The Patriarch, Part I
Chell stared up at the shoddy prototype chassis which held the mind of Cave Johnson, founder and CEO of Aperture Science. Cave leaned forward as if to whisper at Chell, but ended talking in the same boisterous voice as normal.
"Turns out, to reconnect myself with the rest of the facility, all we need to do is re-plug in three fiber optic cables. Then I'll just explain things to Caroline and everyone'll get what they want. Say kiddo, what do you want? What're yer stakes in this?" It was another time Chell mentally cursed herself for not speaking, but for some reason she just could not get the words to form. Whether it was a lack of vocal cords like Wheatley seemed to think, a mental issue, or something else entirely was irrelevant.
"Strong and silent type, eh? Ah, you're the kind of fella' who likes to get the job done! No nonsense." Cave said. The office began to shake ominously and Chell tightened her grip on the portal gun. "I could just reprogram the elevator to take where you need to go, but I am scientist. And a real scientist doesn't use some pre-existing transportation, he makes his own!"
A large pipe with a large hole in it crashed through the office's wall. The inside of the pipe was coated orange from propulsion gel, but otherwise appeared to be empty.
"Go on in! The propulsion gel won't bite, it'll slowly dissolve yer skeleton, but it won't bite." Chell took a deep breath, held the portal gun out in front of her, and ran into the gel pipe. Just as expected the propulsion gel coating caused Chell to speed through the tube at an increasingly breakneck pace.
Chell felt something collide with her boots and turned around to investigate. To her surprise, the object was Betty.
"As Aperture Science's Gyroscopic Liability Absolver and Disk Operating System, it is necessary for me to warn you that any injuries you can and will receive during this errand are not the responsibility of Aperture Science Innovators and thus no monetary assistance can, or will, be provided." As Betty listed off further legal jargon another hole in the pipe appeared, and the test subject and personality core plummeted through it.
Thanks to her longfall boots, Chell landed safely, if rather roughly on the floor below. Betty instead landed on her optic, which shattered with a loud crunch. Chell again took pitty on the sphere and set Betty back on her tripod-wheels.
"Great, now I'm blind. I swear Mr. Johnson does not pay me enough for this. Then again he doesn't pay me at all..." Chell's graciousness was now expended, so she set off to find the three cables and end this.
"Hey! Are you going somewhere? Wait for me!" Betty said and rolled off after Chell.
It seemed that the pipe had deposited the two in a hallway lined with doors. Chell methodically checked each room, finding plenty of old computers, personnel files and whiteboards with unintelligible equations scribbled across them. In other words, nothing of value to her mission.
After searching every room but one, Chell pulled open the final door and stared out into nothingness. Whatever room had been there before was replaced by an empty void. The floor extended about a foot past the door before splintering into rough shards. She glanced back and forth through the void and spied another series of offices like this one on the far side of the gap, with only precariously perched metal stilts holding it up.
With no other choice, Chell fired a portal onto the wall next to the door-to-oblivion and another towards the distant office complex. She stepped through the portal, and walked out and onto a narrow ledge. To her left was a door, presumably leading into the offices. But before Chell could attempt to reach the door something pushed her.
"Where're we going? Are you stuck or something?" Betty complained while ramming herself into Chell's boots to get the test subject to move. Chell looked down and immediately regretted it. Not even the longfall boots would protect her from a fall that severe. Well, knowing Aperture there actually was a good chance they would, but Chell was in no mood to find out.
Betty continued to back up and the charge at Chell, finally causing the test-subject to teeter forward and plummet into the abyss. Wind whipped through Chell's hair and she tried to close her eyes so as not to see the splat which was sure to follow. However she could not bring herself to; some sick fascination in her wanted to see the imminent collision.
Soon the floor became visible, and to Chell's incredible luck, a leaky conversion gel pipe had transformed the floor into a portal-able surface. Thinking quickly, she fired a blue portal below her and an orange one next to it. This was either going to be an extremely awesome display of acrobatics and momentum which would save Chell's life, or a extremely stupid idea which would reduce her to stain on the ceiling.
Chell fell through the blue portal and was sent hurtling upwards through its orange counterpart. Within moments she had passed the office complex. Now for part two of her plan. Chell tucked her legs in and tried to summersault forward. If she could just move a few feet...
Her upward momentum ran out, and Chell began to fall down. It was now or never. To her great relief, she was headed towards the ceiling of the office complex. Not so much to her relief, the roof was made of cheap drywall and she crashed through it before finally coming to a stop inside the room.
"AAAAAAHHH!" Betty screamed as she plummeted through the new roof-hole before miraculously landing on her tripod. It appeared that in the near-death excitement Chell had missed Betty rolling into the abyss as well. "I'm blind. I think I fell down something. This is the worst. day. ever!"
Chell rolled her eyes at Betty, having been sent hurtling to her almost-death had significantly reduced Chell's sympathy towards the personality sphere, and resumed her search for the cables Cave Johnson needed plugged in.
"Hey, are you there? My sensors say that yer close to the first cable. Should be on the other side of the room." Cave said over a seemingly hidden PA system. Chell looked around the room and saw several old computers, what looked like a stack of hard drives, and a whiteboard listing various crossed out release dates for "EP III". Based on the crosses, it seems whatever this project was, Aperture had never completed it.
But there was no sign of any cable, or outlet for that matter. Betty was rolling around in increasingly larger circles before she finally crashed into one of the old computer modems. It fell to side, showing an oversized electrical outlet, and an equally oversized plug. The cable snaked into the wall and likely lead all the way back to Cave's chassis.
Chell picked up the plug with the portal device's tractor beam and shoved it into the outlet. A loud humming began to emanate from the outlet and the ceiling lights began to brighten.
"Wh-oa! Now that's what I'm talkin' about! So much processin' power, I feel like my IQ went up a hundred points!" The lights slowly dimmed back to their normal brightness as Cave became used to the extra computing power. "And to think at Black Mesa you'd need to be an MIT graduate to be qualified to plug stuff in. You sure showed them. Unless yer actually an MIT graduate. Aw, who am I kiddin'? Yer probably from a gutter or orphanage or somethin'. That's where all the best test subjects come from; no familiar attachments, eager to please their superiors... You orphans are the real heroes of science."
"All right, that's enough gabbin'. Go get those other cables, champ!" Chell walked over to a door, hopefully not the one leading to the ledge and abyss from earlier, and opened it. On the other side was a room filled with rows upon rows of filing cabinets and little else. It was clear the second cable would not be here. Besides, that would be far too easy.
Chell stepped around several toppled file cabinets, paying little attention to the papers strewn about below her. An old computer was flashing next to her, apparently having been turned on by the power surge when the first cable was plugged in. On the screen was another memo, and a document about test subjects. While time seemed to be the essence, Chell couldn't resist perusing them. Her entire remembered life had revolved around Aperture Science. Perhaps these documents could shed light on her own past?
She looked at the memo first. It was severely corrupted and full of random data strings, but she could still make out the gist of it.
- BEGIN RECORD 'C:\09394469.756\07583916.313' (371 BYTES) -
MEMORANDUMS: Filed under CJohnson: 188454-G
&&^521762 jsow remind you that Aperture Science is built on three pillars. Pillar one: Science without results is just witchcraft. Pill two: Get results or you're fired. Pillar three: if you suspect a coworker of bein' a witch, report them immediately. I cannot stress that enough. Witchcraft will not be tolerated.
- RECORD ENDS -
There wasn't much to be gleamed from the memo, besides the fact that Cave Johnson really hated witches. Chell wondered if that was just his insanity, or if Aperture had actual witches running around somewhere... Brushing all thoughts of witchcraft away, she looked to the next document. This one was older, and lacked the corruption and spelling errors of its companions.
- BEGIN RECORD 'C:\05083881.801\04186850.542' (1751 BYTES) -
October 17th, 1976
Re: Human Enrichment & Testing Initiative, Resource Acquisitions
1. "Low Risk" Human Resource Acquisitions
a. Hoboes and Tramps
Lives spent wandering aimlessly, cowering before authority, and drinking concussive amounts of home-distilled potato alcohol make hoboes the perfect Human Enrichment test subjects. The hobo questions nothing, will follow orders if fed, and, like all hoboes, has a restless, wandering heart. (Note: The wandering heart of the hobo should not be confused with Drifting Heart Syndrome, which several transients contracted during testing.)
b. Child Orphans and Foundlings
Deep-rooted abandonment issues leave most orphans highly susceptible to shame-based psychology (for a complete list of opportune moments to obliterate the esteem of test subjects, please consult Training Video #89-D, "You'd Perform This Test Better if You Had Parents"). Recent advances in the use of scorn, flattery use in an ironic context and naked contempt as motivational tools have yielded similarly profitable results.
c. Psychiatric Patients
Past experience shows these fellows are simply not shy at all about carrying on, disrupting tests and defecating just about anywhere that pleases them. Frankly, it's off-putting, and small wonder why Aperture-brand mental institutions are being phased out in favor of more orphanages.
Frail, brittle hands make holding science devices difficult. Most were born before the advent of science, and can become confused and disoriented when asked to participate in relatively simple tests (teleportation, invisibility, adjusting esteem levels of orphan children).
- RECORD ENDS -
Aside from explaining why GLaDOS loved to harp about Chell's alleged lack of parents so much, and showing that Cave Johnson was a complete lunatic (nothing new there), the document provided little in the way of information useful to Chell.
Betty rolled in and hit a filling cabinet, causing it to fall over and hit the next one, resulting in a chain reaction of falling cabinets like a row of dominoes.
"What was that? Somethin' break? Eh, it doesn't matter. I won't need any of this old junk once I'm uplinked with the new enrichment center." Cave asked. Chell of course did not answer and Betty just stood still, groaning in pain from the severe... head? trauma she had sustained in the past few hours.
"By the way, I forgot to mention how nice it is having someone to talk to besides Betty and that prototype guy. Sure they're good employees, but they've got more artificial than intelligence if ya' know what I mean..." Cave chuckled to himself.
"I can still hear you, sir."
"Betty! Yer still alive?"
I feel it might be poignant to mention that all these memos are real. They were released during the two Portal 2 ARGs. That means there is a good chance Cave's uploading may be canon...