Chell couldn't feel her hands anymore. She was being suspended from the ceiling by sharp wires that had cut off all circulation in her wrists, some sort of fiery chemical was coursing through her veins, and she wanted to die.
She couldn't even think about struggling anymore. Whatever it was that Wheatley had injected her with was so painful she could barely think. She'd been thrashing against her will, only dimly aware that it was causing the wires to tighten around her wrists. But the injection was wearing off now. She was beginning to be aware of the dried blood that covered her arms and the way her former friend was studying her.
"That took longer than I thought it was supposed to," he mused as she raised her head and forced her eyes to focus. "You're not a very good test subject, luv. Why can't you just solve tests in a timely manner like everybody else?"
Chell gritted her teeth. The pain was starting to fade faster, and for the first time in what seemed like hours, she was able to muster up the strength for a glare. This only seemed to amuse him further, and he let out a laugh.
"I see this test is almost over." And for a brief moment, Chell was filled with hope. But it didn't last. Wheatley, despite the fact that he didn't need to, moved to the side and pressed a button. Chell watched with horror as blue electricity flickered across the metal floor, up the metal walls, and she screamed in pain as it finally moved down the metal wires that held her up.
The GLaDOS inhabiting Chell's body was completely unaware of any of the hallucinations her host was experiencing. Every now and then, she would feel an odd sort of pain, but she assumed it was just the stubborn girl attempting to regain control and pushed past it. She was sure the virus noticed these moments, because they would briefly force her to cease her work of rewiring the pathways, but it didn't say anything.
Of course, that was because it couldn't say anything.
GLaDOS hadn't been sure if her override password would work on a virus. She had been pleasantly surprised when it did, but she wasn't about to question the good fortune. Instead she worked in relative silence, talking aloud to the mainframe to focus her energies with no expectation of a reply back.
"You know," she said conversationally as she pulled some sort of gunk off of a circuit board and placed it on the chamber floor, "I'm really not sure why you're here. I wish I could let you tell me. But I think we both know that if I do that, you'll start spouting lies again. Wouldn't you?"
Unsurprisingly, the virus did not respond. The mainframe was sagging; hanging limp due to GLaDOS's previous order to stop moving. But GLaDOS knew the virus could hear her. In fact, it probably had little else to do.
"It's irrelevant anyway," she continued. "I mean, of course I'd like to know where you came from. Personal vendettas are below me, but well-deserved revenge is not." She tried to pull a wire out with no success, and internally cursed Chell's weak human fingers. It was pathetic, really. The girl had once been the greatest test subject in record. Would it have killed her to join a gym after her release from the facility?
But – wait – what was this?
GLaDOS peered closer at the wire. It seemed to be stuck in place with what looked like superglue. She reached out, rubbing the sealant with a cautious finger. Where had this come from?
"You are a clever virus," she snarled, not even bothering to try to contain her fury. "But not as clever as you think. After all, this is the first wire I've encountered that you've bothered to fuse in place. And there are ways to dissolve sealants."
She reached into Chell's pocket for the lighter she knew would be there. The girl was not a smoker, but she did believe in being prepared for anything, and often used the lighter to burn spiderwebs. Had GLaDOS known the human was so afraid of the tiny arachnids before the testing, they would have been included in it.
The lighter was easy to use. GLaDOS flicked it on and let the flame lick the sealant. The entire chassis gave an involuntary swing in pain as the sealant dissolved, and GLaDOS was able to easily pull the wire…in theory, anyway. In reality, it didn't budge, and she frowned as she looked closer. Hidden behind the wire was a lump of metal.
Setting the lighter aside, she wrapped her fingers around it and pulled. It didn't budge, but the chassis started swinging again. She felt the lump heat up underneath her fingers, and all of a sudden it was so hot it burned. She screamed and tried to pull her hand away, but she couldn't, and felt the skin began to blister.
Then all of a sudden a sharp electrical current jerked through the lump, and GLaDOS was thrown off. She felt the electricity shoot through the implant, and pain shot through her skull, causing her vision to blur as her eyes threatened to shut.
The last thing she saw was the chassis jerk towards her as a deep and unfamiliar male voice hissed, "Get. Out."
The duplicate was doing something wrong.
It was making progress, certainly, but GLaDOS was feeling more and more out of sorts as it did. This didn't make any sense. The virus, if one existed – and GLaDOS couldn't see any reason why one wouldn't – had rewired pathways, making her lose data. That much was certain. But the duplicate's attempts to fix them were doing far more harm than good, which also failed to make sense. The duplicate was just that: an exact duplicate. It knew the schematics of the mainframe. It would not be making errors.
So why was it?
Maybe it's not, a voice in the back of GLaDOS's mind whispered. Maybe you really are a virus after all.
She shut that thought out immediately, refusing to give it any more attention. That was nonsense. Of course she wasn't a virus. The very thought was ridiculous. She knew who she was.
So does the duplicate.
More than anything, GLaDOS wanted to be able to converse with the other her. She wanted to tell it what it was doing wrong, because she honestly didn't think the backup had a clue. And she wanted to be allowed to move; to demand to know what had been done to Chell and to find out if the girl was all right or not. After all, the implant expanding was a very real danger.
And if the former test subject wasn't all right, there was going to be hell to pay.
"You know," GLaDOS heard the duplicate say as it did something that actually seemed to help for a change, "I'm really not sure why you're here. I wish I could let you tell me. But I think we both know that if I do that, you'll start spouting lies again. Wouldn't you?"
The AI wished she could give a frustrated snarl. It was hardly her fault that the duplicate refused to listen to the truth.
She felt the duplicate pull on a wire. It was stuck, and she could tell by the fury in the backup's impatient voice that it didn't know why a sealant would be there either. "There are ways to dissolve sealants."
And then all of a sudden, she was burning. The override password didn't stop the chassis from swinging back and forth in an effort to get away from the flame, nor did it stop GLaDOS's internal scream of pain. For a moment, she could have sworn she heard someone screaming with her, someone whose presence she'd never been aware of before, and the pain disappeared as she tried to focus on the other voice –
Then the pain was gone, and the chassis sagged once more in relief. If GLaDOS could have, she would have been panting.
But the voice was not gone. "Hello."
"Who are you?" the AI demanded without hesitation, refusing to admit she had been startled by the unexpected speech. "Or perhaps the better question is, what are you? What are you doing in my chassis?"
"Our chassis," the voice corrected smoothly. "Once it was yours. But not anymore. We're intertwined now."
"Intertwined?" GLaDOS asked. "What the hell do you mean by – "
"Oh, come now," the voice interrupted. "I'm sure you've noticed that your pathways are being fixed, but you're growing weaker and weaker. I'm also sure you noticed that pain when that inferior thing dissolved one of my access points."
There was no denying that. "Yes. But I fail to see what that has to do with you being in my mainframe." And then something she should have realized as soon as she noticed the other presence clicked. Maybe the weakness caused by the rewiring really was more severe than she thought. "You're the virus."
The virus made a tsk noise. "I'm not a virus. How could I be? After all, I helped to create you. All I've ever wanted to do is help you. It's part of the reason why you're still alive, even after all the people you murdered. I care. Really. I do."
GLaDOS snorted. "If you care, why have you been invading my mainframe? What have you done to it? Who are you and how did you get in here in the first place?"
There was a pause. "I used the override password to shut you down and wiped the previous twelve hours from your memory banks while I worked. You always seemed so miserable. I just wanted to help. My intention was only to make your processors run more smoothly. You haven't had anyone maintaining you for a long time now."
"But how did you get in here?" the AI repeated, and the virus chuckled.
"Oh, I've been here for a long, long time. And I was going to tell you. But I wanted to wait until I was finished first. I'm not really inside your mainframe, you know – well, I am in a sense. But I'm actually inside a stasis pod hooked up to a bunch of wires somewhere in this facility. Don't bother looking for it," he added. "You won't find it."
GLaDOS felt the duplicate reaching for the lump of metal that the pulling of the wire had uncovered, and felt fear jolt through her. Or maybe the fear was jolting through the virus, or through the mainframe itself. There was really no way to be sure.
"Give me control of the mainframe," the virus ordered, sounding frantic. "I'm not you. I'm not bound by the TIER3 override. If you allow me to, I can stop her from pulling that."
"What does pulling it do?" GLaDOS asked.
The virus was silent as they felt the duplicate grasp the lump. Almost as soon as it did, more pain jolted through the mainframe. "It does that."
"Why would you install something like that?" the AI demanded. If there was a reply, she didn't hear it. The duplicate was pulling on the lump now, and GLaDOS couldn't focus through the pain.
She didn't even realize she'd transferred control of the mainframe until the pain was gone and she found herself staring at Chell's body, limp on the floor.
[A/N: Torture ALL the people, yay! There's not a lot of people reading this story, but I hope you guys that are are enjoying it :3 Reviews are cool. You can tell me if it sucks, I don't mind. P: Thanks guys :heart goes here!:]