So I recently got into the Portal series… and I LOVE it! I thoroughly enjoyed both Portal 1 and 2, and then, like the typical fangirl I am, got to thinking… how amusing would it be if Isaac Clarke managed to get his hands on a Portal Gun? And once I had that image in my head, well… I knew I had to write this. Enjoy!
I do not own Dead Space or any of its great characters… and, of course, nothing pertaining to Portal, either.
Thinking with Portals
"Isaac… you're doing it again."
"Huh…?" Isaac Clarke looked up from the glass display case he'd been curiously peering into, blinking in surprise. He hadn't even noticed that Ellie'd been trying to talk to him, he'd been so wrapped up in reading the labels on the case's contents. "Oh, right… sorry."
Ellie sighed, rolling her eyes. This was pretty much how it'd been going for the past ten minutes; the three of them had finally managed to get their little group back together again, just her, Isaac, and Stross, the three unlikely survivors… and now, instead of focusing on getting off of the Sprawl alive and in one piece like he'd apparently been when they'd first met, she was forced to stop and wait for Isaac as he continually paused every few steps to read the little plaques and labels attached to all of the displays. Well, she supposed she'd sort of brought it on herself – she should've known better than to try dragging a nerd through some museum-looking area with all sorts of old weapons and tools on display and expecting to get out quickly. Of course it would have to be the fastest way to their next destination…
Isaac, on the other hand, was drifting around in his own little world. He knew well enough that he should be focused on the whole "not dying" thing right now, but this place… it was cool. Even as a child, he'd always found this mechanical kind of stuff interesting, particularly all of the neat old tools he'd never seen up close before… he just couldn't help but stop and get a better look, now that he had the chance. (Never mind that they happened to be stuck in the middle of a life-or-death situation!) It wasn't often that he'd had the opportunity to visit museums or whatever… he was like a kid in a candy store in here. A poorly-lit, shattered glass-filled, blood and gore-soaked candy store. (Not to mention all of the mangled corpses… the necromorphs had a tendency to leave those behind.)
Ellie leaned up against a wall, scowling at Isaac as he continued to dawdle behind them, wandering over to examine a display containing some vintage engineering suit with interest. "Isaac, you haven't forgotten that we're kind of… y'know, trying not to die right now, have you…?"
"Of course not…" Isaac mumbled, half-distracted by the vintage suit's plaque. "But relax, will you, Ellie? I mean, I don't see any necromorphs around right now… do you?" He motioned to the darkened room around them, completely empty save for himself, Ellie, and Stross.
She rolled her eyes a second time, brushing a loose strand of hair out of her face. "No, I don't... but that doesn't mean you can just... just putz around like you're on some school field trip or something! We could DIE in this shithole! Or would you rather we just stand around in here and wait for Tiedemann or one of those… those things to find u-"
"Yeah, yeah, I get it, alright?" Isaac interrupted her irritably. "Jeez, can't even have a little bit of fun while things are calmed down… I'm an engineer, what did you expect? Just… keep walking, okay? You know I'm right behind you." He turned and walked over to another case, broken and rectangular, showing off what appeared to be several older models of the Plasma Cutter. He lifted one out, turning it over in his hands, admiring the sturdy craftsmanship of the tool. "Huh, quite a bit heavier than the newer models… probably a different material composition… that's interesting…"
Ellie didn't exactly feel like sticking around and watching Isaac babble to himself about tools or whatever it was engineers babbled to themselves about. She threw up her hands in frustration and turned to continue on down the hallway leading out of the little museum area. "Fine, then, you know what? If we get to the tram and your ass isn't right there behind us, we're just gonna leave without you. Hope you have fun with your tools and your necro-whatevers when you end up walking! C'mon, Stross, let's go…" She nudged his shoulder to try and get him moving, and Stross reluctantly glanced from her to Isaac and back again, nervous and unsure of which one of them he should be taking orders from.
"Oh, for God's sake, no need to get a stick up your ass about it, I'm coming…" Isaac grumbled, setting the older Plasma Cutter back down in its case. (He'd been somewhat tempted for a moment to take it with him, just in case he'd wind up possibly needing an extra… and, well, just because it looked cool… but, knowing his luck, it probably wouldn't even use the same kind of Plasma Energy cartridge as the newer models… would the Cutter itself even still work?) He started moving down the hallway after his two partners… when something caught his eye.
He wasn't quite sure what exactly it was about the thing that had drawn his attention so quickly – anybody else would probably have just walked right on by it without a second glance. Maybe it was the way the single dim light in the shattered case just so happened to catch it, almost like it wanted to be noticed… but it was more likely than not just the generally strange appearance of the object itself that'd made him pause. Isaac's brow furrowed, and he found himself slowly approaching the case for a closer look, oblivious to the fact that his friends were still walking away without him.
It was fairly large… big enough that you'd probably have to hold it with both hands, though at this angle it didn't even look like it had an actual handle… just some rounded end-piece that appeared to be made of some kind of metal, once white but now chipped and smudged with age. A clear tube formed the barrel of the weapon, ending in dark steel and another white piece at the opening. Three steel prongs surrounded that end of the barrel, each with its own wire attached to the end-piece… he had no idea what those would be useful for… hell, the whole damn thing was just… weird. He'd never seen anything like it before… not in a book, online, anywhere… he looked around for a label that could tell him what exactly the weapon (or tool) was supposed to be, but he couldn't find one...
"ISAAC!" He jumped, looking up from the weapon; Ellie was glaring daggers at him from the end of the hallway, Stross peeking out from behind her. "Goddammit, weren't you listening to me? I swear to God, it's like I'm trying to watch a five-year-old... listen, if you wanna stay here with your little toys and die, that's fine, just say so, but don't put our lives in danger by making us wait for yo-"
"Hey, Ellie… look at this thing." Isaac interrupted, as if she hadn't even been saying anything. He lifted the gun out of its case, giving it a quick examination… hey, it did have a handle… it'd just been hidden underneath that rounded white piece on the back. The gun itself was considerably lighter than he'd expected, despite its obvious age and large size… he continued to look it over with interest as he wandered down the hallway towards Ellie. "Ever seen anything like it?"
Ellie sighed with irritation, walking back up the hall towards him to get a look at his latest find. "No, I haven't… what is it, some kind of gun? A tool? Neither…?"
"Wish I could tell you…" Isaac replied, turning it around in his hands. He noticed something stamped onto the side of the white piece, some small word… it looked like a logo, of some sort. He held it closer to his face, trying to read it in the poor lighting…
"…Aperture…?" he mumbled curiously, more to himself than to Ellie. It looked like there'd once been another word underneath that, in smaller print, but it'd since been worn away by dirt and time and was now unreadable. "What's that, a brand? Ever heard of it?"
"No…" Ellie bit her lip, looking down at the weapon. She had no idea at all what it was, and frankly, she didn't really care. All she wanted right now was to get to the tram station alive and intact, not stand here looking at some crappy old gun while those… those creatures skulked about, fully capable of appearing at any moment and disemboweling the three of them because they'd just been too busy with this stupid thing to pay any attention. "But really, who cares, Isaac? Just… go put the damn thing back where you found it. We don't have time to stand around playing guessing games."
"What? No way!" Isaac exclaimed. He hugged the gun a little closer to his chest, in an almost comically protective fashion. "I mean, c'mon, Ellie… neither one of us has ever seen anything like this before, and we have absolutely no idea what it does. Think of the possibilities! It could be rare, or powerful… or, hey, both!" He grinned broadly, as if that would emphasize his point.
Ellie scowled up at him, not at all impressed. He just continued to grin, holding that strange gun of his. For God's sake, he looked like a little kid waking up on Christmas morning. Of course. Because he's a nerd. "Or, y'know, it could be a total piece of SHIT!" she retorted. "Let's be realistic here, Isaac, just look at the fucking thing… it's ancient! It probably hasn't worked in years… many, many years. So do us all a favor and just go put it back. There's no use carrying around some useless weapon. It's just a dead weight."
"Hey, we don't know that yet…!" Isaac said defensively. "It could still work… I'm sure it hasn't been tampered with too much since they found it, right? Maybe I could get it to turn on…" He turned the gun sideways, searching for a button, a switch, anything that might get the thing to power up… at first, he couldn't find anything, but then, he noticed two small triggers near the top of the handle, beneath the white piece. He wondered for a moment why the gun would need two triggers, but decided not to give it much thought… probably just another setting or something. "Ah, there we go… let's see what this baby can do…"
He thumbed the right-hand trigger… but nothing happened. Isaac's grin faded slightly, and he pressed down on it again. Still no response. He tried the same thing with the other trigger, and then again on the first one, but the gun remained just as dull and still as ever. Maybe the wires had something to do with it…? He tweaked them a little bit and then tried thumbing the triggers again, but, of course, there was no reaction from the device.
Ellie's eyebrows shot up in a display of mock-surprise. "Oh, wow!" she said in a falsely awestruck tone. "That's reaaally cool, Isaac! I'm astounded…!"
Isaac gave her a dirty look. "Oh, shut up. It was worth a try, wasn't i-?" He was startled into silence as the gun in his hands suddenly sputtered into life, the clear tube that formed the barrel glowing a soft blue.
Ellie's eyebrows shot up again, but this time, there was nothing fake about her surprise. "Jesus…"
Isaac's grin had returned, and he brandished the gun triumphantly. "See, what'd I tell you? It probably just needed a minute or two to warm up, that's all…" He held the gun up and aimed it at the wall where the hallway veered off to the right. Stross, who'd been uneasily watching the two argue from that particular spot, quickly ducked out of the way, peeking out from behind the corner.
"Isaac, take it easy with that thing…" Ellie cautioned, giving the weapon a wary look. "We still have no idea what it does… it could be dangerous. And a gun that old, well… it could malfunction and explode or something…"
"Relax, Ellie…" he replied, continuing to aim the gun. He was actually enjoying the light-but-solid feel to the whole unit. "I'm an engineer, remember? I've been trained to handle all sorts of dangerous equipment. I'm preeetty sure that one old gun isn't gonna give me all that much trouble… even if it's not safe, believe me, I didn't really intend to just fire off a shot at Stross. Besides, the thing's probably not even loade-"
Well, irony really couldn't have picked a better moment than right then to present itself; Isaac must've pressed down on the left-hand trigger just a tad harder than he'd meant to, resulting in a sudden flash of light and what appeared to be a blue ball of energy bursting out of the end of the barrel, firing off down the hallway. It even nearly grazed Stross' face, making him yelp and jump backwards with fear and surprise. The energy ball finally hit the wall at the bend in the corridor, where, instead of simply dissolving into nothing, it formed into a large, vertical ellipse of shimmering blue light.
Isaac was so shocked, he nearly dropped the gun. "Uh… oops."
"Oops? OOPS?" Ellie shouted, her jaw dropped in horror. "Isaac, what the fuck did you do? You nearly killed Stross, for Christ's sake!"
"Ellie, goddammit, keep your voice down!" Isaac said in a hushed tone. He didn't want her yelling to attract the attention of necromorphs… "I-I didn't think it would still be loaded, okay? It was an accident! My finger slipped, relax!" He shook his head and held up the weapon, giving it a perplexed look. To his surprise, the light in the barrel had changed colors from blue to a dull orange. "It is kind of weird that they'd leave some old display gun loaded… but look, I guess it's out of ammo now, see? It turned orange…"
"Still, Isaac!" she continued, not really bothering to lower her tone. She motioned towards the strange blue ellipse at the end of the hallway, which Stross was now curiously examining. "We have no idea what the hell that even just did! You could've just… I dunno, fucked up the space-time continuum or something!" (Okay, perhaps that'd come out sounding a bit more childish and dramatic than she'd meant it to… but still.)
Isaac rolled his eyes. "Oh, for God's sake, don't be ridiculous. Look, it's not even doing anything..." Which, of course, he found kind of odd… if the gun apparently wasn't intended to shoot compressed energy or detonating mines like an actual weapon, then what the hell was it supposed to do? Create… blue ellipses? "Weird… not sure what the point of that is… maybe it's more of a tool than a weapon…? And Stross, don't touch it! You don't know what that is!" Stross jumped and pulled his hand away from the shimmering energy, giving Isaac a reproachful look.
"Well, I'm not interested in finding out! C'mon, Isaac, just please, go put it back. You have no idea what you're messing with right there. And hey, you said it yourself, it's out of ammo." She stood in front of him, glaring and crossing her arms. She wasn't going to budge until he turned around and put that stupid thing back where he found it.
"Hey, we don't even know for sure if it actually uses ammunition…" Isaac mumbled, his eyes on the gun. "I kind of wanna hold on to it, y'know? I mean, I could take it apart after we escape… figure out how it works, what it does…"
"But what's the point if it doesn't even have any ammo left?" Ellie snorted with exasperation. "They probably haven't manufactured any ammunition for that thing in centuries! It's useless dead weight! Put it back!"
"…No." Isaac held the gun up with a flourish, and smirked. Even though it was a completely inappropriate time for it, it sure was fun seeing Ellie get all riled up over nothing. "I like it, and I'm keeping it. That's that."
That about did it for Ellie. She wasn't about to put her life on the line just because Isaac wanted to waste their time lugging around some bizarre old gun that very well could be a complete hazard to everything around it! "Okay, that's it, that's it! Give me the gun, Isaac!" She made a grab for the gun, trying to pull it out of Isaac's hands.
"HEY!" Isaac shouted angrily, trying to pull the gun out of reach, but damn, that woman had an iron grip. "Cut the shit, Ellie! Let go! Why do you even care so much, anyway…?" He continued trying to yank it away, and now the two of them were involved in a ridiculous game of tug-of-war over some old gun like a couple of gigantic children fighting over a toy.
"I… won't… let… you… drag… us… DOWN…!" Ellie hissed through gritted teeth, pulling back hard. Stross anxiously watched his two companions grapple over the gun, biting his lip and wringing his hands. Ordinarily, he probably would've tried to break it up, but… well, a man suffering from dementia seldom makes for a good referee. "Guys…?" he asked awkwardly, but was promptly ignored.
"I'm… not… dragging… ANYBODY down!" shouted Isaac, tugging back as hard as he could, with enough force to finally tear the gun out of Ellie's grasp. His hand flew upwards, and accidentally squeezed the right-hand trigger – making a now-orange ball of energy fire out of the barrel and hit the ceiling above them, creating a rippling ellipse of orange across it. They both stared up at it quickly, mouths agape, before turning their attention back to each other.
"GodDAMMIT, woman!" Isaac yelled. "Look, you made me do it again! What if I'd accidentally shot you in the face with the thing, huh? What would've happened then?"
"Oh, yeah, right, because it's totally all MY fault!" Ellie shot right back. "We wouldn't even be having this problem right now if you'd just gone and put the fucking thing back like I'd asked you to! We'd be on the tram, on our way to getting off of this station alive! You shouldn't even be looting a museum in the first place, much less then lugging around some random old gun that may or may not blow our fucking heads off at any moment! Hey, here's an idea, go loot a store that sells shit that'd actually be useful to us!"
"I'm not looting anything!" Isaac retorted, even though he knew that technically, he was. "In case you haven't noticed, necromorphs are kind of everywhere right now! I'd say that the laws on this station really no longer apply. It's every man for themselves!" He threw up his arms. "If I wanna take the gun, then so be it! It's not like I'm asking you to carry it! If I accidentally blow myself up or something, then, well, I guess I can't say you didn't warn me!"
Great. Not only was he now in a bad mood, but somebody kept poking him on the top of the head, apparently trying to get his attention. It was annoying… didn't take long to figure out who it was. "Hey, Isaac…?
"Not now, Stross…" Isaac grumbled. He reached back to brush his hand away, but stopped short when he realized there was something kind of… off here – how the hell had Stross gotten behind him?
He gave Ellie a confused look, but she wasn't even paying attention to him; her eyes were wide, fixated on something just above his head. Even in the poor lighting, he could tell that she'd gone a little pale.
"What's wrong…?" he asked, his voice sounding a bit more unnerved than he'd wanted it to. He looked up, half-expecting to see some horrible , festering necromorph monstrosity clinging to the ceiling, leering down at him with those blank, hungry eyes – but nope. It was Stross… waving at him through an orange-rimmed elliptical hole… the one he'd accidentally created just minutes before. "Uh… hi, Isaac."
It was… bewildering, to say the least. "What… the… FUCK…?" Isaac choked out. "How…?" He looked past Ellie, at the blue ellipse that'd been rippling on the wall just moments before… only it was no longer rippling. It'd formed into a huge hole, the blue wisps of energy now confined to the edges, and Stross was leaning through the hole… looking down at them. He could see the tops of both his and Ellie's heads right through it.
Ellie continued to stare up at Stross through the other hole in the ceiling, completely dumbstruck. "Jesus Christ… what the hell did we do…?"
Isaac's mind was racing, his eyes jumping from the gun still clutched in his right hand to the two holes, and back again. There could be only one logical answer for this, as crazy as it sounded… "Oh my God, Ellie… that's it. That's what it does. It creates… it creates portals."
"Portals?" She could hardly believe her eyes. She'd never even heard of such technology, much less ever expected to see it. She slowly started to approach the blue portal, which Stross was still poking his head into. "How… how's that even possible? I didn't even think we had technology that advanced today… never would've guessed it was possible centuries ago…"
"You and me both…" said Isaac, following her over to the portal. He'd been pretty sure that nothing would be able to surprise him anymore… well, guess he'd been proven wrong. A part of him still wondered how he'd never read anything about weaponry like this before… well, that was one thing they'd neglected to teach him about in college…
Ellie stood back a bit from the portal, warily examining the swirling blue energy forming along the edges. It didn't seem to be harmful, seeing as Stross was touching it, but still… she'd rather not take her chances with radiation or whatever the hell it could be. "Well, they don't exactly seem deadly… I guess it was meant to be a tool at some point. Awfully strange function for a tool, though…"
The engineer shrugged. "Well, I guess it could've been used to… well, uh… transport objects between work sites quickly… more efficient, y'know…?" That was the only real idea he could come up with for the thing, anyway. He leaned in next to Stross, looking through the portal. Sure enough, they were both hanging out of the ceiling, looking down at the floor. Ellie looked back at the orange portal, repressing the urge to shudder. Seeing both of them right in front of her, and then seeing them looking at her from behind, too… it was bizarre.
She stood up on her toes, trying to see over the two men's backs. "I assume you can… maybe, uh... move the portals somehow after you've shot them... right? Do you just… shoot someplace else, or…?"
"I dunno… but hey, let's find out. Move, Stross…" Isaac backed out of the blue portal, pulling Stross along with him. He didn't care to find out what might happen if you closed a portal on someone while they were caught inside it… a quick vision of Stross being sliced in half by a disappearing portal passed through his mind, and he grimaced. Not particularly pleasant.
He turned and aimed the gun carefully at a point just a few feet away from them in the ceiling. The barrel was glowing orange… he assumed that meant that it was set to shoot an orange portal. (Well, at least he knew now why the thing had two triggers… one for orange portals, the other for blue portals.) He fired, and another orange ball of light shot out, hitting the ceiling and causing the first orange portal he'd created to disappear, reforming closer where the new light ball had struck.
He looked back through the blue portal; to his surprise, it hadn't closed at all, but the view through it had certainly changed; now they were looking at the patch of blood-spattered flooring underneath the new orange portal, with their bodies just barely visible past its edge.
"Well, there's your answer, Ellie…" said Isaac, hanging back into the blue portal with interest. "I'm starting to think that this thing might not even utilize ammunition at all… that's really interesting… really…"
With Isaac's back turned like that, muttering to himself and not paying attention… Ellie had a sudden idea. It was mean, sure, but there was no way she could pass something like this up. He'd get over it. She smirked, running forward and shoving Isaac's back with as much force as she could. The engineer shouted with surprise as he felt himself lose his balance, falling head-first straight through the blue portal and landing with a thud behind them as he fell from the orange portal in the ceiling.
"Ellie, you BITCH!" Isaac shouted. He sat up and rubbed his shoulder, glaring daggers at her. "What the hell was that for? Jesus, you could've broken my neck!"
Ellie was far too busy laughing to respond, doubled over with her hands on her knees. Even the corners of Stross' mouth were twitching as he struggled to hide his own amusement. "Consider that payback for wasting so much of our time." Ellie gasped, wiping a tear out of her eye. "Now, what've we learned about lowering our guard…?"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever…" Isaac grumbled sourly, getting to his feet. He gave the Portal Gun a quick look-over, making sure it hadn't been damaged because of Ellie's stupid little prank, but thankfully, it seemed unharmed. "Well… did I convince you that this thing actually is useful or what?"
Ellie bit her lip thoughtfully and crossed her arms, letting her gaze fall on the gun… she'd always hated admitting she was wrong (really, REALLY hated it), but the odd tool had proven itself to be a bit more than just some old piece of museum fodder… "…Yeah, I guess so. You're right, and I'm wrong." She rolled her eyes. "Go ahead and gloat."
Isaac smiled widely like the victorious nerd he was, playfully brandishing his new, hard-won toy. He wasn't really the type to gloat openly. "Haha, great! That's settled, then. I'm taking it with us." He ran a finger along the worn white metal, over the "Aperture" logo. "There's gotta be some way I can use this thing to our advantage…" Indeed, his tired brain had already begun to calculate all of the ways he could possibly utilize the portals to take down legions of necromorphs... this was gonna be fun.
"Whatever, just make sure it doesn't slow us up again…" Ellie muttered. She eyed the two portals Isaac had created, the blue one in the wall behind them and the orange one still up on the ceiling, each casting a vivid, elliptical shape of color in the heavily-shadowed hallway. "Sooo… is there a way to close these things up, or do we just… leave them here…?"
"I'm not sure…" Isaac said, examining the Portal Gun… not that it'd give him any hints. "I guess there's no real way to… I suppose these ones will just close by themselves when the gun's used again… y'know, like how the first orange portal closed up when I made a second one…"
Ellie fidgeted… she was a little uncomfortable just leaving these things open all over the place, but… they didn't seem to be dangerous… and there was no point making a fuss over a side-effect that couldn't really be helped… unless that side-effect started letting their… undead company into places they didn't want them to go… (Hell, maybe that was the reason it'd wound up in a museum in the first place… the designers had kind of overlooked the whole "portal-closing" function.) "Well, alright then, if you're sure… let's just get our asses in gear, okay? We've hung around here waaay too long. We've got a tram to catch…"
A faint roar echoed off in the distance, causing all three of them to immediately jerk into alertness. Ellie's hand flew to the handle of the Plasma Cutter hooked onto her belt, and Isaac found himself squeezing the handle of the Portal Gun so tightly out of instinctual fear that he could faintly hear the plastic creaking beneath his tightened fingers.
"…It's them… they're coming back…" Stross whimpered hoarsely, wringing his hands again.
"Relax, Stross…" Isaac whispered. Leave it to a pack of ravenous necromorphs to bring them all crashing back down into the harsh reality of their situation. "Yeah, Ellie's right… it's time to get moving. Before Tiedemann catches onto us… or worse."
Ellie didn't have to ask what he meant by "worse". "Finally! You're actually listening to the sense I'm talking! Good for you, then!" Holding her Plasma Cutter at the ready, she started off at a brisk pace down the adjacent corridor, hardly bothering to wait for them. "Both of you! Asses moving! Now!" Stross looked at Isaac, only offering him a meek little shrug before scuttling off after Ellie.
"Alright, alright, I'm coming… jeez, woman, you and your sarcasm…" Isaac sighed, shaking his head. But the Portal Gun in his right hand caught the soft lighting cast by both the blue and orange portals it'd created, making the white piece gleam, and, for a moment, anyway, it looked as sleek and new as it probably had when it was first made, hundreds of years ago.
Isaac grinned at his exotic new tool, so unique and different in his eyes, despite its obvious age. With a whirring click, the helmet of his Engineering Suit reassembled itself back over his face, and he trotted off into the darkness after his two companions, leaving all evidence of their handiwork behind him. Even though they were trapped in one hell of a life-or-death struggle, dementia, necromorphs, EarthGov, the whole nine yards… he wasn't feeling all that bad, now that he had a bit of a surprise added to his meager arsenal. Something was telling him that he and that Portal Gun were gonna have a looot of fun together… especially when it came to dodging pissed-off necromorphs.
Thank yooou, Aperture… he thought to himself. Whatever you are.
…Did you guys know that it's OUTRAGEOUSLY fun to write out Ellie and Isaac bitching at each other? Didn't think it'd be too out-of-character for the two of them to butt heads over some things, hahaha… and even if it IS, well, this WAS meant to be a pretty humorous fanfic~ (For that matter, it's actually probably a bit of a stretch for a gun apparently HUNDREDS of years old to still be in decent working condition, but hey, I guess that's why we call it fanFICTION.)
Sorry if this really isn't my best work, I wasn't working from a rough draft this time around… totally just hit the ground running. As usual, any reviews would be appreciated!