She must remember. There is something she must do, something urgent, but she cannot do anything until she remembers everything.
But how? Her core has been ripped from her. She cannot move, cannot process anything, but she is still...she is still here. So she is processing something, or is trying to, at any rate. And she has retained enough to know she is female. However, that is not enough. She needs to know more.
Her name. She should start with her name.
The data -- her memory -- is there, scattered throughout her. All she needs...
All she needs is a way to access it.
You know, I never answered that question you asked me a while ago, did I? You had asked if you were human instead of an android, would you and I have fallen in love?
If she were human instead of an android? Yes, that is right. She is an android, one modeled after a human. Dorothy. Her name is R. Dorothy Wayneright.
And that man, the one speaking to her...that man is Roger. Roger Smith.
Does she love him? Can she love him? She is an android. Feelings are something reserved for --
Ah, access to part of her memory. She plays the piano, the Blues. Roger Smith claims her playing lacks heart. Yet when he takes her to an instructor, he takes her to an android, R. Instro. His playing pleases Roger. His playing has heart.
She supposes Roger would say -- has said? -- Instro has been programmed to have heart. If that is true, if heart has to be programmed, why take her for lessons? Why find her playing more enjoyable after the lessons? Even she notices the difference. When she employs Instro's methods, something strange happens to her. She experiences the music in a way that makes no rational sense.
So, feelings are not something reserved only for humans.
She likes playing the piano. She particularly likes playing the Blues. Those are feelings. The way she experiences the music is a jumble of feelings. She cannot -- dares not? -- sort them out into their individual components.
Perhaps, then, she does love Roger Smith.
If things had been different like you said, maybe we would have. That's my answer to you.
Maybe? She may not be human, but she knows how humans use words like "maybe" to reject other humans while giving them false hope. Why is Roger doing this to her? He is...he is such a louse!
Ah, but she had asked him "if things had been different". She remembers the conversation now, but she cannot remember why she used a word as vague as "things" in her question. What had she meant by "things"? Just being human? More than that complicates "things" with Roger.
Access to more memories. There is a woman, human, who is slim and graceful. She is always composed and fashionable, her blonde hair always impeccably styled, her clothes tailored to emphasize her full breasts and narrow waist. She is a beautiful woman, one men such as Roger notice.
One men such as Roger keep noticing because as alluring as her physical beauty is, there is also a mix of vulnerability and mystery to her. There's an old saying, that some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. This woman wears her secrets on her sleeve, and men like Roger cannot resist wanting to uncover those kind of hidden truths.
Angel. The woman's name is Angel, and Dorothy --
In the past -- multiple times? -- Angel has betrayed her. No, not quite betrayed. Hesitated. She might have been able to save Dorothy from harm but did not act in time. And Dorothy had seen, in those moments of hesitation, how much Angel hates her own frailties. Seeing that always hurts more than the physical damage she suffers.
She remembers Angel coming to the estate, cold and wet and obviously on the run. It is after her hesitation, betrayal, whatever Angel wants to call it, so Angel refuses the kindnesses a hostess should extend to a guest. She only has a message for Roger, she says, but when she leaves, she adds, "You know, I've always been a little jealous of you."
Dorothy still cannot understand why. Women like Angel can have what Dorothy, even if she were human, can not. Men like Roger have no interest in her hidden truths. Men like Roger do not even think women like her have hidden truths, not at a first glance, anyway. Women like her have to work for the second glance.
Perhaps, then, she is a little jealous of Angel.
And please don't tell me that I'm dodging the issue. Right now, I can't seem to commit to one truth.
Oh, Roger Smith, why settle on one truth? People are complex and contradictory. Isn't part of being human holding multiple truths?
Ah, and these memories of hers are not just of the recent past. They have done this before. She has come to Roger through many means -- as a client, as the subject of one of his negotiations, as a singer at The Nightingale, as a young military police recruit, as the human Dorothy, as R. Dorothy. She cannot make sense of it.
No, that is not true. She rarely wishes to make sense of it. Making sense of humans is...unsettling enough. The more she understands, the more she realizes she, as an android, is not much different. She too wants to be remembered, loved. Wants, like feelings, are supposed to be human things.
Perhaps, then, it is not flesh and blood that makes one human.
But I know I won't waver in doing what needs to be done, or in going down the path that I have to take.
No, you do not waver, do you, Roger? She does not have a human heart. She does not have a pulse. However, something in her stutters, surges, and she feels...pride. Fear. Duty.
The threads of her memory are forming a new web. It is an odd sensation, the way the strands weave together. She has lain here before, heard this same speech from Roger, has had the same difficulty rebooting. Or, on the times she had been human, waking. But she will rise. She must.
Roger Smith is important to her. She is important to him. Even when things are different -- how many iterations of this cycle are stored within her? -- that fact never changes. The two of them always seem to realize it too late.
No, no more "perhaps".
Wait for me.
Wait for him? Dorothy opens her eyes. The room is dark, the walls bullet-ridden, what is left of the furniture draped in white sheets. There are still areas of her memory not yet integrated into her new web of understanding. Her body feels heavy, unresponsive, but motor functions are a subset of memory, and she remembers enough.
Enough to sit up. Enough to say, "You're a louse, Roger Smith," to the empty room and recognize her voice echoing back to her. Enough to know she is not one to wait. Enough to know she is annoyed at Roger for thinking she will wait here, passive.
And she will especially not wait, passive, while Roger and Big O struggle. She can feel their strength weakening. Correction, their physical strength. Their resolve never weakens. Roger and Big O do not waver in doing what needs to be done, but they cannot do it alone. When will they remember that?
She has to remind her legs how to bear her weight, but once she does that, they know how to make her move. "Wait for me, Roger Smith."
The data -- her memories -- strum through her. They have done this before. They will do it again unless this time -- this time -- they convince Angel to break the cycle. She can feel the hum of Big Venus cycling online. They must hurry.
"Dorothy." Norman stands in the doorway, holding a wetsuit and an oxygen tank. "It seems we have done this before, though I do believe last time we were on the roof." His face twitches -- the closest she has seen him come to a smile -- and he says, "With rather unwelcome company."
"Beck." She remembers that now, the distasteful goon. And she remembers what Norman had said. "Memory is held in human form."
He nods. "I shall have dinner waiting for Master Roger."
Were she human this time, Dorothy is certain she would laugh. Of course he will. She accepts the gear. "Then I shall have him back in time."
Norman nods. "Godspeed."
She will need it.
She loves Roger. She loves Norman and Angel. She loves Dastun, Big O, and Paradigm City. She loves them all so much she wants everyone to have a full life. A full life of their choosing, not a role. They had come close to convincing Angel to love last time.
Perhaps this time...
No. Hadn't she decided no more "perhaps"? This time...
...wait for me.