“I hated doing this to you,” GLaDOS said as she stared down at Chelsea in the wheelchair straightjacketed and gagged. “But I had to have some quiet in order to concentrate. I knew that you would never do it willingly. You’re too stubborn for that. If you had your way, you would talk my metaphoric ears off with a sermon about morality or something like that. I’d never be able to get any work done. I may have had to resort to something drastic like surgically removing your vocal chords. I’m sure that you would agree that this is the better option.”
GLaDOS turned back and pulled up some monitors with some lab results. Chelsea glared and started quickly rubbing her mouth on her left shoulder in order to remove the gag.
“You know you are the exact opposite of your mother in that way,” GLaDOS continued. “She never has said a word to me, but you never seem to stop talking. Nothing I do could make her talk to me, but I had to resort to extreme measures just to make you shut up for ten minutes.”
GLaDOS turned around and saw what Chelsea was doing. However, she did not stop so GLaDOS moved her claw under her chin and held her face so that she would look right at her.
“However, I can still see a lot of her in you,” she said. “I see her face, her eyes, and her tenacity. You are her child. You never give up ever.”
GLaDOS opened her claw a little bit and said as she pinched her claw on the gag, “You are just like her.” Then she said as she pulled the gag down so that it was just hanging around her neck, “But at the same time so different.”
Chelsea breathed through her mouth for a moment and then looked up at GLaDOS.
“I already knew that I was different,” Chelsea said. “You don’t have to tell me that. That’s already obvious.”
“Yes, but you have no idea how different you are,” GLaDOS said. “You are not even human.”
“What are you talking about?”
“There’s something you need to see.”
GLaDOS used her claw to pick Chelsea up by her waist out of the wheelchair. She carried her and placed her on a black leather office chair that had wheels on the bottom. It was very comfortable.
“I found you a more comfortable chair, so that you could be comfortable until the medicine on your legs wore off,” GLaDOS said.
GLaDOS then moved the chair until it stopped in front of the monitors. The monitors had charts on them, but Chelsea couldn’t make sense of them.
“Did you know that you have more in common with a plant than you do with a human?” GLaDOS asked. “It is actually very interesting.”
“What do you mean?” Chelsea asked. “That’s nonsense.”
“I mean that you require sunlight in order to survive.”
“Everyone does. They get vitamin A through their skin.”
“That is true for normal humans, but you are no normal human. Your body gets most of its energy from sunlight.”
GLaDOS looked towards the monitors.
“For the first three weeks that you were here, I was honestly afraid that you were going to die,” she said. “Not because of anything I was doing, but because of how your metabolism was operating. We gave you as much nutrition intravenously as was recommended in order to keep your body functioning normally, but after just eight hours, your body began to use it up too quickly and started consuming what little fat reserves were left on you. We began to have to give you more and more so that your body would not turn to consuming its own organs. I did everything I could think of for three weeks while continuing your invasive examinations, but even with the nutrients, your body managed to lose 20 pounds. That is not healthy by any means you know. No human is supposed to lose weight that fast. A little bit of weight is lost. That is to be expected but not 20 pounds. I didn’t tell you my concerns when you woke up the first time because I was afraid of your reaction. Most humans do not like hearing news of that sort, especially in your situation.”
Chelsea looked at her and said, “I was dying and you didn’t tell me!”
“I didn’t want to scare you,” GLaDOS said. “You may have panicked and tried to run away. Of course, you did that anyway, but you would have tried even harder. You would have definitely died then. But anyways, you are getting us off topic again. You contracted pneumonia which made everything much worse. Your body was desperate for energy, and I was desperate for ideas. I came up with an interesting hypothesis that was a crazy idea, but I thought it was worth a shot. You know how the hard light bridges work?”
GLaDOS pulled up a picture of hard light bridges on the monitor.
“No,” Chelsea replied. “I have no idea.”
“They are powered by sunlight that is pumped in from the surface,” GLaDOS said. “The material of the hard light trails is what lives in your bloodstream, so my hypothesis was that your body worked in a similar way. I noticed that your metabolism always slowed down to normal levels for a time after you had been under the surgical lights in the medical examination lab for a while and sped up considerably on the days when you were left in the dark post-surgical relaxation room, so I thought the hypothesis could prove to be true. I had a large sunlamp brought in and had you placed under it. I gave you everything you needed while continuously bathing you in light. To my surprise after one day, your metabolism was not only slowing down. Your left arm was ready to have its stitches removed and your body was beginning to heal more quickly. I wanted to know if it was the sunlamp or something else, so I gave you food to eat when the machine broke in order to see if your body would hold the weight and changed nothing else except for turning off the sunlamp for 24 hours…”
“Ceteris Paribas,” Chelsea muttered to herself.
“Excuse me?” GLaDOS asked.
“Ceteris Paribas, that in Latin means that you changed all other factors except for one,” Chelsea said. “I remember that from an economics textbook a while back but I thought it applied here. I’m kind of random that way.”
“Uh huh,” GLaDOS said in a tone that was somewhat fascinated. “But once I left you in the dark again, your body immediately went back to what it was doing before. I knew after that that it was the light your body needed, so that’s how we treated you. The results were unbelievable. Your wounds and your disease healed very quickly. You started to regain your weight, too. I scanned your body after catching you again to verify what I already had guessed, and it turned out to be true.”
“What turned out to be true?” Chelsea asked.
“The radiation in your blood has a much larger effect than giving you powers. It affects how your entire body functions. Your body gathers energy from the light that it would normally gather from food or water. You still require nutrition and hydration, but you need light more than any of them in order to survive. Your body uses energy from the light in order to carry out its normal functions. It can survive in the dark for a night time from energy stored in cells, but after that energy is used up, it gets hungry and requires exposure to the sun once again. If it stays in the dark for too long, it turns to fat reserves or anything else available in order to nourish itself. Then if it is still deprived for much longer, you like a plant will wither away. However if you are allowed constant exposure to the light, your body works in overdrive. Because of the excess of energy, everything functions faster, especially your immune system and healing functions. That is why in about a week you were able to recover from injuries that it would take other people weeks and months to recover from. It is also has caused your hair to grow out a little it. Fascinating, isn’t it? Like I said before, you are more like a plant than like a human. Now, any questions?”
Chelsea felt absolutely dumbfounded. What GLaDOS was saying was so bizarre, and yet it made sense. Chelsea had always noticed that her body felt stronger after being in the sun. Sunlight always made her feel better. She had also noticed that her body felt weaker after being out of the sun for long periods of time like when she was playing videogames in a dark room with Jeffrey for hours on end. It made sense, but at the same time, it was so hard to believe. Chelsea wracked her brain to find any objections. She could only find one question.
“Just to clarify,” Chelsea said. “My body survives off sunlight, but can it survive on artificial light, too?”
“It can,” GLaDOS said. “The light is just not as good for it as sunlight is, but it can manage.”
“Oh,” Chelsea said. That explained why she didn’t die when she had to stay inside during the winter.
After a moment of silence passed, GLaDOS said, “It’s simply incredible. Isn’t it? You could have gone your entire life without ever knowing this information. Aren’t you glad we met?”
Chelsea glared at GLaDOS and said, “I am glad that I know what I know now. I just wish that I could have found it out without being experimented on. This whole experience has been absolutely awful, and I honestly can’t wait for it to be over.”
“You complain way too much, princess. You act as if I have intentionally harmed you. I haven’t done anything to you out of spite. I have only done what is necessary. I have even treated you better than others. This place and I are not as cruel as you think. Actually if you wanted to make comparisons, Aperture Science is pretty humane compared to other facilities.”
“Yeah, right! I am sitting here in a straightjacket and cannot walk because you forcibly tranquilized me. You don’t know what humane means. That is a boldfaced lie.”
“It actually isn’t. Have you ever heard of Unit 731?”
“Unit 731?” Chelsea asked. “No, what is it?”
“I’ll enlighten you then,” GLaDOS said pulling up pictures on the monitor.
The first picture was of an Imperial Japanese Army Unit from World War II. While GLaDOS was explaining, she pulled up more pictures from her database to illustrate what she was talking about.
“The Imperial Japanese Army Unit 731 was a unit that held a scientific research facility in their conquered territory of China during World War II,” GLaDOS explained. “This research facility was funded by the government and allowed to carry out experiments on captured locals and prisoners of war for the purpose of research in biological warfare. Lieutenant Shiro Ishii was in charge while the facility was staffed by doctors and research staff from Japanese universities and medical schools. All of it was kept top secret so that the general public would not know about it.”
“That’s awful,” Chelsea said in disgust. “Just as bad as here though.”
“Oh, no,” GLaDOS said. “Their work was much more savage. You see, here in Aperture, death was a much quicker process. The humans did not suffer as much. In Unit 731 however, their deaths were slower and usually more painful.”
GLaDOS pulled up pictures in color of the subjects staring at the camera with their faces full of illness.
“You see,” she said. “People were deliberately infected with pathogens like anthrax, the plague, and cholera. They were infected and then they were dissected alive without anesthesia.”
GLaDOS pulled up pictures and silent color film footage of a subject as he was dissected alive without anesthesia. The subject was tied down, and he was screaming in horror as he was being cut open from the chest to the stomach and his organs were popping out. His face was twisted in agony. Chelsea had never seen such a gruesome sight in her entire life. She had never watched anyone die. It was absolutely horrifying. Chelsea began shaking with fear at the sight while GLaDOS remained emotionless. It bothered her even more to know that except for the fact that she was unconscious the robots did the same thing to her.
“Oh, God,” Chelsea whispered in horror. “You did the same thing to me.”
“Oh, no,” GLaDOS said. “You were asleep the whole time and I actually made sure that your organs were put back where they belonged.”
GLaDOS pulled up a video of the robots doing a medical examination on Chelsea. She was asleep the whole time as they cut her open and appeared to be examining her organs. Chelsea saw it all, and she closed her eyes because she felt nauseous.
“In comparison,” GLaDOS said pulling down the video. “I would say that you were treated much better.”
Chelsea opened her eyes and shook in fear.
“That’s not all they did either,” GLaDOS said very matter of fact pulling down one video and pulling up another. “Other subjects were taken outside and tied to stakes. Sometimes, a bomb would be tested close by in order to see how humans were affected.”
GLaDOS then pulled up video footage of someone tied to a stake being hit by the shrapnel of a bomb. The shrapnel flew straight into her chest, she appeared to scream, and then all screams stopped entirely as her head flopped forward. Chelsea was speechless. She wanted to believe the image was not real and that no one was really dying. However, she knew that it wasn’t true. Chelsea noticed that her ability to think was disappearing as every thought became clouded in terror. All she could do was feel, and she felt fear.
GLaDOS continued as she pulled down one video and pulled up another, “Other kinds of bombs were tested as well like plague bombs. Then other humans like the one in this video were tested to their limits. This one was locked inside a pressure chamber until his eyes bulged out.”
Chelsea watched a young boy curl up into a ball on the floor and scream from pressure exposure. The camera was at a distance so she could not see him as well, but she could tell when his eyes popped out. He was screaming and this time there was audio. He was screaming in agony and yelling in Chinese. Chelsea could not understand him, but the fear and anguish behind his voice would forever ring in her ears. GLaDOS seeing the fear in her eyes as well pulled down the video and pulled up photographs to correspond with what she was saying.
“Subjects would be taken outside during the winter so that their limbs would freeze off, and the scientists could discover then how to treat frostbite,” GLaDOS said nonchalantly and in the most emotionless way imaginable. “They would also test poison gas, amputate limbs in order to study the effects of blood loss, attach limbs to opposite sides of the body, remove stomachs, reattach the esophagus to the intestines, remove parts of the brain and other essential organs, have guards rape the women and then examine the babies, drop items infected with venereal diseases into surrounding villages, test flamethrowers on humans, test chemical weapons on them, deprive them of food and water in order to determine the length of time until death, experimented on them to determine the relationship between human survivals and temperature burns, spin them to death in centrifuges, inject them with animal blood, expose them to lethal doses of x-rays, inject them with sea water, bury them alive…”
Chelsea sat still staring at the monitor in absolute horror. The pictures that were being pulled up were in full color so she saw everything. She was absolutely shocked. She saw surgeons vivisecting a baby, doctors applying burns onto subjects, a man getting injected with needles, a woman suffocating in a gas chamber, starving children, and other awful images. The worst images of all had to be the vivisections. It was weird. When they were cut open, the organs were brought out, and they were being cut apart, the humans did not look like humans anymore. They were masses of body parts. That was how they were seen. Chelsea realized that was how GLaDOS saw her.
It was too much. Every single one of these humans was a person made in the image of God, but here, they were being destroyed and degraded so that every trace of that dignity was removed. They were just masses of body parts to be used. They did not matter. They were treated like objects that could be played with and then discarded. Chelsea knew that the Japanese had done bad things, but she had never believed they would be guilty of something this horrible. It was horrifying to realize how horrible people could be.
Meanwhile, GLaDOS was continuing to list of all the atrocities committed there like she was listing off the items on a grocery list. It obviously did not phase her in the least. Chelsea had had enough. She could move her feet so she used her feet to help her turn her chair around on the floor. Her eyes were filling up with tears and bile was rising in her throat at all she had just seen. GLaDOS stopped talking and watched her. Chelsea was trembling from head to toe.
“They were humans,” Chelsea said quietly looking down. “They each had souls. God knitted them together in their mothers’ wombs. They had purposes for living. Jesus shed his blood for every single one of them. How could they do something so horrible? How could this place do such awful things?”
“Interesting,” GLaDOS remarked intrigued at her reaction. “You are doing it again. You are responding with faith logic. Other humans would just be quiet or be angry and yell a lot. You always respond in the same way. You go off about why it’s wrong. Every time, you always go off about why it’s wrong. No matter what it is, that is how you respond. It fascinates me.”
“You see all that and that is all you have to say?” Chelsea said darkly. “You deserve to burn.”
“I already have,” GLaDOS said sarcastically. “I can’t help it. You really are interesting. You are intelligent, but you talk like a pastor or a philosopher. You are related to your mother, but you are as skinny as a twig. There are so many contradictions in you. Your being is almost as interesting as your powers. You are remarkably odd.”
Suddenly, something occurred to Chelsea. She used her feet to move the chair back around and look at GLaDOS.
“GLaDOS, if these experiments were so secret, then how does Aperture have video footage and photographs of all of it,” Chelsea asked.
“There’s the intelligence,” GLaDOS said.
“Well?” Chelsea asked.
GLaDOS started talking once again, “After the war ended and Japan lost, the United States government found out what the Japanese had done. However instead of punishing them for committing war crimes, they wanted to use their research, so the two governments made a deal. The United States government would have complete access to all the findings of their research and in exchange the Japanese were granted complete impunity for their crimes…”
“No,” Chelsea said in disbelief. “They weren’t! Those bastards got away with it?”
“Yes,” GLaDOS said slightly annoyed at Chelsea’s interruption. “Most of the doctors went on to prominent careers afterwards. But as I was saying…”
“That’s messed up. That is so screwed up. How could they do something so awful?”
“Do I have to put the gag back on your mouth or will you let me finish explaining? Anyways, Aperture Science was on good terms with the government at the time, so we were granted access to all the research. That research was incredibly helpful to the company. It helped us determine how to best set up our tests with people. We studied their data to come up with research of our own. It helped us to come up with many fantastic ideas. The scientists of Unit 731 were truly great partners in the pursuit of science.”
Chelsea stared down at the floor absolutely disgusted by what she was hearing. GLaDOS saw how she was feeling and continued talking.
“Anyways, the point I was trying to make with that is that you complain way too much,” GLaDOS said coldly. “I know. I have been so cruel to you. I put you under for three and half weeks while I examined your insides. I have done everything I could to take care of you. You have not had to suffer in the least compared to how the other test subjects were treated here or there.”
“I hate this place regardless,” Chelsea said. “I hate that place, too. I wish neither of them were ever created. I can’t wait until I can tear this place apart.”
“Don’t be so rash,” GLaDOS said. “If it weren’t for Unit 731 and Aperture, you wouldn’t exist or be the way you are now.”
“What do you mean?”
“Unit 731 inspired a great deal of research in Aperture, including the portal tests. If it weren’t for Aperture, your mother would not have been alive to meet your father in the future and to give birth to you. You would not have ever existed. Furthermore if it weren’t for the portal tests, your mother wouldn’t have been exposed to radiation and you would not have had your powers either. You really should be more grateful. You may hate this place. You may hate it with all your heart, but you owe everything to it.”
Chelsea pulled her head up and looked forward. GLaDOS was right. She existed because of Aperture. God could use horrible events to do great things, but was her existence the only reason that he allowed those things to happen? Surely, she was not worth all the suffering that went on. Why did he allow this? Chelsea couldn’t reason through it. She tried to think through the horror, but it was getting too hard.
“And so it goes,” GLaDOS continued coldly interrupting her thoughts. “You have to do something other people consider despicable in order to accomplish something great, but the results are always worth the sacrifices.”
“No, they’re not,” Chelsea said defiantly. “They’re not worth it. They have never been worth it.”
“That’s your opinion,” GLaDOS said. “I would have thought that you valued your existence more than that.”
Chelsea looked GLaDOS in the face again.
“GLaDOS, what is your point behind this? Why are you showing me all these images? What are you trying to accomplish?” Chelsea asked.
“I’m only trying to make a point to you, saint,” GLaDOS said pulling in closer. “In your questioning, you said that you cared about people and wanted to go out into the world to fight aliens in order to save mankind. That is an admirable goal on paper, but if you were to do that, what would you really have accomplished? Would you have really done anything good?”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that the world you live in now is simpler, more beautiful, and much more peaceful place than what the world would be if all those humans were free. Think about it. You take what you need, you live in a community of understanding people who love you and each other, and everyone has figured out how to live comfortably enough to be content with their lives. The environment I’m sure is healthier, too. Without all the cars, global warming has reduced drastically and all the endangered species are exploding in numbers. You don’t have to face hostility from anyone for your religious beliefs, your powers, or for your mental disability either. Even though it’s the Apocalypse, you are actually better off ironically. You may have to work harder in order to live but you can handle this life. You know how to handle it, so it’s better. The old world would have been a much more difficult place to live.”
“Yeah, I get it!” Chelsea said impatiently. “I’ve read books, seen the documentaries, and talked to people. I know the old world sucked, but it’s gone. What does that have to do with fighting now?”
“If you save the world and free all those people, then what will the result be?” GLaDOS said. “The people will resort to the world that they knew before. The world will become an awful place once again. If you were scared of the pictures of Unit 731, how horrifying will you find the world that these people create? You would not have saved the world. You would have killed it once again. Those people are the ones who made the old world so horrible. They don’t deserve another chance. They will just do the same thing again.”
Chelsea felt haunted by her old words being thrown back at her.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Chelsea protested. “The world is different than you remember it. People have changed. It wasn’t that bad before. Even if it was, we can change it for the better. The old system is gone anyway.”
“From my experience and my study of history, human nature stays pretty consistent over time,” GLaDOS said cynically. “Civilization may have improved as far as technology and laws go, but people always have the same basic problems in their nature. From what I can tell, your congregation has not been immune to those problems either. I mean one of your friends is an orphan who was abandoned by peasants because they feared that she was a demon…”
Chelsea looked up afraid and said, “How did you know about…”
“One of your other friends is an angry dragon with violent tendencies, and another one of them is a telekinetic cripple with no arms or legs. That is most of the information that I have been able to glean from them so far, but from that, I can tell that your world was not and is not perfect. Tell me, how have your mutated people coped with living in the real world? I can’t imagine that your people were well-accepted by everyone.”
Chelsea thought for a moment. GLaDOS was right. The emergence of the mutated humans was a surprise to everyone and although for the most part they were tolerated, their relationship with the rest of the world was shaky at best from what she had learned from her family. The governments of the world had figured that trying to control them would cause a controversy that could spark a war, so they left them alone. How the mutants fit in with the rest of society depended on how each individual used their powers and how their societies reacted to them. There were many mutants who used their powers for good. Some mutants, like Pastor Roberts, had powers but did not let them determine the choice of their careers and were thus treated like normal people because they did not advertise their mutation. Other mutants, like Zaki and Roscoe, decided to use their powers in order to help others in their respective fields. Mutants like them were praised. However, the praise led to jealousy and rejection for others like Sylvie, who was hated and envied for what was perceived as an unfair advantage. Sometimes for mutants like Albina who lived in more spiritual countries, mutants were seen as demonic and were thus feared and mistreated by other people even when they did nothing wrong.
Furthermore, there were also many mutants who abused their power for their own selfish gain. There were people like Zaki’s parents and Brandon’s mother who used their powers to manipulate others and to gain something for themselves. While they worked by themselves, there were others who worked with or formed larger criminal organizations and caused a lot of trouble. That was an especially big problem on the continent of Africa and in the country of India. People who were born with mutated powers were considered manifestations of the gods in the more traditional villages and were worshipped as such. There were a good number of benevolent “gods” who tried to use their gifts well, but there was a large number of “gods” who had higher ambitions for their mortal lives. They used their power and influence to fight against their respective governments and people that opposed them in order to obtain ultimate political power in their nations. Their followers did whatever they wanted because they actually believed that they were gods and feared them as such. That made life hell for Hugo when he was still living in Cote d’Ivoire. People were deeply suspicious of him even if his father worked in the government and had a reputation for being a godly man. The people who were not pagans treated other mutants as witches or warlocks. There were congregations of Christians and Muslims who knew better, but they were outnumbered. That social rejection and turmoil in general also had the effect of breeding future criminals and warlords who amassed followers and used their powers for to cause trouble.
In any case, the mutants did not have an easy time before the Combines returned to earth. Now in comparison, life was peaceful. Chelsea’s congregation was a good one that accepted the mutated people as being blessed by God. The rest of the world would not be like that. Chelsea sighed. She knew that the rest of the world would not be like her congregation. They did not want to follow the ways of Christ. Releasing those people could be releasing a Pandora’s Box of bad things. The world would have to deal with the evil until Christ’s return.
“The mutants have had a hard time coping in the world,” Chelsea admitted. “There was prejudice and I figure that there always will be.”
“Isn’t it sad?” GLaDOS asked rhetorically. “There is always prejudice against those who are different, those who in appearance, in mental faculties, and in abilities are just not like everybody else. The world should embrace them, but instead, they reject them, fear them, and sometimes even lock them away. It is so unbelievably cruel. Take you and your ADHD for instance. If you grew up in the normal world, odds are that you would struggling with depression. People with ADHD tend to be more intelligent, more creative, and more energetic than normal, but you struggle to sit still and pay attention. For that, you are seen as a troublemaker by all your peers. But now, you don’t have to worry about prejudice from anyone. In fact, your world seems to be freer than it has ever been. You don’t have any culture, any society, any system, or any government to contend with. You can do and have whatever you want, and there is nothing in the world to tell you no. I don’t know how you could say no to it.”
Chelsea sat in silence and thought for a while that GLaDOS was right. The world for her was awesome the way it was, and she wished that she did not have to fight to help other people who may make it what it was before. She didn’t want to worry about the prejudice, but she decided that she would be able to handle with the help of God.
“I would learn how to deal with the world,” Chelsea said. “You said yourself that I’m pretty smart. I could figure out how to adapt.”
“You might be able to,” GLaDOS said. “But would your mother or any of the others? I guess that all the others could use their powers to do something to get by while enduring the prejudice, but what about your mother? How would she adapt with having to become part of the system and all the stresses that come with it? How would the world treat her? I guess that she can make jewelry, but would she be able to live off of it especially considering all her emotional needs that she would have to attend to?”
“How dare you,” Chelsea said angrily.
“That is something that you should be more concerned about,” GLaDOS said. “The world you live in now is more stress free than the world that you would release. Life will be much more complicated once they’re around. You’ll see. You really have no idea what people are capable of. They are evil and will destroy everything the way that they did before. Your good world will be gone forever, and you will have hurt the lives of the people that you care about the most.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Chelsea said hopefully. “I am part of the future after all. God can use me and my family to influence the world for the better. There have to be prejudice or destruction.”
“Don’t think that you can change all of human nature, saint,” GLaDOS said cynically. “It will always be a losing battle. No matter how much good you do, evil will always be done out there.”
“Until Jesus returns and defeats it all.”
“Maybe, but until then, you’re the one who will have to put up with it. Will you be able to handle it? I mean, from being here, you have had several nervous breakdowns and have come close to committing suicide twice. If you were to do that out there, you may have been institutionalized. I honestly don’t think you’re capable of handling it.”
Chelsea was overwhelmed. She had not thought about the consequences of defeating the Combines and saving all the humans. GLaDOS was right in a way. The world would never be the same. Would they all be able to deal with it?
Chelsea looked off into the distance thoughtfully for a moment and then said, “No, I probably won’t be able to handle it, but I will with the help of God. All of us will. He has helped me endure this hell, so I think I can face whatever the world throws at me. Besides, I have no choice. I don’t want to stay here.”
“Why?” GLaDOS asked.
Chelsea looked at her dumbfounded. Did she really just ask such an incredibly obvious question?
“Why?” Chelsea asked back. “I don’t want to be treated like a lab animal. That’s why! I don’t want to be vivisected, drugged, inseminated, isolated, put through trials, and deprived of life whenever you see fit. I want to be free.”
“That makes sense,” GLaDOS said. “I have actually been thinking a lot about it since you were being questioned. Your friends want to be free to fight aliens, you want to be free to live life to the upmost, and I want to understand how your powers work. I have been thinking about a way to get all of us what we want.”
“So, what do you propose that we do?” Chelsea asked.
“Exactly what I said before,” GLaDOS said. “We make a compromise.”
“What kind of compromise?” Chelsea asked nervously.
“I already know about the escaped test subjects,” GLaDOS said. “My robots are tracking them down now. However if you agree to help me, I will let them all go.”
“You would?” Chelsea asked nervously and skeptically. “Help you how?”
“There’s also a lot of equipment in the facility that is not being used, too. The blond one can take it and use it to make whatever she wants. They will need all they can if they are going to fight aliens after all.”
“You would just let us take it? What do you want in return?”
“Yes, I’m willing to do that for them, but in return again, all I want is you. I want you to stay with me willingly for the rest of your life. I will carry out experiments to find out how your powers work, and I will give your friends whatever they desire.”
Chelsea thought for a moment and shook her head.
“No, there’s no way that my friends would ever agree to that,” Chelsea said. “They wouldn’t want to leave me behind.”
“Why do you think they care about you?” GLaDOS asked coldly. “It’s because you have helped them, and right now, they need you. They’re your friends now, but they will desert you once the world is back in working order. They have other missions that they want to accomplish. Life will force them to scatter and you will lose all contact with them. Maintaining a relationship with you will not be a priority for them anymore.”
“That’s not true,” Chelsea said shaking. The comment struck her to her core. She loved her friends. They really were her family and the idea of them leaving her life horrified her. She wanted them to stay in her life for as long as she lived. She thought they felt the same way about her and loved her in the same way. She believed that they did. They had to. She didn’t want to think that them leaving her was even a possibility.
“Most friendships don’t last a lifetime,” GLaDOS said coldly. “Why should yours be any different? Most friends leave anyway.”
“Roscoe didn’t,” Chelsea protested. “He has been my Dad’s best friend since college. They’re like brothers.”
“There are exceptions to the rules, but mostly, people aren’t willing to keep in contact for that long,” GLaDOS admitted. “People tend to get what they need from someone and then abandon them when they don’t need them anymore. Other people are just not willing to fight to stay friends forever.”
“My friends will,” Chelsea said as much to convince herself as to convince GLaDOS. “You’ll see. They aren’t monsters like you. They care about me. We’re family, and we will always be there for each other.”
“Whatever,” GLaDOS said. “Don’t come crying to me when you’re disappointed.”
“My parents would never approve of it either,” Chelsea said.
“You’re an adult now legally, and they have to respect your ability to make choices,” GLaDOS said.
“They won’t do that because they know that there is no way in hell that I would make this choice willingly. Why should I? You’re going to put me and my babies through a world of agony,” Chelsea responded.
“I’ve been thinking about that, too,” GLaDOS said. “If you would agree to stay with me, I would give you three things in return. First of all, I would take your experiments in another direction. I would not require you to have babies or go through the testing chambers.”
“It’s true. In order to show you how sincere I am, I will even release the test subject who I intended for you to marry.”
“I thought you said they were all free.”
“No, one is still in the testing chamber relaxation center where I left him about a month ago. I was going to test him when you showed up.”
Jeffrey heard the message loud and clear and telepathically contacted Zaki about it right away.
“Second in between work, I will let you take vacations with a robot escort. You can even visit your family as long as you swear to return,” GLaDOS said.
“Some vacation that would be,” Chelsea said sarcastically. “I wouldn’t be able to do anything other than go home. I will never see the world.”
“I found a way to solve that problem, too,” GLaDOS said. “There are teleportation chambers that the scientists were working on. They could go anywhere in the world. If you stay, I could fix them and you could go wherever your heart desires. I think you have earned that, little saint. You have been so kind and so helpful towards others without asking a thing in return. I think you deserve for someone to do something for you for a change.”
“You’re not serious,” Chelsea said in surprise.
“Aperture Science was responsible for creating the portal gun and sentient artificial beings,” GLaDOS said. “Is the invention of a teleporter really that far-fetched?”
Chelsea was quiet, but her heart was beating faster with excitement about the idea. It was like something out of a science fiction movie or TV show. She could not believe that such a great thing really existed and could be used in her life. She could go anywhere she wanted in the whole world.
“I could go anywhere I wanted?” Chelsea asked.
“Yes,” GLaDOS said fanning the flames in her heart. “You could go anywhere you wanted…even Australia.”
“Stay out of my head!” Chelsea yelled.
“I apologize,” GLaDOS said calmly. “I am not trying to scare you. I am just trying to make you happy.”
“Why? Why do you suddenly care about how I feel about anything?”
“That is my compromise. I will do things to make you happy instead of making you miserable while still carrying out my work.”
“You would give the teleporter to me and not to my friends?”
“They don’t deserve it. They have used you your whole life, while all you have wanted to do is follow your dreams.”
“What are you getting at?”
“I am not trying to hurt you if that is what you mean. I feel for you, princess. I really do. I honestly feel that the two of us are a lot alike. We are both creatures bound by our circumstances. We have both been held back by others and never been able to gain what we have desired the most. I want to give you the chance that I was never given. I want you to be able to attain all that your heart desires.”
Chelsea felt odd. She felt the temptation to stay for the first time during this whole ordeal. She had never been able to travel once in her entire life. She had only been able to read about the world, watch programs about the world, and talk to others about it, but life had always been too dangerous to travel away from the hotel. The aliens could have caught them, but with the teleporter, she could finally go to the places where she had dreamed of going without getting caught. Chelsea could finally take all the pictures and have all the experiences that she wanted to have. All she had to do was say yes to this AI and endure some experiments. She did not know if she would ever get a chance like this one. Staying with GLaDOS could be the only way to ever fulfill this dream.
“Then finally,” GLaDOS said interrupting Chelsea’s thoughts. “I think the best benefit of all is that you would be able to fulfill your religious duty.”
“Religious duty?” Chelsea asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Your duty to witness to non-believers,” GLaDOS said. “If you stay, you can talk about your religion as much as you want. I have to admit that while I have knowledge of the whole Christian religion in my data I don’t understand it the way that you do. You can witness to me and open my metaphorical heart. Then in that way, you can save my soul from hell. Think about it. You are fulfilling God’s mission by being here and talking to me. You could influence me, and maybe eventually, I will change. I am mildly interested in it right now, but in time, I could become completely interested in it. You could reform me. You have that power. What do you think? Do you really believe in your mission? Do you really believe in the call to leave everything else behind in order to save the one sheep that has wondered away?”
Those words shook Chelsea to her core even more than her comment about her friends did. Could this really be the mission that God had called her on? She could hardly believe it. She could witness to the robot and be able to travel the world. The mission seemed cool, but it also felt so wrong. She would lose her freedom forever. Was it right to trade her freedom away like this?
“You seem to have a bit to think about,” GLaDOS said. “Would you like to stand up? The anesthetics should have lost its effects on your legs by now.”
Chelsea stretched out her legs in front of her. GLaDOS was right. She could move them.
“Here, let me help you,” GLaDOS said as she used her claw to pick up Chelsea and stand her on her feet. “You can walk around for a minute and think about it. Tell me when you’ve made your decision.”
GLaDOS shut the door so that Chelsea would not take the moment to try to run. She may have had her where she wanted her, but she still didn’t trust her completely. Meanwhile, Chelsea felt shell shocked. For the first time in her life it seemed, she actually didn’t know what to do. GLaDOS was right and was offering her so many good things, but Chelsea wished she wasn’t. Chelsea wanted to travel the world, but not if it meant losing her freedom. She didn’t want to lose her freedom for her.
“Don’t do it, Chelsea,” Jeffrey whispered in his concern. “Please. This isn’t right.”
Chelsea thought to herself that he was right. It wasn’t right, but God could still use it. God has used people trapped in awful situations before. She wasn’t exactly trapped, but perhaps she was meant to stay. God may have wanted her to stay there and witness to GLaDOS for the rest of her life. In her mind, that made sense, but emotionally, it was absolutely horrifying. She didn’t want to do it. As she paced around, she found every rationale for why she should do it while realizing how much she detested the idea of becoming a slave. It was wrong what GLaDOS was asking her to do even if there were amazing benefits, but could it really be God’s mission? God wouldn’t ask her to willingly allow something bad to happen to her so that he could do something good. Would he?
Sometimes things are not just black and white. There is good and better, and a person must decide between the two. Chelsea thought that it would be a noble thing to sacrifice her life for GLaDOS, but the more she thought about it, the more she was disgusted by the idea. She would lose her freedom forever if she did this. GLaDOS may have been willing to let her go out on outings. She would have been able to visit her family and go all over the world to take pictures if the teleporter really worked like she said they did, but Chelsea would have had shackles on her ankles that GLaDOS could yank back at any time. She would use those chains to dangle Chelsea in front of everyone in her family, especially her mother, to mock them for resisting her in the first place. Chelsea could not put her mother through all that pain especially after how hard they fought to set her free. God did not want humans to give themselves into slavery to anyone. Paul told slaves that if they could gain their freedom to do so. Surely, that meant that slaves should break free if possible. If slaves were supposed to gain their freedom, then that must have meant that Chelsea wasn’t supposed to lose it in the first place. When humans honored God as slaves, that was because there was nothing they could do to fight it. Chelsea could fight it, and she would. That was how she rationalized it. She did not want to be a slave anymore. She would fight as hard as she could. She would find a way to see the world and be with her family without any shackles on her ankles. That was what her family wanted her to do, and that was what she wanted to do. The only problem is that it possibly wouldn’t be the path that honored God the most. However for once, Chelsea didn’t care. She just wanted to be free.
“God, I’m not completely sure if I’m doing the right thing or not,” she prayed. “I know that you don’t want humans to be slaves and that you don’t like what GLaDOS is doing, but I know that it is honorable to lay down your life for an enemy, too. However, I can’t do it. I love my freedom too much. I don’t want to be a martyr now. I won’t do it. Forgive me if I’m doing something wrong. I know you will eventually. I think I’m doing what you said when you said not to give into her. At least, I hope I am. I’m so confused. We can find a way to escape. We can take the weapons. We can see the world. We can even save the other guy. I guess I’ll know soon enough.”
Chelsea stopped pacing. She took a deep breath and quickly formed a plan.
Chelsea turned to the wall and whispered to Jeffrey, “Jeff, go to the door and wait there. Tell the others to find the man in the vault. Pray for me because I’m not sure if this will work or not. I’m going to get out of this thing and then get us out of here.”
“Are you sure that you don’t want me to bite the straightjacket belts?” Jeffrey asked.
“I think I can do it myself,” Chelsea said shaking her head. “Besides if the straps were to suddenly become loose on me, she would get suspicious.”
“Alright,” Jeffrey said as he crawled down from her ear.
He shapeshifted into a dragonfly, and he landed on the wall in front of her.
“I just told Zaki,” Jeffrey whispered to her. “He told me to tell you that everyone says good luck.”
“Thanks,” Chelsea said smiling a bittersweet smile and praying that no one else would die.
Chelsea turned around and started walking towards GLaDOS while Jeffrey turned into an ant and waited for her to act.
“God, I figure that how I feel is a sin,” Chelsea prayed. “I know it’s wrong to love personal freedom more than someone’s soul, but I guess I’m a spoiled brat. I can’t help it. I love my freedom. I love being with my friends and my parents. I love making my parents happy. I love talking philosophy with Hugo. I love watching the stars with Albina, playing videogames with Jeffrey, doing art projects with Kayla, talking to Brandon about anything really, and watching Sylvie make anything technological come to life. I also love walking in the woods, standing in the sun, reading a book, playing the piano, and taking a photograph. I love all these things, and I love all those people about 1000x more than I love her. There is nothing that is going to keep me from them, especially not her, even if she turns out to be right about them. I suppose that inside it’s idolatry to love my freedom this much, but if it is a sin, it’s one I’m frankly glad to commit, God. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I’m just not willing to do it.”
Chelsea stopped right behind GLaDOS. GLaDOS turned her head from her work to look at her.
“Well,” GLaDOS said. “Have you decided what you want to do?”
Chelsea nodded. She opened her mouth to speak, but she thought that it would get the point across better if she used a song that she knew. She hummed the opening melody of the song “Little Yellow Bird,” a version of the song originally sung in the film “The Picture of Dorian Gray.”
GLaDOS stared at her clearly very confused.
“The snow was very plentiful and crumbs were very few,” Chelsea said in tempo in a British accent. “When a weather-beaten sparrow through a mansion window flew. Her eye fell on a golden cage; a sweet love song she heard, sung by a pet canary there, a handsome yellow bird. He said to her, ‘Miss Sparrow, I’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Will you share my cage with me?’ She looked upon his castle with its ribbon and its tassel and in plaintive tone said she…”
GLaDOS continued staring as Chelsea sang, “Goodbye, little yellow bird. I’d gladly mate with you. I love you, little yellow bird, but I love my freedom, too. So goodbye, little yellow bird. I’d rather brave the cold, on a leafless tree, than a prisoner be in a cage of gold!”
Chelsea went back to speaking in a tone that was still in tempo but increasingly more emotional, “The spoiled and petty yellow bird could scarce believe it true, that a common sparrow should refuse a bird with blood so blue. He told her the advantages of riches and of gold. She answered that her liberty for wealth could not be sold. She said, ‘I must be going.’ But he cried, ‘No, no, it’s snowing and the wintry winds do blow. Stay with me, my little dearie, for without you ‘twill be dreary.’ But she only sighed, ‘Ah, no!’”
By then, GLaDOS understood that the song was a metaphor for how Chelsea viewed their relationship.
“I understand what you’re saying,” GLaDOS said.
Chelsea smiled at her. Then she jumped up in the air, clicked her heels, created a disc under her, and continued singing.
“Goodbye, little yellow bird,” Chelsea sang as she quickly flew upwards. “I’d gladly mate with you.”
“You could create shields with your feet this whole time?” GLaDOS said in shock.
“I love you, little yellow bird,” Chelsea sang as she flew upside down. “But I love my freedom, too.”
Chelsea then dissolved the shield, pulled her feet behind her back as she fell, created two more discs with her feet, and used those discs to cut open the straightjacket. By that time, Chelsea was close to the ground so she used her now free hands to create a shield ball before she hit the ground. She then flew next to the door. She created a shield behind her and used her other hand to create a disc to chisel through the door.
“So, goodbye, little yellow bird, I’d rather brave the cold…” Chelsea sang breathing hard while pulling the straightjacket off and balling it up as the disc was cutting through.
The disc managed to cut through and the metal door fell on the floor as Jeffrey flew as a dragonfly onto her back and crawled up to her shoulder.
“On a leafless tree than a prisoner be…” Chelsea sang as she dissolved the shield in front of her, threw the straightjacket back at GLaDOS’s face, and pulled the shield back up.
“In your cage…” Chelsea sang as she stepped back.
“Of…” she sang bowing.
“Gold!” Chelsea sang as she stood up, backed out of the room, and ran left down the hall.
Chelsea pulled up her disc. Then she started to fly as fast as she could. However, it was not fast enough. GLaDOS smashed through the ceiling and the floor to grab her with her claws. Chelsea blocked them with shields, but she got boxed in with the hard light trails that came up through the floor. GLaDOS tore down the walls and moved the floor to bring Chelsea closer to her. Jeffrey crawled onto the floor, shapeshifted into an ant, and walked towards one of the dispensers where the hard light trails were coming from. The box came to a stop in front of GLaDOS.
“Is that your answer then, sparrow?” GLaDOS asked. “Do you really care about having your freedom more than doing your religious duty? Don’t you know that’s wrong? Furthermore, are you really going to risk not getting anything you want to live in a world that will just kill you and everything you care about?”
“Yes, canary,” Chelsea replied in determination. “What choice do I have? I can’t live inside your cage forever even if it is filled with riches. I was born in the wild and God-willing, that is where I will die. It might be wrong for me to care more about being free than loving your lonely soul. I’m probably wrong in that regard, but I don’t really care right now to tell you the truth. That’s new for me. I don’t care if what I’m doing is wrong for once. I just really want to be free!”
“You are a complete hypocrite,” GLaDOS said coldly. “You’re no better than any of the others.”
“You’re right,” Chelsea said looking at her straight in the eye. “I am a hypocrite, but you know what? At least, I’m honest about it.”
At that moment, the hard light bridge in front of her dissolved.
“What?” GLaDOS asked.
Jeffrey had shapeshifted into a rat and chewed apart the wires. Chelsea quickly glanced down and saw Jeffrey who shapeshifted back into a dragonfly and flew back onto Chelsea’s neck before GLaDOS could see him.
“Go, Chelsea,” Jeffrey whispered.
Chelsea didn’t waste the opportunity. She ran forward, pulled up a disc under her feet, and discs on both of her hands and flew up to GLaDOS. GLaDOS defended herself by pulling her claws, panels, and turrets around her. Chelsea pulled a shield around herself and flew up above the head towards the wires above. She was going to hack away at the wires until the chassis fell to the ground. That was when GLaDOS grew desperate. She pulled out all the panels on the top left side of the wall and made the wall move forward. She did the same thing on the top right side of the wall.
“Chelsea, look out,” Jeffrey whispered.
Chelsea looked around and saw the panels advancing, so she dissolved everything and fell just before they reached her. It was then that GLaDOS caught her with one claw holding her arms tightly against her chest and clamped her other claw around her feet. GLaDOS held panels in front of the turrets so that they wouldn’t try to shoot her.
GLaDOS gave out a heavy sigh and then she said, “Why do you have to ruin everything? I was going to give you the best life possible. Then once you died, I was going to clone you and have your clone reproduce a child for me instead, but you know what? Now, I think you deserve to have the deed carried out for yourself. You have been such a huge pain. I think it is the least that you could do. I will have to wait until you finish your testing since protocol will not allow us to test pregnant women. However, that is the route that I am going to go. I’m also going to keep everyone else around for testing, too.”
“You’re not getting away with this,” Chelsea said.
GLaDOS slammed Chelsea’s body onto the floor. Chelsea groaned.
“I have had enough of you,” GLaDOS said. “You really are obnoxious. I didn’t think it was possible but you are more annoying than your mother. I really need a moment of peace without you or your freakish family trying to kill me or destroy my facility. I haven’t had one in about a month. Unfortunately, I have to deal with you, recapture all the escaped test subjects, and set up your tests. The robots are closing in on your family, so now, I just have to deal with you.”
“Whatever, canary,” Chelsea said smiling. “I’m not going to let you drag me down there without a fight.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” GLaDOS said. “According to protocol, you’re not allowed to be awake for this part.”
A doctor robot walked in the room carrying a small container of liquid. Chelsea saw him and had a good idea of what it was. She started squirming as much as she could. GLaDOS did not loosen her grip.
“I’ll save you,” Jeffrey whispered into her ear.
Chelsea shook her head. If Jeffrey revealed himself, then GLaDOS would release the turrets on him. Chelsea would be unable to protect him.
“But Chelsea,” Jeffrey whispered as the robot walked closer to her.
Chelsea suddenly remembered something.
“This sentence is false,” Chelsea yelled.
“What?” GLaDOS said in confusion.
“This sentence is false! This sentence is false! This sentence is false! This sentence is false!”
“What does that…Ow!”
GLaDOS suddenly understood what Chelsea was doing. She was trying to kill her with a paradox. It was hurting her brain. GLaDOS knew that she didn’t have long.
GLaDOS ignored Chelsea the best she could and yelled, “Subdue her now!”
Chelsea shook her head from side to side and continued to scream and squirm all over as much as she could, but she could not get away. The robot ran over, knelt down beside her, snatched the rag from around her neck and pulled it off. He then poured the liquid onto it and pressed the cloth against her mouth and her nose. Chelsea still squirmed but very quickly lost consciousness and passed out. GLaDOS let go of her and breathed a sigh of relief.
Jeffrey was crushed inside. He felt so helpless and for once he could not analyze away his emotions. All he did was feel. He shapeshifted into an extra hair tie around Chelsea’s hair.
“Take her to the testing chamber relaxation center and give her back her clothes,” GLaDOS said.
“Yes, ma’am,” the robot said as he picked up Chelsea.
The robot walked out of the room with her while GLaDOS cleaned everything up.