Earth is a lie
Freedom seemed to be too good to be true.
After running into a fleeing refugee, Chell got the whole story.
An inter-dimensional empire called "The Combine" had taken over the Earth a couple of centuries ago. A resistance group managed to expel them from Europe, but they still had free reign over the rest of the world. Outside was no better than inside.
Unfortunately, this new knowledge came with a price. The man Chell got her information from was fleeing from the Combine.
She didn't stand a chance, and took several bullets to the chest, arms, and legs.
She'd have died if GLaDOS hadn't saved her.
The details were still fuzzy to her, but rocket turrets had popped up from the ground all around her, blasting the Combine into gory chunks.
She awoke back at the Aperture Science facility, alive.
Well, alive in the sense that she still existed. Her original body had sustained fatal injuries, and it had to be disposed of.
So GLaDOS put her in an android body.
It took a year for Chell to come to terms with it.
Nothing organic was left, she was just all wires and circuitry, and that scared her.
Well, it scared her for a month, then for three months she was depressed. For the next eight months she decided to accept her new life, and do something with it.
However, in saving her, GLaDOS had compromised the secrecy of the Aperture Science Testing Facility.
The Combine were constantly making attacks on the facility, which GLaDOS shrugged off with imputiny.
But then they brought in the big guns, and Chell and GLaDOS realized something.
They had to leave, but had nowhere left to go.
In a year, the Combine retook Europe, killing the "One Free Man" and crushing the Resistance worldwide.
So they made plans to leave, and if a certain little core was still with them, it'd be very exciting.
Because they were going to space.
[Memory cache online.]
[Tactile Sensors online.]
[Auditory Sensors online.]
[Visual Sensors online.]
[Wireless Communications systems online.]
[Auditory Communications systems online.]
[Auxiliary systems online.]
[Reactor Core functioning at 50% capacity.]
[Aperture Science Personality Perpetuator Android Online.]
Chell opened her eyes to be greeted with the pristine white ceiling of the Aperture Science Testing facility. It was a ceiling that she had seen thousands of times, and every single time it seemed new. As she pulled herself to a sitting position, she noticed the absence on the other side of the bed.
It seemed as though GLaDOS had left to put the finishing touches on their escape craft already. She was such a workaholic, and rarely slept.
Well, it wasn't as if she needed to. Chell and GLaDOS didn't require sleep or food anymore, but Chell liked the routine of sleeping.
GLaDOS called her lazy.
Oh yeah, and GLaDOS also had an android body, if that wasn't obvious.
Chell got out of bed, and walked over to the coat stand in the corner of the room. She pulled a lab coat off the stand and shrugged it on. Although she could change the color and texture of her skin, she felt naked without any clothes.
She stood in front of a mirror, and looked at herself. Her pupils were blank and her skin was Aperture Science white; the default setting. Chell willed her body to change, and instantly, her skin took on a more natural light brown shade. Her pupils, on the other hand, she decided to change to both blue and orange. The colors were a bit nostalgic for her. She left the small bedroom that she and GLaDOS shared and into the spotless corridors of the Aperture Science testing facility. A short walk later, she found herself in front of one of a door. It had been taken from one of the testing chambers and bolted into the wall. It wasn't a shoddy job, but it was obvious that it was taken from other parts of the facility.
Chell sent a mental command to the door mainframe, and it opened without a fuss. As the door slid apart, a magnificent sight was revealed. A truly massive starship, More than 2 miles long, 3,000 meters wide, and over 4,000 meters tall sat within the disemboweled carcass of the facility. It was smooth and sleek, like all Aperture Science products, and 4 nacelles at the far end housed the massive ion drives needed to propel the ship. It was wrapped in an orange scaffold, which both served as mounts for the innumerable robotic arms putting the last minute touches on the ship, and a cradle to lift the ship out of the Earth's atmosphere. Bolted to the side of the cradle were sixty massive rounded cylinders. They all bore the Aperture Science logo, and were designed to manipulate gravity to lift the gigantic starship out of the Earth's gravitational pull. The entire scaffolding would have to be ejected by then, though, because the gravity manipulators become unstable after about ten minutes of use.
For now, the thing looked frankenstein-ish, but once it reached space, the Aperture Science logo and name would be uncovered, and the thing would look truly grand.
Chell walked through the door and onto the walkways the hugged the remains of the testing facility. GLaDOS had cannibalized the facility to build the ship, and converted what remained into a shipyard. Chell looked over the railing, down into the bottom of the improvised shipyard, where the ship itself stretched down into oblivion. If she jumped, she'd land somewhere in old Aperture. She didn't really feel like falling, though, so she made her way to the Central AI chamber, to the sound of hydraulics, whirring servos, and clanking metal.
Soon, she entered the expansive room; the room that held so many memories. In the center, GLaDOS' old body hung limp, its casing empty of any intelligence; reduced to a mass of metal and circuitry. It was the architectural centerpiece of the room. Chell found something else to be the centerpiece of the room, though.
"Hey, GLaDOS," Chell smiled, approaching the white-haired feminine android standing in front of a row of monitors in the middle of the room under the old, vacant chassis, "Anything new?"
Chell would never get used to her own voice. It might fool a human, but she could hear the synthesized layer underneath the sound waves. It creeped her out to no end.
"Ah, so the lard-ass awakens," GLaDOS grinned as she teased her former test subject, "how was your stand-by cycle?"
Chell grabbed an unused office chair and collapsed into it, "I miss dreams." She responded simply.
GLaDOS turned her attention back to whatever she was coordinating in her head, as the screens were blank, "I see. I can always design a randomized simulation for you. You'll be surfing on clouds with flying pigs in no time, or whatever it is you humans dream about."
Chell shook her head, "It's not the same. Anyways, had any trouble with the Combine?"
GLaDOS sighed, "They took down the backup security system yesterday. Luckily I have redundancies for my redundancies, so they've got twelve more backups to go through before they get here."
Chell frowned in confusion, "Wait a second, I don't remember that happening yesterday."
"You were on standby," GLaDOS explained, "for a full day."
"What?" Chell sat upright, "Why?"
"I made some upgrades." The AI stated.
It took Chell a moment to process what she just said.
"What, on me?!" the alarmed former-human asked.
GLaDOS cast Chell an annoyed sideways glance, "Yes, on you, you lunatic. I just installed two Portal emitters on you. You should be grateful, those things are hard enough to build without having to miniaturize into a humanoid chassis."
"Oh, um…" Chell was flabbergasted, "… thanks?"
GLaDOS waved her off, "You're welcome. If you were wondering, we should be ready for launch in the next few hours, it's time we dusted off this hopeless rock."
Suddenly a massive quake shook the facility, and alarms blared at top volume. Chell managed to stay upright due to the shock absorbers in her legs. GLaDOS seemed perturbed by the disturbance.
"What was that?!" Chell yelled, regaining her footing as the shaking subsided.
"You… might want to take a look at this." GLaDOS turned on the screens, showing Combine soldiers streaming into the facility at almost every possible entrance.
"I thought you had all those redundancies?!" Chell gaped at the volume of armed Combine entering the facility. Even though they were still a safe distance away from them, it was only a matter of time before they would reach the shipyard.
"I'm not sure what happened. I lost all contact with the security systems." GLaDOS growled in anger as doors opened for Combine forces one after the other, "Oh, they manually severed my communication lines and patched their own in! What a brutish tactic! I still have control over the Pipe Network though; those idiots are in for a nasty surprise!"
All across the invaded portions of the facility, turrets crashed through the ceiling, cheerily chirping, "Hello friend!" and "I see you!" before riddling the Combine invaders with bullets.
"That should buy us about an hour." GLaDOS commented.
More intrusion alarms went off, and Chell tuned into one of the cameras. While she herself didn't really need the screens, and could probably comprehend millions of video feeds at the same time, she didn't. When she had first been converted into an android, the transition had been shocking. She was no longer human, but a computer, and while her personality had been preserved, her sanity had almost been drowned under millions of terabytes of information. The input had been too much, so GLaDOS modified Chell's programming, or at least the UI. Instead of directly interacting with the mainframe, to Chell it's as if she's interacting with a normal computer; one that wasn't constantly feeding her information. She only knew what she needed or wanted to know. She could override it to various degrees, but she really didn't like information overloads.
So Chell only streamed the video from one camera, because more than one would be a bit dizzying.
She saw a Combine synthetic "Hunter" burst through a line of dead Combine corpses and topple a turret, which screamed wildly before shutting down. More Hunters poured in and started overturning turrets.
GLaDOS cringed, "Alright, so I bought us about ten minutes. Change of plans; we are launching now. If we forgo loading the unneeded cargo and skip system diagnostics, we should be able to get out before they reach us."
Chell severed her connection with the camera, and asked GLaDOS, "What's in the 'unneeded' containers?'
The AI appeared a bit depressed for a second, "Aperture Science memorabilia. That's not essential, though, so get on board the ship now, or I'll launch without you!"
An explosion reverberated from deep in the shipyard.
GLaDOS groaned in exasperation, "And there goes the main power conduit for the Gravity-Manipulators!" She shoved a pair of Long-Fall boots into Chell's arms, "Go fix it! I'll send you the coordinates so you won't have any trouble finding it! Quickly, or we're all dead!"
Chell rushed out of the Central AI chamber as the panels that it was made up of began to fold in on itself. The entire section rushed along on rails towards the waiting ship, which opened up a rather massive space in its hull for the section.
Chell slipped on the Long Fall boots, and feeling a bit nostalgic, leapt over the side into the abyss.
It took her a couple of minutes to land, but when she did, the crash it made echoed off the walls somewhere in the facility. Chell cast her gaze around, noting some standing sections of Old Aperture. Still, now was not the time to get all nostalgic, she had a job to do.
A short jog led her to the main power conduit for the ship's booster engines. It was lit up in bright red on her HUD, and it wasn't all that hard to miss. The conduit was easily two meters in diameter, and was shorting out like there was no tomorrow.
With the minutes counting down, Chell erected her conductivity barriers to avoid electrocution and set to work on the wires. She twisted the wires together respectively, and slammed all the cables back into their housing, before welding a stray piece of metal onto the breach using a built-in welding torch on a multi-tool built into her arm. Chell may have missed her old body, but she couldn't deny the usefulness of her current one.
An audio channel opened up from GLaDOS, and Chell was slightly relieved to hear her friend's voice.
"You did it, you wonderful lunatic! Get on board, we're launching immediately!"
The Gravitational Manipulators began to spin up, a gentle humming sound the only indicator of their activity. Tremors shook the Aperture Science facility as the ceiling opened up. Sunlight streamed down into the bowels of Aperture; areas that had not seen daylight in centuries. The shipyard doors opened slowly.
However, the door the Combine broke through didn't open slowly. In fact, it opened with a bang.
A Hunter burst out of a hallway and snarled at Chell, who quickly dived behind an upturned piece of concrete to avoid the Combine synth's explosive darts. In fact, if she was human, she wouldn't have reacted and moved in time. She momentarily thanked whatever god existed that she didn't have a human body anymore.
Chell swung out of cover and activated her Aperture Science Bullet Dispenser built into her left arm. The Hunter was peppered with 65% more bullet per bullet, but Chell wasn't able to get more than a two second burst before she had to duck back under cover. A burst of pain let her know that one of the darts hit home, and before they could detonate, Chell yanked the dart out and tossed it away, where it burst in the air with a "Dwsh!" sound.
In her head, Chell heard GLaDOS shout, "Chell, what are you doing?! The liftoff sequence has already started!" and true to her words, the ship had already begun its ascent, metal groaning as the ship lifted off its old supports.
Deciding to wrap this up quickly, Chell leapt over her cover, and jumped on top of the Hunter before it had a chance to react. A quick burst of gunfire to the top of its head finished it off, and Chell tossed aside the Hunter's corpse before dashing to her quickly rising means of escape. She overpowered her legs and jumped. She reached out to grab one of the handholds mounted along the scaffold… and missed.
She fell, back down, away from the ship… as an Aerial Faith Plate broke the surface of the ground below her.
Smirking, she landed on the plate, which catapulted her back up. She snagged the handhold with momentum to spare, laughing as GLaDOS chastised her on the radio, "Do I have to babysit you, Chell? I swear, it's harder keeping you from dying than it was trying to kill you."
As the ship rose above the endless fields of wheat, Chell made her way to one of the hatches. It resembled the maintenance doors that used to be scattered about in the bowels of Aperture. It opened with a hiss, and Chell clambered inside. It shut just as fire from hundreds of Combine starting pinging off the hull.
A quick jog through the ship's white hallways and a rapid ride on a tram based off the Unstationary Scaffolds brought Chell to the ship's bridge. It looked like the Central AI chamber had been incorporated into the design, only there was a greater abundance of hardware in the room. Cables stretched beyond the walls into the dark, and countless monitors lit the cavernous space of the chamber.
GLaDOS was in the center of the room, attaching cables and flipping switches. She noticed Chell after a moment's pause.
"Ah, looks like you made it on board. Good, I would have hated to have to go back for you if you fell off."
Chell rolled her eyes, "Oh be quiet."
On one of the monitors, the entire Aperture Science facility exploded in a rather spectacular fashion, debris flying at least a mile into the atmosphere. Chell cast a questioning look at GLaDOS.
"They weren't getting their hands on my facility." GLaDOS answered the unspoken question, "Systems fully functional. The power feeds to our Thermal Discouragement Beams are on the blink, but we can have a look at that later. Aperture Science Traversable Wormhole drive working at full capacity." The AI gestured at a big red button, identical to the ones on the pedestals in the testing chambers, "Would you do the honors?"
Chell smirked, "Gladly," as she hit the button. The scaffolding around the ship ejected as the Gravity Manipulators reached unstable levels and tore themselves apart. Unblocked by the orange scaffolding, the lettering "ASIGMRF-Final Frontier" (Aperture Science Inter-Galactic Mobile Research Facility) shone proudly against the sleek white paneling of the ship. The entire craft was visible for a split second before the space around it warped, and in an instant, it left the Solar system.