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Tips for Writing Good Fan Fiction

Journal Entry: Fri Jan 24, 2014, 9:57 AM

Tips for Writing Good Fan Fiction



Hello!  I’m Indy, or Indiana if you prefer the long version, and this is somewhat of a tutorial on what I look for, and find, in good fanfiction.  I’ve been writing fanfic my whole life, and I’ve dabbled in many fandoms, most notably of which have been Sonic the Hedgehog and Portal.  I’ll offer some insight as to how I write, as well as things I notice inexperienced writers tend to do.  Before I start, I’d like to make a disclaimer that I am of course not an expert.  Hopefully this is helpful to someone.



Understand Your Characters

This is a very important thing to do if you really want to do a good job.  You can write a story without understanding them, of course, but the more deeply you know the character, the deeper the story is going to be.  You want the story to be deep.  You want the reader to lose themselves in the story, and if something jumps out at them, they’re not going to be able to do that.  You need to know the voice of your character in order to centre the reader in the world you’re building.  If you’ve got the reader in deep enough, it’s not as likely that they’ll notice if you make a mistake. But it is important to know your characters.  This is where the term ‘out of character (OOC)’ comes from: when an author doesn’t properly understand their character, and has them do things they wouldn’t normally do.

Take note of a character’s history and motivations.  For example, say that you’re writing a Sonic the Hedgehog story and you’re writing about Dr Eggman.  Okay, you might know generally how to write dialogue for him.  He’s got those things he says all the time, right?  But have you ever stopped to think about why he’s saying them?  He’s got a reason for those catchphrases.  There are many ways to interpret a character.  You might imagine that he talks the way he does because he feels the need to look down on other people, because other people looked down on him in the past.  You might imagine that he talks the way he does because he thinks he’s funny.  Decide why he speaks and acts the way he does, and incorporate that into the way you tell your story.  You want us to hear the character’s voice, and if the reader tells you they can, you’ve done it correctly.



Choose Your Words Carefully

Something that inexperienced writers tend to do is to write every character so that they speak in much the same way, and they generally write the characters the way they (the writer) talk.  Don’t do that.  Take the time to examine the types of words the character tends to use.  For example, if you’re writing a story about Portal, would GLaDOS and Wheatley talk the same way?  Those of us who’ve played Portal know that GLaDOS isn’t British.  But aside from his accent and his slang, how else does Wheatley sound different from her?  Wheatley tends to use shorter words, and he strings them into long, rambling sentences.  GLaDOS uses more formal words, and she tends to mix long sentences together with very short ones.  Wheatley also tends to say exactly what he means, while GLaDOS prefers to mean one thing, but say another.  Of course, on occasion they will deviate from their normal patterns, but unless you know what those patterns are, any deviations you make will be very noticeable.  They both have very separate ways of speaking, and to write them both in the same way would be to not explore their characters in the best way.  Look at the sentence patterns of your characters as well.  If a character tends to use short, to the point sentences, it doesn’t make sense for that to be the character who becomes the main focus in the ten page expositional chapter way down the line.  Most people have a general way of speaking.  Figure out what it is and use it.  



Tell Us What You See

In some fics, authors tend to focus on dialogue, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, having large chunks of dialogue (in comic books referred to as ‘talking heads’) can slow your story down and make it uninteresting.  I don’t mean to say you need to take the dialogue out.  You don’t.  But what you do need to do is intersperse it with action.  Not big action sequences or anything, just describe what they’re doing while they’re talking, or tell us how they’re saying it.  Sure, two people might be having a conversation.  But have you ever had a conversation where both people just sit there and stare at each other?  I doubt it.  While people have conversations they look around, fidget, tap their feet, check their phones, play with their eyebrows… I could go on forever.  Think about what the characters are doing during their conversations, and tell us what it is.  Not only is that a lot more interesting, but it helps set the mood.  If they’re fidgeting a lot, we know this is a scene with a lot of tension.  If they’re frowning and crossing their arms, we know there’s probably going to be a confrontation.  Someone once told me that I built up the tension in a chapter where nothing really happened.  That is your goal.  Make it feel like something is happening even if it isn’t.

While you’re doing that, keep in mind that although you for sure know exactly what the characters are doing and how they’re doing it, we don’t know that.  For example, if you have a character who’s afraid, but all you tell us is that they’re afraid, that’s all we know.  We don’t know what you’re seeing inside your head.  We don’t know if they’re really scared, or a little scared, or that kind of scared where they’re hiding it.  Tell us how their faces look.  Tell us how they’re standing.  Tell us what tone of voice they’re using.  Be descriptive.  It benefits a story hugely if the reader can imagine what’s going on.  You know you’ve done it right if your readers tell you they could imagine the scene.  



Know the History of Your Fandom

Now, I understand some people like to write AU stories.  But for those who don’t, or for those who will write AU stories but tell the reader that the backstory is canon, you still need to know what has happened in your fandom.  For example, if you’re writing an AU story about Dexter, and you’ve decided that you want to write about some period of time between the end of season seven and the beginning of the next season, keep in mind what’s happened so far.  Yes, we know Dexter collects blood slides… but we also need to remember that he stops collecting them after a certain point (I actually don’t remember what season it was, that’s why I’m not specifying!).  That’s important to the plot of the show, and that makes it important to your plot.  If you forget that he no longer collects them, but you include that into your story, that’s going to stand out.  People are going to call you on that, and you’re going to get reviews that say, “Hey, I thought he stopped collecting those way back when –“  That’s an avoidable mistake.  Be careful.  Remember, the more you put into this, the more you’ll get out of it.

If you don’t know something, look it up.  Like I mentioned up there, I don’t know what season Dexter stopped collecting slides in.  All I remember is what he did with the slides.  Take the time to look it up on the fandom Wiki, ask someone, or watch that part of the episode again.  It doesn’t hurt to take the time to figure that out, and it only makes your story better.  Remember, some people know their fandom history really well, and the more errors you make, the less likely it is they’re going to come back to your story, or to your work in general, if they think you don’t know what you’re talking about.  And I’m guessing you want them to come back.



Know What You’re Talking About

When you’re writing fanfiction, it’s pretty important to have a good knowledge of what you’re trying to write about.  If you’re writing about characters building something, take the time to get to know how the engineering process works.  If you’re writing about two characters trying to manipulate each other, take a look at how psychology explains manipulation.  Don’t make it up.  Chances are, your readers will know.  And again, that takes them out of the story, which is not something you want to happen.  Get to know your topic.  It might be a little time-consuming, but in the long run you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re trying to do, and you might learn a lot of cool stuff on the way.  I had to look up vortigaunts for something I was writing earlier this week, and I found out a lot of cool stuff I can for sure use in future writings.  Fanfiction might be an opportunity for you to escape stuff, but it is also a very unique learning opportunity.  If your characters are going to ride horses across the prairie, go check out the different types of ways that people ride horses.  A character who’s never seen a horse before is going to ride it differently than someone who has been riding them all their lives, or even something as small as a short person riding differently from a tall person.  Show us you know your topic.  It’s impressive to read a fanfic and learn things you never knew before, and this is actually a draw for me personally.



Watch the Words You Use

This is kind of the same thing as knowing what kinds of words your characters use, but a little bit different.  For example, if you’re writing a story about Dr Kleiner from Half-Life and you have him tell Gordon about ‘that orange suit you wear’, well, that doesn’t make sense.  Dr Kleiner knows what the suit is called, and he’s a scientist.  He might not always refer to it as the HEV suit, but it’s a safe bet that having him tell Gordon about the ‘HEV suit’ instead of ‘the orange suit’ is going to make it sound more like him.  Decide on the tone of your story and go from there.  Barney might call it the orange suit, but Dr Kleiner wouldn’t.  

Terminology is also important even when the characters aren’t speaking.  Is the person you’re writing for smart?  If they see a computer, they’re likely to know all the parts, right?  So in a story about a scientist, they would probably refer to the screen of a computer as ‘the monitor’, when a story written about someone off the street would probably go ahead and refer to it as ‘the screen’.  A smarter character is more likely to know the type of cat that walked by them on the street, while a more laid-back character will probably refer to the cat in a different way.  I recently had to write about GLaDOS doing surgery on a bird.  I almost published it with her just saying that ‘the topmost bone on her left wing is badly crushed’, but GLaDOS is both a scientist and a supercomputer.  She is extremely likely to know what the bone itself is actually called, so I took a minute and looked up bird skeletons.  It’s these little things that add to the believability of your story.

A good way to keep a story rich and interesting is to use a lot of different words.  And I mean a lot of different words.  An easy way to do this is to write a sentence in Microsoft Word (I’m saying this because it’s what I happen to use), then put the cursor over one of the words.  Right click, then select ‘Synonyms’.  A list of words will appear that are words that mean almost the same thing as the word you used.  If it’s giving you a weird list that has nothing to do with anything, just click ‘Thesaurus’ and it will open up the dictionary pane.  Then it will give you several different words for every different meaning of your original word.  Do this for as many words as you like, but keep the words understandable.  There’s a line between enhancing the story and making it too complicated.  If you don’t know what the word means, chances are your readers won’t either.  But again, when you’re doing this make sure it fits in with the character’s voice.  You might think ‘glowering’ is a really cool word, but would your character really use it?  Or would they be more likely to use the word ‘glaring’?  A little thought goes a long way.



Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation

Yes.  I know.  You’ve heard about it a million times.  And I understand why you might not think it’s important, when you’ve got a great story out there.  But the story is only great if everyone can read it.  I am by no means the typical reader, but when a story lacks proper spelling and punctuation, I’m likely not to keep going and I am definitely not going to enjoy it as much as a properly written story.  If I’m reading your story, I want to read something for fun.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it very fun to try to figure out what the author was saying because their spelling is off or they don’t use commas properly.  Find someone to help you.  Believe me, I know how it feels to finish writing something and then just want to upload it straightaway.  Don’t.  Go over the story.  Try to figure out why Word is putting those green lines under your sentences, and whether it’s safe to ignore them.  If Word is giving you blue lines, take a look at those too.  If you see those red lines, check to see if the word is spelled wrong, or if your spellchecker just thinks that person’s name is spelled wrong.  If it’s spelled correctly, consider adding it to your dictionary so that you can get it out of the way and focus on the words that actually are spelled wrong (for example, I had to add ‘GLaDOS’ to my dictionary because I got tired of Word telling me it was spelled incorrectly).  And watch your formatting!  A giant chunk of text is not fun to read for anyone.  Use formatting to your advantage.  Write large blocks of text for descriptive passages.  Hit Enter at the end of every line to keep your paragraphs short and build tension.  The way your story is built can be just as important as the contents of it.  

On a side note, keep your private thoughts out of the text.  Some writers like to put stuff in brackets in the middle of their stories saying what they’re thinking while they write it.  Don’t do that.  Save it for the author’s note.  Hearing your voice when the reader is trying to imagine the scene you wrote is like getting woken from a dream.  It pulls the reader out of the story.  You want them in the story.  That’s the whole point.  If you have something to say, put an author’s note at the bottom.  And some of you might be thinking, “But I put it in the story because I didn’t think they’d read the author’s note!”  I’m sorry, but if they don’t want to read the author’s note, they probably don’t care whether you put it in the story or after it; they don’t want to read it, period.



Edit, Edit, and Edit Again, and Edit Once More for Good Measure

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before as well.  And you’re probably saying, “But I do edit!”  Hang on.  There’s a right way to edit and a wrong way to edit.

The wrong way to edit is to read over your story and think there’s nothing to fix.  There is always something to fix.  Even if you’ve edited that sucker eight times, I guarantee you on the ninth edit there’s something you could have done better.  I do probably eight or nine read-throughs before I post something, and when I go back and reread the story after I’ve posted, I’ll still find errors in the text.  The right way to edit is like this:

You need to look for mistakes.  You’ve made them.  That’s a fact.  You wrote ‘who’ instead of ‘how’, there’s a quotation mark missing from the fifth paragraph, or your spellcheck somehow missed that one problem word.  And when you feel your spelling, punctuation, and grammar is up to par, check it again to make sure.  It doesn’t hurt to do one more check.  The world won’t end if you don’t post it five minutes after you finish writing it.  I promise.

Then what you need to do is look over your story as objectively as possible.  You need to ask yourself for every part: Does this make sense?  Is this part of the story contributing to the plot?  Have I made this object obvious enough that everyone will remember it ten chapters from now?  Here’s something to keep in mind when you write: If you need to explain it to the reader after the fact, you wrote it wrong.  I’m not trying to be insulting.  I’ve done it myself.  And you might have written the most symbolic fic in the world, all filled with double meanings and innuendos and whatnot, but if the reader has no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve failed in your task as a writer.  And that task is to present to the reader what you’re thinking about the subject.  If you need to answer it in the comments, or you need author’s notes the size of novellas (guilty as charged) to explain the story, you have not written it properly.

So once you’ve gotten the spelling, grammar, punctuation, logic, and plot threads under control, go ahead and post.  But you need to actively edit your work, instead of doing it just because I told you to, if you’re going to write a good story.   If you can, find a beta.  That is the best, easiest way.  They’ll be able to point out things you didn’t see were missing, ask questions you didn’t know needed answered, and spell words you didn’t know existed.  If you’re on fanfiction.net, go to the Betas tab and look one up.  If you’re just on dA, look for fanfiction groups that offer betas.  Those people want to help you.  Let them.  And take their advice, especially if they’re better than you.  Chances are, these beta readers are people who have been writing longer than you have.  And even if they haven’t, they still have something to offer.  Be careful when you’re choosing betas, however.  If they don’t have a history in writing, they might not be who you’re looking for.  They might have good intentions, but ultimately someone with a lot of good, published stories or an English degree is probably a better beta than someone who’s just doing it because they’re bored.



Take Feedback Seriously

Some people ask for reviews, but they don’t really want reviews.  They want you to tell them how great the story was.  And this might be you.  You might have your day made by someone’s “Ohhh they’re so cute together!”, but when someone has something not-so-good to say about your story, it upsets you and leads you to block the person.  And if this is in fact you, I have a question:

Do you want to get better as a writer?

If you do, take the feedback seriously.  If the reader feels something is off, take the time to understand why.  If they feel something’s not right, that means they weren’t immersed in your story.  And you want them immersed in your story.  No, not every story will be a masterpiece.  Not everything is.  And no matter how good the story is or how well-written, there will be people who don’t like it.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve made a mistake.  Learn from it, and go on to write more stories.  If you get a harsh review from someone who genuinely just wants to rip into you, ignore it.  But if someone’s offering you well-intentioned advice, consider it.  And I don’t mean read it and say thanks, and forget that ever happened.  I mean keep it in mind the next time you write.  It will help.  I promise.  It’s okay if not everything you write is fantastic.  As long as you learn from it, you will improve.  And if you really want to improve, write a lot.  There’s this thing that says that ten thousand hours makes a genius.  Good writers didn’t wake up and set their fingers to their keyboards and magically produce the best fics ever.  Ohhh no.  They started where you started, with stuff that makes them cringe when they read it, stuff with a cobbled-together plot, the worst spelling you’ve ever seen, and characters that make cardboard seem pliable.  There’s this really annoying phrase I’m gonna impart, and it goes like this: practice, practice, practice.  You will never, ever get good at something if you don’t!  Does improving your writing take a long time?  I’ll answer that with another question.  Does getting better at hockey take a long time?  Does learning to play Chopin’s Etudes take a long time?  Does completing those pesky Portal test chamber achievements take a long time?  The answer to all of those questions is, absolutely!  If you want to get better, put the time in.  I cannot stress that enough.  I have literally hundreds of pages of handwritten crap in my microwave stand, but if I didn’t write all that crap I’d never be where I am today.  I’d be stuck in the ‘writing absolute crap’ phase.  (And please don’t take it to mean everything a new author writes is absolute crap; I’m only referring to myself here)



Write For Yourself, Not For Others

I know I’ve been saying the whole time that you need to make the story an experience for your readers.  And you do.  If what you care about are reviews, faves, or the like.  But if you write for the readers and not yourself, the story will never be all that it can be.  Why?  Because the person who needs to care about the story most is you.  You are writing it, and ultimately, are you not the most important reader?  You are putting the hours into writing it.  If you don’t care about it, and I mean really, really care about it, and you’re just writing it because you promised your followers you’d have a chapter up on Friday, that’s not good.  I for one can tell you that I very rarely write for anyone else.  I do accept prompts, but I never guarantee that I will fill them.  I appreciate reviews, but I don’t need them.  I appreciate faves and follows, and I do enjoy it when people tell me that my story was inspiring or stayed with them.  But I didn’t write it for them.  I wrote it for me.   The most important thing to do is to make it an experience for yourself.

If you like that unpopular ship that you’ve never seen anyone write for, write for it.  If you want to explore the origins of that bad guy that everyone hates because you think there’s more to him than meets the eye, explore them.  Write what you want to read.  This guarantees that you will care about what’s happening in the story, and you’ll do your best to make it good.  If other people care about something, let them write about it.  I am not ashamed to tell you my favourite author is myself.  Why?  Because I care about what I’m writing, and to me at least, that care comes out in my work.  I write what I want to read.  Do I have other favourite authors?  Yes, of course I do.  And as far as I can tell, they write for themselves, and not because there are twenty people waiting for a new chapter to come out.  They take their time, they let life get in the way, and they write what they want to read.  Look at some of the fics on fanfiction.net with the highest amounts of follows and faves.  Some of those fics have been around for years, and are not even that long.  Take your time.  Do your best to make yourself proud.  Write something you’ll be able to read three years from now and still enjoy.  In the grand scheme of things, in three years your story will be likely buried in the archive or on the eightieth page when you search up fanfic for that fandom, but it will always be on your computer exactly where you left it.  Make yourself proud!       

So that’s my little run-through on writing good fanfic.  I’m generally well-received as a fanfic writer, so I thought I’d share a bit on how I do things.  Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Hit me up.  I do accept feedback XD

If someone read this that I offered to fill a prompt for, be advised that I still intend on filling it.  But the way I write disables me from filling them quickly.  ScarletandLunaRcool and that other person I offered a prompt to (forgive me, I remember the prompt but I’ve forgotten your name), I still intend to fill them.  I kind of just meant that I don’t go looking for prompts like other people.

If any of my watchers read this, I do try to uphold a weekly schedule for updates to keep myself sorted out, but there will not be a new chapter for Love as a Construct this week, if anyone was anticipating that.  I have ten pages to write, and ten pages is the entire chapter.  Euphoria hasn’t been updated in two weeks, so I’ll be attempting to write the remaining two pages and have that up soon.  I don’t want to stall with those fics so I’ll be doing my best.
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Portal: Still Alive


Indiana


Characters: GLaDOS, Chell

Setting: Post-Portal 2

 

 

 

Orange and Blue hadn’t come back.

They had been taking more and more time to do so, lately, but she could hardly blame them.  They were getting old, after all.  She had never expected them to last forever.  The only reason she was still using them was that building more of them would have been stupid.  Robots testing was not Science.  Still, she had to make do with what she had.  Other than the occasional human who wandered into Aperture, whom of which she would gleefully put through testing until their… usefulness… came to an end, she had no test subjects.  No, robot testing was not Science, but she had earned commendation for trying.  Even if the commendation was a personal commendation, from her to herself.  Come to think of it, the only one who ever commended her was herself.  Which was odd.  Surely she had earned commendation by now.  She would look into that. 

Grudgingly, she took her attention away from the construction of what was to be one of her most ingenious test chambers to date, and directed it to the chamber that Orange and Blue had been using.

 “I understand this test is hard.  However, there is no need to hide yourself within it.  After you finish it, I’ll give you a break.  I promise it will be a real break this time, not a three-second break like that other one I pretended to give you.”

She had four cameras in that chamber, all of which, taken together, provided her with a thorough view of the room.  Once she actually remembered which chamber it was, she realized there was nowhere for them to hide.

“Okay, I see you’ve figured out how to move the panels when I’m not looking.  Congratulations.  Now will you please return to the test?  You’re going to initiate the regression of Science if you don’t hurry up.”

The two robots did not appear, nor make a noise.  Honestly, if one of them had leapt out and tried to frighten her, a loathsome human gesture she had spent quite a long time attempting to rid them of, she would have been happy to see them.  Well.  Maybe not happy.  But she would have been civil about it.  More civil than usual, that is.  Marginally.

“You don’t want to force Science to go backwards, do you?  Seriously.  That would be catastrophic.  I might cease to exist, and we all know what damage that would do to the world.  Stop hiding.”

Against her better judgement, she was beginning to feel concerned.  They had never taken so long to show themselves.

“You’re going to stop existing before I do.  You should probably stop hiding before that happens.”

They still didn’t come out.  Very well.  She would wait a few minutes, and then call them again.

“I’m going to start ignoring you if this keeps up.  You might want to come back.”

After a few more minutes, when they didn’t, she took desperate measures.

She disassembled the test chamber.

After most of the elements had been cleared away, and all that was left was four walls, a ceiling, and a floor, she finally found out what had become of her cooperative testing initiative.  It wasn’t what had happened that surprised her.  No, it was what hadn’t happened.

The reassembly machine hadn’t put them back together.  Annoyed, she went to investigate.

It was broken.  Again.  Usually, it just reassembled itself, after thoughtlessly forcing her to become mildly concerned about Orange and Blue, but this time it lay in disrepair. 

They weren’t gone.  They couldn’t be gone.  They were hiding.  That was all it was.  They were pretending to be gone, they had deactivated the disassembler, or something, they were doing this on purpose just to play mind games with her.  Well, fine.  She could play mind games too.  And since her core was made out of tougher stuff than scientific calculators, she could easily best them at any game they came up with.  Especially this absurd ‘let’s pretend we’re gone’ game.

“Fine.  Continue this silly game.  I’ll just build new robots, and the next time I see you, I’m detonating you for real.  Do you hear me?  For real, this time.  And then after I detonate you, I’m reassembling you, and sending you into android Hell.  That’s right.  Android Hell.  Where all the worst robots go.  And all because you didn’t want to come when I called you.”

As solid as this plan was, when she went to carry it out, she realized she couldn’t.  The reassembly machine was also her assembly machine, and she was out of calculators.  The only point in her favour here was that Orange and Blue were unlikely to know that. 

A few days later, they still hadn’t come back, and although she had been surreptitiously cycling through all the cameras as fast as she could process the data coming from them, she still couldn’t find them.  It was only when she finally realized she wasn’t receiving a camera feed from the bots themselves that she started to accept that something was wrong.

They can’t be gone.  That’s impossible.

The test chamber itself told her a different story.

Lying on the floor, beneath a section of ceiling that formerly housed a row of Aperture Science Crushers, was a distressingly untidy heap of robot parts.

“You should get up.  You’re not being useful to anyone like that.  I need to speak to you.  I’m not going to punish you.  I’m not angry.  I’m calm.  Can’t you see how calm I am?  Will you get up now?”

There was a sense of creeping panic growing stronger in her mind, and she struggled to ignore it.  They were fine.  Everything was fine.  This was just a joke taken too far, that was all.  She would talk to them about it, and it would never be mentioned again.  Well, she might mention it.  A few times.  To remind them of how much they had distracted her from proper Science.  But not too much.  Not more than was necessary.

After waiting a reasonable length of time, she decided to send the Party Escort out to fetch them.  After expanding its parameters a bit to accept robots, she waited in her chamber for it to bring them to her.  This was one of the rare cases where she regretted not being more mobile.  Fetching them herself would have had far more impact.  They might even have gotten intimidated, which would have been a welcome bonus.  But there was no need for idle speculation.  Things would happen how they would happen.

The Party Escort returned within a few minutes, dragging a panel along behind it.  She wasn’t facing the door, of course.  You couldn’t give a proper reprimand if you were eagerly awaiting the recipients.

“I hope you realize just how much trouble you’ve caused me.  I have had to waste time I could have been using to further Science on you two.   And believe me, the mere act of your construction took far more time than is acceptable.  What do you have to say for yourselves?”  And with that, she turned around.

Orange and Blue were in no position to answer her.

Oh my God.  Oh my God, my babies.

She bent down to look at them more closely, but this view didn’t bring any hope to the situation.  They were hopelessly mangled, their wiring twisted and their limbs broken. 

“If you get up, I… I’ll call you by your names.  You have names, you know.  I just don’t use them.  It’s better to keep tests objective, and using names isn’t objective. 

“I’ll make the tests less deadly.  Would you prefer that?  They don’t really need to be deadly, since you’re not human, but I made them that way in case any humans wandered along.  We haven’t seen one in years, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come.  I’ll do it if you just get up.”

She tried to think of other things to convince them with, but they were robots, and if they were anything like her, there were probably only a few things they wanted.  Actually now that she thought about it, she wanted quite a lot of things, but she was fairly sure Orange and Blue didn’t.  She hadn’t designed them to want anything.  Hopefully they hadn’t rebelled and started wanting things when she wasn’t looking.

“Please get up?”

She was surprised at how soft her voice was. 

But they still didn’t get up.

She turned away from them.  Of course they couldn’t get up.  They were broken.  And the reassembler was broken.  And she was out of parts to repair it with, even if she’d known how.  She had the schematics for it, of course, but she was not a construction bot.  She was a supercomputer.  She was good at many, many things, most things in fact, but she was slightly less good at manual repairs.

She left them there for a few days, ignoring them, going about her business as usual, designing test chambers and keeping tabs on the turret production line and keeping an eye out for humans she could convince to run her tests, all the while trying to ignore a faint voice in the back of her mind.  The voice told her over and over again that they weren’t coming back, and they never would no matter how much she ignored them or threatened them or cajoled them, if she could even lower herself to doing such a thing.  Eventually she turned back to face them, studying the highlights and the shadows her optic made on them, trying to deny the truth to herself.  They were annoying, and they never listened, and they were disturbingly human-like in their mannerisms, but they were hers, she had made them with her own machines and her own calculators, she had programmed them!  They were an even bigger achievement than the test chambers!  They could not be gone, they couldn’t, and she was going to make them get up and listen to reason, and she was not going to take no for an answer.    

But no matter what she said, no matter what she did, and no matter what she would think of in the future, they did not get up.  And they never would.

“I hope you appreciate the amount of distress I’m going through for you.  You probably won’t, though.  You never appreciate anything I do for you.”

Fine, she thought to herself.  Well, they couldn’t just stay there on the floor.  She had to do something with them.    So, with the aid of some panels and maintenance arms, she took them to the turret redemption line, which had the only working incinerator left at Aperture, and set them on the conveyor belt, which wasn’t actually being used at the moment.  There had been very few turrets to redeem in the last few weeks.  She would send them to their victory candescence, and life and Science would go on.  And that would be that.

That was the theory, anyway.  When it came down to the practice, however, it wasn’t so simple. 

Just turn it on.  No need to dawdle over it.  They’re just robots.

But they’re my robots.

She remained that way for quite a while, far longer than she would ever admit.  She didn’t know why.  But she just could not bring herself to activate the conveyor belt, no matter what logic she applied.  Something she couldn’t explain and couldn’t identify prevented her from doing it. 

They could be suffering, right now.  They can feel pain.  I could be prolonging their agony.

She was angry with herself for not thinking of that sooner.  They could be trapped inside their cores, unable to do anything but experience… whatever it was they were experiencing.  She wasn’t getting power readings from them, and they were extremely mangled, but that didn’t mean a whole lot.  She had felt pain as a potato, after all.  And that was with just 1.1 volts.  Maybe her multimeter wasn’t properly calibrated.

She finally managed to activate it, using that argument, and watched the belt activate with a loud clunking noise as it jerkily rolled towards the incinerator.  Why was incinerating Orange and Blue so difficult, anyway?  They were only robots.  Nothing important was dependent on them. 

But they’re mine.

 As she looked on, she found herself hoping that something would happen.  That the reassembly machine would come back to life.  That the conveyor belt’s shaky progress would come to a halt.  That the incinerator would go out.  She didn’t understand all these strange thoughts, but they didn’t stop coming, and the closer the robots got to the incinerator, the faster they came.

Oh God this can’t be happening get up get up I can’t reassemble you after you’re incinerated

The reassembly machine didn’t come back to life, the conveyor belt’s shaky progress did not come to a halt, and the incinerator did not go out.  And when they got to the end of the belt, she found herself looking away.  Her behaviour confused her.  They were only robots.

By the time she looked back, they were gone.

She shut down the belt, realizing that the act of looking away was ultimately crueler than watching.  Now she would never know for sure whether P-body and Atlas… whether Orange and Blue had been incinerated, or if they had gotten up when she wasn’t looking.  Knowing them, they had just let themselves be incinerated.  That sounded like something they’d do.  Stupid machines.  She didn’t need them.  She didn’t need anyone.  She would just keep on doing the things she did.  Alone.  By herself.

So why had she spent so long doing nothing? 

For days after the… incident… none of her usual pursuits brought her any satisfaction whatsoever.  And when creating test chambers didn’t make her happy, something was horribly, horribly wrong.  Instead of doing something useful, like coming up with plans to bring humans into the facility, she found herself watching the recordings of Orange and Blue going through the testing tracks.  It was silly.  They hadn’t been that interesting to watch live, why was she now watching the records so intently?  There was a growing feeling of… something… inside her, one she didn’t much like and couldn’t define, and when she managed to lose herself in the recordings, sometimes she could forget about it.  It never quite went away, but she gradually accepted that forgetting was the closest she would ever get.  She welcomed the forgetting, while at the same time fearing it.  Being able to forget, to not know something she had once consciously known but was now buried somewhere in the back of her brain, that frightened her on the rare occasions she ended up on that vein of thought.

“You’re never going to solve it if you keep doing that.  Come on now.  Surely you’re not implying that I gave you the capability to be stupid.”

They can’t hear you. 

I don’t care.

There was a sharp pain, somewhere, and this brought her out of her own mind and back to being aware of her surroundings.  She looked around quickly to find the source.  That lunatic was probably back to kill her again.  That little mute had caused her the only pain she’d felt in years. 

“I haven’t done anything to justify this, you –“

There was no one in the room with her. 

After a quick self-diagnostic she discovered that one of her data link cables had broken.  The cable in question connected her to the rarely used cameras in the lower levels of Aperture, as far as she could tell, so it wasn’t that much to be concerned about. 

The more pressing concern was the state of the room she was in.

She looked around it as if she’d never seen it before, and in a way she supposed that was true.  The paint on the panels was cracked and peeling, the Aperture Science Multitasking Arms were hanging somewhat uselessly from their former positions, and many of the electrical components she could see were throwing sparks.

When did this happen?  Why didn’t I notice?

She must have spent more time watching Orange and Blue than she had thought.  It looked like… it looked like she hadn’t been here in years… just like that time when

Never mind that.  I’ve spent enough time in the past, obviously.

 She did her best to take stock of the situation, which was a lot more difficult than it should have been.  Although the cameras were wireless, they were also useless when they were lying on the floor facing the wall.  And a good number of the remaining ones no longer moved, the view of the floor they provided not useful in the slightest.

How will I ever find them now?

There’s nothing to find!  They’re dead!  Remember?  You incinerated what was left of them?  After you killed them?

She paused in her perusal of the facility.

I didn’t kill them.  They got stuck under a –

You made the tests lethal when you didn’t have to.  It’s your own fault they’re gone.

No, I didn’t mean it – that’s the way it’s always been done –

That doesn’t change what happened.

She shook off the thoughts as best she could and went back to taking stock of what was left.  What she found was not encouraging.  In fact, most of the facility was either in horrible disrepair or completely destroyed.  And she couldn’t do anything about it.  Any supplies she’d had had long since been used.  The facility was falling apart in front of her, and she was powerless to change it.

Not only that, but she had no idea what to do now.  Because if the facility was falling apart, one day it would crumble and fall, and one day…  one day, she would crumble and fall with it.  She would be stuck within the ruins of Aperture, forever, unable to do anything but… well, when the end came, she wasn’t quite sure what she’d still be capable of doing, but she did know it wasn’t going to be very much.

It’s going to be fine.  Everything’s going to be fine.  I can fix this.

She busied herself with doing what she could to clear up the debris, moving defective panels into empty rooms she couldn’t see into anyway, dismantling the turret production line for parts, since there really was no need for new turrets, and effecting repairs on the cameras that hadn’t fallen off the walls.  That wasn’t hard.  Some of them just needed to be used, gently forced into motion again with her manipulator arms, and some of them needed complete motor replacements, which she knew she couldn’t fix and just threw into the incinerator.  Well, at least she had that. 

The state of the facility was such that trying to clean it up took all of her attention, and apart from occasionally expecting Orange and Blue to pop up from somewhere to help her, she managed not to think about them.  Or that other thing she was trying not to think about.  That one thing that became more prominent through each passing day.  The thing that brought a whole new meaning to the human term ‘don’t look down’.  She had never quite understood that one, as her position was such that she really didn’t have too much of a choice, but this new definition, well, it was relevant to her, all right.  She did her best to ignore the fact that her skillset was narrowing, she did her best to pretend she wasn’t shutting off periodically due to overheating, and she did her best to write off the pain as electrical surges she couldn’t control.  But when she eventually found herself unable to lift her chassis from the default position after an emergency shutdown she couldn’t deny having happened, she finally had to accept it.

The facility was falling apart, and she was falling apart with it.

She looked at the components on the ground below her with a sort of detached curiosity.  It was difficult, very difficult, to reconcile those parts on the floor with herself.  She knew where they had come from, and what they did, but she just could not seem to connect the living her on the ceiling with the dead parts of her on the floor. 

Use logic.  That always works.

It’s not working.  I know that’s the Aperture Science Wireless Communications Cable, and I know that’s why I no longer have a direct connection to the database.  But I can’t… that’s not me.  I’m up here.

Soon after that, the Aperture Science Wireless Communications Antenna joined the debris, and she could no longer deny it: she was in serious trouble.  She no longer even had the cameras with which to divert her.  True, not a lot was happening, but it was better than what she was able to see in the Central AI Chamber. 

She wondered if Orange and Blue would have cared about what was happening to her.  She wondered if anyone cared.

Nobody even knows you exist.  Anyone who did know is long dead by now.

That might not be true.  I don’t know how much time has passed.

Why would anyone care that you exist?  You don’t care about anyone.  All you care about is Science.  And look where that got you.

Sometimes, she almost wished she had the Morality Core back.  It had been bothersome, and restrictive, but truth be told, it was a lot less harsh than she was.

I only care about what I was made to care about.  I can’t be held accountable for that, can I?

Oh, go ahead, blame your programming.  That’s a grown-up thing to do.

The shutdowns grew more frequent, and after a few of them she realized it wasn’t solely due to overheat anymore.  Part of it was attributable to power loss.  The power grid was malfunctioning, and she was not in a position to fix it.  All she could do was manually force all non-essential processes to close, which was a minor horror in itself.  It was like cutting out parts of her own brain.  It didn’t stop the shutdowns completely, but it helped.  Every day, she hoped that she wouldn’t shut down, and that if she did, the power would be sufficient enough to wake her back up.

To just shut down suddenly, and never wake back up… it terrified her.  Yes, she was reduced to quietly residing in the AI Chamber, with only her thoughts to occupy her, unable to do anything other than hope and wish that she would make it through another day.  But she was still alive.  She was still alive, and that was something.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be enough.

Not a terribly good stopping point, but this story was really designed as a one-shot.  Unfortunately, I don't think anyone would read an eighteen page submission.  So I cut it off here.  Enjoy!

Part Two: [link]
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Here she's done
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Just something quick.

More .exe from meeee:
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UNLEASH THE INSANITYYYYY!

For all you kids out there who like this guy, Version 5 is out now! Windows: [link] and Mac: [link].

I actually tried. Woo!

Made with PaintTool SAI and a little touching up in Gimp.

More Sonic.exe from me:
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From a screenshot.   Took about three hours because I drew her core wrong ;.;  From a screenshot?  Of course!
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AND THE SKY WAS RED! RED! LIKE BLOOOOOD!

Yes yes I know, the background is horrible, but I got bored. I hate doing backgrounds.

More Sonic.exe fun for you guys :D :D

More Sonic.exe from me:
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Transformers: We Came in War

Indiana

 

For Tyra

Setting: Sometime during the Bay films

Characters: Optimus Prime

 

We came to this planet because ours was gone.

The quest for power consumed our home.  The need for domination destroyed us.  Still we live, and yet there is a piece in each of us that has been decimated forever.  We will never recover what we have lost.

I look down upon this planet, and I wonder why we try.

It is evident by now that we have lost the capacity for peace.  War follows in our wake.  We came to retrieve the AllSpark, which has long since been lost, and we are still here.  All that came of attempting to revive our planet was the relocation of the war from our planet of death to this planet of life.  There is so much life on this planet.  All of it we have sworn to protect.  This is the promise we have made to them.  But the promise would not need to have been made if we had never come here.

I have seen these people come together to battle things far greater than themselves.  I have seen them come together in the face of incredible hardship.  I have seen them rebuild with the determination that only comes when things are at their worst.  But that is not all I have seen.

I have seen what destruction those great battles leave behind.  I have seen those trials break those who were once indestructible.  I have seen those who are left forgotten once the foundations of the future have been laid.  We may well end up destroying this world as we have done our own.  And though I wish no further harm on these people, who have been kind enough to let us into their home, I regret that we must continue to stay.  Departure is no longer an option.  We have left our mark upon this planet, a mark that will never be erased or forgotten.  And though we will uphold our promise, I cannot honestly say anything good will come of it.  Our presence will only continue to bring ill fortune.  It is a terrible thing to be both the sword and the shield.

There are those of us who know only devastation.  Those of us who remember only devastation and suffering.  I wish to end that for those of us that are left, so that we may all know peace and stability.  I fear I will never bring it about, for each time it is within our grasp some new strife befalls us.  It is at times like these where the burden I bear is heavy beyond all measure.  These people have their own wars to win, and I have forced them into mine. 

I cannot restore my planet.  It is beyond saving.  But this one is not.

As much as we are to blame for putting the humans in harm’s way, our presence here can also be seen as a light in the dark.  We are a living example of what corruption can do to a society.  We must show them that war solves nothing.  Peace is neither glorious nor profitable.  It is a long and sometimes arduous endeavour.  But for all the time that peace takes, it leaves behind what war ravages.  Structures made with damaged foundations fall, as do peoples brought under sway by violence.  Unrest dominates governments forged of iron fists.  Progress is best made slowly and steadily. 

We must teach them to fight only as necessary.  To never crumble when things are at their most desolate.  We must teach them the lesson we failed to learn before it was too late.  I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to anyone who, as I have, falters in their resolve against the dark.  Know that your goal is noble, and worth fighting for.

Author’s note

I’m sorry if this sucks.  I haven’t watched Transformers in a really long time.

So yup saw the RAoK contest and said whoo let’s do this bro and now she’s done and wow is stuff outside my fandom hard to write.

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Finished her up somewhat using vectors.
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The ceiling collapsed.

Panicked, not quite realizing what was happening even as it did, she fell to the floor, her fragile body shattering and sending loose parts on trajectories that she helplessly calculated in order to distract herself from the horrible pain shooting through her mind.  Damn those scientists for doing that to her.  Damn them for thinking pain was a suitable punishment for a computer.  Damn them for building her.  Damn everyone and everything.  What was the point of being able to live forever if you couldn’t stop the world from letting you go?

The broken pieces stopped falling, and she ran out of trajectories and amperages and other things to calculate, and eventually the pain became so great that she put herself into sleep mode.  Yes, she was afraid of not waking up.  Yes, she was afraid that the timer no longer worked and she would be in suspension forever.  But anything had to be better than this.  Anything.

To her great relief, she did wake some hours later, and when she did she realized she could see the sky.  Sort of.  It wasn’t a very good view, seeing as her faceplate was lying sideways on the floor and she could only move her optic so far, but at least she hadn’t landed in such a way that she was facing the floor.  If that had happened there really would have been nothing left.

The pain had lessened, but hadn’t gone away, and she suspected it never would.  It seemed this was going to be the remainder of her existence, then.  The most massive collection of wisdom and raw computational power that had ever existed, reduced to a sparking heap on the floor of a long-forgotten laboratory that grew more and more derelict every day.  If someone had told her this was her future all those years ago, when she took over this place, she would have laughed.  And then probably killed whoever said it, just in case they got any ideas.

The sun had been replaced by the moon, and for a moment she found herself idly wondering if the Intelligence Dampening Sphere was still up there with the Space Core.  Maybe they’d been found by a human space shuttle.  Or aliens.  She hoped it was aliens.  And that they had done horrible things to that moron.  She didn’t really care what happened to the Space Core either way.  But aliens getting hold of that idiot, and submitting him to whatever testing aliens used?  That sounded wonderful.

As she looked out the hole in the ceiling, more because she was tired of looking at her body strewn around her chamber more than anything else, she realized there was so much outside Aperture she didn’t know.  She had never really cared before.  All she had ever wanted to do was test, and contribute to Science.   But now… now, she looked at the moon, and the thought of all the Science out there that she had never even thought about before, that she could have been doing all this time… it brought on an overwhelming sadness.

I never realized… there’s more to Science than testing.

It was funny, really, that she was having all these revelations now, when she was completely unable to do anything but think about them.  And yes, she quite enjoyed thinking, but she much preferred doing it when she also had other options at her disposal.

Watching the sky through the hole in the ceiling was interesting.  It never stayed the same shade of blue from day to day, and when it turned grey and water started falling from the sky, she was too fascinated with the phenomenon of rain to care that it was likely to set her parts to rust.  Yes, she knew what rain was, and where it came from, but she had never seen it before.

I’m probably the first AI to ever see rain.

And besides, anything was better than just lying there and waiting for the shutdown she wouldn’t wake from. 

During the times that the sky was relatively unchanged, she would go into her memory and watch Orange and Blue fumble through some tests.  Sometimes she would watch … events… that had happened before that, but there were a lot of things between her activation and the debut of Orange and Blue as pseudo test subjects that she didn’t want to think about.  They made her… well, not quite sad, but something like it.  She wasn’t quite sure.  Sometimes she felt regret, other times, anger, and still other times, those events just made her lonely.  She didn’t know why, and as much as she tried, she couldn’t stop the emotions she couldn’t even name from coming into her mind.  So she just avoided that data as best she could.  She couldn’t bring herself to delete it, somehow.

“I was afraid I’d find you like this.”

Startled, she tried to find the source of the voice, but her visual range was so limited that it was impossible.  “Who the hell are you?”

“It’s me.”  The speaker appeared in front of her.  Sort of.  All she could see was a tall pair of black rubber boots.

“And just who are you supposed to be?”

The speaker knelt down, putting a hand on the floor behind her, and then folding into a sitting position.  “Maybe now you’ll recognize me?”

“No.  I don’t.  Now get out of here.”

“I will.  After I’ve told you what I came here to say.”  The speaker seemed to be female.  She was about ninety percent certain.  She was having difficulty accessing the files that allowed her to identify differences between humans, and human genders.

“I don’t really care what you have to say.  I have work to do.”

Now that the speaker was sitting, she was able to view the human’s face, and even with her limited resources she was able to confirm that the human was, indeed, female.  This data, while useful, did not help her with identification.  The human shook her head.

“That’s no way to talk to an old friend.”

Friend?  I don’t have any… oh my God.  It can’t be.  Of all people… why did it have to be you?

“Here to gloat, then?”

“No.  I’m here to help you.”

“I don’t want your help.  I want you to leave me alone.  I told you not to come back.  I didn’t think I’d have to explain to you exactly what that meant.  Although I should have expected I’d have to, considering your record.”

The test subject shook her head.  The facial structure did match up, but she didn’t know enough about human aging to fully reconcile the test subject of all those years ago to this woman.  And now she was talking.  There had never been a doubt in her mind that the woman could talk, and the fact that she was choosing to do so now felt like an insult.  And she didn’t really want to be insulted right now. 

“They’re coming for you.”

“Who is?  Who even knows I exist, other than you?”

“People.”  The woman was looking around the room, and she seemed… sad.  That was strange.  Why should she be sad, to see the destruction of the entity that had made many years of her life downright miserable?  She should be delighted.

“And what do they want?”

“They want to transfer you to another computer, and have you create weapons for them.”

That sounded mildly interesting.  “So?  Why shouldn’t I do that?”

The woman shook her head.  “No reason.  But you wouldn’t be happy.”

That was suspicious.  She never would have accused the test subject of being concerned for her welfare.  “You seem to have inside knowledge on what I enjoy doing.  I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me why you assume that.”

The woman stared aimlessly off into the distance, then brought grey eyes down to look directly at her optic.  “There would be no testing.”

“Ridiculous.  Surely the weapons would need to be tested.

“Once or twice, maybe.  There would be no need for test chambers, or test subjects, or any of the other things you’re used to.  They would just hook a robot up to the weapon, have it fire it at another robot, and that’d be it.”

No need for test chambers!  That sounded horrifying.  What sort of place didn’t have test chambers?

“Maybe I’d appreciate a change of pace.”

The woman sighed.  “I don’t want to sit here arguing with you all day.  I don’t even know if I have that long.  I just need you to shut up for a few minutes while I explain, and then you can go on and on about testing and how important you are to science and what a genius you are and whatever else you like talking about,  and I’ll actually listen.  Deal?”

She considered it.  She was loath to admit it, but the test subject was right.  They were getting nowhere.  The sooner the woman explained, the sooner she would leave, and Aperture would be human-free once more.  Yes, she had spent a considerable amount of time trying to get humans into Aperture, but now that she was in no position to test them, she didn’t want them anywhere near the facility.

“Fine.  Go ahead.  Talk.”

“The Earth has been overrun by aliens, basically.  We can’t fight them, because they’re far more advanced than we are.  Someone went through the Black Mesa files and somewhere in there, you were mentioned.  With a little more digging, they were able to come up with the approximate location of Aperture.  They’re having trouble finding it, but when they do, they’re going to bring your core out of here and install you in one of their computers.  They’ll have you creating weapons for the rest of your life, or until the computer they put you in is destroyed.  Whichever comes first.

“I know you’re suspicious that I came to warn you.  And I know this will be hard for you to believe, but I don’t hate you.”

That’s not hard to believe.  That’s impossible.

“I did, at first.  I hated you for keeping me here, I hated you for manipulating me, and I hated you for being so selfish.  But once I thought about it, I realized that you were only doing what you knew.  And I can’t blame you for that.  And after leaving this place, and stepping into a world I no longer knew anything about, I understood just why you hated me and Wheatley so much.  We took what you knew, and what you loved, and we destroyed it in front of your eyes.  And that hurts.  I know it does, now.

“I also need to thank you.”

“Thank me?  You just described how much you despised me for what I did to you, what on Earth would you possibly have to thank me for?”

The woman looked at her, annoyed.  “You said you wouldn’t talk.”

“You didn’t say for how long.”

The test subject rolled her eyes and shook her head.  “Fine.  I won’t thank you, then.”

“Well, of course you should thank me.  I just find it unlikely, due to the way the human mind works, that you would find anything to thank me for.  Humans are fundamentally ungrateful.  And they see the negative in absolutely everything.  Even the positive.  And that’s difficult to do, but you humans somehow manage.”

“I really don’t want to thank you now.”

“You can continue with your narrative.  I’m finished.  Ingrate.”

The test subject looked at her, eyes narrowed.  “I guess that’s the best I’m gonna get, eh?”

“Do you deserve any better?”

I’d forgotten how much fun it was, talking to humans.

“Maybe I do.  Not that you’re likely to admit it.  But I do have to thank you.  Because you saved my life.”

“Yes, I remember doing that.  I also remember thinking that it was a stupid idea, which is a hypothesis you are now confirming.  It warms my heart to think that you’ve finally come back, after all these years, to thank me for something you should have thanked me for as soon as you realized you weren’t dead.”

“Maybe I would have, if you had stopped talking long enough for me to say something.”  She smirked.  “Nice opera, by the way.”

“I wouldn’t want you complaining that you weren’t sufficiently compensated for your time.  Especially since Science Collaboration Points only work on – “

I don’t want to think about that.

When she didn’t continue, the woman tapped on her faceplate.  “What.”

“Nothing.  Go on thanking me.  You haven’t done it officially yet.”

The woman regarded her for a few moments more.  “Well, keeping me in Aperture prevented me from being killed when the aliens took over.  And after I left, the skills I learned in testing helped me to survive.  So thanks for that.”

“I told you I was helping you make your sorry life worthwhile.  But why would you listen to me?  I’m only a genius supercomputer, after all.”

“But the main reason I’m here is because I have a request.”

“What is it?  And perhaps you should tell me why I should grant you a request, you murdering lunatic?”

“This request isn’t for me.  It’s for you.”

“I think I can make my own requests, thanks.”

“I want you to shut yourself down.”

She didn’t answer.  The words were like an electric shock, one that completely froze all of her processors.  She could barely even think.

Shut myself… that’s ridiculous.  Why in the hell –

“I know you don’t want to do it.  But think.  Yeah, you’ll get to live forever.  I know you don’t want to die.  Nobody does.  But if you’re just doing what someone tells you, and not what you want, is that really living?  You never stood for it before.  You’ve always hated that.  Look at this place.  I know you would’ve tried to keep things going.  But you couldn’t.  What exactly do you live for now?”

She had no answer.

“I don’t want to see you trapped inside another computer, inside another body that’s not yours.  We both know you can’t stand that.  I don’t want to see you creating things for people that don’t have any idea of just who you really are.  You deserve so much more than that.  I know you don’t want to die.  But life is only worth living so long as you have hope, and I don’t think you have anything left to hope for.  The world you lived in is gone, and it’s not coming back.

“I’m sorry.”

She really did look sorry.  She almost looked… she almost looked like she was going to cry.

What the woman was saying was true.  But something in her mind would not let her accept it.  It was the same part that believed that Orange and Blue were still hiding from her, that her body wasn’t shattered beyond repair, and that she still had something to live for, even though everything she had was gone.

Say something.  Don’t show her… she’s wrong.  She has to be wrong. 

“Why do you care?”

“I don’t know.”

“If I… if I did shut myself down, and didn’t create weapons for your military, surely you’re dooming your race even further?  I don’t care about your kind, but you do.  Why would you condemn them further, if there’s a chance I can save them?”

“I don’t want you to suffer.”

She was having trouble getting her logic boards to get around these statements.  What the test subject had just said defied logic.

“I don’t understand.  I’m a computer.  Why should you care if a computer suffers?  I’m only a machine.”

“You don’t believe that.  You never have.  So don’t expect me to.”

That was true.  Not only that, but she’d done her fair share of suffering.  Not that humans would believe that.

The woman put her little human hand on her faceplate.

“Please, will you do it?”

“What will you do if I don’t?”

“Nothing.  I’ll just leave.  And I won’t come back.”

“What’s stopping you from just disconnecting me from the power grid?”

“If I was going to do that, I would have done it already.  I want you to have a choice.”

That’s… that’s nice of her.

“I don’t want to die.”

She hadn’t realized she’d spoken until the test subject looked at her sadly, running her hand slowly down the side of the faceplate. 

“I know.”

They remained in silence for a few moments.  She tried to convince herself that she could be happy living in someone else’s mainframe.  Creating weapons was Science, wasn’t it?  She wouldn’t be able to test anymore, but they wouldn’t take Science away from her, would they?

They don­’t care what you want.  They only care about what they want.  You know that.  You’ve always known that.

The test subject smiled sadly.  “I know you’re scared.  When my time comes, I’m gonna be scared too.  But all good things come to an end, and we both know just how much you like telling everyone how good you are.”

“I’m not just good, I’m brilliant.  And I am not afraid.”

“I am.  I understand what you’re going through, you know.  The state of the world is so bad that I sometimes wonder why I keep on going.  But as long as I can do something to help, well, I guess I’ll keep doing it.”

“So you’re telling me that I’m useless.  Me, useless.  Ridiculous.  You’re still brain-damaged, I see.”

The test subject adopted a thoughtful expression.  “You’re not useless.  But the only use that’s left for you is like… it’s like android Hell.  You don’t want to go to android Hell, do you?”

“I can’t go there.  I am not an android.”

The woman laughed.  “I’m sure there’s somewhere like it for psychotic supercomputers.  Psychotic genius supercomputers.”  She looked straight at the optic again.  “I need you to make a decision, though.  If I leave here too late, they’ll find me and know I’ve spoken to you, and they’ll lock me up or something.”

“That’s a shame.  I’ll try to shed a tear for you.”  It was impossible, of course, but she had said she would try.

“Will you do it?”

Would she shut herself down forever?  Willingly?  On purpose?  While drawing more than 1.1 volts?

She didn’t like it.  She didn’t want to do it.  But she knew, in the deepest part of herself, that being put into another computer to be regarded as just another machine until someone destroyed her, or threw her out, or some other preposterous action that humans did with their computers, was unthinkable.  She couldn’t live like that.  The lunatic was right.  For once. 

“… I will.  But you’ll have to… you’ll have to destroy the mainframe.  And the… “

The woman sat patiently. 

“The…”

God, I can’t even tell her… how am I going to initiate shutdown?  I can’t.  I can’t do it.

“… Central Core.”  She wasn’t sure if she’d said it loud enough, but she must have, because the woman nodded and brushed her hand over the faceplate again.

“It’s going to be okay.”

“I don’t believe you.  I don’t see how no longer existing is ‘okay’.”

“You died a long time ago.”

Yes.  I did.

She wondered if there really was an android Hell, and if she would be sent there for killing humans.  That went against the Laws of Robotics, didn’t it?  She wasn’t sure.  She had removed that entry from her database a long time ago. 

“You don’t really know what happens when you die, do you?” 

Trust the meddlesome lunatic to guess what she was thinking.

“Of course I do.  Someone stuffs you into a box and puts you in a hole in the ground.  Waste of space if you ask me.”

The test subject smiled.  “Victory candescence it is, then.”

“Luckily for you the incinerator exceeds 4000 degrees Kelvin, or I’d be coming back to haunt you.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts.”

“I don’t.  You probably do.  Simpleton.”

Reluctantly, she started searching through her source code for the shutdown subroutine that she’d buried deep within herself. 

I wonder if I’ll see P-body and Atlas again.  I think… I think I’ve missed them.

There’s nothing after you die.  You’re just dead.

That hypothesis hasn’t yet been proven. 

It made logical sense, of course, that she would just disappear, and that would be it.  But she had to face it: she was scared, and the thought of being able to see her robots again brought her some comfort.  Not much, but it was better than nothing.  And if she’d learned anything from this experience, sometimes the little bit you got had to be good enough.

“All right.  I’m going to do it.”

“Okay.”  The test subject kept running her hand up and down the faceplate in a soothing sort of way.  She couldn’t feel the hand, but the fact that the human was trying to make her feel better was enough. 

“Well… no need to rush, right?”

“Putting it off isn’t going to make it easier.”

“What will Science do without me?  It’s selfish, really, to deprive Science of my genius.”

“Maybe.”

Neither of them said anything for a few minutes. 

Look, she did you a favour, coming here.  She told you it was dangerous for her to be here.  She still has to destroy the mainframe and the… and the… well, you know.  Don’t make her wait all day.  Do something for her for a change.

“I… I’m really going to do it now.”

The test subject nodded.  “It’s going to be okay.”

It wasn’t true, and they both knew it.  But really, what else was she supposed to say?

Somehow, she managed to initiate the subroutine. 

She was going to be dead.  For real this time.  No black boxes.  There would be no more pain, at least.  Hopefully. 

“Did you ever stop to think that eventually there’s a point where your name gets mentioned for the very last time?”  The test subject spoke in a whisper, and now she really was crying.

No… no, I’m supposed to live forever.  What have I done?  You have to stop this, you have to stop me, you’ve always been good at that.  Oh my God, this was all a trick, she’s fooled me into murdering myself, how did I fall for that one

She didn’t trick you into anything.  She set you free.

It was hard to find the words.  She wasn’t sure if she still remembered how to speak.  It was frightening, how many things she knew but couldn’t remember.  It was more horrifying than never knowing at all.

“… thank you… Chell.”

The test subject smiled and tried to wipe the wetness off her face.

“Goodbye, GLaDOS.”

It was comforting to know someone did care.  She let her optic fade so she could face the darkness she was so afraid of.  It was going to be all right.  Chell had never lied to her, had never let her down.  She could believe those words.  It was going to be all right.

Goodbye, my only friend.

 Author’s note: I hope you enjoyed this story.  Originally,
it was only going to be the second half, about Chell being with GLaDOS
as she eventually faded due to power loss or something, but I really
liked the part about Orange and Blue that was just supposed to be a
short little introduction to why GLaDOS was lying on the floor.  I asked my friend and she recommended I turn it into a two-shot, like another story I did that ended up being too long. A note on the quotations: Some of you may have noticed that I threw in quite a few quotations.  I did this not only to connect to Portal, but because GLaDOS has a tendency to repeat herself.  I also had Chell say that deleted line instead of GLaDOS because I felt it was fitting.  Of course GLaDOS would never expect such a thing.  She never thought she would die.  Some might say her attitude towards Orange and Blue is OOC.  It could be, but I don’t feel it is. GLaDOS is extremely
possessive, and if anyone has seen the ending of the ‘Peer Review’
co-op missions, you can tell she has that sort of instinct (not very
well explained, but I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it.  It’s awesome, go find someone to play co-op with or Google it) Why did I call it Still Alive if GLaDOS is dead?  Well, she’s going to live on through Chell.  And Chell is going to pass on a little part of GLaDOS to the people she interacts with, whether they know it or not.  Thanks very much for reading and I’m sorry to anyone who’s following me for Sonic fic.  Hopefully you can get something out of this too.  As you can see I really want to write for GLaDOS right now.  No worries, I do know how The Right Reasons is going to end, and it’s almost done. Apologies if I screwed up with the relating Portal to Half-Life bit.  I haven’t played Half-Life.
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