She doesn't know.
She didn't know, didn't found out. Not in time at least. Was I wrong? It is too late now; she is gone, left for good. I thought she was different, she seemed so real. She looked like an average human being. Nothing special by human standards. Perhaps some others of her species would have deemed her attractive, but not all of them. Human beings have a strange way to measure what they like or don't like. But to me it wasn't how I looked at her. It was how she looked at everything. At me. It was completely ridiculous, she looked so determined, like it wasn't even a question as to how she was going to do it, she just would. Even when completely surrounded by danger and uncertainty she looked unfazed. She must have been aware that a mere decision of moving the correct plate at the correct time would have been her death. She knew how much power I had, or so I thought.
I really thought she knew.
I wasn't going to kill her. Well, not anymore, after she defied me, proved to be alive, I just wanted to keep her. All those other human beings I guided through the test chambers missed it. They weren't real. It was nothing different than watching a protocol unfold on a screen. They were just numbers adding up to previous failures. Data for in my notebook. Their reactions were predictable, after analyzing what kind of person they were it could almost be predicted to which chamber they would made it. Some couldn't do much more then crying, others just ran into it face first. The humans with stronger cowardly traits often refused to do the first test that involved them in visible physical danger. Pathetic. After a while I learned how to trait different kind of personalities. I noticed their results changed based on how I guided them. If their actions could be altered by me they were essentially mine, I reasoned. It was intriguing to test people with similar personality threats, trying different approaches to try to get the weakest as far as possible and the strongest the least far, if I felt like it.
Nothing had effect on her.
I tried everything. I started with standard protocol and changed to every possible way I knew. It didn't work. For a while I thought she may be deaf, since she didn't say anything either, but after a particular edgy comment from me, the first one of many, I noticed a change in her eyes. They lit up for one short moment, flared with a burning will to win. I had made her angry. The first proof that showed she was just a regular test subject. Proof of her humanity. I remember feeling a slight sting of disappointment. She could still be changed and manipulated like all of them. I kept trying to alter her, and slowly, barely noticeable, she got more and more angry. I got frustrated along with her. Albeit for a different reason. Her reactions were a minimum, every single test subject I had up until that point either cried in horror or screamed at me in hate. I could barely get her to notice me, and when she did it wasn't more than a slight change in her eyes.
She must have been broken. Her emotional capacity must have numbed down from the stasis. Or maybe it had been that way since the beginning with her. I couldn't do anything with a broken test subject, her results were useless. I let her continue to the final test of the first part, so she had the chance to show a reaction of victory and relief. I let most test subjects believe the tests end at so so they have a goal to reach. I noticed their results improve greatly, while in reality I just keep testing them until they are either physical or mentally incapable to continue. Or die of course. Some made horrible mistakes others were too dumb to live and be of use.
When she reached the final chamber she didn't show any sign of relief, so I decided to wrap things up and end her.
But that didn't work.
She didn't just do the tests, she learned from them. She escaped, she was now in charge. The first test subject to make a decision against mine. She choose to live. Others, when made aware of their upcoming death started to beg, cry, scream and panic. They never made a serious attempt to avoid their demise. But she just did it. Like it was the logical course of action. I should have been proud, happy that a test subject managed to get such outstanding results. But I panicked. I desperately tried to guide her back into a place where I was in control, where I was safe from her. But I wasn't capable of that. I was pretty much useless in this new situation. I didn't know how to respond, hadn't learned it yet.
I felt so weak. I doubted my superiority to humans for the first time in my life, how useful was my unending intelligence when it was restricted to the testing of humans. All I could ever accomplice was improving them.
It really hurt when she destroyed me. It really did. At least I was free from the voices when she did it, for one moment I could think clearly, no unending stream of useless knowledge and anger. And most of all, no morality.
But it didn't end there. I didn't die. My functions initiated the black box function when the fatal errors started coming in. Originally for the scientists to see what went wrong. But now it served as an everlasting memory loop for me. I guess they didn't have me in mind when they thought of that function. Over and over again I got to see how she conquered me, still looking so determined. It looked almost like dancing, the way she moved, and the way she orchestrated everything. I watched her look at me so many times, her eyes filled with emotion. So many times I saw her kill me. I genuinely hated her.
I think I saw her first real facial expression when she, or rather that stupid core, accidentally woke me up again. It was priceless. I wish my recorders had been working at that moment. I would have showed it on every screen in every room. She and I both realized she was trapped, mine now, to do with as I pleased. I wasn't going to kill her, to be honest; I had no idea what I was going to do with her. I decided to continue the testing was the best option, though I suspect that decision came from my built in addiction to testing. Another function the scientists thought would come in handy. Lovely.
But of course she didn't agree with my choice. She escaped and manage to repeat the same thing all those years ago, only this time it was even more humiliating. Putting that core inside MY body. And he, in turn, humiliating me by putting me into a potato. All my control was gone in mere seconds. I suppose you could compare it to a human losing his vision, hearing and all limbs. And they generally do not perform well in testing with those disabilities. I felt so blind, I couldn't see anything, just the things that were right in front of me, and I was so tiny now.
But when she found me in the birds nest and took me with her she showed me everything. The way she thought, musing over a test in the oldest parts of my facility. She occasionally looked back at me and I felt all my hate slip away. She seemed more human than ever, but I didn't feel repulsed. I was intrigued by the way she was thinking, what went through those neurons in her brains. Who she was. She was more than a test subject, more then data, she didn't belong here.
Together with me she traveled through the ruins, until she finally found a way back up. I noticed how everything around me was dying. Aperture feels like on big breathing entity to me. You could compare it to a human and their body. Except I have control over every function, while they cannot even control their own heart. Both literally and figuratively.
I felt so alive in our final journey together, to my mainframe. Perhaps it was because I was facing my own mortality, or the excitement of adventure I had never felt before, but it felt good. Humans do tend to feel more alive when they know it can end very quickly. And she did it. Again. For the third time in her life she managed to thrive in a duel like this. It seemed like she was made for it. Without anything but luck helping her she defeated the moron and in a way so original I thought humans weren't capable of.
So I saved her, I didn't know why she had put herself in so much danger when it should have been her own life she was trying to save. She must have known humans die in space without protection. Maybe she did it for me. That thought hadn't made sense, it must have been my newfound morality speaking. That would be Caroline, who had come out of her slumber. I had started feeling emotions and thoughts that didn't lie in my normal line of reasoning ever since she had woken up. She was no more than a feeling but if I didn't pay the fullest attention she would have effect on me.
She didn't belong here anymore. But I didn't want her to go, she made me feel alive. She should stay here so I won't fade. I wanted to tell her, when woke up. I wanted to say that she shouldn't leave and stay with me. I feared that, if given a choice, her human reasoning would tell her to get out. Her instincts would surely pick sunlight, grass and water over the artificial light and food in the facility. She had to go, but I didn't want her to. It was a conflict in my system. Must have been Caroline. In the end I decided to live up both of those actions. Reverse psychology. It had worked before.
"Don't pick it up, just leave it there and do not touch it"
She picked it up and threw it in the incinerator. As planned. In fact, she seemed to like doing the opposite of what I told her.
I told her to leave, to never come back, that I was bored of her and that killing her, or even paying attention her was too much of a bother. I told her I didn't care anymore. I didn't want her dead; I just wanted her gone now. I even put her in the elevator and gave her a grand goodbye.
So she left.
I really thought she knew. That she had realized what I was trying tosay. That she had found out that I cared for her now and that it didn't matter that I didn't say all those things to her because she knew how I loved being with her. How I love her. I hoped she saw me, as I was, not as a tool to get to get results that just happens to be sentient. But she didn't, perhaps I thought too much of her. Maybe her human instincts were too strong. Or maybe she wasn't trying to save me at all and she was just a thick headed human like all of them, making a stupid, irrational decision when in peril. It doesn't matter anymore. She is gone now, days have passed since she left, she could be anywhere by now, she could even be death. That thought makes a slight wave of panic run through my systems. I'm alone now. There is no movement in all of Apeture. It is filled with sounds. Turrets being built, the engines that keeps the facility running, the incinerator room, maintenance, the sound of my own voice sorting out my thoughts to keep me sane. It's all so loud but it feels so silent. If she had only realized how I felt. If she only had known.
Suddenly, after being locked within this circle thoughts for days I hear a sound. Not just a sound, but one not generated or controlled by me. A loud thumping noise in my mainframe chamber. I activate my built-in camera and look around.
For the first time since I can remember I cannot think of what to do. At a loss of words, so to speak, I can only stare, the whole facility falling silent for a moment as all my control fails on me.
There she is, the real her, not data but her. Leaning against the door of the elevator, covered in mud and scratches. It doesn't suit her. The sterile surroundings of my facility compliment her better than the things outside has done to her. Perhaps she does belong here. Somewhere in the back of my mind I'm reminded that the elevator has its own control system, overriding mine, so I didn't felt it activating, but I forget it the moment I look at her face.
The first time I see that expression on her features and this time I'm glad all my recorders are up. I see her eyes twinkle and I notice her smile turning into a sly grin, like she just won something great. She straightens up and meets my eye. She opens her mouth to say something, but I know she can't talk. She doesn't. Instead she slowly mouths two short words, almost whispering them.
While I was pathetically waiting until she would reach and probably end me I got an idea, maybe she could release me from the voices in my head. The torture those scientists put me through, forcing to change my thoughts. Inserting emotions, ideas and knowledge into me that tried to control me. It didn't work the way they hoped, it didn't change me, it just added parts to me that I didn't control. Voices different from my own.
Maybe she could end that.
I could detach those cores whenever I want, their effect didn't lessen, for they were still wirelessly connected to me, and when I detached them I was constantly attacked by their distress signals, trying to get me to put them back. No, unless they were shut down or destroyed I couldn't get rid of them
I'm all alone now. I can hear the silence. A faint humming fills every hallway, every room. And I hear it all.