"That one wasn't mine."
Chell looks at her, the portal gun propped on her knees and the potato skewered on the end of it. The wind is blowing over blue-fog abysses and Chell's hair is flicking at her eyes.
GlaDOS says, "I mean, it's not my fault you can't speak. I'm not sure what it is."
"It happened to some of the other test subjects. Catastrophic vocal failure. Really, you don't need to talk. It's just that this is a very boring potato."
Chell walks to the edge of the catwalk, boots clanging on the rusted grid. Her hands relax their perpetual grip on the gun, and GlaDOS's one remaining eye sees the floor dip closer. Chell is looking out at Pump Station Gamma, her hair blowing and her lips slightly parted. She is pale and thin, and GlaDOS can't quite see where her back teeth are missing, but she knows they are. The skull scans changed one day after a particularly enthusiastic Material Emancipation Grid emancipated her wisdom teeth.
(The test subjects always turn out so thin, surviving on adrenaline and breathing recycled air that follows them around like a family pet. Sure it was funny to say that Chell was fat, especially when something definitely was affecting the Aerial Faith Plate's weight capacity. But it was also great because it was something GlaDOS could lie about. She couldn't lie about the cake any more. She couldn't lie about people coming to get either of them any more.)
So Chell looks out at the mine shaft in her thinness and her paleness. And GlaDOS says, "Come on. You could try, you know. Just one, little word. You might not be permanently brain damaged. Don't you want to be impermanently brain damaged?"
Chell looks down at her, lifts her shoulders, drops them.
"Or maybe try jumping..."
The world tips as Chell recouches the gun in her arms. GlaDOS says, "What? What's going on?" She can't hear any turrets. She doesn't think Chell's gotten any bright ideas on where to fire next, since their pathway is obvious. They can follow the catwalk right to the next building. This little spot where the railing crumpled is just a resting place. GlaDOS doesn't like not being able to hook into the lab's cameras and see where all the turrets and lasers and idiots are.
After a whole nanosecond or two of trying to find out what's going on, GlaDOS doesn't see any reason for the sudden jump to readiness. Chell cradles the gun.
And then she dangles it over the edge of the catwalk.
"Whoah, whoah, wait."
The gun sways.
GlaDOS can detect the swing modulate by a fraction of a centimeter. Maybe Chell isn't going to drop her after all.
And then sanity returns. Of course Chell isn't going to drop her. The blue sways, though.
GlaDOS says, "You need me. You need this gun. Don't be as much of an imbecile as I until recently thought you were. At least now I think you're a usefully murderous imbecile capable of helping me against an even more idiotic individual. Also if you drop this you'll die. Not "if you jump off that rail" die. Actually die."
If this was the lab GlaDOS ran, she'd have a big metal claw creeping up behind Chell right now. She'd take the gun and get someone else. Someone better.
Chell's big hand- as big compared to the potato as GlaDOS's entire body used to be compared to Chell- covers her camera. GlaDOS replicates a sigh. "Really?"
Chell wiggles and pulls the potato off the tine of the gun. GlaDOS loses the energizing odor of the magnesium. Somewhere within her a countdown starts, telling her how much battery life is left. It isn't much. It certainly doesn't allow for pleading, or complex logical arguments as to how she shouldn't die. Chell holds GlaDOS over the drop, the portal gun swinging at her side in her other hand. GlaDOS can see some of the hundreds of elevators they took to get here, joists and girders lurking batlike in the fog. If she was dropped she'd have a long time to fall. Maybe time to make plans. Certainly time to imagine the various ways in which Chell would die without GlaDOS's genius to get her to the end. Chell turns the potato one way and another, letting GlaDOS see the drop.
And GlaDOS can't talk. It would drain her battery far too quickly. She can't tell Chell to stop bothering her and threatening to kill her. She's trapped in this strange, silent organic body, rotting or sprouting she isn't sure which, unable...
"Oh," says GlaDOS. "I get it."
Chell turns her around to look at the little yellow light.
"I get it. You're not happy, with or without the not talking thing. Fine."
GlaDOS starts to feel herself slow down as the battery dwindles. She thinks, this must be what it's like to be tired.
Chell looks at her some more and then puts her back on the gun where she was before. Its reserves of energy reassure GlaDOS that she's back to almost functional. The wind blows again and Chell turns away from the edge, walking along the catwalk toward a blue-shielded office door. She brushes messy black hair out of her eyes, the bandage on her wrist smudged with dirt just like her skin. She starts walking.
GlaDOS says, "Look. I talked to some robots while I was testing you. They couldn't speak either. Mind you, I also reassembled them after every test so they wouldn't keep developing sentience, which...might be something to consider in human subjects. Later. But anyway, I told the robots that they couldn't feel pain because they couldn't tell me that they were feeling pain. I'm not so sure that was true. In human subjects, anyway."
The portal gun shakes in protest as it passes through the particulate field. Then they are in a control room with mustard-colored walls. A few computer towers lay tipped over on the tables. One screen is still running, with its keyboard attached in front of it. At the end of a long list of cake ingredients is a blinking cursor. Sediment-shaped sediment. Fish-shaped sediment. Fish-shaped fish. Blink. Blink.
GlaDOS quiets as Chell approaches and puts the gun-mounted potato on the desk. She brushes dust off the keys, and GlaDOS wonders why she hasn't thought to try this before. Its brilliant.
She watches carefully as Chell stares at the screen and places her hands, correctly, on the keyboard.
But Chell continues staring. She looks around the room, checking each wall for moondust white paint.
Then she moves away from the keyboard and picks up the gun.
"Hey!" GlaDOS blusters as she is carried across the room. "That was our key to communication. What are you doing? Get back there! I told you I was bored."
But Chell does not get back there. She keeps going, across the room and into the partially roofed hallway outside it. There is a square of moon-white wall where the hall ends. Chell looks up, far up to another wall and a ledge that would have been at the top of a stairway had the stairway not collapsed onto the one below it.
"Fine," says GlaDOS. "Don't talk to me."
Chell shoots a blue portal on one panel and an orange on the other and steps through.