Chapter 7

Note: here's a shorter one, as it's high time I went to bed. Plus I spent a chunk of time fiddling around in-game as I'm going for the Transmission Received achievement while testing out different ways of solving the puzzles that our two heroes might chose, accounting for the two-person dynamic.

"Soooo... what do we have here?" Jack asked, looking around the new test chamber to see what might take them such a long time.

"Door, button, cube, for this room," Sam succinctly enumerated.

"But the cube and the door are up on a platform we can't reach, except with portals," Jack finished for her. "Or I could stand on the button myself and shoot a portal through the door," he added.

"We might need the cube later on," Sam warned, pointing through the window to the main chamber. "There's two buttons in there, and only one cube."

"We could shoot a portal through that door too," Jack suggested. "We don't really need the cubes at all."

"Unless the walls on the other side are metal," Sam pointed out, not wanting to take any chances. "It's easy enough to take this cube, plus one of the buttons is right in the path of a high energy pellet, so I would recommend against standing there."

"Taking the cube it is," Jack chose, firing his orange portal onto the wall behind the otherwise unreachable cube. Sam activated her own end of the portal on the wall beside the button, and quickly reached through to move it onto the button. The door obediently slid open with its characteristic clatter and strip of orange lights.

Sam had noticed that each of the buttons in the main room was seated on a raised platform, and above the middle of each was a white roof tile with one or two black dots. These were assumably helpful markers of where to place portals in order to drop objects down onto the buttons. By standing on top of the weighted storage cube – and a fair amount of leaning to one side – Sam was able to sight the marker tile with one dot through the open door, and place her portal there. The other one would have been easier to aim at, but it was the one for the button in the path of the deadly energy pellet. "Sir, if you move your orange portal onto the wall down here, I should be able to drop the cube right on top of the button," she suggested.

Jack obliged, and Sam picked up the cube and held it halfway through the portal. She let go and it 'fell' into the wall and out of the ceiling, landing squarely onto the button. "Sweet," Jack praised with a grin. "But now we have to jump through there too."

"Only one of us, Sir," Carter corrected, stepping through herself. 'Sideways' was converted into 'down', and she twisted her body as she fell in order to get her heel-springs into a landing position. She landed neatly on the corner of the platform, right beside the cube and button, and checked below to ensure the energy pellet was heading away from her. Once she was assured of her safety, she jumped down to the floor and moved her blue portal onto the wall at ground-level.

Seeing the view through his portal change, Jack simple stepped through. "Thanks, Carter. Even though this is just a simulation, I prefer to keep the falls and flips to a minimum. There was enough crazy flinging of our squishy selves in the previous test."

"Squishy?" Sam questioned.

Jack poked her in the side. "We're squishier than the stuff this place is made of."

"If you say so, Sir." As that conversation wasn't getting anywhere, Sam pointed at the second cube, on the other side of the room. "The other cube is on a not-yet-unstationary platform, and the ceiling and wall above it are metal, so we'll need to get it moving so I can drop down and grab it."

"And that means sending the glow-ball into the catcher, yes?"

"Yes." The catcher was on the floor so Sam moved her portal to the ceiling above. Jack quickly placed his own on the burn mark that marked the spot the pellet bounced off in its traversal of the room. Pretty soon, the catcher was powered up and the platform started to move. Sam moved her portal to a carefully chosen bit of ceiling above the path of the platform, and Jack placed his on the nearest available wall. Sam watched through the portal until the platform was underneath, then stepped through. She landed squarely on top of the cube, which she soon kicked down to her commander/teammate. After she returned to the ground, it was a simple matter of putting one portal above the final button and the other one underneath the cube. Gravity did the rest.

The door opened.

"Just our luck: the wall on the other side of the door isn't metal after all." Jack complained immediately. "We could have done without the cubes entirely!"

"Then one of us would have needed to jump down into the path of the energy pellet," Sam reminded him.

Jack considered this for a moment. "I retract my statement. Let's get out of here before that in-tube -person shows up." He shot his portal through the door and stepped through Sam's as soon as she moved it back onto the wall.

"As part of a previously mentioned required test protocol, we can no longer lie to you. When the testing is over, you will be... missed."

Jack looked up sharply. "Missed, you say? I don't like the way that sounds."

"It's probably just trying to demotivate us again," Sam suggested as they entered the elevator.

"Let's go with that for now, but this thing isn't exactly proving its trustworthiness."

"Maybe the purpose is to see if we can complete the tests despite an untrustworthy guide," Sam wondered.

"I don't know, but I'm keeping a close ear on that thing," Jack declared. "For instance, let's see what it has to say for chamber 14..."

"All subjects intending to handle high-energy gamma-leaking portal technology must be informed that they may be informed of applicable regulatory compliance issues. No further compliance information is required or will be provided, and you are an excellent test subject."

"Uh... Carter, could you translate that into English?"

Sam looked equally lost. "It might be saying that the portal technology leaks dangerous radiation, or it might not. I think I'd need Daniel to decipher the implications."

"But it was definitely ominous," Jack observed. "Let's just keep going... and try not to look into the operational end of the device."

"Sounds good, Sir," Sam heartily agreed.

Another Note: I've seen level 13 completed in only 8 seconds (on Youtube) - that's before GLaDOS has finished saying "very, very long time"!