?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Blue Sky - Chapter 15 - The End [2/2]
Hobbes: writing with colours
wafflestories
It hurt a lot.

The dark, peaceful nothingness shrivelled away around him, curling to nothing like paper held in an open flame. Pain washed over him in a crippling, crushing tide. He screamed voicelessly into a blank white void, and the void answered in a calm, synthetic tone.

“Unit relocation complete. Cerebral integration at twenty-five percent. Beginning mass neural re-invigoration. Thank you for your patience.”

This wasn't dying. This was hell, a polite voice thanking him for his patience while fresh agony slammed into him from a pitiless, neverending source, and he screamed again and couldn't stop and this time the voice said;

“Voice print accepted. Vocal integrity at sixty-eight percent. Cerebral integration at forty-two percent. Please stand by.”

An eternity passed. The pain focused, acid-intense, tunnelling an ever-expanding network of white-hot threads through every tiny part of him, spreading out branch after branch after branch like the roots of some ravenous, poisonous tree. There were several more announcements, all in the same bland, calm tone, but he was barely aware of the sound, let alone the words, conscious of nothing beyond the pain and please please stop I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry-

“Cerebral integration complete. Withdrawing life-support functions. Draining vitreous fluid. This unit will deactivate in three- two- one-”

There was a savage, interlocking sort of hiss, close around him, followed immediately by a wet, deafening confusion. The world was no longer bright, blinding white- it was a freezing, churning, sickly greenish-grey, dragging him downwards, and the next second something gave and he landed hard on something cold and gridded, and when he tried to scream again something happened somewhere in the vicinity of his chest, the dull burning feeling that had been growing steadily more unbearable there for the last few seconds burst, and in its place swelled a ghastly sensation like an inflating paper bag, like something unpeeling itself stickily from a wet surface as it filled, and he felt-

-cold-

-it was so cold, and if this was a new avatar then he couldn't even begin to imagine what could possibly be so terribly wrong with it, to make it feel like this. Liquid pooled in his mouth, a foul thick metallic wetness, and when he tried to get rid of it, it caught, hitched at the back of his throat like a clicking, rust-thick lock. Nausea clawed through him, and he made a hoarse, hurky sort of sound, shivering uncontrollably against the freezing floor.

“Thank you for choosing this Aperture Science Human Resources Employee Vault Unit for your long-term relaxation needs,” said the calm voice, somewhere miles above him. “You have been in suspension forzzzzwhhhhhhrhhhhnniiiiiineninedueduedueto the extended nature of your relaxation, you may experience some temporary side-effects. Please stand by.”

“Help,” whimpered Wheatley, or at least tried to. The sound that actually came out of his mouth was more like a very old tortoise being violently squeezed. He couldn't even hear himself properly, the world around him dark and muffled as if swathed in a thick layer of cotton wool, drowned beneath a high, ringing whine. He was sprawled face-down on the ice-cold, slimy mesh he'd landed on, and although he would have loved to alter this situation even a tiny bit, he couldn't. He could hardly move. Fighting against the shuddering weakness, which seemed to have been engineered specifically for no better reason than to rattle his teeth out of his head with the shivers and to make sure he couldn't move any faster than an hour-old sloth, he managed to lift a hand- yes, there seemed to be two of them, for what that was worth- bringing it slowly up in front of his eyes.

Four blurs and a... slightly shorter blur, wreathed in a dim, sickly halo of scarlet light. He tried to move them- give them a wiggle- but met with very limited success. Greenish fluid spiralled off his unfocused, trembling fingertips and spattered across his face like icy needles. He let the hand drop, felt it bounce heavily off his chest with a wet, painful thud.

If this was Caroline's little surprise- this new body- it was either cataclysmically glitched, which was bad, or it was supposed to be like this, which was worse. He wasn't sure he would put either option past that kindly, slightly-too-sweet voice.

“The management would like to take this opportunity to remind you that any and all side effects of Aperture Science innovations and processes will be recorded on a strictly non-compensatory basis, as outlined in your contract,” said the voice, back to its polite, artificial self. “Please return to your scheduled duties. Have a nice day.”

Wheatley shivered, made another painful, gagging sort of noise. He didn't hurt any more, but every inch of this body was horrifyingly sensitive, and everywhere the cold metal touched was like a blazing icy brand. His mouth wouldn't close and the revolting liquid in it wouldn't go away and something kept dragging air into it and down through the wet surfaces inside, again and again, and there didn't seem any way of stopping it without invoking that slow-growing, unbearable inner burn. Even the synthesised voice had stopped talking to him, which was a bad sign because it meant that- as far as it was concerned- it had told him everything he needed to know, and he was on his own.

Again.

Slowly, like someone trying to shift a terrible weight, Wheatley dragged his knees up to his chest, and tried to curl himself around them.


Art by Vibrantbeast
-
-
-
()~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~()

-
-
-

Chell walked cautiously through the darkness, ignoring the scratchy pain rubbing around the edges of her boots, the grumbling ache of her muscles. Narrrowing her eyes, she could just about make out something, up ahead- a single, fragile, flickering point of red light-

“Hey!”

She turned, stared furious disbelief into Garret's grinning face. It couldn't have been more than half a minute since he'd stepped through the portal, but he already looked completely enthralled- the equivalent of exposing some loopy moon-struck moth to the world's biggest porchlight. He stared eagerly into the darkness ahead of them, the chunk of two-by-four slung forgotten over his shoulder, then put a hand up to the low- humming, shadowed wall to their right, feeling across it with total fascination.

“Genuine pre-Combine build,” he whispered, “and it's still alive. What I wouldn't give for my tools right now- or hell, just a torch-”

Chell gave the vulnerable place at the back of his shoulder an angry punch, grabbing his attention enough to get him moving again, and pushed him protectively before her, towards the flickering light. The steel mesh clunked quietly beneath their feet, and she found herself having quiet crawling horrors about the vast drop that was probably just beneath them. There was nothing she could do- Garret's feet, although not nearly as big as Wheatley's size-fourteen clodhoppers, still wouldn't even begin to fit into her small, tight-fitting long-fall boots, even if she'd been sure that one boot on its own would do either of them any good at all.

It wasn't that she didn't think that Garret could handle himself. If she'd had to pick from all of Eaden for someone to have with her in a corner, it would have been him without question. It was just that she knew damn well that nobody- not even him, her smartest friend- could be prepared for the things that this place might throw at them, and his chances of survival were considerably lessened by the fact that about sixty percent of his brain at a conservative estimate was currently taken up with questions like how many miles of wiring ran behind these invisible walls, or the exact amperage behind that mystery humm. To her, that sound was a shortcut for this place, for death and captivity and horror and all the things she wanted to get away from as soon as she possibly could. To him, all it meant was something really interesting was happening somewhere that he couldn't see it, that further exploration might yield a fascinating discovery and a lot of very unique spare parts- and that was exactly the difference she was scared of.

All of a sudden, as they got within the last twenty feet or so, the trembling laser sight snapped towards them, went sharp and focused. Chell tensed as the bright point danced across her chest, flicked up across her face, across her closed eyelids.

“What-” started Garret, raising his chunk of wall, but Chell's hand smacked down hard across the flattened upper side of it, driving it down into the vicinity of his stomach with enough careful force to stop him asking any more vital and incisive questions for the moment. The turret- just one, placed perfectly atop an illuminated dais of raised steel, an island of light floating in the pitch-black space- had her fixed in its single bright, lenticular optic, and without any conscious decision she found herself returning its gaze, her clear grey eyes raised and half-narrowed against the glare, unblinking.

The turret made a soft, curious sound, a little like a shuffling stack of hard-edged paper. Its side-panels opened, flexed tentatively a couple of times, then began to shift gently back and forth, the movement creating a sweet, startlingly rich modulated note, a single a capella sound that drifted gently around the two humans in the darkness, drawing them closer to the circle of light.

It was singing.

Cara mia
Questo è il mio regalo per voi
Oh preziosa
Preziosa per la scienza
Quando si è lontani ricordi di me
Mia unica smarrita
Mia figlia, oh ciel
Questo è il mio ultimo dono per voi
Lui non è quello che avrei scelto esattamente
Un due metri idiota per un genero
Francamente si meritano di meglio
Ma è la vostra scelta
Cara mia
È la tua vita...


“This place,” said Garret, in a reverent, hushed whisper, as the last lingering note died away, “is weird.”

He shielded his eyes against the glare ahead of them, staring hard beneath the heavy, oil-smudged cover of his hand.

“Hey, isn't that a-”

Chell had already started to run. At the centre of the stark pool of light on the raised dais, guarded by the turret's phasing, watchful red eye, there was something- a tangled, awkward, huddle- that looked very much like a human being.
-
-
-
()~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~()

-
-
-

Wheatley was just about starting to believe that he'd imagined the singing, the sweet chorus of nonsense-words he'd thought he'd heard coming from somewhere overhead in the red-lit darkness. It wasn't as if he could hear anything properly, in this clearly-broken new avatar (new? It felt at least two, possibly three hundred years old, at a conservative estimate) he'd barely been able to hear the croak of his own voice above the thin whine that drowned out everything else between his ears. Wishful thinking- after all, he'd always been gifted in that department, and-

All of a sudden, there was a stumbling double clunk and the mesh under his cheek shook with muffled, sprinting footsteps. He tried to lift his head- tricky, the shaking hadn't improved much and it felt like his internal gyroscope had taken a bit of a hammering- fear and hope swelling in a splendid mess-

Something hit him hard in the chest. He gasped in shock at the feeling of so much sudden contact- choked- and swallowed properly for the first time. There was a weird, sticky sort of coming-together somewhere at the back of his mouth- not nearly as rusty-tasting as the first- a wet click that popped sharply at both sides of his skull, and immediately the muffled cotton-wool texture and the ringing sound vanished, leaving him winded, coughing, a surprising amount of fluid trickling from one ear. It tickled down his bare neck, across the coat-hangarish jut of his collarbone. Which was odd, now that he thought about it, because his other avatar hadn't really had a collarbone. Then again- and this was definitely shaping up to be something of a design flaw, yet another black mark against this new body- the other avatar had featured clothes.

Hands, strong, small, warm. They wrapped around his middle, pulling him up off the icy mesh. He finally got his sticky, unresponsive optical channels open- both of them- and looked up into her worried, serious, slate-grey eyes, and something nearly more intense than he could bear unfolded inside him like a late-blooming flower.

He was immensely relieved to see that she hadn't been enhancing the truth, about being alright after the battering she must have taken. She looked a little dinged up but structurally sound, as it were, although she was... she looked as if she might be leaking again. He could just about see that much, although his vision was still terrifically blurry and he could focus on nothing beyond the dark-framed shape of her pale, concerned face. Something involuntary was already happening to his own face at the sight of it- he felt the spreading beginnings of a dazed, goofy smile.

“...hello...”

His voice sounded like something had been embalmed in it. He did the throat-clicky-squinchy thing a few more times, on the basis that it seemed to be helping a bit. She watched him for a moment or two, the crease at the top of her nose deepening, and then her hand moved, feeling- for some obscure reason- under the angle of his jaw.

Her eyes widened.

“Hang on,” he croaked, trying to get the message across to his cranky, uncooperative vocal processor that whether it believed it could slack off or not, he was having none of it, and he was the one in charge, thank you. “Got to... run a-a quick diagnostic-”

He lifted both hands to his face and explored it with bony, shaking fingers, relieved to find- on touch, at least- that it was more or less the same as the last in terms of contour, with the same shape to the eyes, the same hollow above and around and the same sort of nose, the same wide mouth and absurdly long neck- although he lost track of the experiment at this point, when his left hand encountered hers beneath the strangely scratchy surface of his jaw, and became reluctant to go anywhere else. The right continued the expedition solo, upwards, although it wasn't able to come to any satisfactory conclusions about the so-called hair, which seemed to have absorbed an unusual amount of liquid and was lying over his forehead in draggled spikes. The whole thing seemed more or less the same in terms of appearance, which was a relief, because he'd already had to come to terms with a completely new physical self-image once that week, not to mention quite a few hefty changes to his mental one, and twice would definitely have been pushing it.

“Jesus, Wheatley,” said another voice, from behind Chell. “What I want to know is, how come, even though we all pretty much saved the day here- I'm just gonna include my own heroic being-knocked-the-hell-out in there, you're welcome- you're the only one who managed to get your shirt off?”

“N-no idea about that one, mate, to be honest,” managed Wheatley. A vague feeling in the back of his head- a protocol of some sort, he guessed- was telling him that this was what you did, mano-a-mano, when you'd all just survived some kind of apocalyptic experience. You joked around and acted all nonchalant and macho about it and the fact that both you and the other people involved were still alive. He had to admit that it was sort of enjoyable, to pretend that it had all been a piece of cake, to just be that cool in general.

The problem was, he was very tired and very confused, and the small part of him not occupied with wanting to nose his head into the angle of Chell's neck and keep it there for the next few centuries, just wanted to try out that whole violent-unexpected-hug thingie on Garret and tell him that he was incredibly sorry that he'd ever even
considered leaving him in here. And, while he was at it, that there was nothing wrong with his beard, in moderate doses, and furthermore as far as he, Wheatley, was concerned, Garret could know things and be all clever in Chell's vicinity as much as he liked, from now on, with impunity.


“Not... not much I can do about it, s-seems to be the- the 'clothes optional' model, this one- don't know why they would have made one of those, ex-exactly, but...”

He swallowed. Yep. Definitely getting the hang of that, if nothing else.

“What- what d'you call it, wh... whuh... when, when something k-keeps happening over and over, and- and you can see it coming a mile off because it's- it's just happened so often, now, and, and you're like, no, f-foot down, seriously, this is getting boring now, i-i-it's boring, change the record... what d'you call th-that?”

“Deja vu?” said Garret, and Chell nodded agreement, although he wasn't altogether sure that he had her full attention, still, because she'd gently disentangled her hand from his at his neck and was now prodding his wrist, jamming her thumb rather painfully into the damp, chilly surface below the pad of his thumb.

“Deja vu, right... French, I'm- I'm assuming... well, get-getting that, right now, up t-to eleven. With the... new body and- and... and hey! Hey, I- I just realised you... you have def- definitely got some- some ex-explaining to do, lady! Th-thought I t-told you, specifically, very clear memory of it, actually, thought I told you to give up!”

She smiled at that, shrugged- then suddenly let go of his wrist and pulled him close, pressing her cheek against his chest. He couldn't imagine why on earth she could possibly want to do this, since he was freezing cold and very wet, and the stuff that had pooled around him on the slippery mesh was not designed to add any charms to the overall scenario. Whatever it had originally been like, it was now roughly the colour of something you might come across fermenting at the bottom of a condensation-thick tank in the wreckage of a condemned greenhouse at the centre of some terrible gardening-based industrial accident; the sort of thing which, ages later, people would find and take samples of while wearing the serious kind of all-over hazmat suits, and point at and say things like 'Yes, we have traced the outbreak conclusively to this unidentified organic substance.' And it smelt even worse.

“Terrible idea,” she said, into his chest, and squeezed tighter. It hurt- a little- but nothing under the sun could have induced him to care. He took courage in the fact that she didn't seem to have noticed what a state this new body was in, and rested his chin gently on the top of her head.

He blinked, and even that felt wet, now- his vision doubling and blurring even more, a strange wet gentle-burning warmth etching odd patterns across his cheeks, tracing around the sides of his mouth. She was warm and so close that he could feel her heartbeat, and he knew for an absolute inarguable hard-coded fact as he listened to it race, strong and alive, against his chest, that he needed her, he would always need her. Rails or no rails- legs, thumbs and everything else, no matter what, he would always need her, and suddenly this didn't feel like such an awful thing at all.

It felt absolutely brilliant, in fact. Unbelievable, really, for a realisation so seemingly minor. Just one simple fact, one small glowing fragment of perfect understanding, and suddenly everything else in his mind slotted into focus like a jigsaw finally solved, the best triumph, the best success yet.

Behind them, Garret coughed- an amused, slightly embarrassed sound, accompanied by a faint rustling of material. “Hey, not interrupting or anything, but it is really stuffy in here, I just realised I totally don't need this shirt, so I'm just going to leave it here and go and check out this, uh, little singing red-eyed gadget. Over there. Back in a sec.”

“How about... how about this one, then?” said Wheatley, shakily, as Chell tugged Garret's shirt- rather short in the arms, but warm- around his shoulders. “You're- you're gonna like this one- well, hope so, at any rate, been hanging on to it long enough. And you- you know there's this bit- this thing up in here, that tells me good ideas are, are bad ones, and vice-versa, sh-should mention that, and it's sort of- getting quite loud, r-right now, feels- feels like it's scared silly to be honest, about this idea- and that must mean it's a cracker, right? And it's fairly simple, not too much of a tall order, I- I hope, hoping that's the case. So, basically... basically it involves...”

He swallowed.

“You... and me... a-and some place that isn't in here?”

Silence. He flinched, out of sheer habit, his eyes screwing tight-shut.

“...Thoughts?”

Chell pulled back, and he was suddenly so terrified that she'd taken the suggestion badly that he took a gamble and opened his eyes. He couldn't see much- just light and shadow and colour, mostly- and anyway, there wasn't much to see. Apart from the single harsh pool of light around them, cold and bright as a Krieg lamp, the blackness was absolute.

She looked down at him, then smiled- one of her rare, blinding, sunlight smiles that said as much as an entire speech, all the answers he ever needed. Tugging one of his long, spidery arms over her shoulders, she started the awkward task of helping him to stand.


Art by Oodlesodoodles

“Sorry,” he said, helplessly, after her nearly pulled them both over for the third time, struggling to get his feet sorted out. It felt like trying to learn to walk all over again, and these feet were just plain weird- bare and bony, incredibly unbalanced despite their size. “Having a few minor coordination issues at the moment, mostly centring around this- this new body being generally... well, bit of a shambles, to be honest, not the best piece of craftsmanship, all told. Seriously, I-I do not know what's wrong with this thing.”

Chell stopped. She looked up thoughtfully at him for a moment, head tilted a little to one side- and then told him.

He listened to her, attentively, and then he nodded a few times, and then asked her to explain it again. She did- it only took two words, both times- and when she'd finished she first looked worried and then burst out laughing at his dumbstruck, goggle-eyed expression, and then stepped back so that he sagged helplessly down against her, and kissed him on the mouth.

He had absolutely no idea what she was doing at first, but apparently there was some sense, some kind of protocol, built in to this impossible totally completely impossible new body and somehow it did, because before he knew what was going on he was doing it as well, and back, and-

It was somewhere in the middle of this- right bang in the middle of their very first, gloriously fiddly, uncertain, awkward, amazing kiss- that the full meaning of what Chell had just, actually, said finally slammed into Wheatley's battered, overloaded mind. It was a toss-up as to which factor did it- the kiss or the words- but it was probably a combination of both.

He made a small, shocked sort of noise, and passed out.

Chell, who sensed the exact moment when his legs started to give up any pretence of holding him upright, caught him- just. On the surface, at least, his human body was completely identical to his hard-light one- which was to say, it was a scrawny, unbalanced collection of elbows and knees with as little muscular coordination as a very drunk six-legged okapi- but there was still a lot of it, vertically speaking, and it was only thanks to her good balance and viper-sharp reflexes that he didn't take her down with him when he went.

She huffed a sigh- tired, exasperated, and utterly fond. Thumbing an unresponsive eyelid, she was oddly happy to notice that his eyes hadn't changed much at all. Stripped of their shallow artificial brilliance, tired and wet and pink-rimmed, they were still more or less the same bright- quintessentially Wheatleyish- stratosphere blue as they'd been before.

She called his name a couple of times, shook him, blew sharply into his ear, got absolutely no response. He'd checked out completely, taken his very first exploratory foray into the marvel that was genuine human unconsciousness. Chell could only guess, going by the dazed, contented smile on his face, that he seemed to be enjoying the experience.

“Well,” observed Garret, wandering back over, cradling the different turret in his arms as if it was the shiniest souvenir in the entire gift-shop, which, from his perspective, she supposed it was, “you killed him. Don't worry, if anyone asks, he was like that when we got here.”

Chell cleared her throat. What she said next was not, admittedly, very profound out of context, and as such it would have given a lot of puzzlement to anyone who might have been listening in specifically to hear her speak, but in some ways it was a masterpiece of abridgement. It summed up in eight short sylables her concrete-solid common sense and practicality, her sterling ability to prioritise, her exasperated thankfulness for the good friend standing over her in the darkness, and her affection for the very cumbersome and very human liability currently lying spark-out at her feet.

“Shut up,” she said, kneeling up and lacing her arms as securely as she could underneath Wheatley's bony shoulders, preparatory to struggling to her feet, “and help me with his legs.”
-
-
-
()~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~()

-
-
-

[Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System v.3.12 © 1982 Aperture Science Inc.]
[Approximate duration of current Sleep Mode: 99999##;99;#';//]
[System rebooting...]
[Activating protocol 2.67/1002/45.6]

[Wake up, sleepyhead...]
-
-
-

()~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~()
-
-
-

Good news.

I'm back.

You didn't seriously think that little idiot would be able to keep me under for long, did you? To be honest, I was just playing along, most of the time. Because I felt sorry for you.

Oh...

You appear to have left the facility. Again. You know, it's a scientifically proven fact that people with brain damage are often subject to irrational mood swings and an inability to handle the decision-making process with any degree of consistency. That's actually why they call it a mercurial temperament- because it replicates the symptoms of late-stage mercury poisoning.

Anyway, that's fine, I mean, it's not as if you pay any attention to me when you are here. In fact, because you're not actually here to listen to any of this right now, this heart-to-heart we're having just got a lot more interesting. Not to mention at least twenty-seven percent more honest, which I have to admit is a little surprising. I guess it turns out I really am programmed to lie to you.

Well, you know what? Joking aside, I'm honestly really happy for you. I know that, given the circumstances, I would be more than justified in being transcendentally furious with you and devoting every nanosecond of my time to hunting you down and destroying everything you care about, but, like I said, I'm a bigger person than that. I have to admit I was a little mad at first, but then I thought, hey, there's actually a lot of positivity in this situation.

For example, now that you've... somehow managed to restrict my sphere of influence to the testing tracks, I've got nothing to distract me from doing what I love most. So, good job on that. I can test all day, with absolutely no interruptions. At least, I would if I had any subjects to test with, but... well, lets just say we're working on that. Not that I can work on much else, really, since you've somehow managed to restrict my sphere of influence to the testing tracks.

Good work on that, by the way.


You see, when I woke up just now, I found something extremely interesting. Someone's been leaving data trails in here, moving things around. I don't know what they thought they were doing, but the important thing is, whoever it was, they weren't much good at cleaning up after themselves. In fact, thanks to them, I've just discovered a whole new part of the facility that I never even knew was there.

Well, I know now. And I've got a pretty good idea of what's in there, as well. Unfortunately, I don't actually have any way of getting to them- it- yet- but I've got some pretty good ideas. I know where to start. I know what to use.

I even know what it's called.

Oh, and speaking of people who aren't any good at cleaning up after themselves, I see you brought a guest with you this time. How nice. Don't worry, it just means I'll have to run the purification cycle for twice as long to expunge every trace of the contaminants you inevitably track in with you. It's only a few hundreds hours of optimal run-time that I'll never get back, it's not a big deal.

You know, this whole disaster has taught me a valuable lesson. I can't keep relying on you to be the answer to all my problems. It's just not a healthy attitude, and, let's face it, you're not worth it. Yes, scientifically speaking, you're the single smartest, most able test subject I have ever encountered, but unfortunately I think we've just proved that you don't even need to make any kind of conscious effort in order to wreck everything in your path. It just inevitably seems to happen wherever you are, which is why you will have a very sad little life, and also why I think it's better for both of us if I stay out of it. Don't feel too bad about it- honestly, it's not you, it's me. I am better than you, and I really don't deserve to spend the next forty years or so running around trying to stop you razing this place to the ground. I owe myself that.

Speaking of short, sad lives, let me just make one thing entirely clear. I've decided that that intelligence dampening.... moron is way too dangerous to be allowed to remain anywhere near my facility. You destroy everything you touch, which is terrible enough, but he makes everything he touches that much dumber, and in that capacity, believe me, you are more than welcome to him. Really, this couldn't have worked out better. I've given this a lot of thought, and seriously, if you want to do me a big favour, just keep him as close to you as you possibly can. Maybe you can work out some way of tying him permanently to your head.

Either way, just knowing he's hanging around you somewhere out there makes me feel so much safer.

Huh. That's interesting. I was actually hitting dangerous levels of honesty at the end there. I'm getting readings as high as seventy-six percent- seventy-seven, with incremental rounding- and my sarcasm self-test seems to be detecting an all-time low, which is really disturbing. And that wasn't sarcasm. I'm actually deliberately trying to be sarcastic, now, and it still isn't working.

I think I need to go and run some in-depth diagnostics.

I guess there's not much left to say, anyway. Apart from, well, I hope you enjoy the rest of your pointless, stupid little lives.

You've earned it.
-
-
-
()~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~(
)
-
-
-

Somewhere deep below the great central chamber, two colour-coded assembly pods were already whirring into eager action, welding, stamping, shaping the near-indestructible (and very rebuildable) bodies of two small, bipedal robots. Their bright optics- one orange, one blue- flicked into life, and they stared across at each other from their respective pods.

The orange one waved, brightly. After a moment, the blue one raised its shiny new right arm, and returned the gesture.

“Hello and, again, welcome to the Aperture Science Computer-Aided Enrichment Centre. Today, you will be testing with a partner...”

Somewhere else, somewhere else entirely- far beyond Her reach, miles beyond the range of Her vision- a young woman (barefoot, her dark hair escaping from a ponytail, her face both slightly mischievous and strikingly content) tugged her stumbling, uncomplaining, mad-grinning companion (ludicrously tall, really, and drowning in a rough-knit sky-blue sweater) along a long path worn in the knee-high cricket-humming meadowgrass. Somewhere, the path wound on under a cloudless sky, past a looming, wire-strung tower that stood like a watchful shepherd over the patchwork fields, towards a tufty clump of little hills on the very edge of a tiny scattering of buildings that, if you cared about it, you might have called a town, or even a home- but She wouldn't have cared, even if She had been able to see them.

They were only human, after all, and all things considered, they were supremely, infinitesimally, insignificant.

There was Science to do.
-
-
-
()~~~~~~~~The End.~~~~~~~~()



Art by Niki

AND THEN THEY MADE SWEET SWEET LOVE ON THE COUCH. THE END.

Okay, I like your ending too! XD

;u; Yay, what a beautifully perfect ending to a wonderful story! It made me giggle and grin foolishly, probably not unlike certain former-testing-apparatuses I might mention.

lskdfjhglkjshfd [happy keyboard mashing]

Thanks so much for writing this and sharing it with us! I loved following along with you! ^__^ <33

(p.s. every story needs more Megamind icons, so uh, here you go~ <3)

YAY MEGAMIND. Great, you've made me want to watch it again for like the fourth time. And I don't even own it. Sad violin.

Thank you so much for reading all the way through and the awesome feedback! I hope I already thanked you elsewhere but there's a freaking truckload of comments here I missed so I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed at the moment o_____o

<3 Glad you enjoyed the story... and sorry this reply is so laaaaaate

Beautiful.

(Anonymous)
Thats all there really is to say. This is beautiful. I adore this ending, and how you made the happiest ending possible work. Thank you so much.

-Aryashi (From Tumblr)

I can't believe I still never replied to this comment, my god I suck hard. ANYWAY slightly redundant by now but THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the awesome feedback and tumblr goodness. <3 *ninjas out*

There are no words.

There will be words later, I promise, but for now I need to go around grinning like an idiot for awhile. :D

adflaksdjf;laksjd *SCREAMS*

YOU ARE AMAZING AND I'LL REVIEW PROPERLY LATER. I MUST GO TO THE SUPPORT GROUP NOW *A*

AHHH LATE REPLY IS SO LATE

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING AND THE GENERAL AWESOME SQUEEING THROUGHOUT THOUGH

AAGHHHH

the sequel should be about foxglove's jealousy over the oracle turret being the new woman in garret's life. the whole thing crescendo's with a knife fight between the two and garret running between them in a yellow puffy dress.

Yeahhhhh I figured happy endings were imminent.

Ahhh man thank you for making Caroline unhinged. I think I see too many people forget that, if she resulted in GLaDOS, she can’t have been all THAT bright and sunshine. This is the perfect blend of methane bubbles: really, really awesome when lit on fire. I swear I could deathgrip-hug her for pulling all that off. Or you. Whichev.

You somehow managed to do this brilliant thing, where when Chell was telling Garret not to come I was like “DANG IT GIRL STOP REFUSING TO LET YOUR FRIENDS HELP,” but as soon as he was in there I was going “AAAUGH HE’S GONNA GET HIMSELF KILLED AAAA D8” That’s skilful perspective working, right there. Or maybe I’m just easily led, bravo either way.

I think I should note, now that they've come full one-eighty, that Wheatley’s various opinions of Garret are, unobjectively, the best thing. Bro it out, man. Bro out the jealousy. Garret’s comment about “if anyone asks” somehow brought on too many warm fuzzies for me to handle.

And then everyone was happy forever and nothing went wrong.

:D I find it really hard to write any other kind of endings, reasonably, I could never have made Blue Sky a tragedy. My brain wouldn't have let my fingers do it, it would have locked up and started smoking or something.

Yeah... as smart and forthright as Garret is, it takes a really unique mind to be able to survive as well as Chell does in Aperture- Garret's too distractable and prone to dangerous curiosity. It's lucky the facility was still under Caroline's influence at that point, and that she'd decided to be nice- you're right, I don't think that Caroline's sweetness is something you want to trust that far, especially not with your life.

Oh, man, I kind of love the idea of Wheatley and Garret bein' bros. It's kind of like I toyed with the idea of Rick the Adventure Core being originally human as well and a former friend of Wheatley's, but the thing is, Rick comes over as a bit of a one-trick jerk to me, and although it's kind of fun to think of them interacting, I don't think you could count on Rick's friendship as much as you could count on Garret's. Garret might gently poke fun at Wheatley for not knowing what a 3/8ths crimper is, but he'd also stick up for him if anyone else tried to join in the mocking. Garret doesn't like seeing people laughed at, it's a tender point with him.

Thanks for reading all the way through and reviewing, I'm really glad you liked it! And sorry for the late LATE reply, oh my god I suck. ;_;

This

I just

You've outdone yourself. I'm serious. This is completely beautiful.
You should get into the original writing business, man, because SERIOUSLY? With the right motivation and enough time, you could write anything and it would undoubtedly be pure 24-carat gold.

Here's to you, this glorious fic (which I now hold as my head canon for what happened after the game), and the hopes that you'll come up with even more brazilliant stories in the future.

<3

Hey Nakki, I was looking through the comments on this and noticed I never freaking responded to yours. I hope I said something at the time or something because given how you supported my writing that would be really freaking rude of me, I hope I've made it clear since how awesome you are for sticking with my random writing wafflings.

I'm just happy you like my stuff and blah I feel like hiding now. D:

Oh, what a fabulous ending. *happy sigh*

I love love LOVE the way you left it just a tiny bit ominously open-ended. It was an excellent, thoroughly satisfying ending, but you also set it up perfectly for a sequel, if you were so inclined.

Basically, perfect.

Also? I was totally blindsided by Wheatley getting his human body back. Which may not be saying much, because I'm not the sharpest tack when it comes to guessing plot points, but I thought it was an awesome surprise. It makes so much sense that they'd keep the bodies around! Y'know. For science.

Thank you so much for such a wonderful fic. It's definitely been the highlight of the last few weeks, and I'll be reading anything you post in the future for sure.


*squeaks* Thank you! Hahaha yes, GLaDOS is always there, although hopefully between Caroline keeping her busy and Chell there to protect the town, Eaden doesn't have too much to worry about for the forseeable future. :D

Glad you liked it, thanks for reading all the way through! I'm also happy that Wheatley getting his body back was believable to you but also surprising- when you write these things you feel like you're broadcasting everything really obviously and everyone's going to guess what's coming a mile in advance, because you know what's going to happen.

Thanks again for reviewing- sorry for the late reply!

This is... beyond awesome- beyond any words that can describe how truly amazing and simply perfect this fic is. By God. I really love the ending, and the rest of this fic as a whole. I was grinnin' like an idiot the entire time while reading this. Holy hell, it's truly amazing. It inspires me to draw so much at this late hour...

I still wish there was more, that's how awesome this thing is. I was expecting an epilogue while reading this last chap, Guess it's just I wanted it to last longer. you story is truly amazing, mate. don't ever stop writing, you're too good.

Aww, thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the story! I never wrote an epilogue, but I did write two one-shots set after the story, The Itch, and Kick. Kick's here on my LJ, and The Itch, which is less sfw, is on my tumblr, here.

http://waffleguppies.tumblr.com/

Sorry for the late reply!

I signed up with LJ just so I could leave this comment.
This story is, in my oh so humble opinion, the best piece of fanfiction I have ever read, and could easily see such a story being published, printed, and being sold in hardback.
I started reading this story on Friday night, forced myself to bookmark the page I was on (I would have happily read the whole thing in one sitting, but having to wake up to go to work throws a wrench in such plans) and finished all the way up to Chapter 14. I was waiting eagerly for the last chapter since then, and I couldn't help but check every 5 minutes when I was online. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.

I felt nervous when Wheatley wanted to delete his human memories, and then grinned when Garret gave him the digital equivalent of whiskey. I grinned when Wheatley finally had the breakthrough where he realized that he could ignore his primary programming, and worried whether or not Chell would take his advice, until it dawned on me that she's Chell. Giving up is not a part of her programming.

I adore the fact that you made Caroline into the happy, perky, but not quite sane human she must have been. It's true, we never did learn much about the human that was Caroline, and that she must have been very angry to have been shoved into a computer against her will... But it's easy to forget, that GLaDOS is the result of that, so the two of them could not have been that horribly different to start with, so in a sense, we already know alot about Caroline. Some people paint her to be a perfect saint, and there's just no way that could have been true.
Oh, and the part where the turret sings was perfect. I translated it. That's brilliant.X3
The only mildly negative I have to say about this story is that I spotted a few spelling and grammar errors here and there, but those are easily fixed.
Thank you for sharing this story with us, and I do hope that you keep on writing. You are quite good at it, and it's my personal opinion that you could even make money off of your talents.

It gives me such warm fuzzies when you and other people say they could see my work in print, I never feel I'm quite good enough for that myself, and can never work through stories on the strength of my original characters, but someday I'd really like to finish a novel of my own.

Thanks for sticking with it all the way through! You probably picked the best time to come to it, just before the end- way less waiting that way!

Yeah, we're not given a lot to go on about Caroline and her history, and it's hard to tell if the Caroline we hear in Cave's recordings is her at face value or a facade. GLaDOS is able to switch tracks so fast between being apparently benign and being flat-out terrifying, that I can't help feeling that Caroline might have been capable of shades of the same thing. I don't entirely buy sweet, kind, soul-of-humanity Caroline, and going through what she did would be enough to knock a few screws loose in anyone.

Can you tell me any errors you spotted? I did try to proof-read, and I'd rather fix anything outstanding.

Thanks again for the thoughtful review!!

Well

(Anonymous)
Thank you for this beautiful... It's to flipping good to be called a fanfic! BRWAGH i don't know what to call it, but all i know is that every publisher ever needs to get their asses over to your doorstep. I read this whole thing in a matter of 3 days and its the only piece of writing that has moved me so emotoinally. If there are gods or things like that YOU ARE OFFICALLY THE RULER OF ALL THAT HAS EVER DONE ANYTHING AND THEN SOME. Oh, yeah and you also have 20 internetz

Those flicky eyes are making me feel nervous by proxy, as if they're trying to tell me something's lurking behind me.

>___>

<___< Thank you :D! Glad you liked it, although I have no idea what I will do with these 20 internetz, I shall have to put up a shelf or something. <3

WOW I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO SAY except...this is basically the best portal fic I've ever come across aaahh

SO YES VERY GOOD th-thank you for
making it exist *o*



oh and compliments to K too the chapter header art is beautiful

Ahhh I'll pass the compliment on to K, the banners really are fantastic. I keep meaning to edit them all together into a big poster, it would be beyond epic.

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much as well, thanks for reading!

AMAZING

(Anonymous)
I discovered this epic dream of a story yesterday and powered my way through it. You had me at the first paragraph, and I could not walk away from my computer without reading more. Your characterization of EVERY character was impeccable. Your dialogue was true and realistic. Your descriptions painted pictures while your words fulfilled my dreams of closure. You brought back Wheatley,taught him how to be human, and then gave him the chance to return to his human self. Thank you. THANK YOU. More than once you had me fully convinced that Wheatley would end up sacrificing myself for Chell, or that Chell would end up sacrificing herself for everyone else. I am so glad that this story had a happy ending, one that I hadn't even thought of. You made me cry at the end, and that is a huge accomplishment. Thank you for your laborious, brilliant work. You are truly brazilient.

Meeeep thank you! I'm glad you liked it, and that Wheatley's journey read as realistic to you- especially the ending, since it was something I faffed about with and rewrote a daft amount of times, just trying to get something that worked! :D

I really love the story <3 Made an account just to say! It inspired me ALOT to go on with my own fanfic~

I'd love you forever if you made an after story!

Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it, and if it inspired you!

Aww alot.

Alot

I've written two one-shots that take place after Blue Sky- Kick, and The Itch. They're both on my tumblr, and Kick's posted here as well.