"Miss Caroline, the children are arriving.", a crackling, static filled voice announced over a small intercom on a tidy wooden desk.
"I'll be right down, Marsha.", Caroline responded with a sad underlying tone.
She should of been thrilled by the prospect of meeting the personnel's daughters, she always loved children but never had any of her own, so any chance she got to hug or spoil the occasional niece or nephew, or even an employee's child gave her such a thrill. But the thrill was absent, over shadowed by science, of all things. The past week was wearing her down emotionally. The 'boys' in engineering had finally completed their last task Cave had assigned them; creating a host for the purpose of transferring a human psyche.
Those men had been hounding her all week trying to get her to come see the marvel. She knew better, all they wanted to do was convince her to go with the plan, to become part of the facility, to become.. trapped.
Cave had only the best intentions for Aperture, for Caroline. Deep down she didn't want to disappoint him. Maybe if she could persuade the engineers to wait til she got to frail or weak to do her job, which she loved, then she would be more inclined to go with their plan.
She smiled at the large painting of Cave Johnson on her office wall, "Let's go meet the girls, shall we?"
Before making her way out her office, she stopped to check herself in the mirror on the wall, placing a few stray hairs in their proper place then smoothing out her blouse and skirt. She prided herself on not only her abilities in the science field, but also her appearance. That was one of her few weaknesses; she was vain at times. Out she went, head held high.
"Caroline! The girls are waiting, they are eager to meet with you today. Should see their science projects; cutest damn things ever.", a man in a grey suit with a white lab-coat rushed to her side, wrapping his arm around hers excitedly.
"I hope that "Alternate Power Source" wasn't too difficult for the young ones.", she worriedly asked.
"Are you kidding? These are the daughters of the brightest minds in the world; something is sure to rub off on a few of them.", the man chuckled, guiding Caroline down the hallway.
Caroline quietly laughed with the gentleman. Upon reaching a door, she stood by while he offered to hold it for her. She frowned at the man while feeling something wasn't right.
"This-this is the engineers laboratory, did you set the girls up in here?", she hesitated stepping into the room, which was darkened.
"The little girls wanted to give you a little surprise, like a party almost, there's even cake.", he whispered into her ear.
"I hate surprises.", she stayed outside of the door.
"Well I told you about it; now it's not.", he quickly murmured.
The pair stepped into the room, Caroline felt her palms moistened with anxiety. She hated the dark ever since she was a toddler, not knowing what was around her always frightened her. It wasn't a fear of monsters, or the boogy man, just the unknown. Perhaps this is why she decided to pursue science; to know the unknown.
Bright lights flashed on, a loud slam behind her. The door closed. Caroline waited for the sounds of children while her eyes adjusted to the sudden glare. She was met with no such thing, only five lab-coated men, not including the one behind her who stood in front of the door.
"I don't- What is going on?", she took a few hard steps forward, her heels clicking on the tile, angerly eying each of the men. "Where's the children?"
"I'm sorry, Caroline. Truly sorry.", one of the men spoke from across the room, his voice cracking nervously. "We are only following Cave's request."
"You.. no! If you think for a damn second that I'm going to let you put me in that machine, you are mistaken!" she crudely waved a pointed finger at the man across the room, she had enough of the same group tailing her everyday, begging her to go through with the procedure. She turned to peer at the man at the door, the one who led her in here, her face wrinkled with anger, "And YOU! You're fired! Box up your belongings. Out the door. Parking lot. Car. Good-Bye!". With that she waved her hand at the man, as if to excuse him.
The man lowered his head, he felt absolutely horrible. He always enjoyed Caroline's presence, she brought a smile to his face everyday. And now he had to upset her to the point of loosing his job. Though, he greedily hoped his job would still be intact after the upcoming event.
Two of the men approached Caroline, taking her by the arms in a firm grasp, "We are sorry, please understand. We've worked so hard, for you, and Cave."
"Wait, what are you doing? Let go of me this instant!" Caroline gave the two men a hurtful scowl, trying to resist as best as she could.
A more serious, less expressive looking man approached the pod like bed, patting it softly. The bed was hooked up to dozens of wires, thick conduits, all leading to a large computer near the observation window. "Lay her down in here." His seemed less apologetic, and more eager.
"What? No! Please! I'm not ready for this!", she pleaded desperately as the men picked her up off the floor slightly. One of her heels dropping off her foot as she kicked her legs, giving everything she had to avoid being placed inside the tube shaped bed.
"Hold her still!", the man shouted after being kicked in the hip by the frantic woman, trying without luck to grab her legs.
It took a bit of fighting, being kicked in various places, and avoiding close calls with teeth, but three of the men managed to hold the woman down inside the pod. She was a strong woman, but not physically. It wasn't long before she lost the ability to continue struggling against the stronger males. She knew it was a loosing battle. Then came the restraints that were located inside the bedding, which were promptly fastened around her torso, arms, and legs. That's when she lost it.
"Please..please..", she was exhausted, her face wet with tears and small streaks of grey makeup crept away from her eyes. She saw the looks in the men's eyes, the sadness they felt, the guilt. But they wouldn't do what's right.
"Why are you doing this? It doesn't need to happen!", she cried out, terrified as the expressionless man placed the wired leads in various places on her forehead and neck. She did what she could to avoid it, still having plenty of mobility in her head, shaking her head around, her hair becoming a less preen mess of loose strands.
"I don't want this, please!", her voice was drowned in terror. She turned her head, looking at each man, lingering her gaze. She knew if she could, after all this is said and done, she would remember who was here; they were to be fired, to be punished for humiliating her so much.
[Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System now online, proceed with subject map to core transfer?]
"Yes, proceed.", a voice came the other side of the room. A set of large computer's overlooked the central chamber via thick windows. A man standing at the console, typing slowly on it, as if stalling.
[Subject- Caroline [static] - found. Do you wish to proceed with subject map to core transfer?]
"..NO! Nonono!", Caroline felt a wave of relief flowing through her, she was unaware there was such a safety protocol built into the programming.
[Stalemate Detected. Subject map to core transfer cannot continue.]
"Why on earth did we add that in?", the man chimed from the window.
[Stalemate Resolution Associate: Please press the Stalemate Resolution Button.]
"What?", Caroline tried to sit up as the anger rushed back through her, the men only kept her down. "What is the point of having safety protocols when you can just easily over-rid them with a button?"
The male at the computer didn't bother looking at the button when he reached over, tapping the red plastic with ease.
[Stalemate Resolved. Transfer can now continue.]
"Please, re-think what you're doing! I don't want this.", Caroline gave another plea to the man looming over. Her eyes wandering to a thick cable in his hand.
[Map transfer completed. Awaiting neuro analysis.]
That was the last thing she remembered hearing. The last few moments of her life; only thing she felt was her head being lifted up, or rather, hugged, a kind hug she thought. Then the sharp, excruciating pain at the base of her skull. Then the screaming, or maybe trying to, at least she wanted to. Everything was silent. She could feel the cable and the multitude of microscopic fibers worming their way around inside the scruff of her neck. Everything went black.
Waking up was far worse.
Chell's eyes lazily opened. She stared at the ceiling, waiting for her heavy eye-lids to stop fighting with her. Giving a big yawn and an equally big stretch, she started recapping bits of what occurred before she passed out. GLaDOS was overly.. not herself. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but she started remembering how she opened up, allowing her to know her unsettling past. She almost couldn't blame her for taking so many lives.
The woman sat up, allowing her arms to hold her weight, she took note of her clothing, still the same jumpsuit, and even her long fall boots were still attached. She was starting to dislike the repetitive clothing. With one more yawn, she crept off the bed. Worry soon flooded her mind as she remembered GLaDOS' plan to hunt out the remaining people deep in the facility. How long was she sleeping? Was it too late to intervene? She almost panicly looked around the room, hoping to find the portal gun, wanting to rush down below.. until her eyes spotted GLaDOS herself.
The android laid back in the chair, her head hanging off the back, arms limply hanging down, and her silky white hair almost touching the ground in that position. Her eyes were closed, she almost looked sleeping she mused. Chell slowly crept towards her, a few thoughts running through her mind, what if she already went down below and went on a rampage, or maybe she left her body in her room while she switched to the central core.. both really didn't settle well in any case.
"H-hey.", Chell meekly called in a raspy, over slept voice while slowly approaching the android. She cautiously reached her arm out to touch a shoulder. "Are you.. in there?", her voice faulted as she was unsure how to ask.
GLaDOS' yellow eyes opened and blinking a few times, she gave the woman's a hand on her shoulder a quick look before looking to Chell. She understood her expression of worry, but was unsure of the direct cause.
"According to my data; it's rude to bother people that are resting, or appear to be. And also unwanted touching.", the android lifted her head, straightening her posture in the chair. "Is something wrong? You didn't destroy something, did you?"
Chell pulled her arm back, "I was just checking. I thought you left yourself here."
"What a ridiculous thing to say.", she stood up while readjusting the ties around her waist. "I merely put myself in a low energy using state while reviewing more of Caroline.", she admitted. GLaDOS started towards the exit of the room. "And after no-so-much deliberation on my part, I've decided those men must be dealt with."
GLaDOS stopped in her steps, feeling Chell pull on her arm.
"Wait, please?", the woman requested, she gave the android a doleful stare. "I don't think they're a threat at all. Confused, yeah. But I don't see-"
"Your friends are horrible people. Did you forget about the little device they gave you?", GLaDOS was obvious sullen, she was almost disappointed in the woman for still trying to defend those men.
"They just don't understand. All they remember is the day, that, you know.", Chell looked down, not wanting to bring up that particular subject.
"And you don't understand." she glanced to the woman's hand that was still holding her arm, doing her best not to sound emotionally unstable. "Between that device; which by the way, would of reset my system and erased, well, everything. And those men.. ", the android clenched her fist in anger, "Those men, I know them from somewhere, and not in a positive way."
Chell let her grip on the arm go, she had no points to argue with. She assumed the AI's clouded memories of the men must of struck something uneasy. The best she could do is at least attempt to keep the peace. "Can't you talk to them at least?", she cheekily smiled, "I mean, you are the more intelligent being, no sense rushing in, murdering everything."
"You have a point. I wouldn't want to be confused for you."
Chell let the poor attempt at an insult from GLaDOS slide as she kept a firm stare at her. She had her doubts the AI would actually take her advice, but that wasn't going to stop her from trying. "Take me with you?"
"It was already a plan to take you."
Chell was undoubtedly nervous. After a small argument over who would carry the repaired ASHPD, which Chell won in the end quite happily, they started their trip into lower Aperture. Chell wasn't a mess over that fact, but she knew what GLaDOS was capable of lately; or lacking. Self control was hard on the AI, she knew this, she saw the way she was fighting with herself in her body language and voice. She started wondering why GLaDOS was even bothering to say in that pristine body if it gave her so many problems. The AI could easily find a way to deal with her 'infestation', so GLaDOS called it, while in the central core where she had more control of herself, and the facility. Was it not a choice, or maybe there was something wrong with the core? Or, what if, she liked being in that android.
Ducking under a low hanging pipe, following GLaDOS, Chell finally broke the silence. "Do you like being in that body?", the question was simple enough not to warrant an insult she figured.
GLaDOS didn't respond right away, or even bothering looking back at the girl, "Yes.", she said with a stolid voice after her pause. "I don't enjoy the aspect of not being in full control..", she paused, squeezing around a large piece of debris, "But it does give me mobility to accomplish tasks, like repairing my core.". GLaDOS tone was slightly too happy as she spoke.
Chell thought back, wondering about the tiny box-sized device from yesterday. "That didn't look like repairing.. ", she trailed off, remembering the shattered box.
Flashing a grin back towards the girl, "It was an unnecessary piece of equipment."
"What did it do?", Chell questioned, her voice staggering a bit, almost afraid to ask. GLaDOS grinning was never good.
"A hub. For cores.", she kept her comment short and sweet, just like she felt about the removal of it.
"That tiny little thing?", Chell wrinkled her face, not being able to understand the mechanics of large ball to small box.
"It's .. complicated.", the android shook her head, not really caring to explain the intricacies related with how electronics worked to the curious girl.
Chell nodded, not really caring to hear the explanation.
At least they were on the same page.
The pair finally neared the bottom of the debris ridden path. Stopping, they both took a long look around. It was still as quiet as Chell had remembered, not a soul in sight, no sound but the low rumble of the facility that she was used to, albeit quieter. She did take note of GLaDOS' disposition, she would never admit it, but she was sure the AI was feeling intimidated by the ordeal.
"This is far more unfavorable than being stuck in that horrible potato.", GLaDOS loathed, a slight hint of static in her voice, "I can't- feel anything down here.". She was so used to being in charge, the omnipresence; the reduced amount of control on the facility coupled with the interference devices that were scattered from the start of their decent left her experiencing a strange and ominous silence in her android form. "I'm barely able to access any surveillance from my own core chamber."
Chell didn't take long to seize the moment of the potential regret on the AI's part, "We should get you back up top then.", she lightly tugged at the android's arm, hoping she would give into the troubled feelings and take her advice.
That advice was quickly shot down as GLaDOS pulled her arm away, letting a exasperated noise past her lips, "Not until we are finished here. It would be far worse to let them to continue their infestation of my facility."
Once they continued down onto the dirtied, shack lined path, GLaDOS found herself trailing behind Chell this time around, who indeed found it to be odd behavior. The android's eyes focus' on each of the outlining shacks as they passed by, as if searching for life, or threats. All she had to go by was sight and sound, and she hated it, even it was far above that of a humans.
"Talk first, then decide?", Chell questioned, wanting reassurance as they climbed the few stairs that lead to the main door.
"Can't promise you anything."
At least it wasn't a 'no', Chell figured that was the best she was going to get out of her as she gave the still rough door a few hits with her shoulder, pushing it open.
They slowly stepped into the lobby of the building. Chell instantly set her gaze on the chair, taking everything to resist the urge to plop down into once again. GLaDOS on the other hand, was notably gathering information on every single object in the large room, her eyes focusing on each piece of furniture, painting, window and halls, of course it only took her a few moments to take everything in.
"I knew you were coming back eventually, and you brought a friend I see.", a familiar voice, Charles, rang down from a balcony off to the right side of the large space. He only stared at GLaDOS, seething from her presence. "Why would you bring that monstrosity here?", he spoke down to Chell, the resentment in his voice was clear.
"She was going to come with or without me, I only came to-", she gave a look of annoyance as soon as she was interrupted. She was starting to hate that.
"I don't think you understand the danger you are putting us all in by bringing that, thing- that we tried so hard to keep away, right into our home!"
GLaDOS said nothing, her disposition unclear, her head was looking down, avoiding eye-contact as her hair crept over the sides of her face.
"I only came to try to get you two to talk it over, maybe you can come down and we can-", she found herself almost hiss as GLaDOS grabbed her arm, pulling her close to her.
"If he comes down here, I won't be able to control myself.", she quietly speaks to her, wanting to avoid being heard by Charles, who was leaning slightly over the balcony trying to hear, not caring too much for the whispering.
Chell only gave her a quizzical look.
The grip on Chell started tightening, almost painfully. "He..he was there, when they made Caroline.. no, forced her to be with me. Seeing his face, I finally understood why his voice was so familiar."
Chell was wide-eyed. No wonder she was acting off. She took a glance at Charles before returning her look to GLaDOS, who already had a stone gaze on the man on the balcony. It only worsened as he stared back at her.
"What's that look for now?", a sense of mocking in his voice, he knew by Chell's look what was generally being said, he gave the android a sheepish grin.
Chell wondered if the man had a death wish. She imagined it wouldn't take long for GLaDOS to actually reach the man, and even less to 'exterminate' him. Though, she found it odd the AI didn't even make a move yet.
"We need to go, now.", she sharply announced to Chell, tugging at her arm as she turned for the door. "My motion detectors; someone is very very close to my core chamber."
Chell shot Charles distrusting glare before allowing herself to lead by the android. Charles only expectantly watched them take their leave to the door, before stepping away from the balcony out of sight.
"They knew we were coming!", GLaDOS angrily swung the door open, letting it smack into the wall as she yanked Chell through the door way.
Their leave was quickly halted as they stood outside of the door way. Three men were waiting a short distance from the stairs. These men didn't look like the skinny, more well kept scientist type, they seemed to have more brawn, clearly not ones for light work. GLaDOS gave them a disturbing look, focusing on the objects in their hands. She carefully readjusted her position to keep Chell behind her person.
"Is that..", she squinted her eyes, not that it would help her see, she was just in shock, "Are those.. my turrets?" Chell was equally confused as she tilted her head at them with a slack-jaw.
The turrets were the usual glossy white, non-dysfunctional variety. Except their leg stands were missing, and they had no life to them, no small voice to announce their presence, or targeting accomplishments. Even their small red 'eyes' were dim. It didn't take long for GLaDOS to understand the purpose of the revised turrets. They were human usable weapons, or a firearm in this case, that just happened to fire the whole bullet.
GLaDOS found herself thinking for less than second on how ingenious that was for a human to render a turret into a hand-held turret... a 'hand-held turret', she saved this information for later use.
The men didn't show any sense of mercy as the turrets started firing.