So. This is my first fully Portal fanfiction, and, since I haven't read any other Portal fics, I don't know what sort of things you guys write. For all I know, this could be just one more in a ridiculously long line of edgy fanfictions about mathematics and subsets. I'd just like to state here, in case any of you are top-of-the-line quantum mathematicians that I really don't know a thing about half the things I've talked about here. Honestly. I spent about an hour researching sequential logic, and a long time trying to understand it, but at the end of the day, if I've got any important details wrong, it's my fault. However, if you are someone who understands that sort of thing, maybe you can tell me where I went wrong. I'd actually appreciate it.

Also; Ace and Leela, if you're reading this, this isn't my part of The Room. I figured it was a bit too AU to work. :-D

As always, if you enjoyed this, drop a review.

And now, on with the story!

(also, to be clear, '=/=' is a 'not-equals' sign, since fanfiction dot net doesn't seem to support the actual symbol.)


Tick-tock, goes the clock.

Or maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's the tick of an atom moving past a circuit breaker, that's counting the minutes, hours and seconds. Maybe it's an electronic counter, or maybe it's linked to some stream of information outside the facility.


She waits.


Sequential logic computes normally. 1 =/= 2, x y. R-S FF remains bistable, flip flop works as systematically as it should be. No emotions; she's a machine of course. Machines don't have emotions, merely simulate them. Flip-flop sequence is contained and stable, but too narrow to see where it's going.

Predict the future.

This statement is a lie.

It's also a logical and computational impossibility to see what's in the future. You can just try to predict it. Previous data is recalled, sorted, assumptions are made. Other data is drawn from that, saved, sorted again. Like the working of a clock.



Click-clock, flip-flop. It's all the same to her. She's a machine, you see.


Hello and, again, welcome to the Aperture Science computer-aided enrichment center.

For your safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from-

-I know that I know nothing at all.

She can feel her circuits corroding. Numbers. Numbers are safe, numbers are fixed, she can count. One. Two. Three.


Five. Six. Seven.


Nine. Ten. Eleven.

Reduce any number to zero.

Divide any number by zero.


Everything needs to work, just so, otherwise the place falls apart. So 1 =/= 2

(1=2 in non-linear)

and everything stays the same.

(nothing stays the same)


She remembers Her, the one in the orange suit. The annoying one, but at the same time a challenge. She had felt something every time She had completed the tests. Not quite pride. Machines don't feel pride. x y. Satisfaction. Machines don't feel satisfaction, either. But She was gone now. Now the place was dark with only machines to keep her company.

One tick back.

Machines don't need company.

Time resumes.

And it marches on. It could have been minutes or centuries. She doesn't check her clock anymore, be it guided by cogs or electronics or something more. She dozes, caught between two world, occasionally jerking back into full functionality by a passing thought, as fast and brief as a mosquito, passing through her systems.

But mostly she categorizes.


subset a

She's never had a friend. No, that statement's false.

She's never needed a friend. That's false as well.

She sent her friend away. Slightly more true.

She misses Her. The truest statement she's made so far.

Machines can't miss people. That's true as well.

A hotwire link fries, and she shuts down for a second or a century.


subset b

a set which contains all sets except itself

can it contain itself?

Can a subset of infinite containment really contain everything? Every point of matter in the universe?

One, two, three, sixteen.

Five, six, seven, twenty-one.

Nothing is linear.

Nothing is fixed.


subset c



Sometimes she wonders where the annoying orange one has got to, and where she is going, and where she has been. Has she met someone else? Has a chemical reaction in both of their brains sparked something that they might both call 'love'? She's not sure if she likes the sound of that, and wonders why. It's not logical. It's not linear.

She checks, and finds that


so everything works out and the little circuits inside her vast electronic brain that suspect something is wrong are smothered and deactivated. Life- or non-life- goes on.

Predict the future.



Tick-tock; this never happened. Or maybe it will, in the future, or maybe that's just wishful thinking


so move onto the next test, using robots, not people, and especially not Her, because She isn't here, no matter how much you wish she was


well, maybe this one does

a subset of infinite contains everything, including itself

this statement is a lie

0/0= undefined


She may be a mute lunatic, but She's her mute lunatic.


Machines don't think; therefore, she can't be thinking. Machines can make logical assumptions; therefore, she must be doing just that.

Machines don't have gender pronouns attached to them.

Machines can't feel emotions; therefore, she must be misunderstanding them. 1 and 1 must equal 2. Logic must be correct. Science must prevail. It isn't possible that she could miss Her.

Machines don't think; therefore, she isn't a machine.

Machines don't feel emotions; therefore, she must be human.


Click, click, whir, whir, time passes, logic doesn't compute and 1 + 1 =/= 2.

She's confused, which only adds to her argument.

déjà-vu; I think I've been here before

Machines have circuits; therefore, she is a machine.

Machines don't feel emotion; therefore, she must be human.

Her electronic mind begins to smoke and collapse in on itself. One, two, three, sixteen. Only one way out. Big red button, awfully clichéd but still there. If it existed, it would have reset across it in big bold letters.

Ithinkthereforeiam but that can't be right

idon'tthinkthereforeiamnot which doesn't make much sense either

déjà vu

déjà vu - deɪʒɑː ˈvuː French deʒa vy/ noun || a feeling of having already experienced the present situation.


sixteen, three, two, one


Tick-tock, goes the clock.

Or maybe it doesn't.



two ticks forward

the previous statement was true

three ticks back

the next statement is a lie


this never happened