Everything ached. Around her, debris was still pattering down like rain drops. Heavy, metal, occasionally flaming rain drops, but still. She could see the sky. The trees. She could hear birds singing. She could feel the sun. Feel the wind.
She was outside. She was free.
She had never really believed that she would have made it this far. She had been half convinced that, even after she had escaped that final test chamber, that, sooner or later, she would run out of places to run. Sooner or later, there would be some trap the portal gun wouldn't get her out of. Sooner or later, the mysterious computer voice would just win.
She had been determined to get as far as she could, though. If this place was going to kill her, it was going to have to work for it. Every wheedle, every plea, every blatant manipulation the computer had attempted to get her to behave had been music to her ears. Suddenly all of the little games it tried to play just weren't going to work anymore. Suddenly she was the one changing the rules.
Every stolen second, scurrying around the innards of the building, she had savored like it would be her last. Fully expecting that, sooner or later, it would.
When she'd reached the end, it had been surreal. Even when the monstrous computer, dangling from the ceiling like some kind of egg sac, had started to pump neurotoxin into the room, Chell had been amazed. Triumphant. Bet you never thought I'd get this far, did you? Because she certainly hadn't.
It had all been worth it. Just for this one moment. This one perfect moment.
She was outside. She was free. So what if that meant she was free to die of her injuries, right where she'd landed. She'd been the AI's toy, its lab rat. And she'd torn it to pieces and threw every piece into a fire. And she was still alive! At least for now. At least long enough to see the sky.
There were so many questions, so many things left unanswered, but that was fine. It would have nice to know who she was, really. Where she'd come from. How she'd got here. Didn't really matter now, though.
The mechanical footsteps that came up behind her were unexpected. But, ultimately, not terribly surprising. "Thank you for assuming the party escort submission position."
Something grabbed hold of her, and started slowly dragging her along the ground. Away from the trees.
She would have liked to have put up a fight, but her limbs were just too heavy. She couldn't make herself move.
If she could have, she would have laughed. Of course.
In the end, of course she couldn't escape. But she'd made it this far, hadn't she? For a few seconds, she'd been free.
The sky started to slip away, into darkness. Before she'd slipped away from coherent thought entirely, Chell sighed. Well. I did it once...
She could do it again.