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The Team Fortress Testing Initiative

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GLaDOS couldn’t watch or hear Blue and Orange. She could only broadcast messages to them. She didn’t think that she’d have to remind them who the enemies were. As they paraded in, said enemies in tow, she found out she was wrong.

 

Pauling aimed her shotgun.

 

“You can’t kill me,” GLaDOS chuckled.

 

“I know.” Pauling said. “But I can put a bullet through whatever computer chip holds your brain, and that’s almost the same thing.”

 

“A solid two inches of steel and titanium, four separate microprocessors, and ,” GLaDOS said, “you’re bluffing.”

 

“No I’m not,” Pauling said. She’d never faced an opponent like this before.

 

“Oh, I didn’t mean you were bluffing as in you wouldn’t kill me. I know you would, given the opportunity. But you don’t have any bullets, do you?”

 

No. No, Pauling didn’t. She used most of them blasting her way into the damn tunnel, and…

“You shouldn’t have shown off, shooting my camera.” GLaDOS was smug.

 

She dropped the shotgun and crossed her arms. No point in posturing.

 

“Now, you could try to engage in a pointless battle with me,” said GLaDOS. Spy was already inching his way towards her. “I can blow that little idiot up, by the way, so don’t even think about it.”

 

“Or,” she continued. “There’s another option. You, you, and you.” GLaDOS moved close to Pauling, Scout, and Spy with each “you”. “Could leave. I’ll let you take the moron with you. And you five.” This time, she faced Pyro, Soldier, Demo, Sniper, and Heavy. “You’re good testing subjects. Energetic. Clever. Able to appreciate the beauty of testing. How about this? I stop with my funny banter, and you test for me, hmmm? And you two,” she said, looking at Medic and Engie. “Well, this is a good deal for you, actually. Why don’t you help me create things?” she asked Engie. “Obviously, my weapons are rather lacking. But, I have the resources to make much more dangerous ones. And you ,” she turned to Medic. “I had a project underway. I was going to replace a bunch of humans’ bone marrow with something else. But I got busy. Perhaps you’d like to be in charge of the ‘medical experiment’ division of the labs?”

 

In the room, everyone’s breath was held. Different levels of temptation were struck, but there was some temptation in almost everyone.

 

Pyro didn’t want to.

 

Heavy wondered if these laboratories would become the new version of the battles he fought. If so, would he be a puppet, while Medic worked as a boss?

 

Sniper wondered if this “testing” meant no more backstabbing. More importantly, would he always have to wear these boots?

 

Demo wondered if he’d ever get to blow something up again.

 

Soldier wondered when he’d get to kill something again.

 

Scout wondered if Spy had to come. But seriously… not everyone was gonna be separated, right?

 

Spy would have been more than satisfied if he, Scout, and Pauling walked out right that minute.

 

Pauling didn’t want to leave without everyone, but what if someone refused to leave?

 

Medic and Engie were the ones who were most hypnotised by her offer. For them, it wasn’t being trapped. In fact, it was more freedom than they would have at Teufort, being able to create, and do science. If she wasn’t lying.

 

She looked at them closely. Yes, she could see temptation, every visual analysis pointed to…

 

“What’s in your pocket?” she asked.

 

Heavy looked at Medic, whose thoughts were obvious and readable. He was leaning towards staying. His eyes shifted to where the robot was looking. A moving lump in Medic’s lab coat pocket.

 

It must have been Archimedes. Countless times Medic had “guaranteed” the lab was free of birds, and then that dove would fly out of that jacket like a magician’s trick. Eventually he’d stopped asking.

 

“What is in your pocket?” GLaDOS asked again. She kept scanning it. The infrared results were fuzzy, but becoming clearer and clearer with every scan.

 

Heavy didn’t consider himself to be shrewd or crafty. He had hunches, and he went with them. “Is bird,” he said.

 

He had no clue why those words caused so much havoc. “Bird?” GLaDOS was wary. “A bird!” Oh, the infrared confirmed it! “Why is there a bird in here?!”

 

This devious, cunning, detached robot woman was now flailing her metal body in the air. “ The hell? ” Scout cried.

 

“Traitors! The both of you are traitors!” GLaDOS cried.

 

“Lady, we ain’t even workin’ for you yet!” Engie backed away from the machine.

 

Yet? ” Pauling shot a glance towards him.

 

Engie shook his head, looking at the unstable AI above him. “You’re right, Miss Pauling. We ain’t working for you ever, lady.”

 

GLaDOS didn’t care. In her mind, there were no job offers. There weren’t even any humans in the room. There was just… a… “ BIRD! ORANGE, BLUE, KILL IT!”

 

Medic’s eyes widened.

 

It’s in his pocket! GO! LASERS, ANYTHING!

 

Medic ducked, and the first hot beam of light went over his shoulder. Everyone started to duck and dodge as the robots shot laser bursts almost randomly throughout the room.

 

“What is wrong with you?! ” Pauling yelled over the rising chaos. This thing couldn’t be taken seriously anymore.

 

She looked at Medic, dodging lasers.

 

Okay, maybe it could be taken a little seriously.

 

“For crying out―” Pauling moved towards Medic. In this large room, the robots’ aim were horrible, and if she took a deep breath and thought things through, it would be no problem to avoid those lasers, scary as they looked.

 

The room was loud with the whirring of robot arms and legs.

 

“Miss Pauling, look out!” Scout yelled.

 

“I am,” she intoned, hunched over and kicking a robot square in the eye. She caught up to the Medic. “It’s harder to hit a moving target! Just let the bird go!”

 

Medic chose to act like he didn’t hear her. Archimedes would stay in his specially-tailored pocket, where he was intended to stay in situations like this.

 

Pauling swatted at the lump of feathers through his jacket. “Just fly!” She tugged at his lab coat until buttons popped off.

 

Despite the lasers, and the robots, and the intermittent cries of “ Kill it! ”, several people had a hard time not laughing as Pauling went, “ Get out! Scram! ” until Archimedes, sensing that he was the center of attention, hastily made his way out of the lab coat and into the air.

 

“Archimedes, get―” a laser hit directly on the reinforced patch where Archimedes had been nestling just a few short seconds ago. It burned a hole through the fabric, luckily no more than that.

 

Archimedes landed directly on top of the robot woman’s head (if you could call it that) and stared down the rest of the people in the room.

 

Blue and Orange took aim.

 

“No, you idiots!” GLaDOS yelled. “Just get it off of me!”

 

Orange moved to shoo the bird away, but he did not budge.

 

“Here, why don’t I help with that?” Scout said. GLaDOS, frozen in place, did not hear him approach from behind.

 

“I told you,” she said. “If you try to put that idiot on me again, he’ll just explode. Just get this bird off of me!

 

“Sure,” Scout replied. The robot was still. There were no threats being made. He had free access to the nest of wires behind her head. The question was… which one?

 

There were about half a million choices. A hell of a lot of orange and black wires, one big blue wire― that looked promising― and one green wire, so thin and inconspicuous Scout almost missed it.

 

Wheatley whispered. “Pull the blue wire.”

 

Unfortunately, they were right next to her audio sensors. “What?!” she asked.

 

Scout had nanoseconds to make a choice.

 

One ripped-out green wire later, GLaDOS powered down, and pitched to the floor.

 

“I told you to pull the blue wire,” Wheatley said.

 

“Yeah, why do ya think I pulled the green one? Oh, hang on,” Scout waved a hand towards Archimedes, who flew and perched back onto Medic’s shoulder. “There we go.”

 

Engie walked over. “Yeah, looking at this,” he said, looking at the array of cables, “Taking out the blue one would have disconnected some sort of flow inhibitor, and probably would have reversed its properties entirely.”

 

“In layman’s terms?” Pauling prodded Engie.

 

“Well, there’s gotta be something… ah! Those pipes. Ya see, it’s probably connected to those pipes. With the cable, whatever comes out of those pipes takes a while to get in this room, and can only be released on her command. Without it, whatever’s comin’ out of there is gonna come a hell of a lot faster. And probably involuntarily.”

 

Everyone in the room frowned at the description and its resemblance to the events of food poisoning.

 

“What comes out of those pipes, does anyone know?” Engie adjusted his goggles, looking up.

 

“Neurotoxin. Lots and lots of neurotoxin.” Wheatley answered.

 

“Oh, pipe down, ya stupid box.” Engie waved him off.

 

“Actually, he’s correct about that one.” Spy said.

 

Engie blinked. “Oh.”

 

“How are we gonna get out of here?” Demo asked to no one in particular.

 

Pauling hesitated, then tapped one of the robots― both still standing, looking at their former boss― and asked, “Can you show us how to get outside?”

 


 

“Okay, did we have to bring them home with us?” Scout asked Engie.

 

“Hey, Pyro’s havin’ fun with them.” Engie waved to Atlas and P-Body, who did seem to be amusing Pyro.

 

“They’re the stupidest robots I’ve ever met.” Soldier frowned.

 

“You’re one to talk,” said Scout. “Besides, how many robots have you met? We all met, like, four, and they were all insane.”

 

“Not true! The smartest robot I’ve met is a sentry! It shoots things first and asks questions later!” Soldier retaliated.

 

“It doesn’t ask questions at all.” Demo said. Then, he looked at the Blue and Orange robots, one of whom was banging their “head” with a frying pan. “Then again…”

 

“Whatever.” Scout mumbled around a bite of cake. “Thanks for dessert, Engie.”


“After the day we’ve had, we deserve it.” Engie sighed.