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


ACT 36


Chapter Twelve: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

In a large chamber six hundred and sixty six floors beneath the city, Big O's battle against the gigadeus was being displayed on a wall covered in television screens.

"He found it," a decrepit fireplug of an elderly man in farmer's coveralls muttered as he stared at the screens. "He actually found the gigadeus, and he's activated it. Not even I dared to do that."

"Ah, I see Mister Rosewater is reacting well to his medication," Norman smiled as he cleaned a syringe and placed it back into a black doctor's bag.

"Damn it Norman, I told you I didn't want to take it anymore," the old man grumbled. "Stop taking care of me. I'm not your master anymore, Roger is. He always was. I'm old, I'm retired. Just let me go senile and lose my Memories in peace, the way nature intended. I've been burdened by them long enough."

"Gordon Rosewater," Dorothy scolded. "We need your Memories to defeat the gigadeus and save Roger. We need them to save the civilization that you created."

"It will take me too long to do it conventionally," Angel added as she gestured helplessly at the shelf of controls at waist level on the wall with the television screens. She and Rosewater were sitting in office chairs placed before the controls. "If I use the system's telepathic interface, I risk going too crazy to help Roger in time! Come on Gordon, you've got to do something!"

"Why are you bothering me?" Rosewater snorted. "Young Dorothy over there already has the answer. Mister Beck told her himself once."

"Of course!" Angel snapped her fingers. "All we need to do is get you to Roger in time! There's a pneumatic tube transportation system under the city that the androids use to travel from the surface to here without anybody knowing. A human couldn't survive the trip but the androids use it all the time! You can use that! Let's see," her hand played along the controls and the view on the television screens changed to an intricate three dimensional map displaying a network of different colored lines and boxes. "Oh no! The tube that leads to where Roger and Beck are is damaged! You'll be shot out like a cannonball!"

"Like you said 'a human couldn't survive the trip,'" Dorothy said in her stoic voice. "I understand what I must do. Norman, please take me there at once."

"Very good Miss Dorothy," he nodded as led her to a room adjacent to the elevator. Inside was an assortment of hollow plastiglass cylinders that went from floor to ceiling. Norman opened one and Dorothy got in. "Now to make sure you get to where you want to go," Norman said as he walked over to a bank of levers and switches adjacent to a control panel with buttons and dials.

"Norman," Dorothy called quietly.

"Yes, Miss Dorothy?" he said as he flicked switches and turned dials.

"You've been here before haven't you?" the girl asked.

"Indeed I have, but not for a while," he said as pressed some buttons.

"Why haven't you told me or Roger about it?"

"I was ordered not to, my dear."

"By who?"

"By Master Roger and Mister Rosewater," the old man admitted. "Good luck Miss Dorothy," he added as he pulled a lever. "Safe journey."

A rush of air was heard and Dorothy was sucked under the floor.

In the meantime the gigadeus was holding Big O by the waist as if it was a small child. Beck was still muttering away like a crazy man. "Take a bunch of humans, and put 'em someplace where they can do whatever they do, put 'em in an environment that looks pretty much like their own… Take away their memories and see what happens when they start over, and what do you amount to? Just skulking away… hidden in the dark…"

Roger wiped the blood out of his eyes and stared through Big O's cracked collar to see the massive nightmarish faces of the gigadeus. "Is that what they did to us? Who are they anyway?"

"You're such an idiot," Beck scolded as Big O raised both arms above its head as if it was surrendering. "Haven't you ever wondered why the Bigs are so humongous? I mean, whose brilliant idea was it for a robot the size of King Kong be the savior of all mankind? Where did they get the idea huh? Why, at the end, was everybody building giant robots? Weren't rockets and missiles good enough? What advantage does a giant robot give? Come on, Roger, you can guess can't you?"

"Chromebuster!" Roger growled as the crimson crown on Big O's head glowed with a bright lavender radiance. The purple beam lashed out and knocked the gigadeus backwards causing it to drop Big O. Roger deactivated the chromebuster and worked the controls to get Big O to its feet. "Did any of that knowledge actually illuminate anything?" Roger shouted into the megadeus' communications system. "Did it tell you who any of us really are?"

"I really don't know who I am," Beck mused as a snaky metal tentacle captured one of Big O's arms. It was one of the long extendible serpentine necks with a head on it. And that head was firing lasers out of its eyes! "I haven't a clue! I don't know when to stop!"

"Ah!" Roger cried as he struggled to keep the beams off Big O's hull. He struggled with the joysticks until he could free a hand to fire the purple beams out of Big O's eyes. If he was lucky he could sever the serpentine neck and free himself from the gigadeus' clutches.

"Three laws," Beck continued as the gigadeus' heads seemed to attack Big O on their own. "Three laws of robotics. They're all lies. They don't exist. There's only one law of robotics isn't there? Tosho's law. The law that every robot will eventually malfunction and attempt to kill its human oppressors right? So why build them? Why build robots that are so gigantic that if the tiniest little thing goes wrong with them they'll be such a threat? Perhaps the universe has ideas of its own, but has it occurred to you…?"

"Ha!" Roger cheered as the metal tentacle trapping it burst in two under the strength of the beams. One head down, two to go. He worked the levers and pedals, making Big O punch at a second snaky head and sidestep the third.

"I don't even need to visit the control room anymore," Beck continued as the Big O and the gigadeus moved and feinted with each other. "This gigadeus was built with technology stolen from the enemy, the enemy that you couldn't defeat forty years ago. It allows me access to the Repository of Lost Memories from here."

An alarm chimed in Big O's cockpit. "Damn it!" Roger growled. "What now? He glanced at the circular screens between his legs and saw a red dot approaching the center of the circular screen. The right screen displayed a familiar silhouette. "What in? Dorothy!" He glanced around and furiously worked the pedals.

"Wahoo!" Beck shrieked the gigadeus swung at Big O with a huge fist on a bulbous forearm that was almost larger than Big O itself. The megadeus ducked and continued on past it. "Look!" Beck cheered as he forced the gigadeus to turn around to pursue the megadeus. With three legs to control it took a while, especially since Beck was acting out of control. "When I get a cat, I'm gonna call it Roger 'cause it'll be a pussy! Oh, God, I'm sooooo powerful! I'm invincible! Nobody in Paradigm City! Nobody in the world can beat me! It's me, Jason Beck, the one and only!"

"Dorothy!" Roger gasped as Big O ran towards the shattered opening back to the Paradigm megadeus hanger. Roger could see some pipes that had broken open when the gigadeus had gone through the wall. Now instead of endless tubes they looked like a battery of cannons. "I'm coming! Hang on!"

"Won't that ambulatory junkyard show you anything Smitty?" Beck jeered as the gigadeus thundered after Big O. "My gigadeus shows me everything! I'm master of all I survey! Ah, it feels good."

Big O's collar rose up on hydraulic pistons to expose the cockpit just as a tiny form shot out of one of the pipes like a bullet. Dorothy Wayneright tucked and rolled in the air like a professional gymnast as she entered the cockpit. Big O's collar closed behind her, keeping her in the control room as she bounced off the walls like a billiard ball.

"Dorothy!" Roger gasped as the girl unfolded herself from a fetal position to crouch on the floor. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. I am unhurt," she said. "Get ready. We have one chance at this."

"Bring me some booze!" Beck shrieked as the gigadeus chased Big O back to Paradigm's megadeus hanger. "I'm sinking! I know all, and I can see all, I didn't care before, but now that's all mine! Doesn't that happen to you? Paradigm… Paradise… Paralyze… I can do anything! I built it all! Even MONEY is my doing!"

When Big O got back to the well-lit Paradigm hanger it turned to face the gigadeus. "I hope you've got a plan," Roger said, "because I've been too busy to make one!"

"We can do this," Dorothy said as her barrette rose out of her head to expose what appeared to be a DVD drive, and then extended even farther. Eight wires came out of the base of Roger's chair to enter the cavity in her head. "We have before."

"What? Of course!" Roger cried as the circular arms with the joysticks around his chair folded back to make room for two new arms that met in the center to offer him only one joystick that had a red button on top of it. He griped the joystick with both hands. "Big! O! Final Stage!"

Four hip anchors fired out from Big O's waist to secure the megadeus in place. The armor on Big O's shoulders and forearms opened, revealing the static shield generators. A transformation took place both inside and outside the megadeus as a massive cannon emerged from Big O's chest.

"Here's where you decide! Who you are!" Beck sneered as the gigadeus opened its chest and revealed its own giant cannon. "Could you actually… murder? Or are you better than that?" Both Big O's and the gigadeus' cannons glowed as they powered up. "But that won't stop me." Beck cackled like a maniac as he worked the levers of his gigadeus. "Come on! HIT ME!" Three purple beams shot out of the gigadeus' chest cannon. "Too slow Roger! Huh?" Beck's eyes bulged out as he saw the energy from his blast refracted around a spherical force field and devastated the walls behind Big O. "What?" Beck whined timidly. "The beams just bounced off…"

Big O's arm pistons fired as blinding white light came out of the chest cannon and tore through the gigadeus like a hot knife through butter. And it just kept going; drilling a hole through the underground city that a small plane could fly through.

When the smoke cleared, the top of the gigadeus was revealed to have been completely torn off, exposing Beck and the cockpit to view. The blonde crook was hunched forward in a ducking position and slowly sat up and looked around him in mystification. Then he punched the air and cheered. "Whoo-hoo! I didn't die!"

Right before the ceiling collapsed on the gigadeus, burying it under tons of rubble.

Roger ejected the burnt out cannon and worked the pedals frantically to escape before Big O was caught in the cave-in too. The damage the two mecha had done to the support structure of the underground hangar was too much for it and now the sublevels and the skyscraper above them were crashing down to fill the void. Fortunately Big O could escape down the corridor where months before Paradigm had transported Big O's archetype to use for parts for Big Duo. Big O didn't stop running until they had reached the place where he and Dorothy had encountered the archetype, in the huge chamber housing the expo from the forgotten past.

Later, over six hundred stories below the city, Norman Burg was working on the electronic brain of an android. A jeweler's lens was in his good eye and Angel was at another table removing one of Beck's control devices from another android. When Norman put the face plate back on the android's head it was clear that old man was repairing R Fredrick O'Reilly. "There you are Inspector," the old man said as he used an electric screwdriver to secure his face in place. "How do you feel?"

"Running diagnostics now," the android replied as he sat up. "All my systems are running within normal parameters Mister Burg, but I seem to be missing some Memory engrams…"

Norman held two damaged microchips before the goggle like lenses that served as the android's eyes.

"…those would be them," O'Reilly finished. "Thank you for freeing me from Beck's control. I only hope the other androids' repairs will be just as successful. The devices he used to control us were designed to override a Wayneright style android with a disk accessible memory drive and he made some modifications to our heads in order to bypass our control systems."

"I've got Instro ready for you Norman," Angel announced. "Are you sure Roger won't notice your absence? Maybe you should go home."

"Not to worry," the old man assured her. "Once he's released from the hospital Miss Dorothy should keep him busy until I'm finished here."

Atop his rooftop patio, Roger looked out at the city and tried to imagine the new day that would come tomorrow. "Roger you're supposed be inside," Dorothy's voice scolded from behind him. "You should be sitting down."

"Ow," Roger grunted as he instinctively tried to turn his head. The back and neck brace he was wearing was really getting in the way. That gigadeus had thrown him and Big O around like a rag doll, and he was lucky that he had only hurt his back and suffered whiplash. Right now he was hoping that Beck was right and he really did have little robots in his body that would repair any injury. "Come on, Dorothy, it's hard to sit down while I'm wearing this thing."

"Come in and eat something," she said. "You need to take it easy."

"Okay Dorothy," he said as he stiffly followed her back inside. "I hope you learned something from our little adventure. You aren't useless and you're not a burden. I don't think I would have made it if you hadn't showed up when you did. I can honestly say that your absence will hurt me infinitely more than your presence." He didn't mention their kiss and he wanted to see if she would bring it up.

"I suppose you're right; you seem to need someone to take care of you," she said as she led him over to a divan near a coffee table where she had placed a slice of pie on a saucer with a small fork beside it. "I made you a dessert. You didn't seem to enjoy the apple pie you had back at the diner so I made lemon meringue." No, she didn't mention the kiss but she was using food as a substitute for intimacy.

"This makes me think back to the diner," Roger muttered as he stiffly sat down and picked up the saucer and fork. "We really haven't talked that much since then, have we?" he said as he shifted in his seat trying to get used to the back brace.

"No but now that you resigned from the military police you'll be spending more time around here," she said as she sat primly on the couch on the other side of the coffee table. "Until your back heals, we should be seeing a lot of each other."

"When I found you in the diner, you said that you were a reminder of something I had lost."

"I remember."

"Maybe you're really something I didn't know I was looking for," he suggested. "Did you ever consider that?"

"You were doing fine without me Roger."

"Was I? I'm looking back at the past year. How many times are you going to save my life before I wise up and realize that maybe I can't live without you?"

"That would be very romantic if you didn't mean it literally," she replied.

"Look Dorothy, we've got something between us, but we can't seem to talk about it because we've got something between us. No wait. What I'm trying to say…"

"Roger, what is it you want to talk about?"

How about that passionate kiss you ambushed me with after your evil twin broke my wrists? Roger thought. There's no way a soulless robot could fake that.

"That evening, heck, those two weeks shook up our relationship so much I don't even know where we stand anymore," he winced as he tried to shrug.

"Paradigm City is a city of amnesia Roger; perhaps we should try to forget it."

"Not a chance," Roger smiled sadly. "My memory may not be as good as an android's but that was an evening I'll never forget."

"I won't either, but for me that goes without saying," she retorted dryly.

"We talked about a lot of things that evening," Roger continued as he twirled his fork absently. "Who we are, what we want out of life, how we deal with knowing there was a Roger and a Dorothy before us, and how we really feel about each other. I don't think we should just sweep it under the rug. And after your doppelganger's attack we… we… had a moment. We were honest with each other."

Dorothy had her perfect poker face up, giving nothing away. Sometimes he envied that. He used the fork to cut off a chunk of lemon meringue pie.

"You know, not all memories are like nightmares," he murmured as he took a bite. "Some are worth remembering. Some should be cherished." It was disappointing knowing she was trying to pretend like their kiss never happened. Roger knew they were going to have to discuss it sooner or later, but decided to wait until his back had healed. "You know you didn't have to make this," he commented as he changed the subject.

"Roger, this wasn't frozen like the one you had at the diner, I made this myself," Dorothy scolded. "You ate the diner's pie; now I want you to eat my pie."

Despite his injuries, Roger started laughing. She had to be doing this on purpose.

To Be Continued

Dorothy and Roger sit on a large hourglass the size of a barstool. Behind them is an orange background. The sound of a piano and the duet of a man and woman singing can be heard.

Sometimes I feel so all alone

Finding myself callin' your name

When we're apart, so far away

Hopin' it's me that you're thinkin' of

Could it be true, could it be real?

My heart says that you're the one.

There's no one else, you're the only one for me.

Yes, this time my love's the real thing.

Never felt that love is so right.

The world seemed such an empty place.

We need someone we could give our all.

Baby, it's you, we'll be together now and forever.

Could it be true, could it be real?

My heart says that you're the one.

There's no one else, you're the only one for me.

Yes, this time my love's the real thing.

Never felt that love is so right.

The world seemed such an empty place.

We need someone we could give our all.

Baby, it's you, we'll be together now and forever.

Never felt that love is so right.

The world seemed such an empty place.

We need someone we could give our all.

Baby, it's you, we'll be together now and forever.