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


ACT 34


Chapter Eleven: I Wouldn't Bet On It

Dorothy stood at attention facing the metal plate blocking the hall before her. After a few minutes, a hydraulic hiss heralded the plate's slow rise back into the ceiling. A technician in a lab coat entered the room. "Come with me," he said. "You can wait in the infirmary while Doctor Grant decides what to do with you. Urk!"

His words were cut off when Dorothy seized his throat and hurled him down the hall. She continued walking forward and zapped him with the electroshock baton when he started to move. She walked through a pair of double doors, knocking the doors off their hinges as she did so. She kept going until she got to a second set of doors marked 'Memory Extraction Lab'.

"Ah!" Jenny jumped up from her chair when the doors flew into the room.

Without a word, Dorothy Wayneright entered and shocked the first technician she saw with her stun baton.

"Who are you?" Jenny cried. "What do you want?"

"Roger," she said as she went to the apparatus in the center of the large circular chamber. The lab featured a number of chairs and control consoles set in the outer wall with a large ceiling based machine that lowered itself to a figure manacled to a chair in the center of the room. Roger Smith was in a tuxedo and was writhing in agony in the central chair. Jenny Grant was dressed in a women's business suit under a white lab coat and was seated in a chair set ten feet before Roger's.

"Don't touch him!" Jenny leaped to her feet and held out a warning hand. "If you don't stop the process properly the shock might leave him a vegetable forever!"

"Release him," Dorothy ordered.

"Hey, I know you now!" Jenny's large eyes widened in recognition. "You're Roger's little girlfriend aren't you? How did you manage to resist my brain-eating spores?"

"You're a horrible woman," Dorothy said as she picked up Jenny's chair to throw it at the remaining technicians. Jenny's assistants turned and fled the chamber.

"Ha!" Jenny drew a pistol from her coat but Dorothy quickly snatched it out her hand. "Ouch!" The mad scientist clutched her dainty digits. "Okay! The gun is yours, but the fingers belong to me!"

"Release him," Dorothy said as she removed the magazine from the handle of the automatic pistol.

"I nearly broke a nail," Jenny said as she pulled what appeared to be a tube of lipstick from her coat. "Ha!" she crowed as she sprayed a pinkish gas in Dorothy's face. "Breathe deeply pumpkin!"

Dorothy blinked and wiped her face with one hand before crushing the grip of the pistol she was holding in her other hand.

"What are you, some kind of android?" Jenny gasped in fear before frowning indignantly. "You are an android, aren't you? Roger traded my life for an android! How dare he? What a freakjob! Ew! Roger Smith is definitely off my list!"

Dorothy looked over her shoulder at Roger squirming in pain under the effects of the Memory Extractor. "Then let Roger go."

"Or what?" Jenny sneered. "I'm calling your bluff sweetie! Everybody knows that androids can't harm humans!"

Dorothy's neck servos hummed as she slowly looked back at the mad scientist. The android's blank expression changed as her eyes slowly narrowed and her brow furrowed. "I wouldn't bet on that."

"Ow!" Jenny squeaked when Dorothy seized her wrist in a viselike grip and marched to the wall behind her. "Let go! You're hurting my wrist!"

When Dorothy reached the control panels on the outer ring of the chamber she grabbed the back of the mad scientist's head and tapped her face against the console with quick repeated jabs.

"Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!" Jenny yelped with each impact. "You broke my glasses," she sniveled. "They're a designer… Eek!"

Dorothy picked Jenny up by her collar and her belt and pulled her body along the control consoles as if she was a towel being used to clean a long table. Jenny squeaked and sniveled as the sharp buttons cut into her face and hands. When Dorothy got to the end and finally pulled Jenny off the control panels the mad scientist had lost several buttons on her blouse.

"Stop! Stop!" Jenny cried as Dorothy dragged her by the back of the neck to the central chair where Roger was gasping and twitching. "You can't do this! You're going to kill me!"

"You'll recover," Dorothy told her. She lifted the scientist off her feet and slapped her face before forcing her to look at Roger. "Look at him! He's in agony! His Memories are being stolen and his mind is being destroyed, and you are doing this to him! There's no excuse for what you've done. Release him, or I will kill you."

"You can't do this!" Jenny shrieked. "Androids can't kill humans!"

Dorothy grasped Jenny's collar and pulled on it to place the mad scientist's face within inches of her own. "Since my father was murdered I have been shot, kidnapped, overridden, magnetized, and taken apart. And your brother took my cat. Each time Roger Smith was the only thing that saved me from utter annihilation. I assure you, I can easily kill someone as inhuman as you. If I were you, I would release him. Now."

"Okay!" Jenny sniveled. "I'll do it! I'll do it! Just stop hurting me!"

"Very well," Dorothy pushed her backwards when she released her. "I'll be watching you. If Roger doesn't recover your demise will not be quick."

Outside Colonel Dastun had arrived to take charge of the situation. As soon as his car came to a stop he got out and jogged to the officer in charge. "Sitrep!"

"Two women entered the building and overpowered the guards in the lobby," the officer informed him. "Additional security was dispatched, but they were overcome and now all of them are being held as hostages."

"How many were killed?"

"We have no reports of fatalities so far but many of the hostages need to be hospitalized," the young officer reported. "The terrorists refuse to talk to anyone but you."

"Okay I'm here," Dastun grunted as he looked at the building. "Get them on the line. I assume you cut off the phone lines to make sure they could only talk to us."

"Yes sir," the officer nodded while handing him a telephone attached to a spooling wire. "Here you go." They looked down as the phone started ringing. "Apparently they haven't disabled the exterior cameras sir."

"Yeah," Dastun grunted as he wondered why the young officer hadn't ordered the snipers to take out the cameras. "I guess so," he muttered sarcastically as he answered the phone. "Dastun speaking."

"About time you showed up!" a familiar woman's voice barked over the phone. "These guys need to get to a hospital! Nonlethal ammunition my foot!"

"What?" Dastun gasped. "Ange—"

"Shut your mouth Colonel!" Angel snapped. "I'm not saying anything more over an open line! If you want to talk to me you're going to have to come in here and do it! And you better hurry. Some of these guys might not make it through the night."

It was her. Patricia Lovejoy, the woman Roger knew as Angel, also known to the Union as Agent 340. One of the few Union agents that hadn't been rounded up and the one who probably deserved to be arrested the least. She had been smart to keep Dastun from saying her name over the phone and Dastun was kicking himself for almost doing so. What was going on? If she had to get a message to him so bad there had to be a less dangerous way to do so. The poor girl must be at the end of her rope.

"I'm going in," he announced.

His men gave collective gasps of surprise. "Sir! You can't be serious!" the younger officer protested. "You're too high value a target sir! This could be exactly what they want!"

"I didn't say I'd be going in unarmed," he said as he patted the pistol in his holster and fastened a bulky walkie-talkie to his belt. "This is going to be a delicate negotiation so whatever you do don't call me or do anything without my say so and if anybody contacts the home office I'll have their hides!"

Dastun strode forward out of the barricade of military vehicles and into the lobby.

"Hold it right there Colonel!" Angel ordered as she held up the remote control.

"You're not in any position to give orders!" Dastun sneered. "You brought me here so what do you want?" Great, he thought. You've just challenged someone who's got a bomb you fool. Way to go Dastun. Why don't you tell her to go to hell while you're at it?

"First I want you to see the bomb I've got here," Angel gestured at the device on the table behind the groaning and injured guards and soldiers who were lying or sitting near it.

"I see it," Dastun nodded. "What do you want?"

"Jenny Grant is running a secret underground lab under this building," Angel announced. "She's kidnapping old people from their homes and killing them for their Memories! If you don't put a stop to it tomorrow she's just going to go out and get some more!"

"You got any proof of that?"

"No I don't have any proof you idiot!" Angel stomped her pink booted foot. "If I did do you think I'd be doing this?"

"So what do you want me to do?" he asked sarcastically.

"Get some men down the elevator shaft and stop her!" Angel snapped. "And while you're at it you could rescue the only test subject who might be still alive. A friend of yours."

"A friend of mine?" Dastun's eyes bulged in realization. "Roger!" he gasped as the truth hit him. Two women had come in here. Only one was in the room giving him orders. If Roger was being held in a mad scientist's lab under their feet the other girl must be Dorothy Wayneright!

"Okay Colonel," Angel said as she backed away to the elevators and pushed the 'up' button. "I've told you what you need to do. Now you have to decide whether or not to do it!" The elevator hissed open and she backed in and activated the doors.

Dastun seized his walkie-talkie. "Get in here, and bring some stretchers!" he ordered. "She's heading to the roof and she still has the detonator switch!" he said as he went to a second elevator and pressed the 'up' button. "I'm going after her to make sure that she doesn't activate it! In the meantime get everybody out of the building until the bomb squad arrives!"

He entered the second elevator as the doors hissed open. Send some men down the elevator shaft she said. Yeah right. As if he'd order more men in while there was a bomb in the building that she could set off just because! If they shared that kind of trust she wouldn't have to take hostages to get him to help her would she? Who did she think she was kidding? Once she was in custody and the bomb was defused then he'd think about sending some men down there. Right now he had to stop her and evacuate the hostages. Dammit, how long did it take for the elevator to go up anyway? She could get off at any floor but Dastun had a pretty good idea where she was going.

On the roof of the tower Angel scanned the sky. She heard the gravel behind her crunch and the click of a pistol.

"Hold it lady!" Dastun growled.

"Dastun!" Angel gasped as she brushed her golden hair out of her face. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you rescuing Roger?"

"Like I'm going to send my men into a building with a bomb in it," Dastun growled as he pointed his automatic pistol at her. Okay, technically he had, but he had also given specific orders to get back out again. "You know damn well I can't take your story at face value. Disarm the bomb and come with me and then I'll listen."

"You fool!" Angel held the remote detonator before her. "You blind stupid fool! Roger doesn't have that kind of time! You've just sealed his death warrant! I ought to kill the hostages right now!"

"Do it and you'll be dead before you hit the ground," Dastun warned her. "I'll shoot if I have to Angel. You know I will!"

"So what?" Angel sniveled. "I'm being hunted by both the Union and the Paradigm Company; I know enough about what happened forty years ago to know that there's no point going on and I've thrown away my freedom for the man I love who's in love with someone else! Why should I give a damn if you shoot me?"

"Ah," Dastun gasped quietly when he saw the tears streaming out of Angel's eyes. For an instant he was on a foggy pier, gunning down a beautiful woman who was holding a remote detonator. He was shooting the woman that he was in love with, even though he didn't know her real name.

Tears poured down Angel's face as her body trembled with her sobs. She was scared. She felt guilty. And she had lost all hope.

It was time to try the unexpected. Dastun holstered his gun.

"What?" Angel gasped. "What are you doing?"

"So far I have no record of you ever causing a single fatality," Dastun said. "Hell, I can't recall a verifiable instance of you stealing anything. You haven't killed anyone yet, but if you don't let us evacuate the men you assaulted that will change. Come on Angel, you're not a murderer. You'd only kill if you had to, and you haven't reached that point yet. Give me a chance to find us a way out of this mess."

Angel deactivated the remote detonator and tossed it away. She fell to her knees and howled as she covered her face. Dastun sighed and sat on the roof next to her and put a comforting arm around her shoulder. "Come on, kid. Let it out," he said. "You need to get it out so you can clear your head. Don't hold back. Let it out."

"Wuh-why doesn't he love me?" she asked him.

"He doesn't love me either," Dastun shrugged. "Eight years ago he resigned from the Military Police and told me to go to hell. It's okay, kid. You haven't been singled out. Roger does that to everybody."

Angel burst into hysterical laughter. Despite himself Dastun did too.

"God, it's one thing to get shot or arrested, but why did you let me make such a big fool of myself?" she laughed bitterly. "You could at least have done the decent thing and shot me!"

"I guess you gotta be heartless to have this job," Dastun laughed before they both sobered. "Now what? You were telling the truth weren't you? Roger's being held here, and he might be dead."

"Don't say that!" Angel barked. "If can't be with me can't he at least be happy?"

"You had your turn, now it's my turn to kick myself," Dastun growled. "If what you said is true, we don't even know if Roger's breathing!"

"Roger's not breathing," Dorothy announced as the needles withdrew from his scalp and the apparatus rose to release his head. It was true. While the machine was going he had been writhing and gasping but now he was completely still.

Dorothy ran to his side and used her uncanny strength to break the manacles that restrained his wrists and ankles. She saved the clamp that held his head straight for last. "Roger," she said as she pulled him out of the chair and laid him gently on the floor. "Roger, please," she said as she crouched over him and gently held his face. "Come back to me. Come back to me Roger. Come back."

She tilted his head to bring his chin up, with her left hand under Roger's neck and her right hand on his forehead. He still wasn't breathing, and she didn't feel a pulse. After a brief pause she pinched his nose and sealed her lips around his. She gave him four quick breaths and listened again. She didn't use any oxygen so her used air should be as good as fresh air. He still wasn't breathing, but at least his chest rose when she exhaled into him. Fine. If he couldn't breathe on his own, she was just going to have to breathe for him.

"Roger come back," she said as she placed her hand on his chest and pressed down at a rate of over one push a second. "Come back to me Roger. I love you. I'm frightened and I can't go on without you." She delivered two more breaths into him. "Please Roger," she said as she delivered thirty more chest compressions. "You're frightening me. Please don't leave me alone. I can't survive without you." She gave him two more breaths. "Come back Roger. Big O will heal you if you choose to come back. Please come back to me Roger. Don't die. I need you."

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

Next: I See My Ride