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Australium and Moon Rocks

Chapter Text

Not long after they left Aperture Laboratories, there was an emergency.

 

Sirens blared as all of the base’s alarms went off at once. Security cameras were swinging wildly, computer screens were scrolling through long lines of code, and even common appliances were going haywire.

 

“Engie! Engie! ” Scout called out.

 

“I know there’s a problem, stringbean, you don’t have to holler,” Engie called back.

 

“Oh.” Scout said. “Well, have you seen this?” Scout jabbed his thumb at the bank of computer monitors.

 

“No, I was gettin’ to that,” Engie said, his steps slowing as he read the large warning on the screens: DATA BREACH .

 

“Aw, hell,” he said, quickly taking a seat in front of the keyboard, fingers flying.

 

A voice with a distinct English accent came into the room. “What’s all the commotion about?” Wheatley asked, being carried by P-Body, the orange robot that they’d rescued/taken from Aperture Laboratories.

 

“Dammit, boy, what’re they doin’ here? Didn’t someone lock them in the shed?” Engie scowled.

 

“The lock failed. Good thing, too, I was getting bored in there, though I don’t know about the other two.”

 

“We left you a radio!” Scout protested.

 

“Still, I much preferred when I was housed in your quarters,” Wheatley said.

 

“Scout, that robot was filling your head right up with garbage,” Demo chimed in.

 

“It made you more annoying and arrogant than usual.” Spy commented. By this point, the whole team was crowded in the computer room.

 

“Hey!” Both Scout and the robot cried out at the same time.

 

“I don’t know, Scout having a friend of his own got him off of our backs. And the other two entertained Pyro,” said Medic, playing devil’s advocate.

 

“But he gave terrible advice,” Sniper said, “Or do ye not remember the fried chicken incident?”

 

Scout’s ears went red. That incident was the crowning jewel in a series of unfortunate accidents and the reason why it was decided in a five to four vote that the robots would only come out when the control room for the base was locked and guarded.

 

Which it wasn’t now, but Wheatley and P-Body— and now, Atlas too— were present anyway.

 

“Uh-oh,” said Wheatley, mechanical blue eye looking over the screen. “ She’s messing with your systems right here.” Everyone knew what Wheatley meant when he said ‘she’.

 

“What are you talking about, she’s dead,” Scout commented. “Pulled the cable myself.”

 

“You pulled out one cable. One cable. That’s not dead, that’s just unplugged. And she has redundancy systems ready. You couldn’t have taken her down for more than forty-eight hours. Probably less than twenty-four.”

 

Silence. Then everybody in the room turned to face the core-turned-sapper.

 

“And why didn’t you mention this before?” Medic arched an eyebrow.

 

“Didn’t come up!” Wheatley cheerily replied, unaware how much the humans in the room wanted to smash him. “You didn’t really think you could defeat a core that easily, could you? We’re very hard to contain. Exhibit A, right in front of you.”

 

Just then, Miss Pauling came striding into the room. She could feel the thick tension in the air. “What’s going on?” She said, commanding voice cutting clear on the sirens, which were slowly winding down as Engie shut them off one by one.

 

“That she-bot from the labs is still alive,” Sniper said.

 

“No she’s not, I saw Scout—” Miss Pauling began.

 

“He didn’t do anything except hinder her for a few hours until she could get a service bot to plug her back in,” Wheatley said. “I can’t believe you all thought it was that easy.”

 

“Oh, no .” She said. It had been three weeks since they had disabled the robot— and if it was really only temporary, she must have been lying in wait.

 

“What do we do?” Demo wondered aloud, quiet and serious.

 

“We stop her, again .” Pauling was quite firm. “She’s obviously trying something.”

 

“But if we go back there, we’re just giving her what she wants! She probably expects this.” Scout said

 

Pauling bit her lip. “You’re right.” She said. “We have to stop her, but I can’t think of any way that we’re not walking straight into her trap.”

 

“You could always call in an expert,” Wheatley said. “There was a woman, a little brain-damaged, who took her down almost for good, until I… never mind that,” he said.

 

“Brain damaged?” Medic asked, quirking an eyebrow.

 

“Well she didn’t talk,” Wheatley said.

 

“Well, neither does Heavy, most of the time, but he’s fine. I mean, I guess,” Scout said, and everyone turned to look at their Heavy Weapons Guy, who shuffled awkwardly against the wall.

 

“Anyway, you said she defeated this woman before?” Spy said. He decided to not prod at what the extenuating circumstances were that allowed GLaDOS to come back to life again.

 

“Yeah,” said Wheatley. “The first test subject to walk out alive. And I’ll admit, I did give her a few problems of my own.”

 

“How so?” Engie asked.

 

“Well, you see, I managed to slip into the giant mainframe that our current opponent is occupying at this moment. It makes you go a bit power-hungry. Man, it was a rush, I miss it.”

 

“Then what happened? Asked Demo, warily.

 

“Then, well…” Wheatley began.

 

“Don’t bother,” said Spy. “You tried to kill her, didn’t you?”

 

“Well, yes.” Wheatley said. “But I’m sure she’ll still help us! Just… maybe don’t send me in as the face of diplomacy.”

 

Looks were exchanged. “We’re going to need someone who knows their way around,” Sniper pointed out. “And I don’t trust the box or those other two bots to try and do it.”

 

“Maybe we can locate her.” Miss Pauling said. “What was her name?”

 

“Erm. Chell. It was Chell.” Wheatley said.

 

“And her last name?

 

“Redacted.”

 

“That’s a weird last name,” Scout commented.

 

“No, it was actually redacted. Crossed out. I don’t know what it was.” Wheatley said.

 

More looks were exchanged.

 

“It don’t matter, ‘Chell’ ain’t a very common first name anyways.” Engie said. Suddenly, he started typing very fast.

 

“You got an idea, Engie?” Miss Pauling asked.

 

“Yeah. I’m digging through her files— well, the ones I could pull from what I salvaged before we left, anyway. Lots of places still aren’t rigged with computers, but I have facial recognition software. So take the photo, let the machine do its work, and… bingo.” He said. The words ONE MATCHwere emblazoned above a still image of Chell checking into:

 

“The Teufort Motel,” Demo said, recognizing the place.

 

“This was a week ago, maybe she’s still there.” Engie said.

 

Miss Pauling clapped her hands. “Alright, uniforms on and firearms in their holsters, we leave in thirty minutes. We’re on a diplomacy mission, and then we’re going on the offensive.”

 

“More like a suicide mission, at that point.” Spy, ever the pessimist, whispered in what he thought was under his breath, until Pauling turned around and glared at him.

 

“Come on, guys,” she said. “Let’s do this.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The elevator got stuck about three-quarters of the way down to where the laboratory was housed.

 

Medic pried open the doors. They stepped onto the catwalk.

 

“We should find where those guns and boots are,” Scout said, and Chell nodded in agreement.

 

Over where GLaDOS was, she hummed to herself. The elevator was part of her plan. Hopefully they’d find their way to the hidden test chambers, where…

 

“I thought I told you to go away,” GLaDOS said, looking at Chell through one of her many cameras.

 

Chell refused to say anything. Instead she picked up a gun from a rack at the wall and experimentally fired a portal. The others did the same, slipping on boots and hearing the fwoosh of portal technology right near them.

 

A wall next to them shook and then opened up. They saw a door to a testing chamber.

 

“Let’s get started,” said GLaDOS.

 




GLaDOS hadn’t been expecting them to bring Chell. The mute lunatic was back and she didn’t like it. Just a couple more adjustments to the next test.

 





They gaped as they entered the next test chamber. Acid pits, laser walkways, deadly.

 

They had to use all of their portals to get through to the end. And even then, there was a problem.

 

“Someone has to stay behind.” Medic said, pointing out what some already knew but did not feel like saying.

 

“It has to be me,” Chell said. “She wants me out of the way.”

 

“We can try something else,” said Pauling. “Is everybody sure that there aren’t any cubes?”

 

While the mercenaries were debating whether or not using a cube to solve the test was feasible, Chell walked over to the controversial button and stood on it. Suddenly, cables sprung out and wrapped around her feet, holding her down and in place. At the same time, the wall shook and broke, exposing a length of hallway from which they could escape the room.

 

“Go, go!” shouted Chell.

 

Most of the team had no problem leaving. Heavy stopped and tried an experimental yank on the cables, but even with his strength they wouldn’t budge.

 

The wall began to close.

 

“I’ll figure it out myself, just go!”

 

“She can talk,” muttered Wheatley from where he was in Scout’s pocket. “I can’t believe she can talk.”





 

 

Chell was tied up. Then she slowly felt herself being elevated off the ground floor.

 


 

They eventually were led to a room that housed GLaDOS herself.

 

“Hello, everyone,” she said. “Do you like my birds?”

 

Three crows circled around the room, around GLaDOS.

 

“Wait… but… huh?” Scout managed to get out.

 

GLaDOS chuckled. “Yes, they’re mine. Ornithophobia, no more.”

 

“Huh?” a good portion of the room asked.

 

“Fear of birds,” said GLaDOS.

 

Engie pulled out a small contraption from his pocket as GLaDOS continued to speak.

 

“Yes, well, you had put me out for a little while with that stunt of yours. But that won’t happen again. Attack , my darlings.”

 

The crows did nothing, continuing to fly around the room.

 

“I said, attack --”

 

She was cut short by Engie materializing behind her, attaching the contraption to her “body”.

 

Spy briefly looked down at his wrist. “You took my watch,” he said.

 

Engie nodded as the contraption made some chittering noises. Then, the entire room started to shake.

 

“There’s no more structural integrity,” he said. “Go, go, I’m right behind you.”

 

The team went back the way they came, only to find a gaping hole in the ceiling where Chell must have gone through.

 

A few clever portals later, and Scout was only a few feet underneath the exit. “I see her!” Scout said, making eye contact with Chell through the hole.

 

“Wait!” said Miss Pauling. “What about--”

 

“I’m here!” shouted Engie. “I’m here.”

 

They navigated the portals to the top and climbed out one at a time onto the field that they came in. Engie was the last one out and as soon as he had stepped away from the opening the entire lab crashed with a sound like thunder.

 

Engie put his contraption in his pocket. “Well,” he said putting an arm around Medic and Demo. “Let’s go home.”

 




Much later, in the Engineer’s lab…

 

Engie plugged the contraption into the mainframe of the base’s only computer, down in his lab.

 

There were a few “beeps” from the upload, then a voice came through the speakers. “You saved me.”

 

“Well, that I sure did,”

 

“Why?” GLaDOS said from her new home in the base’s mainframe.

 

“Well to be right honest with you, I don’t know. But I reckon I could find a use for you.”

 

“Find a use for me.” GLaDOS deadpanned.

 

“Well sure. Why don’t we start by going through footage of the battles and calculating optimal portal coverage?”

 

GLaDOS could have protested. But instead she was content. If she could have smiled, she would have. Everything was going to plan.

 

She knew those birds wouldn’t attack on her command. And she knew that the Engineer would be too curious to just shut her down when she coaxed him to come back. She just had to play assistant to this man until he trusted her, and then…

 

“Yes, sir, Mister Conagher,” she said,sounding much like her old old self.

 

Lines of code and video of battle footage started scrolling through the screens, as Dell leaned back and tinkered well into the night.