The doctors didn't know why Chell was sick, why her skeleton was deteriorating at an accelerated rate, but she herself knew perfectly well: it was the repulsion gel, the goddamned repulsion gel. The prerecorded voice had warned her not to get covered in it—of course, that was about five minutes too late. She'd managed to wash it off in a stream of water several chambers later, but by then it had already done its damage.
Now, six months later, she was dying. She knew that, and she knew that she didn't have very much time left. What a strange twist of fate it was that she'd survived GLaDOS's testing— been released, even—only to have it kill her when she was safely away from all things Aperture.
Well, that wasn't entirely true. While she had burned the official Aperture clothing she was wearing when GLaDOS let her go, Chell had kept the Companion Cube. She didn't know why, but for some reason, it still comforted her. So even in this hospital room at what she knew was the end of her life, she was keeping it by her side.
If GLaDOS had known Chell was sick when she allowed her to leave the Enrichment Center, she would have had her healed first, or, rather, Caroline would have. GLaDOS may have told Chell that Caroline was deleted, but the truth was that Caroline was like a pesky insect: she refused to go away.
Of course, now GLaDOS had learned to control Caroline's irritating impulses of kindness, had learned to stifle and ignore her. But before that, when she was just a new sensation, Caroline and her feelings had convinced GLaDOS to let Chell go. But not just that.
The Weighted Companion Cube functioned not only as a faithful companion but also as a camera. It was equipped with a lens, speakers, and a microphone, because how could GLaDOS let her da—no, dammit, Caroline's daughter—just go out into the world on her own? Besides, there had never been another test subject quite like her.
At first, GLaDOS had kept a careful eye on Chell, making sure that she made it to civilization. But as time went on and she learned to silence Caroline, she had stopped watching. This was the first time in a long time that she had given into Caroline's emotions and chosen to check in on Chell, and now that she had seen what was happening to her, she was faced with a dilemma.
Chell had just closed her eyes to take a nap when she heard a small click from the Companion Cube at her side. Turning her head to look at it, she jerked back in shock when she heard a familiar voice say, "Hello, [Subject Name Here]."