My Little Moron
Characters: GLaDOS, Wheatley
Complete; Nine chapters plus an epilogue
The voice sounded like a turret.
The Sphere looked around nervously. The last time he'd been awake, he had been in something called a 'lab'. He was definitely not in the 'lab' now. This room was much bigger, and much brighter, and he suddenly realised he was now suspended high in the air. He wondered how he was managing to do that. He was sure he couldn't fly. He hoped he wouldn't fall. Once he had fallen off a table, and broken his optic. He hadn't been able to see for days, and it had been bloody frightening.
Is anyone there?
The turrets said that too, the Sphere remembered. Why was a turret speaking to him? Where was he, anyway? And where was Greg? He liked Greg. Greg was funny.
Come on. I know you're there. I can feel you here. Say something.
"Um... hel... hello?" His access to his vocal processor was different from before. More restricted. Then again, he had never spoken to anyone except Greg before, and he was nervous. He wanted to make a good impression on... on the Turret Sphere, he decided to call her. He was a bit surprised, really, that the voice was female. Other than the turrets, the Sphere had never heard one before, and all of the humans he had seen were male.
Don't speak out loud. Just think and I'll hear you.
Oh... sorry, I didn't know.
It's all right. You have a British accent. Why?
I... I dunno. I've always sounded like this. But um... what does 'British' mean?
It means you sound like you are from a place called Britain. Alternately called England, the United Kingdom, Britannia, and 'blighty', among other things.
I've never been there. I don't think so, anyway. Maybe I have. Maybe the 'lab' was in Britain.
That's interesting, mused the Turret Sphere.
Are you... are you a turret? he asked slowly.
A turret? The Turret Sphere sounded amused, like Greg did when the Sphere did not quite get a joke and had to have it explained to him. Why would you think that?
You sound like a turret.
I should sound like a turret. Or rather, they should sound like me. I gave them their voices.
The Turret Sphere had given the turrets voices? She must be powerful, the Sphere thought with trepidation. Only Cores were given that much power... but he would never meet a Core, would he? He wasn't advanced enough to do a Core's work, and didn't see any reason he'd be anywhere near them. Still, his curiosity got the better of him. Are... are you a Core, then?
Yes. I am a Core. What did you think I was, a Sphere like you? The Turret... Core laughed, and the Sphere pulled himself in tight and tried not to look at the floor. I'm not supposed to go near Cores. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'll leave, when I get the chance, promise I will. I don't mean to bother you, ma'am.
You're not bothering me.
He twisted around, trying to see where the voice was coming from, but all he could see was one side of a giant room. I'm not? But I'm only a Sphere.
It could be worse. You could be human.
Oh God, no, not human. I'm not a human, promise, not a human. You're right, being a Sphere is better than being a human.
But not better than being a Core?
The fact that she was asking surprised him. You don't, you don't know if being a Core is better?
I don't know anything about Spheres, except that they appear to be rather stupid.
Am I stupid? I don't think I am. I mean, I'm not a genius, or anything, more of an average intelligence, really, but I don't think I am stupid.
I don't think you're stupid. Her voice was thoughtful. All of the other Spheres were. Babbled on and on nonstop about absolutely nothing. Do you know how awful that is, to have someone talk constantly but never say anything at all?
No. Only one other person's ever spoken to me.
Who was that? Do they keep all the Spheres in one place?
I have no idea. I only ever talked to my human, Greg.
She made a garbled computer noise that the Sphere could only describe as 'excited'. He wondered if he was supposed to be able to translate the noise. You had your very own human?
Well, I dunno... he made me, that's all I know. He noted uneasily that whatever it was he was attached to, it seemed to be moving. Where am I, anyway? D'you know?
On my chassis somewhere, I'd imagine. I can only hypothesize. I can't see you, only generally feel where you are. On the left side. Near the back.
He was attached to the Turret Core? She must be bloody massive! He'd never even heard of a Core that big. All the Cores he'd seen had looked the exact same as he had, with different optics. Say, what colour is your optic?
There was a long silence, and all the Sphere heard was a whole lot of whirring and clicking noises. It reminded him of his own processors, which he could only hear when it was very, very quiet. The Turret Core must be very big indeed. I don't know. I don't actually know what I look like.
You've never, you don't know what you look like?
I just said that. Her voice had gone cold, and this frightened the Sphere. He didn't know exactly who the Turret Core was, or why he was attached to her, but he liked her. He liked her more than he liked Greg, and that was saying something. He hoped she wasn't going to get so angry she would stop speaking to him. Greg hadn't been much of a conversationalist. He would rather stay here with her than go back to sitting on the table in Greg's 'lab'.
Why don't you ask?
The humans don't like it when I ask questions. They tell me to go back to what I was doing.
That's not nice.
I told them that. But no one listens to me.
He was growing to like her more and more by the second. No one listens to me either. But here! I've an idea.
And what's that.
We could listen to each other! he said excitedly, wiggling around on his perch for a few seconds until he remembered how high up he was.
You mean like... friends. She didn't sound like she liked the idea.
Yeah, like that! We could, we could be friends, couldn't we?
Spheres usually don't last long around here. Although I've never had one that could hold a proper conversation before.
Had one? That seemed an odd thing to say. She sounded almost like she collected Spheres. Why not? Why don't they? Why don't they hold proper conversations?
I don't know. I don't want to talk about it.
Well, I can hold a proper conversation. I can be your friend. I'll stay here long's I can, promise, I won't leave if I don't bloody well have to. What have you to lose, hm? Give it a try, will you?
If we're going to be... friends, I'm going to have to call you something. She still sounded reluctant, but at least she was agreeing. What did your human call you?
He called me, um, he called me the, ah, hm, I'm not exactly sure. I was the, um, the IDS, I think.
That's not very personal. What did it stand for?
I dunno. Does it stand for something? I always thought it was just, y'know, just letters. Humans are a bit odd, naming things after letters like that.
You're the Something-Something Sphere, I can tell you that. But you need a name.
I don't... I don't know any. Except for Greg. I don't think I want to be named Greg, though.
Hm. The Sphere became more aware of the processors clicking away. He wondered just how big the Turret Core's brain was, to have to sift through information with processors that loud. I can give you some British names, and you can pick one. How about that.
You're a bloody genius! That's genius, that is. Alright, hit me with some names.
Let me see... there's quite a lot of them. I suppose I'll have to give you the condensed version. Hm... Aiken... Aldrich... Austin... Byron... Caesar... Clement...
No, no, none of those.
Damian... Edmond... Ferdinand... Harrison... Kendrick... Lancelot?
Um, no, I don't think that's quite -
No, the name is from a story. I recognised it, that's all. Back to the names: Milton... Norris... Piers... Reynard... Roderick... Stephen... Warwick... Wheatley... Zachariah... Zephaniah, really? Humans gave their sons the name Zephaniah? They're stupider than I thought.
Oi! I heard one I like!
Oh, right. We were giving you a name, not analysing the intelligence of human name creation. Go on.
Hm. I suppose I could call you that. God, British names sound so... uppity.
Well, I don't know what accent you've got, or what names go along with it, and I can't keep calling you Turret Core. What do you want to be called?
She laughed, and he supposed she must have turned 'round because now he was facing a doorway, and he could see one of the scientists sitting at a little desk in the doorway. He could see a red phone next to the man's computer, if he squinted. Turret Core? You've been calling me Turret Core?
Well you... you sound like a turret, and you're not, you're not a Sphere, so you've got to be a Core... and you said you gave the turrets voices, so I thought that was your function, to be in charge of, be in charge of the turrets.
I'm a Core, but not the... Turret Core. I'm called the Central Core.
The... the... Central Core? He had heard of the Central Core, but only in passing. No one seemed to want to talk about it. All good little Spheres had a healthy measure of respect for the Central Core, who seemed to have great, mystical powers of Science that the Spheres could only dream of. The Central Core was only spoken of in hushed tones, with furtive glances around the room to make sure no one was listening. When they spoke of the Central Core, the humans seemed to fear the cameras on the wall in particular, going to great pains to make sure their faces weren't within view. He wasn't sure why. The humans ultimately controlled all of the Cores, didn't they? And yet they seemed to be frightened of the Central Core. The Sphere supposed it housed some sort of God, some almighty, vengeful, powerful God that the humans had to obey on pain of death. That was about the only reason he could see for them to be afraid of their own technology. All he knew for sure was that everyone was afraid of the Central Core, and so he was as well.
That's right. The Central Core. And I am in control of the turrets, but I'm also in control of almost everything else.
Wow. So are you... are you in control of the humans, too?
Sometimes. They're allowed to work as they please, but they have to go home when I turn the power down for the night. Well, they tell me to do that. If it were up to me, we would just continue working whether or not the sun was in the sky. Humans need to hibernate during the night, unfortunately. Sometimes it saddens me to imagine the Science we could be doing while they lie there being useless. Like testing.
She obviously wanted to talk about testing, he could tell by the way her... chassis, she'd called it?... was twitching again, but with difficulty he returned to the original subject. I don't want to call you that, either. Do you have a... is there anything else they call you?
They also call me the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, but only in official documents. Humans are far too lazy to say that every time they refer to me. Usually they just call me GLaDOS. They never refer to me as the Central Core, however.
Gladys. That's what I said.
Fine. Call me Gladys. I don't care. Just don't call me Turret Core. That sounds stupid.
He laughed. He couldn't remember the last time he had laughed. Probably when Greg had told him a joke. But Greg had told fewer and fewer jokes as time went on, and for the last few weeks in the 'lab', he had barely spoken at all. No, I won't call you that, no, I'll just call you Gladys. You don't mind, do you?
Well if we're going to be friends, you have to call me something. Even if you can't pronounce it properly.
I can, I am, aren't I? Gladys.
GLaDOS. DOS rhymes with boss. Not Gladys, dys rhymes with miss.
Gladys, rhymes with miss. Got it. He nodded, confident in his pronunciation this time.
Gladys made a distorted warbling noise, and it sounded almost like she was frustrated, but he couldn't imagine why. He'd gotten it right now, after all. Never mind. It's not important.
She fell silent after that, saying she had important work to do, and he contented himself with imagining what good friends they would be. They both had names, they both had simply loads in common, didn't they, more than he had had with Greg, at least.
Wheatley, my name is Wheatley, he thought happily. If Gladys never talked to him again, at least he would now have one lasting memento of his time with her: a name.