"Speeding Bullet"

By Sparky16

AN: Writing Power Struggle was just getting to damn depressing! XD So I'm throwing this in the ring to be more uplifting, because gosh darn it, we need happy! I've made more passes at editing this to but I know there are still things I've missed. Also took care on an inconsistently I found. Enjoy!

ETA: The title seems to be doing something funky, it has to do with the website though. I've already tried to fix it, even went into the html but could find nothing out of place, so I'm sorry about that.

"All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney


She remembered it as though it were yesterday.

She had had a home, a 'family', and a purpose. She was a turret. Manufactured by Aperture Science and one of the few that were ever bought and sold to the public. She remembered her home quiet fondly. They were a wealthy family and the husband had gifted her as a birthday present for his son. She'd never forget.

"Happy Birthday, Son!" the Father said proudly. She remembered hearing the wrapping paper being torn away and the squeal of the little boy in delight, followed by the scream of the mother and a few others in horror.

"Fredric!" the older woman had yelled, "are you out of your mind?"

"Now just relax, Talia" another voice had cut in.

"No, Cave! I will NOT relax! What were you boys thinking? Getting your nephew a Turret of all things!" The mother screamed. Meanwhile, as the adults argued, the little boy had been busy unpacking his present. She remembered little hands grabbing her and pulling her out of the box. She unfolded her legs and activated her sleeping systems the moment she was put down.

"Come on, Talia. Every growing boy needs a gun. Oh Caroline, don't give me that look!" Cave grumbled but the argument was cut off by her voice.

"Hello, Friend."

Everyone froze as their breaths caught in their throats and she knew why. Here stood this turret, a dangerous and mindless machine, with a little boy, no more than five, standing in front of it. She could see the four arguing adults and the rest of the party goers starring at her and this child.

"Tommy, get away fr-" but his mother was cut off by a sharp 'shush' from Caroline.

"If he moves it will shoot. They fire on movement" Cave's wife muttered to her sister-in-law.

In any other case that woman would have been right, but she was smart. She had assessed the situation and now was going to take the appropriate action.

"Why don't you go and open another present?" she suggested the little boy in her small electronic voice. The child giggled at her. "Maybe it will be something more sensible like a toy truck. Go on!" she urged and the child darted off to his pile of presents. The men stood there with their mouths open and the women ran after the little boy to check on him, mostly for their own assurance. It was at this point she activated her tracking laser and pointed it at Fredric and Cave like an accusing finger. "I agree with the women, you're both idiots!" she yelled. This had earned her an outburst of surprised laughter from the women and others, but she wasn't done scolding them yet. "Getting the boy a gun? He can't be more than five! Why not get him a flame thrower while your at it? Or a bear trap? Really now. You're lucky I have the processing power to make good judgement calls which is something I can't say for the rest of my peers!" and then she turned off her laser and directed her focus to the women. "Ladies, I sincerely apologize for the utter stupidity that these two blowhards have shown you, but allow me to put your fears to rest. I promise I will be a good protector, not just to the boy but to his family. This is my pledge to you."

The entire party was spellbound.

"A smart turret?" Caroline muttered.

Cave Johnson however was still a little more than shell shocked. "Did one of my own products just tell me off?"

"Yes!" she, the turret, had said. "I also called you a blowhard you overpaid science jocky."

"Wh-what did you just-?"

"Hey, every one is entitled to be stupid, but you obviously abuse the privilege. I feel bad for your better half." From across the way, both Caroline and her sister-in-law were downright laughing.

"I-I wish the boys could see this!" Caroline chocked.

"Priceless!" Talia hollered.

"Someone is going to get fired" Cave muttered, his mood effectively ruined for the day, and the turret gave a small chuckle.

"And someone is going to get the couch" she said in a sing song voice. She couldn't help but take one last shot at him.

That had been good times and certainly a most memorable day. Her actions had earned her the love and respect of her new family. Ironically, she had become quiet the companion to the Mrs of the household. Since they were both at the estate most of the day, they would engage in conversation. Usually it was on something they had heard over the news the night before, maybe a good book, or they'd share the gossip after Mrs Talia's Bridge nights. But most importantly there was that fact that she watched over the child, Tommy.

She was a nurse, protector, companion and babysitter all in one, and as the boy grew into his school years that role extended to tutor as well. She lost count of the many late nights they had spent together, papers and books sprawled out on the floor, working to get everything finish for the morning. There were also the times where she not only got to watch Tommy, but his friends too as they scampered around in the yard of the estate, or tumbled around in the playroom. There were multiple times they had drawn and painted on her but she never minded. It always came off and it was always in good fun. The kids would even argue that it made her look more pretty. The one marking that never came off though, was the messy love written words in jiffy just on the inside of her gun casing that read 'Tommy's Turret.'

Tommy never had reservations about taking her anywhere no matter what sort of chaos it caused. Be it to a park, a library, or even school for show and tell. Once he had taken her to a family wedding. Needless to say, the stir it had caused saw her in the car for the remainder of the reception. He had even took her out to a shooting range once when he turned sixteen. It was those times that she was left with a warm feeling inside.

Years would pass and like all good things, everything had to come to an end. She had watched her human boy grow from a child into a young adult and soon he was college bound. While his family insisted that he leave her behind with them, he took her, and it was off to the dorms of MSU, Michigan State University, the place where her story would end. She wished she could forget.

"Are you going out tonight with Stella?" she asked him as the young man sat back in his chair, looking over his paper. He simply nodded his head to her at first.

"Yeah" he finally answered her with a sigh.

"You two have been dating for a while now" she noted happily.

"If you consider two months a while" Tommy noted and looked down at her as she stood there at the side of his desk.

"I do, considering you go through girls like laundry." There was a long pause between them and she knew something wasn't right. "What's the matter?"

"I've actually been meaning to talk to you about something."

"Go ahead."

"Well, it's about Stella, and … others around here."

"She's uncomfortable around me, isn't she?" and she could only watch as Tommy nodded.

"I-I should've listened to my parents and left you at home with them."

"You could always send me back."

"I can't. They've gone to God-knows-where and I haven't been able to get ahold of them."

"That's not like them" she noted.

Tommy shook his head and leaned back in his chair. "No," he sighed and rubbed his face, "no it's not, but either way, we're stuck with a dilemma here." She knew what she was going to say next would effect both their lives forever but she never realized how much this decision would hurt. Still, she had said her words with a sort of assertion she never thought she was capable of.

"I fail to see the problem. You're a human and I'm a machine. Just get rid of me," she said, and before her human could say another word, she went on. "To be honest I'm surprised I wasn't terminated or went off line -" she paused for effect, "like fifteen years ago! I'm old, I'm out of date. Tommy, it's been a blast and I've enjoyed my role but I can't guarantee I won't malfunction in the coming future. Lets face facts, your relationship with me is not healthy. You need to be with other humans. You need to grab life by the horns and ride this sucker out. I'm just a 'thing.' … nothing more than a weapon. It's time Tommy. I think we both know what you need to do" she finished, her last words were spoken more softly to him, "I'll never forget our lives together but it's time, child."

Tommy sniffled and wiped at his nose. He was actually trying not to cry. "You're right," he mumbled in a tone that was a bit to high, "but I'm not dumping you without giving you a second chance."

"Alright" she sighed. She had watched him make calls to old and new friends alike, but each turned up with the same answer. No. He tried reaching his family again. Still nothing. She knew that this was only hurting him more, as well as herself. Finally, after nearly a week of dead ends, he got up and wrote something down on a piece of cardboard, then went over to her. Wordlessly he picked her up and started out the door. He headed outside to the back of the dumpster. It was there that he set her down with the utmost care next to it, crouched down and placed the cardboard sign against her metal legs. The sign read 'Free to good home.'

He looked at her once more, sorrowfully this time. "Goodbye ol' girl" he whispered, and then placing a hand atop her casting, he got up, turned around and walked away. As she watched his retreating figure, she said the only thing that she felt appropriate, despite her own breaking heart.

"I don't hate you."

Well, days had passed, much like the people that just walked on by, utterly ignoring her. She never spoke a word to anyone during her week outside next to the trash, but finally someone did pick her up, the Garbage man, and threw her into the back of the truck. Her final stop was the junkyard, and it was there she stayed, and it was there that the years and man kind would forget about her. Over time she would be buried under the never ending pile of waste until she could no longer see the sun. Eventually she could no longer hear the trucks of garbage come to pile on more, and by then she had all but forgotten what the stars had looked like. She simply lost track of time waiting for something on her to give out so she would die. She could only be so lucky. Eventually forced herself into sleep mode and let her processors allow her to dream of her old days in the sun.

It was night as the stars and moonlight fell on an endless array of urban decay. A city, now just a shadow of its former glory, within the state of Michigan, was silent as it's residents slept. All but one that is. Deep within the old ruins of the metro system a high pitched sound of an engine could be heard. Had anyone been standing on the platform, they would have heard it then seen a blinding flash of white fly straight past them. A young rider was using the old train tracks as a testing track for their speed bike.

Under the helmet the rider's eyes watched as the speed steadily increased. They nodded. So far so good. The rider ripped around the next corner before something gave out on the bike with a loud pop and smoke started to trail it. The rider hit the breaks and turned the engine off then, putting the kick stand down, they slipped off and crouched down to have a look at the problem. Something in the engine had given away. Again. Slipping off the helmet, the rider's mid length dark hair fell past her shoulders. She stood, closing her silver eyes tiredly, and sighed to herself.

Was she ever going to get this thing to work?

Knowing that she had done all she could for the night, she put her helmet back on and started pushing her bike home.

Home. She still couldn't bring herself to call it that but it was.

This was the life that Chell had now lived for four years since her release from that scientific hell hole. Since the day she step foot in there to the day she walked out so much had changed. Just the fact that over two-hundred years had passed during that time was still a shock to her.

As she pushed her bike out of the metro, she paused to look around. The city in which she lived was now in ruins and had become both the main dumping ground and factory site for a newer city that sat out on the edge of Lake Superior. Superior City. It was a city for the wealthy, and the most technologically advanced, while the old townships and cities were left to rot and decay. Worst of all, so where the people that lived within them. People like Chell. A citizen of what was now called Relic City.

This is were she had found herself right after her escape. At first Chell had been so unsure and so confused. So much had happened and changed, but the people within the Relic City had openly welcomed her, shared what they knew and what little they had. Over time she came to accept that this was no longer the world she had left behind but a new world, and she was just going to have to adapt.

And adapt she did!

Chell learned the rules of the road quickly and they were basic.

1. Don't get in the way of the City police. They are not your friend.

2. Going into Superior City was strictly forbidden.

3. Work gets you food, not money. Scum doesn't need money.

These were the laws in which that society lived by, and if one were to think they could try their chances at another city then they were sorely mistaken. Each major city like Superior City was the exact same story. The fact was this; there were cities like Superior and Relic City in various places around the world, and it was all the same story to more or less varying degrees.

The citizens were also varied. They were refugees, the homeless, and criminals. They were humans, robots and other worldly creatures that Chell had never met or seen before but they were all the same. They were all outcasts. Victims to society.

Chell did what she needed to survive. She worked only when she needed food, and the rest of her time was spent working on her little pet project.

The bike.

As she rounded the corner, she could see her place and gave a half hearted smile. She lived in an old car workshop, surrounding herself with things that she had once been familiar with, with her Companion cube that now rested on a shelf. When she didn't work in the factory she spent her time here, fixing up old things and even getting a car or two to work again. She was good at that, fixing things, and the people around acknowledged her for it. It was something, she was sure, she had used to dabble in back in the day.

She walked in through the door and put her bike over towards one of the work benches and set about getting ready to fix it.

The garage itself wasn't much but it was a home of sorts. A large single work with a small loft where she slept. The windows were all broken in, and the walls and floors were stained with old oil and dried grease. Work benches, tables, and shelves surrounded the area, and tools that she had recovered over time were littered everywhere. She had a small radio and an old television set that picked up the signals from Superior City. Her place didn't have much beyond that, but she would cope for now because she had plans. She had big plans and big dreams.

The bike itself was an old white Ducati speed bike model that she had been able to fix up over the two years since she had found it, and over those two years she was steadily getting it back up to working condition. She had poured endless amounts of energy, countless hours, and blood and sweat into it. She had developed new technology for it and fixed the engine from junk that she had fished out from the trash Superior City constantly sent their way (plus a few 'borrowed' parts from the various factories around Relic.)

Taking a cable connected to a small laptop that was resting on the work table, she plugged it into the bike's console and started running various diagnostics checks on it. She sat back and adjusted her shirt. She was no longer in her old Aperture gear. Instead she sported jeans, an old pair of sneakers, a sports top and long sleeve blue plaid shirt. The only thing she really kept around and wore from time to time was the orange jumpsuit. It was great for when she was working on engines or anything else that would ruin her clothes. In fact the jumpsuit was barely recognizable anymore with it's new grease and oil stains that covered most of it.

The computer beeped as it finished its analysis and Chell felt herself groan.

"Same damn piece" she muttered softly to herself and proceeded to remedy the situation. It was strange to let herself talk again. She always could, always knew how, but knowing how mad GLaDOS got when she refused to give her the satisfaction of an answer was worth it to Chell. Still though, habits were habits and she never found herself talking often, and when she did, it was always softly.

Removing the side panel to the bike, she found and took out the still smoking piece. The Z-Fi chip. She twisted it in her hands as she eyed it. It was such a crucial piece and so hard to come by. If she couldn't get one strong and stable enough, she'd never be able to reach her goals.

Standing up, she placed the chip down on the table and went up to the loft. She needed sleep, she wasn't going to get anything done tonight. Flopping down onto her cot, she looked out the window into the night. Across from the pollution ridden ruins of Relic city were the bright and brilliant buildings of Superior City all lit up like a Las Vegas strip. It was her dream to be there someday, to live there and to enjoy life and she was going to use her bike to do it because racing was a popular sport over there. It didn't come as a huge surprise to her. Michigan, back in the day, used to be a huge manufacturer of vehicles, so the fact that racing cars and bikes was so popular only seemed right in a way and Chell wanted to compete. The thing was, outcasts like her weren't allowed in Superior, let alone allowed to compete. There were plenty of obstacles standing in her way but first she would focus on her bike, then worry about getting in.

While it was true that a better life could be granted to her if she ever got the chance, it was not the sole reason. Truthfully, it never was. The day she had seen that old scrap of a bike lying there in the junk, an old familiar feeling came over her. A feeling that she 'missed' something. A feeling of longing. It wasn't the testing or anything to do with Aperture. It was more along the feelings of a past buried away in the deep recesses of her mind. Memories that were dusty and covered in cobwebs. A life she had perhaps once lived that she had only seen in flashes through dreams. They felt real enough. The rush of the wind, the thrill of the speed, the adrenaline that coursed through her veins, the deafening roar of the crowds… a life maybe she had put on hold to please someone, (her father?) to accompany them to work that faithful day. It was her past. She was sure. A past that she had loved and never meant to leave. While not entirely sure because she had no real record of it, she supposed it was a good thing to give Aperture so little of her, even though at times it felt like it took so much more. Briefly she had felt that old rush while in Aperture's bowels with the propulsion gel but it was no more than that.

She rolled back over to catch a brief glimpse of her bike. When she had ridden that bike for the first time, all those feeling from her dreams came rushing back, and they continued to with each successive go. And by god did she love it! Now it was her ticket into the Superior City, a one way dash from this life into a better one. She would get it, no matter what. She didn't belong in these dumps. She wanted something better and she was going to take it! Just like she took her freedom. Bugger the lemons, she had a fast bike! But until everything was sorted out she would keep dreaming of the day where she'd have her moment in the sun.