A/N: I'm already publishing two stories but at the moment I also don't have very much free time that I could devote to writing new chapters which is unfortunately slowing my ability to update. I know I stated at the beginning of "Competitive Testing Initiative" that that was my first fanfic, but I was only saying that for the sake of simplicity. This story you're about to read is in fact the first piece of fan fiction I've ever written; "CTI" is the first story that I started publishing.
I wrote five chapter for this story almost a year ago, at the end of March 2012. Due to college I couldn't find the time to finish what I had envisioned as a roughly fifteen-chapter story and once summer came along I wasn't in the right mood to write this particular story, plus I was kind of preoccupied with other things. I had originally planned to only release this story once all of it was already written, but after actually releasing a couple of chapters for other stories on this site I've changed my mind.
I'm going to be spacing out the release of the first five chapters so that the fifth one will come out some time during the summer when I have more time to write additional chapters. My main focus is still going to be on the two stories I already have going on, so once chapter five is out the updates for this story might be somewhat irregular. I'll pretty much be writing this story whenever I feel like it.
Now, before these author notes get longer than the chapter itself, I'll let you enjoy (that's my hope at least) the first piece of fan fiction I've ever written. Please note that this story is rated M for a variety of reasons and if you're going to be reading it please be prepared for anything.
"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. And then you shower up. You dangerous, mute lunatic. So you know what? You win. Just go."
After GLaDOS had saved Chell's life by pulling her back through the portal, the girl had just lain down on the floor listening to the AI's monologue. Now the elevator doors behind her opened, ready to take the former test subject back to the surface and out of this facility which had made her life a living hell. All she needed to do now was get up and step into the elevator… but she couldn't do it.
Her entire body had been in constant agony after she'd been thrown across the room by the explosives Wheatley had used to booby-trap the Stalemate Resolution Button. A large portion of her skin felt like it was on fire, which was no doubt because of burns from the explosion itself. Chell didn't even dare to think about how severe some of the burns might be. Much more alarming however, was the fact that every time she tried to move her legs even a tiny amount, she could feel an incredibly intense surge of pain coarse through her whole body. The girl tried to gather all the strength she had left in her and disregard the pain, but after numerous attempts she was forced to admit to herself that even all the willpower she had left wasn't going to be enough to overcome the gravity of the situation, namely that she wouldn't be walking anywhere anytime soon.
"So no walking, but what about crawling?"
Chell glanced behind her. The elevator was only a few meters away from her. It would surely hurt like hell, but she was certain she could crawl her way to it. Moving her hands wasn't even close to being painless, although Chell knew she could tolerate the pain long enough to reach her freedom. But what if she did make it to the elevator? What then? God knows how far the nearest town – or any kind of civilization for that matter – was from Aperture Laboratories. She would never make it, and that thought started to eat away at her from the inside. This had turned out just like last time, when she had defeated GLaDOS just to be dragged to the Extended Relaxation Center by some stupid robot. She had been in too weak a state to do anything about it and now, even though the supercomputer was actually permitting Chell to leave, she was unable to do so on her own. If there was such a thing as fate, it was probably laughing its ass off watching her squirm.
What about GLaDOS? Was she aware of her former test subject's injuries? Surely it was obvious to anyone who wasn't blind that she was at least mildly hurt, but the computer probably couldn't tell just by examining Chell visually that she was actually in a much more serious condition. But what if she could tell? What if she was well aware of the situation? Chell couldn't rule out that possibility. But why would the AI have offered to let the girl leave the facility if she knew Chell would be unable to do so in her current condition? Then it dawned on her.
"She wants to watch me suffer before she kills me. That must be it. She was never going to let me leave this cursed place. She must've already known when she pulled me from space, otherwise she would have just let me die."
Chell had been really surprised when GLaDOS had saved her life, and now it started to make perfect sense why she'd done it. Naturally she had had some faith in the AI's word on not killing her once they had gotten rid of Wheatley, but even at her most optimistic Chell had estimated the chances of GLaDOS actually keeping her promise to be about 50-50. Not that there were many other options than to cooperate with the murderous computer since Wheatley was about to cause the whole facility to blow sky high.
The pain was starting to be too much for the girl to handle and on top of that she was feeling completely exhausted by all that had happened. She couldn't even remember when she had last eaten anything. Even her portal gun had been blown into the vastness of space. She had nothing. There was absolutely nothing left. Chell started to weep.
All this time that the girl had been lying on the floor the massive robotic body that hung from the ceiling in front of her had been watching her patiently, waiting for her to stand up and leave, but when Chell started crying its expression seemed to change to represent confusion. At least that's what it looked like to Chell. And that gave her hope. Perhaps GLaDOS didn't know after all. Perhaps she wasn't planning to kill her. Did that change anything though? Leaving meant a slow death in Chell's mind regardless of the situation. She didn't want GLaDOS to kill her either, so hopefully that was not the AI's intention. What else was there? Leave, be murdered, or… stay?
"Stay in Aperture? No way. I'm definitely getting out of here one way or another. But maybe… she'll let me stay until I'm well enough to make it on my own on the surface. That's a big maybe though."
Asking the humongous computer for help and some mercy started to seem like the last viable option in Chell's mind but that would mean that she'd have to finally break her silence. The entire time she had been in Aperture Chell had made sure to keep her lips sealed at all times. She had never allowed GLaDOS to have the satisfaction of making her talk. The AI had called her a mute on a couple of occasions, but Chell wasn't sure if those were just more of the computer's sarcastic remarks or if she had actually started to believe that the human was unable to speak.
The flow of tears was starting to dry up. There was still hope, although Chell would have to let GLaDOS – the one who haunted her nightmares – have the pleasure of making her talk after all this time. However it didn't seem like a huge sacrifice at this point since Chell pretty much already felt like she'd lost, even though it wasn't easy to accept that fact.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Lift that generousness of yours off my floor and get on that elevator. If you are too lazy to manage that much, I'll have you removed from this facility even if I don't have your cooperation. It's entirely up to you."
Chell understood that it was now or never and opened her mouth to respond to the AI… but nothing came out. She swallowed a couple of times and tried again.
"...an't...mo...s..." she managed to squeeze out sounding hardly louder than a mouse.
"Well, well. So, the mute lunatic can in fact speak. Although I already presumed as much. You'll have to speak up though, or did your extended time in relaxation cause your brain to deteriorate to such an extent that you are no longer able to form coherent sentences?"
Chell hated the AI so much, but she would have to swallow her pride and try to speak more audibly like she'd been told. It was the only thing she could do.
"I...CAN'T...MOVE...MY...LEGS," Chell said, being much louder this time. Luckily her voice seemed to be recovering bit by bit each time she spoke a little more.
"Oh, why didn't you say so earlier? Blue, Orange: it's time for you to remove the smelly garbage from my prestigious chamber."
The two bots that had been standing idly on GLaDOS's either side this entire time now moved forward. When they reached the spot where Chell was lying they both looked at her apologetically and started to gently lift her off the ground.
"GLaDOS! What's up there?" Chell asked loudly enough to be heard while trying to avoid straining her underused vocal chords more than was absolutely necessary.
"I already told you before you murdered me, remember? Even I don't know what's going on up there. Nor do I really care for that matter. My place is down here where all the science is done."
"I might not survive on the surface. There's no way I can get very far in this state."
"And? You think I care? Hah! You wanted you freedom and here it is. All I want is to see you gone. Whether you live or die doesn't matter to me, as long as you never try to return here. If you do, I will kill you."
"Please… Just let me stay here a couple of days until my condition improves. I promise to leave once I'm able. It's not like I want to stay, you know that right? You if anyone should know; I detest this place."
GLaDOS's two underlings had now finished carrying the wounded human next to the lift. They had moved very slowly and very carefully trying to avoid causing the poor girl any more pain than she was already forced to endure each passing second. Chell appreciated their efforts, but unfortunately this was not a good time for her to voice her gratitude. The robots were now looking at their boss, clearly waiting for a confirmation whether or not to place the human on the elevator for transportation to the world above ground.
"Hmmmmmmmmmmmm," GLaDOS's half-human, half-robotic voice rang in the chamber like an extended note. "Oh, fine. But I'm only consenting to this as a final farewell favor to Caroline, even though she has been gone for a while now. This is something she would have wanted. If you make me regret this decision in any way you are as good as dead. Keep that in mind." She now directed her words to the testing partners still holding Chell. "Take her to the nearest room equipped for treating humans and check her status. Also, give her something for the pain and wait for further instructions once you are done."
With that the bots headed out of the main chamber into the seemingly endless corridors of Aperture Science. Chell could feel the exhaustion she had been holding back starting to overwhelm her now that she didn't seem to be in any immediate danger, and for the first time during her stay in this computer-aided enrichment center, she let the exhaustion win. Her consciousness started to fade rapidly and she closed her eyes welcoming the state of oblivion. She felt like she could sleep for an eternity. Or two.
A/N: I was inspired to write fan fiction by the very first Portal fanfic I ever read but the origin of this story dates all the way back to the day Portal 2 came out and when I went to bed that night after beating the single player portion of it. I basically just wondered what if Chell had been hurt in the confrontation with Wheatley and was unable to leave Aperture. Imagining being Chell in that situation was an incredibly intense experience but I never really figured out how the story would continue – not until I started reading Portal fan fiction, that is.
This story is more personal to me than my other stories so it feels good to come back to it after what already feels like a lifetime. Like I said the next four chapters are already done (well I need to check them for grammar and perhaps polish them a little, but that'll only take an evening per chapter), so even though I said I'd be releasing them a few weeks apart I might upload some of them earlier than planned depending on how much interest there seems to be in this story.
And as a final note: yes, if I remember correctly Chell is already on an elevator when she comes to after being pulled from space but please forgive my past self for taking small liberties with that.