Chell was sipping from a cool bottle of water when she heard a knock at the door of the motel room she was staying in.
She looked through the peephole and saw a giant of a man, along with a smaller, bucktoothed guy and a pretty woman in purple staring back.
She opened the door.
“Hi,” the bucktoothed one said. “You’re, um, Chell , right?”
She nodded slowly. She didn’t have to ask the question, “What do you want?” because it was written in her gaze.
“Uh, yeah, listen, we need you to… um…”
The purple lady cut him off. “Hello. My name is Miss Pauling, and these are two of my associates. We need your help with… well, we need your help.”
“With what?” Chell had barely talked for years, refusing to answer to the robots that had made her life hell and saying the bare minimum needed to get herself a room to stay in and some food to eat.
“Aperture Laboratories. We had a run-in with the people, erm, robots there a couple of weeks back. And we heard you had some experience with… shutting them down.”
Chell blinked. Aperture Labs. It was the place she swore she’d never go back to. But she felt, in a strange sense, personally responsible for what happened there.
“Fine,” she said. “But I have a request.”
“Name it,” Pauling said with only the smallest amount of trepidation.
Chell paused. What she needed most was to never see this town or that lab ever again. “Buy me a ticket out of here.”
Pauling hesitated, then nodded. “I’m sure we can make that work.”
Chell smiled, though it was forced. “Then let’s go.”
Pauling had piloted the large van they had came in out of the city and towards the empty field that held the “Electric Shed” that was the entrance to Aperture Laboratories.
Chell had grabbed her Long-Fall boots before they had left, and was leaning down to put them on.
The van stopped, and seat belts clicked as they were taken off. Scout hopped out of the van first, running to meet the rest of the team as they stood a fair distance away from the entrance.
Chell walked to meet them slowly.
“Um, okay,” Scout began. “So, you can call me Scout. This right here is Heavy--”
“Is short for Heavy Weapons Guy”
“And this here is Sniper--”
She looked at the man with sunglasses that Scout had gestured to. She smiled at him, for the briefest second.
“There’s Demo, that’s Soldier, that’s Spy--” Chell’s gaze darted around the men that Scout introduced her too.
“That there’s Pyro-- they don’t talk much-- and then you’ve got Medic, and there’s Engie, and you already met Miss Pauling, so that’s everyone.”
“Okay,” she said, and was immediately startled by a surprised noise coming out of Scout’s jacket pocket.
“You can talk?!” Wheatley, hidden inside Scout’s overlarge pants pockets, was in shock.
Chell glared as Scout sighed and took the sapper out of his pocket. “I thought we agreed you’d shut up if I brought you along.”
“You brought the thing, Scout?” Medic was stern. “I thought we agreed--”
“Yeah yeah, but what happens if we’re lost and she -- um, I mean Chell-- I mean, you ,” Scout said, looking at Chell’s angry face. “Doesn’t know how to get us out? I mean he said she had brain damage-- uh ,” Scout stuttered.
The mercs looked at Chell, who had continued to glare at the core-turned-sapper. They saw her visibly shake herself. Maybe she wasn’t as… stable … as they had hoped she’d be.
The silence was broken with a “ mmph, mph, mmmmph mmmph .” from Pyro.
“What?” Demo asked.
“Pyro’s asking if we’re going in or not.”
“Shouldn’t we, I dunno, sneak in or something?”
“And how do ye suppose we’re gonna do that?” Demo asked.
“We’re standing on top of the bloody place.” Sniper added. “Unless somebody has a shovel…”
Engie grabbed Soldier by the elbow. “He doesn’t mean get your shovel, Sol.” he said.
“There’s no way around it,” Chell said. “We’re going to have to go in. And we’re going to have to test.”
The mercenaries each expressed different levels of surprise. “Test? She’s going to know it’s us,” Scout pointed out.
“That may be true, but she loves to test. She lives for it,” Chell said. Her own voice was awkward in her mouth. She couldn’t remember the last time she talked this much. “We’ll have to escape the test chambers and go from there.”
“Okay…” said Pauling. “How do we shut her down? We can’t shoot her, can’t stab her, can’t--”
“You leave that up to me,” said Engie. “I’ve been workin’ on a few anti-robot countermeasures,” he said, “and I reckon I’ve got something that’ll do the trick, provided we can get to her core without being killed first.
“Okay,” Pauling said. “Step one, start testing. Step two, escape the testing rooms and find the main core of the…”
“GLaDOS,” said Chell.
“And find GLaDOS. Step three, use Engie’s device to stop GLaDOS.”
“Question!” Scout called. Miss Pauling pretended to ignore him.
“How are we gonna do step two, escape from the testing chambers?” Demo asked, prompting Scout to say, “Hey, that was my question.”
“Wait,” Spy said, “and let an opportunity present itself.” Sniper found himself nodding in agreement.
“Are we ready?” Pauling asked the group at large.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” said the Engineer.
“Alright, let’s go.” said Pauling. They marched their way through to the “Electric Shed”.
Spy, who was wearing his gloves, opened the door. They piled into the room and waited.
And then the floor began to descend.