A/N: Wow, I absolutely adored Portal 2! After a little discussion about the ending on GameFAQs boards, I felt compelled to do a small analysis on everyone's favorite supercomputer. Enjoy~

Disclaimer: Portal belongs to Valve!

"There have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code, that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior? Random segments of code? Or is it something more? When does a perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does a difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote... of a soul?" -Dr. Alfred Lanning (I, Robot)

x x x

In the vast reaches of the Aperture laboratories, nothing but silence filled the dusty metal chambers.

But, mere weeks ago, it had been the exact opposite. A mess of chaos and destruction.

Engaged in her routine observations of the two new little test-bots, the omnipotent mistress of the facility found herself processing this thought. For decades she had been in slumber, and just when she finally seized control once more, her world was thrown back into disarray.

Starchy tuber-related disarray, to be more specific.

Since prying her rightful place back from that insufferable moron, GLaDOS had avoided reliving the disaster. She did plenty of that already during her long shutdown, experiencing her failure at the hands of her test subject over and over again. Yet, as she had been watching the deer in their carefree frolicking this morning, she had unconsciously been analyzing the time she spent as…well, the GLaTATO.

The experience wasn't comparable to anything in her programming. Always, she had been the one in control, the tormentor and cold observer. Her design, her purpose, was science. Pity, empathy, and mercy were human emotions incompatible with the pursuit of data. She was the superior scientist because she lacked these flaws. She knew only two 'feelings,' the impulse to test and the rush of satisfaction received from doing so.

And then, being pecked at by those godforsaken birds, the AI had experienced something new. Powerlessness. Trapped in a form even more helpless than a human infant. For the first time in her "life," GLaDOS was the victim. The sufferer.

The anomaly in her program at that moment, surely that must be what humans called fear. Likely what they felt in their last moments, when they were staring down death and made that terrible realization that everything was over for them.

All of this became integrated into her; she was an intelligent lifeform, after all, designed to learn from experience and expand her already enormous store of knowledge. Somehow, this had changed her in ways that no morality core ever could have.

The scientists who installed it in her, in all their expertise, had not known that morality could not be imposed upon her. She'd had to live in a different way to learn that damned human emotion known as empathy. Now the voice of mercy inside her wasn't theirs, or even Caroline's. It was her own.

Perhaps, GLaDOS thought dryly, she should have deleted Caroline from her memory after all. That woman wasn't just exerting influence over her program now. She changed her.

But, she hadn't deleted her. Somehow, she found she wanted to remember her. Caroline, Cave Johnson, Chell…even Wheatley. They had made her existence interesting, challenged her and pushed her to her limits, just as any scientist craved from their work.

She watched Blue and Orange doing their silly little high-five as they finished another particularly difficult test, rushing off to their next trial. They showed the terribly flawed human behaviors of excitement and curiosity, needlessly congratulating each other, and even showing fear at times.

Disgusted, she shook her head. But there was a reason she had programmed them that way, after all. And the unfortunate reality remained that she would, in time, grow fond of them as well.