What it Means to be Human Chapter 3: Turrets and Tests
Disclaimer: I do not own Portal 2
Wheatley made a series of noises as his legs thankfully moved on their own, propelling him towards the portal guns. Grabbing one in one hand, nearly fumbling it in his haste, he realized yet another flaw. He had seen it being used before, sure, with Chell's numerous moves in videos from his memory banks, but what he had yet to figure out was how to actually fire a portal. A bullet narrowly grazed his leg, the robot practically crashing into the wall in a hurried attempt to escape, doing what could only be described as an odd jig back to the pillar where Space Core sat, staring at him.
" For the love of... please tell me your language center still works." Wheatley groaned, giving the other robot the portal gun. " I mean, I am going to go crazy if I have to be the only one talking here, and I'd rather not, SHE is doing a good job of it already."
Space Core held the portal gun, not having any grasp on the situation at hand, but getting to his feet, looking at the turret. Like a game, but no space level... he would have to play until he reached one. Firing the gun, he placed a portal under the turret before it could react, placing another one on the ceiling and catching it in an infinite loop, firing another portal at the the nearby wall, sending the turret crashing into the wall, broken. " Good night..." the turret said as it shut down, Wheatley's jaw near the floor.
" That was bloody AMAZING!" he cheered, grabbing Space Core's hands and dancing around. " Absolutely brilliant, I tell you, just like how she used to do it in the tests!" He faltered when he mentioned Chell, seeing her betrayed face for a brief moment, shaking the image from his mind temporarily. He felt awful for what he did to her, and he truly wished he could apologize, Space Core looking around for a cube and putting it on the switch, walking through the now open door.
Wheatley looked at the extra portal gun, picking it up and running after the other core. " You know, you're a lot more intelligent than any of us ever gave you credit for... I guess I should say sorry to you as well, for all of the times I called you stupid..." he said, halting the conversation when Space Core spotted a few glowing objects that looked like faraway stars.
" Spaaaacccce!" Space Core sang, running towards them.
" I stand corrected, apparently." Wheatley sighed, following after his companion.
Chell sighed as she looked up at the sign before her, holding the newspaper ad in her hand. ' Lou's repair shop; if it still turns on, we can make it work!' the sign read, Chell going inside to have a look around. The job had specified that a female apply for the position, and Chell was worried it was going to be another pervert. This time though, she was ready for anything. A small wrench was in her pocket, ready to be used at a moment's notice. It didn't have a long reach, but it was heavier than it looked, and was probably more than enough to clobber a nasty person.
She received a surprise when she met Lou though, the guy was all business. He didn't want anything more than her hands for the job, in fact, he only hired her after an extensive search of her hands. She was worried that he might have a fetish for hands, but after being called in to work on a small piece of machinery that his hands weren't built for, she realized that he had no actual interest in her. He was a fun loving man with a love for all things robotic. Sitting and watching him work, she realized that he was one of the few remaining people in the city who didn't have ulterior motives when speaking to anyone.
Since most people knew her as mute, it had given her the benefit of learning an important lesson; how to read people's faces and words. Having practiced for so long, she could tell when someone was trying to concoct a lie by watching their faces and reactions, learning early on who were the ones she could trust. Now she knew she could add Lou to the list of trusted people, since he was always buried in his work.
Lou was a thin but muscular man, with a height of about 5'8 and messy brown hair, usually caked in some form of oil from his latest work. He worked on everything from a coffee table to a functioning robotic limb that he had made himself. " Pride and joy, that one." he told her. " I want to build a fully working body that works just like a humans, with the ability to blend in to society without no one even knowin'!" he said proudly. Chell silently pointed out that a few functions like the digestive system would be hard to mimic, but Lou was not to be swayed in the slightest.
But she kinda liked that, that carefree determination. It was his dream, and no matter what anyone said about it, he was going to do it and more or less have fun the entire time. Amused, she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, nearly screeching in horror when she found a busted turret, flattening against the wall. " Don't worry about that little thing... I can get it to turn on, but not much else." Lou said, noticing her sudden distress.
Making a soft noise, she bent over and picked the turret up. Turrets... practically a necessary tool in GLaDOS's many attempts to try and kill her, their little childish voices always managing to strike fear in her heart. " Hello?" the turret said weakly, it's eye dim and cracked. Feeling immediately sorry for the turret, she sat it on her lap, opening the exterior shell to see if she could repair it in any way. It was out of ammunition, something she never thought she would see in a turret, and it's personality center was pretty much the only thing that was working properly.
" I'm different." the turret said as she worked. She slightly wondered if it was the same turret she saved from the conveyor belt in the testing areas, but pushed the thought from her mind as she worked, Lou watching her. " Wow, you really know that little one inside and out." he said approvingly. " Since you know it better than I do, apparently, why don't you take it and work on it at home? Consider it your first project?"
Chell's eyes widened and she looked at him. Take it home? Too many bad memories were associated with turrets, but she couldn't help but nod her head slightly and lifted up the turret, planning to take it home. Maybe, with Lou's help, she could make it like a guard for her house that wouldn't shoot her when she walked through the door. Nodding, she set out for home, turret in her arms. Nudging the door of her home open with her hip, she gently slid inside with the turret, setting it in the middle of the living room.
Since she first came to town so long ago, companion cube in possession, things were difficult, but not entirely. Now, instead of sleeping next to her cube in an alleyway, she lived in a house. There was many bedrooms, but she slept in the furthest one because it had many windows, perfect for drawing things outside. As a favor to the person who had owned the home but was letting her live in it, she had to make sure the garden and pool remained in working order, as well as pay the bills for it. If things went well with her new job, she might be able to start slowly buying the house from the owner.
Pulling out a toolbox, she started to work on the turret, the glow of it's lens casting a red haze over an area.
" Thank you." the turret said softly.
Chell smiled at the turret, getting back to work.
" I swear... I didn't think they could fire that many bullets, I could have sworn that they weren't built that way..." Wheatley groaned, looking at the many bullet holes lining his legs. GLaDOS was truly cruel to him, forcing him to keep testing non-stop with very little time for breaks. Space Core's android body was rebuilt every time it took damage, but he was forced to keep the same one each and every time, and the damage was starting to rack up. He now had a faulty leg and a frayed wire in his arm from turret onslaughts.
Space Core said nothing, tilting his head and looking at Wheatley, helping him to his feet. " You okay?" he asked, showing a level of compassion that nothing else in the facility had.
" Yeah, mate, I'm good. I just need to make sure that I think ahead of my leg, it's busted and She isn't in the mood to play nice and fix it. Not that I blame her... what with what I did to the two of them. I'm surprised, really, that she isn't doing more to me... not that I'm trying to give her any ideas!" he said quickly, not knowing whether or not GLaDOS was listening to his words.
Space Core tilted his head in the other direction, looking back up. " Space is nearby, we have to get back to it!" he said eagerly, wanting to go back to the endless void of stars.
Wheatley groaned and got to his feet. " By all means, let's go." he sighed. " But I think I'll have to get back to you on the "going to space part"... I didn't quite enjoy the space tour, thank you."
Space Core didn't seem to pay him much mind, Wheatley walking forward and leading the other personality core to the next testing chamber. His faulty leg wasn't dragging yet, but a few more shots or a really good fall, and he would break it for sure. The latest test consisted of bringing a cube to rest on a switch, but the cube was up on a very high ledge, and would require a team effort on getting up there to get the cube down. Relatively simple, they had did it three times before with various results; a painful crash into one wall, a turret waiting for them at the exit of the portal, overshooting the gap and another painful crash into a wall... the list went on.
Grasping the portal gun that he had become acquainted with, Wheatley started to look for a good place to put the first portal. If there was one thing he could actually say that was good about the whole experience, it was the fact that he was actually starting to learn how to think outside of the box. " Hello?" a turret called, Space Core eagerly saying hello back to it, only to get shot at. " Not nice, not nice, someone call the space cops!" he cried, running out of it's sight.
" What would they do?" Wheatley snapped back, firing another portal under the turret's feet, sending it to another ledge. " Because unless they can magically take the two of us out of here, and let me apologize to Chell and put you back in the space you love so much, I am NOT interested!"
Space Core gazed at him with a blank expression, not quite knowing what to say besides he loved space, but every time he opened his mouth to say that, the other personality core would snap at him. Why was he being mean? All he was talking about was the thing he loved the most, space! He looked around the room and started to follow Wheatley's instructions. If he followed the other core's instructions, the other core was happy, so that was a good thing.
He silently wondered when they would get out of there and return to his beloved space.
" Are you still there?" the turret asked, Chell groaning from the kitchen. She was certain now, this turret had separation issues. But then again, it had been laying at the bottom of a scrap metal pile for god knows how long, she was just lucky the turret wasn't bitter. Grabbing a sandwich, she hurried back to the living room, the turret making a few sounds. " There you are."
Chell rolled her eyes and sat down again, continuing to work on the damaged turret. " Put me down!" the turret cried when she picked it up to look at it's underside, trying to repair it's damaged legs. The legs were unrepairable, so she had to move on, moving to it's interior. " What are you doing?" the turret asked.
Chell took another bite out of her sandwich and started to work on removing the damaged gun from inside the turret, being careful with it's personality center. Once she had it out, she set the turret back down and looked at the part she had removed. A part had come loose in the mechanism, which had effectively jammed the gun and made it, along with the lack of ammo, defective. Probably why the turret had been tossed in the first place, there was just so many replacements for it.
Like so many other test subjects before her... there was always a replacement for them too...
Shaking the thought from her mind, she set the mechanism down and looked back at the turret, picking it up and bringing it into her bedroom, sitting it down in a corner of the room. She decided to work on it some more in the morning, since she was still an amateur in the mechanic's field. Since the turret had separation issues, she didn't think that it would be nice to leave it by itself in the living room.
She could relate to the desire for company, first the companion cube, and then him...
Wheatley. She could never, ever, say the name with malice, even though she sometimes wanted to. He had been so cold and cruel to her when he got control of the facility, it hurt when she thought about it. When he had first opened up the door to her room and said that they would break out together, she had bonded with him. His voice helped make what seemed like a desolate world bright and not so scary. Then she actually got the chance to help him out, what with carrying him around after he freed himself from the management rail. That time, she was so worried that hitting the ground would break her new-found partner, she managed to catch him with her chest and arms. Awkwardness soon ensued, but they were both alive and now partners in escaping.
When GLaDOS was revived, no thanks to Wheatley's bumbling, she had almost wanted to strangle the personality core, but the feeling soon passed when she learned that he was working hard behind the scenes to help her, even though he managed to make a mortal enemy out of a bird. Then... she switched him with GLaDOS to shut her down and take control of the facility. It had seemed like it was the perfect ending, the underdog rising to the top, and the heroine being granted freedom, but her heart had sank into her long-fall boots the second she heard his energetic laugh turn malicious.
He denied her the freedom she longed for, having been completely taken over with the desire to test her. An itch, he said, placing the once powerful GLaDOS into a potato, and knocking the both of them into the pits below after being called a moron several times by GLaDOS. She hadn't felt this much hurt for a long time, and it showed for a while, but once she found GLaDOS, things began to look up. What if, she was to return to the same chamber he was in, and switch him once again with GLaDOS? She could possibly get him back to the way he was before, and maybe even score a favor with GLaDOS, since she was helping her get back what was hers. That was the plan anyways; free Wheatley, put GLaDOS back in charge, and then possibly bargain her and Wheatley's way to freedom.
But plans rarely ever work out the way people want them to.
Wheatley had taken things to the next level in defending himself from being switched out, she was actually impressed over that, but the end result was that she was forced to shoot a portal onto the only surface still covered by the white gel, underneath him. In a desperate move, she shot a portal onto the moon, and pulled herself along with Wheatley into space, clinging to his frame to keep herself from hurtling into the final destination. To this day, she still didn't know how the moon portal happened, but it just did.
Clinging to Wheatley's frame, she saw a brief glimpse of who he once was, begging her to hang onto him... but then GLaDOS tore him from her and sent him spiraling into space, using a mechanical claw to bring her back. She could still remember his cry in her nightmares, and often woke up with one hand extended out, as if she was still in that point of time, and able to reach him. Those nightmares always hurt the most. GLaDOS then released her from Apeture Laboratories, and she was treated to a song from the turrets before being cast out into the world she had left behind.
At first, she was calm, confident, and basking in the freedom. She was finally free, free of those deadly tests... but when nightfall came, and she glanced up at the stars, the always determined and proud woman broke into tears at being unable to save the one friend who actually mattered. She heard his voice in dreams now, sometimes in good ones, often in bad, and it hurt, no matter the dream. Because the reality was much crueler than any dream could conjure up for her.
She couldn't save him.
That was the cold, harsh, reality.
Chell snapped out of the self-pitying when she heard the turret speak. " Good Night." it said, going into sleep mode, it's eye going out. Good night, huh?
She hadn't had a good night in years.