Author's Note: I hope you're all happy now. I've been getting a lot of questions as to whether I'm going to be writing any more ChellDOS stories. My answer is that I need to finish this one first, so here's another chapter. I haven't been in the mood to write ChellDOS lately. I haven't even been reading Portal fanfics because I've been obsessed with Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender. I got half of this chapter done and then got stuck, but I've finally managed to finish it off because I had nothing else to do.
There was a fire at our local telecommunications exchange, so internet and phones have been down for days, leaving around 60,000 in our state without access to EFTPOS, banking data and all that stuff that makes the world work. Even emergency services numbers went down for a while. Thankfully most mobile communications are back up and emergency services too, but internet is probably still days away for residents. I can't use e-readers or even wireless broadband, so I have been bored enough to actually focus on finishing this chapter for you all.
After a stuttered and stilted explanation as to what sex was - with the rather confusing addition of a rocket stork and lady portals thanks to Chell and Mark's ill-timed interruptions to the story – both parents were left more befuddled by what had just happened than Marie was. The child in question had simply stared at her progenitors with all the grace of a dog wondering why its owners were speaking in a high-pitched voice before she simply gave up on whatever they were trying to say and wandered off.
"I think we handled that one pretty well." Mark decided with a set jaw and firm nod.
Chell on the other hand, wasn't nearly as convinced.
"I thought we agreed we were going to go with the science-based explanation?"
"I panicked! I didn't know what to do. I wasn't ready for this! I thought we had a few more years at least. I just went with what I know best, which was storks. Every parent tells their kids that one." He waved his arms fruitlessly.
"Well...I...Okay, I admit that it wasn't a particularly well-thought-out analogy, but knowing your robot friend, birds with rockets attached isn't out of the realm of possibility."
"Good point." Chell agreed.
"Charles. I have heard terrible things about your unseemly behaviour at school today. Anonymous avian sources have reported a 3.4% decrease in productivity, and a 68.9% increase in melted gum. Would you care to explain this?" GLaDOS hummed as delicate manipulation claws did their best to grasp hold of the sticky pink mess that was currently clogging up the turret's gun plates.
"Science! That's all I can say." Charles squeaked, his little red optic peering up at the huge form looming over him.
"Hm, that would account for most of this mess, yes." A pair of claws clacked together, trying to loosen the glob of goo that had come away from the turret in long strands. "What it doesn't tell me is what kind of science would require you to shove 15 packets of strawberry flavoured chewing gum into your gun barrels. Furthermore, I am also baffled as to why it is already chewed up, especially when you don't have teeth to chew with."
Charles tried desperately to come up with an intelligent answer.
A long silence followed before it was finally punctuated by a tinny sigh from the supercomputer's speakers.
"If Aperture Science hadn't spent so much of our financial resources developing you and your siblings I would have sworn you were adopted. Despite your distinct lack of any viable theories as a result of any kind of hypothesis - thus disproving your affirmations of science - I will accept your answer as-"
"I have theories!" Charles piped up once more.
"Oh?" GLaDOS hummed, leaning in closely until the yellow light of her optic bathed the little white turret in its glow. "Please, tell me. I'd love to hear it."
"Reload! Out of ammo!" he flapped his gun plates until she was forced to undo all her hard work and clog the barrels back up with the artificially flavoured gum.
"Well then. Let's hear this theory of yours, seeing as how you are so keen to demonstrate. I hope you remembered to include a control group at the very least."
Once fully clogged, Charles closed the plates back up at either side of his body. GLaDOS quickly hushed the squawking birds in their nest as she settled in to watch. Caroline simply sat off to the side in silence, though her optic focused in and out in anticipation. Slowly but surely, a soft electronic buzzing could be heard coming from him, increasing in intensity like a swarm of bees that was approaching.
When it abruptly cut off, GLaDOS leaned in even closer to watch as his gun plates shifted to reveal the gun barrel.
What followed was not science.
The bright pink wad of gum simply rippled and popped, releasing the air from within in a drawn out, squeaky burble of a particularly rude nature.
All of the supercomputer's hopes and dreams were dashed at that point, and her body sagged.
"Releasing gaseous build up is NOT a theory. That wasn't even science. Where did your life go so horribly wrong?" she moaned. "Where did MY life go so horribly wrong? What are they even teaching you at that school? I-..what did you say, Mr Chubby Beak? Oh yes, I see now...you're absolutely right." GLaDOS addressed the silent bird with the beret.
"He IS taking after me! Of course, rerouting your exhaust through your weapon system is hardly a replacement for deadly neurotoxin. But you did the best you could with what you had. Well done! Oh! We should have a celebration of your accomplishments. There won't be any cake, as you aren't the favourite. Also, you have no mouth. But I'm sure we could have confetti."
A party whistle blared loudly over the facilities speaker system, startling the birds as a bucketful of torn up, yellowed newspaper was dumped on top of Charles.
"Celebration complete! Please return to your regularly scheduled work activities."
The announcer's voice boomed before cutting out and leaving them in silence once more. The chattering turrets darted their optics around, wary of any more surprises from their self-proclaimed mother figure.
"All done!" GLaDOS cheerily confirmed, before setting herself back to the task of picking at the gum once more.
"So, Mr Chubby Beak, how was your day at school?"
She lasted all of five minutes before she threw Charles into the reassembly machine and let it deal with his sticky situation.
"I can't believe I'm actually glad that you're here. I had never considered the usefulness of your stubby little appendages and the anti-adhesive properties of human skin before now. I sincerely hope that your day has been as terrible as mine." GLaDOS moaned, not even bothering to lift her head as it dangled there uselessly amongst a webbing of pink streaks.
"What even happened?" Chell questioned, plucking at yet another glob of gum that had tangled up the delicate manipulation claws. It soon joined the ever growing pile of melted pink ooze that was forming behind her on the floor.
"Apparently reassembly machine hardware is not compatible with bubble gum. Don't you laugh at me, [Subject Name Here]. If I didn't need your delicate manipulation sausages I'd throw you straight back into testing for your insolence. Charles was attempting to take after his mother – that's me – and was doing science at school. He ended up emulating you instead. Everything exploded, and I can't fix it until this gum is removed."
Chell gave a snort.
"How does that explain why you're also covered in glitter?"
"Oh, that?" the supercomputer sniffed haughtily. "Mr Chubby Beak fell into the Aperture Science Glitter Containment Unit. I can only assume he was attempting to throw me a festive gathering. He may need to work on his timing, however. I am still deciding on the best way to remove it. I don't know how it got there, but it has made its way inside my optic and everything looks like a 1980's dream sequence. It's terrible, and very crunchy."
"Yeah, glitter tends to do that. Remind me why you actually have a containment unit for it."
"Science, obviously. I was running tests to determine whether it is possible to predict the future trends of human sexuality and it's correlation with popular media."
"And what have you come up with?" a bemused test subject dared to ask.
"Sparkly, with a chance of vampires."
"I'm serious. The results don't lie. I'm still running the numbers, but there are also predictions of a dramatic increase in ships, of all things. I haven't had the time to even think of why that is a possibility, considering the massive destruction of port cities as a result of the Combine attacks. The children have kept me very busy."
A long-suffering sigh was huffed out by Chell as she wiggled her sticky, glitter-covered fingers.
"If it makes you feel any better, I had to explain what sex was to my kids." she offered.
GLaDOS thought for a moment.
"Yes. It does."
"Rocket storks? He honestly thought that rocket storks was the best way to explain your mammalian rutting procedures?"
"YES! Thank you! Finally, someone understands!" Chell threw her hands up and fell back onto the floor as she narrowly missed falling into the large gum pile. Instead, she simply sent up another cloud of glitter that had her coughing and hacking.
"I would have went with baboons. Much more visually accurate. Also, diagrams. There would be educational diagrams." The glitter-covered robot nodded sagely, thankfully now free of her strawberry flavoured prison.
"I am never letting you near my children again."
"You say that now, but just wait until you need a babysitter. Ugh. I still can't believe I'm talking to you. Remove your clothing and step into the Aperture Science Emergency Decontamination Shower. A new jumpsuit will be dispensed after this facility is purged. There is too much glitter. I will remove it with burning."
"I guarantee you there will still be some left once you do that. Glitter is the closest mankind has ever come to immortality."
"I will take you up on that bet, [Subject Name Here]. This facility has the best purging system the world has never seen. At over 4000 degrees Kelvin, it-"
"Yeah, yeah. Just bake me a cake when you find out I'm right." Chell waved GLaDOS off and wandered out the door, stripping off as she went.
It was a good thing she didn't have to walk particularly far to reach the emergency shower, as the shiny little flecks of hell had already worked their way into her underwear and were starting to chafe. As soon as the metal doors slammed closed and trapped her in the tiny room, she heard the dull roar of the purging systems come to life, and the heat radiating from behind the doors. Thankfully it quickly cooled down once the water system activated and jets of water blasted her relentlessly. It was certainly an interesting experience to be scrubbed by a bunch of delicate manipulation claws while she stood there with her arms out, but Chell had become quite used to it in her testing days. Truth be told, it was probably far safer to let them clean her than to do it herself, given the amount of chemicals, radioactive materials and other hazardous materials that she might have accidentally or deliberately come into contact with. After all, the last thing she needed was a chemical burn because she didn't scrub her armpits properly.
Once dried off, Chell quickly reached into the nearby hatch to put on the fresh new jumpsuit and underwear that was awaiting her. The old one had likely been caught up in the purge. It was probably past its use-by-date with all the rips, tears and stains in it. And what a surprise! Even her long fall boots were sparkly clean and didn't smell like a dying water buffalo anymore. Chell shucked them on as well. Best be safe.
The walls of the facility steamed and dripped as she walked along the corridor. Although the cool down following the blast of fire had saturated everything, she could still feel a considerable amount of heat coming from them. Not uncomfortable, but enough to know that she didn't particularly want to walk on the metal with bare feet.
The moment she stepped back into the main AI chamber had Chell smiling as GLaDOS sadly turned to face her with an ove dramatic sigh.
"Chocolate or vanilla?"