**warning** contains spoilers!
"Grab me grab me grab me grab me!" the blue of his optic widened in panic, his voice becoming nothing more than a distant echo. She reached out on instinct in a last ditch attempt to rescue her once friend from the emptiness of space. But too late, he was gone. Following the trajectory of the smaller core who, moments ago, had been joyfully shouting about space.
Dizziness had started to creep in from the lack of oxygen as GLaDOS tugged her back through the portal, back into the confines of her chamber. The A.I dropped her from her metal claw onto the hard ground and Chell hardly registered the pain this caused her. She gulped in a welcome mouthful of stale air, watching as Her arm dragged Her 'head' along the ground. Darkness crept into the corners of her vision and, with a shuddering gasp, her body finally gave up.
Chell wasn't aware of how long she had been out, but now as she groggily opened her eyes Her chamber had returned to its former glory. She was met with two glowing optics, one orange and the other blue. They looked at each other, then back down to her. Moving almost in sync, although their shapes were so drastically different, they stepped aside as she slowly stood. Leaning a little on the glass of the elevator, she scowled as GLaDOS lowered her yellow optic. Instinctively Chell tightened her hand to grasp the ASHPD and hid her dread as she realized it was not on her arm.
"Oh thank god you're all right," there was relief in Her feminine voice, but Chell knew better than to take that at face value. She forced her arms to her sides, watching GLaDOS as she moved around in Her chassis, "you know, being Caroline taught me a valuable lesson, I thought you were my greatest enemy when all along, you were my best friend," Chell kept her face as stoic as ever, not quite knowing if her attempted murderer come potato ally was being sarcastic or serious. GLaDOS rocked in Her chassis, fixing her momentarily with that single, yellow optic before swinging away again, almost coy, "the surge of emotion that shot through me when I saved your life taught me an even more valuable lesson, where Caroline lives in my brain," again Chell found herself looking into the 'face' of the giant A.I, a single beep echoing around the chamber.
"Caroline deleted," a male voice announced and Chell felt her fingers again twitch for the strange comfort of the ASHPD. The panels that had been sat up, watching them, fell flat and limp in their places.
"Goodbye Caroline," the apparent emotion had disappeared from Her voice, Chell gritted her teeth, "you know, deleting Caroline just now taught me a valuable lesson. The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one and, I'll be honest, killing you is hard," Chell could have laughed at that, but kept silent as ever, her face betraying no emotions, GLaDOS continued on, "you know what my days used to be like? I just tested, nobody murdered me or put me in a potato or fed me to birds, I had a pretty good life, " She nodded as her optic curved, giving the appearance of a smile, "and then you showed up. You dangerous, mute, lunatic," with every word of Her insult She moved Her head closer, as if driving the point home, "and you know what? You win. Just go," the elevator began to move, soundlessly and smoothly towards the ceiling. Chell blinked, was this going to be like the cake she had been promised? Only this time, she was trapped with no portal gun, "heh heh heh, its been fun. Don't come back," GLaDOS said from below as the elevator moved out of Her chamber.
Chell stared out of the glass, prepared for when the glass doors opened and she would inevitably find herself in another test chamber. A few lights passed by before it stopped rather suddenly by a large metal door, the little red light flicking to green as the middle part swiveled and opened. Revealing four turrets in a line, their red lasers scanning over her.
Panic almost took her for the briefest moment, could their bullets penetrate this glass? In the test chambers behind glass had been a safe place for her from these sweet voiced killers, but was this glass just as strong? She had a feeling she would soon find out.
Chell braced herself for the release of a hundred bullets as their sides parted. One by one their lasers turned off and they began to play a simple, yet beautiful melody. Chell felt the corner of her mouth lift in a small, relieved, smile. These had to be the singing turrets she had found hidden beneath a grate in one of those dens.
She listened to their sweet song, allowing herself to relax just a little, as the elevator again began to move. Still hearing their tune she passed a few open doors, a turret built laying to the side in the first, a handful of defective turrets in the second, three more of the angled turrets in the next, four normal turrets stood around a weighted cube. A dark room penetrated by a good handful of more of the sweet voiced machines and behind them cubes flew down vents, two more of them in the next room she passed, all gone by too quickly for her to gauge any danger.
The elevator began to slow and she looked up, a heavy weight settling into the pit of her stomach as she was met by the glowing red of hundreds of the turrets, sat around a domed room. Their focus completely set on her. She clenched her fists, her lips tightening into a thin line and glaring out of what would be her glass coffin . GLaDOS had her this time, after all those attempts and lies of cake, She would finally kill her.
It took her a moment to realize one single turret had been playing a tune the whole time she had been preparing for death. As soon as she had noticed they all started in a chorus of wonderful, uplifting and slightly sad sound. A single slightly larger robot (she had seen this one before, several times. Once being sang at by the four further down the shaft, and twice before sat in an elevator between test chambers) sat above the others, the sounds it made sounded much more human than the rest. Chell blinked in surprise, it was singing. Actual words, although she couldn't understand them. They somehow felt special.
Now knowing she was safe, she allowed herself to look around this rather strange opera as the elevator inched slowly upwards. In the back stood a huge leopard printed turret wearing a crown. Chell instantly thought of 'the animal king takeover' alerts back before She had woken and there had been nothing but a male announcer and Wheatley. The smile that had begun to form disappeared as she thought of him, sending him into space and his desperate pleas to be grabbed… she shook her head and set her jaw, choosing to focus on nothing more than the music the turrets played for her.
Behind a row of them a single Frankencube pulled itself along haphazardly and she had to squint to see it. The elevator sped up. The opera still ringing in her ears as she traveled through the grey shaft, past a room full of debris, the shaft walls changing to an off yellow and more debris filled rooms while still the turrets sang.
The music stopped as the elevator did, dragging out the last note as a heavy metal door swung outwards. For a brief moment Chell had to close her eyes from the bright white light that shone through. She stepped out of the elevator towards the door cautiously, bouncing slightly on the curve of her long fall boots, towards yellow plants along the ground. Walking out of the door she was met with blue sky, warm air in her face, the distant sounds of a bird chirping. She nearly lost all her composure as she reached out and touched the long yellow grass, taking in the white clouds and breathing in the air. She began to wonder if she had died back on the moon.
A loud slam forced her to spin around, feeling like an idiot for letting her guard down even for the briefest of moments. All that stood behind her was a small metal shack, faded warning signs plastered to its door. An echoing knock rung out from within and again she tensed as the door swung open. A, no, her companion cube bounced along the ground. Its charred edges in stark contrast to the crispness of this bright place. As soon as it stopped, coming to rest on one side, the door slammed shut again and Chell bent down. Rubbing her hand along the rough edge of her cube before taking in a long, deep breath, closing her eyes briefly against the warmth of the sun.
After a small moment of respite she hauled her blackened companion cube onto her back, grimacing at just how heavy it was. Chell began to walk slowly away from the small metal shack, casting her eyes around the open fields for anything that may come in use. It felt like an alien landscape, nothing felt right about this. After so long being inside the white walls of Aperture being outside was difficult to adjust to. There was no ominous voice insulting her from behind cameras for a start. Although before GLaDOS had awoken the place had been a jungle of potatoes and that strange male announcer, happily stating that tests were the future. And Wheatley happily talking away about escaping. She tried to force those memories from her head, at least for the time being.
Painfully slowly she marched on through the wheat field, occasionally adjusting the weight of her companion cube on her back. Everything had begun to ache with a new vigor from the burns she had sustained at the explosion right down to the mildly irritating sore patch where the cube rested on her lower back. Chell gritted her teeth, pushing forwards and working herself through those inconveniences. Every now and again she would stop, wiping her forehead with the back of one arm while struggling to keep the dead weight on her back, casting her eyes around the expanse of gold before continuing.
She was beginning to give up on that hope she had trained through her years at Aperture when she noticed the sun had begun to descend into the ground. Darkness crept along the ground behind her. She scowled and kept moving until, finally, she could see a dash of small lights in the distance. With renewed vigor she half ran - half bounced along the ground towards them. The yellow grass suddenly disappeared and she stumbled, dropping her charred cube. It balanced precariously on one edge before falling flat on its side with a hollow thud. Chell stared at the hard floor, she remembered this stuff. It hadn't been that long ago that she had landed flat on her stomach on this flat, smooth rock and a party associate robot had thanked her for assuming the position. Freedom had been short lived then.
Chell broke her gaze, knowing this place was definitely different. Opposite the expanse of yellowed grass stood things that reminded her of the cryogenic sleep chambers, albeit larger. She frowned again at them, noticing that there were no panels like in the test chambers, or thick metal rails hanging from the sky. That was a small consolation, however, as a bright white light hit her beneath the roar of something robotic. Instinctively she dived for her cube, grazing her palm on the black rock, grabbing its roughened corner and rolling out of the way of the careening (and painfully screaming) robot. She felt cold, hard metal ram into her arm and shoulder and grit her teeth against the new, deep pain.
The A.I stopped, standing over her with its two torches shining down at her, low growling emanating from its chest. Chell shuddered, exhaustion and pain winning against her desperate need to stay awake. Her vision becoming dark as she heard a click and what, for all the world, sounded like distant footsteps.