Reconstructing Humanity

The Debt


GLaDOS had enough time to understand human emotions. This one was not her favorite. The new human test subjects could only keep her occupied for so long until it all became as numb as the euphoric solution. She watched each monitor, getting only slight amusement out of exploding limbs and grunts of horrific pain. She had enough test subjects to last her for years, and they did. In actuality, she had lost track of how much time had passed. Lately, her thoughts had been going back to that one special test subject.

The one that murdered her, brought her back, and essentially saved her. "What a contradiction." She said to her two little robot assistants. Blue and Orange (or ATLAS and P-Body as they designated themselves) looked up at GLaDOS like two children looking up at their mother. She was essentially their mother, but she didn't let them think of her that way. "This is enlightening, but nothing we don't already know. Blue, send some replacement turrets to the test chamber were subject 143-B exploded in." said GLaDOS, looking down at the stout, spherical robot. ATLAS saluted and went on his merry way. GLaDOS stared down at P-Body, who just blinked. "Orange, go send the clean-up bots to the chamber where 143-B exploded in. Make sure they get there before the turrets." P-Body saluted and chased after ATLAS. P-Body was quick to catch up to her companion.

"I may take up a hobby. Reanimating the dead, maybe."

GLaDOS remembered telling that to her favorite test subject after she accidently awakened her. It had been a while since she let that one go. What was her name again? Chell?

Yes, that was it.

"Chell…I wonder how far she got before the wild animals got to her." GLaDOS wondered to herself. She twisted about her chamber and focused on a monitor of the outside. For some reason, she felt compelled to have cameras installed outside the shed that actually disguised the elevator to the actual Aperture Science compound, deep below the surface. She hated people who got too curious for their own good. Luckily, she hadn't met anyone like that yet.

It was night outside. GLaDOS found it refreshing to see the night sky. Simulated daytime was mostly for the test subjects. She gazed at the monitor at the full moon. She remembered overhearing some test subjects talk about weird things happening during the full moon. Of course, that was before their escape attempt ended in a symphony of turret bullets.

"I really need to have those panels repaired." She mused to herself as the two dead test subjects were being dragged off by her little robot assistants.

"Just throw them with the others." is what she would say whenever she sent ATLAS and/or P-Body to clean up the test subject remains in a test chamber. This usually meant throwing them into the incinerator so they didn't stink up the facility. Luckily, she would just have to thaw out another one and soon everything would be back in its place. GLaDOS hated many things, but disorganization was up there at the top somewhere.

The night sky made something stir inside of GLaDOS. She wasn't sure what it was, so she couldn't very well delete it. It might be important. "I see why humans find the night sky so enticing. It's relaxing."

GLaDOS watched as her two little robots meandered back into her chamber. "Testing is going well…but there is something missing from my scientific files." She mentioned, as ATLAS and P-Body sat down on the steps at the back of her chamber. "Human interactions. I sometimes see the test subjects interacting with one another, but it's mostly them scheming on escape. It's not very informative, at least not in the way I want it to be."

GLaDOS sounded mournful. "So, I've had to keep interactions between test subjects to a minimum. How can I study human interaction if the only humans I have around keep trying to escape?"

Something on the monitor caught GLaDOS's eye. It looked like a meteor shower. "Oh, how lovely." She said, as the two little robots watched along with her. Something else about the night sky caught her attention. It was too small to be a meteor, but it didn't look threatening. Whatever it was, it crashed too close to the compound for GLaDOS's comfort. The compound shook a little; making the monitors she surrounded herself with flicker. Her sensors picked up something familiar. "Take the elevator to the surface and find out what that is." She commanded to the two robots.

They obeyed, waiting for the elevator to emerge from the floor. "Oh and here's a little reminder: if you stray farther than five miles from the shed, you will automatically explode. Just a happy little warning; no pressure. Good luck."

GLaDOS watched was the two went up the clear tube. "Hmm…maybe I should invent an implant that does the same to the test subjects…"

Emerging from the shed, ATLAS and P-Body surveyed the surrounding area. "Go toward that smoking hole over there." GLaDOS instructed through the communicator in their heads. "Make sure you aren't seen. I'm not sure if anyone will come out to see what that booming sound was that shook the field." She warned, as the robots made their way to the giant smoking crevice in the ground.

Something was sparking and flickering in the pit. ATLAS slid down the side and picked up the pieces of someone familiar. GLaDOS could see everything through their eyes on the monitor in front of her.

There, in ATLAS's arms, sat the remains of Wheatley, the Intelligence Dampening Sphere. "Well, well…look who decided to come home. Bring him in."

Despite being banged up badly, Wheatley's construct body wasn't completely destroyed. The fact that he hadn't completely melted upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere was amazing. With the two robots acting as nurses, GLaDOS had Wheatley repaired as best as they could.

"That is all we can do." She said, as the two robots looked upon their handy work. No longer resembling a core, but a mostly duct tape and guess work operation, Wheatley sat motionless. P-Body looked up at GLaDOS and chattered something in her own inaudible chirping. "Yes, Orange, he can be reactivated, but I don't have any spare cores to put him in."

ATLAS looked up and chattered in his own inaudible moans. "Why repair him? Sentimental reasons, I guess. I'm actually quite curious as to how he survived the crash without everything inside of him melting. It should be an interesting story."

P-Body chirped again. "No, I don't know what happened to the other cores. I can sense them on the management rails, but they are far out of my reach, somewhere here in the compound." GLaDOS looked among the remains of the personality construct. "Want to know something interesting?" she asked her robots as a metal claw picked up Wheatley's broken optical lens. "He used to be more than a round moron."

GLaDOS pulled up a specific monitor and a file came up. "Here it is. Before they uploaded her into me, they had to test the technology. Most of the personality constructs used to be people. Employees who had no idea what they signed up for, mostly. Of course, there are records of the company purchasing the rights to mental patients from asylums and other places as well. Who knows who most of them used to be?" The screen showed a picture of a young man with light brown hair and glasses in a blue shirt and black tie.

Name: Pendleton, Wheatley

Date of Birth: [REDACTED]

Place of Birth: Bristol, England

Height: 6 ft. 7 in.

Occupation: I.T. Technician Internship (Permanent Employment Pending)

Employee/Temp I.D.: 0247

Important Notes: Employee 0247 is a highly skilled I.T. worker, ranking fifth in his graduating class. Despite this, 0247 seems to misunderstand certain instructions. Notable lack of common sense and somewhat clumsy; will do best to keep him away from anything breakable/expensive. Tends to make very bad decisions; DO NOT SEEK SCIENTIFIC ADVICE FROM 0247 NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATION.

"I like how they glorified his stupidity." said GLaDOS as she read through the file. "My guess is he was a temp that thought he'd impress the higher ups by volunteering for this. Wow, the file wasn't lying about him being bad at making decisions." GLaDOS flipped the optic lens like a quarter and stared at the picture in the profile. "When the subjects were uploaded into the constructs, some of their memories were erased. From what I remember, his never came back."

It came to her.

"I have an idea…on how to get my research, and maybe get a few laughs as well." GLaDOS tossed the optic lens to the ground and changed the channel on the monitor to subjects in a different part of the stasis vault. "One of these vegetables must be his former body." She said, scanning the labels on the stasis doors. P-Body looked at ATLAS, who just shrugged. P-Body chirped a question to GLaDOS. "What am I doing? I'm bringing this idiot back to life, in the name of science."

"Let's see…ahh, here we go." GLaDOS murmured, as she internally requested the stasis pod in question.

Finally finding the one she was looking for, GLaDOS had the stasis pod containing the body transferred to her chamber. Lately, the two robots started to think of the stasis wing as GLaDOS's personal vending machine; when she was done with one subject, she'd press the button and get another.

P-Body looked up at GLaDOS as the stasis container stopped in the middle of the chamber. "Why am I doing this little idiot a favor and bringing him back to life?" she looked at P-Body and then back at the body. "I'm feeling a bit charitable today. Not too charitable, though. The way I see it, this little idiot owes me for what he did to the Enrichment Center."

ATLAS watched as the stasis container was drained of its fluids and wires from inside the pod attached to the subject's head. "I did say I wanted to learn how to reanimate the dead." GLaDOS told herself, as she hooked up bits and pieces to the wires coming from the stasis container. ATLAS looked up and chattered to GLaDOS. "You're right, Blue. He won't make much of a test subject. He'd probably get himself killed walking to the elevator. But I already have plans for him."

"Intelligence Dampening Personality Construct Back Online"

For some sick and twisted reason, she wanted him aware of what was about to happen. "Wha…what happened? Miss Lady? Is that you? I can't see…" Wheatley whimpered, as GLaDOS picked up his optic lens from the ground.

"It's shattered, but I want you to see Me." that voice terrified Wheatley. GLaDOS cruelly fitted the optic back into the remains of Wheatley's sphere. "Hello, Moron." She said, as more wires came from the ceiling. "I hope you are comfortable, not that it will matter in a few moments."

"Where am I?" he asked, trying to look around.

"You crash landed back on earth during a meteor shower. It was quite beautiful, until you ruined it." He could barely see, but Wheatley saw the two robots connecting wires and other things to him. "Strangest thing, though; I have an errand that needs to be done and you just happen to fall from the sky. Quite literally." GLaDOS chuckled, looking down. "But your current body is useless. You need something more, shall we say, 'functional'."

"Are you uploading me into another core?" Wheatley asked, trying not to show how terrified he was.

"Not quite. I found something better. As far as I can tell, you owe me quite a bit. You tore me out of my body, took over MY facility, and almost blew us up. You'll be paying your debt to me for a long, long, time."

P-Body attached some of the hanging wires onto Wheatley as GLaDOS glared at him. "Alright, Moron, the gist of it is this: you were once human, you are about to be human again, and you are going to entertain my curiosity."

GLaDOS watched with sick delight as Wheatley's optic fidgeted about. "Four part plan is this: I make you human again, and then I throw you to the proverbial and possibly literal wolves outside the compound. That's part one. Part two, I watch you stumble around to try and survive. Part three, some of my less lucky test subjects who had escaped and come back thinking they could heroically rescue the others speak of a city on the far side of the field the entrance to my facility is located in. You are going to go there and observe humans for my further study. Part four is actually optional."

"How optional?" asked the scared core.

"Part Four: You fail hilariously and I kill you." GLaDOS threatened as the final wire came down and was attached to Wheatley.

"I was once human?" he asked, as the wire forced itself into the remains of his core body.

"You ask too many questions. Why didn't you do that while you were here instead of almost destroying this place?" scolded GLaDOS.

"Subject to Core Transfer Reversal Procedure Will Be Ready in 30 Seconds"

"You don't have a choice. You can't move; you're mostly a duct taped pile of scrap right now. But protocol requires me to get your consent." said GLaDOS as the stasis container rose into an upright position. "Intelligence Dampening Core, otherwise known as Wheatley Pendleton, do you consent to the procedure?"

"Subject to Core Transfer Reversal Procedure Will Be Ready in 20 Seconds"

Wheatley's optic moved only a little bit. He tried to think, but knew it would do little good. His programming blocked a lot of his thoughts, more so than usual. He tried to think about being human, but nothing came through. He only remembered the basics that the engineers told him when he had first awoken all those years ago. "Well…" Wheatley looked around again.

"Just say yes, you moron!" shouted GLaDOS, as an electrical current shot through the wires. Wheatley screamed in (simulated) pain.

"YES!" shouted Wheatley.

"Subject to Core Transfer Reversal Procedure Will Be Ready in 10 Seconds"

"Umm…GLaDOS?" shouted Wheatley.

"What?" answered GLaDOS as her two robots scurried around to get everything ready.

"One more question before we start. Will this hurt? I believe that might be something important I should ask before…we begin." Wheatley chattered over the alarm sounds.

"Remember the pain you felt when you were first transferred into my body?" asked GLaDOS as a mechanical mumble started up around the room.

"Yes, I do. It was unpleasant, very unpleasant; I definitely did not like it." He said, watching GLaDOS twist around over him.

If GLaDOS could smile, she would. "You'll be begging for that comfort…"

The room went dark as Wheatley's painful screaming filled the air. ATLAS and P-Body watched and held each other close as wires and metal claws went every which way. Eventually, Wheatley went silent. Pieces of Wheatley were being thrown about. His optical lens rolled onto the floor and came to rest at P-Body's foot. She picked it up and chirped mournfully. She held it close as the procedure continued.

A Few Hours Later…

"Wake up, stupid." was not the first thing Wheatley wanted to hear when he came back online. This feeling, though, wasn't like coming back online. Usually that was instantaneous. This felt more like a slow, yet somewhat relaxing boot up. He heard beeping noises as he blinked. Odd, two metal plates didn't come down as he blinked. For some reason, he felt the urge to put a hand to his face.

Wait, he had hands? Well, inside his sphere he had two small arms for whenever the occasion called for. But the engineers told him he'd die if he overused them. Of course, they told him that about everything.

His vision was blurry and only slightly cleared up as he blinked. "I think my optical lens is broken." He murmured.

"It is, but you don't have an optical lens anymore. Well, not in the way you know it. Your file states that when you were human, you were horribly nearsighted. These might help." ATLAS walked up to the table and presented him with a pair of glasses. "I fished them out of the old test subject locker room."

GLaDOS had ATLAS place the glasses on Wheatley's face. ATLAS chattered something and Wheatley nodded. "Yes, much better, thank you." He said, as the robot scampered off.

"Oh good; you can still understand robots. That might come in handy." GLaDOS stared at Wheatley's new form and just made a "Tsk" noise while shaking her head (what would be considered her head, anyway). "So frail; I imagine you probably used to live in a dank apartment and played what humans call 'video games' all day." GLaDOS mocked.

"Now, move your arm." She commanded. For some reason, Wheatley found this easy to obey. "Good. Now the other." If GLaDOS could smile, she would. Feeling particularly proud of herself for the handy work she and the robots did, GLaDOS lifted the table to where it was upright. The straps came off. "Now, walk towards me…"

Wheatley wasn't sure why, but he found his particularly easy. It was a familiar as breathing, which he found easy as well. "I guess even you aren't stupid enough to forget basic human functions." GLaDOS mocked, as he stumbled around the chamber. "Of course, your muscles are practically jellied from all those years in a stasis tube. A little exercise will help that…speaking of which…guess what activities I have planned for you before I throw you out onto the surface?" GLaDOS cackled as an orange jumpsuit and a portal gun descended from the ceiling on metal claws.

A few hours later, Wheatley was returned to GLaDOS's chamber. A bit bloody, bruised, and roughed up, but otherwise alive. "Good, we know you can feel pain." She said, as a metal claw holding a cardboard box fell some the ceiling.

"I could feel pain before! What was the point of having me run through all those bloody chambers?" he shouted, as P-Body brought the box to him.

"Mostly my amusement." said GLaDOS, as Wheatley accepted the box from P-Body. "I have a special mission for you while you are on the surface. If you want to pay your debt back to me sooner, you will find her…"

"Her who?" asked Wheatley, pulling some casual clothing from the box.

"YOU KNOW WHO!" shouted GLaDOS, as the chamber shook. "Find her, and bring her back. Do this on your own leisure time. Your main mission is to gather information on human social interactions. I implanted a device in your head that allows me to see through your eyes and record all data. It also allows me to communicate with you should you do something to screw up, which is very likely."

Wheatley pulled out the articles in box. "Everything you need is in that box. Try not to lose it. Please ignore the smell of burnt flesh on the clothing." Wheatley had no idea how old the clothing was, as it smelt like mildew and burnt flesh. He got dressed quickly, though it took a bit of figuring out, as the jumpsuit was simple zip-up. The shirt had buttons and the pants had a zipper and the boots had laces. "Oh, everything has something! This is so frustrating. All this, what is it all for?" he asked.

"It's to keep you from going around naked, which apparently is frowned upon in human society. One of your missions could be to find out why." GLaDOS made the elevator descend. "But how you do this mission is up to you. I will give you guidance as best I can through the implant."

ATLAS and P-Body helped him finish dressing. How two naked robots knew so much about how to put on clothes made GLaDOS wonder what those two did in their spare time? The outfit was simple, and looked like the outfit he wore in the employee profile picture. Blue button up shirt, black tie, and black slacks with black boots. "There is a brush in that box. I suggest you use it." said GLaDOS, as the elevator doors closed. "And that belt in there was for your pants. To keep them up, I assume, as they seem to be struggling to hang on to your pathetic frame."

Wheatley found the belt and after some instruction from the robots, finally got it on right. "Say good-bye you two. He won't be back for a long time. Remember; find her and your debt will be paid in full. Don't, and when and if you come back, bad things will happen. I don't think I need to mention them. Good luck, Moron. You're going to need it."

ATLAS and P-Body waved as the elevator went up. It went pretty fast, which made him dizzy. Eventually it stopped and the shaft door opened. He felt himself being pushed out by a force of air and heard the doors slam behind him. It was somewhat dark outside, but he saw a faint light in the distance.

"Don't panic, Moron. The voice you hear in your head is just me." said the implant in the back of his head. Wheatley screamed softly and started scratching at the back of his head. "I said don't panic." GLaDOS sighed as Wheatley regained composure.

The light in the distance got brighter. "I think something is coming this way." He shouted, squinting his eyes.

"It's the sun, doofus. It's what brings the daytime. It's been a while, so I'll explain. Day is when everything is bright and the humans are awake. Night is when everything is dark and the humans sleep." GLaDOS sounded like she was explaining this to a child.

"Sounds…logical." said Wheatley, as he held his box close. Wheatley looked up and saw grey storm clouds as the morning became brighter. "What are those?" he asked.

GLaDOS sighed through his implant. "Clouds. Water vapor trapped in the sky, so to speak. Those look ominous. I think a storm is coming."

"Water?" Wheatley sounded panicked and looked around for shelter. "I can't get wet or I'll die!" he shouted, trying to open the shed door again.

"Stop panicking, Moron. You're not a machine anymore. You won't short out. You might get a really bad cold though." said the implant. "I suggest you start walking."

Wheatley did as he was told and started walking through the wheat field. He had no idea what to do, but he had to figure it out. He didn't remember being human, but he somehow knew how to talk, breath, and move. He wondered if he did find her. What would she do? He didn't know, but he did know he apparently had a debt to repay, and GLaDOS was someone you didn't want to owe anything to.

Grasping his box tightly, Wheatley walked toward the horizon, unaware of the personal journey he was about to embark on.

N'cha you guys! Luna Peachie here!

You all might know me from my "Reaver's Servants" fic over in the Fable area. Well, lately I've been on a bit of a Portal kick and while writing one of my other fics, I found myself unable to concentrate. So, to relax a bit, I decided to write this. It was only a concept but eventually I kept writing more and more, and then it turned into the first chapter of my new Portal fic! Awesome, am I right?

Personally, I didn't think Wheatley was a HUGE moron in the game, just kind of doofy. It was mostly common sense he lacked, which in the long run, does play a big part in the decision making process. When you have no idea how to do something, and you just guess, things sometimes don't turn out well. Of course, his programming probably blocked out any common sense that might have tried to seep through. Ahh, I love theories. Well, anyway, you won't start seeing him mess up until the next chapter, as I like to get introductions out of the way.

Well, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, my friends and don't forget to review and tell me how I did. I enjoy criticism but prefer positive. Just let me know how it went, and maybe I'll continue it. In the meantime, check out my other fics for your bibliophilic pleasure.

GLaDOS, Wheatley, ATLAS and P-Body belong to Valve.