Title: Revenge Fantasies
Rating: PG or T on fanfiction.net
Warnings/Pairings: Chell and Wheatley, but more friendship than anything…and this is kind of twisted and wound up being depressing. This involves clones and brain mapping from someone whose understanding of science is pretty rubbish but at least Aperture science is pretty funky to begin with so I think I might get away with it.
Summary: As a cruel experiment of GLaDOS, Wheatley is transferred into an android body while Chell is put into a core and given the opportunity for revenge. While GLaDOS THINKS she has a huge failsafe finally against the impossible determination of Chell, she’s underestimated a few things - as usual.
VERY IMPORTANT AUTHORS’ NOTES: I wasn’t comfortable with drawing art for the exchange, so wolveswithhats said there was someone who was happy with getting fic. I don’t know who that someone was - so um, if you follow me or are checking tags and that prompt looks familiar to you then…please tell me and wolves if you could tell the person that’d be great! And to who this was for, I hope you like!
The rapid clang of footsteps, metal against metal echoed down a corridor. It was quickly joined in tandem by a second heavier step as Atlas hit the catwalk on the opposite side of the chamber running. As GLaDOS watched, the two robots solved the chamber and danced about cheerfully, exchanging high fives and teasing eachother like puppies as they celebrated their victory. She dismantled them, unable to bring Herself to even make a pithy remark on the quality of their performance. These days, Her voice did not carry the same timbre it used to but she doubted highly if the duo even knew what she was saying to them.
That was only a mere sliver of the problem. The whole pie was something else entirely. What it came down to was that despite Her best efforts to bait Chell into showing any emotion other than stubborn stoicism, GLaDOS had failed utterly and so She’d sent her on her way. A failed experiment was better dumped down the incinerator than held for further questioning.
At one point, She had come to create clones. The project had been successful but unnecessary to put into employment. Chell had beaten every test. GLaDOS could admit that She had been all but obsessed with the dangerous mute lunatic from the moment she realized she was up for the challenge of her tests.
Not only that. She was obsessed with the idea of cracking that façade, getting her to show emotion. She made sure that her clones would yield the same results. They were not mere clones in body. They also held a clone of her mind. They would all be utterly dangerous, utterly mute and utterly unflappable. In short, supremely and unequivocally boring.
The testing bots really were like tame animals. They were eager to please and all too interested in any sort of new objective she tagged them with to pursue. They were the other end of the spectrum from Chell: almost perpetually cheerful. Sure they teased, nagged and taunted eachother but it was so sickeningly good-natured that the A.I had gotten bored exceptionally quickly.
She hated to admit what had really brought Her joy. It was the look of outright terror on Wheatley’s face as She crushed him into a wall, terrorized him into babbling nonsensical fear and anger alike and forced Chell to corrupt him to clear his presence out of Her beautiful chassis. Floating through space was far too good for him.
He really had no idea of just how extensively he had wrecked her facility. Refusing to pay attention to the delicate balance of thermonuclear energy that powered the place was merely the big picture. Although She had been angry about it at the time, the plagiarized and mashed together travesties of test chambers that were a mockery of the existence of Her brilliant mind also did not command the majority of her ire.
She had never had any doubt that Chell could work through this and so she had. In the aftermath She’d been able to rebuild and restore, twisting metal away from metal, straightening it, rewriting servos and motors and plates back into order, organizing her creations into their proper deadly design.
The whole business was as pathetically simple as releasing neurotoxin into a locked room of scientists.
She ran a corruption check on her programming and reassessed the damage. If she were to be honest with herself, these small pond issues were exactly that. It had taken Her brilliant mind mere hours to restore Her beautiful facility to a functioning state. What really angered her was the fact that he had destroyed all of Her humans. Each and every last one. Their life support had been the first to succumb to his ignorant redistribution of facility priorities. The cryogenics systems had failed and She was left with a bunch of bloated, soggy corpses. Perhaps in a few years they would be reduced to crumbling bones that would not disgust Her quite as much. She could probably air them out in a few years or perhaps even let them ooze down the incinerator this moment but it was the injustice of it all that rankled. They were gone. There were no humans left to try Her tricks on.
Her anger mounted as the memory played out. It was not one human. It was not one hundred humans. It was literal thousands. Maybe tens of thousands, all with different personality reports, all ready made for a multitude of different psychological torments. She could have had them forever.
But no. They were gone. All hail the moron!
Idly she wondered if the chassis was to blame, if there was some defect in the programming. Wheatley had easily been as obsessed with Chell as She was after being plugged in. He’d devoted a portion of his energies to keeping the clone slugs of her alive, as well as the backup of her consciousness.
On that note…
She extended herself deep within Her own database to simply touch the file, to run a covetous mental finger over the last she had of her. The last save had been made right after the android’s insertion into the chassis and subsequent betrayal, sometime immediately following the long fall. After being off the grid in the depths of Aperture, parts of the facility beyond Her tendrils of power, the system could no longer read and back up her mental functions and so it had assumed Chell had died. Any clone created would know nothing of transversing Wheatley Laboratories (what a joke) or being given her freedom.
The reflection struck a chord. No. It inspired an idea. She hovered there a moment, filtering lovingly through the file, occasionally stopping to reflect on her fondest memories and most bitter battles. She could always delete the portion of this recorded life that remembered Wheatley and stick her in a clone slug. She could pull all but the basic brain mapping and raise a Chell from the intellect of an infant child but it felt too much like failure to do this, nor did She particularly enjoy squalling human children.
There was an idea and a hypothesis to be had here. Something She wasn’t yet seeing. Nostalgia was not quite the answer, but the inklings of something brilliant were beginning to form. Not just a punishment but the answer to all Her problems.
She left the file as it was and manoeuvred through the facility, wending her will through its walls and laboratories. There was science to be done and testing to prepare for.
The CASKET (Core Automaton Scientific Kinaesthetic Experimentation Trial) Workshop was the brainchild of a group of scientists whom GLaDOS had particularly despised. The group of them had created not only the testing robots which She now used to her advantage as a way to phase out human testing, however they had also been set to work on more life-like models so that her former boss could walk around the factory like he used to. Naturally, they went and stuffed Her into this ungainly chassis anyway.
She was well aware of the irony that just moments before She had called the thing beautiful. No one was around to care or call Her out and so She did not dwell on it.
Instead, She mulled over Her choices. The very first automaton they had created was a little ‘stick figure’, reminiscent of the iconic symbol used on the doors to men’s toilets. She briefly considered the indignity of it, but quickly vetoed the idea. It was just too flimsy for Her purposes and She did not want to have to do the procedure more than once. She anticipated this thing to require taking quite a pounding.
On the opposite extreme of the spectrum lay near-human structures. These were the most ‘recent’ in the line: mechanical dolls that were nearly indistinguishable from real humans. They were practically metal versions of clone slugs, customizable to various aesthetics of humanity from skin colour to the particular shape of a nose right down to eyelash thickness. These She ignored as well. They would almost be a reward and not the punishment She was looking to dole out.
It was the middle ones that intrigued Her. Specifically, a set of trials two rows down from the ones that had once held Atlas and P-Body. They resembled something like the strange sketches of Aliens from theRoswellconspiracies. Long thin bodies, white rather than grey but with long-fall boots built into their skinny legs. An Aperture logo was embossed on their torso in black and their oval shaped heads were supported on a strong but spindly looking neck. The eyes were quiet and dark right now, but as She directed a claw to remove the lifeless creature from its prison-drawer, that would change soon enough.
Leaving the doll body to dangle, GLaDOS now turned Her attention to the other side of the room. A wall of blank cores inhabited this side. Like the rows on the opposite side, these too were organized in an order of their level of mechanical and storage complexity. The left-most were useless to Her: something like the original set of cores that had been attached to the chassis to ‘make Her behave’. They were only capable of holding a single, if not one-dimensional idea of a personality apiece. The other half of the rack could store more convincing personalities, almost human and able to interact on their own terms. True A.I’s.
These were the ones She would use to bring about a change in the dull testing environment of Aperture today.
It took only a few moments to begin the uploads and slowly both the doll and the core blinked into aware existence.
Wheatley could feel his power supply fading. It was inevitable that he would die out here. If the radiation and debris in space itself did not accomplish this then time certainly would do the trick. He’d never been fully shorted out before. Not even after being crushed by Her. Aperture equipment was made to withstand quite a bit of abuse from extreme temperatures to high pressure and other things that would kill off a human in a matter of mere seconds. He had to admit that he didn’t think it would have happened this fast, particularly since as far as he knew that Space core had been off the management rail and in the core reject bin for quite some time.
“Wel—ll…” His vocal chip hissed and popped a bit as he could feel his battery life come to an end. “…ess t…is is…t…mate.”
It never occurred to him to wonder why he had never seen the ‘low batttery’ sign in his field of vision as the next thing that he saw was a wall of something that looked suspiciously like…
The voice that had spoken was completely unfamiliar to him. It was female but lacked Her musical, mechanical edge (thank goodness). In fact, the quality of it was rather husky and fairly low compared to GLaDOS. Not scared (as he most definitely was) but all too obviously confused. Wheatley could definitely relate to confused.
He himself felt like he was dangling which while not a new sensation as he had after all been suspended from a management rail for most of his existence, felt different. He felt all sort of stretched out, as though he had been pounded into a flat sheet and strung up. He really hoped that was not what had in fact happened.
He tried to pivot himself in his hull, get a good look around. Normally his optic could look into his blind spots before he was only staring at the inner walls of his outer casing, but strangely the act caused the entirety of his hull swung to one side and he took a long look at what appeared to be an arm. A long, thin arm that seemed to belong to someone below him.
The second experiment of trying to turn his optic to the opposite side yielded the same curious reaction that the whole of him was turning and he took a look at another arm in the same position.
There was only one possible explanation. Someone had a human tied up underneath him! The poor fleshy mass must be in a dead panic! Here was a chance to put what he had learned about being nice to the creatures into practice.
“Oh…okay mate. I um…I think you’re just under me right now so whatever you do, don’t hit your head. I don’t…know how to get you down but I am sure if you do not move or struggle we’ll both be just fine!”
“I know your voice! It’s you!” the female voice said in shock. “What have you done to me!?”
It took Wheatley a second to process that the voice was addressing him. Well wasn’t that just bloody fantastic. Every time there was a female voice around he was getting blamed for something.
“I’m quite sure I don’t know you luv, but as you can see we have a bit of a problem here. I have this poor human beneath me and he OR she is really in a bit of a bind. Literally. All strung up. So I think I need to help him first.”
There was a pause. “I want to know where I am.” The voice had apparently recovered its calm.
“I’m quite sure I did nothing. I was floating through space until a moment ago and…” he tried looking around. “…oh luv! You’re a core! I’m quite sorry, did I bang into you? I must have been recently reactivated. Brilliant really long as She doesn’t find us. Maybe you can give us a hand with this human here?”
The core’s optic spun crazily, looking back and forth wildly. It’s eye was comprised of some sort of strange crystal light ring which wasn’t quite clear but more of the burning white-blue of stars. He was a bit proud of himself for coming up with that comparison. It was sort of lyrical really. Well. Either that or he’d just spent a long time looking at that particular colour. “Sorry luv, but I don’t know you. Y’must be new here, welcome to Aperture and all that. Pretty sure the last human went ages ago so I can’t be sure what your function is.”
The core’s crazy rotating motions increased.
“I hate to tell you this though but I think you might be a tiny bit defective. Actually, seems like a lot defective, not going to lie here.”
The core’s optic contracted to a tiny, fearful pinprick, focusing on him. Or at least, he thought it was.
Before he could say anything, perhaps even apologize for frightening it, they were intruded upon by a very familiar, alarmingly amused voice that boomed all around them.
“Welcome back to Earth. You know, I really did not miss you.” She purred. “However I needed someone new to help me with my tests.”
“Well well.” He could not help gloating a bit, even though remorse still remained at the forefront of his mechanical mind. “Guess you needed me after all. Looks like my replacement’s a defective. Couldn’t run the place without me.”
She actually managed to huff over the speaker. “Hardly. However I was thinking it over and you’re right. Leaving you to rot in space is hardly fitting for an intellect such as yours.”
Wheatley knew sarcasm when he heard it and that was most definitely sarcasm. “I’m sitting right here with this poor sap of a replacement core. It’s still shaking.” He returned the sarcasm in kind. “Even a ‘moron’ can spot a defective without really trying. Hah. So who is the one with the superior intellect now? Me, that’s who!”
“You misunderstand me, even though that is not surprising in the least.” The A.I. thrummed, the gleeful tone she held now impossible to ignore. “You’re going to be doing the testing. Something that is new for you. However, she’s going to be doing all the work. Just like old times.”
Wheatley wrestled with this particular bit of information just long enough to open his mouth before his internal processor caught up with it. “Right, and how am I going to test without a body—oh man alive, that’s my body! I mean, bother, not my real body, my real body’s um, I don’t rightly know where you’ve popped that off to…still in space maybe. I do kind of miss it but maybe you did do me a favour as it did seem to be shutting down. At any rate, you have stuck me right into a body and um, that’s probably not good. A…well it’s not a human one so there is that, but a body! Whhat’s more, you expect me to test!? I can’t test! I’m the bloke that’s supposed to make the tests!” he began to thrash in his bonds as he yammered, unable to decipher whether or not he could use them properly when they weren’t tied down to have him strung up and trussed like a leg of lamb.
GLaDOS remained patiently silent which was never a good sign. Normally she would be gloating by now so there had to be some extra bit of information that he hadn’t factored in yet.
He twisted his face into an expression – he could make expressions! With his…mouth! Wasn’t that something? He didn’t even realize how he’d not realized he had a mouth straight away. Probably just his amazing ability for adaptation. At any rate, he meant it to be pensive and thoughtful, or as much as one could look thus while tied up.
Unfortunately he did not have the time to reflect on just how amazing he was and instead he replayed the initial conversation. She’d said that ‘she’ would be testing him, In spite of all her arrogance, GLaDOS never referred to herself in the ‘Royal We’. That meant there was someone else, but he could not imagine anyone, let alone HER ever relinquishing the ability and the perks that came with testing. His eyes strayed back to the core.
“Who is that?”
A gentle chuckle echoed around the room, amplified a thousand fold through the hollow core shells and husks of metal like rolling thunder. “Who do you think she is?”
Wheatley dropped his head. He had known lots of women once. Mostly they were Scientists and the like, but none of them to any great extent, certainly not any that were noteworthy. There was only one he had had prolonged contact with, but surely that wasn’t… Well, it couldn’t be. It was nigh on bloody impossible!
Slowly his head swivelled toward the core hanging from the management rail.
The core went dead, its optic winking out like the death of the stars which he had compared it to.
“What did you DO?” he howled. “I just punched you into a PIT which I am dreadfully sorry for but you have to admit – long fall boots and a potato, that’s a bit of a lark isn’t it? I mean…”
He froze as a dreadful realization struck him.
“She didn’t die…did she?”
“I killed her.” GLaDOS chirped. “Brought her all the way back from outerspace to douse her in Neurotoxin. Didn’t even say goodbye. Just one good dose of Neurotoxin and she dropped like nest of bird’s eggs into a door mainframe.”
Wheatley swallowed. So she knew about that. Nonetheless, he felt numb. Like all his processors had locked up at once. “You murderer!”
“Look who’s talking!”
“AND NOW YOU DID IT TWICE!” Wheatley howled, clinging to his self-righteous anger. He twisted again against his bonds.
“Well, only once. Just an eye for a big, fat eye. But no, here I just turned her off. First we’re going to do a bit of testing.” The floor dropped away and he felt himself moving downwards.
“Hey wait!” Wheatley protested.
“This first test involves the effects of toxic water on braindead morons. Do you know how humans sound when their bones break?”
Wheatley stared into the darkness numbly. His optics were adjusting and he could see the grey of facility panel walls in the dark as they rushed by.
“The amount of force required by human teeth to bite a carrot in two is the same amount of force required by a human teeth to break a human finger bone.” GLaDOS informed him cheerfully from somewhere within the blackness.
Wheatley was trying to decide on a comment for that but at that moment whatever was carrying him down stopped and his bonds released themselves. He went sprawling onto his face, landing hard on his ‘chest’ into the floor. His limbs smacked the ground a split second later. It didn’t hurt per-se but he could feel things inside him groan in protest and try to shift from the jarring sensation.
Lights flickered on around him. In horror he looked up at the large warning sign beside him, suddenly illuminated with a glowing number 11 (or was that a binary 3?) and the water hazard symbol just below. He stared at a few more of them, eying a warning about falling cubes as the only one he could properly recall. He tried to remember what the rest of them meant but the door ahead of him was opening and he did not want to risk annoying GLaDOS.
Slowly he moved forward, peeking around the door. The chamber looked innocent enough. No turrets chirping, no hum of hard light bridges. Just the far more terrifying sound of water lapping against the edge of that bloody long drop that separated him from his goal.
More than anything he wanted to sit down, to think, to remove the traces of the thoughts of Chell crumpling into a nightmarish heap of dead and twisted limbs. He had seen the effects of Neurotoxin on humans first hand and he could barely believe that he had very nearly willingly unleashed that onto another person (hittin the button he’d been guarding had been an accident), let alone mashy spiky plates. If he’d had the vocabulary or the scientific understanding for it, Wheatley might have understood that the airborne drug was a powerful hallucinogen which caused psychotropic and terrible visions. As it was, the screams and writhing of the scientists he had witnessed falling victim to it was more than enough to re-awaken the remorse he had felt.
“Don’t try too hard.”
The voice of GLaDOS jolted him back into action and he jumped back as a ASHPD gun hit the floor in front of him, narrowly missing knocking him back flat. It was already a dual portal device.
“I mean it. Don’t try too hard. You’re just my trial run. In fact, I expect you to fail.”
Her mocking tone lit a fire in Wheatley and he surged up, grabbing the gun and after some struggling, got it into a manageable position on his spindly arm. It took some fiddling and he very nearly caught himself in an endless portal loop but if he took the time to think about it, he could just remember which trigger fired the entrance and exit portals.
He edged carefully toward the button, keeping as far back from the damaging water as possible and gave the button the barest tap. The servos in his arm seized up a second later as the weight of an Aperture Science cube came crashing down onto his outstretched arm, knocking the Portal gun free. Both cube and dislodged ordinance went bouncing toward the pit’s overhang and he bounded after both, diving to grab the more precious ASHPD just before it landed in the drink. He found himself staring down at the toxic mess and what remained of the dispensed cube dissolving slowly within, suddenly aware of his head poking out of the lip of the pit, one arm stretching down to retrieve the gun, the other trying to find a hold to push him back.
Ever so slowly he backed up, waggling his hips to get him back on solid ground and away from danger. When his feet hit the back wall by the entrance door, he finally felt safe enough to stand.
He considered the option of just staying here and rusting eventually. It couldn’t possibly be more dull than outer space.
Eventually he vetoed the idea, realizing that GLaDOS would come up with something more horrible than this was if he left it long enough. His self-preservation program was still running at maximum capacity.
He approached the button again, this time moving to one side before tapping it. The cube clanged to the ground and remained.
Scooping it up with the Portal gun’s retrieval function, he placed his portals and followed them through, triumphantly depositing the cube onto the button and proudly strutting through the exit door.
There was only an elevator and a second chamber to greet him. He looked up at the camera mounted on the wall. GLaDOS had never been quite as ostentatious with her chamber monitoring as he had, but he knew where they were located. He had, after all been in the chassis. The look he gave it said it all: Bring it on.
It was by the time he arrived at the fourth chamber that Wheatley realized things were getting easier. He knew by his internal clock that it was taking him twice the time to solve chambers as opposed to Chell. Every new experience for him was being stored in his memory banks. He knew how the portal gun worked, he could time cube releases and the drip of gels and how long it took one to drift down an excursion tunnel to the nanosecond.
He carefully dropped the last button on the cube and set his hard light bridge to drop him off at the door platform. He walked off onto solid ground but instead of trudging dolefully through the door, he turned around and located the glowing red eye of this room’s security camera.
“What is the point of this?” he asked, trying to keep the quaver out of his voice. “I’m beating all your tests. I know how all this works.” He wondered perhaps if She had been lying about being immune to the testing euphoria. The idea that he was running around getting Her off was frankly disgusting and he pulled a face.
Challenging GLaDOS was never a ‘good’ idea but Wheatley was well aware he was a little short on those at the best of times.
She chuckled at him. “Well yes, I suppose that is true. You are making out much better than I expected you to.”
The panels in the chamber seemed to ripple with her sigh and Wheatley felt a pang of longing for the days when he could do that for himself. He didn’t even bother to suppress the glorious memories that being the entire facility had wrought in him.
“You know, it’s funny.” GLaDOS continued, apparently unconcerned by his covetous gaze. “How quickly things get boring around here. At first, I thought your screams would be the only thing that ever brought me joy again.”
Bilious anger rose in the android’s core. “You’re no better than me!” he exploded. Once again, not thinking things through. Once again, he didn’t care. It didn’t occur to him that she might be lying, not after having experienced the DOS chassis for himself.
He would never come to realize that a million miles away there was a young woman in a small village hospital looking up at the stars and wondering if she knew she forgave him.
Here and now, GLaDOS could not wait to deploy the next phase of Her plan against the android railing at Her from the chamber below. His blank alien face somehow reflected pain and anger and so many delightful emotions that She had simply missed inspiring in another, having never managed to wring them from her last test subject.
The tangible horror coiled around Wheatley, almost visible like a haze of neurotoxin from her vantage point above. If she was perfectly honest with Herself (and since She’d never really been honest with anyone, why bother to start with oneself, after all?) She hadn’t expected him to take to the testing quickly. She’d simply used him as a first, expendable strain in what She anticipated to be a long line of trials with the added bonus of being able to rewatch his horrified face as he fell to the deadly traps of some chamber. The fact that he’d actually adapted came as a surprise and perhaps a bit of a wake-up call. Wheatley may not have been able to read Machiavelli but he ironically had the fundamentals of the stratagem down. He had an uncanny, if most definitely unconscious ability to be one step ahead of his opponent all the time, a fact that had almost lost Her both the facility and Chell herself long before She had decided to turn the test subject loose under Her own power.
“I think you’re right.”
She let the thought hang in the air while she redirected power back to the chambers, calling on the core imbued with Chell’s last saved memories. The star-bright optic winked into existence. It glanced around, obviously searching for the android Wheatley that she had spoken to earlier. There was no shaking or fear this time as the android had adjusted to its new body. Her test subject was back, cold and calculating. It would be interesting to see if it took to the opportunity for revenge as swiftly as Wheatley had taken to the testing tracks.
With a muffled hiss of hydraulics, a panel opened up above Wheatley. He back-pedalled none too gracefully as he prepared for a turret or something of similar destructive power to be dispensed to finish him off.
“I thought you might like some company.” GLaDOS interjected as the starry-eyed core descended from the heavens to align with a click onto the rail. “As promised, she’ll be doing the testing now. I’ve organized it all.”
The two robots gazed at eachother for a moment before the silence threatened to swallow Wheatley whole and he tentatively opened his mouth. There was something horrifyingly familiar about that bright gaze. He knew full well that it was Chell, there was simply no question about it. The only thing to do now was to suck up and hope to Android Hell that she wouldn’t murder him on the spot.
“Now um, I know we’ve had our differences…” he began. “Also, it’s really awful that she put you in this body and all that because you’re a human and it was beastly of her to kill you like that, not that I have any room to talk because I don’t, but I really don’t think you deserved all that especially…ah…especially after, well. Me.”
The Chell-core gazed down at him. There was no shift in its optic and it did not try to speak as it had before either. Quite possibly, Chell herself had been able to speak but had kept her voice to herself as perhaps some kind of self-identifying trait or a personal victory against her oppressors. Perhaps she was really plotting some kind of vicious revenge. Wheatley fervently hoped that this was not the case, even if she was justified in doing so.
“So.” In the vain hope she might respond, Wheatley tried to initiate a conversation. “You’re doing the tests now. Well that’s interesting. I never imagined She might let anyone else but her run the tests. So that’s all very exciting. For you, I mean.”
Once more the core said nothing. It merely swivelled on its management rail and started heading forward. For one terrible instant Wheatley thought she was going to be evaporated by the excursion field but as the core drew near the barrier shimmered and dropped to allow her access. He passed through a second later, equally unharmed and together the two boarded the victory lift.
“Guess you’re still going to be quiet.” The android was still hoping he might garner a response if he kept trying. “It was a nice voice.” He added after awhile. “Very pleasant really.”
“The test subject can only pick the chambers. I’ll be the one making them.” GLaDOS interjected into Wheatley’s one-sided conversation.
Wheatley’s eyes narrowed, the glassy alien optics squinting at the camera, mouth pulled into a very human expression of disgust.. “You are a right beast. You’ll be getting all the euphoria!”
“I told you, my days are not ruled by such trite rewards as Euphoria.” GLaDOS added her rejoinder coolly.
Wheatley looked over at Chell. He was hoping just as much as GLaDOS Herself that she would have reacted but the core remained as silent as ever, only beginning to move forward on the rail as though she had never been a human and had been programmed into a core for as long as she’d existed.
The chamber itself was a fairly simple one. Chell stopped just inside the doorway, watching as Wheatley redirected an excursion funnel and setting up a patch of repulsion gel to ricochet a cube high into the air so it would not fall into a pit. The cube bounced into line of his gun’s carrying attachment and he set it on the button and removed the portals to ride the tunnel across the room.
“There, not too shabby, hm?” He looked up at Chell as he said this, who was speeding across on the management rail to join him on the opposite side of the chamber. “Bit like old times, don’t you think/ I mean…really, I don’t mean to um…destroy your revenge by getting good at this but I…I didn’t really want us to stop being friends. I’m really sorry!”
She looked at him, still not speaking but the ‘lids’ on her optic came down in a sympathetic not-quite smile.
“Is that a yes, I forgive you Wheatley?”
She bobbed once in a short nod.
“REALLY? I mean really, that is amazing! More than I deserve you know but I could…I could SING! I won’t sing because then I’d have to apologize for that too but I am so glad…come on then, let’s go, we can beat Her. Know we can do it this time! No plugging me into the chassis either, that was totally not a good plan. In fact, I have a couple of really good ideas….um, and before you say, or well, not say anything you KNOW I’m good at plans. This one? Six parts!” He bounded ahead of her into the lift.
Behind him, the core-Chell’s confused and then sad expression went unnoticed.
Wheatley almost was expecting her to take him right to GLaDOS’ lair but instead they stopped in another test chamber. This time, Chell headed towards the first button and stopped above it. He looked up at her in astonishment.
“Are you…helping me? I mean…this is a big problem when you aren’t speak but I remember helping in tests and that was not a fun experience. Lots of pain. So um, if this is hurting you first of all don’t do it anymore and second of all, let me know. A little screaming, just so I know you’re in pain.”
Chell shook her optic back and forth for a ‘no’ and Wheatley tentatively pushed the button. Sure enough, a cube dropped out and landed on an easily reachable platform.
Subsequently, the next couple of chambers went in rapid succession. Wheatley’s android memory was storing the information, though he was still supremely cautious with his portal placement. GLaDOS spouted a few angry things at them but it was easy to ignore Her now that they were partners again. Chell was always right, riding the management rail around the room to give him hints or show him where to go, each hint always accompanied by some variation on a thankyou.
The elevator doors opened onto their fifth chamber and Wheatley craned his head up to his silent companion.
“Say luv, when are we going to get round to beating her. Because I think we could try. I’ve got a whole lovely plan worked right out and I think we have practiced this enough. I’m not trying to say you couldn’t y’know, be the plan-maker but I really have to get you to trust me. So just, maybe, think about it because I’m sure you can get out of here. Now I don’t know that I can get you back in a body but I bet we could do something. Live here maybe. Freedom doesn’t have to be outside you know and this is a much better place for robots. Now. I know what you’re thinking and no, no one is going into that chassis. That’s God’s truth.”
In response, Chell simply moved over to hover over a faith plate.
Wheatley sighed. “Just…think about it.” He followed her and stepped on.
The faith plate sent him sailing through the air and right into a thermal discouragement beam. He plummeted like a stone, dropping silent and dead onto the floor. His face had not even had time to register shock, betrayal or confusion, for once completely devoid of all expression.
GLaDOS’ laugh boomed through the chamber. “So that was your game all along, you little murderer!? Get him to trust you then kill him?! I knew you had to have had a plan!”
Slowly the core rolled along the rail, disengaging itself with a loud clang next to the silent android body. It managed to rock itself by its handles over towards the android, resting against its cracked cheek and dead glassy eye. Then it closed the shutters on its optic.
That core would spend several years in that state simply existing before it finally shut down and GLaDOS knew it was a waste of time to try and goad it into opening its eye or even testing.
She left it to lie there next to the dead android for awhile before picking the ball up with a claw and sending it cracking into the wall. It rolled to a stop and predictably did not open its’ eye, choosing perhaps to take the abuse in stride or perhaps it had found it’s sleep function.
However when she next saw fit to check that chamber, the core was once again pressed up against the android. She hadn’t seen it move but she knew better than to separate them again.
GLaDOS paused over the delete function on that file that contained Chell’s memories, just briefly before she opened it and instead of removing it entirely, she deleted the last vestiges of memories of Wheatley.
She’d had her revenge and quite frankly, the whole thing had been a very successful experiment.