Albina flew out of the hole in the testing chamber and looked around. She was not sure where to go next, but she knew that she had to move fast before GLADOS did something else.
Fortunately, Kayla was flying by in the vent. She continued to mark the sides of the vents with her spray paint. She stopped for a second to catch her breath and looked out through the grating. She smiled the biggest smile that she had smiled in weeks, because she saw Albina. Kayla could have just called out to Albina, and she would have heard her. The vent wasn’t far from where Albina was flying. However, Kayla came up with a funnier plan. She picked up her iPhone and quickly found the song she was looking for. She found the instrumental track to Albina’s “favorite” song. Kayla made sure the volume was turned all the way up and pressed play.
Albina immediately heard the music and turned around. She wasn’t sure what to think until she heard Kayla’s singing voice.
“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen,” Kayla sang.
“Kayla?” Albina called out.
“A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I'm the Queen.”
“Thank God! How have you been? Are you alright?”
“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in;
Heaven knows I've tried.”
“Kayla, why are you singing that song? You know how I feel about that song.”
“Don't let them in,
don't let them see.”
“Cut it out.”
“Be the good girl you always have to be.”
“Where are you?” Albina said as she flew closer to where the sound was coming from. The music stopped. She noticed the grating on the vent and immediately froze it off. Kayla wasn’t there. Then from the right side of the vent, the music started again as did Kayla’s singing.
“Conceal, don't feel,
don't let them know.
Well now they know.”
As Kayla continued singing, Albina climbed into the vent. She managed to fit in. She then created a layer of ice under her feet and blew her icy winds behind her so that she was propelled forward into the direction of the voice.
“Let it go, let it go.
Can't hold it back anymore.
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door.
I don't care
what they're going to say.
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway.”
Kayla kept flying further and further into the vent while she was singing. In her way, she was leading Albina to where their headquarters was. Meanwhile, Albina was sliding through the vents very quickly. As she flew through the vents, she noticed that Kayla had spray-painted directions on the vent walls. She figured out that she was heading for a place Kayla titled “h.q.”
“It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all.
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
Let it go, let it go.
I am one with the wind and sky.
Let it go, let it go!
You'll never see me cry.
Here I stand
And here I'll stay.
Let the storm rage on.”
Kayla had slipped out through the entrance of the vent where their headquarters was. She was singing to Albina to guide her with her voice. Albina was getting closer and closer to where she was. Kayla’s voice was getting louder and louder.
“My power flurries through the air into the ground.
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast.
I'm never going back, the past is in the past.”
Albina crawled dawn the vent corridor where she knew Kayla was.
“Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn.
Let it go, let it go.
That perfect girl is gone.
Here I stand
In the light of day.
Let the storm rage on!”
Albina slid out of the vent and flew down to the floor. She looked up to see Sylvie sitting on the couch, three robots standing in awe of her presence, and Kayla flying in the middle of the room as she prepared to sing the last line.
“The cold never bothered me anyway!” Kayla sang and then flashed a large smile.
“Hi, Albina,” Kayla said mischievously. “What did you think of my song?”
Albina smiled and shot ice straight at Kayla who was able to fly fast enough to avoid it. The robots started to panic. Atlas and P-Body hid on the other side of the couch behind Sylvie while Alpha prepared to deploy his guns.
“No,” Sylvie said turning to Alpha. “Leave her alone. She’s a friend.”
Then turning to Albina, Sylvie said, “What was that about? Why were you trying to freeze Kayla?”
“I was not trying to freeze Kayla,” Albina said crossing her arms. “I was just messing around.”
“Well, you looked like you were trying to freeze her to me.”
“I was trying to make her shut her mouth so that she would stop singing that annoying song. You could stand to chill out yourself.”
“Watch it, Albina! I’m not in the mood to deal with your mouth.”
“It’s nice to see you, too.”
Sylvie just glared at Albina who was holding her ground calmly.
“Will you calm down please, Sylvie?” Kayla asked. “We really were just messing around. You know that she would never hurt me.”
“I wish Chelsea was here,” Kayla thought to herself. “I don’t like dealing with this drama.”
“Whatever,” Sylvie said standing up. “Let me get you something to eat.”
Albina walked over, grabbed Sylvie’s wrist with her cold hands, and pulled her down to the couch.
“Actually, I want to know what is the matter with you,” Albina said. “You are usually not this tense.”
“Yeah, Sylvie,” Kayla said. “What has happened? Why are you freaking out so much?”
Sylvie shook out of Albina’s grip and calmly said knowing that there was no point in hiding anything from Albina, “You’re right. Something did upset me, but I know what I have to do about it now. So, that problem is taken care of. Now, let me get you food, Albina.”
Kayla seemed willing to let the matter drop, but Albina was not satisfied.
“Sylvie, we are your family,” Albina began. “I want to know what is burdening your soul. You will never feel any better unless you let it out.”
Atlas beeped in agreement. P-Body did the same thing.
“Shut up,” Sylvie said. “What would you two know about talking about your emotions?”
The two robots gave her looks to talk and the two other girls sat there in silence waiting for Sylvie to reply.
“She is sad because she saw dead people,” Alpha chimed in. “It made her sick, and she’s been sitting on the couch ever since.”
“Alpha,” Sylvie said in shock.
“Sylvie,” Albina said. “What does he mean by that?”
Sylvie knew that she had to tell them the truth and that bearing her problems on her own shoulders was not an option anymore.
Sylvie looked down at the ground and began, “I was hacking into the Aperture Science computer system. I have been looking through everything possible for us to defeat GLADOS, so I looked at the video surveillance footage. I saw the test subjects die during testing. I also saw GLADOS kill everyone else with her neurotoxin gas. She killed adults and children. I watched them all die.”
Kayla was horrified. “Oh, God,” she said.
Albina kept her composure. “Sylvie,” she said. “You said that you had found a solution. What did you mean by that?”
Sylvie looked up with a determined look on her face.
“I am going to keep on going with it,” she said. “I will look through the video footage and everything else.”
“But, why?” Kayla exclaimed. “You’re just torturing yourself! Can’t you just skip over it?”
“I have to do it,” Sylvie began. “As those people were dying, they thought that they were dying alone and that no one would ever bring them justice or know what happened to them. They thought that they would be invisible to God and the rest of the world forever. For their sake, I cannot let that happen. I am going to transfer all the video footage to P-Body over here and I will absorb everything else I can possibly learn about this place. Then once we escape, I’ll compile all the footage into one video and all the information into a book about this place. I will tell the world about the evils of this place. Everyone will know what happened here and justice will finally be done. People will know so that like the Holocaust they will never ever repeat the same mistakes again. The souls of everyone who died here will finally be able to rest in peace. God is using me to bring justice to his people, and I cannot pass up that opportunity just because what I see is disturbing. You don’t have to worry about it taking long. It won’t take terribly long. I’ll have all the information in about two days. We can use the information we learn to defeat GLADOS, too. You don’t have to worry about me either. I’m a strong girl. I’ll be able to handle it.”
Kayla still a little shocked at hearing the most that she had ever heard Sylvie talk at one time replied, “Sylvie, I hate to be the cynical one, but the world is still broken. Once we get out of here and your work is done, how will you distribute the work to everyone?”
Sylvie smiled and said, “I have thought long and hard about that one, too. Albina, when you go out to fight against the Combines, will you allow me to go with you? If I am going to carry out this mission, I will need to carry out the larger mission for the sake of our world, too. I need to fight all the injustice of the world.”
Albina smiled and said, “Of course, once your work is done, you shall come with me. I am proud of you, Sylvie. You are very noble.”
Kayla pitched in, “Then, can I come? I want to kick some alien ass, too.”
“You are too young,” Albina said.
“I am not. The man who started the Navy was eleven years old when he became the captain of his own ship! You should have seen what I did to GLADOS with my telekinesis. I can totally handle myself.”
“We will talk more about this later. I think we had better catch each other up on all that has been happening and figure out what to do in the meantime.”
Kayla sunk down into the couch and sulked.
“Agreed,” Sylvie said. “For right now, who is in the mood to eat?”
Sylvie used the food synthesizer to get turkey sandwiches for the three of them and gave Albina her water.
After they prayed, Sylvie and Kayla recounted to Albina everything that happened after they got separated. From escaping from the gas to finding Zaki, Pastor Roberts, and Chell to hearing from Chelsea and getting separated again to forming a partnership with the robots to spray-painting the vents to reuniting with each other and fighting GLADOS to finding Alpha, they explained it all. Albina on her end did not have as much to talk about but it was nonetheless important. She talked about how she escaped GLADOS’s testing chambers and how more importantly Chelsea was doing.
“GLADOS is forcing Chelsea to get married?” Kayla said in disbelief. “To Hugo?”
Sylvie was speechless. She was not angry at Chelsea or Hugo as neither of them would ever do anything to hurt her. She was angry that GLADOS was forcing them both to betray her. She wanted them to be safe. She also wanted her boyfriend to be with her. She could not say any word to show her disgust for a minute but then she spoke up.
“We have to stop her, for good,” Sylvie said getting up. “It’s time to get back to work. Come on, P-Body.”
P-Body nodded and followed her to the corner where they were before. Kayla got up, threw the garbage away, and filled her water bottle up.
“Wait a minute,” Albina said. “I have to do something, too.”
“What do you want to do?” Sylvie asked.
“Vandalism,” Albina responded with a smile. “I shall cover all her testing chambers with ice so that she cannot test.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sylvie responded. “Get to it.”
“I’m going,” Kayla said. “I’ll see you later.”
“I’ll be there in a minute, Kayla,” Albina said. “Go on ahead.”
“Whatever,” Kayla said. However secretly, she lingered near the entrance of the vent to see what would happen.
Albina walked towards Sylvie.
“What do you want?” Sylvie said. “We have work to do and you two need to go.”
Albina said nothing but gave Sylvie a hug.
“I don’t want to leave you alone like this,” Albina said. “You are so upset still and need support yet you are acting so strong. I don’t like seeing you so sad. I want to bear the pain with you.”
“I’m not weak, Albina,” Sylvie said forcing Albina to let go. “I don’t need you to take care of me.”
“You can’t bear yourself alone with no support," Albina said. "You need to stop pushing people away.”
Sylvie knew that Albina was right.
“You’re right,” Sylvie said slowly and humbly realizing her pride. “I’m sorry for being so short with you.”
“I meant what I said when I said was proud of you," said Albina. "You are such a strong and noble person for what you will be doing. However, you don’t need to let the pain crush you just because of how dark this place is. God is still good. He has triumphed over all the evil of this world. For that, we have a reason to be joyful. The darkness of this place will not destroy us. You don’t have to let it. Life can go on. I understand how you feel. The Combines killed my mother and everyone in the group I was traveling with except me and my brother. You can trust me.”
“I’ll try to remember that," said Sylvie. "You are truly a sister to me, Albina. Thanks!”
“Then what am I?” shouted Kayla poking her head out of the vent.
“Can’t we have a moment without you interfering?” Albina yelled.
“No! I’m not a baby. I can be involved, too. You know. I love you too, Sylvie. Albina’s right. There is more to the world than darkness.”
“Thank you, Kayla,” said Sylvie.
Albina said to Kayla, “You can be such a pain.”
“Let it go! Let it go!” sang Kayla.
“Oh, you little brat,” yelled Albina as she ran towards the entrance of the vent.
Kayla laughed and flew further into the vent.
Albina stopped just before she flew into the entrance of the vent and turned towards Sylvie.
“I’ll see you tonight, my friend,” she said.
“Au revoir,” Sylvie said. “Head back at six. Alright?”
Albina nodded and flew up into the vent.
Sylvie heard her yell, “I’m going to turn you into a cube of ice, Kayla!”
Sylvie chuckled to herself for the first time since that morning.
Smiling bittersweetly, Sylvie said, “God, you have overcome all evil with your sacrifice. Even the evil in this place as horrible as it is will not conquer us. Albina and Kayla are right. You are using us to stop it. I do not have to let it make me depressed. Thank you for your goodness!”
With that, Sylvie touched P-Body’s head and went back to work. At first, she saw more of the same horrible things. The survivors installed a morality core on GLADOS, but she forced them to test. It was horrible watching all the test subjects die. All the survivors were caught and tested except for one. GLADOS was more cruelly apathetic than all the scientists were. While the testing went on around the same time, Sylvie saw a lone man running free around the testing facility. According to the computer records, his name was Rattman. GLADOS cruelly taunted him for his schizophrenia, but he still managed to run free from her. That made Sylvie happy. There was hope in this dark place. Rattman was a bit weird. He ran around with a companion cube on his back. Nevertheless, Sylvie rooted for him all the way. The poor guy was trapped in this place for years. Sylvie wondered whatever happened to him. While she saw him, she also saw something weird happen with the testing list. Chell whose name was originally at the bottom was moved to the top. Sylvie did not see GLADOS do it, so she figured that it had to be Rattman. Chell’s files said that she was an extreme outlier in terms of tenacity. Perhaps, that was why he did it. Sylvie was excited to watch Chell test. Chell was so strong, so silent, and so brave. Sylvie knew how much pain that she was in but admired how hard she fought. She watched Chell escape and fight off GLADOS. However after that, something weird happened. Chell disappeared but then reappeared in one of the long term relaxation chambers. The power had been off, but it was turned on again by a mysterious force just for Chell. That force had to be Rattman. GLADOS was dead. He stayed behind for her. Sylvie was glad that she could tell his story now.
“Whatever happened to you,” Sylvie began. “I am glad that now I can tell the world about you. Thank you for saving Chell! Your bravery will not be forgotten! I promise!”
Sylvie was still sorrowful over the deaths of all those people but was happy to see the hope in all this darkness. The video camera footage leaped ahead to many years later when GLADOS woke up, Chell was forced to test again, and a stupid core named Wheatley took over. She watched Chell and GLADOS work together to overcome Wheatley and then saw Chell get sent away.
Then she saw Atlas and P-Body in the footage for the first time, GLADOS tested them for a while but got bored and wanted humans to test with again. These were the next group of people who were tested. Sylvie was shocked. GLADOS had lied to them and told them that they were saving the humans, but they still inadvertently had a hand in all their deaths.
P-Body who saw everything that Sylvie saw got up and ended the transmission. He sat on the couch and held his head in his hands. He was suffering from guilt. P-Body never knew how the people had suffered. He never thought about it or cared about anything that GLADOS did not want them to care about. He felt used, and he felt like a murderer. Atlas sat next to him and tried to comfort him, but P-Body pushed him away.
“You did a horrible thing, P-Body,” Sylvie said standing up. “You both did. There is nothing you can do now to bring those people back. However, you can be forgiven by God. In our faith, the Son of God, Jesus, died and was resurrected in order to make it possible for men to be forgiven for their sins. You can be forgiven too if you ask. You two are not humans, but I think God still cares about you. Please trust me. I think that God wants to forgive you, too.”
P-Body and Atlas did what Sylvie asked, and they were both forgiven that day. They felt free for the first time in their lives. They walked with a new determination. They wanted to defeat GLADOS and right the wrong that they had done. P-Body sat down, and Sylvie continued to hack into the computer system. Atlas just sat and stared at her with an air of a thankful disciple. He now felt even more strongly for her.
After that bright patch with Chell, it was more of the same cruel testing as thousands upon thousands more people were killed. Sylvie no longer was crushed with sorrow but burned with righteous anger. She knew that they would kill GLADOS. To tell the truth, Sylvie was looking more and more forward to it. She wanted that robot to die. By the time Albina and Kayla returned in the evening, she had caught up to modern day testing. Next, she would look over the files that contained the history and layout of the facility.
Meanwhile in the vents, Kayla continued mapping and spray painting the vents. She was very glad to have Albina to accompany her temporarily at least. Kayla guided her to where the testing portion of the facility was and the two agreed to meet there once it was 6pm, the time that Sylvie ordered them to return. Albina broke through the vent at the testing portion of the facility and got to work immediately. She flew out and looked. It was a large open expanse with testing chambers as far as the eye could see. There was a pit of toxic water at the bottom. The boxes were all held up with support beams and were created from platforms that were connected to the wall. These boxes were all standing in a line. That would make Albina’s work a little bit easier. She created a trail of ice from the vent to the first testing chamber box and then all the others afterwards so she would not get lost. She flew on top of the first box that was a testing chamber. Albina landed on top of it. She looked around to make sure that there were no cameras around. Albina saw one looking right at her. She froze for a second, but then she smiled. She blasted an ice beam right at it, and it malfunctioned and fell into the bottomless pit. Albina knew that she had to act quickly from that point on. Vandals usually acted in secret, and GLADOS now knew that she was there. Next time, she would have to be more discreet. Albina blasted ice from her hands onto the walls. They froze over. The ice spread and spread and spread until it covered the walls of the entire area meaning that neither the platforms on the wall or any other of the cameras could function properly. GLADOS may have known she was there, but now there was officially nothing that she could do about it.
Albina knew that she had to break down the first box. However, she first wanted to check to see if someone was in there, so she quickly grew and icicle down from the ceiling to break the box open. It was empty. It was set up to be used with turrets, cubes, and lasers, but there were no humans in there. This box must have been stored for future use. Too bad! Albina blasted her ice beam into the box.
“What are you doing?” GLADOS asked over the PA system. “I may not be able to see you, but I know that you’re in there and that you’re doing something.”
Albina was silent and kept working. She filled the box until it was completely full of icicles. If the testing chambers could not be used, GLADOS could not test. If GLADOS could not test, no more humans would die.
“Are you mad at me for forcing you to test?” GLADOS asked. “If you want to express your anger, express it to me. Don’t take it out on the testing chambers.”
Albina finished her work on the first box and moved on to the next one.
“You know that damaging private property is a crime that you could be arrested and deported for,” GLADOS said.
Albina ignored her and repeated her same process on all the other testing chambers. She smiled at the thought of GLADOS’s reaction when she saw all her precious testing chambers covered in ice.
GLADOS continued to blast out threats like this one, but Albina ignored her and kept going. Albina finished and had nothing left to do but wait for Kayla to come back that way. So, she waited. However as she looked over her good work, she found that she was not satisfied. The testing chambers were unusable but the space was still usable. GLADOS could easily take down the boxes and add new ones. Albina realized that she needed to do something more. She flew up and down and surveyed the room to see what else she could do to destroy it more completely. Albina then flew down to the toxic pools of acid. She flew just above the face of it with disgust. This acid had killed untold numbers of people. Sylvie had watched it all happen. How fitting would it be if Albina could use the force that destroyed the lives of so many people to destroy the place that had destroyed them? Albina had a plan.
Albina used her hydrokinesis in order pull all of the acid from its place. She hovered just above the ground not landing for fear of contaminating her bare feet with the toxic leftovers of the pools. Albina pulled the acid apart so that she could make the acid into toxic icicles. Using half of these toxic icicles, she pierced each of the chambers multiple times. She used the other half to freeze and warp the support beams until they became unstable. Then with a powerful arctic wind, Albina knocked over all of the testing chambers. She flew into the air above them to get out of their way. They fell with a big bang that shook the facility. Even GLADOS could feel it from where she was in her chamber. She immediately sent a few robots over to where she knew Albina was, so that they could investigate.
Meanwhile, Albina was pleased with her work and decided that while she waited for Kayla she would make this room look beautiful. She covered the room’s now fallen and broken chambers with 1,000 feet of ice forming glaciers in the room. That in itself took a few hours. After that, Albina put an extra layer of ice over the walls and created layers of snow to cover the glaciers. She created larger icebergs and icicles hanging off of the ceiling on top of that. It was a literal winter wonderland in there.
Albina had no idea what time it was so she decided that she would have as much fun as possible before Kayla came back.
She made it snow some more and started to build ice sculptures and other structures. She did whatever came to her mind. She flew up into the air and made it rain icicles. Albina made ice stairs with ice balconies that wrapped all the way around the room. She was very bored. Albina created a network of crystal chandeliers from the icicles hanging on the ceiling. They were strong enough to hold her weight so she sat with them for a while admiring her work.
Just then, Albina heard a picking sound like something was trying to break in. She held still waiting for whatever was ready to encounter her. The things responsible finally broke open a panel and busted through the ice. Albina saw two red robots fall into the room and land in the soft snow. They looked up and looked around in awe. Albina figured they were hostile spies sent by GLADOS, but she thought that it was a better idea to sit where she was and watch them act. Albina smiled at the thought of what GLADOS’s reaction would be.
“Oh, my God,” GLADOS yelled over the PA system. “What the hell happened to my testing chambers? They’re all gone! How did that one mutant manage to destroy a whole room of testing chambers?”
Albina still sat hidden on the ice chandeliers attached to the ceiling. She giggled quietly to herself.
“Where did they even go?” GLADOS asked. “Quickly, dig through the snow and see if they are hidden under that. See if they are stacked up under it. I need to know where they are and how she has managed to level out the floor this much. Hurry!”
The robots quickly obeyed and dug through the snow. They reached the ice and zoomed in with their eyes. The ice was clear, so they could see all the way down. Albina silently snickered to herself.
“Oh, God,” GLADOS said. “How did she do this? This could take months to thaw out. She did it. She destroyed everything!”
Albina continued to laugh quietly to herself.
The robots sat up.
“When I find that little demon, I’m going to kill her,” GLADOS said. “I will strap her to a rock and throw her down into Android Hell! I order the two of you to find her now! Spread out!”
Albina decided that then was the time to act. She flew down and created icicles dropping them so that they impaled the robots where they stood.
On her end, all GLADOS got was static with images fading in and out.
“Hello,” she said. “The reception is terrible. What is going on?”
Albina could not resist getting down and looking into the eye of the robot.
“Hello, GLADOS!” Albina said as she lay in the snow on her stomach. “How do you like my work? Is it not beautiful?”
“You little demon,” GLADOS said. “You know I have had trouble figuring out which one of you freaks I hate the most. First, it was Chell, then it was my subject’s boyfriend, then it was the electric old man, then it was the blond technological telepath and then it was the telekinetic cripple. However now, you have really done it. I have firmly decided that it is you that I hate the most. Congratulations! You are the worst person ever!”
GLADOS played her clapping sound effect over the PA system.
“You do not include Chelsea’s name on the list?” asked Albina.
“How could I? Her gifts come from the radiation of the facility’s hard light bridges. To hate her would be to hate Aperture Science itself. I could never do that. Besides, she is a gateway to all kinds of scientific discoveries. She is going to teach me so much. How could I ever hate an opportunity like her? You on the other hand seem to be capable of nothing but wanton destruction.”
“Don’t flatter me,” said Albina sarcastically.
“I do not intend to,” said GLADOS. “I am going to kill you, Albina.”
Albina felt slightly scared by the way that GLADOS said her name. Nonetheless, she held her composure the whole time. She knew that GLADOS was angry. However from talking to Sylvie and Kayla, she also knew that the neurotoxin machine was still broken, so unless she could get a bunch of turrets down into the room there was nothing that she could do.
“There is nothing you can do to me,” said Albina. “Even if you kill my body, you will never destroy my soul. My God will avenge me. I do not fear you. Besides that, I highly doubt that you will get to me anyway. I can freeze anything you send my way. Do you not wish that you had the confidence that I do?”
“You’re going on about that again?” said GLADOS.
“I feel sorry for you. You are all alone, and you have nobody who cares for you. God Himself has abandoned you. You are doomed and surrounded by His humans who you can never hope to control. It is completely hopeless for you.”
“You are pretty pathetic yourself. You were abandoned by peasants, and your step-mother is dead. You are an orphan who is loved by no one.”
“That is not true. In Christ, I have a huge family. All the believers are my brothers and sisters. The Spirit of God lives inside me, too. I will never be alone. You however have not realized it yet, but you are so alone.”
“You must have so many unanswered questions about your life that must absolutely torture you. Why do you think your birth parents abandoned you? Do you think they tried to kill you because they believed you were actually a demon? You certainly look like one. How do you know that you are not really an ice demon? You think that you are a Christian, but maybe you were born to demons and were left on earth for the purpose of causing pain and suffering. Perhaps you are a creature of darkness. That would not surprise me at all. You are certainly nothing resembling a human.”
GLADOS’s words shocked Albina. However, she knew that she had a relationship with God and that GLADOS’s words were just spiteful lies. She was just shocked that anyone would say such things to her. Albina stood up and began to turn to walk away hurt by her words.
“In Russia, there are legends of creatures like you. Are there not?” GLADOS said. “They say that the fallen angels who were not evil enough to be sent to hell remained on earth as spirits of the elements. You have no idea where your parents came from, so that could be true of you. You said you were a spirit of the ice.”
“A woman of science believing in legends? That does not sound like you,” Albina said stopping in her tracks.
“In the absence of other explanations, one must examine every possibility. I don’t think you have completely dropped the idea yourself. Think about it. The only purpose for your talent appears to be destruction. That is all winter is under an honest eye. It is the death of everything. That sounds like something demons bring about. Does it not? All of your friends have gifts that have other uses. Chelsea uses hers for protection, her boyfriend uses his for self-defense, the cripple uses hers to function, the telepath uses hers to control technology, and the old man uses his to create electricity. All ice can do is destroy life and cause problems. Face it. You were meant to be something evil. If your parents were human, they were correct to be afraid of you.”
Albina walked a few more steps in the direction away from GLADOS. She was thinking over her next reply. It had to be something good.
Finally, Albina turned back and said, “No one is meant to be anything evil. That is a choice we make for ourselves. Our gifts can be used for good or for bad, no matter what they are. We turn ourselves into monsters. By that logic, you are more of a demon than I will ever be.”
She turned back and continued walking.
Albina said, “I tire of your conversation. I am as immune to the coldness of your heart as I am to the coldness of this room. I am in no mood to hear any more of it, so I will take my leave of you now. Farewell, GLADOS!”
Albina walked to the top of her icy staircase and made her next move. She pulled icicles all through the floor. One icicle impaled the robot head on the floor and ended the transmission with GLADOS for good. Albina sat down in fatigue.
About fifteen minutes later, Albina was lying on her back on top of a pile of soft snow with her arms folded behind her head. Kayla flew through the grating hole in the vent. She looked around in absolute awe. Albina had truly outdone herself this time. The room looked nothing like it did before. It was now beautiful. Kayla flew all over the room to check it out and take pictures of everything for Chelsea. It was a lot to take in at one time but she managed to get pictures of it all as she flew around the room. She flew along the balcony on the side of the wall. She flew down the stairs. Kayla flew to the ceiling in order to check out the network of ice chandeliers. Then looking down on the room, she admired the icebergs, the snow, and icicles on the floor. Kayla flew in to get a closer look and that was when she got a good look at the dead robots. After Kayla took her picture of them, she flew backwards in fear.
“Do you like my work?” she heard a voice from behind her say.
Kayla turned around to see Albina standing at the top of the stairs.
“Yeah, it’s really beautiful,” Kayla said smiling. “I took pictures of everything so that Chelsea and Sylvie could see it.”
“I just couldn’t help but notice the dead robots lying on the ground.”
“GLADOS sent them to investigate this area. I had to take them out before they found me.”
“Did you get to talk to GLADOS?”
“Was she angry?” Kayla asked as her eyes grew wide with excitement.
“She was furious,” Albina replied proudly. “She told me that she hated me the most out of all of us and that she was going to kill me.”
Kayla’s smile disappeared in a flash. She was not as concerned about Albina’s safety as she was about her emotional state.
“Did she say anything else super mean to you?” Kayla asked with a motherly concern that went beyond her years.
“She did call me a demon and say that my parents abandoned me because I looked like a Russian spirit of the elements,” Albina said straightforwardly.
“Did that upset you?”
Yes, but you do not need to worry. She is just like a viper with a mouth full of venom. I know that nothing she says can be trusted and is filled with spite. She has made me doubt, but I know inside that what she says is not true.”
“Is it time to go back?”
“Take a picture of the chambers covered in ice before we go.”
“I would but it’s covered in snow.”
“I’m on it.”
Albina flew up in the air and lifted up her hands. In one swift motion, she dissolved the snow and the icicles covering the ground into thin air. With all the debris moved, the floor was clear ice with about 1,000 feet of ice separating them from the bottom of the room where all the test chambers were lying in pieces.
“Thanks,” Kayla said.
Kayla took pictures with her iPhone of all that she saw down there. She had to zoom in a lot but because of the transparency of the ice she got a clear shot. Kayla smiled at the result but just then her phone rang. Albina flew over to her and pulled the phone away from Kayla’s telekinetic grip so that she could use her fingers to answer it herself.
Albina answered the phone and said, “Hello, Sylvie!”
“Hello, Albina,” Sylvie replied. “Where’s Kayla?”
“She’s in the chamber with me. I have completely destroyed some of GLADOS’s testing chambers and managed to make her hate me even more than she did before.”
“I expected as much.”
“Well, it is what it is. She is already trying to kill us, so nothing has really changed.”
“Well, be that as it may. I want you two back here pronto. It’s starting to get dark, and I don’t want you two by yourselves at night. I would rather have all of us together.”
“Yeah! Yeah! You sound just like my mother.”
“Albina, I’m being serious.”
“I know. We’re coming back right now. Alright? I just need to clean up in here so that I can make sure we will not be followed. I already killed two robots that were searching for me. Odds are that GLADOS has sent more our way.”
Kayla tensed up upon hearing that and looked around. She then flew closer to Albina.
“Alright Albina,” Sylvie said. “Clean up and come back quickly. Okay?”
“I understand,” Albina said. “We will see you soon. Goodbye!”
“Oy,” Albina said as she handed back the iPhone to Kayla who telekinetically grabbed it and dropped it into the side pocket of her backpack.
“How are you going to make the room impenetrable?” asked Kayla.
“Get your iPhone out again and put on the video,” Albina said. “I will show you.”
Kayla did what she said. She pulled out the iPhone and turned the video on.
“Show them around the room, Kayla,” Albina said. “Because soon all of the beauty you see will be turned into a disaster. If GLADOS is right and I am an ice demon from the spirits of Russia, she will soon see all of hell’s wintery destructive power right here and right now.”
Kayla flew around the room showing off all of the balcony space, the stair space, the chandeliers, the icebergs, and the chambers frozen deep under the floor.
“Fly back to the front of our exit, Kayla,” Albina said. “Now, I have to destroy what I have created, but keep the camera rolling.”
Kayla flew back to the front of the vent where the grating was and yelled, “Action!”
Quickly, Albina pulled multiple huge and sharply pointed icicles up from the floor. These icicles were thick and they were everywhere. They covered every square inch of the floor and reached all the way to the top of the room up to where the ceiling was and poked through the icicle chandeliers and out through the top. It would be impossible for anyone to traverse this room by foot. Albina did not stop there either. She covered the walls once again in thick sheets of ice. She then flew over to where Kayla was floating. Albina motioned for Kayla to move. Kayla slid out of the way, and Albina covered the vents in solid layers of ice as well.
“What are you doing?” Kayla asked. “We’ll be freezing in there.”
“If GLADOS somehow manages to cross the floor, I don’t want our escape route to be obvious so I’m leaving no traces of our departure anywhere,” Albina responded.
Kayla hovered in silence while Albina finished her work. Albina covered ice in everything except the hole where the vent grating had been. She had blown off the vent grating, and it had fallen to somewhere below. Looking back, Albina knew that she shouldn’t have been so careless. If GLADOS noticed that the vent grating was missing, she would realize that the group had vanished through the vents. Albina sat down on top of the ice covered vents and started forming an ice vent grating quickly out of her own bare hands. Kayla flew up next to her and hovered over her shoulder to see what she was doing. Within five minutes, she was done. Albina had made it look as realistic as she possibly could in a hurry but nonetheless did a good job. From a distance, it was indistinguishable from the original and it would take GLADOS a long time to figure out that it was a false grating. Albina smiled exhaustedly and used her head to motion for Kayla to go back into the vent.
Kayla stopped the video. “That’s a wrap,” she said.
Then Kayla flew inside the vent. Albina held the vent grating she constructed in her hands. She let go of it but lifted it up using hydrokinesis so that it did not fall to the ground. Albina then flew up into the air. Looking over her shoulder, she backed into the vent. Kayla moved over to the right side in order to give Albina room. Albina meanwhile was using all of her powers to concentrate and get this right. She needed it to look convincing. Kayla was as quiet as a mouse. She instinctually knew to be silent at a time like this. Albina finally made it into the vent, and she held the grating in place.
“Kayla,” Albina said looking over her shoulder. “Would you hold the cover in place for me? I need to freeze it in place.”
“Of course,” Kayla said.
She then used her telekinesis to hold the grating in place while Albina froze the vent grating in its place. When that was done, Albina relaxed. She suddenly felt really tired and rested her back on the back of the vent.
“You can’t rest here,” Kayla said cheerfully. “We have to get back.”
“I know,” Albina said. Then sitting up once again, she said, “Let’s go.”
Kayla flew in the direction they had come from. Although Albina was exhausted, she did not let out one complaint about it. She created a trail of ice under her feet and used her hands to create strong winds behind her that would propel her forward. In this way, they both made their way back to the room. It was a good thing they left when they did because GLADOS sent another group of robots into the room to capture Albina. The robots arrived about fifteen minutes after the girls left. After opening a panel from the wall using a pick axe, four of them rushed in and impaled themselves on top of the icicles on the floor. The fifth robot looked after his friends and around at the icicles from the opening they fell through. GLADOS looked around. The ice demon was clever. She set up a trap, and she left no trace of how she had left the room. Everything was frozen over so that she there was no trace of a rushed departure. GLADOS was both frustrated and impressed. She had once again found a worthy opponent. However in the deepest depths of her mind although she refused to admit that she was feeling it, GLADOS was slightly worried that she had received more than she bargained for and did not know how to control these creatures.
Meanwhile, Kayla and Albina made their way back to the room.
Kayla flew through the entrance of the room’s vent with a big smile on her face. Albina landed on the ground with a tired smile on her face. Sylvie sat on the couch with her arms and legs crossed giving them the stare.
“What is it?” Albina asked.
“I asked you to hurry. It has been like thirty minutes,” Sylvie said.
“Well, I apologize. I wanted to make sure we were not followed, so I took my time covering our tracks.”
“You should have seen it, Sylvie,” Kayla said. “It was amazing. I have never seen her use her power that much before. She was like an ice goddess.”
“More like an ice demon according to GLADOS,” Albina chimed in.
“You need to be more careful for now on,” Sylvie said. “Alright? Try not to let her see you. What exactly happened again?”
Kayla said, “Don’t worry. Albina took care of everything. Anyways, do you want to see all of what Albina did? I took pictures of the place before, and I took a video of Albina wrecking the place.”
“Sure,” Sylvie said.
Kayla flew over to the cushions and telekinetically pulled her backpack off of her back. She then flew over and sat next to Sylvie. After that from where she was sitting, she telekinetically pulled her iPhone out of her backpack and handed it to Sylvie. Sylvie began flipping through the photographs.
Albina walked over to the chair to the right where P-Body was sitting.
She asked him, “May I borrow the cushion on your chair?”
P-Body handed it to her immediately.
“Much obliged,” Albina replied.
Albina holding the blue cushion under her arm walked over to Atlas sitting on the left who was staring intently in Sylvie’s direction.
“May I borrow the cushion on your chair?” Albina asked.
Atlas made no appearances of responding or of even having heard what Albina said to him.
“Did you hear me?” Albina asked. “Hello?”
She waved her hand in front of his face, but he still did not respond.
“What is the matter with him?” Albina said turning to P-Body.
P-Body shrugged. Then he got up and walked over to Atlas. He made some beeping noises. When that didn’t work, he slapped him on the side of the head.
Atlas responded immediately with a beep. He looked at P-Body angrily. P-Body pointed to Albina. Atlas turned to face her.
“Now that I have your attention, I was wondering if I could use the cushion on your chair to sleep on,” Albina said.
Atlas sat up and handed her the cushion.
“Thanks,” Albina said.
Albina walked away with the two cushions as P-Body stared at Atlas. P-Body started to wonder about Atlas. He had been acting weird all day. He had just been staring and paying extra attention to Sylvie ever since that morning. It was weird. P-Body had to figure out what was happening.
Albina walked up to the door where Alpha was standing. She tapped him on the head, and he turned around.
“Tell me, friend. Are you tired of watching that door?” Albina said.
“I need to watch this door to protect you,” Alpha said.
“Let me take over for you. I can make it so that no one can get through this door.”
“Yes. Just watch.”
Albina dropped her cushions on the floor and lifted up her hands.
“Move aside,” she said.
The turret stepped aside, and Albina made her move. She covered the door with a thick wall of ice so that it was frozen in place. That way, no one was able to come through that door.
Albina smiled at the result. She looked down to see Alpha nuzzle against her leg like a metallic cat.
“Thank you,” Alpha said.
Albina bent down and rubbed his head with her fingers. She then set up the cushions on the floor so that they were lying right in front of the door. Albina sat down on the cushions and rested her back against the frozen wall. Alpha came up in front of her, and she began stroking his body like a cat. He started to make a noise that sounded almost like purring but it was actually him giggling. Alpha liked the one on one attention.
Meanwhile, the sun went down, and it continued to get darker and darker. Sylvie continued looking through all of the pictures and finally at the video. She sat there stunned.
“I have to say, Albina,” Sylvie began. “I am quite impressed. I have never seen you do this much with your ice before. It is really incredible!”
“What did I tell you,” Kayla said. “Albina is a goddess!”
“It’s not like you to be quiet,” Sylvie began. “Come on over here, and I’ll get us some dinner.”
After another moment of silence, Sylvie turned around to see what was happening.
She looked to see Albina sitting on top of the cushions with her body hunched over on top of Alpha. She had been so tired that she fell asleep on top of him as she was rubbing him. Her head was lying on top of her folded arms on top of his head. Alpha didn’t seem to mind though. He was just standing their supporting her weight on his head.
“Shhhhh!” he whispered. “She’s sleeping.”
About an hour later with dinner finished and done, the other two were, too. They fixed Albina so that she was no longer lying on top of Alpha but lying down on her cushions with no blanket because she liked feeling the cold in her sleep. She was lying down on top of her stomach with her head supported by her folded arms. Alpha was standing next to her head. He wanted to be there for security if all else failed.
Meanwhile, P-Body sat on his chair awake wondering what to do about Atlas. He was just sitting in his chair watching Sylvie sleep. P-Body suspected something was up, but he did not know how to pursue him to find out about it. Not once in their friendship had they ever kept anything from each other. Just then, P-Body was struck with an idea. He got up and walked slowly over to Atlas. He tapped him on the shoulder in order to get his attention. Atlas looked in his direction. P-Body opened a side compartment of his body and pulled out some old playing cards that he had found that were held together by an old rubber band. P-Body pointed to the cards and pointed to the bathroom to ask him if he wanted to play. Atlas nodded.
“May I play, too?” they both heard a voice behind them ask.
They turned around. It was Alpha. He was so cute and innocent. He just wanted to be included. P-Body and Atlas looked at each other and then they looked at him.
P-Body nodded his head.
“Hooray!” Alpha said jumping up and down.
P-Body and Atlas simultaneously grabbed him and held him down. They pressed their fingers to their faces so that Alpha would get the message.
“Sorry,” the turret said.
The two motioned for the turret to come to the bathroom with them. They used the bathroom to play in because it was the one place where they could go and turn on the lights without waking up the ladies or alerting anyone in the hallway of their presence. They walked into the bathroom, turned on the lights, and then P-Body shut the door behind them.
Alpha and P-Body sat with their legs crossed on the floor. Alpha just stood there waiting for the game to begin. The way the game worked was kind of weird because P-Body had actually never seen a human card game ever be played before. He just found the cards in a desk and decided to keep them. The card game was a card game that P-Body invented. It worked more line jenga than a real card game. First he built a house of cards from the deck, and then everyone had to remove a few cards without knocking the whole thing over. That was much easier said than done especially with their clumsy hands and the tiled floor. The two robots started playing. Alpha just watched the first round because he did not know what to do.
“Why can’t you talk?” Alpha said out of nowhere. “The turrets who shoot bullets can talk, GLADOS can talk, and the cores can talk, but you can’t talk. It makes no sense.”
Atlas and P-Body looked at each other and just shrugged. They did not know the answer to that question.
P-Body painstakingly stacked the cards into a house of cards. Then the game began. P-Body went first and pulled a few cards off of the top. Atlas was not paying attention at all. He was staring off into space thinking about Sylvie. He did not even notice when it was his turn. P-Body had to tap him on the shoulder to remind him. Absentmindedly, he grabbed a few cards off of the side knocking over the whole thing.
“You lose,” Alpha said.
P-Body face-palmed, shook his head, and gave out a heavy sigh. Atlas was usually not like this at all. He was usually the one who was level-headed and aware. He was really good at this game. For him to be this absentminded was not normal. P-Body decided that it was time to confront him.
P-Body moved in front of Atlas and shook his head all around. Atlas smacked him on the side of the head to make him stop. P-Body held out his hands asking him in his way what the problem was. Atlas shook his head to say that there was no problem. P-Body looked at him in such a way that implied that he could not be serious. P-Body then cracked the door open so that they could see Sylvie sleeping from where they were in the bathroom. He pointed to her and then he pointed to Atlas. Then, P-Body imitated Atlas. He made the dreamy looking expression on his face that he was making and gave a longing sigh. Atlas acted defensive and crossed his arms. P-Body beeped and got his attention. P-Body pointed to his head to communicate that he had an idea about what was happening. He pointed to Atlas, he pointed to Sylvie, and then he made a heart symbol with his hands. He was saying that Atlas was in love with Sylvie.
Atlas was really defensive then. He shook his head vigorously.
“Mhmmm…” P-Body said nodding his head.
Atlas shook his head again.
“Mhmmm…” P-Body said again nodding his head.
Atlas shook his head yet again.
“Mhmmm…” P-Body said again nodding his head.
Atlas finally sighed in order to show that he conceded. He held up his fingers and pinched them close together to symbolize a little bit. P-Body squealed a little bit. Atlas turned his head in time to see Sylvie toss and turn in her sleep. Atlas quickly shut the door.
Then, Atlas held his finger to face and said, “Shhhh!”
“You’re in love with Sylvie?” Alpha asked.
Atlas nodded his head painfully.
He looked straight at P-Body and then at Alpha and pulled his finger to his face to show them that he wanted them to keep it a secret.
P-Body nodded in agreement.
“I can keep a secret,” Alpha said.
Atlas relaxed against the wall.
“She has a boyfriend,” Alpha said.
Atlas nodded his head to show that he knew.
“What are you going to do?” Alpha asked.
Atlas shook his head to show that he wasn’t sure of what to do. He had never felt this way before. He did not know what to do. He rested his back against the wall, pulled his legs close to his body, wrapped his arms around his legs, and lay his head on top of his knees. P-Body wrapped his arm around Atlas’s shoulder. Atlas looked up at him and then he leaned on P-Body for support.
“Is the game over?” Alpha asked.
“Can I leave?” Alpha asked.
Atlas sat up and pulled the door open to let Alpha out.
“Thank you,” he said and walked out and back over to where the door was.
In the moonlight, Atlas got another glimpse of Sylvie. He sat staring at her for a moment. P-Body twisted his body over to see what he was doing and saw him staring at her. Then Atlas shook his head, shut the door, and curled into his former ball of depression. He knew that it could never be. P-Body wrapped his arm around his best friend. He for once did not know what to say. The two of them sat for a long time in silence and eventually fell asleep leaning against each other’s side for support.