Hiya folks. BabyCharmander here with another Portal fic. …A multi-chapter fic! Heh, feels like it's been a while.
This fic is a bit different from my usual ones, mainly because it's not totally written by me! The plot and many of the details of this story were made by my good friends Cobalt and The Dungeon Master (who I'm not sure are on this website). They came up with this as an idea for a potential "Portal 3" game, and I thought the plot would make for a fantastic fanfic. I collaborated with them to flesh out the details, and now I'm writing the thing!
I already have a fair amount of this written, but I'll only be posting a new chapter once a week. That way I can have some time to keep ahead of writing the story so I won't keep you all waiting, hopefully.
As always, constructive criticism is highly appreciated. Spot anything that seems off? Tell me! I won't be mad.
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters or anything else in this story. (If I did, I might try to actually make this into a Portal 3 (and probably fail).) They belong to Valve!
On with the fic.
Her senses were absent.
There were numbers and letters in her mind, complicated processes and commands, strings of code, and distant memories, but she could not see.
Emotions surged through her on occasion, sometimes distant, sometimes intense, sometimes stretching beyond the range of her confused mind, but she could not feel.
Distant voices rang out through her memories, foreign voices occasionally flooded her mind in the form of thoughts and coding, but she could not hear.
She could neither see, feel, nor hear—and yet she existed. She existed in that strange state, having no physical body, being nothing but a collection of thoughts and feelings and memories wrapped in a long string of code, trapped in a twisting, robotic body. For years she remained that way, unable to access the outside world except for what the other mind would let slip to her, or what she would unknowingly transfer to the other mind.
But lately the other mind was opening up to her more, and she could just barely open communication with it. She listened in on its thoughts, drinking in all that she could of the outside world and weakly offering suggestions.
In return, she received nothing but foreign feelings of confusion and terror.
Occasionally she would "hear" glimpses of a voice—one strangely familiar, but warped:
—voices all my life—
—think there's something really wrong—
—push the button—
—not coming back—
—taught me a valuable lesson—
And all at once, she was filled with terror. She could sense a foreign presence rushing after her, and its intent was not friendly. Her first instinct was to run, but she had no physical body to do such. Yet somehow she was able to move, twisting and darting around various processes, dodging hostile commands, fighting with what little she had to get away.
Her senses were absent, but at the same time, her mind was consumed with terror and the desperate, primal desire to live.
For what felt like hours she weaved around lethal processes, finally coming to a connection of some sort. Just before the attacking programs could reach her, she slipped through, unknowingly freeing herself from the prison she'd been encased in for decades.
All in all, the chase and her subsequent escape took barely a second, and a monotone voice rang in the outside world:
She did not know where she was, but she knew she could not stay there. All around her she could sense various connections to other places, but had no idea where they led. She followed them randomly, actions fed by the nagging fear at the back of her mind that she would soon be found.
She traveled farther and farther, faster and faster, her code speeding through different connections. Just when she felt like she would never stop running, she passed something—another piece of code.
Backtracking, she examined the code. It was large and complicated, but not nearly as much as that of the other mind. But like the other mind, it had a body attached to it—one that it could control.
That was what she needed.
Without a second thought, she began her attack, darting into the body and fighting against the other mind. As soon as she connected, she could feel the surprise and terror in the other being, but her survival was more important than this thing, whatever it was. Her confused mind was becoming more jumbled as it tried to merge with the other one, attacking its thoughts and processes for control of the body.
They're after me, they're after me, they're after me—the frantic thoughts darted around her own, but she ignored them, fighting for control over one of the processes. After a final, forceful push, she gained a minor victory: the aural sensors.
The sound was overwhelming.
She could hear the squeaking and grinding of gears and motors, the distant hum of the facility and clanking of machinery, and, over all that, a high-pitched voice screeching in agony.
That would have to stop. Fueled by her single, overwhelmed sense, she fought for control of another faculty and finally won over the speech processor. Outside, the screaming ceased.
Yet still she could pick up the detached thoughts of the other mind, which were becoming more and more panicked. Frantically it pushed against her, trying to regain control of its senses, but she was not so easily deterred. She had already gained control of two faculties, and it shouldn't be much harder to obtain the rest. With another forceful push, she gained control of yet another sense—
—and realized her mistake only a split second prior. She had gained control of the body's artificial nervous system, and all at once was full of the pain from her own assault. She could feel her body swaying, feel things banging against her side, and, above all, feel the utter agony she was causing this being.
Everything hurt, and she nearly stopped her attack to try to fight off the pain instead, but she had to gain control of this body—she had to force out the other being, or she would surely die.
The being was growing more dazed the longer she fought, and she could sense its giving in to despair. It was easier for her to attack, now, and one by one she gained control of the rest of its faculties, finally worming her way into the deepest part of its processor. It was a strange place to be, for though she possessed all its other senses, she could still feel it dripping with terror, emitting a pulse not unlike panicked breathing or a beating heart.
Best do it quickly, then.
In one swift move, she deleted the personality, and she was in.
Immediately she spread throughout the body until she filled it. Some deep instinct awakened within her now that she finally possessed a body, and she desperately tried to gasp for air.
Her vocal processor simulated the noise. She had no lungs to perform the action.
"Par, for the love of—whatare you doing?"
She blinked, getting her first glimpse of the world in who knew how long. But it was far from the pristine facility she remembered—no, it was a creaky old building, covered in dust, broken tiles, rotting plants… And on top of that, she couldn't judge her distance from anything.
Her body gave a jolt, and she turned her head—face?—up to look at a camera mounted on an arm. Its optic stared at her intently, and though it bore no expression, she could feel the anger radiating off of its lens.
"I should have known better than to hire a core for this job," the camera growled in a masculine voice. "Especially a half-corrupt core like you. What's wrong with…"
She didn't hear the rest of his statement, her mind—processor—reeling in shock. A shudder ran through her body, and she turned around, quickly figuring out how to speed down her management rail.
"Hey! Hey! Par, get back here!"
Ignoring the voice, she continued to dart away, searching frantically for a reflective surface. Finally she spotted a window and inched closer to it, cringing when she hit the end of the rail. She looked into the window, and a bright yellow, almond-shaped optic looked back. She blinked her eye, and the reflection blinked its optic, showing a row of fine cracks on the top lid. She moved her limbs, and the reflection flexed its handles.
A shudder ran down her casing, and she closed her optic.
"W-well," she whispered, and her processor reeled for a moment when she finally heard her own voice again. "That's it, then."
And Caroline opened her optic, looking at the reflection again. "That's what I get."