Somewhere Else Entirely is the ninth chapter of Lissa's Game High fanfic, Pixels and Polygons. It can be read below.
Somewhere Else Entirely Edit
Meanwhile, a handful of days later, a robot threw open the door of a dorm room. He slammed the door shut, then dragged his desk chair under the knob, panting hard even though he drew no breath. “Ok-k-k-kkkkkay, I think I’m-I’m-I’m in the c-clear.” He sighed to himself, then paused a bit, beating a fist on his chest once or twice. “In th-the cl-llllll-lear.” Cough, cough, cough. “I-i-i-i-in the cle-ear-ear.” A look of dread crept over his face, and he tilted his head back and sighed loudly. “Oh, no, y-y-you’re kkkkkidding me!”
From behind the room divider, little footsteps could be heard, followed by an inquisitive sort of squeak. The divider scraped across the floor as it was pushed back, and from behind, a little girl made her way into view. She made another little squeak of concern, and slowly, she crept next to the robot boy. Gently, the girl tapped on the boy’s shoulder, squeaking again.
The robot looked down, blinking a few times at the girl. “Oh, h-h-h-hello.” She frowned, wringing her hands, taking a wary step back. “No--No--Nonono! D-didn’t mean to scare you. I know-now-now, I sssssssound a lit-tt-tt-ttle bit strange, but it’s temporary! Tem-temporary. Tem-por-rarararar-y.” He coughed again, the worried look in the girl’s face increasing. He looked back to her, fumbling with his tie idly, as though his hands needed something to do. “You w-wouldn’t happpen to know anyone p-proficient in mechanics, wou-ld-ld-ld you? Heh. P-proficient. Tha-a-a-a-at’s a smarttt word. Not a moron, that I-that-that-that I am not.”
She rubbed the back of her neck, shaking her head, frowning. Putting her hands into the time-out position, she quickly dipped back behind the room divider, coming back up with a notebook and pen. She clicked the pen and wrote on the paper in her small compressed penmanship, ‘what happened?’
“W-w-w-well, uh, that--That’s a goooooooood question, th-that-t’s what that-at is.” His laughter was just as glitched and choppy as his voice. “Well, y’see, I hap-pened to get into a bit of a-bit of-bit-bit of a--A slight scuffle. Yeah. C-c-caught b’tween a rock an’ a-a-a--Well, n-not so much a ‘rock’, m-m-m-more of a...A ttttttttturret. Yeah. A turret-t and a hard place. And, eheh, the hard-d-d place w-was-the hard place-the-thththththththe hard ppppplace was-was-the--” He began hacking and coughing again, beating on his chest harder this time, as though fully expecting something to knock into place from this action. “Are we good? Are we?” He asked himself, and then smiled with a triumphant sort of chuckle. “Yes, aha, there we go. Now t-t-t-then--” The robot groaned loudly, leaning back and flopping into the chair that was propped under the doorknob, it’s head clunking against the wall at least three times in the process.
Another worried squeak. The girl looked down at the paper, her hands clenching the pen and notepad quite tightly. She stared at them for a long moment, blinking slowly, then walked over to the robot and held them out.
His moment of melodrama over, he tilted his head forward to get a proper look at the utensils presented before him, another clipped chuckle escaping his voice box. He took them (causing the girl to flinch and give a worried glance towards the ceiling, but he’d learned a long while back not to question her little...Idiosyncrasies) and began scribbling down his own words. Compared to the girl’s small, delicate, almost cute penmanship; his was a lot more battered and quick. She watched him just write on the paper for a while, and when he was finished, he gave the notepad back and she began to read it over.
‘So. As I was saying. Caught between a turret and a hard place, and the hard place was Glaia. I know, right? She can’t leave me alone nowadays, I don’t get it, that I don’t. So anyways, I’m trying to go about my day, have a nice day, and then they’re just there. I don’t know where they even came from. Snuck up on me. Awful. Not to sure what they actually did, beg your pardon, motherboard’s on the fritz. But there was a scuffle, that’s for sure. And now my voice box’s gone all stuttering and wonky.’
Her mouth folded into a frown, hands fidgeting slightly. She wished there was something she could do, but there just...Wasn’t. This small girl was known as Scaredy, and while she was supposed to be a teddy bear (quite literally), she often found herself in situations where she felt useless. This was one of them. Gently, a hand went on his shoulder, and she gave him something that was almost a reassuring smile. Almost. He looked over at her and gave her a lopsided smirk back, in what would have been a very lovely moment if someone hadn’t knocked on the door. He screeched, falling sideways off of the chair and flailing his arms. “No!” He gasped, skittering along the ground and forcing himself to hide under the desk. “That’s pro-prob-b-b-bably them and they-re-re-re gonna fffffffinish the j-job!” He curled up into a little ball and put his hands over his head, as though this would sufficiently hide him.
“TED?” Knock-knock. “TED, you in heeeeere? ‘Liope wants us to meet up ‘gain, it’s ‘parently pretty important! An’ you’re a major character, so we gotta’ have you!”
The chair was pushed aside, and the door opened. A little robot was on the other side, all gray and orangey-yellow. She was smiling wide, rocking back and forth on her feet, only to stop upon seeing the teddy bear. “Oh! Hey, you’re that little bear girl! Not the evil robot bear girl, but the small and adorable one!” Scaredy nodded, a little smile crossing her face, though it was quickly wiped away. “Nice to meecha’! I’d love to stay an’ chat but I really really need to see TED, so, uh, is he in here?”
She looked over at the desk, blinking. Then there was a few loud banging noises, a couple of ‘ow’s, and very suddenly the robot boy stumbled over next to Scaredy, laughing an awkward and glitchy laugh. “P-present and accccccccccounted for, that I--That I am.”
The female android--Who was named EPP, this being short for ‘Essential Peacekeeping Prototype’, much like how TED was short for ‘Temporary Exploration Device’--Rose a metal eyebrow and cocked her head slightly. “Um, TED? Is something wrong with your--”
“Nothin’s w-w-wrong with mymymymy--My nothin’! C’mon, l-lets go. Need to see Cal-lli-lll-cal-callio-cal-llll--You know who anyhow!” He pushed past Scaredy, giving her a little wave, and grabbed EPP’s arm so he may drag her off as he went down the hall on this particular lazy Saturday. “Same p-place as usual?”
“Of course. You sure nothing’s wrong? Were you hurt? Oooh, or are you wearing down? Glaia says you’re wearing down but sometime I get the feeling she says that because she doesn’t like you. Does she like you? I don’t think she likes Whitney. Does she? You’ll tell me, right?”
EPP could sometimes be a bigger chatterbox then TED himself. The robot gritted his teeth, dodging other students as he tried his hardest not to answer any of her incessant questions. He didn’t need the whole school knowing about his little...Speech impediment. L.O.G., that was the last thing he needed. The two of them trudged onward, bumping past other students who shot them odd looks. They turned corners, scanning doors upon doors upon doors until they came upon a little lone door a little ways beyond the science classroom. It was helpfully labeled ‘DO NOT ENTER’; but when did a sign like that ever stop video game character? TED threw open the door, which led to a small staircase, and the two robots slipped down.
“This is completely idiotic.” A feminine voice intoned, “You didn’t have to invite him.”
“Everyone’s coming, G. This is important.”
“We already have one moron here, we don’t need two.”
“No need to be rude, okay? No need.”
The staircase led to a secret basement, a dusty sort of place that smelled strongly of mothballs and mold. Upon hearing the intone, his emotional drive kicked into high gear, dread slipping through his circuits. Oh, no no no. Please. No. The two delved deeper into the basement, old props and costumes passing them by, and eventually they made it to a ring of plastic lawn chairs. In each of the chairs was a different person--Robots, mainly, but also a scruffy-looking brunette and a different brunette pacing around the ring. The latter one stopped in her stride, smiling a relieved grin. “Oh...Good. TED. You made it.”
He laughed slightly. “A-a-a-aw, c’mon, did-didja-did-di-dididid--You really thought I-I-I wouldn’t show?”
A long, potent silence followed. And then, snickering. The brunette in orange crossed her arms, turning to the snickering perpetrators. She sighed, shaking her head. “What did you guys do?”
“Nothin’ he didn’t deserve.” Came the snide reply of an android in mainly browns and reds.
“N-n-n-nothin’ I didn’t--You--You c-can tell tha-a-a-aaaaaat’s a load of--” His voice came out as garbled nonsense for a moment, “--You, Calliope? See, see, t-t-this is what I’m forced to-to-to-to go through! You all-ll-ll-ll don’t w-want me to be the bad guy, but here I am, st-t-tutterin’ and stammerin’ like some kindddddddddddddda id-d-diot! I cannot evvven believe--You--Why am I even-ev-even here!? Ccccccccertainly ‘ya c-could do this w-w-w-without me, an’ everyone-one could stop their pickin’ on p-poor, pa-pa-pa-papapapathetic little TED! I mean--W-wait, what’re you--!?”
There was a slow, robotic sigh. Then one of the robots stood, grabbed TED’s head by it’s clunky side handles, and twisted his head off his body. His eyes dulled to a low, gently pulsing blue; while his body seemed positively stunned by such an action. “He was starting to annoy me.” The perpetrator, a sophisticated if mostly monochrome android, said.
TED’s body made a few very threatening pantomimes, only calming down when EPP gently took his arm and guided him to an empty chair. The girl in the jumpsuit--The leader of the group, the game’s protagonist, Calliope Johnson herself--Had the flattest, most ‘so-done-with-this’ look on her face anyone had ever seen. “Glaia, please, can’t you just get along with him for one minute? This is important. Really.”
Glaia gave a shrug, holding out TED’s head at arm’s length as though it was toxic. “Yours for the taking, then.”
She took his head, observing it in her hands, shaking her own head. She looked over at the other human of the group, the disgruntled brunette who seemed as though she’d rather be anywhere else but here. “...Darcy. Can--Can you patch up his voice?”
“I’d rather not.” She was gnawing on the cap of a blue pen, sneering at the head as though it personally offended her.
“Darcy, please, I don’t...I don’t want us to be bickering right now.”
“There was this cut line, once. Implying it was Wheatley who triggered the neurotoxin one fateful night. Not GLaDOS. Food for thought.”
Calliope didn’t feel like arguing right now. She walked up and unceremoniously dropped TED’s head in Darcy’s lap, and with very little hesitation Darcy got herself a screwdriver and got to work fidgeting with his wires. Was she trying to help TED, or screwing him up further? Honestly, Calliope couldn’t tell. She walked back and slumped in her own chair, everyone now sitting in a proper circle (except for Whitney, who was very very very busy helping out Prof. Layton with his papers, so very sorry!). All the robots looked at her as she looked away with a little sigh. “...Look, the reason you’re all here is...I’m worried.”
The brown-and-red one (Turretta, she was called) shifted in her chair with a little snicker, a cocky smirk going onto her face. “I can hold my own.”
“So can I!” Chirped EPP with a big grin.
Calliope sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “No, no no no. Guys. You don’t…” She exhaled slowly, letting go of her nose. “...Maybe I’m overthinking this, but...What if...What if you guys just start flaking and falling apart? I don’t...I don’t want to lose you guys, I really don’t.”
There was a slight pause. EPP, looking at TED’s rather confused body, grabbed his arm. The headless body tensed up, going into panic, but EPP forced his arm straight. She pushed a finger down, and he flinched. Assured that his pressure sensors worked, she began tracing letters onto his arm, writing what Calliope said, since he couldn’t hear. Slowly, his body relaxed.
Glaia straightened slightly, her eyes looking down upon everyone else in the room. Her arms crossed. “Your concern is remarkable, Calliope, but it’s unjustified.” She looked to Turretta, then Darcy, EPP, TED, and then to Calliope herself. “You see? As long as you and I stay, we’re fine. Turretta is expendable, Darcy is dead, EPP will die and TED...Well. We both know how much better it would be if he were never constructed.” Her wobbly intone was gone, now made into a smoother, lower, slightly more spiteful tone. She chuckled, leaning back once more. “Really now. You worry too much for those who don’t matter.”
There was the loud sound of metal on metal. Everyone looked over to Darcy, tapping the end of the screwdriver on TED’s head. “Excuse me? I do a lot of very important work behind the scenes, thanks. I don’t know what happened with Ambros, but I can tell you that it’s not going to happen to me.” Her eyes went down, her face becoming a deep frown as she looked at the head. “...TED, however…”
EPP gasped, hugging TED’s arm close, causing him to lean sideways. “No, no no no! We’re not gettin’ rid ‘a TED! He’s very important and very funny and I like ‘im.”
“Yeah, if you like madmen who’ll mangle you up.” Turretta sneered. “Frankenturrets, need I say more?”
“...Okay, well, technically that’s because GLaDOS’ mainframe drove him nuts, right? So it’s really her fault, if ‘ya think about it…”
Glaia’s teeth clenched, shooting a glare over towards EPP. “You did not just say…”
She squeaked, holding TED’s arm yet tighter. “W-well, yeah! That’s how it was, right? It’s s’not like he’s evil from the get-go. Wheatley wasn’t, so TED ain’t.”
Glaia stood up suddenly, stomping over towards EPP in long strides, looming over the little core-to-be. EPP looked intimidated, but to her credit, not scared. “It was not my mother’s fault. It was his. Everything he did was his own fault. So if you even imply that again, I may just have to save a little time and incinerate you right no--”
“Guys! Guys guys guys.” Very quickly Calliope wormed herself between Glaia and EPP, breathing hard. “This isn’t the time, okay? Nobody’s going to be burning anyone and we’re saving TED, and that’s the end of it. As your protagonist, I insist on it.”
The taller robot made a slight hissing noise, returning to her chair in a slight huff. Calliope gave EPP’s head a pat or two before returning to her own chair and shooting a few earnest glances around the crowd. “I’m not kidding, you guys. I...I need you all here. If you’re gone, then...Well, how are we all supposed to go on? I-I know, you’re all going to...To die or...Whatever, but...I need you.”
There was a pause. A generous pause. A metal plate was screwed back on with a satisfactory hum, and Darcy stood up, gripping the handles of TED’s head. “Your greediness is appreciated,” She replied with a tinge of bitterness, “But really, just because you need us is no reason to get all sappy. Besides, worst comes to worst, we’ll just end up exiled to the Parable anyway.”
At the mention of this, a rabble began. Everyone muttering to one another at Darcy’s mere suggestion, EPP writing letters into TED’s arm so he could be just as worried...Calliope had to sigh very loudly to make everyone shut up. “Nobody’s getting exiled to the Parable!” She snapped, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Everyone knows you have to start hearing narrators to get exiled!” Darcy walked over to TED’s body, placing his head on his neck and twisting it into place. His eyes flashed a bright blue, and then he began muttering a few standard Aperture Science rules and regulations in order to test his voice box. It didn’t skip once, and he looked to Darcy with a huge, relieved grin. She gave a sort of smirk back as Calliope gave a quick glance around the group. “And nobody’s hearing narrators. Right?”
While everyone could conclude that no, no narrators were heard, they all quickly became distracted by someone stumbling down the stairs. The figure tripped over her feet a few times as it ran into their little meeting area, waving it’s arms and shouting in a generic, cute-sounding babble. The newly reformed TED was the first to respond. “Aha, hey there, Scaredy! You ain’t hearin’ narrators, are ‘ya?”
The bear’s face flashed with panic for a fleeting moment, but there was no time to dwell on such questions. Her babble became desperate-sounding, and she grabbed TED’s arm and tried to drag him away. She wasn’t strong enough to do it, but the robot was keen on humoring her, and he beckoned for everyone else to follow as Scaredy led the way. Scaredy kept talking the whole while, as though attempting to explain something, though even the advanced translation software Glaia had uploaded into her was completely confused. All they could tell, though, was that it was pretty bad. They were led back out of the little basement, up the stairs, around the corner into the science room.
The door was already ajar, and the bear nudged it further open with her foot, pulling TED (and therefore leading the rest of them) over to a small section on the dirty tiled floor. There was a smattering of shattered glass, a purple liquid pooled on the ground.
Glaia went on her haunches, running a finger through the liquid, staring at the resulting stain on her finger. “Poison.” She confirmed, raising up slowly. “Specifically, Plum Miraculixer. Or, at least, an attempt. Meaning…”
“Gregory?” EPP took a glance up at Glaia as the taller robot gave a nod. “Well, that’s weird. Why would he drop it? What would be the point? He kept sayin’ he couldn’t make it right but I don’t think he’d just throw it down. Would he?”
“Unless he didn’t.”
Everyone looked at Turretta with a start, the robot reaching down and snatching something off the floor: a large syringe, bearing a red cross in an orange circle. “Seems to me like someone forced his hand.”
First Chapter: We Begin by Entering
Previous Chapter: Vanishing Act
Next Chapter: Guilty Party