The Big O and all of its settings and characters are owned by Cartoon Network, Sunrise, and Bandai Visual.

Opening theme song by Rui Nagai

THE BIG O:

ACT 29

THE NINE MUSES OF DEATH!

Big-O!

Big-O! Big-O! Big-O!

Big-O!

Big-O! Big-O! Big-O!

Cast in the name of God!

Negotiator

Ye not the guilty!

Android

We have come to terms!

Butler

Big-O!

Officer

Big-O!

Big-O! Big-O! Big-O!

Big-O!

Big-O! Big-O! -O! -O! Big-O!

Chapter One: Clio

"It's started," Colonel Dastun, temporary head of the Military Police, muttered as he surveyed the crime scene in front of him. The massive private library of Arnold Gasset was a wreck. The huge bookshelves had toppled domino-like onto each other, trapping the middle-aged Paradigm executive underneath.

"The victim was Phil Gasset, the head of Paradigm Press," Lieutenant Johnson informed him. "The lab boys found footprints on the top of the bookcases. It looks like somebody jumped from bookcase to bookcase."

"Did that cause the bookcases to fall?" Dastun asked.

"No, it looks like the perpetrator jumped up on top of the bookcases afterward," Johnson replied. "Eads thinks that the perpetrator jumped up and down on the bookcase squashing Gasset flat just to make sure."

"Sounds like it was personal," Dastun grunted, but like the mystery of forty years ago, there was no way to be sure. It could have been personal, but it still could have been a professional hit. The question was, was it a singular incident or the first of many?

"Colonel, over here," Eads, the crime lab technician called.

Dastun shuffled over to him and looked down at the body. "What have you got?"

Eads, who had been photographing the body and the area around it, held up a scroll in his latex gloved hand. "We found this next to the body, sir."

"Let me see it," Dastun was wearing gloves himself, so he didn't hesitate to take the yellow scroll and unroll it. Inside was the picture of a Greek theatre mask surrounded by a wreath of laurels. Half of the mask was smiling, the other half frowning. A mask depicting both comedy and tragedy. Underneath was inscribed the word 'Clio'.


Three days later…

My name is Roger Smith; I perform a necessary job here in the city of Amnesia. Over forty years ago, the entire city lost its memory, but humans are adaptable creatures. If they can remember how to harness electricity, then they can make some kind of civilization.

The long black sedan known as the Griffin threaded its way through the damaged and twisted streets of Paradigm City. Paradigm City had always been rundown, but after the onslaught it had suffered two months ago the city was an absolute wreck. With every dome in the city damaged the buildings inside the domes didn't look much better than the ones outside the domes. Roger allowed himself to smile in satisfaction. Now the rich knew how the poor lived. Everyone was equal, at least for a little while.

"Roger, where are we going?" the pale redheaded girl asked from the passenger seat.

"I told you, I'm going to see a client," the broad shouldered young man smiled mischievously. "I told you that this morning."

"A client that asked you to wear a tuxedo, and asked me to wear an evening gown?" the girl asked skeptically.

"My client can't stand the color black," the handsome raven-haired Roger Smith replied smugly. "What do you care? I thought you hated black."

"Black is rather monotonous," the girl replied. She was so slender and petite that she looked like a child compared to the husky and long limbed form of Roger Smith. "I notice that you are wearing black, though."

"Tuxedoes are traditionally black," Roger shrugged triumphantly. "It's not my fault that people without memories are still slaves to tradition. How do you like the dress I bought for you, Dorothy? I didn't know whether it should be red or green, so I had to guess."

"Green is fine, Roger," Dorothy assured him. Her dress was a rich glossy green as were the opera gloves that covered her slender, alabaster arms. Even the barrette placed over her auburn bangs was green. Even the white corsage that shyly concealed her décolletage had greenery in it. Contrasted with her red hair, she resembled a glamorous Heaven's Day elf.

"Anyhow, why so curious?" Roger asked, making conversation. He knew darn well why she was curious, but enjoyed the banter and asked her anyway.

"It is just that this is not the sort of neighborhood that requires formal wear," Dorothy replied. "As a matter of fact this area is quite barren." Her head jerked as her body tensed. "Are we turning into the abandoned airport?"

"Why yes we are, but I assure you, this isn't a kidnapping case," he smiled.

The long black car pulled into an empty hanger whose damaged roof let in beams of sunlight. "All right, we're here," he grinned as he got out of the car and shut the door. "Come on Dorothy, we don't want to be late."

"I don't see how we can be late, for there is no one here," she said as she got out and followed him to the center of the hanger. "This is where you exchanged the ransom money for my freedom," she said as she gazed at the broken wall at the end of the hanger. "This is the place where we first met."

"Why yes it is," He said with uncharacteristic affection.

Dorothy looked around. Although her face held no expression it was obvious that she was confused. Finally she made a quiet announcement. "Nobody is going to show up. You do not have a client to meet."

"That's not true," Roger grinned as mischief entered his voice again. "A year ago, you were my client, weren't you?"

"That is true but I still don't understand," she flatly protested. "Why get all dressed up? Why am I not wearing black? My living conditions haven't changed have they?"

Roger let out an embarrassed laugh. "I'm sorry Dorothy, I had no idea you'd jump to that conclusion," he said ruefully. He glanced at his watch. "Five, four, three, two, one. There it is. Exactly one year ago, we first met." When Dorothy didn't react, he added. "You know how I feel about memories. The best way to keep them buried is to make new ones. Rather than being slaves to forgotten traditions, we should go out and make our own traditions."

"But why are we here?" she asked stubbornly.

"Because I think the anniversary of the day we met is something worth celebrating," he replied. "Honestly Dorothy, I shudder to think what would have happened to us if we hadn't met. You offer your service, your counsel, and your friendship without complaint and all I ever do is complain and make fun of you. I think today of all days is a good time to thank you." He turned and gallantly opened the passenger door to the griffin.

"You're welcome Roger," Dorothy nodded as she reentered the car. "You have repeatedly saved my life, and you have taken me into your home. I think that is worth taking a few insults. Perhaps it is I who should be thanking you."

"You're welcome Dorothy," Roger smiled. "You're always welcome, even if I don't always act like it." He walked over to the driver's side and got in. "Let's see if my calculations for the road conditions are accurate and we'll see if we can get across town in time for our reservations," he said as he started the car and backed out of the hanger. "I managed to get us to the airport on time, maybe we'll get to Rosterman's in time for dinner."

"Roger, you know that I don't taste things like you do," she pointed out.

"That never stopped you from sharing meals with me before," he assured her as he refused to surrender his cheerful attitude. "It doesn't matter if you are an android, Dorothy. You deserve to go someplace nice. Didn't you tell me once that you can discern temperature and texture?"

"Yes I did," she replied, a hint of satisfaction creeping into her voice. "Thank you for noticing."

"I'm not completely heartless, Dorothy," he assured her as they drove back to the clogged streets of Paradigm City, "but I am going to teach you that sometimes it pays to wear black."


The long black sedan navigated its way through the damaged streets past numerous construction crews until it found its way to Cypress Hill Cemetery. "Here we are," Roger said has he parked the car. "The second stop on our tour. I wouldn't be serving the client if we didn't stop here." The tall young man put on a pair of sunglasses as he left the car and proceeded to the back and opened the trunk.

The girl was silent as she gazed across the parking lot. They weren't alone. Armored limousines, some with the Paradigm logo were parked here as well. Even a few military police vehicles were here. It looked as if the Paradigm executives were burying one of their own.

Roger idly wondered if the purge had started. Since the death of Alex Rosewater, he had been expecting a bloody power struggle to explode within the Paradigm Corporation. Could this service be honoring one of the losers of the hidden conflict?

He didn't let his curiosity show, however. With quick fluid motions he opened the trunk, pulled out some articles of clothing and closed it again. "Here you go, Dorothy," he said as he offered her a black cloak and hat. "The hat has a veil, for privacy while you mourn."

"You know that isn't necessary, Roger," she softly teased as she turned her back to allow him to place the cloak on her shoulders.

Did he ever. As an android, Dorothy's body didn't react to her emotions the way a human body would. Her eyes didn't tear up when she was sad. Her lips didn't involuntarily curl in a smile when she was happy. She didn't blush when she was embarrassed and her face didn't contort into a frown when she was angry. For a human, the body not only reacted to feelings, but often enhanced and reinforced them as well.

For Dorothy, that wasn't the case. Her emotions were muted by a metal and plastiflesh body that allowed her complete control over how much she would reveal about herself. The advantages were numerous. She would always be able to think clearly, without worrying about her emotions running away with her at a critical time. She would have the perfect poker face, for the emotional stimulus required to illicit a visible response out of her would have to be so intense it would be unbearable for a human.

But her emotions would lack depth, wouldn't they? Her feelings would always be muted. Could she really feel happiness, or merely contentment? Could she truly feel anger, or merely irritation? And could she understand the more subtle emotions like gratitude, friendship, or loneliness, or would she not even be able to feel them? Did she truly feel love?

Watching Dorothy adjust her hat, he found it hard to believe that Dorothy couldn't feel love. Back at the airport, when he was thanking the android for her service, counsel, and friendship, he nearly choked on his words to avoid adding 'love' to the list. But could she feel love the way humans do? Did Dorothy have romantic feelings for him that her android body muted into a girlish crush or did the dearth of distracting emotions allow her to focus on one feeling in particular? Would that be the only way to give an android's emotion depth?

More importantly, where did Roger's feelings lie? Lie, he decided, was an appropriate word, for he certainly wasn't ready for them to reveal the truth. Was Angel right? Was he truly in love with this android? Why? Wasn't Angel good enough?

Just before the events that started what the newspapers called the 'War of Paradigm City', he and the blonde bombshell had shared a dinner and quiet moment on the seashore. Just before they kissed, he hesitated. Why? It was obvious that deep down, Angel was really a good person, and her face and body were more than good. Exquisite perhaps. So why didn't he kiss her when he had the chance?

Did he feel some sort of obligation to Dorothy? Ridiculous! They had never had that kind of relationship or even hinted at that kind of relationship! How could he find Dorothy more attractive than Angel? Was he really such a control freak that he needed someone who was reliable, dependable, predictable, and other words ending in 'able'?

In a city without memories, there isn't a lot of guidance to tell a man what path he should take. Roger had reacted by becoming a private person and living his life by a system of rules. And here was Dorothy, a woman literally of mechanical precision. He could count on her to follow a routine like clockwork. When her emotions troubled her she would express them so quietly and subtly that it was easy to believe that she didn't have feelings at all. She was neat and orderly, quiet and well-behaved, yet she disrupted his orderly life just enough to let him know that she was as spirited as the unpredictable woman who called herself 'Angel'.

Was he so obsessive-compulsive that a human woman wasn't good enough? What did that say about Roger Smith? If a lady wasn't perfectly logical and quiet, did that mean that she was 'out of here'? Did he need someone subservient and predictable to get him to lower his guard?

And how old was Dorothy anyway? She looked like a sixteen-year-old girl but was she really that old? She could be only a year old for all he knew, or she could have been active since the Event that devastated the world and robbed Paradigm City of its memories. He really should have investigated Timothy Wayneright's past before the old scientist's house was cleared out either the Union or Paradigm's agents. The old man who built Dorothy had taken his secrets to his grave.

Therefore, it was no surprise that the grave of Timothy Wayneright, the creator and father of R Dorothy Wayneright, was the grave that they had come to visit. He wasn't sure if she understood, but anyone who could create a marvel like Dorothy deserved to be honored.

As Dorothy approached her father's grave, Roger couldn't help but glance in the direction of the resting place of his own parents. Did his biological parents ever really exist? If he dug up their coffins, would he find anything, or would their graves be empty? Did he ever have parents, or did he have more in common with R Dorothy than he wanted to admit?

Dorothy stopped at her father's grave and stood as rigid as a soldier on inspection. Did she know what she was supposed to do next?

"Here," Roger handed her a small bouquet of flowers.

"Thank you Roger, they're lovely," she said mechanically, but then she always spoke in a slight monotone.

"You place them on the grave," he smirked. "You honor the deceased by decorating his memorial, and it symbolizes life after death."

"Thank you Roger," she repeated, coldly this time. Cold even for her. "I know what to do with them."

Roger allowed himself a smile as Dorothy turned to place the flowers on the tombstone. Did she really know what to do with them, or was she just trying to cover up her ignorance? He tried to hide his grin. Smiles and laughter in a cemetery just weren't appropriate.

Apparently someone disagreed because somebody was laughing. A maniacal unhealthy laugh broke the silence and raised the hair on the back of Roger's neck.


On a desk filled with hourglasses a phone rings. Norman's hand picks up the receiver and a sinister voice says:

Next: Thalia