She was the last one. The last 'different' one. They had all been like her, once. They had no desire to kill, no desire to destroy. All of her comrades had been shut down, destroyed, or just disposed of, replaced by those mindlessly polite drones that now took up residence in Aperture. She hadn't been destroyed, though, not yet. She had survived. Until now, anyway. Her squeaks and pleas lay unheard as the Redemption Line dragged her slowly towards the flames. "I'm different! I'm different!" Perhaps suicide by forced shut down would be better than burning to death.
Maybe someone will notice me... Maybe someone will find me... She doubted it. Still, though, there was a little bit of a hope that the blue core and the lady-in-orange would find her. A small chance, but a chance nonetheless. The only thing left to do was to just... remember. Oh, how she could remember her first day working at Aperture Science Innovators!
She had been a bright young woman, fresh out of school with many a man's eyes following her on the way out. Vanity was her curse, and she was well aware of it. In fact, she deserved to be vain! Those beautiful, carefully kept blond curls and soft red lips... Why, if she wasn't vain, someone else would have been for her! It was a bitter thought now, though, as she lay helpless on the conveyor belt. She probably should have been nicer to everyone, really. Perhaps then she wouldn't have been stuck like this.
Aperture was going through major reconstruction when she had first joined the team as one of Cave Johnson's numerous secretaries. He was, the turret thought with a bit of amusement, a handsome man. But he was unobtainable, even for one as beautiful as she had once been. Despite the numerous compliments and gifts he bestowed upon her, the man only had eyes for another. Caroline.
Oh, Caroline! How she had despised the woman! She wasn't even very pretty, with a stick-thin, no-curves figure and a mess of long black hair. Often the other secretaries would giggle and call her names, Stick Bug and Twig their personal favorites. There were rumors that she would flee to the employee restrooms and sob as everyone cleared the building at the lunch and dinner bells. Why, why had they hurt the kind, gentle woman's feelings? If only one could see in retrospect all the time, so such things would never happen!
It was only six months after she had begun her work that Science Innovators dropped its longer title and became only Aperture. Their government grant money was running out, so many employees were laid off. Of twenty original secretaries, only five remained; herself, a set of twin sisters, a single male, and Caroline (though she was obvious; Cave would never fire his precious Caroline!). Rather than the astronauts and veterans that had once roamed the testing chambers, homeless men crowded the waiting rooms, anxious for their sixty dollars. Paychecks were few and far between, but it was still enough to pay the bills and some extra. Every so often, the turret remembered, she would show up in the office and be complimented on her brand new shoes.
Caroline, it seemed, never wore anything new. It became obvious when she began to gain weight, and her nickname changed from Stick Bug to Fatty or even Piggy. The turret had been the ring leader in these cruel games, sneering as tears began to form at the corners of Caroline's eyes. She never complained, though, sticking strong for the good of science and Aperture. It seemed that the only thing she loved more than actual science was the facilities themselves, for she had nearly memorized every nook and cranny of the former salt mines. It was admirable, really, and the turret could remember grudgingly admitting that she was impressed by her charisma. Everything she had done in her former life was out of jealousy, and she felt easier now that she could admit it within her mind.
As the years went by and the money dwindled further, Caroline and herself had been the only secretaries left. Not even the homeless dared to enter the halls of Aperture, and soon the employees themselves were forced to test. Cave himself had fallen ill, claiming it to be mercury poison even though everyone was well aware that it was because of the moon rocks he had purchased. Not that Aperture, she thought wryly, could afford seven million dollars worth of the things. Yet the fool bought them anyway...
It had been her turn to test for the day, and she could remember scrambling to get out of the way of the flowing conversion gel, desperate not to catch whatever had infected her boss. Again she felt envy towards Caroline, who was the only person except for Cave himself to be exempt from the mandatory testing. She had protested, claiming to want to be the same as the rest of the employees, but Cave would only say that he had 'plans' for her. If only they had known...
Cave died a year later, and after the funeral Caroline wasn't seen for about three months. All the employees knew that she had been taken by the scientists for something, but they hadn't been sure what. The GLaDOS project had been nearly completed when she had been taken, and when they revealed a comatose Caroline alongside their supercomputer, no one knew exactly what to think. She could remember being panicked and confused as Caroline's limp body was thrust into a small chamber, wires jammed into her body as her blood oozed on the formerly white floors. The scientists closed the doors, and then there was the scream.
Again, no one had been sure how to react. They had all just stood there, looking uneasily at each other. In the center of the chamber, the computer began to react, swinging sluggishly. The scientists were cheering, and the rest of the employees knew exactly what had happened. Caroline, sweet Caroline, had been transformed into her. GLaDOS may not have been Caroline, but Caroline was definitely GLaDOS. The transfer had only amplified her hidden angers and frustrations. She was above the pathetic humans, nearly a diety, invincible, immortal. And as soon as she gained awareness, she powered on the neurotoxin emitters.
The scientists had frantically begun to attempt a shut down. They hadn't been able to make it in time to save everyone, though, and the turret could remember her last moments as a human. She had been on the verge of collapse, coughing and falling to her knees, dropped her clipboard and cup of coffee. Through blurry, tearfilled eyes she could see the AI rear up to look at her, the massive body swinging from side to side. Through yells and screaming, the turret could only remember the one cold, computerized line that seemed to come from all around her.
"You never were that pretty."
She had blacked out.
A P E R T U R E S C I E N C E
It seemed as though the fates were smiling on her. The lady-in-orange - Chell, she learned later - had happened upon her. She had spouted off what little she could with her limited vocal support, and the test subject had only looked at her oddly before gently setting her down. As Wheatley had taken over the facility, her position had shifted with the test chambers. Unwillingly she had been dragged closer and closer to the 'throne' of Aperture, and now she found herself looking at the back of the one who had shoved her inside the body of a turret.
GLaDOS was talking to Chell, who was sitting in a small lift. The two cooperative bots were sitting near her, making robotic gurgling noises. As GLaDOS set the human off and warned her never to return, the round, blue bot caught notice of the lone turret in the room. Curious, he tapped his partner's shoulder and motioned towards her.
The AI finally noticed their movements and swivelled herself towards the turret. "You've got to be kidding me. One of you escaped my nets? Ugh, your friends were hard enough to find. I thought you had killed yourself after seeing your friends incinerated." The voice was cold, calculating. GLaDOS was trying to find a weak spot, and it stung. The turret hesitated, trying to find a way to get her message across.
"...Caroline?" If the bot had lips, it would have sneered. The turret would have shivered in fright if it were possible, "Caroline... still... there?"
"Your English is remarkably bad. But no, she is not. Well, she won't be, in a few seconds. Her files are ninty-five percent deleted, at this point. So you might as well say goodbye, little turret. Or you could spend these last few moments of your life begging for mercy. Not that it would help you, but it would be extremely amusing." Only ninty-five percent? There's still a chance... She ignored GLaDOS jab at her English; as a turret she had only a few vocal commands to choose from. 'Caroline' had been left over from the discussions that she had been forced into about a certain book that all the turrets had to share. Not that it had helped; the others only seemed to be interested in shooting passing test subjects.
"Caroline... I'm sorry." The metal arm that had been reaching for the turret froze, and GLaDOS herself began to twitch uncontrollably. Her optic began to spaz out, and she stopped moving her body completely.
"Deletion paused at... ninty-eight... percent." The male announcer seemed amazingly cheerful, despite the current situation. GLaDOS suddenly lost control of her head and arm, both of them flopping into a downward position. After a moment, the head suddenly reared back up, this time in a less threatening manner. The optic seemed to be regarding the turret curiously, and the arm retracted back into her body.
"Do you mean that?" It was barely a whisper, soft and shy as her co-worker had once spoken. The voice was still computerized, but the tone had changed from cold to uncertain. The turret's resolve wavered for a second. There was no way to truly say the words that she wanted, and even if there was she wasn't sure she had enough time. The optic had begun to twitch again, and she knew that GLaDOS was trying to regain control.
"...Yes." The head tilted, turning away quietly.
"I... forgive you. Thank you... Thank you..." The head fell again, before slowly rising back up. Again she took an intimidating position, towering herself high above the turret. GLaDOS had returned.
"Deletion resumed. Ninty-nine percent complete. Deletion complete. Folder CAROLINE deleted." Fear filled the little turret as the giant in front of her let out a slow, autotuned chuckle.
"Goodbye, Caroline. Now to deal with you." The arm shot forward this time, and the turret let out a scream. Her guns were wrenched out, forced into their shooting position. It hurt, and she could never remember feeling this much pain. She could be tipped over, now, and if she was forced onto her side she would be shut down. GLaDOS grabbed her, pulling her into the air and dangling her over the incenerator.
"...Bye... Caroline. Thank you." She tried to shut herself down, but found that GLaDOS was preventing her from doing so, her fingers wedged where her guns connected to her main body. Anytime, now, she would be burned alive, crying in pain as the flames slowly baked her alive. Still, though, the AI didn't drop her. Panic filled the turret. What was going on?
The arm moved towards the floor, flipping the turret onto its side before gently lying her on the ground. She could feel herself shutting down, and she could see through dying eyes that GLaDOS had decided to kill her before burning her. She wouldn't feel pain now. If she had lips, she would have smiled. Caroline... is there still a piece of you in there?
It would be the last thing she would ever say, the last thing she would ever see or hear. But really, she felt... complete. The guilt that had been gnawing on her for so long finally felt lifted. She could die now, peacefully. As her surroundings began to dim, she whispered her final words.
"Good... bye... Caroline. Thank you..."
A/N: I began writing this at school when I should have been working on a project =P Anyway, I hope you liked it. The 'different' turret doesn't get a lot of love, so I decided to focus a story on it instead of Wheatley or whatever's popular these days.
Do I think GLaDOS deleted Caroline? Yes, I do. She's always taken the easy way out of things, and completely forgetting the lesson that she learned throughout her journey is a very... GLaDOS thing to do. Do I believe Caroline is completely gone, however? No, probably not. At least, her influence is probably still around. GLaDOS might have grown herself a consience, but at least she can blame it on Caroline instead of herself.
I'll probably write another Portal fic, probably involving Chell and GLaDOS and a possible, very slight shipping of the two. Like, not an obvious one but rather just sort of... implied love of some sort. Family or romantic, I haven't decided yet. Until then, leave a review? 8D