The Past of Tomorrow|
In the pre-dawn darkness, Roger was still wide awake, his hands tucked behind his head as he stared up at the ceiling. Beside him, his wife dreamed.
He was too far gone. Dorothy was no longer 'the android'. She was a person, a being with emotions and thoughts. His wife.
And that was what he realized all along, even though he kept pressing her into the roles of 'android' and 'mimicker of human behavior' and in turn she resisted his attempts at being told what she was. She fought back, she proved herself as a being, an individual who refused to be molded into what he thought was appropriate.
'Roger Smith, you were a hypocrite to exclude me from your belief that people are born free - being born differently from you does not make me less of a being.'
He had learned that lesson well during that first week of marriage.
Roger turned to gaze at her, her red hair fanned against the pillow and her mouth parted slightly. She sleeps and she does dream. She argues and cuddles with him. And she even admitted she enjoyed their loving in ways he would not understand.
Still ... It was almost tragic how Dorothy Prime -
Yes, tragic. Major Roger Smith ... Dorothy R. Wayneright ... over forty years ago ...
This was a surreal dream, like the dreams of fire and thousands of Megadeuses. Even if it was a pleasantly bizarre dream, it was still unsettling.
But everything was the same ... Major Smith and Negotiator Smith ... the same appearance, the same suit, even the same damn smirk.
He cannot think about it. If he allowed himself to think of it, he would either have nightmares or drink himself unconscious.
Roger sat up, running a hand through his hair. He should get rid of the disk, before any more is revealed.
Why, Roger Smith? a voice asked in the back of his mind. What are you afraid of finding out?
Indeed, what could be the worst? That Dorothy may have inadvertently recorded something in relation to the Megadeuses? That she had recorded the beginnings of The Event?
Roger pulled a robe on and shoved his feet into slippers, leaving the bedroom and sitting at his desk in the office. He slammed his elbows on the blotter and held his chin in his hands, staring at his hourglasses.
"Well, Roger Smith," he said aloud. "Do you get rid of this for your sanity? Or keep it for your wife to find her 'past'?"
He flicked the system on and the static solidified into a wintry scene just outside of the Wayneright Mansion, the black figure of Pero the cat bounding across the snow.
Dorothy's voice calls, 'Pero! Pero, get back here! I am not playing, Pero!'
Major Smith's voice says, 'Miss Wayneright, why don't you allow the cat outside once in a while?'
'He's allowed outside - here, hold this - but not in this deep snow!'
The camera is now held by Major Smith, who is focusing on Dorothy struggling through the snow, which is knee-deep. Meanwhile, Pero is skittering across the top, not sinking through.
'Looks like he's doing better than you, kid.' The camera follows Dorothy's figure, her body clad in an emerald green coat and her hair flaked with snow. More to himself, the Major comments, 'You know, that girl is amazing. She's been chasing me for six months now and hasn't given up yet. I don't get it, though. Probably has an Oedipal Complex. The girl is too young, too naive, and too wild to be the wife of an officer.'
Roger chuckled grimly. During the entire speech, the camera never left Dorothy's posterior. Too young, yeah, right.
'Then why did you even mention 'wife of an officer', sir?' young Norman's voice asked.
'Shut up, Burg. Her cat's running off and if you make one damn dirty joke, I'm going to shove this camera down your gullet.'
'Wouldn't have thought of it, sir.'
'Then you hold this and I'll go catch Pero.'
Norman chuckles as he takes the camera, Major Smith going out to chase down Pero. 'You just wanted an excuse to play in the snow with the redhead, Major,' Norman mutters.
The scene has Major Smith now chasing after Pero who evidently is having too much fun with two humans trying to grab for him as they stumble around in the snow.
'Flank him!' Major Smith orders.
'Flank you!' Dorothy yells back. 'Don't cuss at my baby!'
'I mean you converge on one side, Wayneright, and I'll take the other side.'
'Oh. Why didn't you say so??'
Norman adds quietly, 'Isn't this how Nick and Nora Charles got together? They never covered that in 'The Thin Man' movies.'
Dorothy and the Major circle around the cat, who spins around to look at both. With a very large cat grin, Pero swishes his tail around, waiting for them to make the first move.
Major Smith charges. Dorothy does the same. Pero twirls around and runs to the side away from his pursuers.
Dorothy runs right into the Major, both falling into the snow with her on top of him.
'Go, Major-sir!' Norman quietly calls.
Dorothy props herself up and grins down at the Major. She says something that the camera's microphone cannot pick up. He responds by grinding a handful on snow in her face. She gets up and stumbles away, picking up a chunk of icy snow and forming it into a ball-shape.
'Oh, you'll pay for that, Major!'
He picks up another handful of snow, also shaping it into a ball. 'You'll have to make me, Wayneright. I must warn you, I was the Snowfort General of the Divine Snow Queen's Army back in my youth.'
'And I was the Snowball Goddess, what's yer point?'
'Then we'll see who survives. You first, girl.'
'No, you first, Mr. Making-Up-for-Something.'
'No, women and children first. I ins- '
Dorothy grins. 'Pearls before swine.'
She wipes the snow from the side of her head. 'Of course you realize this means war!'
Another snowball was now in her face.
The Major balances a snowball on three gloved fingertips, smirking. 'Going to talk, Miss Wayneright, or are you going to fight?'
The Major shakes his head, the snow falling from his face. He begins to chase her with his snowball across the lawn. Pero jumps in to trip him up by weaving under his legs through the snow. Dorothy follows, giggling, yelling out, 'That's a good boy, Pero! Make that mean old man feel the wrath of the Wayneright household!'
'You're cheating!' the Major calls back.
'Am not!' She tosses the snowball, landing square against his back.
Pero attempted a last effort weave, causing Major Smith to spin around and Dorothy to run right into him again.
This time, both remain standing, her arms around him, as they stare into each other's faces with startled expressions. He reaches up and runs a hand through her red hair, flicking clumps of snow away. Dorothy's hands slide up to his shoulders and his arms hesitantly draw around her back, their eyes locked to the other's.
Norman says, 'We are now witnessing the mating displays of the North American over-moussed cuckoo, which will be followed by consumption of mass quantities of oysters and then several days of hoppi-hoppa - uh ... '
Dorothy and Major Smith turn to glare at Sergeant Norman Burg, both now advancing on him. Norman is backing away.
'Trip him, Pero!' Dorothy orders.
The camera jumps around, then looks up to the sky, going staticky. After a few seconds, the scene now shows Norman strapped to the hood of a small, sleek racing-type car. Major Smith has one foot on the car's bumper and is looking quite proud. Pero is sitting on the roof of the car, one paw reaching down to bat at Norman's mustache.
'Nice catch, Great White Hunter of Manhattan,' Dorothy says behind the camera.
'Thanks, Wayneright,' Major Smith replies. He headsmacks Norman, 'Now, Burg, what were you going to say?'
Norman sighed. 'Nothing, sir.'
'Just another dirty joke, huh?'
'Only at your expense, sir.'
'I'm taking you back for my kill.'
Dorothy interrupts, 'Leave a haunch here, Major, we haven't had long pork in ages.'
'Pero looks like he wants some,' the Major comments. He turns to the cat and pats his head. 'Right, pal?'
The camera goes up to the group, being set down on the hood next to Norman's head and facing Dorothy and the Major.
'So ... ' Dorothy says. The cold makes her face red ... or she could have been blushing. 'When you coming by again?'
'Whenever your father calls us up.' He smirks. 'When you performing at the Nightingale again?'
'I might bring a bag of rotten tomatoes to throw at you.'
'That would be sweet.'
Roger stopped the disk.
It was beginning to happen, he could see it ...
He skimmed through the disk, seeing if there was anything relating to Megadeuses. There were several bits about musical productions she had been in; and the world changing seasons with grass and trees growing green and the sun shining with an intense blue sky. He was awed by the taping of the gardens outside during a sunny day, Pero playing amid the grasses and Dorothy setting the camera up to record her singing something from one of her shows as she stood in the garden, clad in a costume of a long white gown with many ruffles and lace:
'On my own
pretending he's beside me
I walk with him
I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way
I close my eyes
and he has found me - '
Major Smith runs up, holding a stick and looking about with comically-exaggerated alarm.
"Where is he?? Where is the fiend that was torturing that poor moose??"
Dorothy grabs the stick and manages to get in a few good whacks before the Major runs out of range. The rest of the scene is the Major running ahead of Dorothy and laughing while Dorothy swings wildly and curses in several languages.
Roger continued his search, down through Dorothy complaining about college exams and having to give Pero a flea dip (the scratches healed up nicely, though). There was a brief non-'Manhattan' interlude where Dorothy and her father were vacationing somewhere called 'Hawaii', and Roger Smith almost cried at the scenery and places the film showed. The beauty of the island and the obvious warmth of the sun made him long for something he never knew existed. He knew intellectually that the world was once much larger than Paradigm City, but it had never impacted him emotionally until now.
He finally found a section of disk showing the interior of the Megadeus Test Range once again, this time the frame filled with the image of Big O and Big Duo. Maintenance crews crawled over both of them, while two figures were seated in the cockpits doing program checks.
'Dorothy,' Timothy Wayneright's voice says. 'You must understand you must never allow anyone to see this.'
'I know, Daddy,' Dorothy replies. 'This is my personal diary, so no one else sees it. Besides, it can also be back up in case something happens to the other recorders.' The scene fuzzes, then sharpens. 'There, I think that's it. I'm going to go down and cheer on the Major.'
'Then I'll be in the control booth.'
'See ya', Daddy.'
Another voice, the one belonging to the Second-Lieutenant, interrupts, 'I've always wondered, Dorothy, why you keep on chasing the Major. He has a serious corncob up his ass.'
Dorothy giggles. 'That's funny, coming from a "second-looie".'
Mildred Hathaway chuckles. 'Yes, he's worse than me. Anyway, why the pom-poms?'
'He needs support in battle.'
'Give it up. He's already the laughing stock of the entire department with your overt juvenile affections.'
'Woman to woman, I tell you that your ways of going about getting his attention are both childish and embarrassing. Yes, he likes redheads and he likes 'em petite - there would be no problem if you acted like an adult instead of a desperate teenager. Your behavior is a turn-off.'
'Let him do his job. He's a career officer and he's Head Dominus of the Megadeus Project. He doesn't have time for trivialities.'
Silence, then Dorothy saying, 'I'll remember that the next time I catch you sneaking out of my father's room.'
'EEP! I mean, I'm sure I don't know what you mean.'
'Second-looie Millie, it's not nice to lie to me. Now, you don't want to marry Dad, right?'
'No, of course not!'
'So, it's not for the money.'
'No. I make a comfortable living.'
'Then you have my permission. As long as you aren't after the money or trying to be my mom, I'm okay with it.'
'Thank you ... I think.'
'Good. Now let's enjoy the fight.'
Another pause, then Mildred commenting, 'He likes your singing ... the Major, I mean. He goes to the Nightingale every Saturday night to hear you sing.'
Dorothy gasps, then giggles.
An alarm sounds, along with a voice calling out, 'Please clear the test range. All non-maintenance personnel please clear the test range.'
Another voice calls over the PA, 'Sergeant Burg, please report to the maintenance hanger.'
'I always wondered what the Sergeant did,' Dorothy remarks.
'The Sergeant is head Machina of the Big Omega's maintenance team.'
'Latin for "engineer", since the pilots of the Megadei are called "Domini" or "Dominus", the engineers need a title as well,' Mildred answers patiently. 'That's why he also spent a lot of time with your father. Burg is the expert on that Megadeus.'
'Where did these names come from? Why the mystical Latin names instead of the regular English ones?'
Millie was silent for a long moment. Then, with a note of genuine surprise, she answers, 'I don't know. It ... seemed right.'
The PA calls out, 'Master Sergeant Ronstandt, please report to your unit for final check.'
A rather mannish-looking woman with a nasty expression runs across the test range toward Big Duo.
'Is that unit for the Air Force?' Dorothy asks.
'Yes,' Hathaway replies. 'Next week will be testing Unit Oh-Eight for the Navy - Tim said something about naming it Big Faust.'
'Daddy's reasoning for those name are vague. At least they're not Catherine, Elizabeth, and Diana like he first suggested.'
'I think he may be on to something none of us know about.'
'Commence testing of Unit Oh-Seven,' the PA intones.
'HOO-WAAA!' several people - including Mildred - yell.
'Huh?' Dorothy asks.
Big O begins to advance on Big Duo, his joints whirring and springing from movement.
[BRANG!] ... [BRANG!] ... [BRANG!] ...
The sound was all-too-familiar to Roger as he watched.
Big Duo advances as well, its arms raising in combat.
'Ready to be taken down, Smith?' a male voice calls from the direction of Duo.
'If you can, I'll buy you a beer, Seebach,' Major Smith's voice answers.
Seebach ... nah, it could not be Michael Seebach ...
Big O erupts as its rocket-harpoons all burst forth at once and swirl around Big Duo, wrapping the red Megadeus in giant chains.
'HA! Take THAT, Beard Boy!'
Big Duo starts to pirouette around, wrapping the extra chain around itself and spinning toward Big O. The full mass of the red Megadeus slams into the black Megadeus, sending the two of them to the ground in a thunderous crash that makes the camera shake.
'Take THAT, Eyebrow Boy!'
The chains slacken somewhat, and Big Duo's eye-lasers sever the chains as it pulls itself erect. Grabbing the remaining chains, Big Duo pulls Big O up off the ground toward itself with one hand as the other hand swings toward Big O's central torso where the power regulator circuits were housed.
Big O's arm swings up toward Big Duo's striking arm, hitting the arm and releasing its piston at the same time.
The red Megadeus' arm explodes, severing at the point of impact above the elbow. The chains retract, pulling Big O to its feet, where it strikes its opponent with a wide swing to the back of the head. Duo stumbles forward, staggering.
Duo seems to fall forward, then Duo's fingers start spinning, turning into propellers while the arm rocket booster got into position, and Duo zooms forward. It flies for a few seconds at less than twenty feet, then zooms straight up.
Roger was shocked. "It can fly with just one engine?!"
'MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!! DEATH FROM ABOVE, YOU IDIOT SMITH!'
Roger nodded in recognition. "That's Schwarzwald. No question."
The range suddenly fills with thick black smoke from the Megadeus.
'That's new,' Dorothy comments. 'Never thought to use smoke.'
'Your dad's proud of Big Omega. The smoke also acts as a multi-frequency particulate signal-jammer. He's thinking about putting it in all the Bigs.'
Roger rubbed his chin. "Hmmm ... never used that one."
The smoke clears as Duo sweeps through the cloud. Big Duo arcs up into the ceiling, blowing the last of the cloud away ... and Big O was gone.
'HEY!' Seebach's voice cries over the speakers. 'Where the hell did he go?!'
Big Duo lands as its Dominus did a full scan of the area. Without warning, an eruption of dirt explodes from beneath Big Duo's feet, knocking the red Megadeus onto its back. Out of the hole scrambles a messy-looking Big O.
'Damn,' a voice comments. 'I'd forgotten all those old Cold War silos and bunkers around here.'
'KICK HIS ASS, ROGER!' Dorothy yells.
'HOO-WAA!' Hathaway adds.
Big Duo's chest ports open up, exposing its missile banks -
And simultaneously, Big O's arm gattling gun erupts.
Had they been live missiles, they would have hit Big Duo's missiles and exploded just as they armed, ripping the red Megadeus apart from the inside. As it was, they made a very loud sound as the sirens sounded, indicating the end of the test.
'Unit Oh-Seven Test concluded,' announces the mechanical voice. 'Repair and recovery crews to the field.'
Everyone erupts into cheers as the two Megadei return to their starting bays. As Big O's cockpit opens, Dorothy runs up to the cockpit, screaming in victory, as the military personnel yell out the mysterious 'hoo-waa' battle cry. Major Smith opens up the cockpit, jumping out to join his crew in handshakes, appearing to be in either deep thought or extreme concentration. The pilot of Duo appears, going up to give Major Smith a slap on the shoulder, smiling and saying something.
Major Smith pauses to take the helmet off, his black hair a mess but his face still serious. Dorothy grips him around the neck, hugging him and giggling madly. She pressed her face forward, her mouth meeting his.
Major Smith pulls away, a very angry expression across his face. He grips Dorothy's chin and says something.
Dorothy breaks from him, covering her face with her hands, and runs back out to the seats to grab up the camera. She leaves the main area of the test range and sobs, 'Oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God oh God ... ' before shutting the camera off.
The scene fades back into her room, Dorothy sitting on the bed and looking pensive while Pero nervously picks his way over the comforter.
'I don't know what happened. We were watching the fight. The Major won. We all cheered. I went up to hug him. I kissed him. He ... ' She pulls her knees up to her chin. 'He told me never to do that again and that I was a spoiled, uncontrolled brat without respect for anybody.' She begins to rock back and forth, tears spilling from the corners of her violet eyes. 'I really should leave him alone. He has a job to do, defending our people. He doesn't have time for a stupid rich kid who can't behave like an adult.' She looks up to the camera. 'So, Dorothy Renee Wayneright, concentrate on your own crap and don't bother him ever again. Good night.'
The camera became staticky, then focuses back on Dorothy in her room. She is dressed in a long, figure-hugging black gown with long sleeves and a lowcut neckline. On her head is a large pointed hat with a very wide brim, a small window open in the cone ... and Pero poking his head out and sniffing the edges of the window.
Dorothy's expression was no longer wildly cute and giggly, but had an elegant calmness. Her violet eyes were steady and piercing as she spoke.
'Happy Halloween. I know it's been a while, but I had a lot of stuff to do. I spent the summer working on Broadway as one of the chorus girls in a production of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" - that was pretty fun. I also did a few classes at the Julliard, then I had to register for regular classes at college and do more college work, not to mention two more plays. I finally decided on musical theatre for my major since 'A.I. theory and application' doesn't seem to work for me ... Now it's Halloween and I finally allowed myself a night off. I'm going with Alex and a couple of others to Jason's Official Halloween and Unofficial-Machina-to-Big-Faust party. Jason did get promoted to Machina of Big Faust - Dad calls him "The Golden Boy" because he's got this intuition about working on Faust.' She pointed up to her hat. 'Pero's coming with me as my familiar since I'm going to be a witch. Alexia is going to be a fairy prince - complete with tights and poufy sleeves and everything. Anyway, I gotta get going. I'll report back after tonight. See you.'
Roger fast forwarded to the next section, and was surprised to see Major Smith staring into the camera.
'It's me. Dorothy is plastered. I had gone to the Nightingale tonight and found little Miss Wayneright tanked up and singing some vulgar song and about to get picked up by some undesirables. I had to fight them off.' He turns to look at Dorothy, who was passed out and laying across her bed. 'I hope you appreciate the bruises I got for defending your honor.'
He turns back to the camera. 'Anyway, Sleeping Beauty passed out on the way home and I had to drag her in and I just put her to bed.' He chuckles. 'First time I've seen her in several months and she's drunk off her pert ass and trolling for troglodytes.'
Major Smith looks down at her, brushing her hair out of her face. 'You worry me, you know,' he said softly. 'I don't know what happened since I last saw you, Dora-girl, but I think it may be my fault.'
He pulls his gloves off and caresses her face with one hand. 'Dora ... I don't know what you've done to me. It's been several months ... I've missed you. A lot. You haven't even been at the Nightingale all that much. I went every week. I kept hoping to see you.'
He pulls away. 'Aw, hell, Dorothy, I don't even have enough guts to say your first name to your face when you're sober. Hathaway's right - I'm a workaholic bastitch. I don't have anything in me to love you like you deserve. Why, Dorothy? What did you do to me? I ... '
He sits up on the edge of the bed. 'You know, I planned for the moment I would see you again and apologize for being so harsh to you about the kiss. I ... want you to be a part of my life. Something closer to me - someone I can't let go. And even though you're unconscious, I still can't say it.'
He shrugs and settles on the floor next to her bed. 'I'll look after you, Dorothy. I'll take care of you. As long as you'll let me.'
Roger stopped the disk and went outside to stand in the freezing morning air.
One extreme - Dorothy Prime's hormones and age kept Major Roger Smith at bay for several months. The other extreme - R. Dorothy's android coldness kept Negotiator Roger Smith at bay for several months.
The thought made him anxious, so he pushed his mind in the direction of the role of the Megadeuses in the world of over forty years ago.
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