• Published 25th Apr 2012
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Better Living Through Science and Ponies - Pen Stroke



Not all is well in Equestria when a failing portal gun brings Aperture Science to the land of ponies

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Chapter 6: Breaking the Rules

Better Living Through Science And Ponies
By Pen Stroke
Assisted By Batty Gloom
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Chapter 6
Breaking the Rules
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GLaDOS shifted in her ceiling mount, the video and data feeds from all the test chambers flowing into her. The test subjects were progressing so nicely. Some did lag behind, others were excelling... and all in all, she was breaking each one down bit by bit psychologically. No scientist would have admitted it to the test subjects, but half the tests were psychological. How far could GLaDOS push a subject before they’d give up on the tests, or before they got so mentally strained that they made an error and died.

“Oh, this is going so well... I think I may have to celebrate. Beginning celebration protocols in 3... 2... 1...”

In some deep part of GLaDOS, where an engineer had been feeling cheeky on his last day of work, a small device clicked on. This device began to whirl, spin, and soon was broadcasting something over the control rooms’ speakers. It was not nail scratching noises, or pre-recorded messages from Cave Johnson. No, it was instead music.

At some point someone at Aperture Science thought it would be funny if GLaDOS could sing. Though... it was kind of funny. She had sung to them all while they were dying of deadly neurotoxin, and even wrote a song to celebrate finally being rid of that dangerous, mute, lunatic. She had called it “Want You Gone”... because that’s all she wanted of that mute lunatic... to be rid of her.

Still, other systems in GLaDOS began to whirl to life, CPUs iterating over vast trees of words and musical beats. It’s true, personality constructs weren’t that good at making music, but she could tackle it the same ways other computers tackled chess. Just build a huge tree of all possible moves, in this case melodies, select the leaf node that suited the situation best. With her CPU power, she could do improv very well.

And at the moment, one melody Test Subject #231, Fluttershy, had been trying to sing to herself in fear was working its way into GLaDOS’s melody algorithms. The melody from the melody generator started off gentle, serene, so fanciful it was very out of place being played in over the very clinical and scientific Enrichment Center.

My little ponies...
My little ponies...
La... La... La... La.....

The music shifted at this, going techno and getting darker, GLaDOS turning in her ceiling mount as she watched some ponies attempting the test chambers on her monitors.

My Little Ponies
You are just test subjects to me

My Little Ponies
Now lets watch as you all go crazy

Fear of Failure
Psychotic Break
An Ugly Old Mare
Moronic and Dumb
Murdering Pegasus

It’s an easy feat
Doesn’t all this madness make life complete?

My Little Ponies
Did you know you’re not leaving here alive?

GLaDOS spun in her ceiling mount, ending the very short song with a bit of a flourish. “Ah... yes, that was a good celebration. Now... back to testing.” With that the personality construct began to return to her work, shifting her gaze back to test subject #202, Ditzy Doo, the one she had been observing and taunting when the urge to celebrate struck her.

“Oh Ditzy Doo, I just wanted to comment on how well your name suits you. You really are a ditz... ... wait... where did you go?”

GLaDOS’s fans began to spin as she looked through every camera in that test room. She began to look back over the recorded video, watching from every angle simultaneously as Ditzy Doo walked into the room. The pegasus stopped, seemed to be thinking about the test when something drew her attention to the corner of the room. She went into that corner, but then never came back out.

“Whoa... whoawhoawhoawhoawhoa... Test Subject #202 is not locatable in test chamber. Beginning deeper analysis of room video recordings... wait... what is that?”

GLaDOS rewound the tapes further to the point when Ditzy Doo was just coming into the room. Something flashed in front of one of the cameras, and after working carefully to isolate the frame GLaDOS was able to get a good look at it.

The thing that flashed in front of the camera, before flying off into the corner where Ditzy disappeared, was the round, spherical energy ball from a portal gun.

Switching to other cameras GLaDOS traced the energy ball to the other end of the room. There, one of the test chamber panels had been opened... even though she had never sent an open command to it. On the other side of the panel, standing on one of the exterior catwalks, was a pony... dull orange with brown hair and brown eyes... familiar eyes.

GLaDOS turned her head to one side as she examined the video more closely... where had she seen those hard eyes before? Those murderous eyes... wait, murder... murderer... a murderer who tried to kill her twice.

“Oh you’ve GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!”

~~~

Ditzy Doo practically tackled Chell once she was out of the test chamber, the gray pegasus happy to see another friendly face. Chell endured begin crushed under another pony for a few seconds before she gently pushed Ditzy Doo off.

“Well... I would never thought I’d see you again... you dangerous, mute lunatic.” GLaDOS’s voice chimed on the speakers outside the test chambers. “And yes, I know you’re there. You must really, really like testing if you actually came back inside after I let you leave.

“Oh, and by the way... you look stupid as a pony. You really do. I mean, all these other ponies look pretty good... but you... you just look like an idiot. Even Ditzy Doo looks smarter than you... and that is saying something... that and I think you’ve gained weight. Seriously, how can you gain weight when all ponies eat are vegetables and hay?

“Still... I think it’s fair to warn you... I am going to do everything I can to kill you now. Yes... I realize that it’s hard to kill you... that the simple answer would be just to let you go again. Still... if letting you go means you can come back and bother me... well, I think its time I knuckled down and figured out an answer to the hard question of just how to kill you.

“Life has been giving me lemons... and by letting you go I tried to make lemonade. A simple, sweet answer. Now... now I’m going to take life’s lemons, turn them into combustible lemons, and then burn you alive with them. Just like Cave Johnson would do... now that was a smart human.”

Chell frowned a bit. She was hoping that GLaDOS wouldn’t notice her for a little while after she helped the first pony escape, but then again there wasn’t much the personality construct could do outside her test chambers. Yes, she could broadcast messages into the underbelly of Aperture Science and see through the few cameras that were still operational, but otherwise it was a blind spot for GLaDOS... a blind spot Chell was going to take advantage off for as long as possible.

Still, Chell’s attention was broken as she was gently poked in the side by Ditzy, the gray pegasus looking worried.

“My Muffin?”

Chell smiled, doing her best to communicate the fact Dinky Doo was all right. Ditzy seemed to get the message, smiling back at Chell. She then turned to one side, motioning towards the metal harness that was keeping her wings to her side.

“Fake Toe?”

Chell titled her head a moment, taking a step closer so she could look over the harness. After poking around for a moment she found a small red button, managing to push it with her nose. The harness clicked open in an instant, Ditzy’s smile widening as she shook it off and stretched her wings.

“Lunch Butter. Frank Toot.”

Chell nodded, guessing that Ditzy meant to say “much better” and “thank you”. Still, Chell drew the situation back to serious as she used a hoof to motion down the catwalk, breaking into a gallop while Ditzy Doo fell in line behind her.

~~~
Test Subject #258 - Rainbow Dash

Rainbow Dash sat curled up in a corner of the testing chamber, eyes anxiously looking over what to her, at the moment, was the impossible physical task. The voice from the walls had a least stopped... but the cameras were still there. They were still watching, with their beady little red eyes.

The silence of the room... the stress from being watched with such scrutiny... all of it combined made Rainbow Dash jump about two feet in the air when she heard a noise. Once she landed, the rainbow maned pegasus looked in the direction of the noise, seeing one of the testing panels had opened up. From inside that panel Chell and Ditzy Doo appeared.

“GAH! You two scared me!” Dash snapped, but only to smile. “But boy am I glad to see you.”

“You... too...” Ditzy forced out slowly, wanting to make sure she said it right.

“What are you two doing here anyway?”

“Need... help... shave, save... ponies...” Ditzy forced out, the gray pegasus speaking where Chell couldn’t. It was a good thing Chell had managed her general plan using an old chalkboard in the underbelly of the facility.

Dash seemed to shrink back a little at this, hanging her head. “You’d probably be better off with out me. I can’t even finish this room... I doubt I could help you with anything.”

Chell moved in front of Dash, a look of confusion on her face. Since when did Rainbow Dash...

“Oh, there you are. I was wondering where you went. I see you found the little failure Rainbow Crash. I hope you weren’t expecting her to help you escape... because she’s worthless.”

Chell shook her head furiously.

“Oh... so you think she can do it? Well, come on then, Rainbow Crash. Why don’t you give it another try?”

“No... no, I can’t. Not with everypony watching.”

“Yes, that’s right... I’m streaming the video from this room to everyone. Everyone can see how many times you’ve failed. They’re all watching... laughing... at y-HEY!”

Chell interrupted the personality construct with a launch of her portal gun, making use of the unrestricted quantum tunneling devices she had stolen from the modified turrets to make every observation camera drop from the wall. Chell blinded GLaDOS to the room.

With the cameras gone, Chell nudged Rainbow Dash in the shoulder, giving a toss to her head. Dash just watched the dull orange pony quizzically, until Ditzy interpreted what Chell wanted.

“Follow... fur... her. She... go... banana...... first. No... one bac-...... watch.” At that the dull gray pegasus turned on the spot and started staring at the wall. Slowly, Dash surveyed the room. No cameras, no one was going to watch her. Chell was going to show her how it was done... could she do it this time?

Chell didn’t wait for a response, breaking into a sprint. Something in Rainbow Dash clicked, the quick start of the dull orange pony igniting her love of racing... and winning. Dash broke into a gallop, chasing after Chell as they both charged at the course.

Portals, faith plates, light bridges... Chell handled the portal part of the puzzles while Dash followed in her wake, sticking the landings and making the death defying leaps... but towards the end, during a last final sprint across a high platform in the room, Chell saw something running beside her. Glancing to the left she saw Rainbow Dash, the pink-eyed pegasus giving her a competitive glance before charging ahead.

Falling back a bit on purpose, Chell let Dash take the lead. The blue pegasus made the final leap, using her own portal gun to pop the last couple portals before going into a nose dive. She zipped through the portal on the floor below, arching out the other side before eventually landing right next to the room’s exit door.

“Oh... YEAH!” Dash exclaimed before going into a small victory dance. “I did it, I did it, I did it did it did it DID IT!”

Chell landed near Rainbow Dash just as the dance was finishing, offering an honest smile as she watched the pegasus regain some of the confidence GLaDOS had managed to strip away. Dash didn’t waste any time either; the moment she noticed Chell she was off, talking about how awesome it had been.

“You know, you only did it because she helped. You’re still a failure.” GLaDOS offered, finally able to bring in fresh observation cameras to the test chamber.

“So what if Chell helped me? I still did it.”

“But... that’s cheating. These aren’t the cooperative testing chambers... you can’t have help.”

“HA, sounds like someone is just a sore looser.”

“Okay... you want to break the rules? ...let’s break the rules. Breaking the rules of this test chamber in 3... 2... 1...”

A number of the panels around the room disappeared, quickly being replaced with spiked crushers. Chell tensed up at the sight of the things that could probably turn a pony into a messy red pancake in a few seconds. Without offering any warning, Chell popped a portal down by Ditzy, opening the paired portal below herself and Rainbow Dash. The pair fell through just as the crushers struck out at them, Chell even able to feel some of the spikes graze her mane.

Not wanting to give GLaDOS a chance to figure out what happened, Chell pushed Rainbow Dash through the opening in the wall, grabbing Ditzy Doo by the tail and dragging her in before the panel shut behind them.

~~~

“Wow, you are one awesome pony, Chell! You saved my tail back there.” Rainbow Dash offered as she and Ditzy Doo flew above the dull orange pony as they traversed the underbelly of Aperture Science. “Still, how did you two find me?”

Chell paused, lifting a hoof and pointing at her neck. There, a white polished necklace hung, the necklace resembling the turrets and practically everything else in Aperture Science. Chell then pressed down on part of the necklace, a small flurry of music filling the air before a female voice filled the air.

“Hello, this is Caroline McLain... oh, do I really have to do this? Cave was always the one... really?... it says so in his will... well... all right.

“So, again, this is Caroline McLain, and I’m happy to introduce you to the Aperture Science Test Management Ring. This ring is meant to allow our test proctors to work with our new Panels system. As you probably already know, our patented Panels are now what makes up every testing chamber here at the Aperture Science Research Center.

“These allow our test chambers to be infinitely configurable and modifiable. The Test Management Ring allows the person wearing it to take control of up to seven Panels at one time and to modify their configuration to their desire. So, if a test subject is finding the tests too easy, go ahead and change things up a bit. After all, if they’re easy... they’re not really tests now are they?

“The Test Management Ring also acts as a GPS tracker inside the enrichment center and is wirelessly connected to the test subject data main frame. So if you ever get lost trying to find certain test subjects, just wonder where they are and the Management Ring will actually put the information right into your brain.

“Also, if you start to feel a tingling on your skin where the necklace is resting, we suggest you take it off. The science team isn’t sure why, but the cell phone radio waves the necklace uses to react to your thoughts seem to induce cancer in a small percentage of test proctors... so, better safe than sorry.

“Okay... that’s it... are we done now... WHAT!? I have to fifty more of these too? Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

The audio recording cut off at this, Chell getting back on her hooves as she continued to lead Dash and Ditzy to their next destination.

~~~

Test Subject #164 has escaped her test chamber
Test Subject #174 has escaped her test chamber

“Where are you?!” GLaDOS cursed, her CPUs starting to over heat as she used every available resource to try and hunt down the escaped test subjects. As she tried to concentrate the male announcer voice built into the control room continued to speak.

Test Subject #231 has escaped her test chamber
Test Subject #306 has escaped her test chamber
Test Subject #323 has escaped her test chamber

“HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?!” GLaDOS screamed, memory flashing back. She was not going to lose to that mute lunatic again. She had been killed twice by that renegade test subject... it wasn’t going to happen a third time. She was chasing shadows... she didn’t have enough cameras outside the test chambers to see what was going on. She needed to get ahead of her...

Get ahead of her...

GLaDOS shifted, fans spinning. “Beginning simulation based on known behavioral data... preparing counter measures.”

“When she comes to find me one of us will die... as always... but this time it will... not... be... me.”

~~~

“Oh, its so nice to get that thing off my horn.” Twilight muttered, tossing her hair back and forth after having the magic suppressing device removed from her forehead. While Chell knew more of the ponies that had been captured by GLaDOS, she had chosen to save these six because she had heard the story about them defeating Nightmare Moon. They seemed like a solid group of friends, ones that would work together... and at the moment they needed collaboration. That and she had freed Ditzy because... well... she had made a promise to Dinky after all.

“And you promise all those awful things that voice was saying were lies? I’m not going to start losing my mane?”

“Relax Sugarcube. Chell seems to know this GLaDOS character like the back of her hoof, and she says we ain’t to listen to a word she says.”

“I should have known she was lying.” Pinkie Pie exclaimed, her normal bubbly hair and attitude having returned. “GLaDOS is just a big meanie mean pants... like, ten times the big meanie mean pants that Gilda was.”

“But... what about the Companion Cube? ...I mean, it was my fault.”

Chell shook her head, turning back to the chalkboard behind her. The dull orange pony had brought the group to an old meeting room, one with plenty of chalk.

“Companion Cube is just a box with hearts on it. It isn’t alive. She mass produces Companion Cubes.”

“But... I was sure I heard it scream.”

“GLaDOS was tricking you.” Chell wrote on the board, pointing a firm hoof at the word “tricking”.

“Yea, that GLaDOS is just a low belly snake in the grass. None of us should have started listenin’ to her in the first place.”

“Applejack’s right,” Rarity assured, “I mean, could you honestly imagine me losing my mane? What half-baked lies.”

“You seemed pretty sure of those half-baked lies a few minutes ago.” Dash pointed out.

“Well... I... I’ll admit that the thought of losing my beautiful hair.. worried me... but that’s over now. Now, all we should be worrying about is getting out of here.”

Chell shook her head furiously at this, using her tail to erase the words on the chalk board before starting fresh. “We have to save the others.”

“Others... did that monster go and hogtie other ponies?”

“Yes,” Chell wrote, “According to this thing around my neck GLaDOS has taken 300 other ponies... including Celestia and Luna.”

“Whoa! She kidnapped the princesses! How did she do that?”

“She probably used these things.” Twilight said, motioning towards the metal device that had been on her horn just a few minutes prior. “Take away wings and magic, and maybe Celestia and Luna were just as helpless as us.”

“So, not only do we need to save over three hundred other ponies but also Princess Celestia and Luna?” Rarity surmised before sighing a bit. “Sure makes me wish we had those fabulous necklaces of ours.”

“The Elements of Harmony would probably be really helpful right now.” Twilight admitted, “Still, if we save Celestia and Luna first they may be able to help us save all the other ponies.”

“And then we can take the fight straight to GLaDOS.” Applejack offered, stomping a hoof on the ground.

Chell shook her head furiously a second time, clearing the board and writing. “NO. You save the others, I’ll deal with GLaDOS.”

“No offense sugar cube, but we ain’t about to let you go up against that monster by yourself.”

If Chell shook her head any harder, it might have fallen off before turning back to the chalkboard. “NO, I can handle GLaDOS. You seven need to focus on saving everypony else and getting out safely.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight asked.

“I’ve beaten her by myself before, I can do it again.” Chell wrote in reply.

“I think Chell is right.” Fluttershy offered. “Our first priority should be making sure everypony gets out safe.”

“Are you sure you can handle it Darlin’?”

Chell nodded her head firmly once.

“Okay... we’ll do it your way then.”

“Yea, and when we get everypony out we’ll throw a big ‘we escaped party’. It will be so much fun!” Pinkie Pie chirped up, drawing a few glares from the others at her randomness. Still, with that tangent over, all eyes turned back to Chell, who began to draw out the plan on the chalkboard.

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Questions, Comments, Concerns?
pen.stroke.pony@gmail.com

My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic © Hasbro
Portal & Portal 2 © Valve

I do not own the intellectual properties this fan-fiction is based on.
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