[Fan Fiction] ACT 30: DORI, DOROTHY. Complete!

A Clockwork Tomato 11-29-2003 10:25 AM
This is the fourth episode in my very own Season 3 of Big O.

The series starts with:
Act 27: Life Goes On and continues with
Act 28: Returning to the Dead and
Act 29: The Master Criminal.

-- A CLOCKWORK TOMATO



ACT 30
DORI, DOROTHY





Roger knotted his tie, put on his suit coat, and drew on his black gloves. He checked his appearance in the mirror; he was ready for the new day. He walked out of his bedroom.

Dorothy was waiting for him in the penthouse.

“Hello, Dorothy,” he said. “I didn’t see you at breakfast.”

“I wasn’t fit company,” said Dorothy. They embraced briefly. She was upset about something. “Good morning, Roger. I have important news.”

“Tell me, then.”

Dorothy led him to a couch and sat down next to him.

“I have a sister. Another R. Dorothy Wayneright. She called me on the telephone last night.”

“I see,” said Roger. Dorothy had been leaving no stone unturned in her quest for the content’s of Timothy Wayneright’s lab, which she believed had contained at least one other R. Dorothy Wayneright, fully assembled and nearly ready to be awakened. “Is she okay?”

“She seemed fine,” said Dorothy. “I was relieved. Few people know how to awaken an android properly. Errors can cause terrible damage. But Dori seems to have been very fortunate.”

“Dori?”

“That’s what she’s calling herself.”

Roger asked, “So where is she? And who is her, what … father? Creator?”

“Lover,” said Dorothy.

“What? That’s disgusting!”

“Dori says ‘boyfriend,’ which is sort of sweet, don’t you think?” continued Dorothy, ignoring this, “But ‘lover’ is what she means.”

“But,” protested Roger, “she’s like a child, isn’t she?”

“Not in that way. Her body is the same as mine.”

“But,” said Roger again. He groped for a way of expressing his feeling that what Dorothy was describing was wrong.

Uncharacteristically, Dorothy didn’t wait for him to marshal his thoughts, but kept on going. “Roger, there are three basic reasons why someone awakens an android. To be a child, a lover, or a tool. I was awakened to be a child. R. D. was awakened to be a tool. Dori was awakened to be a lover. She may have been dealt a better hand than her sisters.”

“Why?” asked Roger.

“An adolescent android is very emotionally dependent on her awakener. Ideally, it should be someone who is supportive, someone who is kind. R. D. fell into the hands of a maniac. With me, father was … father was … I had to … I …” she stopped for a moment, then started again, speaking slowly. “It is very hard for me to … to … criticize … Father,” she said.

Roger nodded. “Try to say it indirectly, or hypothetically,” he suggested.

Dorothy closed her eyes, paused a moment, and then spoke. “Suppose there was a man named John Doe, whose daughter Jane had died. Mr. Doe could create androids. He wanted an android copy of his daughter. But he didn’t the core memory technology; he could only make duplicates of old patterns. Mr. Doe could add some memories, but memory and personality are not the same. He could not alter the personality of an android directly.” She looked at Roger.

Roger nodded.

“Androids will love, trust, and wish to please the person who awakens them. This always happens -- it’s part of growing up. Mr. Doe could not alter Jane’s personality, but he could make it clear to Jane that he wanted her to act the role of his dead daughter. All the time. That was her purpose. Not to … to be … to be … herself.”

She looked up at Roger, who nodded encouragingly.

Dorothy went on, “And this was … it was … Jane … she felt … she …” Dorothy closed her eyes again. There was a long pause. Then, “I think I’ve said as much as I can.”

Roger squeezed her hand. He loved her hands, even though they didn’t feel quite human. Or maybe because they didn’t. “I understand. Tell me, was Jane happy?”

“She was happy and … and … at the same time,” said Dorothy. “Outside his … his …, Mr. Doe was kind. He was a very interesting man. And he loved Jane. His … he … he had a kind of double vision. Craftsmen love their creations. It’s very human to want your creations to love you back. He loved android technology and would happily talk shop to Jane, while at the same time … at the same time … insisting …”

Roger said, “You had to pretend that you were his daughter helping out in the lab.”

“Jane! We are talking about Jane. I can’t discuss this at all if we talk about me.”

“Sorry.”

Dorothy remained silent for a long moment. “Enough about Jane. Dori’s boyfriend transferred most of her conditioning from Father to himself, so she would not be crippled with grief when she was awakened. That was my greatest fear. So far, so good. But the next step is also crucial. If Dori’s boyfriend wants Dori to be Dori, then she will emerge from the experience unscarred. Though if the two of them are very incompatible, she will eventually leave him.”

“She can do that?”

“Oh, yes. The early conditioning fades. But not right away. An adolescent android is very dependent. It will be months, at least, before she could be separated from him.”

Roger considered this. “So we’re stuck, aren’t we?”

“Not entirely. We can talk to her boyfriend. He could do a lot of damage by accident, especially if he follows …” she paused for a moment, then said, very slowly and distinctly, “certain materials that are likely to be found with Father’s papers.”

“Because your father wrote them himself.”

She didn’t answer, which was answer enough.

Roger asked, “So what do we know about Dori’s boyfriend?”

“Dori wouldn’t tell me anything about him. He told her not to reveal anything about himself to anyone.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“She called me when he was asleep. He doesn’t know.”

“That sounds ominous, too. I don’t suppose it could be your good friend Tony?”

“No, he would have asked for help. He loves androids but doesn’t really know much about them.”

“Will Dori be calling you again?”

“Tonight, I think. Roger, you must find her! I need to talk to her, and to her boyfriend. The initial stages have gone very well, but she isn’t safe yet. Her mind is still at risk.”

Roger hugged her. “I’ll get right to work.”

* * *

Continued in Part 2
Dorothy and Pero 11-29-2003 10:56 AM
That was so great. I really needed that Big Grin
I thought it was sad how Dorothy couldn't insult her father, but it makes perfect sense. After all that time she was with him, pretending to be his daughter, it would be. It's hard to insult someone who cares for you so much (though Dorothy has no problem insulting Roger Laughing )
Can't wait to read the next part!!
Zola 11-29-2003 11:03 AM
*whines that it isn't Sunday already*

I am enjoying this, Uncle Tomato! Smile
Tony Waynewrong 11-29-2003 01:40 PM
Woo Hoo, I am a character in a great writer's story. A Big O story! With Dorothy. Somebody kick me to wake me from this cool dream. Smile

ACT, the suspense is killing me. It is almost as bad as Cartoon Network's cruel joke of replaying Stripes. Smile

Keep it up. This stuff is good.

Oh, by the way, if things don't work out between Dori and her lover.... Never mind. Smile
Tifaria 11-29-2003 04:37 PM
That's so sweet and yet sad how Dorothy couldn't criticize Timothy Wayneright.. but it makes sense. I always thought it was sweet how she was obviously just acting out the part that he wanted her to.. but also sad that she wasn't her own person.

I can't wait 'till Dori shows up some more! I'm definitely hooked on your story now. Smile )
A Clockwork Tomato 11-29-2003 05:55 PM
Part 2

Roger drove up to the nondescript seaside bungalow, one of a long row of identical, weather-beaten summer rental houses. Big Ear had given him the address, identifying it as a place where some of Wayneright’s materials might be stashed, though only briefly. Big Ear had been even more cryptic than usual, but Dorothy was anxious, so Roger was following up every lead. He expected to find a boxful of papers if he was lucky. But if he could find out where they came from, he might really be onto something.

He stepped out of the car. The weather was blustery, with a salt smell in the air. The sound of seagulls came faintly to his ears. No one was in the street.

He went up the front door and knocked. Almost immediately it was answered by a slim young blonde woman in jeans. She opened the door and looked at him gravely. Except for her hair color, she looked exactly like Dorothy.

A faint smile came to her lips. “Roger Smith,” she said.

“R. Dorothy Wayneright, I presume,” he said, smiling back.

“Call me Dori. Please, come in. I had no idea you’d find us so soon.”

“Thanks.”

The bungalow was nearly empty. A couple of suitcases stood near the door, and there was a cardboard box on the kitchen table. Dori had been packing.

“There’s still some coffee. Would you like some?”

“Please.”

“Cream and sugar?”

“Black.”

She returned a moment later with two cups. He was interested to see that she added cream and sugar with hers. She noticed his gaze, and the faint smile returned to her lips. She said, “I’ve decided that I prefer cream and sugar, but I’m prepared to rough it if necessary.”

Roger grinned. Dorothy was just the same, though she almost never volunteered this sort of information.

Dori took a sip of coffee, made a face – a fleeting expression; he almost missed it -- and added another spoonful of sugar. Roger laughed, delighted.

Dori asked, “How did you find us? We were being so careful.”

“I have my methods.”

“And I’ll be here alone for almost an hour,” she continued. “That’s wonderful timing. How is Dorothy?”

“She’s worried about you.”

Dori nodded, serious. “There were so many things I couldn’t tell her.”

Roger waited, with a look of polite inquiry on his face.

After a moment she added, “I can’t tell you, either.”

“Sorry. What would you like to talk about?”

“I have an enormous number of questions. Do you mind?”

“Fire away.”

The faint smile returned. It gave him a little jolt every time he saw it, because Dorothy almost never smiled, even when she was deeply happy.

“Did you ever meet my father?”

“Timothy Wayneright? Just once, the night he died. We were never properly introduced or anything like that. He wasn’t even an acquaintance, I’m afraid.”

“And you saw Dorothy with him that night?”

“Yes.”

“What was she like?”

Roger considered. “I almost thought she was a different person. She laughed and smiled and had any number of, I don’t know, girlish mannerisms.”

As he spoke, her smile had flickered out again. “I thought so,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Would it be okay if I visited you sometime?”

“Dori, we’d like nothing better. Visit us anytime; stay as long as you like. Forever, if that suits you. You’re family.”

“Thank you.” She seemed pleased.

She thought for a moment – she was just like Dorothy in this; she could stop and think without becoming self-conscious, and silences didn’t bother her – and asked, “Roger, what does Dorothy do all night?”

“You mean, when I’m asleep? I keep very late hours and am up most of the night.”

“Yes.”

“Well, she does what she likes. She’s careful not to wake me, so she doesn’t play the piano near my bedroom or anything like that, but otherwise, it’s up to her. She visits friends sometimes, or works around the house, or reads. She spends a lot of time on the rooftop, gazing out over the city and thinking.”

“She’s not afraid of being mugged when she goes out at night?”

“Well, mostly she goes out in the morning, and it’s much safer during daylight. But she goes out at night sometimes, too.”

“And you don’t object?”

“I pointed out the dangers once or twice, and she listened politely and said she’d keep my advice in mind. Dorothy makes her own decisions.”

Dori absorbed this for a moment, then changed the subject. “Roger, do you think Dorothy is prettier than Angel?”

Roger smiled. “I’m not an unbiased witness, but yes, I do. But they’re both very attractive women. It boils down to whether you like big bold blondes or quiet petite redheads.”

“Hair color is important, then?”

Roger smiled again, “Not really. Well, some people have narrow tastes. But I don’t really have a preference for redheads. I have a preference for Dorothy. Where did you hear about Angel?”

“Jason told me about her when I asked about his old girlfriends.”

Roger froze. “Jason? Jason Beck?”

She was startled. “I thought you knew. How did you find me if you didn’t know?”

“Jason Beck is your boyfriend?”

“I wasn’t supposed to tell you. I’m sorry … are you all right?”

Roger was beside himself with rage, but he couldn’t very well take it out on Dori. Beck! Of all the … He mastered himself with a tremendous effort.

“I’m sorry, Dori,” he said. He didn’t try to smile; he know his limitations. “Beck and I and I don’t get along. I suppose you know that.”

She nodded. “Yes. He’s tried to kill you or Dorothy on several occasions. You’ve put him in jail three times. He was responsible for my father’s death.”

“He ought to be in prison! He’s not a suitable boyfriend!”

“He said you’d feel that way,” she said calmly.

“Anyone would feel that way!” shouted Roger.

“I don’t feel that way. Don’t I get a vote?” asked Dori, still quite calm.

Roger suddenly noticed that her hairband was more than it seemed. It looked metallic and decorative, but it was also concealing circuitry.

“What’s that in your hairband?” he asked, trying to keep his voice level.

“This?” she touched it, “It’s …”

“Beck’s using it to control you, isn’t he?” demanded Roger, his voice rising again. He was so angry he could barely speak.

“No, it’s for …”

“I swear,” growled Roger, “The next time I see Beck, I’m going to kill him.”

“You’re not listening to me,” complained Dori. “And I probably wouldn’t survive if … if ... if Jason … if … I wouldn’t …” she stopped and looked up at him beseechingly.

Roger’s anger had turned to shame and misery. “I’m sorry, Dori. I didn’t mean to yell,” he said. “And I won’t kill Beck, either.”

She placed a hand on his arm. “It’s all right. This must be hard for you. It’s my fault, really. I shouldn’t have told you.”

Roger tried again. “Dori, I really think you ought to talk to Dorothy. And Dorothy’s beside herself with worry. Can’t you come home with me and spent a little time with her?”

“I’m not supposed to.”

“Do it anyway.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. Just let me drive you to see Dorothy. We can drop you off afterwards wherever you like.”

“Do you think I should?”

“Yes. Yes! I think it’s very important.”

She stood up. “All right. I really want to meet Dorothy. And Angel, too. Are you really living with two women?”

“Angel’s just a friend.” Roger was surprised to realize that he was blushing.

“I need to pack some things.” She looked around, found an empty box, and handed it to him. “Could you pack the things in the bathroom? The medicine cabinet and the things of mine under the sink; parts and instruments. I’ll pack some clothes.” She opened the door of the tiny bathroom and shooed him in.

He had barely opened the medicine cabinet and realized that it was empty before the bathroom door slammed. This was followed instantly by a low scraping sound.

Roger tried to open the door, but it opened out, and something was blocking it. After getting down on the floor and peering through the crack, he realized that Dori had shoved the full-sized refrigerator across the kitchen and against the bathroom door in one swift movement.

He tried forcing the door, but it was hopeless. He tried calling to Dori, but there was no response. The window was too small for him to squeeze through.

He sighed and called Norman on his wrist communicator.

* * *

Continued in Part 3
pen1300 11-29-2003 07:06 PM
Love these! OMG! I can't wait! I was sooo happy for these teasers!

This is an execellent "Season 3." You should submit these to the fansite here!

Later,
Pen1300
Jim Starluck 11-29-2003 08:40 PM
Well THAT ain't good.



Now...what will be interesting is if Beck isn't mind-controlling her, and she really loves him...and if both androids eventually marry their boyfriends, that'll make Roger & Beck brothers-in-law...oh, the possibilities... Big Grin
BigPrime 11-29-2003 08:55 PM
This series just gets better by the installment! I look forward to the rest of the episode tomorrow! Smile
Wingnut 11-29-2003 09:09 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Starluck
Well THAT ain't good.



Now...what will be interesting is if Beck isn't mind-controlling her, and she really loves him...and if both androids eventually marry their boyfriends, that'll make Roger & Beck brothers-in-law...oh, the possibilities... Big Grin
AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Roger and Beck in-laws?!?! Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked
What is this world comeing to anyway?
darkangel 11-29-2003 10:03 PM
this fanfiction is outta sight!!!!Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
Dorothy and Pero 11-29-2003 11:07 PM
What a twist!!
Very cool Cool
Tifaria 11-29-2003 11:20 PM
Hee hee, Roger and Beck related. THAT would make for fun family gatherings!

I love Dori's personality. It's nice to know that Dorothy may be capable of the same emotions and openness (assuming, of course, that it is really not Beck controlling Dorothy). Not that I don't love Dorothy the way she is, of course.

ARGH! My best friend's name is Becky, so every time I mean to type "Beck", I end up typing "Becky" and I have to back up and correct myself. Sweatdrop
A Clockwork Tomato 11-30-2003 02:37 AM
Part 3

Angel finally got the refrigerator out of the way. “That thing is heavy,” she said as Roger opened the door. She added, “I should have brought Dorothy along. There’s never an android around when you need one.”

“I’m not in the mood, Angel,” growled Roger.

She gave him a good look. “Wow, even I never make you this angry.”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Suit yourself. Where’d you park your car?”

“It’s right out front.”

“No, it isn’t.”

Roger used his watch to get a fix on the car. It was only three blocks away. As he and Angel walked, Roger brought her up to date. She had a distressing tendency to snigger at the strangest moments.

He rounded on her, angry. “Angel, what’s the matter with you?”

She tried to keep a straight face but failed. “I’m sorry, Roger. I really am. But I’m thinking of this from Beck’s point of view.”

“And that’s funny, is it?” he asked sourly.

“What you don’t know is, Beck has this terrible letch on strong-willed women. If a woman’s impressed by him or does what he asks, he loses interest in her. But if she looks down on him or makes fun of him or treats him like he doesn’t exist, he’s all over her.”

“Oh, no,” moaned Roger.

“Oh, yes,” said Angel happily. “Guess who’s the strongest-willed woman Beck has ever met?”

“I don’t believe it.”

“After he killed her, she came back to life right in front of him, and she didn’t even spare him a glance.”

“You’re just making this up.”

“With Beck, that’s true love. Lucky for you there was another R. Dorothy Wayneright waiting in the wings.”

“Lucky for him, you mean.”

“You’re right about that. Of course, he’s not out of the woods yet. I’m sure he’s avoiding you and me, but I’ll bet you anything that the one he’s really afraid of is Dorothy.”

They reached the car. It was locked and undamaged. Hadn’t he locked it himself? Yes, but the car recognized Dorothy and would unlock automatically if she touched the door handle. Nobody had told the car there were two Dorothies.

On the driver’s seat was a note. He unlocked the door and picked it up. It read:


    “Dear Roger,

    I am very sorry. Can you forgive me? The error was mine, but you’re taking all the consequences. That isn’t right, and I am ashamed.

    There’s so much I can’t tell you, and I know that you think that I’m naïve (and I am), but things are not as bad as they seem. Everything is going to be all right; you’ll see. Try not to worry about me. I’ll call or visit as soon as I can.

    Love,

    Dori

    P.S. I’ve left you the hairband (I’m now wearing a plain one). It doesn’t do anything bad; it just makes me invisible to Megadeuses. Test it; you’ll see. D.W.”


The hairband (which of course was not really a hairband at all, but a cover for the memory access slot in Dori’s skull) was on the dashboard. Roger passed the note over to Angel, who read it and said, “Wow.”

Roger nodded in agreement.

“She seems more, I don’t know, girlish than Dorothy.”

“Yes, I think so, too.”

Angel’s eyes gleamed. “So exactly how adorable is she?”

“Angel!”

“On a scale of one to ten? An eleven? A twelve?”

“Angel!”

“You know what they say about little sisters.”

“Angel, I’ve had a really bad day so far, and it’s probably going to get worse. You’re not helping.”

“All right, I’ll tell you something useful. Beck doesn’t involve his girlfriends in his crimes and he never hits them.”

“I guess that’s something.”

“Of course, if he hit Dori he’d probably break every bone in his hand, so maybe that’s not a good thing.”

Roger managed a smile. “Thanks for getting me out of that bathroom, Angel.”

* * *

Continued in Part 4
R.Smith 11-30-2003 02:58 AM
Wow! I'm really liking act 30! I can't wait for part 4!

quote:
“Of course, if he hit Dori he’d probably break every bone in his hand, so maybe that’s not a good thing.”


i'm lmao at that Big Grin
Advinius 11-30-2003 06:48 AM
heh.

I am liking this more and more as it goes on, and this whole tangled web developing around Beck is great. The fact that you are able to focus on Beck to the extent you do without actaully taking the focus off of Roger and Dorothy as the main players is very cool.

I give this series a rating of super nifty-keen, with multiple thumbs up, and eagerly await it's continuation.
A Clockwork Tomato 11-30-2003 07:34 AM
Part 4

Angel drove her pink sports car to the rendezvous, which was scheduled for 3:00 PM. She needed to get there by 2:45, or she wouldn’t have time to bend Beck to her will before Roger showed up.

She was in a foul temper. Roger and Dorothy had gone off the deep end. It had been a week since Roger had met Dori. Beck had not called. Dori had not called. No one could find any leads on them. What was the matter with Beck? Had he dropped Dori on Roger’s doorstep for a visit shortly after their first encounter, Roger and Dorothy would have been forced to accept the fait accompli. The inexplicable silence was driving them out of their minds with worry. Dorothy had stopped talking and was spending all her time standing on the parapet, gazing out over the city, as if she expected to find Dori through an act of pure will. Roger was pacing the house like a restless lion. The enormous building seemed suddenly cramped.

Angel had thought that Dorothy’s serenity would stretch even as far as accepting Beck as Dori’s boyfriend, but she had been wrong. Dorothy knew Beck only through his crimes. And she hadn’t listened when Angel, who had once been Beck’s girlfriend, had tried to explain. Dorothy looked as calm as ever, but was deeply distressed. Although Dorothy wasn’t talking, Angel knew that she must have dreamed of giving her sister a perfect childhood (or whatever androids called it). And now, for Dori to have been scooped up by Beck, of all people! Dorothy’s dreams had gone up in smoke. If she learned where Beck was, she would probably be upon him like an avenging … demon.

Beck had quite a nerve. Today he was ransoming a famous oil painting. Roger had been hired to handle the owner’s interests. He didn’t know Beck was involved, but to Angel, Beck’s style was unmistakable. Beck was using a front man to deliver scripted instructions over the phone, but Angel knew that Beck would handle the exchange personally. She had managed to sneak a copy of the rendezvous instructions off Roger’s desk. That was another thing – Roger was usually very neat with his paperwork and didn’t leave it lying around. He was frazzled.

She hoped Roger hadn’t started carrying a gun. He might use it.

She reached the warehouse – Paradigm city had an endless supply of abandoned warehouses – and drove in.

Beck was there already, as she expected, resplendent in one of his horrible yellow suits. He was carefully dirtying up his car’s license plate with a tub of mud and a sponge. Beck was not the sort of man who would risk being pulled over for an unreadable license plate or a broken taillight. He’d arrive early instead and anonymize his vehicle while he waited. When he saw her car, Beck put down the tub and the sponge, pulled a damp towel out of a toolbox, and meticulously wiped his hands.

Angel stopped the car and got out. She was wearing her leather jumpsuit, an outfit that Beck had always found irresistible.

“Angel!” he cried, genuinely delighted. “Long time no see. So are you running errands for Crowboy these days?”

Angel marched right up to him. He held out his arms for a hug. She slapped him hard across the face.



“Don’t talk to me!” she snarled. “Just shut up and listen. Beck, you jackass, do you have any idea what a living hell my life has become? What’s the matter with you? You used to be a professional!”

“Angel,” he complained, but she cut him off.

“What do you think you’re doing? You arranged a truce with Roger and Dorothy. I encouraged them to sign up for it, did you know that? So you were already halfway home with Dori. Once we learned about her, you had us over a barrel, because we couldn’t get rid of you without hurting her. You win. Game over. But you’ve waited a whole week now, and for nothing!”

She stopped abruptly and looked at him. He had folded his arms and was smiling at her in a smug, knowing way.

She had always been good at reading Beck. This was not his usual cackling delight at pulling off a clever bank job. It was a deeper satisfaction, as if he had conned the whole world. Realization dawned. “Oh my god,” she said. “You’ve got something big going. No, wait. Don’t tell me … You’ve made so much money you’re going to retire from crime.”

His smile broadened.

“There’s more, isn’t there? Let’s see … Oh! I know! You’re going to betray the Union in exchange for a pardon. Can’t retire properly without a pardon.”

He nodded. He was grinning now. She studied him again, “That’s not the end of it, is it? And to sweeten it, there’s some kind of, what, a con? Yes, a con. Hmmm … probably to make the Union look scarier than they really are.”

He spoke at last, “Same old Angel. What number am I thinking of?”

“Yellow,” she said absently. “What is it, broken-down robot parts made to look like the real thing?”

“Something like that.” He held out his arms again.

Angel stood uncertainly, unable to make up her mind whether to hug him or slap him again. Beck wisely took a step forward and enfolded her in his arms.

She rested her cheek against his shoulder and sighed. “I don’t know why I like you,” she said. “It’s not like you ever say anything nice or do anything sensible.”

“Look who’s talking,” he murmured.

“Where was I? So you betray the Union in a dramatic way. They get extra prison time and you get a pardon. And then …” she shoved him away, suddenly angry again. “You jackass! You’ve decided that you don’t want to show up on Roger’s doorstep until you’ve got a pardon, a medal, and the keys to the city, so you can look him square in the eye and say, ‘I’m as respectable as you are, pal, so don’t tell me Dori’s too good for me.’” She stamped her foot in vexation, “I’m right, aren’t I?”

“What’s wrong with that?” asked Beck, failing to sound cool.

“What’s wrong with it?” screeched Angel, furious. “Dori screwed up your schedule, that’s what’s wrong with it! That bit only works if you keep her a secret until the last instant! Not if you play an idiot shell game for a week instead of coming to terms! Damn you, Beck!” She stabbed a shaking finger at him. “Roger is so angry that I wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to kill you!”

Beck was shocked. “He wouldn’t do that!”

“I’ve never seen him like this before. Honest to god, I’m afraid for all of us. And Dorothy … she scares me. If I were you, I wouldn’t be able to sleep nights. I’m afraid to meet her gaze, and she’s not angry with me at all.”

Beck, taken aback, asked, “So what do you think I should do?”

“Make peace. Start by getting Dori over to Roger’s house just as fast as you can. Tell Roger and Dorothy your plan to go straight. I’ll keep your secret about the con, though I’m going to have to spill it to Dastun before the trial, so those poor fools don’t get prison time they don’t deserve. So bargain fast with the government. Put up with Roger and Dorothy’s disapproval. From what Roger says, Dori is a total charmer. You stay in the background. Keep her in the foreground. Let them see you through her eyes. I’ll do what I can. I like you, Beck. You know I do. And they listen to me if you aren’t driving them out of their minds with worry. And stop being such a smartass around Roger. He hates that.”

“I really had him wound up last time, did he tell you?”

She stamped her foot again. “Is that the point? I thought you were in it for the money.”

“Naw, it’s the babes.” He held out his arms again.

“Look, are you going to do what I ask or not?” asked Angel, her anger draining away. “Roger will be here in a few minutes, and I need to know whether I’m protecting you or abandoning you to your fate. I’ll send some nice yellow flowers to your funeral.”

Beck sighed. “I’ll do it your way, Angel.”

A wave of relief went through her. She hadn’t realized until now how afraid she had been, these last few days. He took her in his arms. She put her cheek against his shoulder and began to cry softly. He stroked her hair. After a couple of minutes she murmured, “Roger will be here any minute. We ought to arrange Dori’s visit right away. Where is she?”

“I’m right here,” said Dori.

Both Angel and Beck jumped, and Angel shrieked.

“Dori!” cried Beck. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted see if Roger was all right. I hid behind the seat.”

Dori turned to her, “You must be Angel. I’m Dori.” Angel blushed. They shook hands.

Dori asked, “Did you really hit Jason with a length of pipe?”

“It was only a little one,” said Angel, dabbing at her face with her handkerchief. “And everyone wants to hit him with a length of pipe.’

“That’s true,” said Dori.

Continued in Part 5
A Clockwork Tomato 11-30-2003 07:38 AM
“Dori, how long can you comfortably be away from Beck?” asked Angel.

“Ten or twelve hours. Twenty-four hours makes me anxious.”

Angel consulted her watch. “Beck, how’s midnight for a handoff?”

“Fine,” said Beck. “Name the place.”

Angel dug a business card out of her purse. “That’s my number at Roger’s house, and this other one is at my apartment. Why don’t you call me at Roger’s and give the usual switcheroo address, and I’ll meet you there. Try my apartment as a last resort. The line is probably bugged. You know the drill.”

Beck nodded and turned to Dori, “You ready for this, Dori?” He looked concerned, protective.

Dori was wearing her faint smile. “It’s what I want, Jason. Thank you.” She turned to Angel. “Can you stay with me the whole time, Angel?”

“Sure, if you want me to.”

“You will be my interpreter.” Dori turned back to Beck. He took her hands in his and they gazed into each other’s eyes for a long time. Angel turned away. They weren’t even kissing, but there was an intimacy there that she couldn’t bear to watch.

Roger’s car could be heard in the distance. Angel turned back to Beck and Dori. She was amazed to see tears in Beck’s eyes. Angel had never put tears there except by slapping him. She sighed. Another sexy man lost to android love.

She coughed. “Roger’s almost here. Dori, come with me and we’ll perch decoratively on the hood of my car. Beck, get into your car and don’t show yourself until I wave to you, okay?”

Roger pulled up next to Angel’s car and got out. His face was aglow. “Dori!’ he called. He gave her an enormous hug.

“Give Angel a hug, too,” said Dori. “She deserves it.”

Roger complied, grinning. “I take it we have you to thank for this, Angel?”

“And Beck. He felt like listening to reason for once.”

“You should have seen Angel,” Dori told Roger with a perfectly straight face. “I’ll bet you never negotiate like that.”

“Is Beck here?” asked Roger, ignoring the needling. Angel was pleased to note that his smile didn’t vanish completely at the thought of Beck.

Angel said, “He’s going to go straight, Roger. The idiot wanted to go straight before confronting you and Dorothy, so he’d feel like a respectable suitor instead of a criminal. Dori blew his schedule, but he didn’t want to change his plan, so that’s where the delay came from.”

Roger said, “Wait a minute. I’m about to close a $350,000 ransom deal, and he’s going to go straight in the near future?”

“He’s in the car over there,” said Angel. “If you want to convince him to go straight right now and save your client a lot of money, I’m not stopping you.” She waved to Beck, who got out of the car. He was managing to look reasonably cool under the circumstances. The beard really helped, she decided. It balanced the idiotic curls. He’d looked like a sissy clean-shaven.

The two men started walking towards each other. As they got closer, Beck’s annoying smile began flashing on and off like a semaphore. Angel smiled. Good: he was nervous. She’d really gotten through to him.

Her watch beeped. Roger’s must have, too, because he jumped a little and raised it to look at the face.

“Master Roger,” reported Norman. “General Dastun reports that a group of giant robots has been spotted several miles outside the city.”

“No!” wailed Beck. “Not today! Tomorrow! I haven’t installed the overrides yet!”

Roger, ignoring Beck, called into the watch, “Big O! It’s showtime!”

A moment later, Roger drove off to his rendezvous point.

Dori had dashed over to Beck’s car and gotten in on the passenger side.

Beck objected, “Dori, you go with Angel.”

“I’m going with you.”

“Do I have to make you get out?” asked Beck in exasperation.

“You can try,” Dori replied calmly, “But I doubt if you have the strength.”

Beck, smiling his crooked smile, put the car in gear and drove off with Dori.

* * *

Angel let them get a good head start, then tailed them. Beck drove to a tall abandoned factory. Beck drove in through an opening; Angel parked outside.

A couple of minutes later, a Megadeus strode out of the open front bay.

Angel chuckled. “I guess you can keep secrets from me after all, Beck,” she said to herself. “For a little while, anyway.”

* * *

Continued in Part 6
A Clockwork Tomato 11-30-2003 11:05 AM
The console lit up.

CAST IN THE NAME OF GOD . . . YE NOT GUILTY

“Big B! Action!” called Beck. Big B strode out of the factory. Beck guided him towards the wastelands.

Behind him, Dori had opened the memory access tray in her forehead and removed the false hairband. She replaced it with a bulkier device, gold in color. She closed the tray. The new device stuck out a couple of inches from the front of her head like an oddly shaped tiara. It contained eight round golden sockets.

“I will be using the probe cables, Jason,” she said calmly.

Beck turned around in his seat, “Dori! No!”

“Big B and I have discussed it. It’s perfectly safe. You know it is.”

“Not for certain! I don’t want to risk it!”

“This is my decision, Jason.”

He sighed. “Just wait a minute, will ya?” He stopped Big B and walked around to where she was standing. He took her hands in his. “All right,” he said, looking woebegone. “Go ahead.”

They looked into each other’s eyes as Big B slotted the eight cables home into their sockets.

Across the control room, readouts and control panels lit up. There was the sound of distant machinery being engaged. The hum in the control panel changed its tone and became distinctly louder.

Dori smiled her faint smile. “It’s working, Jason, and I’m fine.” She patted his cheek. “Let’s get to work.”

Beck went back to the command seat. Big B lumbered back into motion.

“Jason?” asked Dori.

“Yeah?”

“We need to let Roger know what to expect.”

Beck said, “I don’t want to reveal our identity yet.”

There was a pause, then Dori said, “Big B can exchange information about the targets with Big O. I’m getting him up to speed on the targets now.”

“That’s great, Dori.”

* * *

Continued in Part 7
Tony Waynewrong 11-30-2003 11:35 AM
Geez, Louise. This stuff is good. ACT, I bow before you. You are an awesome episode writer.

Give me more! Smile