Heart Payne Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Dharma's Office)

Sitting in her luxurious, black-carpeted, black leather furnished room and flipping her marvelous, gleaming black hair, Dharma Heart Payne smiled a devious smile and picked up a shiny black pen. Scribbling down some black ink onto thankfully not-black note paper, she prepared to record the results of her navi's first practical test run. "Phero, I need you to understand," she started, speaking in her calming, charismatic house voice, "this will be a battle against real opponents. It's just you and me... none of the researchers you're used to from the lab are here. I don't plan to make things easy for you. I want a real field test," she assured her navi; her eyes flickered maliciously in the low lamplight.

On screen, Phero's eyebrows lowered and her cute face settled into a disappointed frown. She'd grown pretty close to the researchers in the lab, despite Dharma's attempts to make them devoid of such courtesy, and the navi really missed having them around. This was the first time Phero had gotten to see the inside of her new operator's office or speak to her one-on-one. She knew good and well that Dharma was a woman with a devious streak and fairly cruel, but she also knew that for the time being Dharma needed her. That was good for Phero: as long as she was needed, she could not be disposed of. "Of course, Dr. Payne. I would not do anything to disagree with your orders," she assured her operator.

"Excellent. We'll be trying out quite an array of pheromones in the field today against common viruses. Despite my serious words, the enemies are quite foolish and weak. If there's any failure on your part here, I'll be sorely disappointed," she informed her navi, spinning the pen on one of her thin fingers.

Phero sighed. "You know, Dr. Payne, if I may speak freely-"

"Mind your words. I never promised that you could," the operator chuckled with an amused grin.

After another sigh, Phero continued, crossing her arms across her breastplate. "If we're going to try to learn about love, we should act lovable. Wouldn't a good place to start be with our own relationship? If you'd act a little more genuine in your care, I'd be able to better aid you in this test," she informed her operator, speaking as softly as she could.

"Please. I don't want to commit to anything until I'm certain that you're worth investing my precious time in. Do you know how valuable even one minute with me is? Interviewers would pay huge sums just to spend half of that time gathering my opinions over a monitor like this," she laughed. "I don't have time for worthless things. Prove to me that you're not worthless first, then perhaps we will foster a warmer relationship."

Phero somehow doubted that anything about her operator could be warm after the brief moments she'd already spent with her, but she was willing to give it a shot. "You know, I can see why love is foreign to you. I don't know a lot about it, but my reading suggests that a great part of love is selflessness," she suggested.

"The greatest gift I can give to the world is making sure that geniuses such as myself are properly recognized and compensated," she snapped in response, raising one eyebrow. "Please try to speak a little less freely as you continue busting." Despite her words, however, the President was trying to take her navis words to heart. She knew that as she was, she would never inspire real and genuine love in anyone... people liked her charismatic persona, but the real, evil her was not something that even her closest followers could love. To harness love, she may have to lose some of the evil.

But of course, that could be done in the future, once things were more certain. She'd like to compromise as little of the evilness as possible.

Phero realized that inspiring love was one part of her job, but her biggest and most difficult mission may be getting her operator to a lovable state. Still, it would have its rewards... If Dharma was made lovable, she might reconsider being so hard on her navi. The navi resolved herself that it must be done by any means necessary. "Let's go, Dharma. I'm beginning to feel motivated myself," she said with a challenging smile.

"Yes, let's," the operator retorted, returning the smile and raising her eyebrows in a defiant, belittling expression.
Phillip had already left, leaving Dharma with only Phero to speak to. Unfortunately, Dharma wasn't one to regard her navi as much of a conversation partner, so she kept silent as she walked to her office's luxury closet. The room was eerily quiet as she went through the slow process of browsing through the many seemingly identical black business suit jackets hanging inside the cozy space. "Hm... I think I'd better avoid wearing the pink heart pin today. I want to play it low key," she muttered to herself, picking up and testing another sharp blazer that looked anything but low-key.

"It was nice to see Phillip again," Phero remarked, trying to get in on the conversation. She'd come to miss all of the research team she'd seen during her creation; Phillip wasn't her favorite, but he always had authority when Dharma wasn't around, so she'd grown to appreciate him simply from familiarity. She even had a hard time seeing his mistreatment as mistreatment any more; the process was so regular that it had become an inseparable part of his character to her. She imagined he must want to get slapped around like that a bit if he let it keep happening to such an extent.

"I'll bet that's the only time anyone's ever said that about the guy, Phero. You need to work on keeping to normal, human behaviors. If nobody else cares about Phillip, you shouldn't either, right?" she jested, sticking the arm of her black shirt into an equally black jacket sleeve.

"I disagree. In fact, from what I understand, those who are not used to compassion are the ideal targets to instill love within," she explained. "They're more needy, wouldn't you say?"

"He is needy, I'll give you that much. He's also a pawn, however. Pawns shouldn't be loved," she yawned, opening up her office's door and stepping quickly out into the hallway. Once she left this hallway for the elevator, evil Dharma would have to be sealed away once again for the good of her company.

"How much of the population would you describe as 'pawns,' Dharma?" Phero asked, crossing her hands behind her back.

"About 94% seems adequate," she responded in a matter-of-fact fashion, pressing the button to call up the elevator.

"Then do you actually have a target market? You say most of the world's population are pawns, but love is not intended for pawns," she contradicted her operator with a slight smile. "Who then is love intended for?"

Dharma frowned, then adjusted her tie self-consciously. "Just because they shouldn't be loved doesn't mean they won't be. I'm simply telling you not to worry about who is loved and who isn't. What you need to realize is that we aren't in this for society. We aren't in this for mankind. I'm doing this only because I am a genius. Pawns exist only to recognize my genius; is that clear?" she asked.

"Crystal, Ms. President," Phero sighed. "So even though pawns don't need or deserve love, they desire it. Therefore, you're giving them what they desire, right? I guess I understand that from the standpoint of profits."

"And there you go," Dharma chuckled as the elevator doors closed with a slow hum.


Dharma sat in the back of her limousine, as far back as she could. She didn't want the driver (in this case, Phillip) to have even the slightest notion that he could make friendly chatter with her while they drove. "Drive, Phillip. Please stop at the first flower shop you think isn't a rat hole. I'll be amused to see where your standards fall," she spoke into the tiny communicator radio hidden near the limousine's door.

As the limousine began to move, Dharma sank back into her own thoughts. "You know, Phero, this will be your first time leaving my company building. How does it feel?" she asked idly.

"It's a wonderful feeling," Phero sighed happily, pressing her hands to her chest. "I'd really like to meet new people."

Dharma's eyes shot open. Perhaps she could use Phero's extroversion to her advantage? "How do you feel about moving on to another phase of experiments, Phero? It's really most convenient if we continue them even while on this expedition," she asked suddenly, surprising her navi.

"Okay, although I'd like to know what you have in mind," the navi inquired.

"Pawns are often easy to read, and therefore, easy to trick. Rather than hire test subjects for our navi-grade pheromone tests, why don't we simply dupe some poor soul into being our personal lab rat? This will be a great step in our experiments, a money-saver, and most importantly, a chance for you to see how geniuses use the many pawns strewn across this playing board," her operator laughed. "Step on it, Phillip, I'm eager now!" she giggled, forgetting that Phillip couldn't hear her unless she pressed the communicator button.

And so the president sped along with perhaps the most malevolent intention for buying flowers ever possessed throughout the history of mankind.


Unfortunately, after a lot of driving, each of Phillip's suggestions had been systematically struck down. "I need the pervading feeling of love, do you understand, Phillip?! With any less, I can't work my genius. A scientist's capabilities are inherently limited by her tools," she groaned. "We're taking a little trip. Let's head to the harbor... We'll need the yacht."

Phillip had a hard time even beginning to imagine what could be so wrong about the places in NetVegas that she'd need to sail out of town to get flowers, but he complied all the same. He was just thankful that he wouldn't have to drive the boat himself...