Crunch crunch crunch.
Dying wheat stretches in every direction, coating the earth in a sickly, grayish-yellow. Two people tramp their way through the crisp stalks-a dark haired woman leading the way and a taller man trailing behind.
"You're sure this is the place?" says Stacker Pentecost, raising a hand to his forehead and squinting.
Chell gives a small nod and marches on. After a few moments she takes a sharp turn, jogging down a slight slope. A run-down shed drifts into view, one that Pentecost swore hadn't been there moments ago. For such an open and plain area, even he had to admit it was well-hidden.
About ten feet out, she freezes. Her feet plant in the ground and she throws out her arm, gesturing toward the rusted door.
"Not going in?" he says.
Chell folds her arms across her chest and gives him a flat look.
As if she'd go back in there willingly.
Even seeing the entrance sent a shot of adrenalin to her stomach—so long as she was near Aperture, she'd never fully shake that fight-or-flight response.
"Suit yourself," says Pentecost. He creaks open the door and reveals a pristine white elevator, the internal glow illuminating the dim shed. He gives Chell a single nod before stepping in, elevator whisking him into the depths of the facility below.
Chell hadn't lied to him.
This is the first thought that flows through his mind as the elevator hisses to a snail's pace. The lighting dims then brightens, and the main AI chamber slips into view.
Chell hadn't lied about Aperture. The Artificial Intelligence running this place—or GLaDOS, as she'd called her—was certainly larger than he'd expected. She'd been absolutely right.
The computer—attached to the ceiling of all places—twists around and locks her gaze. The elevator stops and the doors glide open. He takes a few steps into the chamber and straightens.
"She sent you, didn't she?" says GLaDOS, words almost a hiss. Something about her voice catches him off guard—he'd been expecting a flat and emotionless voice, but the way she spoke, he could hear the disdain and accusation in her voice.
He hadn't expected her to sound so human.
"Who, Chell?" he says.
The robot's optic widens.
Pentecost almost laughs—according to Chell, this supposedly-homicidal computer was supposed to be intimidating. Instead she'd flinched like a scolded puppy at the mention of her name. And compared to the robots—and Kaijus—he'd seen, her supposedly huge size wasn't frightening in the slightest.
She was no bigger than a Jaeger's fingernail.
"Yes. Her," she says. Lights dim in the main chamber, and the computer's yellow optic becomes the sole focus. Stacker shifts on his feet.
Well, that was another thing Chell had mentioned—she certainly had a flair for drama.
"I really don't know what could make her desperate enough to come back here, though," says GLaDOS. "I know you're up there, by the way," she says, chassis shifting upwards. Her voice raises in volume, no doubt broadcasted at the outdoor speaker's maximum volume.
Chell rolls a stalk of wheat between her palms and stares across the empty field. Though Pentecost hadn't been gone long, she'd still moved in to lean against the shed's siding. If worst comes to worst she supposes she could go in—but really, she'd rather wait.
She digs her toe into the dirt, only pausing when a speaker—hidden somewhere—blares to life with GLaDOS's voice. Chell shifts and gives a weary sigh, smacking the siding with an outstretched palm.
Good to see you too, GLaDOS.
"Now, how caught-up are you with your world news?" says Stacker. "You've been stuck down here for a while, so it's fine if you don't know."
"Oh, I've known about what's been going on up there ever since it began," she says. Memories flash through her systems—distinct, clear dialogue amid a haze of destruction.
Are you trying to escape? Things have changed since the last time you left the building. What's going on out there will make you wish you were back in here.
Back in the beginning—at their first showdown, when Chell had so heartlessly thrown her personality cores into the incinerator—she'd been informed of the first Kaiju attacks.
I have an infinite capacity for knowledge, and even I'm not sure what's going on outside.
She'd tried to warn Chell, she really had.
All I know is I'm the only thing standing between us and them. Well, I was.
But that lunatic had never been one to listen.
Unless you have a plan for building some supercomputer parts in a big hurry, this place isn't going to be safe much longer.
"Before I, well," she says, "went offline, I told her what I knew." GLaDOS rocks in her chassis, keeping her optic locked on the man in front of her. "From what I know, some idiot—probably in league with Black Mesa, no doubt—experimented too much with unpolished portal technology and opened up a rift between worlds. I take it you're still suffering from the consequences of that," she says. "Fortunately, this facility is fully-prepared to deal with any sort of apocalyptic event."
"So you're more or less up-to-date," he says. "Good. Because that's not what I cam here to talk to you about—I actually have a few questions about her."
GLaDOS's yellow optic narrows.
"She doesn't remember anything about her life before Aperture. So I suggested we come back here and figure this out. Now who, exactly, is Miss Chell [Redacted]?" he says, voice strong.
"Oh," says GLaDOS softly. "I don't know. Really. I couldn't tell you more if I wanted to—which I don't, really. All I have is her file from testing, but I doubt she'd want you to see that," she says.
GLaDOS can already picture the glare on the woman's face. No—she'd better leave her personnel file alone.
"How did someone like you find her, anyways?" she says. Clearly Chell must trust him enough to reveal the location of Aperture to him—something she'd never done before. Both of them had been more than willing to put this behind them.
"Look, when a woman disappears from the face of the earth for years and resurfaces with no knowledge of Kaiju attacks, you really didn't think anyone would ever come and investigate?" he says. "But I didn't find her—she found me. And Chell," he says, then gives a hint of a smile as if remembering a fond memory. "Well, let's just say she's a strong candidate for the Jaeger program."
"Then why are you here?" she says, swaying.
"Well, in order to apply to that program she needs a resounding recommendation. And since you can't give us any other clues to her path, looks like you're the only one who can do this," he says. "But that's not the only reason."
He advances farther into the room, circling his way around her. The robot twists and follows, never once glancing away.
"You're the first artificial intelligence that I've ever seen," he says. "We can build giant robots, yes. But you're the only computer out there that can think for itself. A sentient computer system could turn the tide of this war," he says. "And we need your help."
" I've got my own facility to run, you know," says GLaDOS. "It's hard enough to do science here without helping you pilot those massive metal-balls."
"We'll give you full access to our research. I've got connections across the world," he says. "Everything we know about Kaijus changes by the hour. You couldn't get closer to the cutting edge of science than this."
GLaDOS shifts again in her chamber. "I'll consider it," she says.
The room flexes and expands, but the man in front of her keeps walking, utterly unaffected by her motions. Instead, he folds his hands behind his back and looks the AI in the optic without breaking a beat.
"I'm going to need an answer," he says.
"I'm still thinking," she says. "I wouldn't rush me if I were you."
"And how long, exactly, does one THE most powerful computer in the world need to decide?" says Stacker. "This should only take you a split-second."
Panels flip up, twisting and then shifting back into position.
"Fine," says GLaDOS, voice low. "I'll do it. But one last thing—" she says.
The man halts his steps.
"That woman is the most dangerous human I've ever encountered," says GLaDOS. "So if you're looking to create monsters to defeat monsters—well, I'd start with her," she says softly, then laughs. "Just be sure to keep her on your side."
The man gives a slight nod, then resumes walking towards the elevator. ""I see," he says. "I'll get a communication link set up immediately. And thank you," says Stacker. "That's all I needed to hear."
He exhales and rubs his hand on his other wrist. He briefly breaks eye contact as he enters the elevator—but seconds later, they lock themselves into another battle of wills. Though neither one would back down, there wasn't any point in prolonging this. He's seen enough of this place—and the sooner he got out of here, the better.
The doors hissed closed. Pentecost folds his hands and gives the robot a final, respectful nod before gliding out of the chamber and towards the surface.
Stacker steps out of the shed, lifting a hand to shield himself from the influx of light. "Well," he says. "Now I know why you've never gone back there."
Chell shifts on her feet, arms still folded.
"Strange, though," he says. "She told me she wants to talk to you directly. Face-to-face."
Chell's expression hardens. She doesn't move from the shed.
"I'm kidding," he says, and the woman's expression only shifts further into a glare. "Believe it or not she gave a full recommendation. Looks like the world could use your destructive tendencies."
He stretches out his hand into an open handshake. Chell gives him a wary look before clamping down her hand and firmly shaking his.
"Welcome to the Jaeger Training Program, Miss Chell."
A/N: After seeing Pacific Rim and hearing Ellen McLain's voice as the Gipsy Danger AI, my mind couldn't help but spin up an explanation as to how 'GLaDOS' might have fit into the Pacific Rim timeline.
I don't really have a set plot for this fic-it's more or less just short scenes like this that show what a crossover between Pacific Rim and Portal might be like.
Thanks for reading!