AN: Look what I found when I was going through old files on my jump drive! The long-lost Jeopardy chapter!
Wheatley hurried back into the hallway to retrieve their ASHPDs, nearly tripping over the Lego men that remained scattered across the floor, and then rejoined Chell at the doorway.
"Ready?" he said, handing over her portal device.
She nodded again. Together, they crossed the threshold and entered the room.
Chell's initial glance had been correct – they were in a classroom, specifically, her old kindergarten classroom. Strangely, each of the seats was occupied by a pint-sized turret. None of the turrets' targeting lasers were activated - perhaps they were in standby mode? Cameras, lights, and stage lay at the far end of the room. On the opposite side was an audience of turrets – inactive – dozens upons dozens of them, all arranged in stadium-style seating.
On the stage stood three podiums, screens attached to the front of each. The left podium bore the name "Wheatley," and the screen on the middle podium bore the name "Chell." Eerily enough, their names had not been printed but written in the handwriting of their respective owners, whereas the podium on the right - which read "Fact Core" - had its name displayed in a plain, Helvetica-style font.
Across from the stage was a floor-to-ceiling matrix of TV panels displaying monetary amounts, ranging from one hundred dollars to five hundred dollars. Each column was topped by a larger TV panel, which featured one of a variety of categories:
MORONS & OTHER MYSTERIES
BEFORE & AFTER YOU TRIED TO MURDER ME
"You have got to be bloody joking," Wheatley breathed. He could not fully believe that he was actually seeing what he thought he was seeing. In a daze, he walked forward and slowly stepped onto the stage.
Chell reluctantly followed him, feeling uneasy. She hoped he would give her some kind of explanation. She didn't understand the significance of this place, or why he seemed to be wearing a bemused smile.
"Did you ever watch Jeopardy! as a kid?" he asked, noticing her confusion.
She shook her head. She'd inherited her father's almost-pathological hatred of television, and although her childhood room had a TV, it was rarely used.
"It was a game show," Wheatley said. He pointed to the podiums and added, "And…apparently we're the contestants."
Just as he said this, lights in the ceiling illuminated, flooding the room with intense brightness. Upbeat, strangely familiar music began to play, and a rectangular sign off in the far corner lit up, displaying the word APPLAUSE.
Immediately, the turret audience began to clap (their version of it, anyway) their side panels opening and closing to create a weird, mechanical applause.
A voice Chell recognized – the announcer – began to speak:
"This…is Jeopardy! Today's contestants…a dangerous, mute lunatic from(subject's hometown here),Chell! A moron from(subject's hometown here),Wheatley! And our returning champion, a sphere from our very own Aperture Science Enrichment Center in Upper Michigan…Fact Core!"
Wheatley and Chell could only stare as the pink-lensed identity core materialized on top of the third podium.
"The Fact Sphere," it stated, waiting for no further introduction, "is the most intelligent sphere, and will beat you in any game. Monopoly. Scrabble. Boggle. Munchkin. Yahtzee. Sorry."
"Sorry?" Wheatley repeated with a slightly hysterical laugh. He looked at Chell. "What's it sorry for?"
"And now," the announcer continued, speaking over the Fact Sphere, which continued to relentlessly recite game after game, "here is the host of Jeopardy…GLaDOS!"
The music increased in volume, the turret audience began to cheer, and both Chell and Wheatley visibly stiffened as the ceiling above them split in two. Like something out of a nightmare, the familiar black-and-white chassis slowly descended into the room, her optic glowering malevolently at the contestants as she lowered towards the stage. A fourth podium - the host's - rose from the floor, and she came to hang behind it.
Wheatley's heart began racing, and he swallowed hard. Don't panic, don't panic, don't panic, he told himself as he hefted his ASHPD. The portal device posed no threat to Her, but holding it made him feel better. Beside him, Chell did the same, presenting a united front to the AI that loomed before them.
The music faded into silence, and the turrets (and Fact Sphere) finally quieted.
"Good news," GLaDOS greeted them. "Instead of killing you both outright, I've decided to put you through one, final test." Her optic settled upon Chell as she said this last part, and the lens narrowed."Take your places behind the podium."
Neither Chell nor Wheatley budged.
GLaDOS sighed; as if on cue, one of the turrets in the audience activated, and its laser honed in directly on Wheatley's chest.
"Sorry," GLaDOS remarked irreverently as the turret began to fire. "But that wasn't a request."
Me again. I miss writing CDaSH. If anyone has any idea for oneshots, send them my way and I will see what I can do...