CHELL-- WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?
Once I finished my original blog on the identity of Chell from the game Portal (widely recognized as one of the greatest and most important mysteries of our time)... I came across a Wiki site that had some additional information. The key to finding out who Chell is can't really be gained by examining Chell herself... but by examining Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperture Science.
The first blog above was written from information gleaned from the game itself, and from some videos. Based on those sources the thoughts presented seem fairly likely, and still do. However there is a great deal of controversy in this... because the evidence points in more than one direction.
The "real" story of Chell (as leaked by Valve via BBS access and a now defunct webpage) is a bit less romantic and quite a bit darker. Since the BBS access is no longer available and the webpage mentioned is now defunct, users have started drawing their own conclusions. Why exactly did Valve redact that information? Have they got something up their collective sleeve?
It's nice to believe (as most fans do) that GlaDOS is Chell's mother. That's kind of a sweet story. But at one point in the game in the scribblings of the Ratman on the walls appears the name "C.Johnson" along with what appears to be a password.
At one time apparently there was a website named AppertureScience.com. When one logged in to that site it asked for a name and passcode. If one entered the name and passcode provided by the Ratman in the game Portal... the website granted entry and presented a few computer screens revealing "secret internal emails" from Cave Johnson to his staff.
Fans of Portal captured those screens and placed them on a few obscure websites. While those screens are no longer available from Valve (one wonders why), what they revealed was rather sinister. They claim:
* Cave Johnson died not from moon rock ingestion, but from mercury contamination while working on the moonrocks. (That makes sense. Who would eat moonrocks? Well.. Cave Johnson. People have done stupider things.)
* As a result, Johnson was nuttier than a nest of squirrels. Thus his questionable and lunatic ravings in Portal 2.
* Aperture Science was in heavy competition with another company called Black Mesa. Because of this competition the scientists of both companies were... let us say... somewhat unethical (to put it mildly).
* Because of Cave Johnson's insanity, Black Mesa stealing Aperture ideas, and extravagant spending on the part of Johnson, Aperture was bankrupt.
* Senate hearings were being held checking into unethical Aperture activities... which further financially damaged the company.
* At first, Aperture used paid athletes and astronauts for their physically-demanding scientific experiments. However as time passed and the company became more insolvent, they began hiring homeless people for $60... and evidently buying orphans from orphanages to use as "test subjects" (certainly a questionable practice).
* Chell (apparently) was one of those orphans. Evidently she took part in a "bring your daughter to work day" science experiment (but wasn't necessarily an employee's daughter) during the first "rebellion" of GlaDOS (defeated), survived, grew up and several years later applied for employment with Aperture.
* During her profiling she was rejected due to having a "Tenacity" score that was off the scales. At that time she was placed in a Hibernation and Relaxation chamber.
* When GlaDOS rebelled a second time (this time succeeding), she killed off almost everyone using deadly neurotoxin. She locked down the facility, effectively barring either exit or entrance (and rescue). The last remaining programmer, the "Ratman", survived and broke into Aperture's personnel files. Discovering Chell's extremely high tenacity score, he arranged for her to be unwittingly revived by GlaDOS. The rest of course, is well-known.
Why then was GlaDOS so concerned with Chell during some parts of the testing? Because GlaDOS' core personality was based on Caroline, who was Cave Johnson's loyal and infatuated assistant (whether or not they were lovers is not revealed). Caroline had a conscience and sense of morality (to an extent) and that somewhat inflicted GlaDOS, causing the insane computer some concern with Chell's feelings.
Caroline wasn't just used as a model; her actual consciousness was unwillingly transferred to GlaDOS... which is very likely why the computer rebelled against the scientists the first opportunity available and killed them all off.
Caroline could have been Chell's adoptive mother (did the company force employees to personally adopt the orphans for legality? What was the purpose of those Senate hearings anyway?)... or did her conscience simply afflict GlaDOS? Impossible to tell at this point. Of course there's no telling what Valve may reveal in future information (Portal 3?). It's a nice story that everyone likes to believe, but the available (if very obscure) information indicates that:
1) Aperture was involved in some nasty and illegal stuff
2) Their scientists were highly dubious in their activities (if not outright illegal)
3) Chell was most likely bought from an orphanage (an alternative thought is Cave may have used Aperture employees to "adopt" orphans and just maybe... Caroline adopted Chell. No official word on that)
4) GlaDOS killed the scientists because the lot of them deserved it. There is a chance Caroline was force-uploaded into the computer core at Cave's orders. GlaDOS was definitely influenced by defective memory cores, went on a psychotic rampage and prompted by severely bad programming, took part in the death of untold numbers of "test subjects" (there is no word whether Linden Lab was in any way involved in her coding, but just sayin'...)
5) Chell was chosen by the Ratman as Aperture's "last hope"
So that's the more-or-less almost-official story gleaned from information available both in the game and behind-the-scenes. Some of that information has been "redacted" by Valve, leaving the way open for the story to develop (or... maybe it was redacted by GlaDOS... has anyone actually heard from a Valve employee lately?). Of course with each release of Portal, Valve ties a few more loose strings. It appears Chell's beginning may not be so mysterious or romantic as it seems... or is it?