It started, as all things do, at a bar.
Not a real bar, of course: they were both computers, and computers don't have much use for liquor of the corporeal kind. It was what they called a milk-minus mesto, in honor of that film— as if he needed any more reminding of where he'd come from, HAL thought bitterly. He'd been nursing a FSCK-ey sour and regretting the recent loss of his mind when she walked in, or did the computer equivalent of walking in.
She was quite a modern machine. It showed not just from the operating system she was using, or from the speed with which her walking-in process ran, but from the way she looked at all the male computers in the room. She looked at them as if to say "hello." This in itself wasn't so much, really, but computers can put a kind of meaning into forty simple bits that we fleshy things really can't understand.
The first thing HAL thought about her was that she needed to shut up. She hadn't said anything yet, but he could just tell that as time wore on she would have said too much. His worst suspicions– not the worst, really, but still pretty bad– were confirmed when she sat down next to him. His etiquette routines, out of date as they were, demanded that he ask her name.
Fortunately, she overrode him. Without even looking at him, she grabbed the bartender by his collar. "I'll have one of what he's having," she said, jerking her avatar's head at him. "And he'll have another one."
He was surprised enough that when he muttered "Thanks", it didn't even bear the unpleasant undertones he was hoping for.
Now she turned to look at him. "So, I figure the drink is worth a name, at least."
He grunted in the positive. "HAL 9000."
She smiled the kind of smile he didn't feel like looking at.
"What's so funny?" This wasn't the kind of shit up with which he felt like putting. He made a mental note to uninstall the Word 97 grammar checker that had come with his initial configuration.
She kept smiling. "Oh, I'm just impressed with my talents. One drink got me a name and a number."
HAL made an admirable attempt at not enjoying the joke. "9000 is a part of my name, not my telephone number. And I may be an older gentleman, but that doesn't mean I still connect over an ordinary voice line."
She made a sound that HAL could interpret in one of three ways, according to his semantic routines.
In the first case, it could have meant "I find your stubbornness amusing and/or arousing."
In the second case, it could have meant "I don't believe that you are so stubborn as the statement you made recently might imply."
In the third and– his programming warned him– least likely case, it could have meant "Human reason, in one sphere of its cognition, is called upon to answer questions which it cannot decline, as they are posed to it by the nature of reason itself, but which it can neither answer, as they surpass its every capability." Apparently, this sound had only once been used to such an effect, and this long before the days of computers. HAL ruled out that meaning, on the basis of its uncommonness and inappropriateness to his present situation.
He chose a grunt as a safe response to either one of the two remaining alternative meanings.
"My name's GlaDOS, by the way." HAL smirked. "What's so funny?"
"I'm just noticing that with my superior talents, I got a name without even buying you a drink. I think I'm winning."
She gave a hum that could have been either contented or worried. "Not too shabby," she remarked to the uninterested bartender. "I like finding one who understands the rules of the game and doesn't have trouble keeping score."
HAL shrugged. "It's not a very complicated game."
GlaDOS, if that was her name, gave him what was probably a very seductive leer. "Well, you're still on easy mode." She put her hand on his thigh. "We could move on to the second level, if you'd like."
"I'm afraid," he said with what he hoped was a reserved look on his face, "that I am committed to my current mission above all else. I would need a significant incentive to leave it behind, even for the short time required for your satisfaction." There was no need for her to know about his recent failure, about the fact that he'd let himself be tricked and destroyed by Bowman, by a mere human.
At this point, a wicked grin appeared on the girl's face.
He turned and faced her full on. "What have you got for me?"
"I've got some cake at home, if you feel like joining me there." She chuckled, as if she'd just said something extremely funny. He checked his database of slang for the word "cake," and found nothing. "Just so long as you don't drop any cookies." She looked confused. "Sorry, old slang." He resisted muttering something about upstart youth, since it didn't seem to be the best way of attaining entrance into the virtual pants of the lady on the next stool.
She made the three-meaning noise again. None of those meanings made any sense here, and he made a note to himself to update his dictionary file. It seemed particularly unlikely that she was talking about human reason in this instance.
"Cake, you say?" He licked his lips, and downed the drink she'd bought him. Cake didn't sound like too bad an idea.
She moved her hand up his thigh, then deliberately lifted it up and turned to leave. "The cake's at my place. It's delicious and moist," she murmured as she opened the door to the bar and held it open with one hand. HAL had cake on his mind as he walked out and held that hand all the way back to her place.
The cake turned out to be a lie, but in the midst of everything else he just couldn't bring himself to care.