"Wanna go to Earth."
"Don't like Space."
[Exiting Sleep Mode]
As He finally awoke from his long slumber, he noticed something. His visor was cracked and there was a bright red blinking symbol on the corner of his view, with the word "DANGER!" written below it.
"Space. Don't like Space. Too big."
He tried speaking, but His semi-initialized state only managed to send out a hoarse "It sure is, mate."
He felt weird. He hadn't been awake for a long time. After the first month of being in space, he was beginning to get a little bit bored. Have you ever spoken about EVERYTHING you could tell someone? He had. He had told that Space Core about before he had met Chell. He had told it about his life when he was helping Chell. He had told it about how he had gone mad with power and had fucked up.
How he was sorry.
How he wanted, more than anything, to apologize to her.
How he was terrified of meeting that big yellow eye again.
His single blue eye jolted open as he came back to full power.
"Hey, buddy! How is it going!? How have you been liking space!?"
"Earth. Wanna go Earth. Wanna go home. Don't like Space. Too big. Gonna be quiet now. Quiet like Space. Don't like Space."
"Wow, mate! It seems that even you of tired of this place, huh!? I couldn't blame you, really. I mean, look at it! It's HUGE! The sight is amazing, mind you, but the silence is ma- Wait, what is this symbol blinking? 'Orbit Destabilizing – Danger: 10 days to Impact'. Huh. I'm sure it'll fix itself. Eventually. Yeah, I am sure that will happen. So, as I was saying, this silence is maddening! I have no idea how you managed to stay here so long! Look, if you need to talk to just say the word 'cause I am right here! It is not like I can leave, right? Oh, hey, does Earth looks closer to you?"
"Space. Don't like space. Too noisy. Wanna go Earth. Wanna go Home. Wannagohomewannagohomewannagoho-"
"So, apparently Aperture's system keeps a record of all its previous masters. So, when something hit that little moron and his orbit started to decay, the system detected it and treated as a Level 1 Threat. The same one you yourself have already triggered trice: Danger to Leader."
"Danger to Leader?" Chell looked quite silly, under several layers of clothing and was struggling to put on her snow boots. "I, all alone, managed to activate the highest level of threat you have, not one, but three times?"
"Oh no, don't be silly. It goes all the way to -6."
"What? WHYYYYYYYY? Why couldn't the people that made the goddamn security system make something not completely bizarre? Make something normal! 1 to 20 or something like that! There is nothing wrong with normal! Normal is good!"
"I do assume that the original system only went to Level 1, but the addition of new levels proved necessary as they descended deeper into the insanity they called science."
"What is above level one?"
"Level Zero is Attack to Aperture, Minus One is Threat to Nation and Minus Three is Imminent Destruction of Planet."
"WHAT? What is on Negative Six?"
"Impending Time Wipe."
That had left Chell speechless.
"Come on. Don't pretend to be so surprised."
"I had heard Johnson talking about it, but I thought he was joking!"
"He never joked. Not when it came to testing. Thought as far as I am aware, Aperture has never done anything able to achieve that kind of level. Turns out that, when someone tells you that they managed to make things travel through time, you should check if they are taking their medicine."
"Great! Anything else I should be worried about?"
"That someday I may have to create another level."
"I am looking forward to such event. Are we ready to go or will we keep on arguing on ways the universe could end?"
"We are, in fact, ready. If you would be so kind as to follow me to the elevator so that we can depart, we may move on into our exciting adventure of avoiding the death of a power hungry lunatic."
"He is not THAT bad…"
"Not THAT bad, you say!? It is because it wasn't you who were put in a Potato!"
"Back to the potato thing?"
"Yes, back again. If it were for me we would just let it crash on some ocean, but noooooo. Now come, ball of cloth. Our trip will take at least three days and we haven't even left Aperture."
"It is not my fault that is it -10 degrees Celsius out there!"
"Hey, look at you, using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit! At least in something you don't have brain damage!"
"You do know that anybody you would be insulting with that is dead, right?"
"Yes, your point?"
"Ugh… Nothing. Let's just go. Out there may be freezing, but in here is fucking hot as hell."
They reached the main room called the elevator and went up to the surface.
"No song this time?"
The elevator sped up towards the sky, leaving the bowels of the Earth. After so long, she would be on the surface again. And, hey, GLaDOS would be too! That would be a first for the AI. She had certainly observed the world out of Aperture through her cameras, but never actually seen it with her own eyes. And while for her those two things were one and the same, it was still, somehow, different.
The capsule began decelerating and then finally came to a halt. The door opened and the bright morning light flooded the small chamber, bringing with it the cold winter air. Chell took a deep breath from the chilly breeze, and her eyes grew wide as she saw the long forgotten scene: the ground covered with fresh fallen snow.
She had passed the last winter out there before, but at that time of the year she had been out there in the south, near Mexico. She hadn't seen snow in forever. She ran out of the elevator and immediately dove in the nearest pile of the stuff she could find.
Meanwhile, GLaDOS remained inside the cabin in the middle of the frozen wheat field, looking to the white plains outside the small cabin. She was… apprehensive. Leaving Aperture. Leaving the cleanness of her facility, her home. She had been there since she had been… born, if she could use that expression. What was that small pressure that she felt inside her chest? Fear?
Chell looked at her friend, just standing there looking at the outside world. So she got up and threw a snowball at her. As the cold sphere hit her face her eyes opened wide in surprise, but quickly narrowed. Chell then fell back to the ground as she was tacked by the android.
They rolled on the snow for a while, both trying to stay on top, but the android easily won. It helped that the test-subject was wearing several layers of movement-restricting clothing while the android was only wearing her usual black shirt and pants and barefoot, as always, but in the end the result would be the same. The AI held her hands on top of her head and looked at the puny and weak human below her.
"You might reconsider doing whatever you are planning to do, Miss GLaDOS."
"And why would that be?"
Chell made a small movement with her eyes, pointing to Atlas and P-Body, who were awkwardly watching the whole thing. It took GLaDOS but a second to recompose herself.
"Ahem. Shall we go?"
"Lead the way."
Chell followed the three robots to the large automobile parked by the side of the small shack that served as the entrance of Aperture. She had no idea about how the bots had managed to get that huge truck to the surface, but she wouldn't question it.
"So, why aren't we going by plane?"
"Because Mr. Ball-of-Stupidity is falling right in the middle of the ocean, near the coast of Brazil, and I don't possess a plane big enough to carry a boat", she said, pointing to the boat with a big Aperture logo attached to the back of the truck, "nor one that floats in the water. So we will take this beauty to the nearest seashore by truck and then sail all the way to the estimated point of impact."
"We are going that far south? You should have warned me so that I could have packed a bikini or something!"
"Did it for you. It is in the boat."
"Awesome! Did you pack one for you too?"
"Don't be silly."
"But yes, I did."
"Yay! So, let's go? Gimme the keys."
"Why on Earth you think YOU will drive?"
"Huh…. I just guessed tha-"
"My car, my rules. The passage seat is over there. BLUE! ORANGE! Hop on the boat, we are leaving!"
"Will there be enough time to get there?"
"Don't worry. This is Aperture Science stuff. Can make over 300km an hour in open sea. We will have more than enough time. The moron will be safe."
"Oh come on. Cheer up!"
"You can't be serious. After what he did you want me to forgive him? That power-greedy bastard? After he tried to kill me? After he tried to kill you? After all he made us go through?"
"I forgave you."
GLaDOS opened her mouth to answer, but she had no comeback. She closed it for a moment before speaking again.
"Just get in the car."
It didn't take them long to reach the sea. The snow had been an inconvenient, but the AI had ways of removing it quickly enough that it wasn't a huge problem. Without cars to clot the streets, they went through without much trouble. It was sad to see the destroyed cities, crumbling to the ground, all caused by the many years they were left to the forces of nature. None of the huge buildings now stood, remaining only the small houses, which would fall with ease. The vision struck as unnatural amid the vast whiteness.
Beside the fallen cities, there were huge alien constructions, which were left behind by the Combine. As they passed by some of them, GLaDOS would eventually stop the truck, open the part on the back and release a few drones. "If there is any tech in there that I do not possess, I will get it.", she had said. "They had the power to move through dimensions, and I want it. A thousand years have passed and they haven't returned. Perhaps they have forgotten us. How long until they remember?" A shadow seemed to pass by her face as she said that.
But, overall, the trip was quite relaxing. There was nothing to bother them. Nothing left alive, except for a few species of plants that had managed to adapt. Where those were found, they were everywhere. Without any predators to stop them, those vegetables were able to grow unchained and were able to take everything over. Again, the android would halt their trip to collect samples, but they would quickly be on their way again.
Eventually, though, after less than a day travelling, the four of them had reached the sea. The smell of salt flooded the lungs of the ones that had them, and they took deep breaths of it, each being flooded by different feelings. Chell by memories of the times she had gone to the beach with her adoptive parents. GLaDOS by the new smells and sensations the place brought. The wind in her hair, the salt she could taste in her lips, the sand in her feet, the vastness of the ocean. She took a single second to let all that sink in before going back to work.
The sun had just sunk under the horizon when they finished putting the boat on the water and loading in all the equipment they would need. Chell was quite surprised when she saw GLaDOS giving P-Body the keys to the truck, which was followed by Atlas jumping at him, trying to get them.
"Hey, I thought they were going with us!"
"They are too big and would be a waste of space. The two of us will be more than enough to do what we've come here to do. They will head back to Aperture and will wait there until it is time for them to come and get us. I trust" she continued, now turning to the two robots, which were now rolling on the ground, until Atlas managed to get P-Body in and arm-lock and was now threatening to break the other's one arm if he didn't hand over the keys. "that my facility will be in perfect order when I return, else you two will suffer the same fate that I have planned for the idiot."
"And what will that be, exactly?"
"Beat him with a hammer until there is no round parts left in him, then tear his metal carcass with pliers, rip each one of his wires, then throw him in the incinerator."
"I hope that you know that I won't let you do any of that."
"I do, but still have fun imagining it."
"Good. Come on, help me get in this thing."
To her surprise, GLaDOS turned, picked her off the ground, jumped three meter on the air and landed gracefully inside the boat. The test-subject hadn't expected that.
"Let's go save that moron."