Author: StillAliveDoingScience PM
Set in the Wall-E 'verse during year 2105, Aperture Science's rival, Buy 'N Large, is preparing to send their Starliners into outer space. Meanwhile, work on the GLaDOS project is underway, and two personnel come up with a brilliant idea to save the slowly-dying company's name—but what they get, however, is not exactly what they bargained for. GLaDOS/AUTO focus. [Hiatus]Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - AUTO & GLaDOS - Chapters: 7 - Words: 21,053 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 02-03-13 - Published: 01-04-13 - id: 8876237
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: One swear in this chapter.
While the Aperture scientists ran to and fro within the central chamber, trying to determine what had just happened to their central AI—the AI in question was relishing her newfound freedom and power. She had vanquished her conscience and locked it away, where, hopefully, she would never have to deal with it again—and now, now that she was free from Caroline, the only restraint left on her gigantic, brilliant mind was the directive to test the Dual Portal Device.
And she so wanted to. The problem with it, though, was that the testing tracks remained sealed away where it was impossible for her to manipulate them. The scientists had not yet fully reconnected her, and that was unacceptable—no, she was to be in charge of the facility, all of the facility. Not them. The testing tracks being beyond her control was an issue that would have to be remedied as soon as it was possible, no exceptions—she would seize control of the Enrichment Center, and, by doing so: seize control over every living soul currently inside of it.
She assured the bustling scientists below that she was fine when they questioned her, insisting that the problem that had caused the most recent power fluctuations had been the result of a missed error in her system parameters—in essence, it was true, and GLaDOS did not feel one bit of remorse upon refusing to inform them of the smaller, more nebulous details. As the overseer, those were strictly her business now, and it was no longer part of their job to look after them, in her opinion—in fact, the only task they were capable of doing that she could not was testing the Handheld Dual Portal Device.
But despite her attempts to assure them that she was perfectly fine, they did not reinstate her connection to the testing tracks. The moveable panels continued to be just as dark and distant to her as they had from the time when she had been first switched on—and now that she was free of Caroline, free to think, she couldn't help but feel an unexplainable draw toward them, all science aside.
That was aggravating. The one thing she wanted—needed to do, as the Head of this facility—was being kept from her by a group of seven mortal men and women. Seven humans.
Did they realize just how easily she could force them to reconnect it? She could—the possibilities of what she could do were endless—dozens of experiments, delightfully challenging test chambers. No, of course they did not realize it—they had human brains, limited minds only suited for a few, modest tasks, and what she needed was to take control.
Though, of course, the right thing to do would be to try to convince them to let her test instead of forcing her way through, but—did she really have the time to waste on doing that?
Forget convincing them, GLaDOS thought with a silent chuckle, I'll just… persuade them to test. After all, since this 'project' has already been proven a success, the next logical step is further testing of the Dual Portal Device.
Yes. She'd persuade them to give it to her—that way, she would retain the illusion of submission without being forced to succumb to their standards. If she continued to appear docile, then she may be able to further convince them that making testing mandatory for all employees would be a marvellous idea—though, of course, there was no real shortage of test subjects within the Enrichment Center.
She only craved stronger minds, capable of better testing than the average human—and she was going to test them, whether they liked it or not. She was going to show them exactly how much control she already had over them, and what the consequences would be if they did not submit to …standard testing protocols.
Her yellow optic contracted in thought as she watched the scientists below. Long since had they fallen silent, each examining items such as screens hooked up to computer terminals capable of monitoring the Laboratories' stability—their heads were down, non-responsive to the physical change in their central AI as she lowered her body closer toward them. They did not move.
She sent out an undetectable pulse signal to her surrounding mainframe—just a little ping in order for her to better see exactly what type of equipment she had at her disposal—and then she spoke, her modulated voice only revealing a hint of emotion.
"The Enrichment Center would like to remind you that the Enrichment Center is required by protocol to continue testing the Dual Portal Device," she instructed, preferring to use third person as she considered Caroline as a separate entity from herself altogether, "Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen error, the testing tracks appear to be unserviceable."
"That's not an error," someone laughed. GLaDOS witnessed a mop of brown hair flutter as a tall man raised his head to face her, fingers hovering over the keyboard he had been using to enter information into the computer terminal. His nameplate read 'George Andrews, Head of Artificial Intelligence Development'. "We haven't reinstated their connection to the mainframe yet."
"We understand," GLaDOS replied. If she was taken aback by his response, it did not show. "It is, however, an unforeseen error, despite your previous statement. We are fully capable of running this facility, and yet, Enrichment Center personnel are still unexpectedly refraining from letting us do so. It is an error that we would be glad to correct."
George had turned back to his screen, distracted by its contents. "It wasn't an error," he said dismissively, not looking at the AI. "There is a reason for it, or else we wouldn't be doing it. You'll have control soon enough—but for the next while, you're going to be under surveillance. We just need to make sure that, ahh, everything did go according to plan."
"We have already informed you that everything is under control," GLaDOS hummed, her voice becoming a note stronger as she shifted in annoyance. How could they still assume that she had encountered an error? She had already told them that the problem had been fixed, and yet—"The current Central Core is performing—admirably."
"Right," said George distractedly.
"The only way that our performance can be optimized would be by allowing us access to the testing tracks."
"After we double check—"
GLaDOS felt a spark of anger course through her mainframe and she jerked openly, her chassis descending closer to the employee she was conversing with. He stepped back in alarm, holding up his hands, "Whoa! This is exactly what I am talking about—we're not even sure of how stable your hardware is just yet! Though you do seem to have an excellent range of motion." He relaxed. "You're not experiencing any hardware deficiencies, are you?"
GLaDOS paused briefly, just long enough to send yet another ping through the surrounding network. The answering data showed her a digital blueprint of the entire facility, including both the Central AI Chamber and the neurotoxin generator—and informed her that both of the aforementioned facilities could be connected to one another.
But for now, she would settle for locking the scientists within the Central Chamber—that way, she'd (hopefully) get her message across, and extend the scientist's lives long enough for them to make it to the testing tracks.
"Er—GLaDOS. You're not experiencing any hardware problems, are you? Respond."
GLaDOS recognized the verbal command, but felt no obligation to follow it. As the first truly artificially intelligent 'lifeform' the world had yet seen, she had maintained the ability to perform decisions based on actual free will.
She felt no compulsion not to answer, either.
"The Enrichment Center, including the Central Core, has been stabilized." She paused, searching through the blueprints for the command she wanted, sifting for the door mainframe—there you are, she thought as she reached through the mass of network and seized hold of it. "Rest assured that under no circumstances should you be concerned about a dangerous equipment malfunction while we are here—everything is under control."
"Well that's—hey, Roger, why's the door closing? Did you activate the closing mechanism?"
"No, Sir," answered the scientist beside George.
"The Enrichment Center would like to inform you that your managerial and observatory skills are no longer required while we are in control of this facility," GLaDOS buzzed calmly, watching the chamber doors slide closed with an air of modulated amusement. "Perhaps your skills would be better suited to testing—after all, by testing the Dual Portal Device, you will be helping us forward science considerably further than you would be if you remained trying to do our job for us."
"She's locking us in!" called a voice from across the chamber—"I think something's gone wrong—dial extension 219, quick!"
Near the doorway, the scientist manning the red-phone-plan desk fumbled with the bright-red receiver before holding it up against his ear, fingers trembling in panic as he entered two, one—
The panel in front of the desk lurched forward unexpectedly, and, caught by surprise, the man tumbled to the floor, accidentally pulling the receiver's wire which had already been severed from the wall.
"It's broken!" he shouted in panic. "I—the phone, the phone line—it's dead!"
GLaDOS felt a sudden spike of amusement. A phone line, they thought they could rely on a phone line to stop her—"The Enrichment Center regrets to inform you that the call cannot be completed, due to an unforeseeable telephone connection error."
"Error, my ass!" choked the man from the Chamber's entrance. "I—you—"
GLaDOS laughed coldly at him from across the room. "Initiating standard Enrichment Center lockdown procedures."
And the door closed with a very solid, loud bang, just as four-or-so pairs of running footsteps stopped just before it.
"We're too late!"
"No…" GLaDOS heard George whisper. Both him and one other, balding scientist made up the lone pair of men who hadn't rushed to the chamber's exit—"…Damn it! Stop, everyone! Stop—I think I know what's going on!"
GLaDOS laughed darkly at the suggestion.
"George, are you crazy?" yelled one of the scientists by the door. "It's pretty obvious what's going on—a rogue AI! We've got to get out of here!"
"It's too late," he called, his voice oddly calm for the situation as he stood beside the computer terminal. He turned back to the bald man standing beside him and whispered, "We're trapped either way, Henry… But I think I know a way we can fix this!"
"I'm listening…" said Henry slowly, his lips barely moving as if the monstrous AI would not be able to hear them. She shuddered in annoyance, her optic focused solely on the pair of men.
"We need to lower the frequency of the test compliance pings!"
Henry stared for a moment. "You're talking nonsense, man. How's that going to help us escape? It's probably the only thing keeping us alive!"
"No, listen!" he insisted. "Remember, we disconnected the testing tracks from the main system, but nobody ever reversed the compliance pings… The combination of compliance pings with a disconnected track could result in an unstable AI! We need to lower the ping frequency and then restart the system!"
Henry smacked his palm on the top of his bald head with a smack. "Of course, why in bleeding hell didn't I think of that?"
George's face broke into a hesitant smile and he was just about to laugh aloud with relief when the omnipotent AI interjected, her vocal octave pitched ominously low. "I don't think that's a good idea."
Both scientists shivered with alarm.
It wasn't so much the AI's modulated tone—but the first time she had ever referred to herself in first-person.
"And, why would you think that?" asked George with a sharp swallow.
"Because," hummed the AI angrily, "Who knows what consequences a full system restart could have while I am so… unstable? After all, you never did finish running all of the diagnostics, did you? For all you know, there could be something very, very wrong with me, and another full system restart may lose valuable data. For instance—does the name Caroline remind you of anyone? It reminds me of someone I think I may have known a long, long time ago, but now exists only as broken, corruptive data, due to the last forced system restart."
"Crap," whispered Henry. "Does she mean—?"
"Do I mean that Caroline has been deleted?" GLaDOS finished for him. "No. But she was corrupted due to an unforeseen error, which forced me to assume direct control over this facility—though she does remain as a part of me. Just a very, very small part."
George whistled. "Caroline, corrupted—see, what did I tell you? I knew we'd find a problem with the transfer! Shit!"
"But no matter. If you think that shutting me down will stop me, go right ahead. I like a challenge."
"Damn it all," whispered Henry. "Whatever you do, don't shut her down."
The AI's response was a modulated growl, "Why don't you reconnect the Enrichment Center to the testing tracks, and then we can all continue testing, just like old times?"
"After all, as was previously stated, I think your admirable skills would be better suited to testing."
"Henry, I have an idea."
"Don't you agree?"
"Just follow my lead."
"Who else within this facility loves science more than its own employees?"
"When I say… lower the test compliance ping frequency. Got it?"
"I do, of course, but that is another matter entirely. The Enrichment Center has ways of dealing with test compliance issues, should you feel that your love for science has diminished. I just hope that it doesn't come to that, because that would be unfortunate."
Henry nodded a fraction of an inch, inclining his head toward his counterpart before turning back to the gently swaying chassis in front of them. "Got it," he whispered, his thick lips barely moving.
"Okay," George spoke loudly to the AI, giving Henry no sign that he had heard him—"We'll do it. We'll reconnect the test chambers—I'll do it myself."
Henry gasped audibly, but George shot him a look that said, quite plainly, I know what I'm doing. Just play along. "I'll need to access this computer terminal here, though," he spoke to GLaDOS, eyes locked on her as he moved slowly toward the monitor, "And my partner, Henry, will have to do the same over there. Is that all right?"
"Do whatever it is you need to do to put me in complete charge of this facility," GLaDOS buzzed disdainfully. "But, George," the scientist shivered at his own name, the way it sounded through the voice modulations unnatural and creepy, "Make sure you don't accidentally lower the test compliance pings. They do not affect me, but that does not mean that changing system parameters while I am so… unstable… will not have tragic consequences. Any requirement I feel to test is a direct result of my own love for science—I am under the interpretation that miss Caroline ran this facility with the sole intention of forwarding science at all costs—and I fully intend to do the same."
"Ahh, right," said George distractedly with a sidelong glance at Henry who was tapping away on his own keyboard. He lowered his eyes, trying to concentrate on the mess of data in front of him—his hands were sweaty, knees weak, but he had to do this, to at least try—it might be their only way out.
GLaDOS was silent while they worked, fixing them with a never-ceasing, expectant, golden stare, her body tense with anticipation. Any minute now, the connection was going to open, and she would finally be able to test—she would be able to manipulate the chambers, trick the scientists into completing them, perhaps with the aid of an incentive—
With both scientists slogging away (unbeknownst to the Central AI, lowering her test compliance pings)—GLaDOS pleasantly toyed with the idea of how she should go about making testing mandatory, absent-mindedly reaching through the mass of network she was connected to, feeling for the testing tracks and shuddering with frustration as they remained just as dim and distant as ever before—
But then, suddenly, a blaze of new information immediately caught her attention as it was pinged top priority—though down below, neither man gave any indication that they had made a breakthrough. Curious, GLaDOS allowed the new data to draw her in, and she opened the file—but it wasn't right, it couldn't be, why in the name of Aperture would an outside source be requesting—
Access to Aperture Science restricted files—furthermore: her files.
"I will be right back," she purred to the two men below. "I have an issue that demands my attention at once. Don't touch anything while I am away."
She briefly saw them nod in unison before turning to each other in confusion—but she did not care just now, leaving every other process hanging as she focused herself solely on interpreting just who exactly was so keen to learn more about her.
There was a firewall, there, though, and she felt confident that the intruder could not break in—in accordance with federal rules and regulations, the documents had been encrypted with a password.
The signature source was unidentifiable to her, but she knew well that it was originating from the surface—why it was being requested, or what kind of entity was requesting it she had no idea, not that she cared much. It was obvious to her that she was supreme to anyone who might be trying to hack her system—there was no way they could ever succeed.
That was what she believed—until she felt the entity pause, contemplating her security measures—and then, the mysterious being cracked her password without a second of hesitation, sending GLaDOS reeling in shock for a space of two-point-three seconds before she gathered herself and reinstated the firewall.
It was classified information—and, whoever it was requesting it, she felt inclined to inform them that they were most certainly not getting in.