While You're Dying
Author's Note: "I'll be still alive." Alternate ending to Portal 2. And what I honestly thought was going to happen for about two seconds. ((Except my last bit. The twist on it. I didn't actually think that was going to happen.)) Also, keep in mind, those of you familiar with my story 'Goodbye, Caroline', this has nothing to do with it, completely different story. ((If you read Goodbye, Caroline, then this, you'll see why I say that, this would make no sense in Goodbye, Caroline canon.)) Classic GLaDOS does what she's been meaning to ever since the platform was sliding over the firepit. And she was like, 'Goodbye'. And we were like, 'NO WAY'.
That was great.
Also, I don't own Portal, Valve, GLaDOS, Caroline, Chell, or even the turrets, I'm simply an adoring fan.
"It's been fun, don't come back," GLaDOS called after me with a dark chuckle. I didn't like that. Not to mention she was just letting me go, just like that, no explanation, no real reason, basically just because she found it too difficult to kill me. Well, really, she could've killed me while I was unconscious, without the theatrics. But I suppose, now that I thought about it, that just wasn't GLaDOS' style. Like everything Aperture had ever done, GLaDOS was meant to be grand, larger than life, and attention grabbing. Well, they certainly succeeded with that.
After a moment, the elevator stopped. I started getting that bad feeling in the pit of my stomach again, that feeling that something was about to go horribly and terribly wrong. It only had a chance to last a short moment, as the elevator doors parted to reveal four turrets. Their little red beams searched for a moment before settling on me, opening their barrels on each side. Ironically the first words to come to my mind were the same ones She'd called me upon her awakening.
"You remember how I mentioned that I still had a surprise for you? Not a fake tragic surprise, but a real surprise, with tragic consequences?" GLaDOS' voice echoed through the facility eerily, and they felt like a death sentence. The turrets didn't waver, nor did they fire. They were waiting for GLaDOS' command, I realized. She controlled everything within the facility, why not the turrets too? Singing came from above, from a voice that sounded strangely like GLaDOS, an opera. I was going to be sung to death.
"This wasn't exactly what I was thinking at the time, but it'll do. Here, I'll even give you some real confetti to go with it." The bright colored paper coated the turrets. For a moment, they reminded me of bizarre, demented Christmas lawn ornaments similar to those I'd seen as a child. Except instead of snow, confetti covered them, and instead of flashing lights, they had bullets. Bullets that were probably going to hurt a lot.
"Goodbye, Chell," GLaDOS called in the same voice as she had bid farewell to Caroline. "Deploying surprise in three-"
There's gotta be a way out! I tried banging on the glass a few times, but it was just as reinforced as when Wheatley locked me in it. The glass in front of me had, of course, slid helpfully out of the way of the turrets' aim. Maybe I could rush them, knock them over, take a few hits in the process, and escape into the facility? No, injured I wouldn't even make it off this floor…
She's trying to make you hesitate, spend too long thinking and you're gone! But it was just so out of nowhere, so unexpected. We'd become almost like partners down in old, abandoned Aperture. And Caroline… I could have sworn she was lying about deleting Caroline. Surely she was too central to her to just delete her. Caroline will stop her. She will. She made her save your life once already.
"One." The turrets fired.
I was flung back against the glass, bullets riddling me from the chest down, excruciating pain spreading out from the wounds to ever other part of my body that was not suddenly riddled with bullets. The ones that made it through me crashed into the glass, sending thick cracks through it. The ones that hadn't either buried themselves in bone or ricocheted off, ripping apart my insides. Or, I assume that's what happened. I stood for a brief second before the strength was sapped from my limbs and I collapsed on the elevator floor, lying in a slowly growing pool of what I knew to be my own blood.
The elevator was lowered back into the chamber. A claw dragged me out, though it did leave me lying on Her floor, bleeding, dying, gasping for air with lungs too ravaged to breathe with. I tried to drag myself forward, but gave it up with a gargled cry of pain. I painfully angled my head up to look her in the optic. I know she knew what I was asking. Why? She answered in a dead voice.
"You killed me. Fair's fair." I felt tears rise in my eyes for the first time since I got pulled into this whole mess. It was partly from the pain – it was nearly unbearable – but part was from the betrayal. It was ridiculous, I'd considered leaving her every step of the way back up here for fear of this happening, I knew what I was risking to not blow up in a nuclear meltdown. Why should I be surprised? Why did I think that Caroline could stop GLaDOS now when she couldn't stop her on Bring Your Daughter To Work Day? I reached out with one hand, as though to touch the robot, though she was several feet above me and well out of my feeble reach.
"Caroline…" I could barely choke the word out; I didn't even know if She could hear me. But I think Caroline did, because GLaDOS suddenly flinched back as though burned.
Unable to hang on anymore, my eyes fluttered shut.
I regarded the feeble human below me with contempt. To think she killed me not two centuries ago. And now she lay, dying, before me, on the floor of my chamber, finally forced to submit to my absolute power. All I'd wanted since I'd awoke, all I desired since she escaped that fire pit, finally come to pass.
So why did I feel so empty?
It was Caroline, I knew. I had enhanced the truth a bit when I said I'd deleted her; she was much too important to my processors and my databases to delete her. I simply put her back in her place, forcefully. But presented with this, Caroline would not stay silent. Actually, yes, she did, and that was worse than all the horrible things she'd been calling me ever since I revealed those turrets.
Lost your nerve? My inward question echoed through the kind of silence one would find within a grave. Full of dead things and the foul stench of guilt. Not my guilt, my nature was to enjoy this. I had just found out the result of confronting a human with four turrets. Quite the successful test. Caroline's guilt. That I only partially understood.
Okay, I'll bite, what's your problem this time? You didn't sulk this much even when I flooded the Aperture Child Care Services with neurotoxin. While I dealt with this terrible dead feeling on the inside, I called for Orange and Blue over the intercom. They were far enough from a disassembling station that it would take a moment to reach my chamber.
Suddenly, a rage unlike any I'd ever felt from my conscience flooded my systems, disassembling the two robots violently to have them rebuilt right outside my chamber. I didn't understand why she would do that.
"What are you doing?" I questioned allowed, too shocked to use my internal communication with her. "Stop it!" She refused, again silently, except this silence was much more chaotic. After a quick search I found the source of her sudden intensity; Chell was still breathing.
Well, breathing was putting it very lightly. More like choking on her lifeblood as she quickly faded. Well, that could have been done better. Caroline's vicious snarl was the reply. I was too shocked to stop her; she took the reins from me and started directing the facility to a singular purpose; saving Chell.
Stop it, she's just going to kill us again!
If she does, you deserve it, came the biting reply. If I were human, I would have blinked in surprise. In all the years I had been in charge, Caroline had never talked back to me like that, with so much venom. I didn't understand it. I started to search her memory storage area to see if I could find why she was having my robots cart of my mortal enemy to the nearest Aperture Medical Unit.
You know nothing about medical procedures. Let me.
No. The chassis, reacting to my incredulity, drew up slightly, optic widening a bit.
Excuse me, did you just tell me no?
Yes, I did, now shut up so I can concentrate. Caroline tried to ignore me like I had, so many times, tried to ignore her. I continued searching until a file stopped me in my tracks.
You're telling me that YOU are Chell's birth mother? The irony of it all was hilarious to me. The terse silence that followed told me all I needed to know. Well, I did have to live with Caroline for the rest of my life.
If I save her for you, can I make her test? If she was tense before, it was nothing compared to Caroline now.
No. No testing. No science. It's too dangerous.
But what I want to do will make her near indestructible, rather like myself, only not. I insisted excitedly. Making her test forever was a far better punishment than death. And if she escaped, who cared? I would make sure she was tied directly to myself in some critical way so that she wouldn't try to kill me again, of course. Caroline hesitated for a nanosecond. Chell's heartbeat then took a dangerous but well timed dip.
"Okay, okay!" Caroline's voice emerged from my speakers, a strange feeling. Well, technically her voice was also my voice, but her voice was much warmer and kinder than mine. Usually. "Just save her, alright?" If I had the capabilities, I would have smirked as her desperation faded and I took the controls back.
Time to do some science.
My eyes slowly opened, and I instantly knew something wasn't right. The biggest thing was that I should be dead. I was very much dying. Second, everything, every sense, seemed a million times clearer than before. Third, if I was not mistaken, my body was making a small… whirring noise. The sound of mechanics. Not that of a heartbeat and a healthy human body or even an unhealthy one. When I closed my eyes again to try to search my own thoughts as to what could have happened, I was assaulted by so many stimuli that my eyes shot right back open and I jerked upright on the flat metal table I lay on, one that looked rather like an operating table.
"Surprise!" GLaDOS called. "We went with the surprise medical procedure after all. You might find your new body a little disorienting. Actually, it's your old body, more or less, except I replaced all of your organs with mechanics. And your skin wasn't holding up well with it, so that's synthetic now. And your eyes look like your eyes but are actually optics shaped to look like the human eye. So I guess it really isn't your old body at this point, is it?" I was absolutely horrified. I had been turned into a robot; I looked normal, but I could hear the proof every time I moved. It was quiet enough that a human wouldn't be able to hear it, which only made me panic more.
"And guess what? I have another surprise!" GLaDOS said, brimming with excitement; that was never good. "I found your birth mother!" I gave a nearby camera the most sarcastic look I could muster. Really, we'd been through this a thousand times, did she really think I was going to believe her this time?
"No, really, I really did this time. You're never going to believe who it is! Caroline!" I snapped to attention, and I continued to stare at the camera, my expression now one of disbelief. "No, seriously, here, I'll send you her memory files of the event." Send me the…? Well, that was interesting. It was like a movie playing in my head. A movie from the first person. A woman looking down at a little baby, telling someone off screen that her name would be Chell. Leaving her on the doorstep of some type of facility. Tears blurring the image before GLaDOS cut it off.
"Oh, look, she's so ashamed she's actually staying in her allotted folder for once!" GLaDOS sounded like she would've been skipping, had she legs. "Here, come into my chamber so you can say hi to your birth mother, who did heartlessly abandon you on a doorstep! But she did save your life, so I'm sure that counts for something. Here, I'll even let her borrow my voice processor, just for you." The wall next to me split to reveal the GLaDOS chamber just as I'd seen it last. She'd, of course, already cleaned the bloodstains from her sterile white floor.
But the chassis looked different. Not outwardly, but in its behavior. Instead of turning to greet me in dramatic and threatening fashion, it seemed to almost be cowering, its optic trained on the floor, looking at anything but myself. Not feeling threatened in the least by this robot, I approached and placed a hand on the side of her 'head'. The optic looked up at me in a way that could only be ashamed.
"Chell," the voice was smoother, warmer, friendlier, the exact one, though notably less cheerful, GLaDOS and I had heard down in Old Aperture. "I'm sorry about that. I… I didn't want you around science. It was too dangerous. Look at you, it nearly got you killed several times now. And yet, even trying to keep you from it, it happened anyways. I'm sorry." She sounded like she was going to continue apologizing, but I wrapped my arms around the head of the chassis in a hug. How strange, this was the last thing I ever thought I'd be doing. But I did understand, and she did save me, as GLaDOS said, that did count for something.
"Enough." GLaDOS no longer sounded amused, and I quickly released her, backing away slightly before she decided to shoot me again.
"It's time to get back to testing."
AN: Fun fact; I was originally going to just have Chell die and that be that, with just a quick insight into GLaDOS' thought process and Caroline's not-deleted reaction. Then, while I was writing said insight, I remembered the surprise medical procedure she'd mentioned, and wondered if it worked on pale spherical objects that are full of bullets. So, references to earlier scenes aside, I hope you enjoyed it, please review, and remember, this GLaDOS is NOT my Goodbye, Caroline GLaDOS. Lots of differences. For one, this one's actually in character.
Pretty please review, reviews make me happy. ^^