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Chapter 2

Roger Smith pulled his sunglasses off and slid them neatly into his jacket. The movement was a practiced one, smooth, precise. He smiled as he compared the simple action to the simple task his client had set for him, and its easy completion. Really, it had come as a small surprise to find a person willing to pay a Negotiator's fee for such a job.

The elevator rose smoothly. Roger was alone; Dorothy had decided to remain behind with the car. The elevator was glass on the outside, and it gave a beautiful view of the dome area. Outside the dome it was raining, and the sound of water tapping against the dome could just barely be heard over the hum of the lights. Roger looked out at the forever sunny paradise that was the world of the dome, and frowned.

The door slid open, to reveal a reception area for the client, a banker with deep pockets and deeper connections. The receptionist, stepping forward to take Roger's coat, said "Mr. Smith, Mr. Delmore will see you now."

Roger nodded to the woman. "Thank you." He opened the door and stepped inside the office. It was very large, with bookcases lining an entire wall. The desk was big, bigger than was necessary for any type of work other than intimidation, and Mr. Delmore sat behind it like a king at his throne. He was a wizened old man, looking small in his large leather chair. But his eyes were cruel and calculating.

"Mr. Smith," he began, "I understand that you took care of that little problem I was having, yes?"

Roger looked the man straight in the eye. "At this point, I would like to know the other assignment you have for me."

"Please, Mr. Smith, what could you possibly mean?"

"That little gang was nothing. You were testing me for something bigger. I find it rather insulting, actually, that you would pull something like this. I like to think that a glance at my past cases would satisfy a client as to my abilities."

The man looked impressed. "I can't say I'm surprised that you figured it out. Indeed, I do have something more for you to find. This case should prove to be more of a challenge to your abilities. Not too far from here I have a facility that deals with robotics..." At the mention of this word, robotics, Roger quickly became very interested. This was the stuff of memories, of things long past surfacing again. Indeed, though Roger himself seldom felt it was necessary to pry into the past, it seemed to actively hunt him.

"Each time that Megadeus, the one with the piston arms, has destroyed a robot, we have been on scene to scavenge what we can." The man now held Roger's full attention. "Indeed, we have managed to gather a few parts from several of these mechanical monstrosities. Those under me insist that our future lies in understanding and mastering these machines, rising once more to the level we occupied before our memories left us. I neither agree nor disagree, but I allowed them to use an old abandoned warehouse to store these parts. Some interesting results were coming out of a nearby lab, where they take these machines apart in order to analyze and comprehend the components."

Mr. Delmore squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. "Now, though, there is a problem. One of my best scientists has gone missing, and ever since, pieces of the various machines have gone missing as well. I wish you to find him, and these parts, for me."

Roger thought silently for a moment. He came to a decision; "I will take this task. You will pay my fee for both the last and this one once I am finished. Keep that in mind."

Roger let himself out. The man smiled at the closed door.

Back at the car, Roger opened the driver's side door, only to be confronted with Dorothy sitting behind the wheel. "Dorothy? What are you doing?"

Dorothy looked at him. "You said the only way to understand was to experience. So I will experience."

Roger faked a look of shock. "I'm surprised at you, Dorothy. But if that's what you want..." He went to the passenger side and sat down. Dorothy started up the car, using precise motions copied from watching Roger do the same. She shifted the car into drive.

To be continued...< Previous Page
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