Sorry about the wait. Yeah, I really don't know how long this story will be. I honestly don't. But no one else seems to mind that the length has grown far beyond what I expected.
And I've had a little trouble deciding where on the anthromorphic scale I want to put Brain. I want him smarter than the average dog and able to help keep Gadget out of trouble on missions, but I don't want to portray him as "basically human except without the talking" in the story like he is in the show. It just doesn't fit very well with the tone. So rather than have him at "Speech Impaired Animal" (like Scooby Doo), I moved him to "Nearly Normal Animal" (like the cleaning animals from "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs"). If you don't understand these terms, look them up on TvTropes dot org.
Anyway, I'm sorry again for the long wait. I hope you'll enjoy another chapter.
As those in MAD quietly plotted from the shadows, the small family continued on blissfully unaware of Dr. Claw's latest scheme. Having grown slowly into his role as Penny's guardians over the years, John Maxwell Gadget was beginning to plan for his niece's birthday. At first, holidays were difficult to face due to the loss of Sophie and Frank Dollar. The girl's first birthday after the explosion lacked some of the normal celebratory mood for such an event. But time heals all wounds and even if Penny's parents would always be missed, the holidays were once again festive occasions.
Due to the unpredictable nature of his job, the inspector would often begin preparations early if he could remember it. Christmas decorations might be in place in November. Fireworks would be selected on the fourth of June. Halloween costumes could easily be picked before the school year started for the girl. And he would start hunting for the perfect birthday present over a month ahead of time. While he might end up running around at the last minute regardless, he at least tried to make the holiday run smoothly.
So with Penny's eleventh birthday quickly approaching, her uncle searched for the perfect gift. Shopping between missions, especially if he didn't want her to see his purchase ahead of time, was a challenge. Most store owners with especially fragile merchandise tended to grow pale and nervous when he attempted to enter. And those less familiar with him quickly learned that caution after his normal clumsiness demolished their stock. Additionally, Gadget always tried to find the perfect gift for Penny and rarely settled for anything less. That generally meant the search would be a long and extensive search. As he exhausted the local possibilities for gift ideas, he turned his attention to catalogs and decided he could always order his niece the perfect present.
After the third day of flipping through the glossy pages of numerous catalogues, the inspector placed his order. The man could scarcely contain his excitement after mailing the order form. He simply knew Penny would love what he'd chosen for her. As he counted down the days and planned for her coming birthday. Dr. Claw and Dr. Nibroc planned their own cause for celebration.
Most children consider studying to be a chore and something to be avoided at all costs. Penny wasn't one of those children. Though she would be the first to admit she rarely studied for school. She fully understood her lessons in class and was usually far ahead of her classmates with the topics. No, she didn't study for class. Her time was better used for more important searches for knowledge.
The girl read newspapers and crime reports borrowed from her uncle when he didn't notice. She subscribed to several scientific journals describing the latest breakthrough in multiple branches of study. After all, her uncle's enemies often came equipped with top-of-the-line devices or schemes depending on bending scientific laws in new and seemingly-impossible manners. She read obscure publications and contemplated elaborate schematics. Every new development was carefully dissected by her young mind. Practical skills like escaping various knots or reprogramming a villain's computer were mastered like a normal child might when tasking the multiplication table. Books about the history, culture, and possible resources of interest were added to her mental arsenal. Penny understood her strengths and weaknesses very well. Physically, she was out-matched by the foes Uncle Gadget faced. While that might change as she aged, she was still a child and easily overpowered by adults. Her mind, however, was sharp as her parents'. Knowledge was her greatest weapon and the computer book wasn't enough. It was merely a tool, albeit one she cherished due to its connection to her mother and its versatility. In the end, it was her intellect that she would be depending on when assisting her uncle and it was wise to be prepared for whatever MAD might try.
Not to say she didn't find her reading material entertaining. She thoroughly enjoyed reading about new discoveries and learning new facts. She also loved building things in her spare time. Brain's collar was her creation and she studied her mother's notes enough times over the years she could repair, upgrade, or even build a complete copy of the computer book and her watch. With the right schematics, she could figure out most technology in time. Considering how many doomsday devices MAD created over the years, it was probably a good thing she'd acquired her mother's talent for technology.
Penny smiled briefly to herself as she flipped to the next page of the articles discussing a new type of medication they were testing on mice. She still missed her parents and wanted MAD's entire set-up brought to justice for what they've done, but the raw pain of loss had dulled over the years to something far more manageable. She could think of her mother and father without automatically feeling like crying. She could enjoy the pleasant memories without having her thoughts immediately turning to the explosion. Time did indeed heal all wounds, especially with a loving uncle and breath-taking adventures to distract her. She was happy with her new life. And she believed with all her heart that her parents would be proud on her.
Moving past the medicine report, the girl turned to a description of a Faraday box. She briefly considered suggesting another subscription for scientific magazines as a possible birthday present, but quickly rejected. Uncle Gadget would have likely already chosen something for her. Honestly, it sometimes seemed like he got more excited about giving gifts than most people did receiving them. She wouldn't dare deprive him of the pleasure of picking the perfect gift by making suggestions.
"Penny," her uncle's voice called from the kitchen. "I'm going to start lunch soon. Are you all right with a sandwich?"
"That will be fine," she responded, setting down the scientific magazine briefly. "Do you need any help?"
"I've got it," he assured before a few small crashes interrupted him.
She smiled slightly, identifying the noise as the contents of the fridge tumbling out, before glancing over at Brain, "Could you go check on him and make sure he's okay? Let me know if I should come down to help out anyway."
The canine nodded from where he'd been resting on her bed and headed towards the door. She couldn't imagine how she'd be able to take care of things without her dog's help. She couldn't be everywhere at once. Brain served as her second pair of eyes, her assistant, her moral support, and her loyal friend.
Satisfied that her Uncle Gadget's kitchen antics were being supervised just in case, Penny picked the magazine back up and continued reading the article from before.
He honestly wondered why refrigerator manufacturers always seemed to do such a haphazard job at designing the things. He couldn't even count how many of them he'd encountered that fell over or collapsed, spilling food all over the place. Gadget decided that first thing after he finished making lunch for his niece, he would have to write a firm letter about the quality of the company's refrigerators. Someone could get hurt from the thing trying to dump a giant jar of pickles on their head.
As he finished gathering sandwich-making supplies and finished his contemplations regarding how best to craft such a letter, the man noticed that Brain was wandering into the kitchen. The canine was eyeing the counter covered in condiments, bread, plates, and butter knives carefully.
"Guess you're hungry too," he smiled at Penny's pet. "I guess I can whip up a third sandwich. I just have to decide if we should have turkey or tuna. Or peanut butter and jelly. Or cheese." Pausing, the inspector was forced to admit, "This might take longer than I thought, Brain. There's a lot more options than I originally considered. Maybe I should have asked Penny what sort of sandwich she'd prefer."
Just as he's about to go through with his decision, a knock at the door distracts the man.
Sid Hunter silently promised himself to never accept a job from someone like MAD ever again, no matter how nice the paycheck might be. He wasn't a perfect man. He couldn't even call himself a good man. He'd been on the wrong side of the law for most of his life. The blond, muscular man spent years accepting jobs from various people, ranging in unpleasantness of petty theft to arson to beating up someone to send a message.
He wasn't a good guy by any stretch of the imagination. But he did have standards. And he had common sense. While very few of his bosses in the past were what he'd describe as "nice" or "easy to work with," Sid always knew where he stood with them. If he did what he was told and kept his mouth shut, he got paid. If he failed in his job, usually because of extenuating circumstances or because of someone else making a stupid mistake, he knew what to expect. He'd be yelled at, maybe roughed up a little, and that would be it. It was just how the world worked.
But not with MAD. They were the big leagues. Sure, they'd hire anyone practically to serve as muscle. Sid got the job easily. But there was a reason why they were constantly on the lookout for tough guys who didn't ask a lot of questions. Too many failures and Dr. Claw would remove you from the picture, one way or another. The lucky ones blamed someone else or tried to distract the mysterious boss until he forgot. The less lucky ones were left for the police to toss into a prison cell. And the unlucky souls who either messed up completely or had the misfortune of seeing Dr. Claw's face, meaning they could identify him, would end up dead.
Unfortunately, Sid didn't learn how pathetic the lifespan of the average thug for MAD truly was until after he was hired. He didn't immediately quite, though. He knew he rarely failed at his jobs and he knew it would be wiser to leave the group after he completed a few tasks successfully. If he left on a high note, there would be less chance someone would come after him later to make an example of him. Sid always felt proud of himself for never sharing his actual name with his new co-workers and instead providing the alias of…
"Derek," growled Fred as the van pulled to a stop. "We're here."
Fred was a big man with a crooked nose and a flat head. In the back of the van with the package was Squirt, a short man with a scrunched up face. Both of them had been with MAD far longer and seemed to take pleasure in sharing horror stories about the job. They kept mentioning it was a miracle that they'd managed to stay alive for long with all the mounting failures that enraged the infamous Dr. Claw. Not to mention "The Machine."
They used various names for him, none of which were intended to be flattering. Some of the terms were rather plain while others were entertainingly colorful.
"The Inhuman Nightmare."
"The Unimaginable, Pain-In-The-Neck."
"The Walking, Talking, Swiss Army Knife."
"The Unstoppable Force That Just Won't Die."
"The Name We Don't Mention In Front Of The Boss If We Want To Live."
"The Thing That Looks And Acts Like An Idiot, But Keeps Getting Away In One Piece While Unraveling All Our Plans."
"The Human-Shaped Chunk Of Metal That Keeps Coming, No Matter What We Throw At It and Has More Contraptions On It Than We Can Count."
But most of the time, they seemed to simply call it or him (the MAD agents couldn't seem to decide on a pronoun) "The Inspector." Apparently this one individual kept messing up the group's various schemes, ticked off Dr. Claw more than anyone else in the world, and seemed to only exist to make the MAD agents miserable.
Rumors spread throughout the organization about The Inspector, leaving Sid wondering which ones were true. But two facts were always present in the stories: One, The Inspector wasn't really human, no matter what he looked like, and was built to be the perfect crime-fighting tool. And two, if The Inspector became involved, MAD's venture would fail.
Fred and Squirt both claimed they'd encountered The Inspector multiple times over the years and that, every single time, The Inspector would manage to come out victorious. Only the fact Dr. Claw was angrier at The Inspector than he was about the agents failing kept the pair alive.
So when he heard the order for "Derek" to go with Fred and Squirt to deliver a special weapon to The Inspector, Sid wasn't really that eager. Especially since every other attempt to destroy the problem for MAD tended to injure the agents far more than The Inspector. Fred and Squirt, at least, seemed mildly hopeful of the plan though. On the other hand, they were making the newcomer do the actual delivering.
"It'll be easy, Derek," Fred assured as Squirt passed him the large box. "I checked with the scientist-guy. It only messes with machines, not people. Even if Inspector Gadget manages to avoid getting hit with it, there's no chance it'll backfire on you. It doesn't really explode or anything like that. It'll be a piece of cake. Just hand it to him like you're delivering a package and get out of there.'
"If it supposedly is so easy, why don't one of you take it?" Sid asked. "Wouldn't you want to get credit for getting rid of it? Or him? Or whatever that Inspector is supposed to be?"
"No way," Squirt shook his head. "We've gotten enough bumps and bruises in the past. That inspector ain't human. We've tried everything to destroy that nightmare. It doesn't work. So we ain't taking any chances. You can have all the credit as long as we stay out of the way."
"Fine," the blond man muttered under his breath, taking the package and stomping away from the van.
Sid still questioned the wisdom of having the MAD symbol on both his deliveryman uniform and the van, but everyone reassured him that "The Machine" never noticed. Regardless, he managed to carry the heavy object towards a perfectly ordinary-looking house. Curiosity began to nag at his mind, almost against his will. What would The Inspector look like? What would he/it sound like? They said human-shaped, but that didn't narrow it down much. What kind of mechanical creation could cause an organization like MAD so much trouble? Even if Sid wasn't fond of working for the group, he did have to wonder.
He knocked on the door, waiting for his answer. For a few moments, there was silence. Then the man distinctly heard a few thuds, like someone or something tripping over an obstacle. When Sid pictured the perfect crime-fighting machine, it didn't include the term "clumsy" in the description.
When the door opened, he was greeted by a very human-looking man. Black hair, wearing gloves, a trench coat, and a hat, and smiling in a welcoming fashion, the guy didn't appear like the unstoppable force the other MAD agents talked about. But unless Fred drove to the wrong house, then he was truly facing The Inspector.
"Deliver," said Sid, trying not to reveal his surprise at the relatively ordinariness of the figure in front of him.
"Oh, this must be Penny's birthday present," he responded, taking the offered box. "She'll be so happy when she sees it."
"Penny?" Sid asked, unable to stop himself.
"My niece," answered the man cheerfully. "She's turning eleven soon and I know this will be the perfect gift for her. Trust me; I looked everywhere to make sure that there was no better present. Though a few of those shops with particularly rude owners might possibly have something better, but they don't want me to browse through their merchandise for some odd reason."
Sid really didn't know how to respond to that. Since when did machines have family, let alone eleven year old nieces? Something didn't add up to the rumor mill. Maybe they really did have the wrong address.
"Just to be sure, I am delivering this to Inspector Gadget?" he asked cautiously.
"That's right. The one and only."
He'd assumed it was some kind of codename, not the name of an actual man. All the stories made it sound like Inspector Gadget was an unstoppable robot. Not a person. And while Sid wasn't a good guy by any stretch of the imagination, he did have standards.
He did have lines he'd prefer not to cross. Stealing, vandalism, arson, and assault were fine with him. He even did the occasional kidnapping in the past. Those were crimes he'd performed more times than he preferred to count. But he didn't hit women, no matter how much they might try his patience. He didn't harm children, no matter how much easier it might make a problem. And he didn't commit murder, regardless of how much someone paid him. There were some lines that Sid Hunter did not want to cross.
But "Derek" was on a mission. He, Fred, and Squirt were supposed to take the device from Dr. Nibroc, deliver it to this location, and let it destroy Inspector Gadget permanently. It was too late to back out now.
Around the edge of the door, a golden-furred dog appeared. The floppy-eared canine took one look at Sid and stiffened. The blond man didn't know why, but he knew instantly that the dog recognized him as a threat. It unnerved him slightly to see that far too intelligent gaze coming from the animal.
"I have to get going," Sid muttered, hurrying back towards the van. Reluctantly, he added, "Be sure to check the package inside in case there was damage in shipping. Call us if there's a problem."
"Sure thing," the man nodded. "Thanks." Then, glancing down at the clearly-anxious canine, the inspector asked, "What's the matter, Brain? You can't be that hungry yet. I'll get lunch finished in just a minute."
Sid refused to look back at the house. He simply climbed into the passenger seat of the van as Fred directed a satisfied grin towards him.
"Nice work, Derek. Now let's get out of here. The doctor said we should get the van out of range before he opens the thing."
"You guys called him a 'machine' earlier," the blond man remarked quietly as they pulled away from the curb. "He didn't look like one to me."
"Machine. Cyborg. Bionic man. What's the difference?" grumbled Squirt. "He's nothing but trouble. He looks normal, but he's like clockwork and computer stuff underneath. His arms stretch, a mallet pops out of his head, and nothing ever stops him. You could probably drive a tank over him and the guy wouldn't even slow down."
"I think they did that once," interrupted Fred. "Not with a tank. It was a train that ran over him. But that could have been an exaggeration."
"He's like that super robot in that new movie," he continued. "The one with the robot from the future trying to kill off that one woman so she doesn't have a kid. What was it called?"
"I think it was 'The Terminator'," Fred answered. "Yeah, he never stops snooping around and messing with MAD business. I heard one of the old agents tried to blow him up years ago, but it didn't work. That's when they added all the gizmos and stuff to make him all robotic. Dr. Claw killed the idiot who tried blowing him up."
"Probably on account of the fact that it just made the inspector that much harder to beat," stated Squirt. "But Dr. Nibroc said this should take him out permanently. And if it doesn't, the boss will have his head."
Fred nodded, "Probably literally."
As the van moved further and further away from the house, the shorter member of MAD added, "Don't worry, Derek. From here on, it'll be smooth sailing for all of us."
Sid didn't say a word.
Such a nice and thoughtful deliveryman, asking about Penny and advising him to double check on the package to make sure it was in one piece. Gadget would have to remember that delivery service in the future. The odd feline logo did seem familiar to him. He'd probably seen it before around town.
What he didn't understand was why Brain seemed so anxious now. Granted, the dog seemed to get nervous around him quite easily for some strange reason, but this seemed a little different. The canine kept glancing between the package and the front door with a peculiar expression. And while Gadget tried to think of any reason why the dog might be upset, he kept coming up blank. Maybe he was right initially and Brain was just really hungry.
"I'll finish the sandwiches in just a minute," he assured the canine as he set the package on the kitchen counter. "I just want to check on Penny's birthday present very quickly and hide it so she doesn't accidentally spoil the surprise."
The fact lunch would be finished soon did little to apparently reassure the dog. In fact, Brain seemed more determined to be in the way. Gadget was starting to get concerned the dog would accidentally knock over the large box with the way he was behaving. And he knew Brain would be very upset if he broke Penny's gift.
Using one hand to lift the dog out of the way (by extending it and placing Brain across the room), Gadget turned his attention back to the box. It was bigger and heavier than he'd expected the gift to be, but nowhere near heavy enough to cause problems. Still, he might have to help Penny with it later if she wanted to move it somewhere. But first, he'd have to check to make sure it was still in one piece.
Retracting his arm as he released Brain at a safe distance, one of the hands popped out of his hat with scissors to cut the tape. It only took a moment and the hand quickly retracted afterwards without any problems, which was always nice. Then he opened the cardboard box.
For just a moment, as all the lights in her room died, Penny thought it might just be a fairly normal power outage. While surprising, it would be nothing to worry about even if the slight popping sound was odd. Then Brain started barking from downstairs. Not just barking, which he didn't do very often anyway and would be enough to grab her attention. It was a yelping, panicking bark that practically screamed that something was seriously wrong.
That's when she caught sight of the clock next to her door. The second hand was frozen in place, completely still and silent. And if the clock was connected to an outlet, that wouldn't be surprising. But it was a battery-powered clock. There was no reason why a power outage would cause it to stop. That observation made the girl all the more frantic to get downstairs now.
"Uncle Gadget," she called, scrambling down the stairs. "Brain. Are you okay?"
When the only reply was frantic barking, a horrible idea began creeping around the back of her mind. She tried to shove back the idea, blaming it on mild paranoia from reading one too many science magazines, but then she reached the kitchen.
While various gadgets may have misfired or malfunctioned over the years since they were first installed into John Maxwell Gadget, most of the additions worked as expected and kept the man alive even through all his misadventures. It reached a point where neither he nor those around him considered the sheer magnitude of the alterations to his body. Only the more obvious devices, the ones more or less under his conscious control, were remembered most of the time.
Until the cardboard box opening activated Dr. Nibroc's creation. Every electronic device within range suffered as connections overloaded and circuits fried. The filaments of light bulbs burned out and appliances died quick deaths. The entire house was left deprived of any working technology, even those previously disconnected from power sources. But the most high-tech equipment in the household suffered the greatest.
Mechanical limbs, miraculous devices, and life supporting additions all ceased to function as the electromagnetic pulse overloaded circuits and systems instantly. From the artificial feet that allowed mobility to the connections in his brain that allowed interactions between the organic and technological components, power surged and overloaded it all within the span of a heartbeat.
While not as visceral and violent as a bomb, the EMP was still an effective tool against the bionic inspector. The power to mechanized limbs was cut off, dropping him to the floor even as frying connections in his mind sent him into unconsciousness. Input and output to the mechanical aspects ceased. Artificial additions to the body intended to mimic original life-preserving actions no longer functioned. Everything meant to once save a broken and dying man years ago and to give him back a better quality of life now served as heavy, immobile obstacles that trapped and hindered what remained of the original John Maxwell Gadget's body. Rather than helping and freeing the man, the mechanical creations now entombed him.
Intercostal muscles and thoracic diaphragm, muscles meant to move the rib cage and pull air into the lungs, were never designed to move a metal chest. Not that all of those muscles were even still present in his body. That task was long since taken over by Von Slickstein's creations. But now the remnants of those muscles were all that was left operational. What wasn't destroyed by the bomb years ago or wasn't removed to make space for other mechanical additions were left with the difficult task of obeying the remaining organic nerve connecting and forcing the unconscious figure to breathe even with the strain of untold pounds of unyielding metal. Other organs fought the mechanical repairs and replacements that once assisted them, but now only hindered.
It was, however, a fight that could not be won. While not shattered, burned, or bleeding, his life was in just as much danger as years ago. Too much of his body depended on the mechanical creations that was now little more than obstructing scraps and the organic aspects were just not enough to keep him alive forever. If he'd been completely robotic, it would have been the end the moment the EMP struck. Only the human elements left him clinging to life and his heart beating a little longer than expected.
His heart kept beating, even as his gadgets and mechanical additions failed. His organic heart kept beating as Brain, witnessing everything electrical dying, began to bark for help. His human heart continued beat as his mostly-human lungs drew in what little air they could manage, giving the still human parts of his brain the oxygen needed.
Anyone who met John Maxwell Gadget would automatically agree that, regardless of his many quirks and faults, he had a good heart.
His good, determined, human heart once let him stay alive until science and technology could save his all-too human, broken body. Now, as Penny reached her unconscious uncle, his good heart was giving his body the chance to save the broken technological pieces.
"Uncle Gadget," the girl called frantically, kneeling next to the still figure on the floor.
She'd grown complacent. Penny knew that. She'd started to believe he was invincible. He seemed invulnerable to serious harm and even the worst that MAD threw at him never worked. After years of him shrugging off what could have caused serious injuries in an ordinary man, she'd almost managed to bury the old fear of losing him.
"Wake up. Please."
But she was wrong. He was stronger, more durable, and able to use his gadgets to save himself if he realized he was in trouble, but he wasn't invincible. He could still be hurt if someone was clever about it.
"Please, Uncle Gadget."
A Faraday box. The article she'd been reading earlier talked about them and how they could protect against certain electrical problems. There'd been various examples about how they could be helpful, but the biggest example mentioned they could possibly protect a computer against an electromagnetic pulse. Penny remembered William J. Broad wrote an article about them in Science a few years ago and how they would fry all sorts of electronic devices. That's why both the lights in her room and her battery-powered clock stopped working. That's what happened to her uncle. Someone figured out how to make it work without having to blow up the whole countryside first.
Brain was still barking, but the girl barely noticed. Her brilliant mind kept running in circles, trying to figure out how this could have happened. Why couldn't she have kept this from happening? She'd promised. She'd promised herself that she'd keep him safe. For just a moment, the nearly-eleven year old girl who'd faced MAD agents on a regular basis without hesitation became the seven year old child terrified of being left completely alone.
Then a golden-furred dog rammed into hard enough to almost knock her over and snapped Penny back into focus. It was too late to change the past. She needed to figure out how to help him now.
"Thanks, Brain," she whispered, taking a breath to calm down.
It took less than a second to devise a simple plan. Step one, see how bad things were. Step two, get help. And step three, find out how this could have happened once her uncle was safe.
Just as she did years ago when she first saw him after the accident, Penny placed her ear to his chest and listened. But the whirls, clicks, and clacks that were supposed to be there were silent. Panic tried to take over again, but she forced herself to keep listening until she could make out both the familiar thumping of his heart and the (admittedly strained) sounds of breathing. It wasn't much, but it was at least a clear sign it wasn't too late.
Getting help was the trickier part. The watch on her wrist that she'd normally use to call for help would be as useless as the rest of the devices in the household. She'd have to leave him to find a phone outside the range of the EMP's effect. She'd have to leave Uncle Gadget if she wanted to save him. The idea wasn't something she was happy with, but it was the only way.
"Guard him, Brain," she commanded. "Don't let anything happen to him." And while she wasn't sure if he could hear her in his current state (was his hearing mechanical or organic? She couldn't remember…), Penny still added, "Please be okay, Uncle Gadget."
Then, unwilling to waste anymore time, she hurried out the front door. She ran past the confused neighbors who were wandering around, confused about the strange loss of electricity. She ran down the street as if her life depended on it.
Or rather, as if her uncle's life depended on it.
Dr. Nibroc leaned back in his chair with a smile on his face. By now, the fool would have opened the package, activating the device. After all those failures in the past by the members of MAD, he succeeded in one try. He could already picture the obituary once someone realized the truth. He'd managed to do the one thing that Dr. Claw failed to do for years. That was because everyone around him was idiots. Just like those he worked with in the past. None could recognize his brilliance in the past. Now he was proving exactly why he was superior.
Chuckling to himself, he pondered, "Maybe I should be in charge instead of Claw. I, after all, can actually accomplish something they considered to be near impossible."
With that amusing thought, he waited patiently with a smile for the news of his victory.
I don't even know where Sid/"Derek" came from. He wasn't even part of the original idea. I just started wondering how Inspector Gadget would appear to the members of MAD other than Dr. Claw. Like, what kind of horror stories of past missions would they tell to newcomers? And thus, a new character sprouted up in the story. I didn't plan it in the beginning. On the other hand, the original idea involved this just being a one-shot. Look how well that plan turned out to be. This story simply kept growing… and sprouting plotlines. What in the world was I thinking when I started this?
And sorry about the cliffhanger. It happens.