Fanfic: Derelict - Chapter 6 - Now You’re Thinking with System Errors
QUICK NOTE: Apparently the “Derelict” tag is actually… full of stuff. So I’ll be putting these under “Fanfic Derelict” instead.
Fandom: Steam Powered Science (SPG/Portal)
Next Chapter: 7
Characters: Steve, Michael, Sam, Rabbit, The Jon, The Spine
Summary: This is the most idiotic thing Steve has ever done in his life. Probably.
What Michael had in the bag was some of the weirdest stuff Steve had ever seen – and in the relatively short span of time his memory had to work with, he’d seen a lot of weird stuff.
“I don’t actually know what this thing does, but it looked fun… Don’t touch it.” The device was grey and sharp and utterly silent, and looked upside down no matter which way Michael turned it. The thought of touching it hadn’t even remotely occurred to Steve as an idea, let alone a good one. Michael set it aside and pulled out the next device – and then the next one, and the next one, and Steve realized he was drawing connections to Mary Poppins and her carpet bag and wondered again at his apparent ability to recollect pop culture and little else.
“This is a high energy pellet launcher. Definitely don’t touch that. Old turret sentry and a couple packs of resolution pellets. Don’t touch those. Dismantled science bomb – really really don’t touch that. Aaaaaand a couple of portal guns.”
Steve waited a moment, and then raised an eyebrow. “You’re not gonna tell me not to touch that?”
Michael only smiled wider. “Nah, they’re harmless. Well. As long as you use them right. Here, I’ll show you.” And before Steve could protest that he really wasn’t sure he wanted a demonstration of something that was provisionally harmless, Michael pulled out two pairs of what looked like ridiculously complex pieces of footwear, but which Steve was prepared to find out were actually pretty much anything.
“What are those?”
“Long Fall Boots. Here.” He handed a pair to Steve.
Steve looked at them. They didn’t seem dangerous. “Uh.”
Michael was already taking his shoes and socks off and pulling the other set of boots on. Steve sighed and followed suit, figuring that if Michael was going to kill him he would have done it by now.
“I think it’s too s– … um…” As he spoke, the boot started reforming itself around his foot. “…Never mind.”
Michael grinned at him. “Cool, huh?”
“Yeah,” Steve said faintly, staring down at his feet as the second boot adjusted itself.
“Okay. I’ll show you how it works first,” said Michael, hefting one of the guns. “This one’s mine. I modified the portal colors and stuff when I got bored one day, but I haven’t had much of a reason to actually use it. See that white wall over there?”
Steve looked. “No.”
“Higher,” Michael prompted. Steve looked up. There was, in fact, a stretch of white wall – hundreds of feet up.
“And see how the floor here is white?”
“Pretty much any white surface in here is a portal surface. They’re made of moon rocks.”
Steve blinked. “Okay.”
Michael grinned wider. Steve’s face was starting to hurt just looking at him. “Okay. Here’s where it gets awesome.”
He pointed the gun at the ground a few feet away and fired.
There was a noise like knives sharpening on an uncoiling spring, and Steve flinched before he could help it.
When he looked up, there was a swirling purple oval on the ground.
“…Michael, what the hell?”
“It’s a portal!”
“I. To where?”
“Nowhere. Yet.” So saying, Michael turned and fired at the white expanse of wall.
The shot hit as a pink dot and expanded into another oval, and the portal on the ground was suddenly showing them a bird’s eye view of the cavernous laboratory.
Steve shrugged, reluctantly impressed. “I guess that’s pretty MICHAEL NO –”
But Michael had already jumped straight into the portal, catching the edge of the floor with his fingers as he dangled hundreds of feet up in the air.
Through the ground.
Steve shook his head and leaned as close to the opening as he deemed not completely stupid. “What the hell are you doing?!”
“This is where the Long Fall Boots come in!” Michael said gleefully, and wow, yeah, his voice was coming from close up and far away at the same time, which the synthetics in Steve’s head apparently did not appreciate, because it hurt.
He winced, took a deep breath, and stuck his head as far through the portal as he dared, keeping a tight hold on the edge. “What?”
And that was – so much worse. So much infinitely worse, especially when Michael replied, because their voices were now coming from up close and far away twice and Steve thought his head was going to explode.
He jerked away back through the portal and landed flat on his back, gasping for breath.
When he looked up, Michael was falling.
Steve watched in a sort of horrified stupor as Michael plummeted, picking up speed, and –
landed on his feet and jogged back over to ask if Steve was okay.
Steve blinked. “I’m – fine. What was – how did you – is that what the boots are for?”
Michael nodded. “Yeah! Wanna try?”
He really, really didn’t.
“This is the most idiotic thing I have ever done in my life. Probably,” Steve muttered, looking down through the blue portal on the ground at the top of his own head.
They had found a platform the top of which they could actually see, and Michael had told Steve how the double triggers worked and what the different colors of the portals meant and assured him that this was absolutely the most fun you could have with a portal gun and that the Boots would keep him safe.
“Hop in!” Michael urged, looking entirely too excited for a bystander.
Steve almost rolled his eyes, but the idea of accidentally meeting his own gaze was not an appealing one.
He hopped in.
It was fun, for the first few cycles, watching the floor rise up to meet him over and over again as he whooshed straight through it.
And then the whooshing became an actual sound, mixed in with his own breathing and heartbeat and every move he made and Michael’s laughter and the portal gun whirring, and everything was coming at him from too many directions, all at once, from the same source twice, and he was picking up too much speed, the time between portals was hardly even a second, and there was no way a pair of freaking boots was going to keep him from shattering every bone in his body and there was sound everywhere, too loud and intense and coming from the right place in the wrong direction and he couldn’t see –
“Michael!” he managed to shout. “Michael, I don’t like this!”
Michael said something in response but he couldn’t even begin to comprehend what it was. He was going to fall forever, and he wouldn’t even starve to death because of Michael’s stupid life support; this was going to get worse and worse until the synthetics in his head overloaded and killed him and stop it, Steve – think rationally – what had Michael said about firing more than two portals?
Which one had he fired at the ground? The orange one?
No – no, definitely the blue one. He hoped.
He raised the gun and aimed it up at the platform and fired –
– and landed on his feet, breathing hard, heart hammering against his ribcage like it wanted to get out of him before he did something even more ridiculous.
“Steve?” Michael was suddenly far too close, peering into his eyes and snapping his fingers impossibly loudly. “You okay, buddy?”
Steve stumbled away from him, trying to wave him off and almost overbalancing in the process. “Yeah, I’m – no. That was. Ow. No. Ow.”
Everything was far too loud. His vision was dim and he could hear a constant buzzing noise, thrumming vibrations, like he had fallen asleep on top of a motor. “I think I broke it,” he said thickly, the sound of his own voice like trying to swallow tar. “The – the thing. In my head.”
Michael’s face lost all color. “Shit. ohshitohshitohshit I’m sorry; I didn’t even think about that – okay, it – it probably just overloaded – lie down and don’t move and – and I’ll shut up, sorry, and it should be okay soon.”
Steve sat up after a couple of minutes, and everything looked fine, and sounded only as strange as it had before the portals.
“I think I’m okay.”
Michael hugged him. Steve rolled his eyes and waited it out.
“I’m sorry!” Michael said again as he pulled away, looking miserable. “That was really stupid; I should have thought about the conflicting sound sources; I –”
Steve held up a hand. “Dude. Stop. I’m fine. I’m the one who jumped through the damn thing, and I already knew something was wrong. If you beat yourself up every time I do something stupid, your freaky life support stuff is gonna have its hands full keeping you from turning black and blue.”
Michael huffed a quiet laugh, and managed a less blinding version of his usual smile. “Right. Okay. We should, uh – we should get moving.”
Michael shrugged. “Anywhere I haven’t already been. There still might be other people.”