Devil In The Dark


Roger Smith hated this kind of darkness. The kind that you didn't experience with your eyes
alone, but that you could also feel, smell, and taste. It was a unique experience, but one he certainly
didn't want to repeat. Where was he? He could feel a slight breeze at his back. He tried to replay the
recent events in his mind, but it was as though his mind's eye had recorded them all with a blurry lens. He
remembered. . .he remembered Dorothy taking him home. Norman had treated his broken arm and
administered something to dull the pain. Everything after that was little more than a brief snapshot.
Dorothy had been looking at him intently. Was that Dastun's voice? Sometimes he thought he could hear
Norman asking questions as to how he seemed to be doing. And now he was here, wherever here was. Had
Norman or Dorothy brought him here? He could hear someone moving. Footsteps. If he only had a light!
"Who's there?!" He asked forcefully, determined not to let anyone else get the drop on him.

"Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor." He heard a familiar voice speak in an unfamiliar
tongue.

"Dorothy."

"So, you haven't forgotten me. Good."

"Show yourself!"

"No."

"What is the point of all of this, anyway?"

"You still don't get it, do you, Roger Smith?"

"No, I don't. But there's no way you're who you claim to be. The real Dorothy wouldn't be so
intent on hurting people. The real Dorothy wouldn't play mind games with me.

"Your concept of the universe is extremely limited, Negotiator. You could have become ten
times the man that you became."

"I'm glad you think so highly of me, Dorothy. But if my life is such a disappointment to you,
then why don't you just leave me the hell alone?"

"Because your lack of ambition ruined my life just as much as it did yours!"

"Somehow, I find that hard to believe. You say I have a lack of ambition? What do you think I
left the Military Police for, Dorothy? Because I got tired of performing a job which nobody
appreciated, and that required me to turn a blind eye to obvious wrong doings because the people who
paid me said to. Is that what you consider a lack of ambition?!"

"This is not about your pathetic job decisions. I'm not your career counselor."

"Then what are you supposed to be?"

"Justice. Destiny. Omega. Alpha."

"Well if you're that important, then why haven't you done whatever it is you want to do? Then
maybe we could both get on with our lives!"

"Because you still do not understand. And until you understand, you will not be able to play
your part. What good is a pawn that keeps trying to move sideways?"

"And why would I want to do anything that would help you?"

"Because in time you will see that I am right. "Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor, Roger
Smith. The words describe you so perfectly."

"And what exactly does that mean?"

"I see and approve of the better course, but I follow the worse. Sound familiar?"

"That's funny. Considering the fact that I almost always solve my cases, wouldn't you say?"

"It's not about solving cases. It's not about negotiating. You distract yourself with that
nonsense so that you won't have to do anything worthwhile with your life. Tell me, have you ever once
used your Megadeus in a worthwhile manner?"

"From my standpoint, yes, every time. But why do I suspect that by your twisted logic, you'll
disagree?"

"You pilot it for noble and misguided reasons, Roger. You may win your battles, but what good
are your minor victories? What use are they when you've completely lost sight of the war?"

"And what war is this you're referring to?"

"The war that will determine the future of all. You have lived in Paradigm City for so long that
you cannot even fathom what the rest of the world is like.

"As far as we know, the rest of the world doesn't even exist, Dorothy."

"Oh, but it does, Roger Smith. I assure you, it does. If you had better explored the tunnels
that the Prairie Dog traverses, you would know this for yourself. Can't you feel it all around you? We
are in those very tunnels now."

"And you've seen the rest of the world?"

"Yes. You can see it too. The truth is with you, but you keep running away from it."

"Running away from what?"

"You must figure that out for yourself. You will not be able to do your part otherwise."

"What 'part' is this you keep referring too?"

Dorothy smiled. "Breathe deep, Roger Smith. Paradigm City is waiting on you. Dorothy is
waiting on you as well."

"Which one?"

"We both are. You would understand this if you listened to me, but you always shut your ears
when I speak. But I do get through. You lock me out as best as possible, but there are always little
cracks that I get into. One day, you will embrace me."

"Doubtful. But whoever made you made you very well. No, you aren't Dorothy. Who made
you?"

"My origins are of little concern to you. If you want to know where I came from so badly, why
don't you ask her?"



Roger Smith opened his eyes wide, and found himself staring into the eyes of Dorothy.
"Gaaaahhhhhhhh!" he screamed, twisting violently away from her.

"Roger?"

"D-Dorothy?"

"I am here. Are you alright?"

"I-I'm not too sure."

"It is alright. You are home now. You've been asleep for over a day. Norman and I were
worried about you."

Roger attempted to raise his broken arm and immediately regretted the decision. "Be careful,
Roger. Norman has set your arm and placed it in a splint, but you must refrain from moving it."

"Thanks." Was the only reply Roger could think of at the moment. Recovering from the pain, he
pulled himself upwards with his other arm. He was now lying on his side, supporting his weight with his
outstretched appendage. "Has anything happened?"

"No. I had considered going to see about the three Megadeii that Mr. Rosewater informed us
about, but I decided to wait until you had recovered enough to pilot your Megadeus."

"Well then, I'm afraid we won't be going out there today. I'm afraid I'm really not feeling
one hundred percent."

"I understand. Would you like me to bring you anything?"

"I think I could manage to eat something. Is Norman too busy to prepare some breakfast?"

"I believe he has retired for the evening. It is after eleven o'clock."

"Why aren't you in bed yourself, Dorothy?"

"I don't really need to sleep. So I have been watching over you during the evening hours, in
case your condition worsened or if you woke up and needed anything."

"That's very kind of you, Dorothy, but I assure you that I'm okay."

"It was no trouble. Don't worry about it."

"I guess I'll have to make my own breakfast."

"You shouldn't push yourself too hard."

"I broke my arm Dorothy, but I'm not dying. I'll be just fine. If I can't manage to cook
myself a few eggs with only one good arm, then I'm going to have to consider another line of work."

"I will help you."

"If you insist." Pulling himself off of the bed, Roger put his feet inside of his slippers while
Dorothy handed him his bathrobe. He stood in front of his full-length mirror, and, satisfied with his
appearance, made his way to the kitchen with Dorothy on his heels. "You know, I used to be able to cook
pretty good for myself. I'm not as dependent upon Norman as some people like to think."

"Is your friend Dastun aware of this?"

"Err....no."

"I see. The interaction of men makes little sense."

"What?"

"It's nothing."

Deciding to ignore Dorothy's comment, Roger walked into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator,
and removed a carton of eggs. Setting those on the counter, he retrieved the butter, while asking
Dorothy to get a frying pan out of the cupboard.

Preparing the meal was a simple process. Butter up the pan, crack the eggs and cook them,
enough to get the whites firm but the yolks still runny. A few slices of bread for the toaster. Sure, it
wasn't the healthiest meal in the world, but the scent alone was making him hungrier by the minute, and
the whole idea of food seemed to make his arm feel better.

"Would you like anything, Dorothy?"

"Not really. There isn't much point, because I can't really taste it."

"At least let me make you some tea. It would be rude of me to eat in front of you."

"As you wish."

Roger scooped the eggs onto a plate. A moment later, the toast popped up. Buttering it, Roger
added it to his plate. Clearing the pan off the stove, he filled a kettle with water and put it on the range
to boil.

After sitting down and taking a bite of his eggs, Roger asked the question he had been waiting
to. "So what about what Rosewater showed us?"

"Do you intend to investigate?" Dorothy asked.

"As soon as I'm able to pilot Big-O. With some assistance from you, I think I may be able to
in a day or two. I'd need you to operate one of the levers. Can you manage that?"

"I believe so. The movements seem easy enough to grasp."

"The movement is easy, the tricky part will be coordinating it with me. Piloting a Megadeus
like Big-O isn't really meant to be a two-person job."

"We will manage."

"So tell me, Dorothy, will there ever be an end to this?"

"An end to what?"

"An end to the mysteries, shadowgames, and omissions."

The kettle's whistle was his only reply. "The water is ready."

Roger tended to the hot beverage for himself and his companion, silently judging her.



I know it's been a long time but I finally got around to updating. I do hope you'll forgive the inexcusable
delay, I'm blaming it all on work, school, pleasure reading, playing video games, doing other stuff, and
doing damage control after being betrayed by someone who I thought was my friend. Due to the
uncertainty of these times, regarding the incident that forever changed our lives on September 11, I was
motivated to pen the next chapter so that I could do my part to provide a shelter for everyone out there
who needs an escape every now and then from the non-stop news coverage. I'm not against the news
coverage, but there's only so much bad news I can take in one sitting.


As I said, I know it's been awhile, but I'd appreciate your responses and reviews. Keep sending in those
questions, comments, love letters, death threats, marriage proposals, and ransom demands to:


Lord Malachite
ranger_writer@yahoo.com

As always, standard disclaimers apply. I don't own "The Big-O," I'm just
blatantly borrowing its characters without permission, in order that I might
express myself. I'm not making any profit off of your creations, Sunrise, so
don't bother! I don't recommend suing me either, because what little I own,
is already owed to the government, or to Mastercard.

We know return you to reality. Yeah, I know, you got screwed again. What do you want from me?!