a hidden transmission that leads deep into the heart of the Combine regime - one which hints at an insidious plot to transform the very fabric of all reality...

Chapter 7: The Dark Between the Stars[edit]

"The same battle it's always been. Opposing forces of light and dark."
― Cormac Long

Leonard Banks, the power plant foreman, issues an ultimatum to Cormac Long and Sejal Rajani: relinquish control of the city or he will start deactivating its defences. When neither Long nor Rajani submit to his demands, Banks makes good on his threat, unleashing hordes of antlions on the city's borders.

As Long scrambles to defend the breach, Rajani seizes one last chance to capture Long and assume control of the city, and rallies the Opposition for an all-out assault on City Hall.

Interlude 7.5: Castle Okno[edit]

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"Multiversal contamination in progress."
― Combine Overwatch

Over a year before Leyla and Dreyfus arrive in North America, they infiltrate a Combine weather station in Eastern Europe - Castle Okno - on a secret mission.

Chapter 8: Remnant[edit]

"Thunder in his cursed heart. Don’t you hear it? He’s so close now..."
― Alana Absher

Sejal Rajani’s Opposition have captured City Hall and imprisoned Major General Long – as well as Leyla Poirier and Albert Kempinski.

As Rajani prepares to put Long on trial, the vortigaunt Dreyfus penetrates the mysterious edifice known as Remnant, determined to hunt down an ancient enemy. A shard of metal stripped from the lost Citadel, Remnant’s purpose – and the fate of the kidnapped children – is at last revealed.


External links[edit]