The Clandestine Company is a secret organisation and cult operating in City 17 and the Outlands surrounding it. In the aftermath of the Combine's downfall, they secretly worked to taking over City 17 for themselves, and then the world and later the multiverse. The orchestrated a lot of criminal activities in City 17 in order to spread fear and chaos. After the defeat of the Combine Empire they take the role as the primary antagonistic faction of City 17 Street, although their presence and influence in the series took a while to become noticed overtime.
They also appear in Half-Life: White Forest.
The Clandestine Company are arguably the true primary antagonistic faction of City 17 Street, although their role builds up over the course of the series and eventually becomes a primary threat. They were first alluded to through scrawled logos through the city, until the members began appearing themselves. Their motivations and objectives vary overtime, although it becomes clear they want City 17 for themselves, and are also involved in horrific experimentation in order to create monsters and soldiers for their army as part of their planned invasion.
The Clandestine Company appear to have their own agents doing their bidding. They are dressed in long trenchcoats, and wear gas-masks similar to what the Combine's Civil Protection and Soldiers had worn.
Although their objective is to take over City 17, their base of operations is an underground base nearby White Forest. They also own numerous science facilities across the county.
Much of the Clandestine Company's past history is unclear, although they have said to be in operation for at least 20 years. Their objects pre-Uprising is unclear, and whether or not the Combine were aware of their presence. At some point during the Combine's occupation, members of the Company operated at the White Forest Silo Base (where the Resistance themselves operated). In a partially sighted room behind a massive boiler, their logo is sprayed on a wall, and a computer nearby as numbers on it. This is noticed by Gordon Freeman, although he moves on ahead without bothering to investigate further.
In the aftermath of Dr. Arne Magnusson's rocket closing off a super-portal to the Combine homeworld for good, the silo was abandoned by the Resistance as they no longer needed it, leaving the Clandestine Company to operate in peace. They created a subsidiary group known as The Order which posed as a serial killing cult, that spread fear throughout the Outlands.
A bitter Freeman returned to the Silo base after being cut off by Alyx Vance and decided to investigate the mysterious logo on the wall, feeling it related to something bad. He was captured by the Company members and put through a series of experiments. Freeman was brainwashed, and placed into a new suit and nicknamed "Combine Freeman" to be used as part of one of their manipulative schemes. Along with crime boss Tony Angelo the Company tested to test the waters of an incursion of City 17 by setting up a military faction known as the "New Combine" and using it as a cover to combat the Resistance and test their strength, especially in the absence of Gordon Freeman. Freeman acted as a foot soldier for the group and they managed to partially takeover City 17. However when neighbouring cities intervened which started a massive civil war, the Company allowed the New Combine to collapse, at the expense of Tony being imprisoned for terrorism and treason. However Tony felt more resentment at Nathan Johnson who was involved in bringing down the New Combine project. The Company were familiar with Nathan, as he destroyed their Cyber Gimp project three years prior. Using connections within the security prison holding Tony, they managed to allow him to be set free (posing it to look like a prison break) and sent him to eliminate Nathan. This action led to Paisley Hills being kidnapped and murdered by Tony, who in return was shot dead by Nathan. As Nathan was broken due to her death, the Company continued further planning.
Freeman broke free of his mind control and took charge of the crippling Company, which was losing money and resources. During the Race X invasion of earth, Freeman sent out Clandestine Agents to collect the alien technology which secured the means of time travel and universal travel. He hired scientists to look into the technology. At this point Freeman developed a hatred for the Resistance Government and contempt for humanity, as he watched them weakened from multiple attacks and felt that without him, they were nothing. Thinking back to his lost opportunity to make a deal with the late Wallace Breen several years prior, Freeman decided to step up and make himself the ultimate leader of City 17 and the world, and lead humanity to a new age.
Freeman went into partnership with ambitious businesswoman Derek Robertson who was involved in rebuilding the ruins of City 17 left over from the Race X incursion, and struck him a deal to act as his proxy at the Clandestine Company, and stand in for the upcoming mayoral elections. Freeman wanted to remain in his shadows as he has been missing for several years, and needed a face to takeover. A greedy Derek agreed, as he shared Freeman's sentiments for the human race and the resistance. Derek become a runner up in the City 17 elections, but ended up losing out to Alyx and the Resistance government yet again. Angered, Freeman made up a scheme with Derek to cripple the Resistance Government by causing chaos in the city, in order to instill fear and terror and show the Resistance for what they truly were - weak and pathetic (in Freeman's eyes).
Over the several months the Clandestine Company secretly hired out opportunist criminals and other cult like organisations and cause mayhem in City 17. The city was thrown into terror over the ensuing chaos, and Derek stepped up and promised for a brighter future if he were to be elected if the Resistance agreed to a reelection. Around this time Nathan along with his partner Olivia Harris investigated the Clandestine Company. Nathan blew up their science facility, severely crippling them, angering Freeman who put a bounty on Nathan's head. Nathan went into hiding, but to the Company's luck the insurance paid out and the facility was swiftly rebuilt.
Deciding to use more soul destroying tactics, the Company hired a cult to kidnap Nathan's daughter Samantha and kill her before Nathan's eyes. An angry Nathan was rescued by Toby Purnell, but ended up beating the Cult leader to death. Around this time, Derek won the election as mayor, beating the Resistance and secretly putting the Clandestine Company into power.
Underneath their new base of operations in City 17 - the town hall - the Company build a giant portal linked to a new dimension full of demons. Striking a deal, they initiated the first phase of their invasion and unleashed the monsters upon the City 17 Plaza, killing 30 citizens and critically injuring 20 more. The Company deployed their Sparbine Soldiers to kill the demons, making the Company look efficient. The public were in favour of Derek's "security protocol", but soon regretted it when it involved the city being locked down, and the new foot soldiers being in control. City 17 became a police state, no different than how the Combine ran it.
The Clandestine Company was eventually defeated following the death of their true leader The Dark One.
Despite their loss of power, the Clandestine were far from gone (unknown to Nathan). They were taken over by the Elder Supreme who then created the New Clandestine Company, and came up with a scheme to prepare the human race for the eventful return of the Combine (at an unknown date in the near future). The Evo Corporation set up a new headquarters in City 16 and began to build back their reputation following "accusations" over the demon incident. The Clandestine Company continued to utilise their brainwashing scheme to make humans submit, with one of their subjects being Dan Mason. They set up a task force in City 16 which they claimed would defend the human race, and began pinning the blame on Vortigaunts.
Six months following the destruction of the Borealis in the Arctic, Nathan was on the run from the Elders. During a hallucination he foresaw the invasion of the returning Combine Forces along with the Race X. Nathan was warned by Frank Blackstone that the Combine would one day return.
Nathan arrived in City 16 to speak to his friend Dan about the new information, only to be betrayed, arrested and imprisoned. Nathan witnessed Dan speaking to the Elder Supreme. Nathan managed to escape and rescued a captured Alyx Vance, who told him what he already knew - the Clandestine Company were far from gone. The pair managed to escape City 17, but went their separate ways as Alyx wanted to rescue her captured daughter and Nathan planned to go into hiding and try to solve some way of stopping them. Despite Nathan's initial determination, a part of him wondered if there was any point in fighting anymore, as the Clandestine Company have proved time and time again that they won't go away.
- Elder Supreme (currently) (New Clandestine Company)
- The Dark One (formerly)
- Derek Robertson (proxy) (formerly)
- Jim Darwin (formerly)
Behind the Scenes
- The conception of the Clandestine Company came about a logo spotted in Half-Life 2: Episode Two at the White Forest Base. Although this logo along with the numbers of the computer terminal were a clear reference to the television show Lost, the writer decided upon giving a meaning and possible backstory to the presence of the logo. So instead of it being a mere Easter Egg, it would play a part in his Half-Life 2 expanded universe. The logo appeared in a short episode for the New Year of 2008, in which it was noted mysterious logos with the White Forest Symbol appeared across City 17. This short comic depicted a shady figure next to the logo, claiming him to either be a follower or possible member of the Clandestine Company. The presence of the logos played no actual significance in the series at the time, and only appeared in that 1 episode of that year.
- The actual debut of the Clandestine Company came two years later in the episode "The Cyber Gimp", although at the time of writing they were described as the "sex cult". In this episodes members of the cult were scene and recurring/guest character Jim Darwin was revealed as a member.Like before the Company played no actual significance in the series at the time and only appeared in that one episode for the year.
- When City 17 Street was given a soft reboot/reset in 2014 (which would later be reversed) it was decided to give the Clandestine Company a more prominent role as behind-the-scenes villains who were looking to take over City 17 in the aftermath of the Combine. They were reintroduced in The Call of Clandestine which introduced their agents simply known as Clandestine Agents, who were dispatched to take down Nathan Johnson. They were given paranormal abilities, such as the Clandestine Agents being able to appear and disappear like ghosts, although in some episodes the Clandestine Agents were treated more human.
- The actual backstory, agenda and longevity of the Clandestine Company has chopped and changed during the writing process. It was originally suggested they were going to be the successors of the Combine and were followers of the fallen alien empire, whilst some hint that - despite their ruthlessness - they intended to "protect" earth from future alien threats.