"The phasers are malfunctioning, Captain," Worf informed him, looking unusually grumpy—even for Worf. "Every single one of them. I do not understand! Sir."
Captain Picard placed his elbows on his desk, locked his hands together, and leaned forward. "How is that even possible?"
"It's not," Geordi said. "The phasers aren't all locked into one single unit. They can't all malfunction at once."
"I suspect sabotage," Worf said, narrowing his eyes.
Picard rubbed his temples with one of his hands. "A saboteur onboard the Enterprise? I find that hard to believe, although it certainly is a possibility. Do you have any suspects, Mr. Worf?"
"One," Worf said. "The mute human we picked up from Zaldron Five yesterday. The phasers first started malfunctioning this morning."
Picard raised his eyebrows. "Well, I think it's time we paid her a visit."
"I resent this," came a familiar voice out of the computer terminal to Chell's left. Chell frowned and looked at it, jerking back in surprise at the sight of a bright yellow light. "Oh, come on, you didn't really think I'd just let you go all by yourself? It's lonely in there. Not that I'm not there too, because I am, and not that you're good company, because you're not."
Chell looked closer at the yellow light. It was definitely her…
She leaned over to the console and typed, "Are you going to follow me around forever?"
"Yes or no?"
"You always have to be so difficult, don't you? Why do you always have to be so difficult?"
Chell crossed her arms.
"Oh, all right, no, not forever. Actually, I think I'm going to stay right here. Lots of test subjects."
"You said you were done with human testing."
"Oh, I did say that, but the robots just aren't as…interesting. They're too predictable."
"I won't let you."
A sigh came from the terminal. "I was afraid you were going to be difficult."
Just then, the door buzzed. "This is Captain Picard. Would you mind opening the door? We would like to have a few words with you."
Chell quickly looked back at the terminal, but the yellow light was gone. She sighed and pressed the button combination to open the door, which opened to the sight of a grave-faced captain and a glaring Klingon. She frowned at them, confused. What?
"We've been having a few problems with our phasers," the captain said. "We were hoping you might be able to help us out with them."
Phasers, phasers…weapons. Oh, no. Chell shut her eyes, pressed the back of one of her hands against her forehead, and groaned loudly. Worf and the captain looked at each other. This was not how they had expected this encounter to go.
"Well, actually," the captain went on, "we were wondering if you knew how it happened. Do you?"
Chell nodded, still keeping her hand on her forehead, and the captain's communicator chirped. "La Forge to Captain Picard."
Picard tapped his communicator, not taking his eyes off Chell. "Go ahead, Geordi."
"We've found the problem, sir. There's a highly sophisticated computer virus running through our systems. It's systematically wiping out our defenses."
"Can you stop it, Geordi?" he asked, then with a glance at Chell, added, "We've found the source, if that would help."
"It would, sir. We're already working on it."
"Good," Picard said. "Keep me informed." He tapped his communicator again to close the channel. "Mr. Worf, secure her."
As the large Klingon approached her, Chell closed her eyes. She had a bad feeling that she was in trouble again.
Worf entered Engineering with a hand gripping Chell's arm. She was stumbling along in front of him as best she could.
"That our troublemaker?" Geordi asked.
Worf nodded. "Yes. We cannot get anything out of her. She claims to be mute, but that could merely be a ruse."
"Yeah," Geordi agreed. He examined Chell. "So you're our saboteur. You gonna help us?"
Chell nodded quickly. She had an idea, but it was going to be hard to explain without a computer terminal.
"All right," Geordi said after a moment. "Worf, you're going to stay, right?"
He nodded and after a prompting nod from Geordi, reluctantly let Chell go, who immediately crossed to a terminal and began typing.
"What are you doing?" Geordi asked. He looked at the screen, which held just one word: HOLODECK.
"I'm still not sure how this is going to help," Geordi said. "But I guess I'm willing to try anything."
"I do NOT believe this is a good idea," Worf stated for the sixteenth time.
The holodeck door opened to reveal the familiar black-and-yellow holo-grid. Chell stepped in, and Worf made a move to follow her, but Geordi held a hand up to stop him. "She said by herself. There's nothing she can do in there."
Chell certainly hoped there was something she could do in there—and sure enough, the second she walked inside, the door slammed behind her.
"Chell?" Geordi asked. He stepped towards the door, but it didn't open. "Chell!"
"What are you doing in here?" GLaDOS's voice asked. It echoed through the ship. "Do you want to talk? Face to face?"
All of a sudden, a hologram of GLaDOS's body appeared in the center. It moved its head to look at Chell, who didn't flinch.
"But of course, that's a laugh, since you DON'T TALK!" She sounded more frustrated than was normal for her, and as soon as Chell wondered why, her question was answered. "Do you know how much of a strain this is? Trying to keep an eye on this whole ship AND the Enrichment Center? It's a big strain!" She let out a short laugh. "I'm not even able to actually keep an eye on everything here. Too much effort, so I can only control key systems and—and I know why you're mute now, did you know that?"
"I was looking at your file, and I realized that your parents—not the biological ones, of course, they abandoned you because you were ugly—died the day I killed everyone inside the Center with a deadly neurotoxin, the day before they outfitted me with that morality core to stop me from killing everyone inside the Center with a deadly neurotoxin. And you survived somehow, but you watched everyone else die, and human psychology texts suggest that a trauma like that could cause a child to stop speaking. So that's interesting. I wonder if you'll ever speak again? Human psychology texts suggest that you might. I wonder what you'd say? Will you—"
"Computer," Chell said, her voice strong and clear, "end program."
"What? No, you can't—"
The hologram vanished as GLaDOS's voice cut out and the holodeck door opened. Chell smiled as Geordi and Worf rushed in, looking around. She always was good at getting out of trouble.