Chapter 1: Second Opinion
Nora whizzed along on her rail to take inventory of all the Weighted Companion Cubes. There were a lot of them and they all needed to be accounted for. Unfortunately, someone had been stealing some of them from storage, and had been painting murals of the Cubes on the walls. Nora didn't mind the paintings but the missing Cubes would show up on her record. She didn't want to get in trouble because of some rogue human who wanted her Cubes. Of course, no one had come to check up on her in many years so maybe she wouldn't get in trouble.
A notification popped up in her and she checked it. It was an email from Wheatley! He was her best friend even if he didn't know it. She opened the message and read it: "Have you seen the humans in stasis recently? I might need a second opinion on something...Do you think you could pop up here for a minute?"
Nora smiled internally at this. Wheatley wanted her to come up to the Relaxation Center to see him! Well, maybe he hadn't exactly said that he wanted to see her, but he could have asked any Nanobot for a second opinion. And he had asked her. She quickly rushed up to the Relaxation Center. Her purple eye glowed bright with excitement. It didn't take her much time to get to the wing.
"Wheatley?" she called out in her timid voice. "Wheatley? Are you here?"
"Nora! There you are!" Wheatley came rushing toward her on the rail and Nora shut her eye as he just barely stopped himself from crashing into her. She looked back at him shyly. They were both Personality Constructs, but he seemed just a tiny bit bigger than she was. Of course, she wasn't designed to interact with humans and look as "friendly" as he did. When she was proven to be ineffective as a wrath dampening sphere, she was reprogrammed for supervision of the Weighted Companion Cube storage department. And while his pupil was bright white, hers was big and dark purple but with a bright light around it.
"Oh, sorry about that. Anyway, I need your opinion here. Follow me." He led her down the rail to one of the many doors that held human stasis chambers. He swung himself against the door to knock with one of his handles and called, "Hello? Is anyone there?" They waited a few minutes but nothing happened. Wheatley knocked again and still nothing happened. He turned to Nora again and said, "Frankly, I think they might be dead. What do you think? Could you try to coax them out of the room?"
"Um, okay," Nora said. Wheatley moved out of the way so she could approach the door. She knocked on it gently and called, "Um, hello? Please come out. I would like it very much if you were to open the door."
"You're being much too quiet, love," Wheatley said. "You need to shout a little more."
Suddenly, a robotic voice overhead said, "Attention. An emergency evacuation of all human stasis subjects has been required on account of the lack of life forms in the chambers. Power reserve and emergency back-up power reserve have completely run out. Will the Nanobot or Personality Construct that is presently supervising human stasis subjects please help evacuate all humans from their stasis chambers before protocol implosion of each chamber?"
Wheatley's pupil shrank in panic as he cried out, "Lack of life forms?! Protocol implosion?! I'll be fired for sure if all these humans die under my watch! That is to say if they aren't all already dead! I should have been paying closer attention! Nora, I'm in desperate need of your help! Check all the stasis chambers for live subjects! Please, I need you!"
Nora nodded vigorously. "Of course I'll help you."
She started to glide along the rail to check a different chamber when Wheatley stopped her. He approached her but looked around awkwardly. Nora kept a steady gaze on him, curious as to what he wanted to say to her.
"Nora," he finally said. "If worse comes to worst—and I suspect it just might—I want you to get out of here. Please. Worry more about yourself than the humans."
"But, Wheatley, you'll get in tr—"
"Listen, it doesn't matter if I get in trouble for this if it means losing you!" Wheatley insisted. "Honestly, you're my best friend here. I don't like talking to the Nanobots, and the turrets don't know anything but killing. I don't even know where the other Personality Constructs are in here so you're all I've got."
Nora looked down at the catwalk below them in despair. So it turned out he was only friends with her because she was the only bearable AI around. Wheatley noticed her shift in mood.
"Nora? I didn't mean that to sound as bad as it did. You're my friend and I don't want you to get hurt. Or killed. Please get out before it's too late. Only check five rooms."
"B-But there are hundreds of humans to check on!"
"Actually, it's more like 10,000. But that's not the point! Just check on five rooms, and then get out of here as soon as you can. Will you get out as soon as you can? You promise me?"
"Good," Wheatley said. "If I had arms, I'd hug you for good luck. But I don't so I won't. Anyway, good luck!"
He quickly glided away on the rail and Nora was left all alone. She started to knock on the door of a nearby room. "Hello?" she called. "Is anyone alive in there?"
She spent about five minutes on each room to make sure the humans weren't just asleep or frightened of her. She started to worry about Wheatley at the fourth room. What if he didn't make it out before the rooms started to implode and he got hit by a falling room and was crushed? She couldn't bear the thought of it. He was the only AI she could work up the courage to talk to in the facility. Without him, she would just have to talk to the Companion Cubes.
She checked another ten rooms so Wheatley wouldn't have to check them. She wanted him to get out of this wing of the facility as soon as possible. She would take him to the wing for Companion Cube storage and they would both manage the Companion Cube inventory together.
She decided to check another five rooms just as she heard the robotic voice from overhead speak again from a room far away.
"Please prepare for emergency evacuation."
Nora looked around and saw a room moving about a hundred feet above her. She panicked. Was Wheatley up there? What if he was the one moving the room? She looked around frantically, trying to figure out what to do. Should she follow the room or should she go looking to see if Wheatley was elsewhere?
"Well, he did tell me to get to safety," she mused aloud. And maybe where the room was going was safe. She decided to follow the room, but in a very long, safe way. She sped up, though, when she heard the room starting to fall apart as it moved.