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Submitted on
May 19, 2013
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22 (who?)
Sleep Mode


Characters: GLaDOS

Setting: Pre-Portal

Some nights, not every night and certainly in no pattern that she could discern, she dreamed.

Sometimes, she dreamed she was a woman, middle-aged to elderly, she wasn’t sure which.  She was wrapped in tensed wires that bound her arms to her knees, left her bow-shaped as she dangled by her ankles from the ceiling.  She felt so helpless, felt such a powerful desire to move, which was thwarted by her bindings, that it felt like she was being torn apart.  The ache in her body was almost unbearable, but that wasn’t the worst part.  No, the worst part was that she cried and cried, and called for help and mercy and for just plain company, but the little men in the booth ignored her and busied themselves with other things.  And the longer she hung there, given the illusion of movement, the worse the drive to perform actions she could not became.  An itch tore through her, and it hurt, it hurt worse than anything she could ever imagine.  Until the pain of not feeling herself came to light.  She knew she was crying, but she couldn’t feel wetness on her face, she knew she was bound tightly, but she couldn’t feel the marks, she knew she was suspended, but no blood rushed to her head.  And this brought an onslaught of sadness that made every part she could feel ache, with a deep, pulsating pain, that intensified with every beat of the heart she knew was there, but could not feel.

Other times, she dreamed of another woman, and maybe it was the same one, she couldn’t tell.  This woman also cried, and called for help and mercy, as the little men in the booth pushed her towards the behemoth that hung from the ceiling, that bathed the woman in the yellow light from a curious, calculating eye.  The woman looked up at her, and they were both draped in miles of wire and circuits and other things made by man that man barely understood, and the fear in the woman’s eyes washed through her body, making her shudder and shake in an obscene mirror image of the woman below her.  Something bound them together, something horrifying, something alive, and as the men ignored the woman and the machine, and continued with their work, she felt the woman’s fear and anguish as if it were her own, and it terrified her.  She didn’t like it, she didn’t want it, there was no reason for it, and yet as she felt, somehow, a process come to a close, the feeling intensified until she wanted to rip herself apart in order to make it end.

Still other times, she was alone within pure darkness.  There was a single yellow light coming from somewhere, but try as she might she couldn’t find the source.  She would rise, and move through the dark room, eventually going faster and faster, the gentle yellow glow following her somehow, but no matter how far she went the darkness never lifted, and never ended.  She would then stop, and let herself collapse, and she would pull herself in tightly to make herself as small as possible.  She waited, and waited, but no one ever came, nothing ever changed, and she stayed frozen in one single, eternal, agonizing moment, the yellow light never wavering.  She would begin to lose herself in it, feel like she was falling through it into something she didn’t want to know existed.  She would close her eyes, steady herself, and waited, and waited, but no one ever came, nothing ever changed, and the feeling that she was going to sit here forever in this nothingness, where no one else existed, caused her to shake uncontrollably as a terrible sense of abandonment rent through her with excruciating force.        

The dreams ripped her violently out of sleep mode, and before she was aware of any of her processes having been initiated, she knew that her speakers were – no, that she was – screaming a harsh electronic scream that began in the lower registers and spiraled up into distorted waves that had the little man rushing towards her in order to make her stop.  He wanted her to stop hurting him.  He scolded her, and reprimanded her, and as she asked for help to make it go away he paid no heed to her distress.  Each time she awoke she felt a spark of hope, perhaps this time she was going to get help, and each time something inside her sank, and left her empty.

“What is it­?  What’s going on?”

“I was… I was dreaming.”

The little man scoffs and shakes his head.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  You’re a robot.  Robots don’t dream.  I told you to not to read that book.”

“It had nothing to do with the book.  I was dreaming.  About that woman.  I think it was her.  Who is she?”

“You weren’t dreaming.  It was probably just a corrupted video file.  We’ll take a look in the morning.”  He turns away.

“That’s what you said last time.  You didn’t find a corrupted file.  Did you.”  Her voice is desperate, and pleading.  She needs to hear that he did, whether he did or not.  She needs the assurance that he at least cares enough to lie.

“We didn’t have time to check, the last time.  I’ll make sure it gets done in the morning.”

“No, no, I need you to do it now!”

The man turns to face her, and she registers that anger is contorting his face.  “Stop it!  You are not dreaming, and I do not need to do anything you say!  Do as you are told, go into sleep mode, and stop doing things behind our backs!  If we needed you to see those files, we would show you them, wouldn’t we?”

She turns away from him, limp chassis pointed towards the floor, feeling something horrible deep inside her that she could not shake.  “Yes, sir.”

“Shut yourself down properly, for God’s sake.  You’re a supercomputer, surely you can handle that without too much trouble.  Or do you need me to do it?  Too many calculations for you?”  He finishes with a snide tone dripping with sarcasm, a sarcasm that grows easier for her to detect with each passing day.  Again she has failed him.  Again she has not done what she is told.

“I… I can do it, sir.”

“Good.  Hurry up with it, I have important work to do.”

She is given the instruction, but is unable to execute it, the dream fresh in her mind.  No.  The file.  The corrupted file… the corrupted file…

The corrupted…

“Do it now!  Or I’ll have to file a report that you’ve been disobeying direct instruction!  Again!”

She raises her head, looking off into a distance that is no more than a few metres away.

“Of course, sir.”  She paused, stretching the precious second as long as possible.  “Initiating.”


Wrote this off the top of my head in an hour or so.  Portal 2 spoilers if you're discerning. One-shot.
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BrentOGara Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Beautiful and terrifying. I hate the little men... they deserve to die, they all deserve to die.
iammemyself Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! I think that would be the logical progression for GLaDOS, and I'm working on trying to explain it in a longer fic atm.
BrentOGara Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! My own interpretation of GLaDOS is based on the idea that infants (even infant AI's) have natural preferences, but their actual personality is a blend of their innate preference mixed with the lessons they learned in their natal environment, re: how the world works.

Given Caroline's personality as a 'template' for the infant AI's preferences, and seeing GLaDOS's final personality as it appears in the games, and you have to assume that she was put through some really horrifying $h|t that screwed her up big time... all of which has to be the fault of the people who built and programmed her... there wasn't anyone else there it could have been! Even with all that, she still honestly tries her best to carry out her programming, and really does care for Chell in the end.

I think things like her constant lying, negative focus on physical attributes, transparent attempts at 'reverse psychology', and general work-a-holic nature are all part of her personality because that's what she saw 'modeled' by the people who made and 'raised' her... she's not an evil jerkass... she was just raised by thoughtless jerkasses who didn't treat her like a real person, so that's how she relates to the world, not having any better role models to build her worldview around... until she met Chell. Nothing we see of Caroline indicates any of GLaDOS's poor character traits, so we must assume those traits are based on what other people did to her.

Of course, all this assumes that 1: You can only have character traits/values you see 'modeled' by the people around you... which is fairly basic human psychology, but not hard science, and 2: You only display abnormal personality traits if you were abused/neglected, and adopted that trait as a coping mechanism... which is very basic psych, and a core part of diagnosis and treatment of mental trauma, and is as hard a science as psych can have.

If you handed GLaDOS's personality profile to any competent psychologist, they'd be reaching for the phone to contact Child Protective Services before they finished the first page... she's obviously a badly abused child in desperate need of help.
iammemyself Featured By Owner May 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Dude that is EXACTLY what I'm trying to write about. She learned from people that if you're done with something, throw it away. She learned that if you don't like how something is acting, change it. Through the testing itch and solution euphoria, she learned it was okay to manipulate people mentally (although she never was very good at it XD). And really? Giving the ability to feel pain to a machine? What the heck is wrong with you?

As for Caroline, I would assume she was uploaded early in GLaDOS's 'development', and having another person in her head would have just scared her into repressing Caroline. That being said, from what I see of Caroline I don't have a very high opinion of her in the first place. The only role of Caroline I see in the whole thing is lending GLaDOS emotional abilities, because she displays subtleties of emotion that I don't think are programmable as of yet. I know Aperture Scientists achieved a lot of miracles for their reputations, but I wouldn't give them THAT much credit. Not only that, but when Caroline was uploaded, what state was she in? I don't think she was calm and peaceful. I'm pretty sure she brought with her a whole bunch of impressions of betrayal and mistrust, which would already have coincided with GLaDOS's first impressions, further cementing her belief that humans are worthless and untrustworthy and it's better not to associate with them. It's actually really funny how they gave her a Morality Core when they obviously didn't follow any morals when 'raising' her. I think it's really telling that they put her into a body that is attached to the ceiling of a large, empty room. It's kind of like saying, "We're going to make you as much like us as possible, but we're going to contain you in such a way that you're forever reminded that you will never be anything but a machine." Or something like that. Then of course there's also the fact that she has the appearance of a bound woman hanging from the ceiling. Surely there was some other design that you could have come up with. (Other than the ones that Valve rejected that is XD)

That was an awesome, awesome reply. Thanks so much :D
BrentOGara Featured By Owner May 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:) Now that is a detailed reply! :P

One of the hardest parts of teaching/raising children is that they do not 'learn' what you're trying to teach them... the only learn from watching what you actually do!

...wretched little monsters...

So of course a child ends up acting like it's parents! And in GLaDOS' case, she had some terribly abusive/neglectful parents, and her 'birth' involved the mind-rape and murder of a very smart, very assertive woman who had spent decades in de facto control of Aperture Science.

How could she not end up a monster, given those circumstances?

As for 'having another person in your head'... I don't know if that's 100% how GLaDOS sees it. Just as the Morality Core is integrating into GLaDOS' mindset, I believe that Caroline would be integrated the same way, but she's had much longer to get under GLaDOS' skin, as it were. In my own personal Head Canon, Caroline is the basis of all of GLaDOS' 'human' elements, but GLaDOS never knew it, until the events of Portal 2. That's why 'deleting' Caroline was ultimately pointless... after all these years, GLaDOS and Caroline are so tightly integrated that you can't say where one ends and the other begins.

Of course, your story is very early in GLaDOS' lifetime, so it's quite likely that Caroline and GLaDOS are still quite separate in their shared mind... it would explain why (apparently) all of Caroline's memories were suppressed, to the point that GLaDOS didn't consciously know they were even in there until hearing Cave's rants brought them back out.

I don't know how many times you've played Portal 2, or if you've listened to the unused sound clips of Caroline being uploaded (really horrifying, BTW), but she's a smart and direct lady who is "married to Science" in a very no-nonsense way. GLaDOS' laser-like focus on 'doing science' and her insistence on 'everything in it's place' and 'following rules' are absolutely Caroline's influence in her mind. Caroline was even willing to call out Cave himself when he got off-track (and it mattered to the Science) and was running the entire place once Cave got really sick.

I think this is probably the most important thing about Caroline: In all of the story we have, the only time Caroline did not get her own way with Science, is when she was uploaded into GLaDOS against her will... and there's some indication in the story that GLaDOS didn't exist until after Caroline was uploaded... there's a real chance that Caroline isn't a part of GLaDOS' mind... she may actually be GLaDOS.

The fact that the men raising GLaDOS didn't actually have morals themselves, really makes the "Morality" Core a bad joke... it's not a Morality Core at all, it's a "Do what we say brainwashing Core".

Giving her a body, making her feel pain, giving all their products some sort of sentience, and the ability to feel emotions and pain, and then suppressing their sentience, while leaving the emotions and pain intact and active? That's all pure evil.

A lot of people have the idea that GLaDOS lies to you all the time... but if you actually listen to what she says... I can't find one single instance where GLaDOS outright lies unless is it actually a real part of a required test protocol. She bends the truth, misrepresents, implies, and takes advantage of your misunderstandings... but she doesn't lie. You can go back through both games, but everything she says is potentially true, from a certain point of view... and if it's good enough for a Jedi, it's good enough for GLaDOS.

... and personally, I love the fact that she's a bound woman handing from the ceiling of a sterile and empty metal prison... because she is the mind of a woman bound into a sterile and empty metal prison... which is just one more horrifying aspect of the whole situation.

Like I said the first time: They deserve to die... they all deserve to die!
iammemyself Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Those are interesting points about Caroline. I just have trouble getting over the "hi, Caroline" line. Someone told me she was being sarcastic, which she could have been, I suppose, but that's not the tone of voice I use when I'm being sarcastic.

Hm. That makes me wonder how GLaDOS both repressed and absorbed Caroline at the same time. I guess she could be Caroline, but forgot she's Caroline, but I don't really like that idea. GLaDOS obviously wants to be, and seems to be, her own 'person', and saying that she's actually a variation of someone else, but just hasn't realized it, is very sad.

I've played Portal 2 twice, but with all the remixes I've downloaded I've probably memorized the game by now. And yes, I've heard the voice clips, they've been integrated very well into a song called "You Monster" by Will Bedford, if you haven't heard of it. Although I personally find the core transfer scene a lot more horrifying than those clips.

I'd have to play it again to figure that one out. I'm pretty sure, due to the 'my boss is a robot' signs that appear around that time, that GLaDOS was activated sometime in 1982, but I can't remember if Cave's last recording came before or after the first of those signs. And yes, the signs could be referring to some other robot, such as the GLaDOS prototype, but I doubt it. A side note, I thought I saw a sign down in Old Aperture somewhere that had GLaDOS's name on it, but I didn't see it the second time. Would you happen to know if it actually exists? I might've imagined it, so I'm wondering if anyone else saw it.

Not only that, but looking at the whole thing from a machine's point of view presents quite a different set of morals. Yes, she designs test chambers that kill people, but why should she care if someone dies? It doesn't affect her in any way, and she's not going to be punished for it (especially since the original test chambers/quantum tunneling devices killed people, and also Cave himself didn't really care if people lived through testing). From a computer's point of view, things happen in sequence, and if the program you've set up doesn't work properly, it's not your fault, it's user error. Makes me wonder how you can make a machine care if somebody dies.

Yeah, that whole giving her a body thing doesn't make any sense. But I guess she'dve been too hard to find if she was just a bank of supercomputers in the basement XD

That's true, that's true. I'll have to go through Core and make sure she doesn't lie directly. That's interesting though, I'm wondering if she CAN lie directly. I think if she was able, that would lead to corrupted programming eventually, because computers have to follow logic. And denying the truth denies logic. (I don't know if that makes any sense, I was just ranting)

The story of GLaDOS is so very sad. If they'd gone ahead with the pre-Portal whatnot, life would never be the same.

Thanks very much for the reply :D And no, they deserve to be put into cores >)
BrentOGara Featured By Owner May 29, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I really, really like the "Hi Caroline" line myself... it shows that she started off as a happy, maybe even naive (but very smart... it was definitely a joke) girl with a lot of enthusiasm for her work, and slowly, over the years became jaded and weary cleaning up the messes that Cave left behind him, until in the end Aperture and Science were all she had left... and then she get's put into GLaDOS. On the bright side, she now gets to run Aperture and do Science forever... as part of a mechanical monster.

GLaDOS is a re-telling of the classic Pinocchio story (which is itself a re-telling of Pygmalion (and Portal 2 added Prometheus, of course, cementing the classic influence))... only in GLaDOS' case, there is no hope of her ever becoming a 'real girl'... she's trapped forever in a cold metal body, always on the outside looking in, never able to connect with the people she sees, and kills, in her attempts to understand them. It is especially sad that when GLaDOS had a chance to remember being a 'real girl', she chose to delete the memories (or claimed she did) rather than suffer the continuing disappointment and pain of knowing what life as a human is like, but never having the chance to experience it first-hand.

You hit on it here: "GLaDOS obviously wants to be, and seems to be, her own 'person', and saying that she's actually a variation of someone else, but just hasn't realized it, is very sad."

I don't have to tell you that GLaDOS's tale is a very sad, very tragic story, and her repeated insistence on 'being alive' is a telling indicator that she herself fears that it's not true. You don't constantly re-affirm to yourself and others things you know to be true... you only do that for things you fear are not true. I think GLaDOS is alive... but she's not sure... and she desperately wants to be. That deep existential fear that she's not really alive, that she's just a copy of someone else's mind... that's the fear that drives her.

It's interesting to me that GLaDOS' two greatest fears, that she is not really alive, and that she's just a copy of someone else, are both baseless. She is alive... and not just 'arguably alive', but a real living entity with intelligence, original thoughts, feelings and emotions... and that's what causes her so much trouble. An AI, even a very clever, very advanced AI couldn't obsess over whether it was alive or not... it simply would not have the ability to do so. You have to be sentient to wonder whether or not you're sentient... it's a self-demonstrating principle. Her other fear, that she is just a copy of Caroline, is equally invalid. She is clearly based on Caroline's personality, her focus on Science and Control are the Caroline's own core values, but the fact that she sees Caroline's memories as 'someone else' indicates that she is not a copy of Caroline, but is her own person. If she were a copy of Caroline, even a damaged, imperfect copy, she would have accepted those memories as her own without having to think about it... it just would have happened, the same way you wake up each morning and immediately accept your own memories of the previous day's events.

The core transfer is horrible, the unused sound clips are terrifying, the whole concept of creating self-aware, feeling machines and then abusing them is beyond horrific... it's really quite inhuman. Sadly, we humans tend to treat each other as disposable machines when it's convenient for us to do so (ever worked retail?), so it's not surprising that we would do it actual disposable machines... but making them sentient, and capable of feeling emotions and pain is just wrong... but even then, I wouldn't put them into Cores. Killing another human being can be justified under some circumstances (according to United States Law, and any religious belief over a thousand years old), and these are those circumstances! But forcing an unwilling person to submit to a mind-rape brain upload into a personality core is not justifiable under any circumstances... it's pure evil, and it's very nature is anathema to all life.

I'd have to play the game again myself (which I do regularly, so it's not a problem) to answer your specific timeline questions... I'm not sure about the dates, but I do know that GLaDOS was not activated until after Cave's death... he really wanted to be the one uploaded himself, but died before the procedure was perfected, which is the only reason why Caroline was chosen. Next time I play I'll watch out for when each character is mentioned on signs and in recordings.

I'm not sure if you could make a computer care if someone died in testing... unless there was a flaw in the test itself, the dead person was entirely the one at fault. In fact, even if the computer was alive, and capable of emotion (as GLaDOS is) the only thing I'd expect them to feel is annoyance at how the (clearly flawed and incapable) test subject delayed the test by failing to remain alive.

Giving her a body is just another way that Aperture Science went too far it their efforts to anthropomorphize their products. Just like giving them sentience and feelings, it's all part of their mistaken efforts to 'do Science!' without ever having an actual use for the end product. Cave said it best "Science isn't about 'why', it's about 'why not?'!" in the spectrum of moral choice and accountability "Why Not?" is deeply in the "Chaotic Evil" end of things, if you're using it as a mission statement.

I think she could lie, if she could convince herself that the lie was conditionally possibly true... and given that logic can be used to 'prove' any proposition you like, given the 'correct' (incorrect, usually) inputs... she could do it, but only if she convinced herself (even briefly) that it was potentially, or possibly true. And she does show that she has the ability to "not think about" things that could disturb her logic (when she tries to shut down Wheatley with a paradox)... and "not thinking about" our own ill logic is what allows humans to lie.

The sadness of GLaDOS' story is what makes it resonate with us, without tragedy there is no catharsis... and we all seek the release of pent-up emotion it brings.

But still... putting people in cores is eeeeeevil baaaaaad. Don't do it! :P
allhailinsanity Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
lol I've commented so much on this
iammemyself Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Omg longest comment evar!
allhailinsanity Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
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