[Fan Fiction] Purgatory

Jane 02-02-2006 08:50 PM
This concludes the story that began with "Roger the Damned", "Black Forest", "Oh Ye Mortals!", "In the Circle Cocytus", Story Board, and Sin and Sorrow

Purgatory

“Big O! Showtime!”

There was a rumbling under Roger’s feet as the Prairie Dog arrived below. In a moment Big O burst through the pavement, catching Roger in its hand and placing him in position. Big Duo did not need to wait for its dominues to prep. It turned its arms skyward, flattened its fingers into propellers, and took off into the sky.

In the cockpit, after Big O’s initiatory words had crossed the screen, the face of Norman Burg entered Roger’s view panel.

“Master Roger?” he asked perfunctorily.

“Be quick Norman,” Roger answered as he hastily keyed in Big O’s startup code.

“I’m sorry to bother you Sir,” he said politely, “but Miss Dorothy has still not returned home. Is she with you Sir?”

Roger froze. He did not know where R. Dorothy was and Beck’s threat still rang in his ears. For a moment he sat stunned, unsure of what to do.

“Would you like me to go out and look for her?” Norman offered.

“Yes,” he answered, snapping back to attention, “Yes, Norman, I’d appreciate that very much.”

Just then, a blast ripped through Big O’s hull, and Norman’s face was replaced by a series of warning messages. Big Duo had taken advantage of Roger’s stalling and had fired its eye lasers into the chest plating of the immobile megadeus.

“Aw hell,” Roger exclaimed, taking a tighter grip on the controls, “All right Duo, I don’t know who’s piloting you, but it better be Seebach, because I’m dying to smash him up.”

He pressed on the controls and opened up the plating around Big O’s wrist to fire a rapid arsenal of ammunition at the flying Big, which was hit in its chest only once before it changed direction and dodged the blast.

Roger immediately stopped firing and switched tactics. He forced Big O to step backwards in an uneasy arabesque, and then released its hip anchor into the sky, praying for his aim to be correct. The chain flew skyward and latched into Duo. Roger braced himself, and pulled backwards on the controls as the two Bigs launched into a tug-of-war. For a moment, they remained at a standstill, but then the ground began to give way and Duo gained altitude. Quickly Roger opened Big O’s abdomen and sent three missiles into the sky.

They hit their mark, tearing into the megadeus’ armor and causing it to momentarily lose control. Roger took the opportunity and retracted the chains, pulling Duo towards Big O’s waiting fist. But Big Duo hit the ground with its feet and stopped itself by stepping backwards. The sudden change of direction forced Big O to step back as well. The pull between the two machines was so strong that it caused the anchor chain to snap and flip into the sky.

As the silhouette of the broken chain crossed the false horizon of the domes, Roger heard a voice coming through Big O’s communicator.

“So it’s Roger Smith to the rescue,” said the harsh voice that he knew did not belong to Michael Seebach, but to Schwarzwald, “The faithful dog of Paradigm city. A beast that attacks and defends, and knows nothing but what its master commands, a tamed hound that can smell nothing beyond its snout. Go back to your kennel if you insist on being nothing more than this. Such ignorance disgusts me.”

“What do you want this time Schwarzwald?” Roger demanded as he prepared for another attack, “There is no truth for you here.”

He laughed, “The search for truth in a world that is a lie is a meaningless mission indeed. I cannot live in such a world any longer, and neither, I suspect, can you. It is time to pull back the curtain to see what lies beyond the stage. The time has come to end this charade, and I will not let one so belied as you stop me!”

Big Duo marched forward and swung a punch at Big O that connected only with its shields. Schwarzwald was angry, his megadeus was grounded, and Roger knew that he had him.

***

Dan Dastun had sent out a squad immediately after he received news about the megadeus. Even though it had fought on the side of the city the last time it had appeared, he was not so idealistic that he thought he could trust it.

He had the guilty feeling that he should be with his troops, but he knew a good General needs to have faith in his subordinates. At least, that was the lie that he told himself so that he could pretend he was not actually more concerned about someone else. He shuffled through the work on his desk and tried to attend to his business, but found he could not concentrate. So he absently fingered the photograph on his desk in which he was standing next to Roger—noticing vaguely that in the picture, his rank was only that of a Major, and that he could not exactly name the moment when he had been promoted to General. After a few moments of sitting idly, he became disgusted with his inaction, and so, with a sigh, he decided to take care of his anxiety by checking up on the source.

Paradigm Hospital was only a short distance away from Military Police Headquarters, so Dastun pulled on his coat and walked. When he arrived he was told that Angel had been released earlier in the day, and since he had no idea where she might have gone, Dan turned and began the walk back to work.

He was met on the way by a patrol car, from which a young officer emerged and addressed him officially. “Sir,” he said, “I’m glad I found you Sir, the squad you sent out is calling for reinforcements. They say there are two Bigs now, and they’re battling each other.”

Dastun raised an eyebrow, “Two Bigs?” he asked. “Drive me there. I’ll radio for reinforcements on the way.”

The ride was short and soon Dastun found himself at the feet of the two deis. The black gigantic Big O was receiving a ferocious stream of punches to its plated arms from the red megadeus. Suddenly, a light sparked in the Big’s eyes, and Dastun realized what it was planning.

“Clear the area!” he shouted to his men, “Move away from the red Big!”

With his direction, the troops began to fall back, and two lasers shot from the eyes of Big O. They sliced through the neck of the opposing giant, causing its head to teeter, and then come crashing to the ground, burying any men who had not followed their commander’s orders.

From below, Dastun could just barely make out the pilot of the Big, who now sat exposed between the machine’s bare shoulders. It seemed to him that the man was standing in the cockpit, his hands removed from the controls and flung into the sky, as the red megadeus turned away from its enemy and took staggering steps towards Paradigm Tower.

When it reached the abandoned structure, it took the tower in its hands and began to lean on it with all its bulking weight. Soon, the building’s foundations began to give way, and the whole structure came up in the Big’s hands like a tree being pulled from the ground.

From the void the building left behind, there came a brilliant, blinding light. Dastun threw his hands up to his eyes to shield himself from the glare, but it seemed as if the glow went straight through his body. Just when it seemed too intense to survive, a great shadow grew out of the light and dwarfed it, allowing him to see once more.

What he saw was the outline of yet another megadeus.
Jane 02-02-2006 09:55 PM
***

“So when this Big… um… rearranges everything, can you guarantee that I’ll have everything I asked for?” Beck asked. He was leaning against metal work that had, until recently, held the Big he was working on. There was a can of beer in his hand. The android that called herself Lisa sat next to him with her legs delicately crossed and holding a glass herself. She raised it to her lips and took a sip.

“Don’t insult me,” she answered, “You’ll get everything.”

“I’ll have money, cars, and lots of ridiculously voluptuous women?” He asked greedily.

“More than you’ll know what to do with,” she answered.

“And, I’ll have a Big?” he continued.

“Maybe,” she answered noncommittally and took another drink.

“Can you taste that?” he asked rudely, “There’s no need to pretend for my sake.”

“But, why not love?” she asked, “That beer you’re drinking has no value to you. It will only make you stupid and give you a headache in the morning, and yet you drink it anyway. All of this is one great pretend. So what’s the difference between I, who know I am only acting, but drink the alcohol anyway, and you, who thinks there is actually a reason to drink it?”

Beck thought about this for a moment, and then shrugged his shoulders to concede the point.

“Don’t you feel a bit cannibalistic?” he asked, “Using the android the way we did?”

“Why should I?” she asked, “It didn’t bother you to hook up the girl, did it?”

He took a hand and ran it through his hair, apparently still unable to come to terms with something. He turned to the table and fingered his tools, and then, with his back to her, he decided to ask one more question.

“I just don’t understand you babe,” he began, “I’ve seen men turn this city upside-down in search of some fabled truth. I’ve seen it destroyed for power. I, myself, don’t care for either of those things. I’m all about pleasure, and I’ll get it no matter what it takes. But you? I can’t figure out what it is that you want.”

She moved over to where he was and placed her head on his shoulder, “Pleasure is nice,” she whispered sultrily in his ear, “And power and truth would be lovely. But as for me, I just want to stay alive. Anything else I can get along the way is just a bonus.”

She reached up and teasingly bit his ear. He liked it. He liked it very much.

***

The world was dark, bleak, and terrifying. The ground was littered with decaying organic and mechanical matter, and the sky dark and dead. Angel was inside some kind of room, looking out at the landscape from behind the controls of a computer console identical to the one she had seen inside the abandoned Paradigm H.Q. There were probing wires embedded in her back, but more than that, there were sensitive wires taped to her forehead, beneath her shirt, and up and down her arms and legs.

On the control panel in front of her a scene was playing. She was seeing herself on the beach with Roger. They were holding hands, and as she watched, Roger turned towards her and almost…

She couldn’t watch but she couldn’t tear her eyes away either as the moment played over and over mercilessly. Finally, she cried out, threw her hands over her eyes, and pressed them shut. When she found the courage to open them again, the screen had gone blank.

Only then did she look down and see the red book sitting on the desk in front of her. She opened it. It appeared to be a diary written in her handwriting. She began to read:

Metropolis
By Angel Rosewater

April 13
The giants have finally left. They have set fire to, stomped down, or blasted away everything in sight. I will never forget the day I watched as the first Big appeared from the underground and tore through my family’s apartment building. A building that had the gall to be built above its self-made entryway. I am not sure whether or not I should be consoled by the fact that no one ever found the bodies. To see proof of the torture they endured would have been unbearable, but to simply imagine it might be far worse. But that was nearly a year ago, and the unfeeling beasts have moved on to do battle elsewhere. There is nothing left here for them to destroy. There is nothing left for me here either. I am not sure what I will do, but I know I must do something.

May 15

I am not sure where I am. I think that I have been following a freeway, but the land around me is so unrecognizable that I simply can’t be sure. I keep telling myself that if I keep moving, I’m bound to find a place where someone is still alive, but everywhere I go I see nothing but corpses. I am not sure what I will do if I give up on the idea that somewhere there is some life left in this world. Hope is the only thing left I have to hold on to.

Also, the food I brought with me is beginning to run out.

July 8

I found an abandoned research compound that is well stocked with food and water. The building seems to have survived fairly intact, but there are no people here. There are no people anywhere. It seems that the work that was being done in this place was similar to my own. I think I may pick up my research where I left off if I can. I cannot continue to wander aimlessly, and this will give me something to do. Hopefully it will keep my mind off the nagging feeling I have that no matter how hard I look, I will never find someone else, a feeling that every day seems to become more like a fact.

September 1

I was finally able to create a proper simulation. If Mr. Thompson could have seen it, I think he would have promoted me. He might have even made me head of the department. I used models to enter my first two characters into the program. I’ve decided to call them Roger and Dorothy. I think I may experiment with a few more characters before I set up the interface. It might even be fun to make a character that looks like me.

I have not seen anyone else since I came here. I know what that means, but I refuse to admit it by writing it down.

September 20

My program is working quite well. I’ve set it up so that the characters interact independently, based on a series of responses, and I’ve used my own character to experiment with changing scenarios. The best part is that I’ve set up a neural link that allows me see everything from a first-person viewpoint. I worry that I spend too much time on this project. But if I don’t, I start to think about the situation I am in, and I simply cannot stand it.

August 6

Roger, Dorothy, and I had a party today at his mansion. Of course, we were far too loud and the police had to come and tell us to quiet things down. The funny thing is, we were so charming that the policeman who came by decided to stay and enjoy himself. Roger danced with me all night long, but he kept making eyes at Dorothy behind my back. I hate her so much. I think I’ll have to do something to keep the two of them apart.

August 29

Roger always asks me why I constantly have to leave him. I’ve tried to tell him that I have to return for food and water, but he doesn’t seem to understand. I miss him so much when I’m away from him, but I’ve found an IV in an old medical supply kit, and I think I have an idea.

Date Unknown

Roger and I were having a lovely evening when everything went black and I woke up here. There are strange probes in my back, sensitive wires taped all over my body, and an empty IV in my arm. I am not sure why I am adding to this diary which has my name on it and which frightens me, but I seem compelled to fill the empty pages. Equally strange is the fact that somehow I know that there is a chemical in a drawer on my left that, if injected, will force my body into a sort of hibernation. I am going to use it, but I am terrified to be acting out a will that does not feel like my own. I miss Roger, and I wouldn’t even mind seeing Dorothy’s face right now.

There was a pen sitting next to the book. Angel picked it up and twirled it between her fingers. Then she pulled open the drawers on her left. Among the debris, she found an empty syringe and a bottle filled with a green chemical. She put them on the desk and shut the drawers.

“This explains everything,” she thought, “I’m crazy.”
Jane 02-02-2006 11:24 PM
***

From his perch atop the empty shoulders of Big Duo, Schwarzvald watched as Paradigm tower was torn from the ground. He saw the megadeus that emerged from its depths, but it was the brilliant light behind it that captured his attention.

“We’ve found it, Big Duo,” he whispered, “The light of the world beyond. One step into that brilliance, and we will, at last, see the truth.”

He began to laugh, and he pushed the megadeus’s controls forward, but Duo was no longer under his control. It flipped its arms skyward, turned on the propellers, and began to head into the air.

“No!” Schwarzvald shouted as he ran to the lip of the cockpit, “No Duo! Don’t give up! Don’t be frightened! We’re so close!”

The Big ignored him and continued to climb higher and higher. Schwarzvald climbed up on to the edge of the cockpit and reached down towards the light. “I can’t lose it now, not when I have, at last, come to the end of it.”

He closed his eyes and jumped.

Roger watched as the small white form that was Schwarzvald left it’s perch atop Big Duo and plunged towards the ground, he followed the figure as far as he could before it was swallowed up by the blinding light coming from behind the newest Big.

This new opponent looked almost exactly like Big O, except for its color and a slightly different head structure. It was Big Venus, and the last time he had seen it, it had been inverted and it had used its destructive power to wipe out everything in its path. He was not sure how to react to it now.

“Can you hear me Angel?” he asked quietly, “What are you planning to do?”

There was no response. Big Venus took a step towards Roger and opened the plating covering its chest. There were rows upon rows of missiles inside.

“Angel!” he tried again, “You don’t need to do this.”

“On the contrary,” said a smooth, metallic voice, “I think you are the one who should back down.”

An assault of missiles was released from the chamber. Big O’s arms flew upward to protect its already-damaged chest.

“If there is no Roger Smith and no Big O,” the inky voice continued, “There will no longer be any interference. You must be permanently erased.”

“Come on Angel,” he whispered as he shook from the impact of the missiles, “What’s going on here?”

***

Dastun could feel her: her quiet strength, her insecurity, her longing, and her pain. He wasn’t sure how or why he knew she was there, but something inside of him told him that she had arrived. And there was only one conceivable place she could be—inside the new megadeus.

“Oh dear, I thought it might be this bad,” said the sophisticated voice that jolted him back to attention.

He turned and saw Roger’s bulter, Norman Burg, sitting casually astride his motorbike, surveying the battle above.

“Norman,” Dastun said, “I need to get up there.” He pointed towards the Big’s head, “Can you help me?”

The other man sat silently for a while, as if he were carefully balancing consequences. “I believe I can,” he said at last, “climb aboard.”

Dastun got into the passenger car of the motorcycle, and held on tight as Burg took off straight towards the two fighting giants.

Instinctively, he covered his head in a vain effort to protect himself from the falling debris, but Burg was an expert driver and dodged through the hazards unabashed. Soon they reached Big O’s foot, where the outer skin lifted to provide an entrance for the butler and his vehicle.

Once inside, Dastun could feel the impact of the hits to the megadeus vibrating everything. It was nerve-racking, and he wrapped his arms around himself to hold his body together. Burg, however, did not seem to notice. He drove them onto a platform that immediately lifted them into darkness.

After a long silence, he spoke, “I really do hope this is important General,” he said, “I am trusting that you are an honorable man who would not make such a ridiculous request unless it was of ultimate necessity.”

It was a while before he answered. “I’m trusting in that too,” he said at last.

When the elevator finally stopped, Burg climbed out of the motorcycle and directed Dastun towards a small iron door. It was difficult for him to walk because of the incessant shaking that rocked the body of the Big. But he eventually found his stride and made it to the door.

He found himself in a small crawlspace underneath what appeared to be a metal catwalk; from above he could see the soles of Roger’s feet.

“Roger!” he called.

“Dastun?” Roger asked without looking or taking his hands on the controls. He was dripping in sweat. “What the hell are you doing here? Get up here you idiot.”

Dastun found a place where he could climb up behind Roger.

“I don’t even want to know what you think you’re doing,” Roger said angrily, “Just stay there and shut up.”

Dastun obeyed.

Roger pulled on the controls and prepared to open up the machine cannons. As Venus’s last missile hit, knocking off a chunk of the arm shields. Roger pulled the arms back and prepared to fire.

“I knew you would insist on being a tiresome little worm,” said the same, smooth metallic voice, “But I’d advise you to be careful where you point your weapons.”

The neck of Big Venus slid open to reveal it’s cockpit, and Roger saw why Angel had not been responding. She was unconscious and slumped over the controls with the megadeus’s unfeeling probes protruding out of her back. She was not in control of it; it was in control of her.

“You are nothing but a parasite that needs to be squashed,” Roger yelled as he swung back Big O’s arm and prepared to knock the arrogant thing’s head off.

“You are not a very good listener,” the voice of Big Venus replied, “I told you to be careful.”

Suddenly the plating on Big Venus’s head slid back, and Roger saw to his horror that tied up in the circuitry was R. Dorothy Wainwright.

“Why!” Roger shouted, “Why are you doing this?”

“It’s very simple,” Venus answered, “This is why.”

Then the shoulders of the megadeus slid upward and out from its chest came an enormous weapon. Roger knew the destruction that cannon would leave in its wake, for he had used it once before.

He also knew there was nothing he could do.

To Be Continued...
(Tomorrow)
Jane 02-03-2006 05:16 PM
Always Dorothy

Roger starred down the barrel of the enormous cannon, wondering what there was left for him to do. If the weapon operated the same for Venus as it had for him, it would take a few minutes for it to prep, but he didn’t see how those precious seconds could do him any good.

“Open the cockpit,” Dastun said.

“What?” Roger asked.

“Just open it dammit!” Dastun shouted at him.

Quickly, Roger opened the plating in Big O’s neck. Dastun ran to the lip of the cockpit and leaped into the air.

“You idiot”, Roger thought and aimed his watch towards Venus’ head. He let the cord inside it fly and anchor into its skull. The cord retracted quickly, and he just barely caught Dastun and dumped him on the enemy’s cannon before the watch carried him towards the megadeus’ upper circuitry.

Lights began to spark around Venus’ cannon, and Dastun heard a mechanical roar as he ran towards the cockpit. He jumped in and leaned over Angel. He took her by the shoulders.

“Wake up!” he begged, shaking her but knowing that it was pointless. He ran his hands down her back to where the cords were sunk into her. He took hold of them and then pulled hard with breath held and eyes closed tightly. They came out with a sickening ripping sound that made Dastun gag.

He opened his eyes and saw that the light was dying around Venus’ weapon, and then listened as the mechanical buzzing of its preparation sputtered and died to be replaced by Angel’s scream.

He took off his jacket and wrapped it around her. Her eyes swam, her body was rigid, and her scream subsided into an eerie, monotonous wail. He held her tightly and called out her name. “Angel, come back,” he pleaded, “It’s all right. I’m here. You’re safe.”

She made a sickening wet gasping noise, and then he felt her body spasm and relax. At last her eyes came into focus as a little trickle of blood escaped from her lips. “Dan,” she said, “I don’t care if it is all a crazy dream. I’d rather be crazy with you then sane and alone.”

Dan smiled and brushed her hair away from her forehead, “I’d rather be crazy than be without you too,” he said.

As he held her, the cables he had pulled from her back began to slowly rise from the floor and move towards them.

***

When Roger reached Venus’ head, he planted his feet among the cables and grabbed on. Dorothy was near enough that he could almost reach her, and yet, as he stretched out his arms towards her, he realized he wasn’t close enough.

“Dorothy!” he called out as he slowly made his way towards her. “I’m here. Come back to me!”

She couldn’t hear him. Her body pulsed and jerked as Venus ran his programs through her. Roger reached out and began to pull the cables from her body. When they were removed, she went limp, and he had to act quickly to catch her without falling off as well. He dangled with one arm grasping the cables, and another around Dorothy’s waist for a moment before he gathered the strength to roll her in front of him. As he strained to hold on while her heavy, metallic body rested on his, he looked into her face and saw that her eyes were glazed over, and that she was still far away.

“Dorothy,” he grunted under the strain, “Hang on!”

He looped one arm through the cables and around her waist so that he could free his hands enough to aim his watch. He made an awkward shot towards Big O. It caught hold, took Dorothy, and let go of Venus. They swung downwards, towards the megadeus’ chest. When they were mid-swing Roger retracted the watch cable and pulled them into the cockpit. Norman Burg was waiting there.

Roger laid Dorothy down in front of him. “What’s wrong with her?” he asked, “Can you bring her back.”

Norman crouched down and opened the CD drive in her forehead. “Yes sir,” he answered, “Someone has merely shut down her external sensors. I’ll have them back on in a moment.”

Roger turned away from them to look at Big Venus. The cannon had been shut down, and he could see that Dastun had removed the cables from Angel’s back. He was holding her and could not see that the cables were creeping up to surround them.

“Dastun!” he yelled loudly, “Get out of there!”

He turned and saw the rising tentacles. He picked up Angel and ran out of the cockpit, down the useless canon. He reached the end and then jumped. Roger aimed his watch and shot it down to them. Dastun grabbed it and Roger carefully heaved them up.

“It’s getting too crowded in here,” he teasingly complained when Dastun and Angel climbed inside.

They both smiled.

“Roger?” said a voice.

He turned and saw that Dorothy was holding out a hand to him. He sat down and took it.” I’m here,” he said.

“I’m glad Roger,” she whispered, “I am very glad.”
Jane 02-03-2006 06:18 PM
***

Lisa stopped flirting with Beck and turned to the monitor behind them. Slander had been stripped of both Angel and Dorothy and was standing powerless before Big O. If she didn’t do something fast, the megadeus would easily destroy him and open the door to reality. Paradigm would end and she would die.

“We have to do something Jason!” she said, “We have to keep Big O from stopping Venus.”

Beck looked at the monitor and cocked an eyebrow, “And what exactly do you propose love?” he asked.

“Don’t play games with me,” she said, “You’re no fool. With the resources I gave you, don’t pretend you stepped into a battle like this without a surprise of your own.”

He smiled a greedy, devious smile.

“Beck never comes unprepared,” he said, “But I’m afraid my little toys have proven quite useless against Crow Boy and his monstrosity in the past.” He sighed melodramatically before continuing, “I’m just not good enough to face him. I’m not in his league.”

“What are you holding out for?” she asked angrily.

“I just need a little extra something to guarantee that I’ll come out on top in battle, “ he said with a smile.

“And what is that?” she retorted.

“As we were working in this lab, I found something that, if taken apart and incorporated into my robot, will make me even more powerful than Big O. I want it,” he said.

“Then take it!” she yelled, frustrated with him, “What are you waiting for?”

“I just wanted your permission,” he said.

He dropped his hands and a small black box fell from his sleeve into his hand. He pressed the button on the top, and Lisa was pulled backwards at an astonishing speed towards a giant magnet. She hit it hard with her limbs spread eagle. Beck looked at her with obvious lust, then he picked up some tools from the table and came towards her.

“Me!” she asked, frightened of him now, “You’re going to use me?”

“Of course,” he answered, “I think the best way will be piece by piece. Of course, that means no one will ever be able to reassemble you. It’s a shame really.”

“But we had a deal!” she begged.

He laughed, “I don’t need anyone to bend things in my favor doll. I’m Jason Beck. The world already tilts my way.”

***

Roger closed the plating in Big O’s neck. It was an awkward situation, having so many people crowded on the floor around him, but it would only take him a moment to destroy Venus, now that it had been deprived of Angel. He pulled back his arm and released the piston, but before he could do anything there was an ominous rumbling and something else emerged from the brilliant light still shining where the tower had been.

It was a golden robot with a long, thin body, stubby appendages, and an angular, monstrous face crowned by pointed, angular protrusions. It took a step towards Big O, and the ground shook with its weight.

“Helloooooo Crow Boy!” said an exaggerated voice, “I’d like you to meet Beck Apocalypse. You’re going to have the honor of being the first destroyed by it.”

“Beck!” Roger groaned, “What are you doing?”

“Just what I’ve longed to do since the day I met you!” he answered, “I’m going to enjoy this.”

He lowered the two points on the robots head and pointed them towards Big O. Roger lifted his arm shields as a bright light began to glow at their ends. Two golden blasts of energy shot from the protrusions and hit the shields. Slowly, they began to burn through the armor.

Beck was laughing, “Just think what those beams can do to the rest of you Roger, if your shields are no match for them.”

He knew exactly what they would do; once they melted a hole through his arms, they would slice him in two. He barreled into Beck’s robot and butted its head with the shields, thereby forcing the robot to turn its head and change the direction of the beams. Roger took hold of the points that they came from, pulled back his pistons, and snapped them off with a blast.

Beck swung back at him with the robot’s thick, heavy arms. They barreled into him with a force that drove him backwards. Beck hit him again and again, rotating his machine’s body at its waist so that the punches came a speed that Big O could not match.

“Want to know a little secret Roger?” Beck asked as he pummeled him, “There is a reason why you are the one compatible with the only sane Big in Paradigm. It seems that there’s something special about it—some kind of key that only you can unlock. I know it sounds like a bunch of crap, but it’s true. The problem is, if you do whatever it is you’re supposed to do, Paradigm City will end, and I can’t have that. If it ends, how can I make it grovel at my feet?”

“Something special about Big O?” Roger asked.

“It’s the door!” Dorothy realized, “Big O is the way out of Paradigm.”

Angel looked at her, “What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you feel it too, when Big Venus had control of you?” she asked in return, “The megadeus was trying to stop Roger from opening the door to the real world. And it was trying to destroy Big O because the megadeus is the door.”

“Too bad I still have no idea what I’m supposed to do, or even if I want to do it,” Roger grunted as he struggled against Beck’s robot. The machine continued to whack him relentlessly, while, behind his armored hands, Roger opened the compartment in Big O’s chest, and prepared to fire his machine cannons. As Apocalypse prepared to swing again, he pulled his arms apart and fired.

The force made the robot pull back, until it was almost on top of the immobile Venus, but it remained undamaged. Its arms raised and widened at their ends and revealed that they were two powerful missile bays.

Beck laughed gleefully, “You can’t stop me Roger!” he chuckled, “I’m too powerful!”

Roger quickly assessed his options. He was running low on ammunition, and nothing he did seemed to make a difference. He was worried.
David Ryder 02-03-2006 06:41 PM
lookin' good. Keep it up.
Jane 02-03-2006 06:52 PM
Suddenly Big Venus emitted a low groan. It’s arm snapped upwards and clamped around Beck.

“Let go!” he yelled as he struggled to free himself, “I’ve almost got him!”

“How did it do that?” Angel asked. “What is it doing?’

There was silence for a moment while Big O told Roger the answer. “He’s going to try to drain Beck’s robot and charge the cannon again,” he said.

There was a loud bang as a spark shot from Venus’ fingers and surrounded the other robot. The pair of them began to shake as a visible stream of energy flowed from Apocalypse into the megadeus.

“It’s working,” Dorothy said.

“What are we going to do?” asked Dastun.

Roger didn’t answer him. He was listening to what Big O was telling him, and he didn’t like it.

“Are you sure, Big O?” he asked, “Is it really the only way?”

He already knew that the answer was “yes”. Once Big Venus charged its cannon, there would be no way to stop it. The only answer was to act first, and to do that, Big O would need him. Roger closed his eyes as he prepared himself for the slicing impact of the cables in his back.

“This is the only way to open it, isn’t it?” he asked, “No one can leave this place until I have become part of you?” It was what the megadeus had needed from him all along, but the price was high. Connecting himself to the megadeus might free everyone else, but it would destroy him; he would become a part of the program that controlled the city. There would be no escape, but Big Venus had finally brought him to a point where he could no longer say, “no”.

“Do it quickly,” he asked.

The moment he dreaded never came. Instead he heard from behind an unbearable squeal of chafing metal and an inhuman droning scream. Instantly, he opened his eyes and turned around. Dorothy was standing behind him with Big O’s cables clumsily embedded in her back. She had jumped between him and the cables, and had intercepted them, not in her forehead where they controlled the Big’s ammunition, but directly at the heart of her circuitry.

She was slumped forward against his chair and leaning awkwardly to one side, supporting herself with one hand. Her eyes were far too wide, and they seemed shiny and unnatural. Roger saw immediately that she was in terrible pain.

“Kiss me!” Dorothy demanded.

“What?” he asked, too stunned to understand.

“Hurry idiot!” she said, “Kiss me before it’s too late.”

She reached out to him and gently, but firmly, took his face in her hands and pressed her lips against his. He could not resist. As he sunk into her, he suddenly felt the mind of his megadeus inside of his own. R. Dorothy had become a conduit between him and Big O, allowing them to become one being while still remaining separate.

Suddenly he felt a trigger release in his mind, and he knew that something was happening. He couldn’t quite understand it because he was now seeing from two perspectives and he was far more concerned with the one that involved Dorothy’s lips. It was finished far too quickly and as he gently glided out of her embrace, he knew that something important had just happened. He looked at Dorothy and she smiled at him before going limp and falling into his arms.

She landed heavily in his lap as Big O’s cables squelched out of her back—a place they were never intended to be. She was leaking oil and fluid all over Roger, and her limbs, already damaged, began to twitch slightly in an involuntary and sporadic way. Her eyes glazed over, and from her lips came an unintelligible mumbling. She was dying.

“Dorothy!” Roger shouted, pressing her into his arms, “Dorothy! Come back!”

For a moment her eyes regained clarity, “Roger,” she whispered as she laid fading in his lap, “I have finally done what I was meant to do. Now you can finish what you were meant to do.”

She was unbelievably light, as if she weighed nothing as all. Roger felt the breath within him tighten convulsively as Dorothy reached up and touched him on the cheek. Her hands were very cold and stiff, but Roger put his hand over hers and moved it to his mouth, kissing it softly.

“I remember now,” he said in a quivering voice, “This is not the first time you have died. You died as Wainwright’s daughter once. Then you died again when Beck stole your memory and you always came back. You always found me.”

Dorothy smiled as she had never smiled for him before, and Roger suddenly realized how unbelievably beautiful she was. Then she said in her unmistakable monotone.

“There’s no need to find you anymore. You’re no longer lost you louse.”

She reached up slowly and touched his face. He took her hand, leaned down, kissed her lips sweetly, and whispered, “I love you so much.”

She could no longer hear him. The mechanisms that gave her life had whirred shut, never to operate again.

Big O was ready.

To Be Continued:
(Tomorrow)
Jane 02-04-2006 11:04 AM
Finale

Dorothy was dead.

Roger pressed her empty hulk against him and silently stroked her hair. Angel took a step towards him.

“Let me go back to Venus,” she said.

“What!” Dastun said.

“If I go back, I can fix this,” she explained, “I’ve seen what waits for us on the other side of Paradigm, and you don’t want it. It’s death, that’s what reality is. Even a false life here is better than that. Let me go back and reset everything. I can bring her back for you Roger.”

He did not seem to be listening. Gently, he laid Dorothy’s body on the ground. Quietly, Norman went to her and pressed her eyes closed. Roger turned away.

“Roger?” Angel said again, “Please Roger, Let me do it.”

She started to take another step towards him when two large arms wrapped around her and held her close. She felt warm, soft breath in her ear, and the tickling of facial hair against her cheek.

“Stay,” Dan whispered in her ear, “Let him be.”

She turned her head slightly so that she could look at him without being released from his arms, “Its true, Dan,” she said, “This world might be a false one, but it’s all we have. If he gives us life, it will only mean death.”

Dan laughed and turned her around so that she was facing him but still within his embrace, “I may not understand what’s going on Angel,” he said, “but I already knew that. You don’t need to be so afraid. Everything we do is a risk and that’s okay. That’s life Angel.”

She smiled and laid her head on his chest. She could feel him shiver as he touched her, but he didn’t hold back. He pressed her closer.

“Dan,” she said again, letting a tear escape down her cheek, “If he does this I will lose you.”

“Not possible.” he whispered back.

“Why not?” Roger asked. Angel and Dan turned to look at him. “We’ve been living in a fabricated reality for so long, that maybe we don’t know the rules anymore; maybe this is just a taste of what waits for us. Do you really want it Dastun?”

“Master Roger,” Norman interrupted, “I’m ashamed of you. Can it be that you’re afraid after what Miss Dorothy has done for you?”

He didn’t have time to answer. The light around Big Venus and Beck Apocalypse died as the megadeus drained away the last of the robot’s strength. It let it fall to the ground in a heap at its feet. Roger went to the controls. The old panel slid apart and a blank console replaced it. He laid his palms on the cool metal and waited as Big O recognized the mental pattern that it had copied. Once more it was inside his mind.

Lights began to flash around Venus’ cannon. The shields around Big O’s arms slid apart and downward and out of the plating slipped two great shining disks.

“You’re on the other side, aren’t you?” Roger asked the megadeus, “You’ve already passed through.”

Big O told him, “yes”

“Is it worth it?” he asked.

He got his answered and sighed, “I trust you,” he said.

Then he closed his eyes, and did what he had to do. He stepped through.

***

From the cockpit of Apocalypse, Beck shielded his eyes as a blinding light began to glow from the disks on Big O’s arms. It shone over the form of Big Venus making it shimmer like a mirage, and then, like a mirage, it began to disappear. It faded slowly until it was completely gone.

“Good riddance,” Beck grumbled.

Suddenly the light from Big O flashed in a sudden brilliance that forced him to cover his eyes. He was momentarily blinded, and could not see what caused the two large crashing sounds he heard nearby. When the spots in front of his eyes finally faded, he saw that the two disks had fallen from Big O’s arms, and that the megadeus had sunk to its knees. It was trembling slightly back and forth, as if it had lost all control, and then it began to fall forward towards him.

Beck screamed and scrambled from Apocalypse. He ran as fast as he could while the dead weight of Big O’s torso smashed to the ground. Debris flew everywhere as the two machines collided. Beck ducked the flying wreckage and chanced a look back. Big O’s head was just falling onto an old brick building with a prominent spire. To his surprise, as the head of the megadeus touched the spire there was another flash of light, and the head began to be drawn into the building as if it were drinking it in.

A piece of metal hit him on the back, and he fell to the ground. When things were quiet, he stood up, and looked around. Big O lay on the ground, its head was gone, and the brick building had turned black.

He brushed off his suit indifferently and straightened his hair. Then he made the long walk towards the neck of the headless megadeus. Once there, he peered inside the cockpit. Nothing was there, not even the controls, it was completely and utterly empty. Beck rubbed his chin and turned to the building behind him. Now that he was close, he could see the large stained glass window at its front. It was a church. From where he was was he could see inside. The building was also empty.

Only one thought entered his mind, “Roger is gone.”

He let out a scream of joy and began to spin in a wild, impromptu dance. “He’s gone! He’s gone,” he yelled, “Crow boy’s gone!” He licked his lips and rubbed his hands together, “Paradigm is mine!”

He threw his head back and laughed.

***

“My name is Roger Smith. I am a citizen of a city without a past, a city that falters for a future. Despite the uncertainty that haunts us all, we continue to go on with life. I may not know why I have been chosen to pilot Big O, but it is a responsibility I accept. It is my mission to protect this city—that was my choice—and once that choice was made, all future decisions became set. Always wear black, be polite to women, behave like a gentleman, and never carry a gun: Roger’s laws. But though my path is set, I am not an actor. I am an agent. I am this city’s negotiator. I am Roger Smith."

There was a breeze. It blew through his hair and gave him the most wonderful sensation. There was something else between his fingers—he ran his hands through it and then opened his eyes—it was green. He rolled from his side to his back and looked up into the sky, there was something blocking his view of it. He reached up and touched it. It was warm, soft, and wet. He removed his hand and it was caught up in someone else’s. He took it gratefully. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. Then he sat up and kissed her back. For a long time they stayed that way—holding each other in the grass. Then she smiled and said, “Apparently. You will always need rescuing.”

Roger sat up and hungrily took her in his arms, “You’re alive!” he whispered in unbelief, “How? How did it happen?”

She extricated herself from his joyful caresses and held him at arms length so she could look in his eyes. “Paradigm was a program created to return lost souls to their bodies and a temporal existence,” she said, “At first I was only a part of that program, but after hundreds of years of contact with you, I became more than that. You made me real Roger, and when both you and Big O touched me I was even more: I had a soul. So when you opened the door, I was given release as well.”

“A mermaid has not an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human being. On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good deeds, procure one for themselves.”

Roger and Dorothy pried their eyes from one another to look at the person who had spoken. He was a shrunken man with a wrinkled, kindly face whom Roger recognized. It was Abraham Score.

“Hello Big O,” Roger said smiling.

“Hello Roger Smith,” Score answered.

“How long has it been?” he asked.

“You don’t want to know, old friend.” The old man answered.

There was a bright flash of light, and two forms stumbled from the odd protrusion of metal that splayed out of the ground. They fell to the ground in a tangle of arms and limbs, laughing. Dan and Angel.

Angel blinked her eyes as she surveyed the scene, “This isn’t it.” She said, “This isn’t what the world is like. Everything is gone. Everything is dead.”

“It was,” Score said, “but death is only the beginning of new life. Everything renews itself in time.”

“We’re back,” Dan said, staring around in wonder, “We’re alive.”

He wrapped his arms around Angel and helped her stand.

There was another flash, and Norman Burg stumbled out of the light. Roger ran to him and helped him stand. He breathed in deeply and looked up at the sky. “We’re here,” he sighed, “We made it.”

Everyone turned back to the spike jutting out of the ground expectantly, but there were no more flashes of light, and no more beings tumbled from Paradigm’s exit.

“Where is everyone?” Dan asked.

“Why isn’t anyone else coming?” asked Roger

“That was always the problem with Negotiator,” Score sighed, “The door is open, but now all must find it, and then they must make their decision. Time must roll onward, and in time we shall see who will join us.”

“Come away now,” he beckoned, “The world is waiting.”

Angel, Dan, and Norman turned away and followed Score through the field, supporting each other as they walked.

Roger watched them go and then turned to Dorothy. “I need to tell you something,” he said.

“What?” she asked.

“I love you Dorothy.”

“I love you too Roger,” she said with a smile.

He took her into his arms and suddenly everything came alive.

Fin
Pygmalion 02-06-2006 09:43 AM
Thanks for putting this finale up, Jane. I want to go back and read the previous stories before I comment further on this, but rest assured, this opus is getting attention!

Pygmalion
Jane 02-06-2006 04:16 PM
Thanks for reading it Pygmalion. I had some real trouble finishing this, and for a while I almost gave up on it. I wrote the last chapters back, um, last year, I guess, and was trying to fix it up and edit them, and then they were completely erased. I finally got them finished again and I almost wondered if it was worth posting after so long. So, again, thanks for reading.
paul1290 02-06-2006 09:18 PM
Excellent. Especially that very suspensful part before the Finale.

I remember reading this a long while back and I was wondering why it wasn't finished


Better late than never I suppose. Laughing
6 moon dance 02-08-2006 11:20 AM
Wow! This story had everthing that my fangirl heart could desire a truly evil villian, cool megaduce battles, some swell R/D moments and closure too. Lovely ironic ending, the heros chose reality and while Beck is living in a slowly dying illlusion. Serves him right.
I have really enjoyed this series, Jane, thank you for a terrific story.

I know how hard writing fan fiction can be but I hope you will continue to write more Big O fanfiction.
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What do we want? Season 3
When do we want it? NOW!!!!