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In the Name of God

"I can't thank you enough for your service, Mr. Smith." Roger nodded, trying not to scowl as the short, balding man wrung his hand with a bit too much enthusiasm.

"It's not a problem, Mr. Dorian," replied the negotiator smoothly, his outward expression hidden by the dark sunglasses he wore. "The police have arrested the thieves, and your paintings were recovered without any damage."

The older man grinned and clapped Roger on the shoulder. "Mr. Rosewater was right; you are Paradigm's top negotiator! Perhaps I'll be seeing you at the annual spring festival in Central Park, eh?"

Roger would have dearly liked to say that he preferred the dark solitude of his mansion to spending a day outdoors with a bunch of politicians, but again, he said nothing.

"Perhaps. Good day, Mr. Dorian." Before he could reply, Roger managed to free his hand and turned smoothly on his heel, exiting the office with a sigh of relief.

He stood in silence for a moment as he gazed around at the large hallway he was standing in. He hadn't gotten a good look at it earlier, and he now removed his glasses to do so. The young man whistled softly; he hadn't realized how...well, beautiful the hall was.

Roger was in the center of the Paradigm Museum of Art, surrounded on all sides by a flood of gold color. The walls were made of sandstone, as were the pillars the flanked his left and right. The floor gleamed as brightly as Roger's shoes, the marble surface polished so highly that the negotiator could clearly see his reflection in the amber tiles.

Yes, it was a beautiful building. Roger still found it a wonder that such beauty could exist in a city as dismal and gray as Paradigm. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, the negotiator walked slowly through the expansive corridor, stopping every now and then to admire a painting or sculpture.

Although he would never admit it to anyone, Roger had a hidden love of art, and occasionally indulged his interest with his own occasional attempts at painting. He grimaced as he suddenly recalled the portrait of Dorothy he had finished a few weeks ago; he was far better off with negotiating.

To his surprise (and pleasure), Dorothy had insisted on keeping it, hanging it in her room. When he had asked her why she bothered, the android merely gave him an enigmatic glance and didn't reply.

"Women," Roger muttered under his breath as he halted at a stained-glass window, gazing at the abstract design. Human or android, he would never figure them out.

As he stood there studying the play of light on the glass, the negotiator again wondered why he had bothered to take this job in the first place. It was a common enough crime; rare pieces of artwork got stolen every day, and the police usually handled it without too much trouble.

'Maybe I'm just a sucker for the little mysteries of life,' he though with a wry grin. Mr. Dorian, the curator of the museum (and an avid collector himself) had said the paintings depicted strange, human-like creatures called "angels." Roger had no idea what Dorian meant by angels, but his curiosity had been piqued, and he had set off to recover the stolen works.

He hadn't gotten a chance to actually see them, though. The painting had been heavily wrapped in cloth upon their return, and Dorian had opened them in private to confirm that they were indeed genuine.

Personally, Roger felt a bit cheated. Oh, he had been paid well for the paintings' return, but he felt he had a right to at least look at them. After all, he was the reason they were back in one piece.

The young man scowled darkly. So much for gratitude. 'Maybe Schwarzwald was right; maybe I am just a lap dog on the city's leash,' he thought with a mixture of bitterness and anger. Sometimes he wondered why he did what he did; Roger usually wasn't given to self-loathing, but even he, like all humans, needed to feel that his life served some higher purpose than political maneuvering.

Pushing these troubling thoughts from his mind, Roger turned to go, then froze when a voice, low and powerful, echoed through the hallway.

"Why do you doubt yourself, Roger Smith?"

Startled, the negotiator whirled around, and felt his jaw drop.

There, standing-no floating in front of him, was a figure, tall and radiant, bathed in a light so dazzling that Roger though he would surely go blind from looking at it.

The person's (if it could be called a "person") face was neither male nor female; in fact, Roger couldn't make out any distinguishable features. Its body was like light playing on water; it shifted and rippled in the artificial sunlight in a brilliant play of ambience.

But what startled Roger the most were the wings, all six of them. They were like a bird's, yet different. They seemed weightless as they danced in the light.

Its eyes weren't-couldn't be-human; they were like two flaming comets, and burned into Roger's dark eyes with intensity so fierce that the young man could hardly speak.

"Wha....who...who are you?" He gasped, a spasm of fear causing him to jerk around; there was no one else in the corridor. In fact, Roger suddenly got the distinct impression that he wasn't even a physical world anymore.

Those fiery, mesmerizing eyes continued to stare at him, as if they were seeing into the very depths of his soul.

"I am what I am, Roger Smith. Do you know who you are?"

'I'm going crazy,' thought the negotiator in horror; maybe this was just some bizarre dream...

Suddenly, the figure erupted into flames, but no heat seared Roger's skin, although he did feel very hot. Its wings fanned out, seeming to take up the whole of the vaulted ceiling.

"You are a servant to mankind, Roger Smith." The young man bit back a cry of pain as he covered his ears; the creature's voice was boring into his head, pounding in his eardrums like roaring water.

"This is your destiny: to serve man, and to bring them back to the One."

"What are you...talking about...?" gasped the negotiator, falling to his knees. His legs suddenly felt like water.

"You seek answers. Know that you will find them but only when He decides that the time is right."

"Who is...the One...Alex Rosewater...?"

The figure's eyes flared again, and Roger pressed his face against the floor, unable to meet that terrifying, burning gaze.

"Your answers are not to be found with the mortal's aide! Continue to serve, Roger Smith, and remember these words! Soon you will be called to Judgment, and all will be made known!"

Suddenly, the figure vanished; the hallways shifted back into focus, and Roger found himself kneeling in the middle of the quiet corridor. Badly shaken, he lowered his hands from his face, looking around slowly.

He was definitely alone; the negotiator stood up slowly, wiping his face with a handkerchief. "What just happened?" he said out loud to no one in particular. Relieved to find no thunderous voice answering, he turned to go. Still severely unsettled, Roger turned to go, but not before a soft whisper echoed in his mind...

"Cast in the name of God, ye not guilty."

For some reason that he couldn't explain, Roger felt no fear this time, only a sense of calm and clarity that caused him to grin. Slipping his glasses back on, the negotiator nodded.

"I'll remember that," he said softly, stepping out into the bright sunlight.

Author's note: Don't ask me where this came from; it just popped into my head one day and refused to leave until I wrote it out-here's the end result. In case anyone's wondering, the "figure" Roger saw was indeed an angel-a seraphim, to be precise.

According to the choirs of angels, the seraphim are the highest-ranked angels; they surround the throne of God, singing, "Holy Holy, the Lord is Holy." They are described as having three pairs of wings, and are mentioned in the book of Isaiah. Other than that, not much is known about them, except that they are the closest to God.

I wanted to play around a bit with Roger's psyche (grins); I've always thought that he has his moments of self-loathing, especially considering the work he does. I also wanted to comment on the religious aspects of "Big O," since it seems to be an important theme of the show. Okay, I'm done rambling for now. Hope you enjoyed this!

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