**Disclaimer: All characters belong to Valve in some way, shape, or form.**
"Alright, body. Here's the situation. I know you've been put through hell for the past week or so – or however long I was down there – and I fully agree, we've more than earned a bit of a rest. I mean, look at me: I'm talking to myself. Literally to my self. I definitely need a bit of a kip.
"However, we are stuck in an alternate universe with who-knows-what inhabiting it, and sleeping out in the open is probably one of the worst ideas ever. Also, there is a house just up ahead, and with any luck they'll be kind enough to give us a bed. Don't know about you, but I would much prefer some sort of mattress – possibly even blankets and a pillow, but I'll take what I can get – some sort of mattress than lying in the mud.
"Speaking of mud, this rain is a bit much, yeah? I mean, at first it was rather refreshing – poetic, even. Now it's just a pain in the arse.
"It's been an hour, rain! You can go ahead and stop now!... No? Just going to keep raining, then? Brilliant.
"Come on... ignore the rain. Just keep going. One foot in front of the other. You're almost to the door. Legs, why are you shaking? Stop that. You were doing fine when we left Aperture, and now out of nowhere you – oh. Of course adrenal vapor withdrawal would pick now to kick in. No, knee, this is not a situation you need to involve yourself in. I just need you all to keep it together long enough to get me to the –
"Ow... fucking hell... ow...
"... And once again, I am on the ground. And I appear to have torn open some wounds. Oh, look! At least this time I landed in mud! Tremendous.
"C'mon, Wheaters... you've dragged yourself this far. Just a little more. Come on, you've done the hard part! You got out of Aperture! You found a house! It might even be occupied! You've just got to... got to knock on the door. Man alive, I'm tired... the mud's not so bad... No! Not yet; don't fall asleep yet. Knock on the door, first. Just knock...
"Hello? Is anyone in there?
"Hellooooo? Are you going to open this door? At any time? Hello? Can y – no? Can you please open the door? It's fairly urgent!
"Can you please open the door? Look, I know it's late, but it's raining really hard and I've been walking a very long time and this is the first house I've seen and I'm not sure I can make it to the next one because I've kind of collapsed on your door step and I don't think I can move anymore. I'm... I'm hurt. Very badly. And I may or may not be bleeding out, to be perfectly honest, which brings my situation from 'urgent' to 'dire.' It's also making it hard to concentrate. So I'm afraid I'm going to have to insist on bothering you until you open the door and help me.
"Vuoi aprire la porta? No?
"Hello? I hear you moving in there! Just open the door!
"HA! I knew someone was – AAAAAAHHH! Put the gun away, put the gun away! Honestly, who greets people at the door with a bloody shotgu –
"Oh my God.
"Oh my God, it's you! The this-you! I saw you in the painting – and on the computer! You're here! You're real! Oh, bloody hell, of course I'd find you looking like this.
"Wait, hold on, put the gun down! I meant me looking like this, not you looking like this! You look lovely! I mean, aside from that rather frightening scowl and the gray in your hair and the scars and – Um, lovely! I'll just leave it at 'lovely.' Please put the gun away.
"Man alive, this isn't how I expected to meet you. I thought I'd be standing, for one... Sorry, I'm running a fever, and it's making it hard to focus on what I'm saying. Did I say that already? I think I said that already. Oh, you have no idea how good it is to see you! Oh, I could just hug you. If, if I were capable of standing. Which I am not. Speaking of which, it's very uncomfortable here on the ground; is there any possible way I could get you to pick me up –
"Hang on don't shoot me! Fine, never mind that! I'll stay on the ground! Listen! Wait, hang on! Okay! Right, just let me explain!
"I think I know why you're angry, but I'm not Wheatley! I mean, I am Wheatley, just a different Wheatley, yeah? No. No, right, that doesn't make any sense, I don't blame you for scowling more at me. Right. Let me try again. My name is Doctor Stephen Nathaniel Wheatley, and I'm from another universe.
"Don't think I'm not seeing you giving me that look, lady. I'm not crazy. It's... It's a long story, but you have to believe me. See, I know I sound like the not-me, but I'm not the not-me, I'm the me-me. I'm...
"... I'm... I'm having a lot of trouble not sounding like a mentalist, I know. The whole wordy-mouth thing is a bit difficult for me at the moment, to be honest.
"Oh, I don't feel well... Alright, listen. I'm not sure I'll be conscious for much longer, and I've got to get this out. Afterward you can shoot me, you can kick me off your step, or slam the door in my face and I'd completely understand. But I want... I have to say... I can't say it to you you, but I can say it to this you and hope to God you can hear me. If not, well then maybe you... the this you, the you I'm talking with right now... you... can pretend it's not the me me saying this but the this me saying it and maybe it'll all be okay. We... we have a lot in common, I'll admit... going beyond the accent – me and him, I mean – but we're not completely the same! We're bloody not! But I know... I know he'd feel the same as I do right now. I... I don't need you to forgive me... or him, I guess... I don't need you to say anything, really. Not that, not that you've said anything yet – you're really quiet, did you know that? But I just want you to know..."
"I wish I could take it all back. I honestly do. I honestly do wish I could take it all back. And not just because of what's happened to me. I... I'm sorry. Sincerely. I am sorry I was bossy, and monstrous, and... I am genuinely sorry.
"I just... wanted to say that before I... Is it cold? I'm really cold... man alive, my head's killing me. Can I get a... what was I saying? Water? Not rain... Do you think... Oh, no. I think I'm going to pass out, now..."
The wind shrieked through the crevice, dragging flurries of snow in its wake. This spot had long been hidden from the Arctic's harsh weather, a cavern formed of ice harboring a strange denizen. It had remained unmolested for over half a century, forgotten in its frozen tomb.
Then had come the man with the crowbar.
Then had come The Incident.
The scorch marks and blood had long since faded in the four years since. Here and there surviving sections of the metal hull still clung to visibility, though the snow fought to bury them inch by inch.
The snow was winning, but one word could still be made out on the largest of the remaining pieces:
A secret huddled underneath. It had miraculously survived The Incident and until three days ago had lain dormant, sheltered from the snow and ice by the section of hull. Wooden crates sat bound together by netting and ropes with bright yellow lettering identifying them as "LEMONADE." On top of the crates was a strange device, clinging to functionality.
A digital display offered a dim green glow to fend off the darkness. Words were still visible on the screen, dark green on a black background:
/ Initiating recall...
/ Signal Confirmed.
/ Running "recall . exe"...
/ Error 0xc000000f: An error occurred transferring execution. "FU_BM . exe" is unresponsive.
/ Initiating ...
/ Signal Confirmed.
/ Running "salvage . exe "...
/ Estimated time remaining: 01:00:15:46:52