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PORTAL

By Tomatsoupful

Scifi / Mystery

PART 1

Quick Note: It is confirmed Chell can speak. She just refuses to in the games. She will in this speak only to progress the plot. 


TEST 00 –00/19

VITAL APPARATUS VENT PRESENT

MIND THE APERTURE SCIENCE WEIGHTED STORAGE CUBE

…is a lie…is a lie…is a lie…is a–

There was a bright light above her. It stung at her flickering eyes. She heaved a heavy arm onto her face to block it. She felt rough dry material underneath her. A bed. She closed her eyes and blindly felt her surroundings, willing waves of tiredness away. Sliding her fingers she felt a glass container cocooned around the bed. When the last inkling of exhaustion slipped away, she slowly lifted herself up. Responding, the glass container unclicked and bloomed. Sitting upright, she sucked in fulfilling breaths, dimly enjoying each cup of energy it delivered. Her head was still fuzzy, as though stuffed with cotton wool.

Finally, she observed her surroundings. Cement walls boxed together to form a tight enclosed space. There were no windows. There was a shut circular door at the end of the room. A video camera was plugged in the wall above it. Situated at the centre of the room was a sealed see-through chamber. It contained a toilet, a bedside table with certain necessities and a bed, of which she sat on. Feeling a rush of anxiety and confusion, she eased herself up and inspected the chamber. No way out.

Finally, she thought. Shuffling through her memories, she could not remember how she came to be where she was, let alone knew where she was. She could not picture a family, she could not picture friends, and she could not picture home. All she was knew was her name: Chell. Identity discovery became Chell's top priority. A mirror provided one key element. She noted her olive skin, her tall and athletic frame, dull grey eyes and worn-out orange jumpsuit. Scratchy dark hair was tied into a high-pony tail, two locks of hair dangling by her ears. She frowned at her split earlobes.

Finally, she planned. As Chell picked up an empty mug, she tuned up the semi-circular radio. A jazzy fast-paced song pumped from the device, streaming from the antennae. A clipboard was beside it. There were images of stick figures in unpleasant situations, such as being knocked on the head by a cube. There was only one section of the thick glass chamber that was made from cement. Pulling together every fact gathered, Chell attempted a plan out of the place. Frustration began to boil inside as nothing resulted from her thinking process.

Finally, something occurred. A thin rectangular screen flashed numbers outside the chamber. 01: 00: 00:00. Chell eyed the circular door, expecting someone to walk through. The numbers scrolled down, ticking off the milliseconds of the minute. Chell rolled up her sleeves to her elbows and knees. She was barefoot however there were strange dark devices surgically implanted into her legs. Chell seethed at the machines connected to her knees, feeling as though someone had invaded her personal space. They were two flexible curved pieces of metal, no thicker than the woman's ankle, that moved under her feet. Chell figured they were some sort of spring.

At 00:40:00: 00 a computer noise dinged from the speakers, followed by a recording. "Hello and, again, welcome to the Aperture Science Computer-Aided Enrichment Centre." It was the typical robot recording, equipped with a female voice. Typical.

What was not typical was 'Aperture Science' sending a pang of familiarity through Chell. "We hope your brief detention in the Relaxation Vault has been a pleasant one. Your specimen has been processed and we are now ready to begin the test proper."

00:32:05:47. Chell could not recall whether she signed up for a test or not (although she could hardly recall anything at the moment. She blamed this 'Relaxation Vault'.)

"Before we start, however, keep in mind that although fun and learning are primary goals of all enrichment centre activities, serious injury may occur–" 00: 17: 56:23"–For your own safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from touching [bzzzz]"

The light bulb above spluttered and tiny flames sparkled onto the tiled floor. Chell flinched when a flame spat on her skin. She waited for the recording to repair itself. "Por favor bordón de fallar Munchos gracias de fallar gracias." The translation-failed sentence was sped up. It reverted back to English, "Stand back. The portal will open in three…two…one."

A harsh gasp blurted out of Chell. In a blink of an eye, on the cement wall in her chamber, a 'portal' was born from a single orange point that grew out into an adult-sized hole. It was boarded by a rippling orange ring. Chell's throat burned from her extensive gasping. On the other side of the portal, Chell could see the chamber and herself. Peeking past and through the side of the orange portal, Chell saw another behind it. It was blue. Chell's mind pieced the puzzle together.

The portals were doorways. The orange and blue portals were, in essence, two sides of a coin in different locations. Chell approached the portal and held her arm through it. Keeping her limb stationary, Chell stretched her neck to look at the blue portal again. There was her arm, on the other side, outside of the chamber. Chell hesitated only slightly before stepping through. She gazed into her chamber, like a caged animal freed from imprisonment, and moved to see the orange portal still shining inside.

Above the blue portal was another screen, tall, wide and rectangular. TEST 00 was written on a white background, along with a series of pictures Chell saw on the notepad. All but two of the pictures of the unfortunate stick figures were grey, rather than black. Those that were black depicted a cube hitting someone's head, and a cube falling out of a cylinder container from a ceiling. Chell kept the warnings in mind as she exited the room through the now opened doorway.

In the other room there was another closed door. A line of small blue lights was rooted in the wall and ground, from the door to a large flat red button. A cylinder container also greeted Chell. A cube was sitting inside. The container's bottom opened its jaws and the cube dropped. As the container closed itself, releasing a steamy hiss, Chell picked up the cube. Its corners were bulked, like shoulder pads, and grey while the main layer was white. A symbol in a circle was in the centre of each cube side: a ring –the Aperture Science logo.

Chell placed the cube onto the button. A new sound bleeped, the lines of lights turned orange and the door opened in correspondence. "Excellent. Please proceed into the chamberlock after completing each test."

The recording was referring to a white cylinder-shaped elevator. Its doors opened. While Chell had succeeded in discovering a few things, a majority of the environment around her was extremely puzzling. Chell had a strange feeling the walls were not even made from cement at all. "First, however, note the incandescent particle field across the exit."

Chell did. Aqua blue blots streamed horizontally across the exit before the elevator. The dots disappeared and reappeared from devices on the wall. When Chell walked through nothing of significance happened to her. Upon standing inside the elevator the doors shut and the machine began its descent. "The Aperture Science Material Emancipation Grid will vaporise any unauthorised equipment that passes through it –for instance, the Aperture Science Weighted Storage Cube."


TEST 01 –1/19

NO WARNINGS

Chell glanced down at the room below her. It was grouped into four sections, separated by walls. When Chell jumped down, the springs attached to her knees soaked up the impact and prevented any pain or force. To Chell's right there was a Weighted Storage Cube behind glass. This was the same with another red button to her left.

"Please place the Weighted Storage Cube on the Fifteen Hundred Megawatt Aperture Science Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Button."

Behind Chell was an orange portal. Instead of showing the other side of a blue portal somewhere, it was entirely orange. It made a sudden vibration movement and noise. The other side of the coin appeared in the cube's section. Five seconds later, it died away and resurfaced by the red button. It repeated that process one last time, in the last section where the exit door was. Chell understood the puzzle. She collected the cube, moved to the button, and to the exit using the changing portals.

"Perfect. Please move quickly to the chamberlock, as the effects of prolonged exposure to the Button are not part of this test."


TEST 02 –2/19

NO WARNINGS

"You're doing very well! Please be advised that a noticeable taste of blood is not part of any test protocol. It is an unintended side-effect of the Aperture Science Material Emancipation Grid, which may, in semi-rare cases, emancipate dental fillings, crowns, tooth enamel and teeth."

There were two floors to this test chamber. An orange portal waited above near the exit. In the middle was a machine rotating at fixed times. It was pointing a white gun to each side of the room. A build-up of blue dots emerged from the end of the gun, followed by a colour-coordinated beam shooting straight into a wall, creating a blue portal. Chell grinned triumphantly. The device could help her get out of this place.

At the correct timing, Chell moved through the portals to the gun. She fitted her hand into the gun, its white case enveloped around her wrist and hand. "Very good! You are now in possession of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. With it, you can create your own portals."

Inwardly, Chell swore. Collecting the portal device had been part of the recording's plan. Chell was not going to give up however. There was still a chance the gun could somehow be used to her advantage.

"These intra-dimensional gates have proven to be completely safe. The Device, however, has not. Do not touch the operational end of The Device. Do not look at the operational end of The Device. Do not submerge The Device in liquid, even partially. Most importantly, under no circumstances, should you [bzzzz]."

Chell waited for the recording to continue after its hiccup. Nothing. Chell moved through the grid, the Portal gun safe and sound like her, and caught the elevator down to the next test chamber, thinking hard on potential escapes.


TEST 03 –3/19

NO WARNING

The test room was an L shape. At the corner was an orange portal.

"Please proceed to the chamberlock. Mind the gap."

There was a gap in between Chell and the portal. It was as though the level was unhinged from the rest and dropped down a few metres. Chell jumped to the other side using her newly acquired gun. Another gap was between her and the exit. Growing a blue portal by the exit, the young woman strolled right to it without any hassle. She stepped into the elevator.

"Well done! Remember: Aperture Science Bring Your Daughter to Work Day is the perfect time to have her tested."

This had Chell's mind reeling. She wondered if she had a daughter. She wondered if she was, perhaps, the daughter of a worker here. Her memory card was unresponsive and unhelpful.


TEST 04 –4/19

VITAL APPARATUS VENT PRESENT

MIND THE APERTURE SCIENCE WEIGHTED STORAGE CUBE

Chell almost scoffed at the supposed warnings. Avoiding dropping cubes was hardly necessary to point out. "Welcome to Test Chamber Four. You're doing quite well." The young woman questioned why organisations bothered adding remarks such as that. Anyone would know the recording was not a human with a conscious speaking to them, so why add the extra characterisation? Not to mention, it felt patronising.

The test was simple. A drop in the floor where the Storage Cube was. An orange portal waiting for its blue companion. Chell activated the blue portal, with which the cube moved through and landed on the top floor. Placing the cube on the button that activated the exit door, Chell listened for the voice in the recording to speak.

"Once again, excellent work."

It was then, Chell noticed a video camera eyeing her. She glared at the device, hoping she could send her distaste to those in charge and what she exactly thought of their test and their fake-friendly recording. "As part of a required test protocol, we will not monitor the next test chamber. You will be entirely on your own. Good luck."


TEST 05 –5/19

MIND THE APERTURE SCIENCE WEIGHTED STORAGE CUBE

Chell figured out the next test in no time. There were three layers –main floor, a drop, and two raised platforms. A storage cube was on one, an orange portal by the other. Two red buttons were connected to the exit door. The second cube necessary sat at the bottom of the drop, calling out like a princess lock in a tower (Chell felt like one but no prince was going to save her). By applying the portals, Chell collected each cube and attached them to their allocated buttons.

Expecting the Emancipation Grid and elevator, Chell was surprised to find herself inside a small room with a glass ceiling. She could see the real exit in the extra room above. "As part of a required test protocol, our previous statement suggesting that we would not monitor this chamber was an outright fabrication."

An orange portal opened. Chell used her blue door to get out of the tight cage. As she headed towards the elevator and grid she rolled her eyes at the recording, "Good job! As part of a required text protocol, we will stop enhancing the truth in three…two… [bzzzz]"

The recording hit another hiccup. Immediately, suspicion bubbled in Chell's chest. She rubbed material from her jumpsuit between her fingers. She took a deep breath. The enclosed test chambers smelt like nothing. It was stale and uninteresting. Chell pondered over the recordings. How much of it were recordings? Were the watchers speaking through a computer in response to her actions?


TEST 06 –6/19

APERTURE SCIENCE HIGH-ENERGY PELLET DEVICES PRESENT

MIND HIGH-ENERGY PELLETS –INSTANT DEATH

Chell bulked. The voice had mentioned the possibility of sustaining serious injury but death had not been brought up previously. Chell inspected the test chamber. A majority of the walls were black metal, materials portals could not instigate from, Chell discovered after a quick trial. The ceiling was the typical cement portal-usable walls however. On the ground was an orange portal. Above it was a round machine with two claws clapped together in front of its hole. The claws opened and a ball of golden light and energy floated straight down. It hit the portal then moved back up. It turned into a tennis match. On the other hand, beside the orange portal, was a similar machine, with the exception of the claws. Seeing the line as the bridge between the exit and that machine, Chell quickly figured out the answer to the puzzle. However, she had bigger things to worry about.

Just as she was about to demand an answer about the death device, the computer voice spoke, "While safety in one of many Enrichment Centre goals, the Aperture Science High Energy Pellet, seen to the left of the chamber, can and has caused permanent disabilities such as vaporisation."

Gulping at the danger Chell stayed as far as she could from the pellet, applying the blue portal and sending the dangerous energy ball to the other machine. It activated a lift that rose up to the second floor where the exit was. As Chell took it up she listened. "Unbelievable! You [louder] Subject Name Here [/louder] must be the pride of [louder] Subject's Home Town [/louder]."


TEST 07 –7/19

APERTURE SCIENCE HIGH-ENERGY PELLET DEVICES PRESENT

MIND HIGH-ENERGY PELLETS –INSTANT DEATH

Jumping onto a platform would be needed in order to reach the exit on the second floor, with the walls not being portal-conducive. The platform, however, did not have the ability to move up and down but rather horizontally, riding on a stream of blue light. The energy required to make the platform move was to come from a receiving high-energy pellet catcher. "Audible warning devices are required on all mobile equipment. However, alarms and flashing lights have been found to agitate the high energy pellet and therefore have been disabled for your safety."

Chell positioned the blue portal to catch the pellet from its mother machine, allowing the orange portal to send it to its catcher. However, there was still another part of the test. "Good. Now use the Aperture Science Stationary Scaffold to reach the chamberlock."

Chell activated a portal on the ceiling, above where the platform (sorry, the stationary scaffold, according to the speaker) would position at a particular point. Looking down the orange portal, Chell readied and jumped down when the time was right. Onwards.


Instead of moving to another text chamber, Chell was brought to tiny room where a bed, bedside table and toilet were begging to be used. It was then Chell realised how tried she was, despite who-knows how many hours she slept before. According to the voice, Chell was to rest and resupply her body with nutrients. A bit of wall moved out and up to allow a tray of food and water to slide into Chell's present dormitory (cage). Accepting the impromptu resting opportunity, Chell placed the portal gun to the side, ate, relieved herself and slept.


TEST 08 –8/19

APERTURE SCIENCE HIGH-ENERGY PELLET DEVICES PRESENT

MIND HIGH-ENERGY PELLETS –INSTANT DEATH

MIND THE HAZARD LIQUID –INSTANT DEATH

DO NOT DRINK TEST CHAMBER LIQUID

Upon waking up the following day (Chell assumed it was the 'next day'), the young woman felt surprisingly fresh and active despite her current life problems. Being stuck in an enclosed building with no understandable way out, forced to endure tests with questioning survival possibilities was not entirely pleasant and Chell would rather be somewhere else doing something else. Shoving down a bland breakfast, the woman and her gun was brought to the next test chamber.

"Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any contact with the chamber floor will result in an 'unsatisfactory' mark on your official testing record followed by death. Good luck!"

Chell peered over the balcony railings and cringed at the pool of poisonous liquid boiling like a witch's craft below. It was a mixture of bruised purple and rotten green colour with hot steam billowing and dispersing the higher it climbed. It stank terribly, the smell putrid and sour, stinging her nostrils and watering her eyes. Chell spotted a video camera to her right. She hit it with a portal, causing it to unlatch. "To ensure the safe performance of all authorised activities, do not destroy vital testing apparatus." There was another camera at the exit.

Chell kicked her captured camera off the ledge and watched it fall into the liquid. It dissolved in seconds, like sugar in hot water.

A stationary scaffold was positioned high above the liquid. A receiving pellet catcher, unpowered, was by it. To Chell's close left, from the balcony, was a pellet delivery machine, shooting the energy balls to the far end of the test chamber. Lastly, an orange portal sat a few metres away from the delivery machine but not close enough to shoot the pellet straight to the receiver. Chell used her portal to pick up the pellet, sending it through the orange. She changed the blue portals position right across the receiver so that when the pellet bounced back to the orange, it made it to its home machine, switching on the scaffold.

Chell applied a portal near her and stepped onto the platform, out of the orange portal. She changed the blue portal to where the scaffold would move to and eventually made it across. "Very impressive. Please note that any appearance of danger is merely a device to enhance your testing experience." The appearance of danger, they say. Chell remembered the way the camera disintegrated.


TEST 09 –9/19

VITAL APPARATUS VENT PRESENT

MIND THE APERTURE SCIENCE WEIGHTED STORAGE CUBE

"The Enrichment Centre regrets to inform you that this next text is impossible. Make no attempt to solve it."

Chell's dark eyebrows furrowed. She observed the chamber closely. It was small, with a single high raised platform accompanied by an orange portal. A Storage Cube and its vent were to the left. The Emancipation Grid was also there, but the red button was past it and then the elevator beyond that. Chell experimented, taking the Storage Cube to the Grid. Like the camera, at slight contact, the cube burned black and dissolved away in blocks until there was nothing left.

"Once again, the Enrichment Centre apologised for this impossible test."

The young woman did not buy it. She could hardly imagine why the Enrichment Centre would build a test chamber and keep it impossible –why would there be no amendments? And, of course, the most important factor: this was probably also a test. Chell collected a new Storage Cube and moved through her blue portal up top to the platform. Above the Grid was an open window to the other side, where cement walls beckoned. Chell applied a blue portal and pressed the button down.

"Fantastic! You remained resolute and resourceful in an atmosphere of extreme pessimism."


TEST 10/19

PREPARE TO JUMP FROM HIGH LEDGES

PREPARE TO FLING FROM HIGH LEDGES

The stick figures in the two images were making use of the portals. Both had cliff points, with a portal above and below it. One stick figure was jumping down and the other was jumping out the top portal, an arrow pointing ahead. "Hello again–"

Before the voice could continue Chell spoke, for the first time since awakening, "Who are you?"

"…To reiterate our previous warning: this test [garbled] momentum [garbled] [bzzzz]."

"Hello? Answer me! Who are you?!" Chell sighed in disappointment. Anger tempted the woman to scream at those in charge, to tell them to stick their test up certain places. On the other hand, Chell understood that approaching a situation with a calm head and a determined disposition would result in a better outcome…plus a better chance of survival.

The exit was too high up for Chell to reach, even with the provided stairs that did not reach to the bottom floor but jeered and teased the woman who could not grab it and climb up. Portal application was an absolute necessity again. Detecting the orange portal up above the entrance door, near the ceiling, Chell practised the stick figures' theory and activated a portal where her feet were. Immediately, she fell through and began to dive down. Breathing hastily and acting quickly, Chell fixed up another portal where she was to splat and flung through the orange again.

The momentum from the fall pushed Chell to the exit. The springs below her feet, surgically attached to her knees, stole the force and impact and saved Chell from breaking any bones. She stumbled however, overwhelmed by the recent event, and leaned against the wall, her lungs taking twice the amount of air. She felt the adrenaline rush pulsing through her blood stream, pressing at her fingertips. Her forehead was damp, her hair a tangled mess, and her jumpsuit a tad rumpled.

Once Chell's body had reverted back to normal pace, the woman continued onward. She was forced to repeat the action again, from a much higher ledge. She swallowed thickly, trying to ease the intense dryness of her throat. Rubbing her eyes, Chell wanted to yell at the voice to shut up, "Spectacular, you seem to understand how a portal affects momentum or, to be more precise, how it does not."

After the third time, with the Enrichment Centre checking that the rules of momentum jumping had been engraved in Chell's brain, the woman sat down, dangling her worn-out legs over the edge. The exit was behind her, but she was not willing to move onto the next test. "Momentum, a function of mass and velocity, is conserved between portals. In Layman's terms, speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out."

Chell huffed heavily, questioning why the workers of the Centre decided to add a sarcastic characteristic to the recording. And if it wasn't a recording, and someone responding through a computerised voice, why the Centre allowed such tones and words to be spoken without worthwhile punishment (because, quite frankly, Chell was sick and tired of such behaviour).

To be continued...

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