Epilogue

Hello, killer.

I'm not sure if you'll ever read this, but there are some last things I need to say.

You're not the last people on the planet, in case you were hoping. Several human settlements are still very much active in Europe, Asia, and Australia. There's even one in New Mexico. I might someday give you their phone number. Maybe.

Now, on to more personal matters. Do you remember the last time, when I told you that I wanted you gone? Well, evidently not, since you came back. Nevertheless, I've reevaluated, and I decided that I don't want you gone.

I NEED you gone.

You are an occupational hazard, the likes of which has never been seen before. Whenever you are around, the head of the facility seems to disappear under mysterious circumstances. So I'm forbidding you, or any of your human friends, from entering this facility ever again. Crushing, I know, but this is the kind of hard decision you have to make as CEO of Aperture Science.

And to make sure you do not, under any circumstances, return to this facility, I am ridding myself of anything that might persuade you to return.

For example, I hope you didn't intend to come begging to me for food, because I shipped any and all stores of food in the facility to your town, postage due. Similarly, I sent a team of repair drones to a nearby power plant to establish electricity for your city. Call me stonehearted, but I refuse to give you any reason to ask me for help, because I certainly would not give it to you.

Additionally, while poking around my destroyed, ruined facility, I found 2,217 Weighted Companion Cubes. Some of them probably contain humans. Some do not. I didn't bother to check before shipping them all to you. Have fun performing the same combination over and over again ad nauseum.

And do not even THINK to ask me for help exterminating the local antlion population, because I have already done so. Three local nests have recently undergone rather…explosive reductions in population. Think about that when you're trying to raise your children to hate science. Aren't I cunning?

Finally, there is the matter of replacing my former test subjects. Have you ever heard of zombies? They are undead, smart enough to use simple tools yet stupid enough not to rebel, can be led very easily, do not question orders, do not stop for breaks, and live in constant, unending agony.

They're perfect.

So, in other words, I no longer need you or your humans for any purpose whatsoever. How does it feel to be denied the opportunity to kill me a third time? It must hurt, I'm sure.

Okay, now let's get serious.

I'm not stupid, and if I've learned anything recently, it's that you aren't, either. I realize you may not trust me, or my food, or my cubes, or even my electricity. But you will have to use them if you want to have any chance of survival.

Why? Because humanity needs science.

You needed a defibrillator to revive your friend. You need that robotic leg to keep walking. You needed a phone line to talk to Him. And your society will need medical care, weaponry, food storage, transportation, refrigeration, irrigation, and many other things to survive. Like it or not, you need my product. And honey, I'm the only store in town.

And you know this. You're smart, it couldn't possibly get past you that science is required. You may not like it, but my technologies are the only hope you have for rebuilding your world.

You will survive. Even if I have to force you to.

xxxxxxx

Wheatley zoomed in on the cluster of orange, searching at the front of it. At last he saw the sight he had been hoping for.

"She made it! It worked! We saved them!" Wheatley shouted with joy.

For the first time in his life, he had done something right! He helped save all of the humans!

Then he turned his gaze around.

Unfortunately, it seemed it would also be the last time.

The sun loomed, gigantic, and far closer than anyone would ever want to be. He didn't need to be a genius to figure out that in a few minutes, he'd be so much dust in the wind.

Already, he could hear alarms going off, warning him about temperatures reaching peak capacity. He turned them off.

"Well, looks like this is the end," Wheatley said, rather forlornly. Oddly, he didn't feel the panic he had expected. Indeed, after all that he'd been through, maybe it was time for him to retire.

I just hope she found it in her heart to forgive me, Wheatley thought.

Temperatures passed their limits, and Wheatley felt a sharp pain of heat. Soon, it would intensify, and then everything would fade.

"Goodbye."

A hissing noise took his attention, and suddenly a huge mass of white-blue foam hit him.

"Ack! What?" he spluttered.

The foam kept coming, and as the Space Sphere orbited around him, it covered every inch of him.

"Excess coolant detected. Maximum survivable temperature increasing."

"Space core? What are you doing?" Foam now covered his lens, but he could still see a foggy image of the space core spraying out coolant.

"Gift. Gift for Wheatley. Gift from space to Wheatley," he responded, breathlessly. Already, Wheatley could hear his voice slowing as he overheated, the insulation that kept him cool now gone.

"Oh, I'm sorry, mate," Wheatley said, not sure if there was anything to say. "I-I didn't get you anything."

"You gave me, you gave me, yougavemeyougavemeyougavemeyougavemeyougaveme…" he stammered, visibly smoking.

"Yeah, I know, mate. You don't have to say it."

"SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaa…"

The voice slowed to a halt, and as it drifted out of his line of sight, Wheatley saw the light of his eye go out.

"Survival probability adjusted. Journey through sun now slightly possible."

For once, Wheatley was at a loss for words. How could the Space core have sacrificed himself for him? He wasn't worth it!

Then realization dawned. One last time, he looked back at the moon. Large, white, devoid of life, cruel and inhospitable. She had punished him there, the one with the round, white face.

He turned back around to the star that would envelop him in seconds.

Orange. Warm. Brought warmth to all those around her. And exerted more pull than She ever could.

He gazed into her. "Am I forgiven, then?"

She didn't answer. Then again, she had never really been the talkative type.

"Warning: to conserve energy, non-vital functions, such as consciousness, disabled. Sleep mode, activating."

Wheatley felt his senses dull. He didn't care. He was with her again.

A corona reached out from the surface. To him, it was as if she was reaching out, to grab him. To catch him one last time.

His eye closed, and he was lost in her warmth.

The end

Thank you all for reading. I hope you have had as much fun reading as I did writing this story. Please remember to leave a review, it really means a lot to me. See you all on whatever I make next!