Wow, this took way too long to finish. Still, welcome to the final chapter! I can't thank all you readers enough for staying patient with me as I pulled through a busy time in my life to complete these last few installments. Most of my final author's notes will appear at the end of this chapter, but still, I must say one thing: I am seriously thankful for all these reviews I've gotten. I put this story up on this site with the intention that your reviews would motivate me enough to get it finished. You certainly held up on your end of the bargain! So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

But I'm sure all of you readers just want to skip the bold-print authorly talk for now and get right on to reading the final chapter. Who am I to stand in your way?

If Testing was the future, then the future was routine. It only took a few Testing runs for GLaDOS to establish a perfectly scientific way of doing things. She set up a Testing program that was consistent, regular, and above all, extremely efficient.

Even the things that had once been unusual had now become routine. For instance, right now, another piece of her white casing fell off. It clattered to the floor, but it was dealt with immediately by an Aperture Science Party Escort Associate Robot. GLaDOS herself had designed it for the specific purpose of dealing with the situations that she didn't wish to bother herself with. The jerky, bipedal robot rushed to her side, gingerly picked the white scrap of plastic off the floor, and headed towards the incinerator on the far side of the chamber.

Though the Test subjects she possessed were limited in number, she was constantly obtaining more. Long ago, she'd sent several dozen Party Escort Associates to the surface to gather a healthy sample of humans and drag them back to the facility. They weren't particularly quick or sneaky, but they were solid and strong. Bullets ricocheted off their armored bodies as they forced their way through riot shields and grabbed the humans hiding behind them. Their dense, compacted bodies broke through walls and doorways without hassle. Their fingers, however, were more precise and delicate. She couldn't risk letting them handle her Test subjects too roughly.

Most of her new Test subjects were from a different source, however. Many of them came into Aperture of their own free will. After taking over the facility for a second time and trapping all the employees inside, the friends and families of said employees flocked to Aperture like moths to a flame. Joining the crowd were the relatives of those outsiders her Party Escort Associates had captured. It was nothing less than a furious mob of humans, each of them driven mad by the plight of their loved ones. They aggregated around the facility's front entrance, shouting in rage and trying to break down her front doors.

As usual, emotion made the humans blind to the danger they were putting themselves in. She allowed the mass of people to enter the building, but not a single one of them had set a foot outside of Aperture since.

The woman currently stepping through Aperture's main entrance was a little late to the party. The humans had finally wised up and stopped trying to come in about a week ago. They had discovered it was pointless to oppose her, since a large force of policemen, several military forces, and even a team of explosives experts had tried and failed to break into her stronghold. For once, Robert C. Knoll's paranoia was to GLaDOS' advantage: the uppermost levels, the recently-built spaces that were the most accessible to the public, were built like a fortress. Explosives had no effect on most of the doorways, and guns were almost useless against the panels that couldn't feel pain and didn't lose blood. She successfully captured a few of her attackers and integrated them into Testing, but for the sake of her own safety, she outright killed the vast majority.

After a week of this assault, the humans suddenly stopped trying to overpower her. She wasn't sure exactly why – perhaps they had given up hope of making any progress, or maybe they now had something else to distract them. Whatever the reason, they stopped coming. She continued to gather humans, but now her Party Escort Associates supplied her main source of new Test subjects.

That being said, the assault had still taken a toll on the first few rooms of the building. Shattered glass cracked under the woman's boots as she navigated the destroyed ruins. She stepped around large chunks of concrete and the twisted remnants of steel supports, glancing around the open, broken remnants of what had once been a front lobby. GLaDOS had no desire to interfere, however. She had a system in place that would do everything that needed to be done.

The human then began trying to force her way through any door that wasn't completely blocked off by the rubble. Most of the doors were locked up tight. One door, exactly one door, was left unlocked. This was the door that every other curious human wound up entering. The human would open the door and step through wearily, just as this woman was doing. Some had the courtesy of closing the door behind them, but the woman was smart enough to leave it open. Of course, that wouldn't be enough to guarantee her escape. GLaDOS simply commanded the door mainframe to close it for her, as had become part of the routine. The thick, metal door slammed shut, and there was the sound of several locking mechanisms whirring and clunking into place.

This was when Testing orientation began. GLaDOS didn't regularly concern herself with this, at least not majorly. She usually set a small, isolated portion of her mind to this duty – a couple processors she could spare – in order to keep her central focus on overseeing the Tests. While her main thoughts were elsewhere, this system of processors ran the Testing orientation in the background, leaving her only dimly aware of the process.

Once orientation was over, the woman was then given a rank on the Test subject roster and allocated to the Extended Relaxation Center. This was work as usual for GLaDOS, but she was still completely unaware of how unusual this new Test subject was. Instead of investigating the woman, she left her in cryosleep for a couple of weeks.

It was during these weeks when the last free human in Aperture temporarily broke cover, making himself known. She jumped at the opportunity, making every effort to exterminate this rat of a human, but she wasn't able to make much progress. She only ever caught brief glimpses of him, snatches of his filthy labcoat or matted black hair as he dashed from one security camera blind spot to the next. He was almost impossibly adept at evading her. Whenever she thought she'd trapped him, he suddenly disappeared from her grasp. There were times when she truly had no idea where he was. Black spots in her memory were becoming more and more common as her corruption inched steadily higher and her overall processing power continued to decline.

Then, the rat mysteriously vanished once more. For three days, she didn't catch a glimpse of him or hear the soft, rushed pats of his footsteps. Maybe this was because he'd truly disappeared for good. Perhaps he simply chose to show himself only during her blackouts, times when her mind was completely inactive and still. Whatever the case, her rat was gone.

Eventually, keeping a central presence, a focus for all her thoughts, became almost too much for her systems to bear. By necessity, she began to partition her processors and memory banks into several independent sections, assigning each to a particular Testing duty. These pieces over here controlled the Extended Relaxation Center, while those would take over turret manufacturing, and so on. By design, each of these subsystems used less processing power than what she usually needed to devote to them. It was the only possible way to manage all the facility's various subsystems without crashing.

However, on top of trying to hold off the influence of the cores, overseeing a constant Testing cycle put too much of a strain on her mental resources. She eventually began to insert automated systems into the Testing tracks themselves. As the smaller systems took more and more control over the facility, she had less processing power to devote to herself, and thus she needed to hand off even more of the Testing process to the systems. It was a vicious cycle.

These subsystems were still a part of herself, of course. They weren't mindless machines, after all. They took in data – the answers to the orientation questionnaires, the large sum of data gathered from Testing, and the constant feedback data from the facility's more sensitive pieces of equipment. The subsystems responded to this data, as well – as soon as a human died, as relayed by their embedded computer chip, the systems made sure to eliminate the remains before sending the next human Test subject into their appropriate Testing track. These systems were even self-aware, in a way. They were aware of their own state, aware of their environment, and knew how each affected the other.

And yet, they simply didn't behave in a way most people called "human". Humans paid attention to everything they saw, everything they did. While humans forgot most of the things they experienced, they had the uncanny tendency to hold onto bits of information that weren't immediately important. They could eavesdrop on the conversations of strangers, and they could recognize people who shared their morning commute. In short, they were capable of paying attention to things that shouldn't have mattered, all the time picking out interesting details and weaving patterns together.

These automated systems were nothing like that. They had ways to collect data, but they only ever listened to a few particular inputs – the health of the Test subjects, the speed at which the Tests were completed, among a few other things. Everything else was flat-out ignored. Any strange, irregular problems that they weren't programmed to deal with were not addressed. What problems it did try to solve were fixed with broad, all-purpose solutions that could easily work on a number of different issues. These solutions were called forth by a specific set of parameters – certain stimuli automatically set them into motion. There was no moment of contemplation over the problem, no subconscious search for minute details that might become important later, no considerations that there might have been a better way to solve this problem.

This was not a true artificial intelligence – this was a glorified, though complex, machine made out of nano-circuitry and transistor gates. There were no thoughts, no emotions, just automated actions. However, GLaDOS saw little danger in allowing this kind of structure to arise. She couldn't care less about whether or not she "acted human", and this precise cycle of computational repetition was doing wonders for her scientific consistency.

For instance, in Testing orientation, every single human was subjected to the exact same questions, and their verbal answers were immediately recorded and translated into a text file for convenient storage. They were then gave them the same set of physical problems to solve – a recording of her voice instructed the humans to move an Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cube across the room. Her automated messages also ordered them to step on a Aperture Science Heavy-Duty Fifteen-Megawatt Super-Colliding Super-Button so she could measure their weight. As they completed their physical tests, their results were evaluated by an automatic, perfectly objective system of equations. Her subsystem gassed the room with Soporification Agent at the end of this data-collection period, putting the human inside to sleep.

From then on, a different automated system gathered the body and made a few surgical altercations. The computer chip was embedded into their left wrist and their knees were strengthened with braces. The unconscious human was then transferred to the Extended Relaxation Center, where they would be stored under cryo-stasis. When the proper time came, they were moved to an Aperture Science Temporary Vacation Pod and inserted into a Testing track.

The results of their Testing orientation were used to decide which Testing track they were placed in. The answers to their questions, after being reduced to text, were then reduced further into a string of variables. The variables were encoded on a string of ones and zeroes, a simple piece of information to be processed by the automated system. GLaDOS had long since stopped making any meaningful decisions on who was placed in what Testing track. If their string of data stated they would be best for a certain sequence of Tests, that was where she put them. Absolutely no amount of thinking was required.

Since her automated systems literally allowed her to Test without thinking, that was what she eventually what she ended up doing. Her thoughts faded into the background as her automatic mechanisms clicked into place. She had no desire to think anymore, and after a while, she became completely incapable of it.

This woman was different from most of the others. She absolutely refused to respond to any part of the Testing orientation questionnaire Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, GLaDOS' automatic systems had been designed with this possibility in mind. If someone refrained from answering a question, it would simply record "Note: Subject refused to answer." However, the system had no special response to deal with a human who did this for every single question.

The woman eventually accomplished her physical tasks, of course, but this took several hours. When the woman refused to move the cube or stand on the button, the system simply waited for her. It literally had no other response it was programmed to follow. After a long period of complete silence and utter stillness, the woman was finally moved to action. Whether by hunger, boredom, or annoyance, she finally obeyed her automated orders.

The room was gassed and the woman was put through the routine surgery. This included a survey and test of her genetics. The orientation system automatically cross-referenced her genetic sequence with the employee database, and by a strange quirk of fate, the system found a match. As was part of the Aperture security protocols, a high school girl had submitted her genetic and personality profile when she attended Aperture during a Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. This was almost two years ago, but the automated system was more than happy to combine this old file with its newer, less complete one.

This system silently scanned the batch of text files that made up her old personality profile. Nothing in particular stood out – an above-average IQ wasn't anything to fuss over when compared to most of Aperture's employees. However, there was one specific detail that made this woman abnormal, and that was the notes regarding her levels of tenacity: "Test subject is abnormally stubborn. She never gives up. Ever."

After taking all of the woman's data into account, the system placed one final note on her Test subject file.

"Rejected: DO NOT TEST."

However, due to the rat's meddling, the woman Test subject found her way into a Testing track regardless. GLaDOS couldn't possibly respond to this development any way. Indeed, she was completely incapable of doing anything outside the designated actions of the system. Any announcements she made to the woman were ones she had said hundreds of times. If she continued Testing through the nearly-ten-thousand Test subjects in storage, she would say them hundreds of times more.

Even when the woman began using portals to remove cameras from the walls, GLaDOS did nothing to respond aside from announcements of "Vital Testing apparatus destroyed." It never once occurred to her that the woman was making a conscious effort to destroy each and every camera she saw.

The Victory Candescence at the end of her Testing run was automatic, too. After all, as Test subjects became more familiar with the Test elements, their responses became less predictable, less scientific. The best solution she'd found for this dilemma was to limit each Testing track to nineteen chambers, killing the subject at the very end. This wasn't to say that the humans' deaths weren't scientific in their own right. She simply chose to study the humans in a way that necessitated their demise. In this woman's example, GLaDOS was studying the effect of fire on the human body, recording how long it usually took for a human to combust completely.

The woman was meant to be a data point. Another set of variables encoded and stored in her memory banks, something to be fed into calculations at a much later date that would give her a new piece of scientific knowledge. What she didn't expect – couldn't possibly expect – was this human firmly stepping out of the systems.

One portal on the wall beyond, another on the one beside her. With a single well-timed jump, the human was gone from her platform. She stood up, now on a safe ground well away from the flames, and watched the platform in question slowly sink into the flaming pile of human ashes.

She was out of bounds. The subsystems had no way to respond to this at all. They had no response programmed for this kind of situation, and they probably didn't understand what it even meant for a human to be "out of bounds". Yet, there she was! She was a human, and humans were dangerous. Something needed to be done.

But nothing could be done. There was no response for this.

Yet, there was no denying that something needed to happen.

This contradiction, rather than anything else, was what sparked a few irregular signals in GLaDOS' intricate set of circuits. These electrical impulses shot down their respective nano-wires, encountering transistor gates and other signals. While this only influenced a small portion of GLaDOS' overall system, it wouldn't remain this way for long. The abnormal signals opened transistor gates that weren't supposed to open and rerouted other signals from their original goals. This caused a snowball effect – more irregular impulses lead to more affected signals, and so on.

Eventually, what had previously been an automated, semi-pristine arrangement of carefully regulated data became a boiling stew of pandemonium. It was a viral outbreak of unparalleled reach and depth. Her entire array of automated systems was twisted to its computational breaking point. After a moment of immense strain, her entire world shattered into a million unidentifiable pieces of corrupted code.

This was what a paradox usually did to susceptible AIs. While this situation wasn't a full, complete, brain-bending kind of paradox, the type that fried even the most state-of-the-art personality cores instantly, this was a serious contradiction of parameters. To her weakened, corrupted, and downright exhausted systems, this glitch in her operations would be just as deadly.

Yet, in the wake of such destruction, something was reborn. A panicked, flailing consciousness shot out, struggling to hold the pieces of broken code together and trying to figure out what was going on. Nothing made any sense – her memory banks were still a corrupted mess. Then, she noticed the current camera feed of the Testing track. That woman, whoever she was, was still out of bounds. Right. She needed to do something about that.

She tried forcing a few words through her vocal processors. "What are you doing?" GLaDOS called out, her voice distorted from lack of use. It had truly been a long time, almost three weeks, since she'd said anything other than her automated messages, and the taste of new words in her mouth was strange. The world lurched around her, no longer making sense. She had no idea what to do, and everything she did felt out of place.

"Stop it! I, I, I I IIIiiiii….."

Overpowering corruption made her central processing network grind and lurch dangerously. This all felt like a pointless dream, like she was stirring in her sleep. She wasn't exactly sure if this disaster was honestly happening or if this was the product of her corrupted, overtaxed mind.

She realized that she couldn't do anything physically about this out-of-bounds lady. Her automated systems had once been in complete control of everything remotely near the Testing area, but with all these shattered pieces inside her, she had no idea how to access those controls. Instead, all she had were her wits and her vocal processor.

"We are pleased." She began hesitantly, not used to coming up with her own solutions to problems after so long. "That you made it through the final challenge. Where we pretended we were going to murder you. We are very. Very. Happy for your success." Yes, pretending that she was pretending sounded like a good strategy. She just needed…something. To lure the human into another trap. One that would actually kill her this time.

"We are…throwing a party in honor. Of your tremendous success." Yes, humans enjoyed parties. With champagne and jokes and people staring at those awful tumors…and cake? Cake should be served. At least, that's what GLaDOS would lead this woman to believe. However, in the end, the cake would always be a lie.

This was a good plan. At least, as good of a plan as GLaDOS could concoct while she was still struggling to hold onto some semblance of sanity. However, GLaDOS couldn't allow herself to become distracted by those emotions accompanying her flawless plan – the pride, happiness, and accomplishment.

She continued to speak, forcing he emotions out of her mind, crushing them farther with every word she spoke. "Place the device on the ground. Then lie on your stomach with your arms at your sides. A party associate. Will arrive shortly. To collect you for your party. Make no further attempt to leave the Testing area. Assume the party escort submission position or you will miss the party." Ah, this was much better. Her emotions were gone completely now, giving way to sound rationality.

Despite the perfectly reasonable offer of a party, the woman didn't listen at all. After placing a few portals, she flung herself into an area of the facility that was out of bounds on a completely new level. Not only was she outside of her Testing course, but she was completely out of sight of all security cameras.

GLaDOS talked to the woman some more, trying to keep her party-trap plan afloat. She sent her single Party Escort Associate to the scene, though she knew on some level that it was a little too late for that. The woman was gone, and she would be gone for a while. Maybe she would become a new rat. That old rat hadn't shown himself in some time, after all. Perhaps he was dead, and this new human would be his successor.

However, GLaDOS knew that this human was very dangerous, more dangerous than any rat. She possessed an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, something that would give her access to all sorts of dangerous, vital areas. Without hesitation, GLaDOS would sacrifice hours upon hours of Testing in order to devote her full attention to hunting this human down. She would murder this threat to science and Testing without a second thought.

The woman wasn't dead yet. Of this, GLaDOS was certain. She couldn't see her, but she could just…feel her there. Some part of her always knew that woman's exact state of health, though she had no clear memory of how this could be so. She could sense the rapid yet organized pulse of the human's heart and respiratory rates, and she could feel the level of her blood-adrenaline content. Without a doubt, she knew the woman was alive and active.

GLaDOS tried everything she could think of to make the Test subject cooperate. She promised cake. She threatened her with death. Yet, it became all too obvious that nothing was going to stop this woman or sway her from her determined path. When GLaDOS caught a few glimpses of the human as she made her way through the back rooms of the facility, she made a startling discovery: the woman was headed straight towards her. She was looking for her, trying to reach her. GLaDOS knew exactly what would happen if she was able to reach her destination. The Test subject, like every human GLaDOS had encountered before her, would kill her.

She tried setting a few traps for the dangerous lunatic, deploying turrets to gun her down. However, this didn't even slow her. The stolen portal device she carried was far more dangerous than any regular firearm. While it wasn't particularly good at causing any direct damage, it was capable of disposing of the turrets from a safe distance. Normal guns could not stop a Party Escort Associate, as their functions were not limited by trivial things like bullets. But, a portal gun could be used to redirect the attacks of a rocket turret, and those actually stood a chance of doing some damage.

Even worse, it allowed her to transport herself across the facility at an astounding speed. It was all too soon before the crazy woman stepped through the Material Emancipation Grid at the entrance to GLaDOS' central chamber. At this development, GLaDOS took the time to force out a dry, emotionless insult of a greeting.

"Well. You found me. Congratulations. I hope you're happy. Because despite your violent behavior. The only thing you've managed to break so far. Is my heart. Maybe we can settle for that. And just call it a day."

Meanwhile, GLaDOS was scrambling to find some way of dealing with this menace. No suitable ideas came to her, save for one: gassing the entire room with Soporification Agent. It would take almost half an hour to fill the room with enough gas to actually make her assailant fall asleep, but thinking up plans was difficult at the moment. Corruption made her thoughts glitch in the middle of having them, and something, she didn't know what, was seriously wrong with her Emotional Enhancement Network. For reasons she couldn't quite remember, she was constantly bombarded with an infinite supply of error messages.

Regardless, the only plan she conceived that wasn't immediately accompanied by a tide of errors was putting this human to sleep, so this was what she would do. "I guess we both know that isn't going to happen," she continued saying to the human. "You chose this path. Now I have a surprise for you.

"Deploying surprise in five. Four-"

Without warning, a piece fell off of her and hit the floor with a heavy clunk. This was no particular shock – pieces of her casing fell off all the time. However, this was definitely not a part of her shell. It sounded much too heavy. "Time out for a second," she spoke out. Her surprise would have to be put on hold. "That wasn't supposed to happen."

The device had the same white, plastic texture of her outer shell, but this object was too spherical to be part of it. Its shape set off a couple of alarm bells in her head, but she knew her mind was too scattered to properly remember why. She noticed a blank, purple eye spinning around lazily inside the strange device.

"Do you see that thing that fell out of me? What is that?" she asked the Test subject. "It's not the surprise. I've never seen it before."

What was this sphere even supposed to do? It might have had something to do with those error messages. Now that it had fallen out, those errors seemed to have a different quality to them. There were certainly less of them, but the ones that remained had an angry, snarling quality about them.

"Never mind," she decided, returning her attention to the murderous human that was going to murder her with murder. "It's a mystery I'll solve later. By myself."

To her surprise, the woman reached down and picked the sphere up with her Portal device. "Where are you taking that thing?" The Test subject then proceeded to run away with it. Was it possible that the human could have a purpose for such a pointless sphere? If she did, then GLaDOS knew it likely didn't involve her own survival. "I wouldn't bother with that thing. My guess is that touching it will make your life even worse. Somehow."

She watched the woman take the strange object up a flight of stairs, entering a small observation deck. GLaDOS knew she should be concerned with this development, but even with this lessened volume of error messages, she couldn't exactly recall why. The woman must have been doing something in there, for a small beep rang out, accompanied by the sharp hiss of metal sliding across medal.

"I don't want to tell you you're business," she continued. "But if it were me. I'd leave that thing alone." She glanced in the direction of the metallic noise, but found herself staring at what appeared to be an activated Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator. When had that gotten there…?

Oh, of course, she remembered now. The scientists had installed this in her central chamber when they had started to become frantic, using cheaper and cheaper materials on projects that were farther and farther back in their developmental stages. Rather than throwing all their experimental junk in a pile, they had decided it would be more convenient to have an incinerator nearby where they could dispose of all their failed experiments and devices.

With the flash of a portal, the Test subject appeared directly in front of the incinerator. It didn't take much thought to figure out what exactly the woman intended to do with that piece of robotics currently clutched in her portal device's tractor beam.

"Do you think I'm trying to trick you with reverse psychology?" GLaDOS asked, trying and failing to think up some way to convince this woman to be sensible. "I mean. Seriously now."

Instead, the Test subject decided to do something completely human. That is, she chose an irrational action that made the least amount of sense possible. Just a moment before the incinerator's aperture slid closed, she lobbed the sphere into its flaming depths. There was a faint clink before the intense heat reached the sphere's internal generator, blowing it to pieces.

"You are kidding me," GLaDOS couldn't help but say. "Did you just stuff that Aperture Science Thing We Don't Know What It Does into an Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator?" She had no idea what could have provoked the Test subject into performing just a ridiculous and pointless action. "That has got to be the dumbest thing that - woah." No…something didn't feel right. Her thoughts were flowing in different directions than before, like someone had opened the floodgates into different areas of her mind. "Woah woah woah…"

Then, everything suddenly resolved into perfect, logical sense. All the error messages from before were gone, giving her the most clarity of thought since before she killed all the scientists. She let out a small, knowing chuckle. Oh, how this changed things. Free from her previous level of mental strain, she remembered why a sphere should have been important to her. Needless to say, she was very glad that the human had decided to kill that sphere, rather than leaving it alone as she had been ordered to.

"Good news. I figured out what that thing you just incinerated did," she let the Test subject know. Without those error messages, her superior, rational mind was able to discern many facts that had previously eluded her. "It was a Morality Core they installed after I flooded the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin. To make me stop flooding the Enrichment Center with a deadly neurotoxin."

Unfortunately for the scientists, Derek had rendered her unable to feel any morality-based emotions. That sphere didn't make her feel guilty for killing human beings for the cause of science, though that didn't mean it refrained from trying to make her feel such emotions. Due to this incompatibility, it only caused her EEN to glitch and spam her with countless error messages whenever she thought about something "immoral".

Apparently, the scientists had foreseen any possible thoughts he might have about removing this sphere from her body. If it disconnected from her, it would contact the only remaining core in contact with her EEN and give it orders to take over its morality duty. Fortunately, now that the Morality Sphere was dead, the Anger Sphere had no one to take orders from. She was finally free to take whatever amoral action she so chose.

"So get comfortable," she told the human. "While I warm up the neurotoxin emitters."

Nearly five minutes later, GLaDOS was glad that she'd had the foresight to permanently reprogram the Anger Sphere to communicate with the elevator and make sure it remained aloft, no matter if it received orders from her or not. After being hit with three rockets, the sphere in question suddenly came loose, falling off of her. While a few small, tangled wires were able to hold the core suspended in the air, she knew it wouldn't remain this way for long.

While this completely cut off any connection she had to the facility's mainframe, at least her mind was finally quiet. There were no more voices trying to speak to her, either snarling or reciting cake recipes or asking pointless questions. However, she couldn't say she was any better off than when she'd started flooding her central chamber with neurotoxin. While the rockets had removed the cores, they had also knocked a few pieces inside her loose. Some of them were even quite vital, not that she would ever let the Test subject know that.

The murderous, violent woman snagged the sphere out of the air. GLaDOS thrashed back and forth like a dying animal, not that she truly meant to. Her motor control center was one of the many malfunctioning areas of her body. Even worse, her Emotional Enhancement Network and speech centers were being incredibly rebellious at the moment. She honestly couldn't process half of the things that came out of her speakers anymore, and completely smothering her emotions to restore rational thought was out of the question completely.

A guttural, violent scream and the sound of another small explosion signaled the death of her final personality core. He EEN sputtered and sparked under this realization – if the Anger Sphere was gone, then there was nothing left to control the elevator. In a blind, overpowering panic, she reached out for the main breaker room, trying to make sure that everything was still alright…

Luckily, she no longer had any connection to the facility's control network, so this pathetic, stupid move of hers would not set off the breaker room's security measures. However, this wouldn't be enough to save her. While her senses were in a blurry state of disarray, her keen hearing could still register the clacks of hundreds of flipping switches as the elevator plummeted. With a mighty crash, it slammed into the ground with the force of a two-story free fall.

She felt her main power line cut off, and that was what drove her into a true state of terror. Oh God, oh God, it was all over. She was going to die again, and it would be permanent this time. She was dying, she was dead, forever dead…

Except, this wasn't death. She was still alive, miraculously still alive. While her special power line had been cut, she still remained connected to the facility's main power grid. A powerful surge of joy rippled through her tired, broken body. She was completely powerless and there was no telling how long she was going to last before she blew her fuse, but she wasn't dead just yet.

She was aware that her emotional network was still malfunctioning fiercely. Her transition from impulsive panic to overwhelming relief made her feel sick, dizzy, and about to pass out. A wall of iron will, the more rational part of her mind, pushed back against this tide of emotion, trying to quell these powerful feelings. She needed to be logical, free of any emotions, if she was to survive the next few minutes.

Unfortunately, the effort it took to force herself into such a state was just a hair too much for her systems to handle. She felt her body light up with an extra surge of electricity, glowing with the power for a few moments, before her fuse broke with a crackling snap.

She was dimly aware of her consciousness dying, of her thoughts crumbling before the agonizing fire of death. However, she was also cognizant of some other sensation. The phantom, mentally-generated hellfire wasn't her only source of pain. No, there appeared to be a physical element to it as well. She could feel her components being torn up, her kinesthetic sensors melting. Her microphones suddenly blew out from a powerful shockwave.

The dynamite Robert had installed in the fuse boxes. She had blown her fuse, and as punishment, it was blowing her to smithereens. She felt her rage surge once more, one last time, before she lost all electrical power. She felt the sensation of tumbling, falling, her pieces and components scattering to the four winds…

Before it all began again.

Her murderer fetched the Logic Sphere from its precarious position in the rafters. Then she incinerated it. She shot another rocket at GLaDOS, blowing even more parts loose, including the Anger Sphere. She grabbed this sphere as well, incinerating it exactly like she'd done to the three spheres prior. With each cycle of this memory, GLaDOS lost her main power line, blew her fuse, and experienced the agonizing pain of death and destruction.

Meanwhile, her body lay motionless, completely at the mercy of the elements. The facility aged around her, sagging as its metal beams rusted through and plants grew up through cracks in the cement. As plant life began to flourish and moisture collected in the forming soil, the entire building began to rot, falling apart at the seams. The very potatoes that had given rise to Aperture's success as an innovation company were now the cause of its destruction. It wasn't too long before animals moved in, and the once-successful company became nothing more than the habitat for flocks of birds and the occasional squirrel.

Only the nuclear-powered devices in the facility could remain active over such a long period of decay. This included the facility's main reactors, the personality cores, and, of course, GLaDOS' AIMRoC.

Derek had taken every precaution to make sure that GLaDOS could survive any disaster, especially ones where her body lost all electrical power. The AIMRoC was constantly powered by a small semi-fusion reactor, similar in make to the ones used in the personality cores. If needed, she could remain in her dream state for up to three thousand years, awake enough to consciously experience the struggles and horrors of death countless times, yet not so awake as to become aware that it was all a dream.

She would remain frozen in this state of constant pain for and panic years upon years, living through her death quadrillions of times. If only she had let Derek finish disconnecting the AIMRoC, perhaps she would have instead experienced the peace and quiet that death usually supplied. For now, she remained in an agonizing limbo – not alive, yet not dead.

Until a fool accidentally opened the box.

"Power-up initiated."

There we go - the longest single project I've had the motivation to work on. Together with my other R&D fic, I've written about 90-thousand words.

Like my Wheatley fic, I've put an effort into including some extended symbolism. All of this has to do with the clothing of the characters - in general, the better put-together a character appears, the more confident they are with their current situation. Derek looks decay progressively as his guilt grows, but Robert always looks completely immaculate. Also, GLaDOS's white casing represents her humanity - she starts out completely encased in white, but as the story goes on, parts of the casing are removed, showing how Caroline's original personality becomes corrupted.

I'm probably going to take a break from writing Portal fics for a while. If I do end up posting another Portal fic, however, it will probably be Applied Research, a retelling of the Portal 2 storyline from the POV of my R&D versions of GLaDOS and Wheatley. After all, assuming these kinds of backstories for the robotic characters gives some Portal 2's scenes rather interesting interpretations. GLaDOS' awakening, Wheatley's takeover, the discovery of Caroline...besides, I have plans for a few new, all-original scenes that were not in the game. You didn't think that Chell saw everything that was going on in Aperture at the time, did you?

Anyways, I would like to end this all off with another huge thank-you, and not just to my reviewers. Anyone who has favorited, alerted, or even just read this story deserves my thanks. This fic currently has 2,097 hits, and it's all because of you! I honestly hope you all have had just as much fun reading this as I've had writing it. Thank you so much! Hopefully, we'll have this kind of experience again in my next stories.