JackBots and CheerBots alike moved aside as RoboJack Unit 13 descended the stairs and approached his creator.
Jack Spicer sprawled boneless on an old couch down in his lair. Usually he lay on it while he watched TV or read, but now he merely stared up at the ceiling.
"Master? Pudding?" The robotic youth inquired, holding out a pudding cup.
"Tool," Jack muttered.
"I'm a tool," Jack clarified, still staring up at the ceiling. "I always do this; someone comes to me for help and I jump to help them and once they're done I get thrown aside like a used Kleenex. I'm a tool. RJ 13, do you think I'm a tool?"
"Uh . . . . this unit has no data on that subject," RJ 13 muttered.
"I can't believe Chase tossed me aside. I shed blood for that little bastard and he boots me out for refusing to molest him when he was still jailbait. That's fucked up."
"Mmm . . . . Master was very impressive, though," RJ 13 offered. "You won a showdown and defeated Wuya."
"I won a drinking contest and killed Wuya," Jack sighed. "Still . . . . I was pretty cool."
The young genius sighed roughly and picked up a technical manual from the coffee table, flipped through it for a second, then let the book flop down on his face.
"Our Jackie?" Nana Spicer was descending the stairs gingerly, walking with her cane and with difficultly. RJ 13 instantly put down the pudding cup and went to help her.
"Our Jackie, since you've been so down since Our – since Chase went back to his father, I decided to bring you a present. Here, open this up, robot." Nana handed a garment bag off to a random JackBot.
The robot held up the garment bag while a second flew over and dragged the zipper down. Jack peeled up one side of the book to see his present. When space-black cloth with shining silver decorations came into view, Jack groaned and let the technical manual flop back into place. He let his hand remain draped over the book.
"It was your grandfather's SS uniform; don't roll your eyes, Our Jackie!" Nana snapped.
Jack groaned in answer.
"At least try it on; young men look so handsome in uniform and you know you are the spitting image of My Albert," Nana tried, fishing the officer's cap out of the garment bag.
"Just for that, I'm not trying it on, Nana. Seeing you giving me the eye creeps me right the hell out."
"You'd look marvelous in it! Look, see?" Nana reached over and pulled the goggles from RJ 13's head and replaced it with the lieutenant's cap. "Oh yes, Our Jackie; the girls would be all over you in that."
"Only if I posted pictures on aryanromance dot com, Nana," Jack groaned.
Nana Spicer sighed roughly.
"Our Jackie . . . . I know you're upset. I'm trying to help, luv. Tell me what I can do to help."
A sigh ruffled the pages of Jack's book.
"I don't know, Nana. I'm sad. I'm hurt and I don't know how to fix it. . . . . I appreciate it . . . . I do. But I don't know."
RJ 13 straightened the cap on his head and looked in the highly polished surface of a nearby piece of machinery. He apparently liked what he saw, for he lifted the cap to smooth his hair back away from the brim.
Nana Spicer mimicked her grandson's sigh and made her way over to the couch. She used her cane to knock his boots aside so she could sit down.
"Our Jackie . . . . I know there's a lot you don't tell me and that's all right. You're just starting out as an evil villain and maybe you mess up a lot; that's all right, too. It's a lot harder to be evil now than it was when I was your age. There aren't any great evil institutions to teach young men now. You have to figure everything out on your own. Of course you're going to make mistakes; it's all right if you do. Don't get depressed, luv."
Jack was silent for a long time, then he dragged the book down so that his eyes showed.
"I'm getting better, though." He murmured. "Lately . . . .I've been getting better. I outsmarted the good guys; I was beat up and weak and half-dead, but I managed to pick a contest I could iwin. And then I killed my rival. She was a martial arts master, but I stabbed her through the heart with my sword. The same one I chopped her arm off with. Was that Grandpa's, too?"
RJ 13 studied his reflection for a minute, then looked over at the CheerBots waiting nearby. Chrissy and Amber glared coldly at him, but Deidre, Jenny and the others gave him an encouraging little smile.
RoboJack 13 grinned and reached for the garment bag.
"Hmm? No, Albert didn't keep his dress sword. I'm glad it came in handy, though. And I'm glad you're improving in evil, Jackie." Nana patted Jack's leg comfortingly.
"I just – maybe I need to change . . . . . something. Get a fresh perspective or something," Jack sighed.
"Maybe a change of clothes?" Nana Spicer suggested humor thick in her voice. "It's doing your robot double a world of good."
Jack leaned up to see RJ 13 in full uniform of a Nazi Schutzstaffel lieutenant, a big grin on his face and a CheerBot on each arm. The albino youth slapped a hand over his face.
"RJ 13. . ."
"Master, look! There is something to the uniform!" The automaton announced, grinning.
"It's quite . . . . surprising," Jenny said the confusion obvious in her voice.
"It's something about the . . . military image, I suppose," Deidre offered, stroking a hand down RJ 13's chest and toying with the medals she found there.
"And the cut of this jacket makes your shoulders look very broad," Heidi murmured, running her hands across RJ 13's silver epaulette-ed shoulders.
RoboJack Unit 13 threw a triumphant look at his creator.
"I am never taking this off."
Despite himself, Jack felt a laugh burbling up out of his throat. The albino youth laughed helplessly.
"Okay, okay, you look good in that, RJ 13," he admitted, sitting up further and letting the book slip to his lap. "You do know that albinos like us would have been either under study or euthanized under the Third Reich?"
"I'm not an albino, Master; I'm a robot. I don't need to eat or sleep; I can go for hours without stopping—"the latter was said with a suggestive lilt and a quirk of his eyebrows that made Jenny giggle. "Hitler would have loved me!"
"Yeah, until you chased after a Jew or a Gypsy woman; then he would have had your penis un-installed."
RJ 13's eyes widened and he whipped off his cap and covered his crotch protectively with it. Jack laughed again and flung his book at his robot double.
"Retardicon," he chuckled affectionately.
RJ 13 used his cap again to deflect the thick missile. After the book had flopped to the ground, the robot started to return the cap to his head, but frowned and peered at the lining of the hat.
"What is it?" Jenny asked.
"There's a bit of paper hidden in the lining," the robot youth announced. He pulled out a yellowed bit of paper and returned the cap to his head so he could have both hands free to unfold the paper. "It's a letter."
"What does it say?" Jack asked.
"Zu wem kann es betreffen. . ." The robot began.
"English, please, I'm not in the mood to think," Jack ordered.
"Yes, Master. 'To whom it may concern: I, Albrecht Speer, First Lieutenant of the Schutzshaffel, have in my possession the knowledge of the location of roughly 8 million English pounds in hidden Nazi gold and looted treasures. I attempted to retrieve this wealth several times, but was thwarted by lack of equipment and trustworthy men. Now I am an old man and can no longer make another such expedition. I leave this letter and map with my old uniform, in the hopes that perhaps a family member yet unborn can accomplish what I failed to do. . .'"
"Eight million pounds?" Jack echoed.
"It's a . . . treasure map, Master," RJ 13 announced.
"Don't get your hopes up, Jackie," Nana Spicer cut in. "My Albert went after that treasure three times. He said you'd need a team of digging machines and a dozen strong men to reach it."
Jack stared at his grandmother for a moment.
Then, he started laughing hysterically.
RJ 13, the CheerBots, and the JackBots joined in.
Nana Spicer glowered at them.
"I'm not going to be laughed at by robots, Our Jackie! What's so bloody funny?!"
"J-JackBots, stop laughing at Nana and start prepping my Moler 3000 for use. RJ-13, quit macking on the CheerBots and grab your adaptors; we're heading to Germany!" Jack declared.
"The treasure's in Austria," Nana Spicer cut in.
"We're heading to Austria!" Jack corrected dramatically.