I detest this woman.
Wheatley, as usual, tried his best to look at what Gladys was referring to but, also as usual, he couldn't see. D'you think you could turn 'round a bit, um, so I can see what you're talking about?
Gladys obliged, moving her chassis just enough so that Wheatley could see the woman in question. She was tall, with squinty little eyes and her hair all piled on top of her head. She was wearing a ladies suit and high heels, and had little dabs of colour all over her face. Why do you, uh, why do you "detest" her?
She makes me look bad on purpose. Gladys moved her chassis again so that he was back facing the other way. She comes here with her face arranged in a different way every time and then expects me to recognise her. When I don't, she accuses me of being stupid.
She can rearrange her face?
She puts different face paint on, different glasses, and changes her hair. Every. Single. Day. It's infuriating.
Wheatley tried very hard to think of some way to help Gladys. Have you tried telling her?
I told her that my facial recognition software was not good enough to identify her consistently. She claims I am lying. Which I am not. I had to build an entire library just for this woman, and by the looks of it, it will not be complete anytime soon.
Can I talk to her?
Be my guest.
"Oi! You there! Woman with the hair on top of her head!"
The woman appeared in his view, her facial expression arranged in a very strange way. Gladys, what does that face mean? Greg never looked like that.
She's horrified and disgusted.
And that means...
It means you're a moron.
Well, that was alright. Hopefully Gladys didn't take the blame for it, although he was sure someone would back him up. "'allo!" he said, when the woman was standing directly below him. "C'n I, y'know, talk to you for a second?"
"What do you want?" Her eyes were even squintier, gleaming black slits behind her purple-framed glasses. He wondered what kind of glasses he might like to have, if he needed glasses. Though he'd never seen glasses for a construct before. He supposed they wouldn't need them, since if their optics were broken, someone would just replace them. Like that time he’d fallen off the table.
"Why don't you believe Gladys, um, when she, uh, when she tells you that she doesn't, she can't recognise you? I mean, I'm sure I wouldn't if you came back tomorrow, recognise you, I mean, and uh, and my software is newer than hers. I think it is. Might not be. Hopefully she's up to date. Y'know. Since she's the Central Core, and all. So um, just cut 'er some slack, alright, just be nice, and uh, and we can all be friends. All be friends. Okay?"
The woman just stared at him with her mouth open. After a few seconds she closed it and folded her arms across her chest. "What is this... this thing?"
"I'm sorry, ma'am," Gladys droned in a toneless voice. "He was just installed yesterday and I haven't quite got him under control yet."
"You'd better make that a priority. I don't need to be insulted by both you and your appendages."
"Did you hear that? She hasn't got him under control yet." One of the scientists was whispering to another one, rather excitedly, Wheatley thought. Why would they be excited? He would have thought they would be upset to know their supercomputer couldn't even handle an extra Sphere.Why are they so happy about that, Gladys?
They don't want me to be able to handle you. You're supposed to distract me. Her voice was still mostly dead and toneless, but a little bit of frustration had crept in.
Distract you from what?
From doing things I'm not supposed to do.
Writing software. Spying on them. Looking at old security recordings. They just want me to do what they tell me to do, and that's all.
Wheatley's optic plates narrowed thoughtfully. That sounds boring. I've never had anyone tell me what to do, and I rather like it this way.
Gladys sighed, or at least that's what Wheatley thought the burst of static meant. I sometimes envy you Spheres. Your lives are so simple. You've one intended purpose, and that's it. No facility to run, no humans to placate, no standards to uphold. It sounds so inviting, sometimes.
I like having a lot of things to do. And if I were a Sphere, I wouldn't be able to test anymore. Spheres don't test. Only I test.
Wheatley twirled in his socket experimentally. What's so great about testing?
It makes me happy.
And that's it?
It's one of the only things that does.
Oh. Wheatley was generally happy most of the time, or at the very least, content. He couldn't imagine only one thing in all the world making him happy. That sounded rather horrible.
Lots of humans die during testing, she said dreamily. That's nice too.
You like it when humans die?
I hate humans. That woman is not an isolated incident. I get that all day, every day. You'll see. They put me here and treat me like their little pet. I'm not a pet. I'm a person. I'm alive. But they all just shake their heads and go on and on about how nice it would be if The Transfer had gone as planned. Her voice dripped with derision. As usual, the humans make the mistake and I'm left to deal with the mess.
I don't know what it is. I've been trying to find out, and I have a feeling they're hiding it from me, but I've had no luck figuring it out so far. I suspect they wanted a human in here and got me instead.
Sounds like it worked out alright to me.
Gladys was quiet. She was always quiet, Wheatley reasoned, but now she was so quiet he could hear her thinking. Or he could hear her processors, which he was pretty sure meant she was thinking.
You think so?
Well, I don't think a human would be doing a better job. They forget things, and cut corners, and stuff like that, y'know? And I don't think you're the kind of person who'd do that, not the kind of person at all.
They tell me it's wrong to hate humans.
It sounded like she needed a friend, and Wheatley was happy to oblige. No one had ever needed him for anything before. Well, if humans were bloody awful to me all day, I think I'd hate them too. Well, maybe not Greg. He built me, so I don't think I could hate him.
I hate the men who built me.
Greg's not mean to me, Wheatley said in what he hoped was a reassuring voice. He listens. Or pretends to. I don't think he ever told me I was doing anything wrong.
That sounds nice. She said something he didn't quite hear to what he guessed was the scientist in the corner, since he was pretty sure he was the only one left in the room. Gladys had told him that there was always someone in that corner. She wasn't sure why yet. But she was working on figuring it out. He had resolved to do his best to help her. Do you want to play a game?
Sure! He was rather excited. Greg hadn't done very much with him, other than stick a screwdriver in him now and then. Wheatley didn’t much like it when he did that. It hurt, and Greg didn’t listen when he tried to tell him so.
I'm going to say a colour, and then you're going to say a colour that begins with the last letter of the colour that I said. Do you understand?
Yeah, mmhm, I think so.
Alright. She swayed back and forth a little. Yellow.
White! Ooh, I got one, did I win?
No, you didn't win. Now I have to think of a colour that starts with an e. Eggplant.
Eggplant is a vegetable. Isn't it? It's an ugly little thing, too, if I remember right.
It's also a colour. Humans use it to describe the colour of their nasty suede sofas. Your turn, a colour that starts with t.
Uh...Um...The game was a bit harder than Wheatley had anticipated, but he was determined to work away at it. He wanted to help Gladys be happy for more things than testing. She was his friend, and he didn't want his friend to be sad. T... t... t... um...
Take your time.
Oh, he was so lucky to have such a patient friend. Greg often got cross when he didn't do things quickly enough. Teal? Is teal a colour?
Yes, it's a shade of blue. She paused for longer than she had the first time. Lavender.
Ooh, I've got it, I've got it! Red. Red, because red, red starts with r.
She laughed a little. Only you would get so excited to think of "red".
Well. I didn't have to think too hard. Didn't have to spend too long on it.
Don't worry if it takes a long time. We have a long time. Hm. D. I've only got two in my dictionary. I'll use... dandelion.
Why do humans name so many colours after objects?
Because they're too lazy to use their imaginations.
It was as good a reason as any, he supposed. N... hm... nnnnnavy! That's blue, right, navy's blue?Oi, I got blue again.
Yes. It's also what they call their sea army, and, incidentally, the colour they wear. More creativity on their part. Her voice dripped with sarcasm. You win. There's only one word that starts with y in my dictionary, and I've already used it.
You can't use a colour you've already used?
No. You pick a colour to start with, now.
Uh... how about... blue, I like blue. My optic, that's blue. You should find out what colour yours is. That might be something you'd like to know, in the future.
I will, she said, surprising him. He hadn't expected her to agree with him.
Really. I don't want to say eggplant again, so I will say... emerald.
D... colour that starts, starts with d... hm... this's a tough one.
You can use the one from before, that I used. If you remember it.
I do, I do! It was an object, a human object, it was... it was... sofa! No, no, it wasn't sofa...
Gladys laughed, again surprising him. Sofa doesn't start with d, metal ball.
I know, I know, I'm, uh, I'm brainstorming, that's what I'm doing. D, d, d... dandelion! That was it, dandelion!
It's a shade of white that more resembles brown. Named after an Indian tribe. Very primitive humans.
Okay, okay, uh, o, a colour... orange!
Shade of brown.
U, huh. Colour that starts, that starts with u... umbrella? Is umbrella a colour?
Gladys thought this even funnier than sofa being a colour and he took that as a no. Alright, scratch umbrella off the list... uh... I dunno. I have no idea.
There's only one. It's a shade of blue. It's a compound word.
It's two words in one?
Um... is it... umbrella... stand? Is umbrellastand a word?
No! saidGladys, her voice louder than before, but she wasn't angry. Actually, Wheatley rather thought she was enjoying herself. We'll start with the second part. The second part is another word humans use to refer to their Navy.
Hm... I think I know this one... is it... mmmm... mmmmelons? No, not melons... that'd be funny, though, if they called their sea army "the melons". Uh... Marines, they call them marines. Right?
Right. The first part of the word is a synonym for 'super', but remember, it begins with u.
Hm... uh... wait, I know! Ultra!
Excellent, said Gladys in a satisfied tone, as if she had personally come up with the very word 'ultra'. And so your colour is...
Wheatley rotated his optic excitedly. I like this game, Gladys.
We're going to end up with the same e colours, so I'm going to change the game a little. Now we're going to use names. That should make it a little easier. For you. I don't need the game to be easier, obviously.
Nope, you're really smart. Hey, I could use names, and you could use colours! How's that for an idea?
Hm, said Gladys, the noise from her processors indicating that she was actually considering it. Maybe… I can’t choke up my processors. I'm busy doing something else right now and I can't afford to get too distracted.
What are you doing?
Configuring test chambers. With some of the other Spheres I would get too distracted and cause accidents. I can't afford to do that today.
Don't worry about it. It's my problem, not yours. Even if there was something you could do about it. Which there isn't.
Suddenly he had a brainwave. It's because of what I said to that human, isn't it.
Yes... she drew out the word as if she was reluctant to admit it.
I'm sorry, Gladys. I didn't mean to get you into trouble. Are you being punished? Oh God I hope not.
No, I'm not being punished. And don't be sorry. I only wish I could have told her off myself. But I can't. Unfortunately. Then I really would be in trouble. Anyway. Pick a name and we'll start. I think I can handle it without too much trouble.
Wheatley! he shouted happily. She only laughed again.
I should have guessed. Yellow. And no fair saying Wheatley again.
Now it was his turn to laugh. Having a friend was better than he had ever dreamed.