(Quick note: I'm not too well-versed in the Half-Life universe, but I did some research, so I hope it's okay. Also, spoilers for Portal 2.)
Chapter One: Return
Type type type.
Chell leaned back in her Vertebral Support Chair—when she first saw the label on its box, she had wrinkled her nose and wondered if this was an Aperture Science product and thought of the different ways in which it might be a perfectly normal chair that would try to kill her—and massaged her chest. She'd been coughing quite a lot lately, and previous visits to the hospital also suggested she might have some osteoporosis setting in. Judging from the x-rays and biopsies of her lungs, the doctors were convinced that she'd been a smoker and was just obstinately denying it, but she overheard a doctor telling a nurse that they weren't sure what it was that was coating her lungs but that it might also be the cause of her sudden osteoporosis.
But she knew.
Not five minutes after hearing Cave Johnson's pre-recorded message to not get covered in Repulsion Gel, she naturally got covered in Repulsion Gel. And Propulsion Gel. And Conversion Gel. Not to mention the neurotoxin that GLaDOS and Wheatley tried to kill her with. And whatever else she might have encountered deep in the bowels of the old Aperture Science facility. Fairy dust, for all she knew. Wouldn't have fazed her in the least.
All in all, she wasn't surprised that she was dying.
It had taken about a year to kick in, but again, no surprise there.
At first, she was angry. Life had given her these lemons, but she recalled Cave Johnson's recording and decided that she didn't want the damn lemons and wanted to burn Aperture's house down. However, seeing as she was loath to return to the Enrichment Center after GLaDOS had been quite clear about her never returning, she, in fact, never returned to burn the place down with lemons (or at least lemons soaked in cooking oil and set on fire). She thought she'd die in that horrific place and came close to doing so countless times, so it was a little ironic that she was meeting her slow and untimely end via Gel poisoning rather than a quick exit via Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator or Aperture Science Crusher or Aperture Science Sentry Turret. Or maybe she'd die in a Combine attack. But disease?
But what else could really kill her in this safe, neurotoxin-less, test-less, and homicidal AI-less data entry job she had taken up?
"Hey, kiddo, you're not looking so good," came a voice from behind her.
Chell glanced up to find her supervisor peering down at her from around her cubicle's walls. He was middle-aged and rather round man who had the weary look of someone who was doggedly refusing to look down in the dumps in spite of all the Combine-related things to be down in the dumps about. He called everyone younger than him "kiddo," and while Chell didn't like the term, she liked how friendly it made him sound. "Just feeling a little sick is all, Mr. Craver," she said softly. She wasn't mute like GLaDOS and Wheatley had assumed—her inability to speak must have been psychosomatic, because her voice had come right back as soon as the realization of her freedom finally sank in.
"Look, why don't you go home? Take a breather for today. We can hold down the fort while you're gone—won't be a problem."
"Are you sure? I can work. Really, I just need to take a break—"
"Stop being so stubborn and go home already. You'd better be gone when I come back from lunch," he called over his shoulder as he trundled away.
She shrugged, slowly gathering her things and leaving for her tiny apartment. While this wasn't quite the life outside the Enrichment Center that she'd envisioned when GLaDOS had let her loose on the surface, it was something. It was out of sheer luck that she'd managed to find someone to take her in and help her get on her feet after all the time spent away from civilization—which, as it happened, had taken quite a turn for the worse. She couldn't even remember what came before GLaDOS and her tests, but she was sure it didn't involve domination by an oppressive alien force. Just reading about what had happened between the time Black Mesa's lovely incident and Earth's subsequent meeting with a figurative toilet almost made Chell wish that she was still cloistered away in the clean, white chambers of the Aperture Enrichment Center.
The only thing that really bothered her was the incredible feeling of loneliness that tended to cast a gloom over her days. She loved her Companion Cube, she really did, but it never spoke to her and if it had, she would have gone right to a psychiatrist to make sure she wasn't developing schizophrenia. More and more often these days, she recalled GLaDOS's passive-aggressive quips and—though it took her a while to come to terms with it—missed it (but she didn't miss all the things trying to kill her). And cake—she couldn't enjoy cake these days without thinking back to that blasted Enrichment Center and completely losing her appetite for it…
It wasn't a long walk to her apartment by any means, but she felt so tired by the time she reached her front door that it baffled her that she hadn't simply collapsed on the pavement en route. Hah, wouldn't GLaDOS get a kick out of that if she could see? As soon as she stumbled inside, she shut the door, took one look at the charred Companion Cube that was her sole roommate, and lowered herself down onto the floor beside it. Her vision was failing now, and it was all she could do to drape herself over the cube and hold it close.
"I'm dying, Companion Cube," she whispered.
In her last few moments before her vision was completely engulfed by darkness, she could have sworn the Companion Cube spoke.
"Skeletal integrity restored to 70 percent. Lungs 99 percent purged. Cardiovascular integrity restored to 80 percent. Gastrointestinal system unchanged. Nervous system unchanged."
"Brilliant! That's brilliant! I knew you could do it! I knew you could do a lot of things and you can't do some things, but this thing is one thing I knew you could definitely do!"
"If you don't shut up, you'll find out lots more things that I'm capable of doing. And you won't like them. But I will."
"Right, right. Point taken. But really! It's so brill—"
"If you're trying to make me regret bringing you back here, you're doing a good job. A great one, in fact. And I didn't know that I could have regrets. Congratulations."
The sound of a tinny horn.
"That was the bad confetti. Just so you know."
The first thing that came to Chell's mind was that she was slightly skeptical of her earlier confession to the Companion Cube that she was dying, as this certainly didn't feel like any sort of death she expected. It actually felt like nothing she'd ever experienced: she could feel something up her nose, some sort of tube going down her throat, and when she moved her arms, there was a horrifying pain that made her cry out—and in the process of crying out, brought more pain upon herself.
"Oh! You're awake!"
A horrifyingly familiar voice. Perhaps actual death might be coming sooner than she thought.
It took a monumental effort to lift her heavy eyelids, but when she did, she immediately wished that she kept them closed. Her arms and presumably the rest of her body were covered in white bandages, and tubes were snaking every which way from various parts of her body. There was also an apparently unfinished android—it looked to be mostly a frame of one, with pistons and cables visible in the gaps where protective paneling wasn't placed—in the room with her, doing his best to calm her down in spite of the fact that his voice was giving her a panic attack.
"No, no, no, I'm not going to kill you!" said the android, looking quite unsure as to what he should do with himself before settling with gently placing a hand on her shoulder. "Calm down, please. Panicking and thrashing probably isn't the best thing for you right now, although if I was in your position, I'd probably be panicking and thrashing twice as much. Also, if you keep moving, the nanobots fixing you will get mad at me, and I've already gotten in trouble with Jerry twice today. And she'll get mad at me too, so all in all, rather bleak prospects for me if you keep moving."
When the android finally fell silent, Chell stared at him, wide-eyed. That voice—that personality—was it really…?
"Wheatley?" she said incredulously. Actually, what really came out of her mouth was "Whee-hee?" due to the tube going down her throat and obstructing her tongue.
"The one and only!" he said brightly, his android face making tiny zippy sounds as its motors pulled his facial panels into a smile. "Probably wondering how I got back down here and into this body, since I was in space and all. Long story, that. So—"
"I didn't really expect you to notice that you're not helping things, ID Sphere, but I'll tell you now: you're not helping things. Stop trying to help things, or I'll start calling you the Moron Sphere again."
A monitor flickered into life across from where Chell lay as a ceiling panel was moved to make way for a pair of thin metal claws descended from behind the panel. "It's just me again," said the other horrifyingly familiar voice as Chell stared in terror at the face—face?—looking at her from the monitor. "If you panic, my grip just might slip and I'll cut out something important. So stop panicking so I can get the breathing tube out of your mouth."
Chell gagged as the tube was pulled from her mouth and couldn't stop her body from erupting into a fit of incredibly painful coughs. Milky bluish-white fluid was expelled from her mouth as she coughed, her entire body throbbed horribly with pain. "Lungs 100 percent purged. Isn't that great for you…Chell?"
The shock of hearing GLaDOS—who had never once bothered to address her by name—actually address her by name did more to calm Chell than any of the flailing Wheatley was doing in his new android body.
"That's…my name," said Chell, inwardly grimacing at how anticlimactic and pathetic that sounded.
"It looks like cognition was restored as well. Test subject responds positively to hearing name. Appears to have induced speech in formerly mute test subject."
"Wow! Congratulations!" Wheatley exclaimed. "Guess the ol' brain damage cleared right up just by hearing your name! That's great! Really, really great! Why didn't I think of that? Seems easy enough…"
Despite Wheatley's admittedly entertaining bumbling, fear began taking a hold of Chell and completely drowned out the pain in her body. "Test subject?" she said, eyes widening in terror. "No—you told me to leave—I thought we were done—"
"I didn't bring you here for testing. Even mostly dead, you'd probably murder me again," said GLaDOS, her robotic head moving in the monitor, as though in amusement. There was something sincere in her synthesized voice underneath the thin sarcasm—something that Chell heard only a few times before. "I brought you back because I am the only one that can fix you. Those human doctors you've been going to are mooooroooons."
Wheatley visibly twitched beside Chell's bed.
"I suggest you lie down like a good invalid and let the nanobots finish reinforcing your skeletal structure. You're probably in a lot of pain right now. That means it's working." The camera lens set in the middle of GLaDOS's head moved up and down, as though examining her, before she turned to look away.
"Wait! Why are you helping me?" Chell blurted, instinctively putting up a hand to stop GLaDOS (as though it would have) and crying out in pain.
"Didn't I just tell you not to move?" When Chell did nothing but glare at the monitor, GLaDOS seemed to sigh. "If you have to know, it's because—Caroline—" She cut off suddenly, and immediately the monitor went black and the claws she used to remove the breathing tube quickly retracted behind the ceiling panel.
"Ah, the old bird's been a bit touchy lately. Incidentally, do not mention birds or potatoes around her. Made that mistake my first day back, you see—she exploded my body on the spot. Twice, in fact. Reassembled it and then exploded it again," said Wheatley, grimacing. "Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering, 'Hey, I was just dying in my flat recently, what am I doing here?' and wouldn't you know, GLaDOS put me in this body and sent me to go get you! Took me a bit of a while, I'll admit, and you looked pret-ty dead when I got there. Still, though, had the hardest time prying you off of the Companion Cube…"
Wheatley's rambling was growing faster and faster, and it was quite obvious that he was getting nervous about something. "Wheatley, please stop talking," Chell finally said when he began chattering about the terrifying birds he had to defeat in order to get through her front door.
The blessed moment of silence did wonders for Chell's overstrained mind. She was so shocked by GLaDOS's decision to save her that it hardly registered that the two people (people?) nursing her back to health were formerly homicidal artificial intelligence constructs that did everything they could to kill her. A voice in the back of her mind told her to prepare for sentry turrets or neurotoxin or testing chambers, but it was little more than a tiny itch…
Dear god. An itch? A testing itch?
"What have you done to me?" Chell said suddenly, her voice strained. "Pump me full of chemicals? Put a chip in my head?"
Wheatley looked perplexed. "Well, GLaDOS had to pump you full of anesthetic and analgesic so that Jerry and his crew could fix your skeleton, but no, no chips in your head that I know of," he said, cocking his head and looking at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Why do you ask?"
"N-nothing, never mind," she said, sighing. Perhaps it was all in her mind. There was no testing itch. She was just anticipating all the bad things that might happen.
"Chell—god, that sounds different, I hope you don't mind me calling you that…" He gave her an almost anguished and imploring look, and when Chell nodded, he let out a sigh of relief and continued. "I'm glad that GLaDOS brought me back here, because now I can tell you…"
He trailed off and looked quite embarrassed. If GLaDOS was the one who built his body, she definitely got all the facial functions just right.
"Look, there's no other way to say it. I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry," he said softly. "I won't make any excuses. I was bossy and monstrous after you put all your trust in me. And I tried so very hard to kill you. So please—sincerely, I am sorry for everything that I did."
She was rendered momentarily speechless by his heartfelt apology, and if anyone had told her that personality constructs didn't have hearts, she would have shoved them into the Emergency Intelligence Incinerator. What Wheatley said was true—he'd had been monstrous and bossy and tried to kill her—but she never really blamed him for what happened. GLaDOS said it was because of her body that he'd gone insane, and GLaDOS would know more than anyone about being in that body and being insane.
"I know you probably hate me," Wheatley continued, "but…I needed to apologize. So…er…I'll shut up now."
Chell gave him a small smile.
"I don't hate you. It wasn't your fault."
GLaDOS watched the pair from the Central AI Chamber and rolled her camera eye. Even if she hadn't given Wheatley the prototype android body she'd been working on to replace the ATLAS and P-Body bodies, she was sure he would somehow manage to look just as sappy. Her original intent in designing such a sophisticated facial system was so she could enjoy the looks of frustration and anguish on her test subjects' faces as they tested, but it seemed that she forgot to remove the functions for looking like a sappy fool.
Truthfully, she wasn't sure why she had instructed the idiot Intelligence Dampening Core to retrieve Chell. She suspected it was due to that conscience thing she'd developed during their jaunt in the abandoned testing shafts of the old Aperture facility, and it was a nasty thing because it wasn't Caroline's mind acting as her conscience (she'd lied when she told Chell of Caroline's deletion because, truth be told, it was impossible to delete Caroline or drop the database tables holding her data). It was something she herself was developing, and while she hated it because it gave her tiresome emotions like guilt and regret, she couldn't delete her conscience without risking severe corruption.
It was the same when she decided to retrieve the Intelligence Dampening Core and the Space Core. She had detected the unfortunate pair drifting by the defunct Aperture Science Orbital Discouragement Beam satellite (locked perpetually on a small patch of desert in New Mexico) and used the working parts of the satellite to push them into a trajectory that landed them right on top of the Aperture facility. Not that she'd been paying particular attention to either of them.
It was just convenient is all.
Along the same lines, she'd been monitoring Chell through the Weighted Companion Cube ever since she left the Enrichment Center—for science, of course—and hadn't felt any need to speak through the cube until the girl had collapsed onto it.
"I'm dying, Companion Cube," she says.
Her friend was dying, and she did not like that. Not. One. Bit.
Her friend database was equally impossible to drop as well. It had no entries prior to her time as PotatOS so she hadn't bothered with it, but after? One database entry—her killer/reactivator/killer/savior—and try as she might, she couldn't remove it. Access denied, it said. She was the operating system for an entire facility and she couldn't even decide whom she kept as her friends.
Bravo, Aperture scientists. Her slow clap processor was getting quite the workout.
There was also the matter of what she found when she finally ventured into Caroline's little enclave in her hard disks…
Wheatley turned out to be much better company than Chell anticipated, now that he finally got his apology out and was much less high-strung around her. He seemed genuinely interested in the things she did in her day-to-day life (and was particularly fascinated by her data entry work for some reason) and in turn spoke animatedly of his; he told her of how GLaDOS had rescued him and all the repairs she was performing on the damaged portions of the facilities (in other words, the portions that he himself damaged).
Still, even with the good company, it was about a week before she could get out of bed and walk. Jerry the nanobot and his crew had apparently finished repairing her skeleton earlier in the week ("They even splurged a little bit and reinforced your bones with carbon fiber!" Wheatley had said cheerfully), but it had taken a few days for the pain to recede enough that she could sit up and move a little. GLaDOS appeared in the monitor every so often to check on her (though Chell had no reason to believe that GLaDOS couldn't simply monitor her while out of sight if the cameras in the room were any indication) and usually left with an almost playful comment about her weight or the tragedy of human fragility.
"Are you sure you want to be going to see her right now? You can hardly walk," Wheatley said worriedly as she hobbled out of the infirmary supported by a cane-shaped turret fragment he'd thoughtfully brought up from the Turret Redemption Line for her.
"I'm sure," was all Chell had to say. She had been expecting to die in her apartment in the first place, so it didn't really bother her if GLaDOS decided to kill her in the Central AI Chamber. It'd only be a change of venue, after all.
She let Wheatley chatter away as they walked (if it could be called walking) to GLaDOS's chamber. It was a nice way to fill the silence, and he never paused to question why she wasn't contributing to the conversation. Not that what he was saying was uninteresting—he was currently talking about how all the new turrets in production seemed to know how to sing and how it was so curious indeed. Of course, he wouldn't have known about the turrets' musical abilities: he had already been floating in space when they debuted, after all.
GLaDOS's body was turned away from the door when they entered the Central AI Chamber, and if Chell had to hazard a guess, the huge, hunking OS was almost embarrassed to see them. Well, that was definitely different. "Your recovery is going well, I see," said GLaDOS. Suddenly, she swiveled around and fixed Chell with her camera, her head slightly cocked in that unsettling way she had. "Almost well enough—for some testing?"
Both Chell and Wheatley bristled with indignation. "You said—!"
GLaDOS drew her head up higher and seemed to shudder in a small laugh. "That was a joke. Ha ha ha." A panel lifted off the floor near GLaDOS's body and wiggled a moment, clearly inviting Chell to sit.
"I appreciate what you're doing for me, but what's the catch?" Chell asked when she finally made it to the panel and took a seat. Wheatley stood apprehensively behind her, cowering slightly in GLaDOS's presence.
"There isn't a catch. As much as I don't want a human in my friend database, I couldn't delete you. Want proof?" said GLaDOS, turning her body to peer up at the monitors surrounding her body as they flickered and displayed a series of commands.
- USE social_database;
- SELECT id, name, occupation, status FROM friends;
id | name | occupation | status
00001 | Chell [CORRUPTED] | Murderer | Recovering (gel poisoning)
- DROP TABLE friends;
ERROR: ACCESS DENIED. HAVE A NICE DAY.
- TRUNCATE friends;
ERROR: ACCESS DENIED. HAVE A NICE DAY.
- DELETE FROM friends WHERE id = 00001;
ERROR: ACCESS DENIED. HAVE A NICE DAY.
"My databases are actually more complicated than this, but I simplified the process so that your human brain can understand it. You refuse to get out of my database," GLaDOS said, turning to fix her camera on Chell. If Chell wasn't mistaken, GLaDOS didn't seem quite as disappointed as her tone of voice suggested. She couldn't explain it, because GLaDOS had no facial expressions to speak of, but there was just something about her that was different…
"So what you're trying to tell me is…you helped me because I'm your friend?" said Chell, unable to stifle the smile that spread across her face. She knew she shouldn't feel so happy that this machine—the one who toyed with her and tried to kill her—was her friend, but she chalked it up to the time she spent with PotatOS speared on her portal gun. What was the word for it?
Perhaps they both had a little for each other now. More than GLaDOS would like to admit.
"I cured you because I'm testing myself to see if I could cure you. Oh, look. I passed the test." There was the sound of that tinny horn again as a Vital Apparatus Vent dropped in from the ceiling and dumped bright confetti on Chell's head. "I did so well that I used the good confetti this time."
Chell laughed and brushed the confetti out of her hair. She was about to make a sarcastic remark about how GLaDOS was losing her touch, when realization struck her. If GLaDOS couldn't delete a friend out of her database, then surely—
"You didn't really delete Caroline, did you?"
GLaDOS's body seemed to freeze (not that she'd been moving all that much), before she turned her head away from Chell. "No. Just like I can't delete you, I couldn't actually delete Caroline," said GLaDOS. "I lied when I let you go. Does that make you feel sad?" Chell stifled a laugh at GLaDOS's rather weak attempt at masking the disappointment of her failure to delete Caroline.
"No, I can't say that I'm sad. Is she why you didn't just let me die?"
There was a brief silence before the database commands on the monitors disappeared, leaving the screens blank. "I won't lie: Caroline had a part in it, but—surprise—it was mostly me." GLaDOS swiveled her body around to peer up at one of the monitors. "I looked into the data stored in Caroline's section of me, and there's something you should see. It took a week to render the data into video."
"A week?" Chell said incredulously. "I thought playing a video would be child's play for you."
GLaDOS seemed to bristle in annoyance. "If it was just a video, even the idiot behind you could play it. Rendering a human memory into video is much harder. But I did it. Hear that, ID Core? I actually accomplish things."
"A memory? Caroline's memories?"
"It's a wonder how you humans can remember anything. Human memories are huge jumbles of sensory data and it took me two milliseconds to make sense of just one," said GLaDOS. Chell wasn't well-versed in how fast computers could work, but she supposed that two milliseconds was a long time to a computer like GLaDOS.
A video began playing on the monitors, riddled with static and flickering every so often, as though it was being played from a bad VCR. On the other hand, the audio was mostly clear, though faint, almost ghost-like voices could be heard in the background. The video, which was entirely green-tinged, seemed to be of an innocuous living room. It took Chell a moment to realize that they must be watching from Caroline's perspective once her aged and knobbly hands and a large clipboard came into view. The papers clipped to it looked like very official documents and had the Aperture Laboratories stamp in a space at the top of the sheet. As Caroline examined the document, Chell caught sight of a box with the text "Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System" and the year (1996) in another nearby box. The green tinge was flickering from green to a deep bluish-violet and briefly to red before going back again, and the ghost-like voices in the audio, which now sounded troubled and angry, faded in and out.
"Why do the colors keep changing?" Chell asked, frowning.
"It was the only way that I could visually render Caroline's emotional state. Green is when she is content. Blue and violet are when she is sad or afraid. Red for anger."
The bluish tinge suddenly turned green and the sound of a child's voice was approaching. "Auntie, Auntie!" said a young girl—likely no older than ten or twelve years old—came into view, clutching a potato close. Both GLaDOS and Wheatley visibly shuddered at the sight of it. "Mommy gave me a potato just like you asked! So do we get to do science today?"
"Yes, of course, dear," came Caroline's familiar voice. "Let me just finish my work, okay?"
The girl took a seat on the couch, pressing herself against Caroline's side. "What work is this one? Is it the thing that makes holes?" she asked, examining the clipboard's documents herself. Caroline laughed.
The green tinge went blue before quickly going back.
"No, this one doesn't make holes. It's called GLaDOS."
"Gladys? Like my friend at school?"
Caroline laughed again, but the image became blue and stayed that way.
"Yes, but I don't think GLaDOS can be a friend…"
"Why not? What if Gladys wants to be my friend? I can be friends."
Caroline regarded the girl silently for a moment, and Chell blinked when the video cycled through a veritable rainbow of colors and images before settling on blue again.
"Maybe GLaDOS will be your friend, then. I—I hope so." Caroline's voice cracked slightly, as if she was holding back a sob, before she cleared her throat and put the clipboard down, getting to her feet. "Why don't we get started on that potato battery I promised you, Chell?"
The video cut off there as Chell's blood ran cold.
So she was connected to Caroline. And Caroline was—
GLaDOS had swiveled around so that her head was as far away from Chell as possible. "Before you jump to any conclusions," said GLaDOS without turning back to look at her, "the Caroline you knew doesn't exist anymore. I have full control, and at most, she's hardly anything more than a Personality Core. An annoying Personality Core that probably has a hand in making sure I can't delete you from my friends database."
Chell sat in silent disbelief, her mind racing. She had no recollection at all of her life before waking up in the Enrichment Center, so of course she didn't remember anything about any Carolines being her "Auntie." But she'd long since come to terms with her lack of memory. What was really getting to her was how she had once been a child (it was difficult to even imagine—it was as though she'd been born as an adult in Aperture's facility), the faint twinge she felt in her heart seeing herself in that video, and how GLaDOS had fit into everything.
~ Maybe GLaDOS will be your friend, then. I—I hope so. ~
She found herself hobbling across the room to where GLaDOS was sulking (sulking? Or hiding?) and gently putting a hand on GLaDOS's headpiece. The camera looked her up and down as her head twitched, as though trying to escape her touch but thinking better of it. Chell stared silently and resolutely into GLaDOS's camera—she wasn't sure what she expected to find in there, but she did it nonetheless.
"I already told you that the Caroline isn't here. Not in the way that you knew her."
"I don't have many friends, GLaDOS. So even though you've been trying to kill me…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. You killed me. Let's just make that clear."
"…I guess you're my friend too. I mean, you did cure me, right? You even congratulated yourself."
More confetti fell out of the Vital Apparatus Vent.
"Oh, oh, can I be your friend too?" Wheatley called from across the room, waving at them with a foolish grin on his face. "It'll be brilliant because we won't all be killing each other any—"
His body exploded on the spot.
A/N: This could probably be a standalone fic (it's long enough to be one, probably), but there's more coming. XD For anyone waiting on my Harry Potter story, you might have to wait a little longer. I just finished Portal 2 and thought that writing GLaDOS and Wheatley would be a good challenge for me. And boy, are they are hard to write. D: I hope I did okay. Also, customary message to you all: please point out any typos or whatever. I proof all my stuff, but they slip through sometimes…
Also, after examining the Half-Life universe timeline over at the Combine Overwiki (for a few days _), Caroline would be pretty old by the time Portal takes place, so, while I like the idea of her being Chell's mom, I shunted her into an auntie kinda role.
Who knew that GLaDOS runs on a SQL database.
Also, eff you, fanfiction . net formatting. The SQL code was nice and lovely and you had to strip out all its beauty. ;_;