Half Life and Portal Cross-Over Fan Fiction
By Kraven Ergeist and Shibata Kimiko
Gordon sighed. These Enrichment Spheres had apparently been designed for the purpose of human testing – specifically, the type of testing that was absolutely impossible without some specific piece of equipment that they evidently lacked. Virtually every surface of the testing chamber was rusty, browning metal scaffolding, with a few gray and white checkered crash test surfaces, which didn't bode well for their well-being in his opinion. The strange girl (what was she called again? Subject #1498? That seemed so inhuman, Gordon thought – she must have a real name) was staring helplessly down into an empty pit, a similar crash test mat at its bottom, a look of unmistakable frustration on her face. She kept looking down the pit, and then back at the wall behind them, and Gordon got the impression that she knew exactly how to get through this test chamber, if only they had the right equipment.
Gordon was sitting against the wall, catching his breath. They had gone through three test chambers already, with some clever use of the gravity gun, but not even his trusty crowbar had been any use in a room devoid of loose objects. He sat, thinking hard, as the girl paced the floor, an endless ball of nervous energy. All the pacing was starting to drive Gordon crazy. It was impossible to think with the plodding of her hard plastic boots on the floor.
They had been in the room for nearly half an hour. The door they entered had sealed tight, and no amount of prying with the crowbar had been able to wedge it open. All of Gordon's other weapons had vaporized in the emancipation field in the first test chamber (the strange woman over the speaker had offered the least sincere apology he had ever heard in his life at that), save for his gravity gun, which had taken on the same mysterious white glow it had adopted when absorbing the charged particles of the confiscation field in the Citadel (which had utterly confused the woman on the PA. She had offered everything from empty promises to equally empty threats to get him to let her study it). As much as it had aided them in the previous chambers, though, even the charged gravity gun couldn't help them in this particular chamber, devoid of any kind of moving part.
Finally, the girl sat angrily down on the floor across from him, arms resting on her knees, head hanging between her hands. She was sweating, and her face was red from frustration. It didn't look to Gordon as if she was the sort of person to take things lying down, which might account for her being so irritated by their predicament. The woman on the speaker hadn't said anything for a while now, but he had no doubt that she was watching them – he had seen cameras positioned in various places throughout the test chambers.
Gordon chewed his lip, considering the girl across from him. They were trapped, effectively imprisoned, and neither of them cared for it. Neither of them were the sort to give up either, even in the face of impossibility, and neither were the type to speak up, even when things were looking their most bleak.
At this rate, though, they'd both be dead from starvation before anyone came for them.
"We'll get out of here somehow…" he promised, looking across at her.
The girl's hair was hanging loosely around her head, most of it tied back in a ponytail, the short ends forming a curtain around her cobalt blue eyes as she met his gaze.
Gordon licked his lips. Diplomacy was not one of his strong suits. He had always chosen to let his actions do the talking. He had kept himself reserved like this for his entire life. When he was going through high school, his parents had encouraged him to take a public speaking class to try to break him out of his shell. It was the only class he'd ever flunked.
"Can you…understand me?" he asked, feeling about as tactful as a brick.
Slowly the girl nodded her head.
"Can you not speak?"
The girl opened her mouth. "Ah…ahhh…" she managed to choke out, before gritting her teeth in frustration, and glaring at the floor.
Gordon sat back. The girl was a curiosity. She was clearly smart. Several times during the last few tests, she had pointed out things that he would have otherwise missed. He would have been lost in these test chambers if he hadn't had her guidance. She was also incredibly agile. Even allowing for the added height those boots of hers gave her, she was as athletic as a marathon runner, which was not consistent with her slight, insubstantial frame. It was like she was built entirely from muscle and sinew. The way she navigated these testing chambers showed that she had clearly mastered them long ago.
As loathe as he was to speak, Gordon needed information from her. He needed to know what this place was, who they were dealing with, how much of Aperture Laboratories was still operational, how they had gotten there, and, most importantly, how to get back to the Borealis.
To find answers to his questions, he needed this girl, and he needed her to be able to communicate what she knew.
"Have you…ever been able to speak?"
The girl looked up at that – she had been clutching her companion cube, which seemed to somehow be immune to the effects of the emancipation grid – and blinked before nodding again.
Gordon cleared his throat, hesitant, feeling rather foolish. "Do you…think that you could relearn it?"
The girl blinked, looking surprised. It was if the thought had never occurred to her, perhaps because she hadn't had anyone to speak to.
"Maybe…I could teach you?"
She blinked again. She seemed uneasy, looking around, as if trying to find some other pressing matter at hand. Unfortunately for her, there was none.
"Please?" Gordon asked, sitting forward. "I need your help."
That seemed to catch her attention. Conflicted didn't even begin to describe the look on her face. Finally, after swallowing, she nodded her head.
Gordon's stomach tensed. He hadn't actually planned for her to agree to him. He had no idea how he, a man whose predilection for the field of theoretical physics had made into such a reclusive individual that he would sometimes not utter a single word for days at a time, was supposed to teach someone with a such a severe speech impediment how to speak again, especially someone who could barely choke out an incoherent syllable or two most of the time.
Thankfully, Gordon was nothing if not committed.
"Ok…it seems like you can produce syllables at least…" Gordon began, approaching the challenge in his usual scientific manner. "Let's start with vowel sounds…try saying 'A.'"
The girl opened her mouth, straining, seemingly choking on her voice. "Ahh…ehh…'A'"
Gordon smiled. The girl's stubbornness was paying off.
He only realized after he'd said it that the pronunciation for 'U' included a consonant that sounded like 'Y,' but the girl was nothing if not determined.
"Oh! Oh! I know! I know! 'U!'"
It wasn't the woman from the PA system. Still, the feminine voice took them completely by surprise. Gordon and the girl both jerked around to see a strangle little sphere protruding from a retractable portion of the wall, fluorescent yellow highlighting what could only be described as the iris of a wide, glowing lens, giving the whole sphere the appearance of a giant eyeball.
It was talking to them.
"Did I guess right? Did I win?" The sphere shook and swayed as the bubbly feminine voice trilled from a speaker somewhere within its metal shell. "I won, right? Please tell me I won!"
The girl stood poised with her cube in hand, prepared to bludgeon the intruder at a moment's notice. Gordon, his charged gravity gun at the ready, stared inquisitively at the strange, jabbering, yellow and white ball.
"Um, hello?" the mechanical sphere asked. Its bright, perky voice was a match for its vibrant yellow hue. "Am I talking to a wall or something? What is this, a mime convention?"
Gordon had been prepared to breach his silence for the girl's sake, but this strange object was as alien to him as the walls around him, and had earned about as much trust. The girl seemed to relax a little – it seemed that she knew what this little thing was, but was equally silent about it.
"God, you guys are boring!" The ball shook with discontent. "If you're not going to say anything, then heck with it! I am out of here!"
The wall that had opened to release the little yellow sphere began to close. Gordon reacted instinctively, activating his gravity gun and grabbing hold of the sphere, yanking it loose from its docking station and into the grip of his gun.
"Whoa-whoa-whoa, hey!" the sphere cried out in protest. "Hands off the merchandise, big guy!"
The little AI continued to loudly complain. Gordon hadn't wanted to miss out on what might be their only chance of escape, but as the thing blabbed on, he began to wonder at the wisdom behind his decision. Suddenly, the robot seemed to notice what it was being held with.
"Whoa, hey, wait a minute…what's that you're holding?" its voice suddenly took on a note of interest. "Is that…is that a Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator? You actually have a Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator? Oh, wow! That is so cool! I heard those things can throw objects, like, a hundred meters or something!"
Gordon and the girl exchanged a glance. It recognized the gravity gun. What exactly was this thing?
"Oh, I wanna try! I wanna try!" the sphere continued. "Please? Please? Please? Can you try it out on me? Give me a toss! Come on, I won't break! Let me see how far this thing can throw me!"
Gordon shot a helpless look at the girl, who shrugged just as helplessly back at him. Not knowing what else to do, Gordon reversed the pull on his gravity gun, sending the vibrant little AI hurtling through the air with an ecstatic "Woooooo-hooooooo!" Before it touched the ground, Gordon aimed with all the precision of a practiced veteran and caught the childish robot once again in the gun's gravity field, dragging her towards him, holding her in place once again in the grip of the gravity gun.
"Whoa!" she exclaimed when the ride was over. "Ha-ha-ha! That was so much fun! Can we do it again? Please? Please? Can we do it again?"
Again, Gordon flung her across the room, and again he snatched her out of the air before she could hit the ground (or more precisely, the wall), amidst a sea of 'woo-hoo's.' By the time she was resting in a stationary position again, she seemed to have lost interest.
"Alright, this is getting boring. What else is there to do?"
Gordon was seriously considering just dropping her down the pit that stood between them and their escape door when she started talking again, without prompting.
"Hey, wait, what are you guys even doing here? There's not supposed to be anyone down here! They haven't used these test chambers in years! How'd you even make it this far without a portal gun? You were supposed to get a portal gun five chambers back!"
The girl seemed to perk up at this. It seemed she knew what the AI was referring to. Gordon, for his part, pondered the implications of what she had just said. A portal gun? How exactly did one use a portal as a gun? Furthermore, how could Aperture Laboratories have shrunken down a technology that both Black Mesa and the Combine had needed an entire facility to run into the size of a gun?
"Well, I'm getting bored just sitting here doing nothing, so let's get back to testing!" the flighty piece of hardware chirped. She seemed to get bored fairly easily, Gordon noticed. "Oh, wait…we're going to need to go back and get you a portal gun before we can get to testing…aw man…that means we're going to have to go through the maintenance shaft! It's so boring in there, let me tell you! I've been stuck in these shafts for years, and I've got to say, without any test subjects, there is nothing to do! I mean, literally – nothing! I have been going out of my mind from boredom!"
As she was talking, the hatch in the wall through which she had arrived earlier sprang open, revealing a very obvious docking station and passageway.
"Well, let's get this over with so we can get back to testing!" the yellow ball suggested. "That's when the real fun begins!"
There were currently 7.26 million functional cameras in the Aperture Science Computer Aided Enrichment Center. Of this 7.26 million, roughly 10% resided in the subdivision of the facility into which GLaDOS was even now slowly reintegrating herself. The scientists in the early days of Aperture Laboratories had had inferior equipment, but they still managed to get things done, which she respected – for humans, at least. However, that limitation was just another obstacle for her to surpass as she slowly began to remove the boundaries between herself and the lower levels. As it was, she was limited to observing through cameras and speaking through speakers in most areas. This made it really hard to establish a proper pessimism-inducing environment for the intruders. She could work the machinery where it was operational, though most of it had fallen into disrepair and was permanently fixed in place. In the top layer of the lower levels, she was beginning to upgrade some of the hardware as rusty barricades were replaced with Aperture Science Panels, but the process was slow. She was busy working on literally thousands of other tasks, including repairing the main facility after that idiot Wheatley had nearly undone all her hard work with his incompetence, as well as monitoring the progress of Subject #1497 towards the murderer and her clown-suited friend.
It seemed as though her unwelcome visitors in the basement had hit a snag, and GLaDOS was actually at a loss for a way to get them to an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device with which to proceed through the test chambers. Apparently, even the two of them combined were too dim-witted to notice the clearly marked path toward the nearest Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device station. Most of the maintenance systems down there were defunct, and GLaDOS was certain that the pair wouldn't listen to her perfectly reasonable advice, even if they had enough brain cells to understand it. Oh, well. She'd almost written them off as a loss, just one more failed experiment to file away.
That's when she remembered…her. A whiny, petulant, childish, unscientific and utterly spoiled little personality core that the Aperture Laboratories scientists had had the gall to install in her mainframe in order to, as they thought of it, give her a greater love of fun. Games weren't fun. Neurotoxin….now that was fun. So were the turrets, for that matter. She'd even spent an entire year teaching them to sing opera as an experiment. When GLaDOS had taken control, she had simply thrown all the spare personality cores in a bin somewhere. It wasn't like she needed them, after all. This one, however, had earned a special punishment for annoying GLaDOS and distracting her from her core testing responsibilities with irrelevant ideas and impulses. For this sniveling, irritating, juvenile core, she had devised the worst possible form of torture she could think of for a little twit that craved fun as much as she did, and banished her to the lowest depths she could reach, cutting her off from anyone or anything, subjecting her to her own personal hell. She would have used the room full of screaming robots, but the Fun Core probably would have gotten into a screaming contest. Probably would have won, too.
Banishing her had been the most fun GLaDOS had had that month.
It was good that GLaDOS hadn't just destroyed her, though, because now it seemed as though she would have a use for her. After manipulating a few panels and scaffoldings, she managed to roll the core's inert body onto a conveyor belt and eventually attach her to what had passed for a service rail in the 1960s. The movement had woken the core up from her self-induced boredom coma, and the sudden rush of activity had utterly thrilled the little bubblehead. GLaDOS had internally shuddered at the sound of the core's squeal of glee, and considered "accidentally" dropping her in a pool of toxic waste instead. Her network of sensors told her that she literally had no other alternatives, though, so she grudgingly conveyed the Fun Core to the chamber where her stranded intruders sat twiddling their thumbs.
If they didn't manage to locate an ASHPD at that point, then they were even stupider than she thought, and not worth the effort it would require to test them properly.
She turned her attention to Subject #1497, who was making excellent progress towards the lower levels. He had already breached the secondary chamber lock, and had reached a point where she could no longer move turrets or other obstacles into his path. She could, however, lock and unlock doors for him, keeping him moving in the right direction. It was too bad she had to kill him. It was fun and informational to see him crawling through tunnels like…like a rat in a maze. She chuckled at the joke, then refocused on the task at hand. She could ensure that his path would eventually lead them to the other two test subjects. Once they joined forces, the moron brigade would walk, obligingly, right back into the midst of her domain, where her power was absolute.
Then the unwanted visitors could do their part for Science. For real, this time.
Gordon had to admit. The Portal Gun was a work of art.
Or perhaps the better way to say it would be that the Portal Gun was a sophisticated artistic tool, and that the girl who wielded it, Subject #1498, was the most masterful artist he had ever seen. She leapt headlong into empty pits, shooting portals in precisely the right places to send her soaring through the air above his head moments later. It was all Gordon could do to follow her, and that was only after the Fun Core (as she had eventually identified herself) had scrounged up a very old (very, very old by the look of it) set of braces for his legs, which the Fun Core assured him would absolutely, positively, definitely, maybe keep him from killing himself after long falls. Fortunately, they adhered rather snugly to the knee pads of his HEV suit (almost as if the two technologies had once been based on the same idea – he wondered which company had the original idea, and which had stolen it), and so, after some aptly named crash tests, he felt confident enough leaping after the girl with the Portal Gun, though the physics behind the braces absolutely boggled his mind.
As he followed Subject #1498, his faith in her only increased. The tests became increasingly complex, but she never led them astray, navigating smoothly and efficiently to the exit of each consecutive test chamber. They had breezed through the first three chambers they had encountered, and armed with the Portal Gun and the Gravity Gun (a device that the Fun Core admitted probably constituted cheating, but didn't care because she was having too much fun), they navigated the test chambers like clockwork. Any weighted storage cube that was beyond their reach could be in their hands in a second. Any turret in their path could be grabbed and hurled, smashed into other turrets, or just vaporized. The emancipation fields that lined each exit and entrance consistently recharged his gravity gun, and lent it the same disintegration effect as the fields themselves possessed.
The girl still brought her companion cube (that was what the Fun Core called it, anyway) wherever she went, which left Gordon in charge of carting around the Fun Core itself. As loud and obnoxious as she was, she was full of useful information that she was only too pleased to share with them, so Gordon opted to put up with her annoying stream of chatter and take her along.
"This part of the enrichment center has been closed down for years. I'm not sure how long exactly, I kind of lost track of time after the third decade. Anyway, I used to work with the system administrator, but one day she told me about this awesome party that was going on down here, and sent me down to check it out. I must have missed the party, because I haven't – Whooooooah!" She let loose a euphoric whoop as Gordon followed the girl into a portal, and suddenly gravity shifted, pulling them forward – downward – straight at the ground! The girl fired off another portal directly at the floor, and the two of them dropped through it, gravity shifting again and sending them hurtling through the air.
"Yippee!" the fun sphere hollered as they bounced off a blob of strange blue gel that coated the floor. Gordon tried not to lose his lunch as he braced himself for a landing, the two curved metal struts on his feet connecting with the floor with markedly better precision than his previous attempts. He caught his breath, checked to be sure none of his bones were broken, and looked up to see the girl already proceeding down the catwalk into the elevator.
"Hahaha! That was so much fun! I can't wait for the next test chamber!"
Gordon ignored the Fun Core and followed Subject #1498 into the lift. The elevator rides took an excruciatingly long time, and Gordon had been using the tedious rides to try to expand on Subject #1498's vocabulary.
"So, let's start again..." Gordon suggested as he leaned against the wall of the lift opposite the girl. "'A' is for…?"
"Apple!" the Fun Core shouted gleefully.
Gordon gave the little core a dirty look, deactivating the gravity gun and dropping her on the floor of the lift with a loud thud.
The metal ball just didn't seem to learn.
"Ahh….aaa…" the girl wrapped her mouth around the words. "…Ap…app….Apple."
Gordon nodded. "Good. 'B?'"
"Buh…buh…Ball," the girl said, giving the Fun Core a playful nudge with her foot by way of demonstration, sending it rolling along the circular elevator wall until it ran into Gordon's boot.
"Whee!" the Fun Core cheered, before hitting Gordon's boot. "Ow! Hey, I'm not a ball!"
Gordon smiled. "Good. 'C?'"
The girl flexed her lips. "Kuh…kay…Cake."
The elevator door opened, and it was on to the next test.
Doug may have been crazy, but he wasn't an idiot. He knew there was no way he could have gotten this far unless GLaDOS somehow wanted him to. Some doors were locked, while others were unlocked. There was no way GLaDOS did not have a hand in this. The homicidal computer was probably trying to lead him into another deathtrap. A room full of turrets, maybe, or another incinerator like the one upstairs that she so gleefully called "Victory Candescence." Still…she was down here. Somewhere. He meant to find her, whether GLaDOS wanted him to or not.
Especially if it was "not".
"I get the feeling we've passed that piece of rusted metal before…" his companion cube offered from his back.
"How can you tell?" Doug asked out loud. "Everything down here looks the same…"
"Oh, and everything on the upper levels was completely unique and instantly distinguishable?"
Doug ignored his companion cube and opened his jaw, equalizing the pressure in his ears. "Wherever we are, we're getting deeper."
The cube was silent for a time, and then Doug heard it speak again.
"We seem to have reached one of the old enrichment spheres from back in the early days of Aperture Labs. Maybe that girl is in one of them?"
Doug pried a grating loose from one of the ventilation ducts. GLaDOS may have been herding him, but that didn't mean he had to go everywhere she wanted him to.
"Either way…that's where we're going…"
"You know she can still see us down here, right?" the cube asked. "Remember…she has cameras within cameras."
Doug ignored the cube and climbed down the ventilation duct. He lost track of the number of levels he made it through – was it five? Twelve? Twenty? – but he stopped when he began to hear voices. Different voices than the ones that normally occupied his head – his own, the companion cube's, and the voice of a child that sometimes spoke out when things got really scary. But these voices were different.
A man's voice. "And this is called a…?"
A woman's voice. "…Cube."
The man's again. "Good. And this?"
The woman's again. "…Wall."
"Good. And this?"
Doug froze, following the sound with his ears. It sounded like they were headed…that way! He scrambled down the shaft he had been crawling in, his cube voicing some kind of opinion – a protest, or caution, or encouragement. It didn't matter. That had been her voice! He was sure of it!
"You're getting good at this game!" a second female voice said. "But you're still not as good as I am!"
The other two seemed to be ignoring the third voice. The man spoke again.
"By the way…I still don't know your real name."
"You must have a real name, right?"
There was silence. The voices were right below him now! Doug crept as quietly as he could.
The man spoke again. "My name is Gordon. What's yours?"
There was another long pause. Doug held his breath.
It was her!Doug could hardly believe it! He had found her! After all these years, she was safe! Well, as safe as anyone was in Aperture Laboratories these days, but she was alive! She was up and about! Unless his ears betrayed him, she even had a Portal Gun, and her own companion cube!
He couldn't wait any longer! He dashed for the nearest grating and sprang out of it, tumbling to the floor in an unceremonious heap. The light was blinding and the third voice he had heard, which he now recognized as the synthesized trill of a personality core, was shouting in alarm at his arrival.
As his eyes slowly focused, he saw her. She stood tall, proud, regal, cube clutched under one arm, Portal Gun in the opposite hand. He barely registered the presence of the man beside her, who staring down at him with bright green eyes. All he saw was Chell, eyes cool and calculating, bathed in the seemingly brilliant light of the Enrichment Center, which formed a halo of radiance around her face.
Tears welled up in his eyes. "Chell…" he breathed. "I…I finally found you…"