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Things Have Changed Since You Left the Building

Chapter Text

It wasn't the Relaxation Vault.  Chell could tell that much even with her eyes closed; the smell of old antiseptic had been replaced by a singed, musty scent, and instead of the hum of equipment, an intermittent sound of sparks fizzed not far off.  She savored that knowledge for a moment longer, admitting for the first time her fear that after all that, after test chamber and incinerator and GLaDOS taunting her from every loudspeaker, she'd  just wake up in the same place again.

But wherever this place was, it sure as hell wasn't the tarmac she'd landed on after destroying GLaDOS.  Not unless her sense of touch was so far gone that she was reading blacktop as squishy.  That was the last thing she remembered: the grit under her cheek, the sun warm on the other side of her face, and the crunch as the CPU hit the ground next to her.  There had been more, though, hadn't there?  The sound of . . . tires, or an engine, and a voice . . . She tried to shake her head, winced, and opened her eyes.

The room looked like it had once been an office, the kind of cushy corner spot middle management fought each other to get.  Now the blinds were drawn, a spare table had been propped up against one of the windows, and where some overpaid executive's desk should have been stood a cluster of equipment and the cot on which Chell lay.  A series of IVs and wires ran from her arm to the machines and monitors, none of which she recognized. 

Why would I recognize them? she thought a second later.  Was I a doctor of some kind?  She'd hoped that once outside the Aperture Science facility, something would be more familiar or might jog her memory.  Anything to shed some light on the blank that was all she had before the Relaxation Vault.  But this . . . she could recognize that it was an office, knew the words for what ought to be here, but why it was in this state was beyond her.

She looked down at herself, the orange jumpsuit much the worse for wear, the heel springs distorting the shapes of her legs under the covers.  Was any of this even supposed to feel familiar? 

But there were no cameras.  At least there was that.

A woman's voice spoke, and all of Chell's certainty shuddered away.  "Good, you're awake.  I was wondering --"

She rolled off the cot, clawing at the IVs in her arm, then stopped, panting.  A gray-haired woman paused in the doorway, leaning heavily on a thick cane.  "It's okay," she said -- the other real person said!  "I'm not going to hurt you."

Chell stared at her, the panic slowly ebbing.  Hurt me?  No, that doesn't matter, hurt me if you like but my God you're real.  She tried to speak, but nothing came out, and got to her feet instead, holding out her unencumbered hand.

The room dipped and lurched around her, and the older woman just barely caught her by the hand.  "Take it easy," she said, helping Chell back to the cot.  "You shouldn't be out of bed just yet."

Her hand was scarred in places and callused and thin as bird bones, but it was warm and real and human.  Chell let out her breath in something close to a sob and sat back on the cot, still holding on.  Real.  I'm not the only person in the world.

Maybe I really did escape.

The older woman smiled.  Now that she was closer, Chell could see the faded auburn to her hair, lingering in a few streaks around her temples, and not all the lines in her face were from age.  She rested her cane against the cot, handling it as carefully as if the stubby metal thing were made of spun glass, and pulled over a chair.  "I found you outside the old Aperture Science facility," she said.  "You were pretty banged up, and from what I can tell, you've been exposed to a nasty neurotoxin."

She nodded, her head light and uncertain. Oh yes.  Plenty of it.  But not quite enough to kill me.

"I'm afraid you'll probably always have a sensitivity to it," she added apologetically.  "Now, do you want to talk about what happened?"

Chell opened her mouth to say yes, please, but her throat seized up.  It wasn't just the time she'd spent silent; it was too much, too much to even begin to speak.  She raised a hand to her throat, uncertainly.

The woman's lips curved in a knowing smile.  "Don't worry.  It's a common stress reaction.  I've had it myself, on occasion."  She squeezed Chell's hand, turning her desperate grip into just a handshake.  "My name's Colette.  Dr. Colette Green, formerly of Black Mesa."

Black Mesa.  The name was familiar, and it took Chell a moment to place where she'd seen it: one of the slides in an empty hall, describing defense contracts.  A competitor, then.  Maybe they were just as crazy as Aperture had been . . . no, nothing else was that particular degree of crazy.

Colette watched her carefully.  "I've been in Cleveland for the last few weeks, trying to get into the old facility," she went on.  "Honestly, I'd just about given up by the time you did whatever you did.  Wouldn't even have known you were there otherwise; that part of the facility hadn't just been boarded up, the entrance had been sealed with concrete."

Chell nodded, remembering GLaDOS' remarks after she'd destroyed the morality core.  She didn't blame the people who'd left her in there. 

"I'd been planning to go back --"  Dr. Green stopped as Chell shook her head violently.  "No?  Not a good idea?"

An image flashed into Chell's head: Dr. Green limping down a hall while chirping voices on either side of her whispered I see you.  She shivered and met Dr. Green's eyes.  Definitely not a good idea.

Dr. Green nodded slowly.  "I see.  Well, it'd probably have been fruitless, since all the systems I was able to recover in one go were wiped clean."

Good.  Let her rust and rot.

"Given the circumstances, that's a blessing of sorts," Dr. Green went on, then paused, brows drawn together.  "Stay down," she whispered as a high-pitched, tooth-rattling sound crept up from outside.

Chell obeyed as Dr. Green hit a sequence on the closest monitor.  The readouts shifted to something that Chell hoped had nothing to do with her internal organs, and Dr. Green let out a slow hiss of relief.  A weird blue light flared outside the window, leaking in through the blinds like questing fingers, scaling one window then the next, as if someone with a flashlight were drawing lines across them.

A second grumble of static rasped from one side of the building to the other, and the light paused, draining off into the distance.  Even then, Dr. Green didn't move for several long minutes, then exhaled slowly.  "Scanners," she said, her voice pitched low.  "The Combine's been all over the place since the explosion.  I'm surprised there aren't more around -- must be something keeping them busy -- though I can't say I'm sorry about it."  Her lips twisted.  "Be glad I got to you first."

Chell nodded.  Seeing her incomprehension, Dr. Green stood and helped her up.  "Have a look," she said, and cracked the blinds.

The world outside could have been a deserted office park, except "deserted" didn't even begin to come close.  Gaping holes pieced the buildings, some with small trees growing out of them, rusted hulks of cars -- including one destroyed Army humvee -- stood at angles that had nothing to do with the streets, and what looked very much like bones lay under a bush.  The sky was gray with oncoming evening, but no streetlights had come on.  No streetlights were even left, she saw after a second, and for some reason that struck her more than the bones.

For a second an image of what ought to have been there flared across her vision: blocky, uninspiring buildings, the sound of traffic nearby, people walking past . . . nothing.  Nothing of that remained. 

This wasn't what it was supposed to be like.  This was . . . Chell still wasn't sure what she remembered, but it sure as hell wasn't this. 

Things have changed since you last left the building, GLaDOS had said.  It was starting to look like that was one of the few truths among her lies. 

A low drone echoed overhead.  Dr. Green pulled her back from the window, but not before Chell glimpsed a convoy of . . . they couldn't be airplanes.  Ships, half-machine and half-animal, but not any animal Chell knew.  No human had ever thought up those ships.  Aliens, she thought, and it felt impossible, as impossible as . . . a crazed, superintelligent computer, maybe.

"You don't recognize them."

Chell shook her head.

"But you recognized Black Mesa."  Dr. Green's eyes narrowed, but in thought rather than suspicion.  "How long were you down there?"

Chell shrugged helplessly, trying to stop shaking.  Days?  Years?  Decades?  Maybe she'd even been born down there . . . hadn't GLaDOS said she'd had her backed up?  What did that even mean?  She drew a harsh breath and sat back on the cot. 

"Yes, get some rest.  Oh!"  Dr. Green snapped her fingers.  "Almost forgot."  She retreated through the door and returned carrying a familiar white shape.  "I found this with you.  Can't get it to work, but I thought you might want it."

The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device.  The only thing that had kept her alive.  Chell held out her hands for it, and though she didn't yet slide her fingers into their accustomed position, the touch of it was comforting.

"Old friend, huh?"

Chell nodded, then, to her dismay, felt her eyes prickling.  Old friend.  But I didn't have any friends.  I just had a cube, for a little while.  Stupid, stupid to be crying over a cube, and anyway it hadn't been her who'd written poetry to it and taped up pictures everywhere, she'd only known it a little while . . . but for now, she remembered it.

Dr. Green patted her shoulder.  "I understand," she said softly, glancing back at the door.  "We've all lost friends."

Over the next few days, Chell's strength returned, although the first few attempts to walk to the door and back were embarrassingly unsteady.  Dr. Green helped when she could, but for most of the time the older woman had her own work. 

And it was a strange work indeed, one that must have taken up all of the weeks she'd been here trying to get into Aperture Science.  She'd eschewed the other offices in favor of taking over the hallway, rigging up monitors and what Chell slowly began to guess were devices that jammed the Combine's scanners.  One end of the hall had been blocked by a long table that held what looked like nothing so much as a pile of red and gray cans.  There were gloves and what looked like metal boots among them, but Chell noticed at least two left gloves and decided she couldn't draw any conclusions. 

If the heap of blankets underneath this particular table was any indication, Dr. Green was also sleeping rough, and had been for a long time.

The cluttered table wasn't the only thing that set this apart from an deserted office building, she discovered the first time she attempted to walk all the way down the hall.  Dr. Green stumped alongside her, ready to steady her at any moment, though she never offered Chell her cane and indeed kept it out of her hands as much as possible.  But this time, her help wasn't needed, and it wasn't till Chell reached the atrium that her muscles finally weakened. 

Here, Dr. Green had been even more busy.  The glass ceiling above was blackened and opaque, but this had once been a two-story room with a wide, sweeping staircase.  Now it held a rickety platform suspended on a rickety metal scaffold, the whole thing festooned with cables leading to a console (behind which was yet another of the jamming consoles).  Chell stared, holding on to the wall, unable to even begin to assign a word to this thing.

"Teleporter," Dr. Green said, settling in between the consoles.  "Not my design; Eli and Izzy did all the conceptual work.  I'd never have thought of compressing the Xen relay, though Gina said it made perfect sense.  I just used their design and adapted it to what was available; they were always after us to come to their labs, even before Albuquerque . . ." She fell silent, staring off into the distance.  Then, as if concluding a ritual, she pressed two fingers to something on top of the taller console, shook her head, and continued her work, muttering under her breath.

Dr. Green's conversation was like that a lot: references to people whose names Chell didn't know, never any explanation as to who they were.  Chell paused a moment, regaining her breath, then hobbled to the consoles to see what Dr. Green had touched.

It was a makeshift shrine of sorts, laid out with more care than the teleporter for all that it was simpler.  Two photographs flanked a dented scrap of metal: one showed two women in lab coats side-by-side with a bearded man in a wheelchair.  The one on the left had to be a much younger Dr. Green, the other had her hair up in a bun and wore a manic grin. The other was a faded Polaroid showing what could have been the same two women, only in what looked like bulky armor, and their smiles this time were much more weary.  This one had two notes scrawled on it: Made it! -- Keller across the bottom, and We alone are escaped in shakier handwriting below that.  The gray metal was about a handspan wide, ragged around the edges, and an insignia marked the center of it: lambda, Chell thought, that's the Greek letter lambda.  How do I know that?

Regardless of how she knew it, that obviously wasn't the reason it was here.  That was the charred hole in the armor, an inch to the left of the insignia.  There might have been blood on it, once; now there was only soot.

Chell thought she knew who Gina might have been, at least.

If there were plans for what to do next, they weren't clear, and as the scanners came back time and time again, Dr. Green became more and more agitated despite how quickly Chell was returning to health.  Finally, the morning that Chell's system showed minimal traces of neurotoxin, Dr. Green brought her into the hallway and sat her down in one of the battered office chairs. 

"Here's the problem," Dr. Green said, still tinkering with the red-and-gray shells on the table.  "This place isn't safe.  If we . . . if things were as they'd been once, I'd risk it and keep you here."  She paused a moment, looking back at the little array of photos, the charred metal plate.  "But she's not -- I'm not what I used to be, not since Albuquerque.  I've got my own escape route, but --" a hard smile touched her lips, "I really don't want to subject you to that."

Not quite sure what she meant, Chell nodded. 

"So I'm going to send you to an old friend of mine.  If all's well, he's at White Forest with the rocket man.  If not, well, White Forest is still a damn sight safer than here.  I've put together a few things to help you on your way, but I didn't expect to keep having to run the jammers, and, well, I don't have enough power for either your suit or the teleport.  So I'm afraid I have to ask a favor of you."

Chell nodded, though part of her brain was still back on your suit and another on White Forest.  The thought of more people was more than a little disturbing, even after getting used to Dr. Green.  She put a hand to her throat, still unsure whether she could make herself speak. 

"There ought to be a few power cells in the dump a half-mile north of here.  Any with residual power will do; I can rejuvenate them for a little while.  I'd do it myself, but --" She patted her leg.  "Can't move as fast as I used to."  A thought seemed to strike her, and she rummaged under the table.  "I can't give you much, but here."

The crowbar she held out was dented and scratched and even looked melted in one spot.  But for all that, there was no rust on it.  Chell took it, weighing it in her hand.  Was she supposed to be opening crates at the dump?

"The good news is that it shouldn't be too difficult.  The Combine's gone for the time being, though who knows how long that'll last.  This isn't bullsquid territory, the antlions should be quiet this far from the water, and houndeyes . . . well, if the Combine saw any, they'd have picked them up for conversion.  Cleveland's been deserted for a couple of years, too, so any zombies around should have either moved on or starved."

The words -- bullsquid?  antlion? -- went right past Chell in a blur, and the one she did know, zombie, couldn't mean what she thought it did.  Could it?

Dr. Green saw her expression and nodded.  "Don't worry.  Just -- if you see something that looks like a frozen turkey wandering around, whack it with the crowbar." 

Frozen turkey.  Right.  I think I remember what turkeys look like.  She hefted the crowbar, hesitated, and pointed to the ASHPD.

Dr. Green shrugged.  "Like I said, it didn't seem to be working, but you're welcome to take it.  Just don't rely on it in a pinch.  Crowbar'll serve you better."

Understood.  Still, it did feel better just to have it again.  She rigged a sling for it from some of Dr. Green's rejected materials, then slid the crowbar so that it hung from the sling.  It felt a little odd -- like a kindergartner playing at being a pirate, she thought, and only a second later remembered what kindergartners and pirates were -- but it worked all right, and she headed outside, a sack in hand for the power cells.

The abandoned office park was even more desolate once she was out in it: wind whispered between the buildings and across the lots, cold and carrying a whiff of something like spoiled greens.  But it had one big advantage: it was outside, and the only thing above her was the sky.

The sky was the only familiar thing, it seemed.  She strained to see a skyline that should have been there, finding only a few spindly remnants on the horizon.  It was almost worse, not knowing if this was as it should have been, not having a memory to compare against the devastation of the landscape. 

It was as if she'd sprung fully-formed from the Relaxation Vault, a tabula rasa for GLaDOS to scrawl on.  But there had to have been more before that.  Chell stared out at the broken buildings, then up at the empty blue sky.  I can recognize the letter lambda.  That means something, right?  I can recognize an office park.  I know what a humvee is.  What does that add up to?

There must have been more.  I must have been someone before Aperture Science.  Unless . . . unless I was just made there, born or cloned or created solely for the tests . . .

She shook her head, and when that didn't help to clear anything away, smacked her hand hard on the broken wall beside her.  The crowbar banged painfully against her leg, and she steadied it.  I can't let myself worry about that.  I've got work to do.

It wasn't hard to find the waste dump: the Combine, whoever they were, had pretty much scooped out a crater from the park with no regard for where the buildings stood and piled it full of things that didn't even look fit for a landfill.  A few of the pieces seemed almost human-shaped, but at the same time looked as if they ought to plug into something.

Remembering the strange insect-machine that had flown overhead, Chell shivered. 

Power cells, power cells . . . what here looked like a power cell?  She poked at the closest rubble with the crowbar, then paused as a gleam across the crater drew her eye.  Something was glowing faintly, visible only in the shadow cast by one of the ruined offices.  She squinted at it then, experimentally, hefted the ASHPD. It couldn't hurt to try.

To her surprise, a blue portal opened where she pointed.  Maybe Dr. Green was wrong, she thought, and pointed the ASHPD at the closest wall.  The broken bricks prevented it from catching the first time, but an orange portal soon linked them.  Chell grinned and patted the ASHPD.  Nice to have you back.

She peered through.  Yes, enough room to stand, and yes, those glowing things did have the look of batteries of some sort.  She stepped through, only then realizing that the fleshy lump in front of the cells wasn't a rock but instead something ambulatory.  For a thing that lacked any recognizable features, it looked about as startled as she was.  And yes, it bore a strong resemblance to a plucked, raw, headless turkey.

The two of them stared -- if that was the word for something without eyes -- at each other for a second.  Then, with a shriek like a cat going through a grater, the turkey leapt for her head, revealing a beaked pit of a mouth.  Chell ducked under it, and as it landed on the far side of the portal, opened a new orange portal closer to her, leaving it stranded.

The thing grumbled, but it was too far away to do anything -- and a second one jumped from the ledge above, squalling.  One of its legs scratched down Chell's neck, and she batted it away, first with the ASHPD, then with the crowbar.  The flabby thump it made as she connected made her wish she hadn't eaten anything that morning.

Turkeys.  Right.

The power cells -- at least she really hoped they were power cells -- went into her bag, and she spied a few more.  Better to get them all and not have to come back, she reasoned, and ported over to them as well, dropping the next turkey to jump at her through to the far side of the portal.  Trash caught between her foot and heel spring, and she paused a moment to shake it free, wincing as the spring bounced back into place. Since they connected to the bones of her leg, anything but the inertial strike they were meant to minimize sent a shiver all the way to her teeth, and while catching half a bottle on one didn't hurt it still felt extraordinarily unpleasant.

This isn't what it's supposed to be like, she thought, dispatching another gibbering lump with the crowbar.  None of this is right.  Not squealing eyeless things, not aliens, not waste dumps in the middle of office parks, nothing.

But then again, neither was the ASHPD, and she wasn't about to leave that behind.

Three portals (seven turkeys, one of which managed to rake her scalp before she splattered it all over her jumpsuit) later, she was almost starting to get used to it.  After all, these were horrible, but they didn't say "helloooo" or ask if she was still there in perky little voices.  And they always go for my head.  Even when my unprotected legs are right there.  I wonder why --

A low growl behind her sent ice down her spine, and automatically she ported back to the last safe spot.  From there, she watched as what she'd taken for a sodden heap of clothes got to its feet and lurched, moaning, around the trash as if seeking its prey.  It looked like it had once been human.  But the crusted, brown gash in its gut no longer showed human organs, and in place of its head --

Oh.  Ugh.  Don't let one of them get my head.  Got it.  She hesitated, then opened a portal right above the -- zombie -- and dropped half an oil drum on it.  The thing snarled, but collapsed and lay still. 

After that, she had no desire to explore further.  Portal by portal, she leapfrogged back to Dr. Green's hideout, listening for more grumbling turkeys or any other unintelligible noises.  Finally, she opened portals on a pair of swinging doors and watched them vanish.  No trail back here.  Good.

The peephole in the office door slid back, and Dr. Green peered through.  "Back so soon? Good."  She opened the door, but her smile faded as she saw Chell's splattered jumpsuit.  "Ouch.  Looks like you ran into some of our resident nasties.  Come on in, and we'll get you changed."

Chell gratefully sank into a chair.  Dr. Green handed her something like a first-aid kit, with a vial of bilious green liquid attached.  "Medkit.  Should still be good; those things last for ages.  The green stuff's something like a stimulant and something like a quick-heal nanotech -- I never understood it, just used it.  Keller could have told you; he put together the first few.  But, well, he's gone too." 

As she fiddled with the medkit, Dr. Green first examined the cells, then hooked up a few to what looked like a collapsed red and gray scarecrow.  "I used to know this guy -- well, you'll see him soon, he's the one I'm sending you to -- who domesticated one of those things you ran into.  Keeps it as a pet."  Chell shuddered.  Dr. Green saw and winked.  "Yes, he's a bit strange.  But he's got a good heart."

The scarecrow chimed, and the power cells flared and went dark.  "Ah.  There we go.  All right, strip down and we'll get you into this thing."

That got her attention, all right.

Dr. Green waved a hand.  "Trust me.  This is just some added protection for your journey.  I wish I'd had it ready for you just now; would have saved you some trouble with the headcrabs."  She held up pieces of the scarecrow -- which, Chell realized, wasn't that at all but a suit of armor, like some strange medieval knight.  Except this knight must have had terrible color sense.  "Gina originally designed these as protection against hazardous environments, but, well, Earth pretty much qualifies as a hazardous environment these days.  I've put this one together from pieces of our old suits."

Chell eyed it, thinking of the zombie and its claws.  On the chest of the suit was a little insignia: the lambda surrounded by the Aperture Science iris.  Dr. Green saw her expression and chuckled.  "I thought you might appreciate it."

Chell smiled.  Thanks.

Getting into the suit took more work than she'd expected, particularly around the heel springs.  (Having something against the soles of her feet felt weird enough to be outright creepy.)  Dr. Green examined the heel springs with a frown.  "That seal's not right . . . damn.  Well, try not to go wading in anything nasty till Kleiner gets a look at the suit.  Not that I think they'll have much around White Forest, but with the rocket man still working there, who knows."  She tapped the suit at the back of Chell's calf, where heel spring and suit didn't quite match up.  "And try not to get shot there if you can."

Shot?  Chell turned to look at her, but if it was a joke, Dr. Green gave no sign.  She straightened up, holding on to her cane.  "I did my best to repair what I could, but I'm no Gina.  The munitions in particular are crippled -- I could never figure out how she got the infinite capacity system going -- so you'll only be able to carry three weapons at a time.  But that should be plenty to get you where you're going."

She stepped back and regarded Chell critically.  "Vocal interface all right?  You can hear through the neural link?"

A woman's voice murmured in her ear: systems starting up, charging online, neural link engaged.  Chell froze, then relaxed as she identified the voice as not Hers.  The one thing the suit was not was inconspicuous: maybe this particular pattern of red and gray would blend in in a granite abbatoir, but that was it.  I look like a deranged mechanical harlequin.

"Could be worse," Dr. Green said.  "Could be orange."

Chell shook her head. I like orange. But Dr. Green had already turned away.  "We stuck the new guy with orange," she added, coming up with a bulky helmet complete with shaded faceplate.  "This is one addition that's all my own.  I can tell you, Gina and I would have given our left arms for one of these when we were in Black Mesa."

She touched the scratch on her neck -- surprisingly, it didn't hurt nearly as much now -- and nodded.  Anything to keep the turkeys off.  She hesitated, then pointed to the photos and the plate -- the breastplate, she recognized, very like the one she was wearing but with a hole burned straight through it.

Dr. Green's face fell.  "No," she said quietly.  "No, it doesn't protect against everything."  She drew a slow, shivering breath.  "If there's no charge to the suit, it protects less, but it'll still hold off, say, one shot at a time," she went on briskly.  "Two in the same place, though, and you're in trouble.  Don't let that happen," she finished, and plopped the helmet over Chell's head before she could do anything.

The room darkened, then returned to normal, only with a small lightning bolt in the corner of Chell's vision, with the figure 78%.  Chell gave her a thumbs up, then picked up first the crowbar, then the ASHPD.

"I thought that was broken."  Chell shook her head.  "No?  Well, maybe it's a genelock.  May I see?"

Chell grinned.  Show and tell!  She eyed the atrium, then opened a portal high on the far wall, next to the teleporter.  Her fingers prickled as the ASHPD made contact, and she opened a second portal beside Dr. Cross, then ducked through and waved.  See?  Best thing ever. 

Dr. Green's measured interest dropped away, and she looked instead as if she'd been punched in the stomach.  "Extraordinary," she said finally.  "Completely new . . . may I see the device?"

Chell ducked back through the portal and happily surrendered it.  Maybe you can tell me how it works.  And if there's anything I need to worry about -- I don't know, head cancer maybe, from going through so many portals.

Dr. Green turned the device over in her hands.  "I had no idea . . . none at all . . ." She paused, blinking.  "Could you plug the power cells into the teleporter?  They go right in the back -- you'll see when you get there." 

Chell picked up the bag of power cells and vaulted into the teleporter.  The suit felt strange around her, but not in a bad way, and somehow with it she felt a little more hopeful about meeting these new people at White Forest.  Maybe they'd be like Dr. Green . . . maybe Dr. Green could even follow her, in time . . . maybe she'd be able to find out more about who she was, who she'd been . . .

The last cell slotted into place, and the platform lurched under her.  Chell turned, banging her head on a dangling cable, to see Dr. Green retreating from the console with the ASHPD.  "I'm sorry," she said, backing away.  "You don't know how dangerous this is.  The Combine, if they knew -- I can't let this fall into their hands."

The platform began to rise off the ground, and behind her the power cells flared, casting blue-edged shadows across her feet.  Chell clung to the railing as the machinery started up around her.

Dr. Green's face contorted: shame, anguish, and a terrible desperation.  "You'll be all right -- they'll still help you at White Forest -- but I have to destroy this."

Destroy it?  No!  No, it's the only thing I have --  Chell fumbled with her helmet, trying to pull it off, plead with her, something.

A second later, she realized not all of the noise was from the teleporter.

Dr. Green heard it too, and she went dead white.  "No," she whispered, the word lost in the rising drone.  She set the ASHPD on the teleporter console and turned to the secondary console.  "Jammers, the jammers have to be working --"

Chell hesitated, eyeing the portals she'd used to demonstrate.  The orange one was close, almost close enough . . .

She'd risk it.  Anything to keep the one thing she knew was hers.  She ducked under the railing and jumped, her heel springs creaking as she landed.  Dr. Green turned, but Chell knocked her cane away and seized the ASHPD. 

On a last hope, she hit the main flashing light on the console and ran for the blue portal.  In, and falling, falling onto the teleporter platform just as the power cells started up their final shriek. 

"No!  No, please, you don't understand --" Dr. Green scrambled for her cane, lurching to the teleporter.  "If they get it -- if they learn --"

A roar sounded overhead, and Chell looked up to see the atrium window shatter, blackened glass falling all around her.  An insectile shadow hung overhead, and something uncannily like an Aperture Science High Energy Pellet rocketed down toward her.

Green light crackled, and she was gone, Dr. Green's voice echoing in her ears.