Right, so, onto chapter two. Probably should have mentioned this before but this will be switching between Wheatley's POV and Chell's POV. Haven't decided if GLaDOS gets a POV or not. Also, in the future, I will try to avoid doing duplicate chapters like this one kind of is. But some scenes might overlap, just be aware of that.
Anyway, on with the show.
Part 1: The Courtesy Call
The first time she had been woken up, Chell hadn't been quite sure where she was. But as soon as that too-friendly voice had informed her that it was mandatory for all test subjects to be awaken for some sort of gymnastics course, it was all to easy to figure it out.
She was still in the facility.
Destroying Her, destroying that maddened computer, had accomplished nothing in the end. She was still trapped, she was still a prisoner, and that had infuriated her.
She had obeyed the computerized voice, simply so it quit demanding things from her, but had ignored the last order to return to the bed. Obedience could only get you so far. So Chell stepped carefully around the bed and began to inspect the small, seedy looking motel room that probably really wasn't a motel room. Nothing in this place was ever what it looked like, she had learned that the hard way.
She first inspected the boots strapped across her lower legs. They were more comfortable than the braces she had had before but still forced her onto her toes. Easily dealt with. Then she turned her attention to the room. She tried the dresser but found the drawers to simply be raised bits of woods with handles stuck on, the wall of "windows" was really just translucent wallpaper with some sort of light implant, and the door that probably would have been for a bathroom wasn't even real.
The front door at the end of the short hall was her last resort.
She grabbed the handle and twisted but it didn't turn. She pressed against the door to no effect. She kicked it, rammed it, hit it with the surprisingly durable lamp, and was met with the same result each time. The door refused to yield. It figured that this place would have stupidly strong doors that she couldn't break through.
Angry about the defeat, Chell sat on the bed and twisted her hair into a low ponytail at the base of her neck, looking around the room for inspiration. There was nothing, the only thing that stood out was a metallic looking bar weaving across the ceiling. Whatever purpose it served was a mystery to her. Frustrated and tired, Chell undid the top of her jumpsuit, pulled her arms out, and tied the empty orange sleeves around her waist. She closed her eyes at the feeling of stale air cool against her hot skin.
Before she knew what had happened, she had fallen asleep again.
She woke up to someone knocking on the door.
The too-friendly voice was scratchy and crackled through ancient speakers and told her she'd been asleep for "99999999…"
That couldn't be good.
The room was a dark twin to what it had been the first time. The warm browns and golds had been smeared away by time into moody grays and blacks, the wallpaper was curled, the room heavy with dust and choked in ruin. The lamp shades had all but eroded away, the window-wall was a smear of charcoal black, the bed stiff and dented where her body had lay, and the heavy scent of age clogged the air.
"Um, can you open the door?" Someone was calling, their voice muffled slightly, an accent bouncing their words, "Heeelllloooo! Yes, if you're in there, could you just—just open the door?"
Chell tried to stand but her legs wobbled and collapsed underneath her. Scowling to herself, she stubbornly pushed herself back up, leaned against the dusty bedside stand until she'd stopped shaking, and then took a few steps forward. She still felt a little like jelly on stilts but it would have to do. She made her way shakily towards the door, paused because she wasn't sure if this was even going to work, grabbed the handle and pulled. To her surprise, the rusted bolts shattered at her hard tug and the door swung wide open.
"AAAHHHHH! Oh, oh, God, you scared me, you look terribbblllllyyyyy lovely. Yes, lovely, you look very nice."
Chell stepped aside as the man sitting in the chair moved into the room. The chair was hanging from the metal bar—rail—on the ceiling. And it looked far too small for him; his knees were almost pulled up to his chest, his head ducked, his shoulders hunched, arms dangling over the sides. It was almost comical and she might have found it more so if the too-friendly voice hadn't told them that an emergency evacuation order had been sent out.
"Oh, don't worry about that, it's been saying that for days now, nothing to worry about," He was rambling, large hands gesturing through the air as if they had a mind of their own, wires swinging, nervous chuckles weaving in and out of his words. All she could do was stare in wonder and not a touch of wariness.
But before she could get a proper look at him, he'd gone up through the ceiling and was telling her to hold on. She stared at the space where he had been and then flailed, grabbing at the wall beside her as the seedy motel room began to move. It rocked, creaking, light splitting thought the edges as it was hauled along. Oh, this was definitely not normal.
"You all right there, luv?" Called the accented voice and she tried to respond but her voice hadn't quite caught up to the rest of her yet and she ended up coughing, sliding down the wall to crouch on the floor until she'd gotten herself back under control, "Hello? You all right? Are you alive in there?"
And then he was back, right down through the ceiling again as if he had never even left, babbling all over again. His expression was a forced smile, the nervousness showing completely through his twitching fingers and softly glowing blue eyes.
His eyes were glowing.
Chell felt a bubble of familiar angry horror rising inside her and she stared at the man in the chair as he continued to ramble. So obvious, now that she was looking for it, so obviously not human.
There were light lines, like scars, tracing down his cheeks from his eyes, there were wires coming from the back of his neck, and odd handle-like things curving over his shoulders to connect at his back. His strange, gray-ish suit was splashed with black rubber padding like anti-electricity conductors, and that familiar circle of triangles was pasted on his front, just below a…
A what? A disc? It seemed to be coming through the front of his shirt rather than being attached to it. It almost looked—and Chell felt the smallest of sick twinges at the thought—it almost looked like a third eye. An oval shaped disc of metal and within it was a circle, within that circle was a bright, pulsing blue orb that darted around in the same manner as his eyes. She swore she even saw it blink once.
"Okay, look, can you just say something?" He finally asked after a long ramble about serious brain damage or some such thing, "You know, just let me know you're all right? Just a—just a 'yes' or something? That would be great. Can you do that for me?" He pushed his glasses up his nose in a horribly human manner and looked at her in an expectantly hesitant manner, as if he was expecting rebuke instead of a reply.
Chell wasn't about to give him a reply anyway. As a rule, she did not speak to Aperture devices. She hadn't spoke to Her and she certainly wouldn't be speaking to him, no matter how nice her appeared. All appearances were lies. She pushed herself slowly to her feet, looking quickly from him to the opening and then back again. She could probably make it. One good jump and she could climb right over him and escape before he'd had a chance to do anything about it.
No time to hesitate.
But her legs still hadn't woken up all the way and they didn't quite cooperate. Instead of reaching his stupidly small chair, she barely managed a small leap and tripped over her own feet, stumbling and leaning against the wall again.
"That was…that was actually jumping you were doing right there, luv." She wished he would stop calling her that, "How about we try something a little easier? Oh, how about you say my name? It's Wheatley, by the way, not that you asked, not many people do, but I'm just saying, "Wheatley, nice to meet you." He did like to hear himself talk, "So that's a little easier than 'yes', isn't it—no, no, actually it's not, really, bit more complex I suppose. Okay, okay, so how about 'apple'? Can you say 'apple'? Aaaappppllleee. Go on, say apple. Apple."
Chell glared at him. He was giving her orders. They were all alike. She pushed herself off the wall and prepared to make a running leap only to have her legs completely give out. She dropped to the floor, trembling. Her body was weak, so pathetically weak. A loud buzzing sounded far off in the distance.
"All right, close enough." The android Wheatley said, "Look, just hang on and I'll get us out of here." With that, he moved into the ceiling again. Chell glared after him and got slowly to her feet only to be thrown back as the room moved. She was almost sent to the floor as they slammed into something.
"Sorry!" Came the muffled shout from above, "Sorry about that, sorry!" A pause and then, "Listen, I'm actually in pretty hot water here, know I've been keeping a cool head, actually fairly good at that, disregarding that time with the neurotoxin button, but the point is—the point is that everything has gone offline. The reserve power sources kind of just failed—not my fault, just throwing that out there—but who's fault do you think it's—WHOA!"
A second later, Chell slammed into the wall, wincing as her shoulder was jarred. An entire wall was almost ripped away and she was beginning to wonder if he was ramming into things on purpose. Mad AI's trying to kill her was nothing new so it wasn't that much of a stretch.
"Sorry, sorry, accidently hit that. Anyway, the point is that when the management does finally come down here who do you think they're going to blame! And it's not like it's my fault anyway, think I might have mentioned that already, it's not my fault—!"
Chell saw what was coming long before he did and pressed her back against the wall, bracing for the impact. When it came, she was thrown forward onto the bed and showered with rubble. She rolled off, wrapping her arms around her head and curling into a ball to try and protect herself. She was now pretty much convinced that this Wheatley was actually trying to get her killed.
And he was still talking. She could hear him over the crumbling drywall, the groaning metal, the screech as steel shredded against steel. It was like he didn't know how to stop. At least She had had the decency (Chell questioned the thought immediately) to be silent every so often and let her get on with things. But this one…it seemed impossible that he could ever be quiet. Perhaps his programming was to be as obnoxious as possible and try to kill people by driving them insane with his constant babbling.
More tearing metal. The walls were almost gone, ancient, dusty gold-white light rippling through the openings and spilling into the room. Chell did not have the time to notice it; she was too busy trying to protect herself from the showering rubble. The place was rattling and rocking and she wedged herself into the spot between the bed and bedside stand (which was apparently bolted to the floor) to prevent her curled up body from rolling right out of the room. Her stomach flip-flopped with each jarring jolt and she knew she was going to have bruises after all of this was done.
"Okay, we're almost there," Wheatley was shouting, "Just on the other side of this wall up ahead is one of the old testing tracks. I'm pretty sure this is a docking station. Just hold on, I'm going to perform a manual override on it! Seriously, do hold on this time, it gets a little tricky!"
Chell assumed that would mean computer hacking—he was an android, after all—but apparently it meant ramming the room into a wall.
Who the hell had built this android!
She realized he was speaking again, yelling over the cracking cement and screeching steel, "—not a docking station but I still think we're going in pretty much the right direction! Also, also, sort of forgot to mention this before, kind of important, heat of the moment kind of thing, can't really blame me for that, but there's a gun back there we're going to need to escape! Hold on, here we go again!"
Chell realized that she'd been peering over the bed to see the wall they'd hit and quickly ducked back down as the room swept forward again. It jolted her, a giant, cracking mess that sent showers of rubble and dust all over the place, and she winced as her head knocked against the wall. The backs of the boots dug into her calves and her arms were sore from trying to protect herself but it was better than being crushed by rubble thrown out into empty space.
"Almost through, almost through! Remember, you're looking for a gun that makes holes, not bullet holes but—but holes like—oh, you'll figure it out." She'd already figured it out, knew what he was talking about and mildly loathed him for it, "One more time ought to do it! Rrrreeaaallly hold on this time!"
One more tremendous bang and everything went still. Someone was coughing. Chell cautiously uncurled herself from the ball and squirmed out of the space between the bed and the bedside stand. The place didn't even look like a room anymore; the walls were gone, the air coated with quickly clearing dust, the floor littered with drywall and bits of metal, and only the bed, the stand beside it, and the dresser remained bolted to the floor. Everything else was smashed or missing. She stood up slowly, flexing and twisting limbs and checking for any permanent damage. Nothing seemed to be broken but she had acquired a few minor scrapes and some bruises would definitely be showing up. Nothing she couldn't handle.
Chell plucked her way expertly over the rubble to the edge of the once-upon-a-time room, brushing dust off of herself as she went. She stopped, balancing easily in her boots on some titled concrete, looking up at Wheatley. He was fidgeting nervously, probably because his plan to kill her had failed, and actually looked somewhat scared of her. Well that was new. She had never shown fear, only a passive aggressive rage and an utter, unashamed distaste. But this one, this Wheatley, looked as if he was expecting her to start berating him. After a moment, he seemed to gather himself up and started babbling again.
"Listen, you're probably not actually qualified for this kind of cognitive course, But I'm—we—are really out of options here." One of his ridiculously long legs slipped off the footrest of his chair and shot out into open space. He quickly yanked it back and set about trying to find a way to keep all his limbs in close proximity to his body, "So just go on through, find the Portal Device—that's the gun that makes the special holes, by the way—and I'll meet you on the other side. All right?"
Not all right. Chell's eyes narrowed and she sent a glare in his direction. The Portal Device; it was a nifty thing, she wouldn't deny that, but it had caused her nothing but grief. All of those test, those countless hours/days/months spent traipsing through an empty labyrinth all to satisfy a half-mad AI. Just the mention of the thing made her want to start throwing things.
In response to her distrustful and angry look, he hunched his shoulders and seemed to be trying to withdraw into himself. The blue orb on the eye-disc on his front shrank and the metal plates around it slitted in a fearful manner,
"Er, uh, really, this is kind of important, see, think I mentioned it before, pretty sure I did, just that this place is not up to health code standards aaaannnnddd it might kill us. Slowly. Or—or quickly, just depends on which bits fall apart first." His rambling was an invisible shield that mimicked the substantial one he appeared to be trying to make with his arms hovering in front of his chest, "Point is…point is that I can't us the Portal Device—Core Constructs and anti-use programming, all very complicated, technical stuff—." She was under the impression that he actually didn't know what he was talking about, "And you probably don't want to be stuck here, so you know, everyone wins, really. So—so if you could just go in there and I'll meet you on the other side of the track…"
It was a lame ending and he was tapping his fingertips together, the wires swinging through the air, a ridiculous and crooked smile plastered across his face. But he was nervous. No, Chell realized, not just nervous, he was downright scared. He was actually honest to God scared and maybe not a little bit lost.
Not at all like Her.
She felt the smallest surge of pity for him. He was probably all alone in this massive, terrifying place and, even if he was an Aperture creation, he probably had no idea what was going on. He seemed pretty clueless.
Chell gave him a searching look, deciding to help him but not trust him, and then turned away. She carefully threaded her way through the debris to the cracked and weak looking glass at the edge of the mess. The air was dank and heavy and old, vines crept through cracks and forced themselves over the once proud walls. Everything was empty, dying, and alone. She looked back over her shoulder at Wheatley, waiting to see if he would follow, waiting to see if he would shoot her in the back.
"I…I can't follow you, luv." Well, he got part of the message. He raised one large hand and made a vague gesture towards the metal rail his chair was attached too, "I…I just…can't. Sorry."
He didn't sound that sorry about it. Chell looked from his distressed features, to the rail, and back again. He waved tentatively as if to reassure her that, yes, he was still there. A ghost of the smile was twisting his lips, pushing at the scar-like lines etched down his face. It was almost pitiful, seeing something in the visage of a grown man curled pathetically in a tiny chair, looking for all the world like he didn't want her to go because he simply couldn't bear the thought of being alone for another second.
Chell clenched her jaw, turned her back on him, and stepped out onto the glass. It was already weak and her weight made it shatter. Light refracted around her as she dropped, an almost pleasant tinkling filling the air as the shards hit the tile floor she had landed on.
That stupidly too-happy voice was talking again and she was beginning to hate it. The room was familiar thought. Hauntingly so. White floor, glass walls, a tiny stand with a radio (silent and displaying a blinking 12:00), and a toilet that didn't look safe to use at all. Knowing what was coming, knowing what probably lay ahead and hating it and knowing it was necessary, Chell turned to face the only part of the wall that was not glass; a flat, off-white, concrete-ish slab dotted on the edges with black, mechanical bits.
"The portal will open in 3…2…1…"
A noise like the wind and tearing paper and rustle of cloth popped the air and a spiral of orange burst across the wall. It ripped a hole in time and space as easily as if it had been slicing through butter. Chell glared at it, at the sight on the other side that was somewhere else, somewhere outside the glass box, and squared her shoulders. There was only one way out.
Without a backward glance, she ducked through the open portal and into the crumbling paths of the Aperture Science Testing Facility.
Apologizing again for the repeat chapter. I'll try and avoid that in the future. Next chapter will be all of Chell. Maybe a little Wheatley.
Also apologizing for the super slow updates. This isn't my priority, it's a side project and it's fun, but life is life is life is life. I'll try not to go too long without updates because I really do enjoy this. Wait until we get even further into the story, that's when the real fun will begin…
So please let me know what you like and don't like, feedback is great, it inspires me to write more! Thanks to everyone who has been reading! Stick around for another update!