Well, I think we can officially declare me utterly insane. I have way too many ideas bumping around in my head and too many stories currently going at the same time. The best thing for me to do would be to just turn around and pretend this never happened. Unfortunately, I just spent the last couple of days with the "Inspector Gadget" theme song in my head. That tune is just too catchy… There aren't a lot of words to it or anything, but you can never get it out of your head. And my efforts to deal with the stuck song only caused an idea to pop into my head and burrowed into my brain.

Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing. I didn't grow up on the cartoon (I'm not that old). I mean, I semi-remember an episode or two from my childhood since I definitely know what the starting and ending credits looked like. And the song is firmly imprinted on my brain. The live-action movie, however, was the first thing that really brought it back to my attention. While I wasn't as happy with the sequel, mostly due to how it really didn't connect well in tone or style with the first, I did watch it at least once. But overall, I am not familiar enough with the series in my opinion to be writing for it (generally, I like to have at least seen all the episodes/movies/chapters/etc before I produce fanfiction for it in order to ensure I don't go against canon). So, I'm not sure I can capture every detail perfectly for this fandom, but I'm trying to capture some of the essence and make something that at least feels like it could belong here. But it might end up as complete garbage, so I apologize now.

I don't even know what I'm doing here or what I'm really trying to accomplish with this particular story. If it wasn't a one-shot, I wouldn't even try. But this is the weird little idea my brain sprouted in the middle of the night while the theme song played on repeat in my head. It sort of wanders around and doesn't necessarily follow a normal storyline, switching from amusing to mildly dark at times, but it should still be understandable. Of course, anything that has its origins as the dark depths of my mind is guaranteed to be a little strange. Basically, I have some questions that I've never been able to find the answers to in the cartoon and, among other things, my brain spat out a few possibilities. Any names that weren't in the cartoon, I either borrowed from other sources or just made up. And figuring out a timeline and remembering when the show was first aired meant I had to do a little research, but that wasn't too hard. So I hope you enjoy this.

A Good Heart

Anyone who met John Maxwell Gadget would automatically agree that, regardless of his many quirks and faults, he had a good heart.

He was a clumsy child, always tripping and knocking over things. It was almost as if furniture, people, bushes, and expensive pieces of art at the museum dove in front of him in a deliberate attempt to knock him to the ground. And if he wasn't tumbling down after his latest encounter, he was knocking larger objects over so that they fell on innocent bystanders.

Most of the time, the dark-haired boy didn't even seem to realize the chaos he caused or the damage he left in his wake. Or if he did notice, he'd innocently believe that someone else must have been behind it. And once that first mistake was made, he'd stop at nothing to discover who caused the problem and ensure they made things right.

Because that was who he was. He was the child who tried his best to obey all the rules, who encouraged others to behave, and would inform the adults when bad things occurred. He didn't tell on his playmates for sneaking an extra cookie or for stealing each others' toys because he liked watching them get in trouble. He just wanted to do the right thing. Of course, this didn't always make him popular with the other children, especially when he seemed to always be confused when they pointed out the chaos he caused was sometimes worse than what they did.

That was where Sophie came in. She might technically be his younger sister, but she always turned out to be the one who took care of him. Light-brown hair and green eyes, the girl seemed to have inherited all the good traits her brother was missing. She was graceful, coordinated, and absolutely brilliant. Not that John was completely stupid; he was merely oblivious at times and often reached the wrong conclusion when he considered the facts. But Sophie was highly intelligent and curious about how the world worked. Whenever her brother broke something (and after his ill-conceived attempts to repair the object himself), he would always bring it to her and watched as she somehow reconstructed even the most complicated victim of his clumsiness.

"Wowsers," he remarked as he watched the six year old poking around the inside of the family television set. "I still don't see how you're so good at this, Sophie."

She smiled at him, "It just makes sense. If you look at it and can figure out where everything is supposed to go, you can see when something is wrong. And if you see what's wrong, you can fix it."

"But it all looks like… that," complained John, gesturing at the collection of tubes and unidentifiable pieces.

"It isn't that bad," she giggled. "Look. One of the tubes was knocked loose." She pointed towards a random piece of the television set's innards. "That's why it won't turn on after you crashed into it."

"Then they should have made it better," he stated. "That sort of thing could have happened to anyone. And I caught the vase from the mantle before it could break."

Smiling slightly at the statement, she suggested, "Maybe Dad should just get rid of that rug. It just causes problems."

He watched her work for a couple more minutes in silence, her small hands moving through the incomprehensible landscape of the television set's inner workings. Even at her age, she did the repairs confidently and easily. Sophie made it all seem so easy.

"You know, you should be an inventor when you grow up," he remarked abruptly.


"You'd be perfect for it. You're smart, you already like looking in my science textbook, you're really good at fixing things, and you seem to like this sort of thing. And even your name sounds like a good one for an inventor. Dr. Sophie Gadget," he smiled. "I can already imagine it."

She blinked in surprise, her hand still holding the vacuum tube in place. John took a moment to consider what he just said and couldn't find anything in particular that would have confused her. All he did was tell her the truth. Maybe she just didn't want to be an inventor.

"But I'm a girl," she stated finally. "Aren't girls supposed to get married and have children? That's what all of them do on the television and that's what Mary says when we play dolls over at her house."

"Well, you can do that too," he shrugged. He didn't see any problem. "You can invent stuff and have a family. And you'll probably do great at both."


"Sure. Wasn't that guy who invented the telephone married? I don't remember for sure, but I think so. And if he could do both, I'm sure you can too just as easily."

"But he wasn't a girl," she pointed out.

He frowned, "I would hope not. Otherwise all those history books would have to be fixed. Not to mention his wife would probably be very surprised. She probably bought him ties and such for his birthday and he'd look very silly in those if he was a girl instead."

"That's not what I… never mind," Sophie responded. "You really think I could be an inventor?"

Gesturing back towards the television set, he smiled, "Of course. You're already saving Mom and Dad a lot of money for repairmen. You'll probably build a flying car or something by the time you're my age."

She giggled, "You only a couple of years older than me. I can't build something that big yet."

"That's too bad. It would be nice to have a flying car. Maybe you can build it when we're older. That way I can legally drive it when you get finished."

Sophie smiled at her brother and stated, "Fine, but you'll have to guard me and my inventions so people don't steal them."

"Of course I won't let them steal your inventions," he remarked firmly, grinning brightly at words. "That would be a crime and crime never pays."

As she finished tightening the tube and started putting the rest of the television set back together, she stated, "Okay, you can be a policeman. Because you like following the rules and you can help people by catching bad guys. And I'll be an inventor and build things to help people."

"Like a flying car?"

"Why do you want a flying car so badly?"

"It would be kind of cool," he smiled at her cheerfully.

"But you'd probably crash it into a building."

"I would not."

She laughed a little, "You crashed into the television set earlier."

"It could happen to anyone."

He was supportive of his younger sister, completely unfazed by the fact she was eventually moved up a couple of grades to his class. And then ended up a year ahead of him. He loved his sister too much to be jealous of her intelligence. In return, Sophie was equally supportive of his growing dream to go into law enforcement. She knew her brother could be a hero, even if it seemed like he needed to be continuously watched to keep from breaking his neck falling down the stairs or knocking over bookshelves like dominos. She might need to help him avoid disaster on occasion, but he could also surprise people when given the chance.

He'd find stolen backpacks, halt the occasional bully, and once even uncovered a small-time smuggling operation at a local Italian restaurant. The last one in particular brought John Gadget into focus. Everyone was shocked at the idea of the clumsy fourteen year old managed to bring actual criminals to justice. His sister was the only one who realized that he performed this particular feat while oblivious to the fact there was a crime. He just stumbled into the situation in an attempt to complain about the meatballs being too crunchy and somehow ended up exposing everything through sheer dumb luck.

That was the second thing everyone who knew John Maxwell Gadget recognized about him. Along with his good heart was an almost unbelievable balance of bad and good luck that always steered him through his clumsy wandering. His strange mixture of luck always seemed to result in chaos and even minor injuries for those around him, but it also allowed him to remain mostly unharmed himself and for him to stumble onto problems that his meddling somehow solved. And Sophie also managed to avoid suffering the worst of his chaos. That was just how he was. It wasn't intentional or planned in any manner. He just made his odd luck work to his (general) advantage. And if he received a little help on occasion to point him in the right direction, it just lessened the time required to achieve the ideal goal and minimized the collateral damage.

As he aged, he worked towards his goal to go into law enforcement just as his sister suggested as children. His occasional involvement in uncovering small-time criminals, even by accident, helped encourage people to gradually take him seriously in that regard (even if they wondered how he managed those accomplishments after they witnessed his clumsiness and obliviousness in person).

Meanwhile, his sister continued to excel in science. She continued to develop her skills at dealing with technology and even began to gain more knowledge than some of her teachers. By the time she graduated high school, she knew she had to continue to college if she wanted to fulfill her potential. While she learned everything she could in engineering and other technological science, she met Frank.

He was studying biology, so they didn't have many classes together. In fact, they could have spent their entire lives not encountering each other and remaining completely ignorant or each others' existence. But fate always seemed to take unexpected turns when someone with the last name Gadget was involved.

"They sure have a nice campus, Sophie," John remarked, his eyes taking in all the buildings and shrubbery arranged around the college. "I'll bet you have a good time here. Everything looks so nice."

"It is nice. I'm usually too busy studying to really notice much though," she responded, adjusting the glasses she'd started wearing about middle school.

Her brother smiled at her, "You have to take some time every now and then to smell the roses. Sometimes literally. Or if they don't have roses planted, there's probably some tulips or lilies or daisies…"

"Whatever you say, Deputy Gadget," she chuckled, giving him a quick hug to prove that she was proud of her sibling.

Sophie knew how much it meant to her brother to go into law enforcement. He was practically made for upholding the law and serving out justice. She also knew that it was a miracle he made it through training without being kicked out, hurting someone seriously, or destroying too much of their equipment. But he never for a moment doubted that he'd succeed and, likely against their better judgment, they passed him. He simply cheerfully accepted his new job as if any other outcome would be impossible.

Looking rather confident and proud of his new title, he stated, "And don't forget. Deputy Gadget is always on duty."

As he grandly gestured while making this declaration to the world, her brother managed to smack his arm into another young man who was walking by. The impact sent the blond student's books tumbling to the ground and paper tucked into the pages spilled out everywhere. Instantly, Sophie started grabbing the sheets of paper before they could be blown away.

"I'm so sorry about that," she apologized. "My brother isn't always the most… coordinated."

"It's fine," the young man responded, smiling sheepishly. "I should have been paying more attention myself."

"Let me help you with that," offered John, grabbing at the books and dropping them almost as quickly as he picked them up.

Chuckling slightly at her sibling's attempt to help, she quickly introduced herself, "My name's Sophie. Sophie Gadget. And his is my brother, John."

"That is so strange. My brother is named John too. What are the chances of that?" Reaching out a free hand, the blond young man said, "I'm Frank. Frank Dollar." He then smiled ruefully, "Yes, like the money. Everyone loves to point that out."

"Our last name is 'Gadget,' so I understand completely," Sophie shrugged as she shook his hand. Glancing at his books as John kept trying to keep all of them in his grasp, she remarked, "You like science too?"

"Yes," he nodded. "Specifically biology. There are so many possibilities in that field."

"I feel the same way about technology. I was always fixing things growing up and now I have the opportunity to invent them too."

"I'm sure you'll do great at that."

There was a moment where the two met each other's gaze and smiled warmly. They might have just met, but even the most logical mind could see there was something special between them. And then the moment was over.

"Here you go," her brother smiled cheerfully, handing over the books he'd managed to finally pick up. "Sorry about that."

"It wasn't too bad," Frank responded before yanking free one of the pieces of paper. Grabbing a pencil tucked behind his ear, he quickly scribbled down something and handed it to Sophie. "That's my phone number. I have to go to class right now, but I'd like to talk to you later."

"Um… Okay," she took the piece of paper with only a slight hesitation.

His belonging gathered and his contact information in her hand, Frank took off again in the direction he was going before his encounter with John's arm. Sophie stared after him for several moments before shaking her head slightly.

"So when are you going to call him?" her brother asked abruptly.


"When are you going to call him? I mean, you can't do it now since he's in class, but you also don't want to wait too late since he might be sleeping when you call him. And people always seem to get so grouchy if you wake them up in the middle of the night," he stated.

"I don't know if I should," answered Sophie honestly. "I mean, he seemed like a nice guy and I kind of like him, but what if we talk more and it turns out he doesn't like me after all. Besides, I should focus on studying. It's easier that way."

"Come on, Sophie, I know school is important and you should always try your best, but this is sort of like the 'smelling the roses' thing I was talking about," he stated. "You can do more than just study. He seemed like nice and you said you like him. And I'm a great judge of character and think it's a good idea. I'm sure everything will turn out great and you'll both get along great. He'll like you. After all, you're a smart and wonderful person who is great at keeping repair bills low by fixing things that get broken."

She smiled slightly at his words before considering them more carefully. While he might not always be particularly observant, he did tend to give her good advice when she needed it. At least, he gave good advice if he was paying attention to everything.

"All right, I'll call him later," she nodded. "But if it turns out that he's not as nice as he seems and he just strings me along until he breaks my heart, you have to arrest him."

Her brother just gave her a confident smile and stated, "Everything will turn out fine. You'll see."

Even if the young woman possessed doubts when she first approached Frank, John Gadget was both confident and optimistic in his view of what was to come. But he tended to always expect the best out of the world. He believed in justice, honesty, and fairness, no matter what the world might throw at him. He felt the world was a good place and filled mostly with good people. He felt that his job as a police officer was to simply stop those who weren't good in order to make it an even better place. While his optimistic, and some might even call in unrealistic, view of the world might make him seem naïve and annoying, it made other smile and want to help confirm that belief.

And occasionally he was proven completely right.

Both Frank and Sophie swiftly became experts in their respective fields and started making amazing developments. They also became husband and wife, demonstrating that even the most oblivious individual in the world knew what his sister needed. No one was happier than John when his sister walked down the aisle.

Time passed and the siblings kept in touch. Various new leaps in science were taken by the couple, resulting in numerous scientific journals appearing with the name "Dollar" as the author. Frank worked with animals to develop improvements on service dogs for civilian use and those for use with police and the army. He wanted to create smarter breeds that could fulfill their purpose more effectively. Sophie worked with information storage, retrieval, and usage along with dabbling in communications and larger mechanics. She met at a conference and became friends with an older gentleman named Professor Von Slickstein and began trading correspondence with him after he inspired several new ideas. She found him to be charming, polite, and kind, even if sometimes his proposed concepts seemed a little quirky.

John Gadget, meanwhile, continued to puzzle his fellow officers with his strange mixture of complete disasters and surprises success. Simple routine crimes were messed up while impossible mysteries unraveled before his oblivious eyes. Anyone who was assigned as his partner either spent all of their time trying to keep him from injuring them or being dragged along into various situations where an unknown criminal was operating in secret. There were days where they wondered how he could do some of the things he apparently did. He made it look so easy, as if he was doing it all by accident. They never realized it was by accident.

It quickly became clear that it was best to give him the bigger and more important cases. They even gave those cases that would technically be trusted to someone of a higher rank, though there'd been a few people who debated promoting him further for a while. Those that no one else could easily or quickly solve were shoved towards him since his odd talent for stumbling onto the answer by apparent coincidence was better spent on those situations rather than another poor cat stuck up a tree. Besides, it was safer if he stayed away from trapped felines since they tended to come off worse for wear when he became involved.

The rate at which he solved high-profile cases, even if only through his odd luck rather than by being observant, started catching people's notice. Not just people within the police department, but also those with far higher power. And those lurking in the shadows.

The Metro City police might not necessary have jurisdiction over the entire world and the crimes that threatened everyone, but those with that power could recognize potential when they read the reports. And the ideal way to learn more would be to both place someone in a position to observe the peculiar man and to be in place to give him the occasional assignment that he might be able to assist with.

Whether it was fate or luck, the newest "addition" to the Metro City police force occurred just around the time another important addition came into John Gadget's life.

He'd been there about a month before he decided to take action. He might have acted sooner, but he was having a hard time matching the impressive record on paper to the man he witnessed in person. Not to mention that he also had to perform the job of Chief of Police in addition to observing the unorthodox young man. It wasn't easy being him, but no one ever said that his life was going to be an easy one. Keeping the world a safe one was not for the weak of heart.

Chief Quimby stared at the black-haired man across his desk, wondering if his general behavior was a façade or if he truly was as clumsy and oblivious as he acted whenever he arrived at the station in the morning. It must be an act to lower people's guard. There was no possible way he could uncover so many things otherwise.

"Thank you for coming in so quickly," stated Chief Quimby, giving a brief smile that made his mustache twitch. "This is something that has been coming for quite some time, especially with your impressive record."

While most of the time he'd observed him in the past, John Gadget would be completely focused on his job and maintaining order in the world. Most people seemed to feel that he was married to his work. Today, however, he seemed a little distracted from the meeting and his mind was clearly elsewhere. Chief Quimby decided to get to the point.

"You know that your promotion has been discussed repeatedly during your time on the force and now that I've transferred here, I feel that it is about time that your hard work is rewarded. How does the title Inspector Gadget sound?"

For the first time since he stepped into the office, Chief Quimby felt he had the younger man's full attention. A huge smile spread across his face and reached across the desk to shake his hand.

"Wowsers. Thank you, Chief," he stated. "You don't know how much this means to me."

His frantic attempts to shake the man's hand in gratitude, while a nice gesture, unfortunately knocked the mug of coffee over. Hot liquid spilled all over the desk and splattered the chief slightly, resulting in the scalded man jumping to his feet with a yelp of pain. Again he was forced to wonder about the newly-appointed inspector and how he could seem so competent at solving crimes and yet so incapable of navigating normal life without incident.

"Sorry about that, Chief. Are you all right? That coffee sure looks hot," remarked Inspector Gadget.

"I'm fine," he muttered, waving him off. After blotting at the mess with a few paper towels and making sure that there weren't any serious burns from the accident, he continued, "As an inspector, there will likely be more and more cases assigned to you that will challenge your skills. I might even start getting you involved in more international cases."

He waited for the dark-haired young man to ask about jurisdiction and how an inspector for Metro City could be involved in international cases. After all, that was the logical question to be asking. That would be the point where Chief Quimby explained that he didn't just work for the police. It would be the ideal way to see if Inspector Gadget was right for the position.

Instead of asking, however, he simply stated, "That sounds like a great idea. I'm really looking forward to it."

Chief Quimby frowned briefly. While he sounded excited about the idea of working on bigger cases, something in the man's tone also made it clear he was still distracted somewhat from the conversation. And judging by what he'd observed on the man previously in the month he'd been in Metro City, there was very little that could distract him from his job. But today it almost reminded him of watching a child at school counting the seconds until they could head home.

"What's on your mind?" he asked finally.

"Nothing," answered the dark-haired inspector far too quickly.

Rather than point out there were times he certainly acted like there was literally nothing on his mind, Chief Quimby asked again, "What is making you so distracted today? Because I can tell you're thinking about something important. You're not exactly the best liar."

Inspector Gadget gave a small sheepish grin, "Well, it's about my sister. She had a baby earlier this week and I was going to go visit them this afternoon so I could meet my new niece."

That he could understand. Family always came first. No wonder he was so distracted. But Chief Quimby already gave him the necessary information concerning his promotion. Everything else could wait a day or so. Besides, he might be a little less clumsy when he was no longer distracted by his excitement over his new niece. Chief Quimby hoped so at least. He'd hate to have coffee spilled on him by Inspector Gadget every day after all.

"Why don't you take the rest of the day off and go see your family," he suggested carefully. "You can start enjoying your new title tomorrow."

"But I'm always on duty," argued the younger man.

"You can be on duty while seeing your niece then," responded Chief Quimby. "Not to mention you can share your good news with them."

A broad grin spread across the newly-appointed inspector's face and he quickly moved to follow the older man's suggestion. The only hindrance to the plan occurred when he tried to close the door behind him. Somehow, Inspector Gadget managed to close the door on his coat as he left and end up almost falling when he tried to walk away. Chief Quimby promptly buried his face in his hands.

"Please let this be a onetime thing. Otherwise I'm going to be wondering why I put up with him for the rest of my life," he muttered.

Across the city and away from the walking source of chaos that was John Maxwell Gadget, was the one thing more important to him than his role as an officer of the law and force for good. Family.

While he was truly married to his job and perfectly happy that way, his sister and her family was something he loved with all his heart. Anything he could do to help them, he would do it in a heartbeat. Even if his attempts to assist might occasionally go astray. In fact, in order to keep the promise he made Sophie so long ago when they were children, he would allow her to store some of her inventions she worried about being copied or stolen at his house. Usually the object was only there long enough for her to be certain that the patent went through or until it was perfected, but her brother was perfectly happy to help during her rare moments of paranoia.

She knew she could always trust him with her most prized possessions. And that included the one that mattered most in the world.

"Are you certain you don't want to list my brother as her godfather?" asked Frank, a slight grin demonstrating that he was only kidding.

Sophie gave him a stern look from where she was rocking her daughter, "Yes, I'm sure. I like your brother. I really do. But can you honestly imagine how he'd deal with a little girl?"

Her husband gave a slight shudder, "He wouldn't know what to do. But what about yours? I mean, he's a great guy and everything. Though I'm still trying to figure out how his attempt to fix the lawn mower one day resulted in it picking up radio and producing all that smoke. But I'm afraid that he'd lose her in five minutes or would break his neck trying to fix her breakfast."

"He isn't that bad," she responded, unfortunately timing her words with the earlier arrival of her sibling as managed to turn knocking on the front door into knocking it off its hinges. As she watched her older brother give a sheepish grin and try to reattach the door, she added quietly, "And this is only a precaution anyway."

Giving up on his repair attempt, the dark-haired man gave a slight wave, "Hi, Sophie. Hey, Frank. I got out a little early today. And I was promoted to inspector."

"That's wonderful," his sister stated, only restraining herself from hugging him due to the small bundle in her arms. "I'm so proud of you."

"Thanks," he smiled before turning his attention to the infant. "Is that her? She's almost as small as you were. Though she also a lot quieter."

"This is Penny, She's your new niece," the new mother said, giving her baby a small smile of her own. "Say 'hi' to your Uncle John, Penny."

"Which Uncle John?" pointed out Frank. "She has two of them; my brother and yours have the same name after all."

Rolling her eyes slightly at her husband, Sophie corrected, "Fine. This is your Uncle Gadget and you can meet your Uncle Dollar later. That should help with the confusion."

"So," asked the new uncle cautiously, "can I hold her?"

With only a slight hesitation in concern for her daughter's safety, the woman carefully placed her dozing infant in John's arms. She moved to rearrange his grip into something more secure, but found to her surprise that he was already adjusting to her presence perfectly. He was holding his niece as if he'd been doing it for years already. Any doubts about her brother's capabilities as a guardian should the worst ever come to pass were promptly banished. Some people were simply born to be parents and Sophie could see that John was one of them.

In some ways, she was mildly surprised that he didn't seem to be planning to start his own family. After all, he wasn't one of those people who didn't like kids and she currently held no doubts that he'd make a great parent now that she saw him with Penny. But Sophie also knew that dating never seemed to go well for her brother. Too many women ended up leaving with marinara sauce on their dress or nursing bruised feet from their attempt at dancing with him. That was just how John was, though. And if he never started a family of his own for some reason, she knew that he would be perfectly happy being there for his niece.

"You said her name is Penny?" he remarked, rocking her slightly with almost practiced ease.

"Penny Margaret Dollar," confirmed the woman, pushing her glasses back into place.

Frank gave a small grin, "Yeah, we figured that since we had to grow up with last names like 'Dollar' and 'Gadget,' we should make sure our child gets a double-dose of the possible jokes about money with her first and last name."

Blinking in confusion, the inspector asked, "What do you mean by jokes? What's wrong with her name?"

Shaking his head, he responded, "Never mind."

Years continued to pass and the infant began to grow. Penny began growing into a friendly and nice child who enjoyed visiting her Uncle Gadget and Uncle Dollar, though she tended to get along a little better with the inspector. By the time she was five years old, however, there was only one uncle for her to spend time with left. Frank's brother suffered a heart attack and passed away abruptly, leaving only one family member with the name "John."

Meanwhile, Inspector Gadget began to receive the occasional international case and would leave the city for his job. His investigations, regardless of how much they depended on luck, were slowly bringing him to the attention of a powerful organization that was not happy with how he was uncovering some of their smaller operations. Once or twice, a member was sent subtly to make the man an offer in order to persuade him to look elsewhere and to leave the business of MAD alone. Such bribery tended to either be completely missed by the oblivious inspector or he'd flat out reject it on the rare occasion that he understood what was being asked of him. In the situations where the second occurred, he'd immediately arrest the person for attempting to bribe an officer of the law and thoroughly demonstrated to everyone that his loyalty was not for sale.

Sophie and Frank Dollar continued their work, even after the birth of their daughter. It became quickly clear that their child was also intellectually gifted, so the proud parents often discussed their current projects with her. While she might not understand everything they described, she was still smart enough by the time she was seven to follow along somewhat as her father remarked on his intention to increase the cognitive skills for a particular breed of canine or her mother explained how she planned to devise a more portable version of a computer that would be able to access the databanks of others without being physically connected. Unfortunately, Penny was not the only one who was intrigued by their work and they did not like taking no for an answer.

Dr Claw, leader of MAD, knew the worth of competence; after being surrounded by so many incompetent idiots, he understood it far too well. And since far too many members of his organization lacked that particular trait, he knew he'd have to make up for it with intelligent plans and the work of brilliant scientists. If he could not buy the required inventions from less scrupulous creators, then he was not above threatening them for cooperation or flat-out kidnapping them so they had no choice but to obey his commands. When Mr. and Mrs. Dollar caught his attention with their work and possibilities began to race through his head, Dr. Claw sent them a message and had one of his followers prepare a warning just in case.

The message was short and simple. The couple would turn over everything; every invention and development they'd ever worked on would be handed over to MAD. Otherwise, the consequences would be harsh. And any attempt to contact the police for help would be dealt with severely.

"You know this has to be a hoax or something," pointed out Frank as he wandered around his wife's lab, cleaning up. "I mean, what kind of organization calls itself MAD? And why would they be interested in us? I'm telling you, this has to be someone's idea of a joke."

"I'd still better if we talk to John about this," Sophie responded, straightening up some of her paperwork as the various machines hummed and beeped around her in a manner she'd always found to be rather soothing.

"And if whoever sent that message is serious? Remember the part about not contacting the police?"

"I'm not contacting the police. I'm contacting my brother. He visits all the time, so it really isn't that unusual for him to come by the lab. I even ask him to store stuff at his house every now and then. If they know anything about our routines, which they probably do if they're trying to threaten us, then they won't suspect a thing if John comes by."

"It still sounds like you're breaking those rules that they set up by calling him," Frank muttered.

"So says the man who gave his daughter one of your genetically-altered puppies for her birthday," pointed out Sophie.

"It was a large litter," he defended. "No one will miss him. And you saw how much Penny loved Brain. And what about your extra project you hid in the garage? The one for your brother?"

She smiled, "He always said I should build a flying car. And even if it can't fly, I think he'll like it. I asked for Professor Von Slickstein's input on it. He has some rather fun and interesting ideas at times, though I'm not as comfortable with his plans to stick those sorts of things inside a person. I'll stick with simply putting them in a car."

"Yeah, but I just want to prove that I'm not the only one using their work to make presents for family members. I just hope he likes that 'Gadget-mobile' thing you made him."

"Just don't spoil the surprise," his wife reminded him. "And you told Penny we'd be home a little late, right?"

Frank nodded, "I told her we're meeting her Uncle Gadget at the lab this afternoon and to feed her dog."

A soft knock at the door interrupted their discussion. For once not managing to knock over or trip over anything in the process, John Gadget managed to step into the lab and gave his sister a quick hug. He was always glad to see Sophie and Frank rather liked his brother-in-law, so it wasn't like they didn't see visit often. Especially since the inspector liked to bring his work with him sometimes to see if the two scientists could provide some insight into the crime. His obliviousness concerning the obvious often caused him to miss something until Sophie or Frank spelled it out to him, but they didn't really mind since they enjoyed the puzzles he would bring.

"Hey, Sophie, I still have a couple of boxes you asked me to keep for you," John stated cheerfully. "I just don't want you to forget about them and think you lost them."

"I won't," she smiled at him. "And thanks."

Leaning against one of the machines, glancing carefully to make sure he wasn't hitting any of the buttons, the inspector remarked, "Now, you said that you had something important you needed to talk about, right? What can I do to help, Sophie?"

"Someone sent us a threatening message in order to obtain our work," answered Frank bluntly.

The statement sent the dark-haired man flailing slightly in surprise, almost losing his balance from where he was leaning against the equipment. Once John apparently regained his footing, his brother-in-law continued his explanation.

"We got it yesterday. They want everything we've ever worked on. I think it's probably some kind of joke, though certainly one in poor taste. They said not to contact the police, but Sophie said she'd feel better if we talk to you about this whole MAD thing."

"Wait a minute, did you say MAD? Are you sure? You could have made a mistake, right?" interrupted John. When both of the scientists silently confirmed the name of the sender, the inspector frowned, "I've run into them a couple of times before. If they're the ones who sent the message, then this is serious. But it couldn't be them. I mean, what are the chances that they'd go after the two of you and your inventions? All of your stuff is rather impressive, I'll admit. But there are lots of other inventors in the world. Why would MAD come after you?" He trailed off briefly before stating, "But if you say it was them, then I believe you. Don't worry. We'll get all of you into protective custody. I'll make sure nothing happens to you."

"Isn't that exactly what the message said not to do?" pointed out Frank, wandering casually around the lab while thinking.

"Would you prefer to turn over your life's work and mine?" asked Sophie, taking a step towards him.

"I'd rather not risk our lives either," he responded. Then, in a quieter voice, he reminded, "And what if these people are serious and they decide the best way to motivate us would be to go after Penny?"

"That's not going to happen," stated John firmly. "They won't touch her."

Frank stared at him brother-in-law and, for possibly the first time since he first met the man on that collage campus years ago, he could actually see how the clumsy man could actually be an inspector. The moments might be rare, but the blond man could occasionally catch a glimpse of the determination and even competence that John could display when necessary. In that instant, Frank could say he held no doubts that somehow Inspector Gadget, the man who could barely cross a room on a good day without causing some kind of mess, would make sure that Penny stayed safe regardless of what MAD might have in mind. It was a mild surprise to realize that his brother-in-law could give off this impression and instill that level of confidence in him, but Frank knew he should have realized that John had that potential. How else would he still be in law enforcement?

Abruptly his musings about the hidden depths of his wife's brother was brought to an end as Frank noticed that something was off. There was something different about the symphony of whirls, clicks, and beeps that went through Sophie's lab. He knew every sound that occurred in the room. He recognized each and everyone. But there was another sound that was quietly interrupting that familiar background noise. A soft and steady beeping that didn't belong in the lab and was only noticeable up close. He could only hear it because he was right on top of it. A quick glance around showed nothing out of place, but there was space between or behind the machinery to hide something out of sight if necessary. His wife used to hide their anniversary present there on occasion.

"Sophie," he whispered.

Before he could say anything else, the world exploded into fire and chaos.

Far away, sitting in front of a screen and previously stroking a feline, Dr. Claw observed his plans destroyed by incompetence. A metallic fist formed in frustration as he punched the screen and it shattered. Somehow, his orders to "send a warning if they contact the police" translated to his followers as "blow them up." Now any possibility of making use of their technology and developments was destroyed as thoroughly as the lab and all who were inside it. A complete waste of potential resources. The only thing he could draw comfort from was that Inspector Gadget, a man who was slowly developing into a slight thorn in his side, was apparently gone as well. His demise would at least keep the entire operation from being a total disaster.

Trying to enjoy that small victory concerning the disposal of an annoyance, Dr. Claw decided it was time to contact his particular follower who believed that a bomb was the ideal way to handle the situation. That specific individual would not be breathing for much longer.

Yeah, my original plan was for this to be a one-shot. Then the length continued to build. So, they'll at least be one more chapter. Reviews are appreciated.