Inspektor 12 Kronicles 10: Inspektor Jekyll, Gone Mr. Hyde?

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Inspektor Jekyll, Gone Mistor Hyde?

In the Critical Care Unit located deep within the prune juice and FiberOne-fortified bowels of the Robo Depot world headquarters, the shockwaves of unexpected happenings coming straight out of the blue {kinda-sorta like this chapter, heh, heh!} were tremendously palpable, almost physically tangible. As a single entity, six state-of-the-art electronic minds, all but one housed in equally state-of-the-art, man-made human female forms, were well and truly blown. Simultaneously, six extremely sophisticated electronic hearts housed in those same extremely exquisite shells of the feminine persuasion also went nuclear-ectoplasmic with unbridled joy; the seemingly Impossible Prayer had been answered - in the positive, no less - coming like the proverbial thief in the night. Seconds later, five rather sexy female voices were raised in splendid unison and harmony, one and all dripping with delirious euphoria, and overflowing buckets of the purest Love imaginable, all because a certain Family-Harem's Beloved Sister had finally been completely Restored to them.


That one ecstatic exclamation-in-quintet bore the force of a 16,000 ton freight train barreling downgrade at a cool 70-per, lights blazing bright, bell and horns loudly blaring, brakes be damned! Immediately, sheer pandemonium broke out {in Typical Family-Harem Fashion, but of course} - the genuine Miracle of Maisie's complete resurrection sparked off the wildest Inspektor 12 Family-Harem dogpile ever seen to date. Da Mistress was ground zero for an incredible multiple-warhead explosion of bearhugs, deep-kisses, sensual caresses, rapid-fire questions, answers, and comments, much laughter, and of course the obligatory tsunami of tears - with her Darling Baby Sister Chase at the epicenter, fiercely hugging and wildly kissing her - as she was enthusiastically welcomed back from the grave by all her beloved Sisters. Although she seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all, Maisie nonetheless maintained her uniquely cool but still warmly vivacious and absolutely steadfast personal demeanor throughout it all. After a good ten minutes of stupendously glorious physical and emotional bliss, Maisie gently got her Family right down to business.

"What in the world has happened - one minute I'm on the road with you lot, coping with the 'disaster-du-moment`e,' whilst also planning to reinforce Rochelle's data-stream patches; then the next minute, here I am back home being Loved by all my Sisters - including a perfectly rejuvenated 'Chelle - at once, with my internal chronometer showing almost a month and a half has passed, a chunk of time which I can't even begin to account for!! Could somebody kindly fill in one or two rather HUGE gaps for me, pretty-please?" Still tightly hugging her favorite Sister, a beaming Chase gave Maisie a rapid rundown, sparing no detail, of the more than half-crazed narrative following their exit from Willow Bay, seemingly so long ago. The horrible detonation of the fragmenting parasite inside Maisie; Rosie's simultaneous crippling crash; the feverishly frantic field repairs and woefully-desperate hotrod modifications hastily done on the fly, plus the hellish ride back home itself, performed under the wickedly-unrelenting pain of THE most super-extraordinary circumstances imaginable; the rehabilitation of Rochelle, Rosie, Chase, Gina, and the Inspektor; the delayed shock of Maisie's "death," and Chases' notion about the reconstructive template; the quiet but continual {and increasingly disruptive} physical and mental deterioration of the Inspektor, despite his seeming "cure;" Liza becoming increasingly frazzled as she tried her damnedest to take up her Beloved's slack; Maisies' total but agonizingly painstaking refurbishment and the {premature} disappointment when her re-initialization didn't immediately register all green lights; and finally, Maisie's actual resurrection that would have made Lazarus Hizownbadself look positively lame and sick in comparison.

Totally thunderstruck, and a little more than slightly bewildered by it all, Maisie most willingly allowed Herownquitesexyself to be sat down on her medical recovery suite's couch so that the cute brunette robot surgi-tech handling her case could discreetly give her a final once-over before officially releasing her from care, as per Company Protocol. "Whew! Talk about the Mother of all mind-fries!! Methinks I'se gwyne ta need a moment or three {thousand} to let this all sink in." Maisie bemusedly shook her head, and squeezed Chases' hand with deep Sisterly affection. All at once, a bright twinkle lit Maisie's lovely brown eyes, and she tenderly stroked Chase's red fur-trimmed amber belt-buckle. "Well, if the Inspektor could find a way to cram the HUGE bulk of Rosie's datastream into this darling dainty lil' chassis, it stands to reason that he could easily also find a way to yank me back from the Void as well, right?" Maisie leaned down in teasingly mock-formal fashion, to sweetly address her "Big Little Sister" directly. "Are ya bunched up too tightly in there, Hon? Shall I burp you now to give you a little more room?"

Maisie's broad wink to her Sisters as she patted Rosie fondly triggered another explosion of giggles and laughter. "Aw, lay offa me, Mistress! Just wait 'til you see the video of how Hellified my poor road chassis was when I finally hauled your sorry synthetic carcass home here. THEN you'll be treating me with a bit more respect, you betcha!!" Rosie made no attempt to conceal the hints of giggles from her snarling mock-rebuke. "The abuse I have to put up with every damn day, I swear..." That last bit, muttered in an exact duplicate of the Inspektor's trademark deadpan, stoked the mirth within the group sky-high. It felt SO good for all of them to laugh together again once more!! They shared more kisses and hugs before settling down for a quieter breath or two.

As quickly as she could, the cute surgi-tech finished Maisie's final assessment, pronouncing her 100% fit. This was met with cheers and such a shower of ecstatic kisses and hugs, this time directed on the petite brunette, that the poor electronic woman was soon totally flustered. She hadn't been programmed to handle a Typical Family-Harem Love Onslaught, after all. Critical Care was her bag. Rochelle gave her a big hug, then looked slyly at her, and said "See about some emotional-feedback programming mods ASAP, Dearie - you really don't know what you're missing out on!" "I'm not sure if my circuits could take it, but we'll see, Miss Rochelle," "Dearie" said, assuming her standard but incredibly sexy vacant smile. "You all do seem to have a good time wherever you are, I must say!" She returned her attention to Maisie, advising her to avoid overt mental stress as much as possible for the next few weeks, and asking her to stop by the clinic within 72 hours for the crucial "making sure" checkup. Otherwise, she was good to go. On a sudden impulse, Dearie gave Maisie a shy, quick kiss and hug. "Welcome home, Mistress Maze! You've been a model patient, and it's been my distinct pleasure and privilege to have been treating you. I'll see you in 72 hours." After she left, Gina giggled evilly. "Oho, methinks the Hella-Harem is about to claim another mark for Da Master!" Right on cue, Liza, Rochelle, Rosie, Chase, and Maisie deadpanned in unison "May God help us all!" before collapsing yet again into a hysterical fit of giggles and laughter.

A few happy minutes later, Maisie reclined back on the couch with a heavy sigh, embracing Chase on her left, and Gina on her right. "I can't imagine what the horrible stressload you all endured must have felt like whilst I was 'gone'," she said before pausing to contemplate the notion that just struck her. Her eyes widening in surprise, Maisie addressed all her Sisters: "Say, that reminds me - did any or all of you guys get the binary-code SOS I was frantically trying to send out, before I revived?" All the Girls nodded vigorously. "We did, Honey, but to be perfectly frank about it none of us at the time knew it for what it truly was - we put it down to either being a byproduct of stress, or a spontaneous coping mechanism we all subconsciously concocted and then shared as a group," Liza explained, concluding with a groaning sigh that dripped both crushing fatigue and high distress. "We had absolutely no idea that your consciousness had survived the fragmentation, Maisie-Honey; we thought it was dust just like the rest of your datastream!" The gorgeous brunette shuddered with recollection. "We should all thank our lucky stars that our Dearest Inspektor rode us so hard about ensuring that the reconstruction was done RIGHT. I dread to think of what might have happened if there had been even one teeny-tiny error!"

All the Girls nodded in complete agreement; despite his quietly-worsening illness, only the Inspektor's iron will had kept the critical project on course from start-to-finish. Maisie suddenly glanced around the room. "Speaking of that certain devil we all Love so much, why isn't he here now to welcome me back?" A pregnant pause - that would have scared the holy shit {Batman} out of "Octomom" in her 72nd trimester - immediately filled the entire suite, to the point of claustrophobia. Before any of the Girls could answer her, Maisie drew pale and gasped - "Oh NO! Liza, did he have a breakdown or something?" Much against her will, Liza simply couldn't hold it together any longer, and just folded herself down into a tight, sobbing heap on the carpet. In an instant, all the Girls were there to help her to her feet, then back onto the couch, where it was several minutes before the lovely mechanical woman could gather her dreadfully over-taxed electronic wits, whilst her Sisters patiently stood by, silently letting the group-embrace provide the only support prudent for the moment.

When she finally did have her circuitry-governed wits under full control once again, Liza tearfully recounted all that happened between her and the Inspektor just after his scandalously lewd "goodbye" to Maisie, trying to rapidly gloss over the crux, in an effort to spare her Sister's feelings. "I know I dislocated his jaw and separated his wrist and elbow, but he never even winced, much less acknowledged his disgusting behavior...." she trailed off, with an anguished sob. Maisie looked steadily at Liza. "Den-Mama, just what exactly did he do to me that was so outrageous enough to set you off? I really need to know, please." Her naturally sultry voice was as pillow-talk soft as she could make it. With great difficulty, but tremendous poise, Liza met Maisie's steady gaze with one of her own, and inhaled deeply.

"Maisie-Honey, he FINGER FUCKED you as his way of 'saying goodbye!' " Maisie was stunned: "He WHAT?" The rest of the Girls were equally as upset as Liza, as eyewitnesses to the event themselves. Oh, the Lord knew that the Inspektor had more than a few crazy ways always about him, but none of the Family-Harem had ever seen, experienced, or even heard of anything so outrageously far out of bounds as this; hours later, it STILL stung like Hellfire. "You heard me, Honey. 'Beeline straight to the G-spot, cop a quick-n-lewd one, and sod everything and everyone else. So proclaimeth the Gospel According to the Drummer, New Testament, Chapter 6 and 7/8, page 69, verse pi, paragraph 33-1/3, second stanza, skip the gutter, Ver G`harget, all rights reserved, glad to meet me, put it on Geraldo's tab, buy a Chrysler, and don't you ever forget it, Maternal Fornicator," Liza mocked perfectly, in acidic parody of her Beloved's supposed "mantra."

The Inspektor's lovely and mechanized right hand shook her head sadly, still feeling the cutting edge of her deep emotional pain. The other Girls had never heard Liza so sarcastically bitter, yet also so profoundly hurt; one and all drew in for a group hug as their distraught Den-Mama finally vented her synthetic spleen. The entire complement of gorgeous mechanical women remained absolutely still and quiet within their shared embrace for several minutes. All were quite startled indeed when Maisie let out a soft gasp: "Oh, my Dear Lord! How in the HELL did he pull that off?!?!????" she muttered, half to herself before abruptly getting up off the couch to pace slowly around the room three times.

Her Sisters exchanged puzzled glances with each other, but kept quiet as Maisie executed said three circuits in deep contemplation. When she stopped, she once again fixed Liza with a steady gaze. "Den-Mama, which one of the Family re-initialized my systems?" Rather taken aback, Liza said "Why Honey, quite obviously we ALL did, just like the Inspektor demanded of me at the tag-end of his last meltdown a few hours ago. If your own personal log doesn't show it, the Company's main log surely will, if you want to verify. But why do you ask?" All the Girls clearly saw the brilliant twinkles in both of Maisie's eyes, as well as the slowly broadening smile on her luscious lips before she spoke. "I ask because we all seem to have missed the forest for the trees!” **{Hoom-hom; ro - bots be such ha - sty folk . . . . .}**

“I checked my own logs whilst we were gang-hugging just now, and they clearly show that Inspektor 12 himself was the one - the ONLY one - who re-initialized my systems; the rest of you all actually just sequentially engaged them, per protocol, to ensure they would function properly once the basic re-initialization process finished." She paused, beginning to beam. A baffled Rosie spoke up for the rest of her Sisters. "Whoa, whoa, WHOA there, Cowabunga Girl!! Set some air on the train-brakes for a spell. WE initialized all your systems, each and every damned one of us, we surely did. Sole of the foot, to the tip of the head; we all thoroughly covered your lot in spades, and strictly by the book to boot, sure as we're all sitting here. All Eye-Ball-Plenty did was exactly what he always does in crisis - go for the cheap thrill, or easy laugh, or even both at once, whichever suits his whim of the moment - and then he just up and splits, leaving the mopping-up to us lot. It's the same old 'peace in, garbage out' mess, yet again. And I for one am thoroughly sick and tired of it all." Nearly every other female in the room silently nodded agreement; they all shared the same hurt feelings regarding this unbelievable "group gender-diss."

Maisie's beaming grew ever brighter, which continued to baffle, and now began to greatly worry her Sisters. Was her logic programming glitching, or what? "Rosie, to date, how many of our Family have had to be totally re-initialized, the way I was?" A befuddled Rosie paused for several moments before answering "Only you so far, Sis." "Uh-huh." Maisie nodded, her beaming edging into luminosity. "Tell me off the top of your head, Sissie - do you know exactly where my master system re-initialization switch is, physically speaking?" Thirty seconds elapsed before Rosie's negative answer. Whereupon, Maisie suddenly dropped prone to the floor and assumed the sexiest, most alluring "Fuck me, Ray Bradbury" pose she could, propped on her elbows, and spreading her shapely boot-clad legs wide, her left leg going knees-up, which hiked her already high hemline up even more. She then moaned and sighed outrageously, before bursting into a torrent of giggles. "And there you have it, my Dearest Sisters - our very own Eye Ball Plenty blasts yet another one out of the park, whilst we all stand around, and go 'Duh?' " Pointing directly at her clean-shaven sex, clearly visible under the hiked-up hem of her blue floral minidress, Maisie said "My master systems re-initialization switch does double duty as my CLIT; it's in my schematics - as well as all your own - and has been there from the outset. A fine way to keep us close to, and yearning for, "the" touch we might one day need most of all - which I have literally borne out through direct experience."

The rest of the Girls were stunned; immediately, everyone assumed blank looks as they all accessed their individual root directories, seeking their schematics. Maisie's findings were confirmed shortly; the standard location for a Robo/Dolly Depot master system re-initialization switch in virtually every humanoid model ever produced - even in every reconditioned "outsourced" design like Gina and Chase - was indeed the female clitoris. Since re-initialization was a vastly different, distinct, and much more critical procedure than say a general reset / rebooting, it made perfect sense that such an intimate control for such an intimate function would be located in a such a specifically intimate area of the female body. To be accessed, of course, in a specifically intimate way.

Which meant that Inspektor 12 wasn't just merely getting his jollies like they all rashly assumed when he "molested" Maisie - he was actually following proper procedure for systemic re-initialization in his usual opaque-but-shrewd way, and nothing more. All the Girls recalled that the Inspektor was perfectly no-nonsense with his actions - gruff and more than a bit stern, actually - as opposed to the exaggerated leering and panting and "snake-tonguing" he always teased them with during true sexy horseplay. Totally shattered by this revelation, Liza poured gasoline on the bonfire by inadvertently broadcasting the Inspektor's actual coarse statement to her when it happened, which had been playing and re-playing in her subconscious for the last several hours: ++"Show her the goddamned Love, like THIS!"++

Indeed. All the Girls were instantly blown away.

At this point Liza leaped up off the couch, and promptly renewed her torrential tears. "So while the Inspektor was literally starting Maisie's revival with the one crucial detail the rest of us totally overlooked, I naturally jumped right in the deep end, and basically accused, indicted, tried, and convicted him on the spot of being the worst type of vile pervert, insensitive bastard, etc; then for good measure visited some corporal punishment on his person in retribution, all whilst he was totally innocent, and completely focused on the task at hand, despite being very ill himself." She shook her head violently, and began to slow-handclap in a deeply sarcastic manner. "Let's give it up bigtime for the Supreme Drama-Queen: Yay, Me! Yay, Me! Yay, Me! Sho' dat luv an' compazzion, yew lowzy psycho synth-bee-yotch, yew!! Well done, indeed!!"

Liza suddenly had a flashback of the incredibly pained look in the Inspektor's eyes during her verbal and physical assault of him, a look that now haunted and chilled her to the synthetic bone as it was revisited - it was the look of one suffering arbitrary, unjust, and completely bewildering abuse - all at the hands of one who was supposed to be a True Loved One; indeed, the ORIGINAL True Loved One. Totally overwhelmed emotionally, with a piercing scream the lovely female robot collapsed in a dead faint, still gushing tears.

For a few moments after Liza's searingly painful realization and sudden collapse, the rest of the Girls sat in stunned silence. All at once, they too began to feel the incredible raw power of the now-rippling emotional impact that just waylaid their Beloved Den-Mama. They all held the same grudge - the same totally baseless and completely spurious grudge, that is - and all were prepared to call the Inspektor to task over it, once Maisie had been restored to them. Now however, knowing that their complaint was completely disproven - by the very same actions that supposedly "indicted" the poor Inspektor in the first place - the Girls too began to weep in shame, as they quickly rallied 'round the fallen Liza and bore her once again to the couch, their sophisticated synthetic hearts all a-tatters. Would this blasted nightmare NEVER end? After a few light kisses, some massaging of her temples, and some quiet pleadings, the lovely brunette machine began to revive, hugging the rest of the Girls tight as they all wept together for a spell. "Dear Lord, how could we all be so completely and totally wrong? It's no wonder the poor boy took to the solitude. He must be convinced that we've all somehow gone rogue on him, and that he's truly all alone now," Rochelle sobbed piteously.

"I'm the one he'll never forgive," Liza groaned with disconsolate resignation. "I actually put forth all the charges, as well as the kangaroo conviction and sentence, remember. And with him SO sick, on top of it all! I deserve to just be completely junked, ASAP!" She was immediately met with a storm of protests, finally throwing up both hands in surrender, reluctantly allowing herself to be disabused of such a ridiculous notion. They would ALL make it through this TOGETHER, the Girls reassured Liza and each other, vehemently. They would all do whatever it took to squarely address this horrid misunderstanding, take their lumps in good faith, and restore their happy Family, as a unit - period. Maisie suddenly spoke up, with keen feeling. "Let's look at this objectively, Ladies. We all habitually assume the worst about Eye Ball Plenty during the times of high drama, because we have all bought into his "PR Image" being his REAL image, right? I mean, when was the last time any one of us ever called him by his given name?" Holding up one hand in a "stop" gesture, she continued earnestly. "Sh-sh-sh!!! Just think about that notion quietly for a bit, my Dear Sisters. Even when he's got us moaning loud enough for Helen Keller to hear clearly, which do we routinely cry out - 'Oh, Tommy," or 'Oh, Inspektor?' "

All were quiet, motionless, and 100% stunned. It was true, oh so horribly true - as far back as any one of them could remember, the man they one and all Loved so very, very much was always referred to as either "Inspektor 12 / the Inspektor," or one of his nicknames like "Eyeball Plenty" - which in itself was a sly referral to his supposedly "signature" character trait. Only Liza herself could recall - faintly, she promptly admitted - the last time she called him "Tommy," perhaps fifteen years ago!! Just like his "Wild, sex / drug / drink-depraved, Typical Rock Drummer" PR image he had had long before there even was the slightest notion of an "Inspektor 12," now the PR image of the "Sex-crazy / business-scourging / insanely warped robotics revolutionary Inspektor 12" was the dominant impression - leaving one Thomas McCauley, sensitive but totally misunderstood man of infinite wisdom, compassion, and means, in the deepest shadows once again - or, completely INCOGNITO, if you will. How could he honestly be loved for who he was, if no one could remember - or more importantly, care about exactly "who" he was? When would everybody simply stop taking him - the REAL "him" - for granted?

One by one, all the Girls looked at Maisie with brimming eyes, and stricken faces as these awful realizations hit home hard. "See what I mean?" she whispered softly, before leading her Sisters into the warmest group-embrace she could muster. "I feel as lousy as any one of us because of my own guilt in the matter, but I'm adamantly sure there IS a way out of this mess for all of us - provided we're all ready to brave the odd Lake of Fire to swim through? Who's with me?" Maisie's voice remained soft as pillow-talk, but there was no mistaking the pained, but strong Love that permeated her challenge - a pained but strong Love they all shared, bleak emotional circumstances of the moment notwithstanding.

"I'm with you all the way, Dearest Mistress!" A sobbing Chase clamped Maisie tight, burying her face into Maisie's shoulder. "Me too, Sugar!" Gina added tearfully, with a warm support-hug. "My perky-but-humbled self as well, Sis," Rosie's somewhat muffled declaration issued from Chases' waist, as her signature electronic tingle-kiss washed Maisie's cpu internally. "Count me in too of course, Hon," Rochelle managed a tearful, wan smile, prompting a quick kiss from Maisie. "I guess we've all earned and perhaps even deserve a thorough dip in the brimstone." All eyes then turned towards the lovely, bereft synthetic brunette who really was a Beloved mother-figure to them all, in so many ways. Still freely streaming silent tears, Liza slowly nodded her head, and sighed deeply. "Oh, what the hell; might as well take our medicine showing a united front - I'm in, too, come what may." The Girls cuddled each other protectively, one and all as unsure of their immediate future as it was possible to be, but one and all also FIERCELY determined to make things right with the man they all Loved so much. They would endure everything and more before giving up this fight; one-and-all owed at least that much to their Man of All Men. How he would, or even might react - what with him now obviously still deep in the clutches of the "Willow Bay Mystery Flu" - was anybody's best guess, but time was suddenly very precious indeed; they simply couldn't hedge or leverage this particular bet under the circumstances. So, they immediately began some hurried preparations, wirelessly hatching their master plan on the fly.

Within half an hour, every female machine was at her personal best, both from a physical standpoint, as well as a mental one. Emotions in check {and powercells fully charged}; skirts and dresses tight, short, and sassy; boots at highest patent-gloss; makeup full-but-subtle; spirits as high and as positive as they could be coaxed; and the whole kit and kaboodle operating within a miniature travelling thunderhead-cloudbank of Jhontue perfume, Inspektor 12's incredibly beautiful mechanical Family-Harem set off to find him, marching arm-in-arm in perfect lockstep. Their five pairs of high boot heels drummed out a sexy, determined cadence in precise unison that soon had some of the Robo Depot rank-and-file poking their heads around cubicle corners or out of conference room doors to see what the rather fragrant hubbub was. More than a few called out "You GO, Ladies!! Do our Boss proud!!" as the Girls swept regally by. This meant an awful lot to each and every Sister - the Robo Depot staff truly was an extended Family, and went out of their way to demonstrate their Love in small but devilish ways like this, whenever they got the chance. Every Sister immediately started giggling furiously at the double-entendres about "doing our Boss....."

Spirits rising even more, the Girls all smiled brilliantly and waved to each encouraging spectator, never once breaking stride, their final destination Building 917, and the Inspektor's private sanctuary therein................

ImageThis is where it all.......ends......Image Top User avatarBaron Posts: 532 Joined: Fri May 31, 2002 8:01 pm Location: Latos Manor

Re: Inspektor 12 Kronicles 10: Inspektor Jekyll, Gone Mr. Hy

Postby Baron » Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:06 pm ................ Unbeknownst to the whole of his quite lovely, and thoroughly mechanical Family-Harem, as they rather sexily strutted the length and breadth of the vast R-D complex, the man they all adored so deeply was well and truly suffering the Tortures of the Damned - and had been since about three weeks BEFORE the group had departed Willow Bay. This fact had not been discovered until just after their arrival home, and per the Inspektor's explicit instructions, not even Liza had been informed of the findings. This was the Inspektor's wont - he knew the others needed to keep focus on Chase and Maisie, and he also wanted to spare them the brunt of the mental and physical manifestations that were steadily worsening as the "Willow Bay Mystery Virus" took increasingly firmer hold on him, whilst the days and weeks sped by in a vague blur.

Thus, he seemingly remained aloof from the bulk of Maisie's restoration - but he also knew from the get-go that it would succeed. When he first went AWOL immediately following Chase's impassioned bout of Doll Violence And Mayhem after he "shot down" her idea of the reconstructive data-template, he went straight to his private domicile in the spacious cupola high atop the old zeppelin hangar that was Building 917, fed Chase's entire notion into his private personal database, and was rewarded a scant hour later with an amazingly intricate algorithm that indicated a 97.5% chance of total success.

Nonetheless, Inspektor 12 doggedly enacted his proper duties as Family Patriarch - by sharply reminding them what was at stake beneath it all, namely Maisie's ultimate survival, or lack thereof, should anything go wrong. He purposely never let on that the whole {ahem!} undertaking had just been proven to be a lead-pipe cinch, albeit with a tiny risk factor, other things being equal. No, the Inspektor's personal integrity and code of morals and ethics dictated that the threat of failure - and especially the horrid consequences thereafter - be the front and center main focus, as far as the Family-Harem was concerned. That would all but eliminate even the 2.5% of uncertainty, as the group would be hyper-aware, hyper-focused, and hyper-careful to a fault during the entire process.

As always, the Inspektor simply hedged AND leveraged his bet before he even made it, and was vindicated once Maisie resumed proper function, the slightly later re-emergence of her volition and faculties being beside the point. The way he saw it, the whole shebang was a useful life-lesson, simple as that. Unfortunately for the Inspektor, the Girls were just too emotionally overwrought to see things the way he did. What's more, the virus he harbored was slowly but steadily doing a positively awful number on his own mental faculties, despite his increasingly strenuous efforts to halt, or even slightly slow the damned thing down. Which meant that the chance for the Inspektor to thoroughly explain the method behind his "madness" never came about before the crisis-point did.

Oh, he'd quietly set up two small research and treatment teams, even before coming out of the ICU, utilizing hand-picked staff and associates, all sworn to absolute secrecy for the duration. The cute robot surgi-tech known to the Girls as "Dearie" was in fact heading up the curative physical / psychological treatment side of things, whilst an elite cadre of trusted ALPA freelance-Associates worked the research angle in three small squads - the "Dukem Brigades" - that continually spelled each other every eight hours, as they sought the source of the virus. The cure was bound to be nearby, once they pinpointed who, what, where, why, when, and how. It took a long while indeed for either team to gain traction, which of course only exacerbated and accelerated the Inspektor's condition. It was only due to his fiercely strong constitution, that enabled him to survive the ravages of the disease for so long; but the point of no return was approaching rapidly. However, as the proverbial eleventh hour waxed, then waned, a modest cargo-fluyt **{Bless you, Sid Meier!}** of good fortune finally landed in the dreadfully suffering Inspektor's stormy harbor, via a simple “EUREKA!!” posting from the field.

He was almost too far gone to grasp the full ramifications of the field research team’s findings.

You see, the mystery “virus” was actually extrapolated from a much-modified post-XTC "designer drug" derivative, also crudely akin to "bath salts," but with a myriad of unique properties all its’ own. It was disseminated in vapor form, and was literally "tuned" to specifically seek out and then mercilessly attack the Inspektor's DNA-signature, once the target was acquired. The Inspektor had been exposed to it one night at a concert he, Maisie, and Gina had performed during their Willow Bay extended vacation. About half the audience were "vaping," ie, indulging in electronic vapor cigarettes throughout the show, thus providing perfect cover for the perp. Once inhaled, the virus spread rapidly throughout the Inspektor's body and mind, instantly making him both a physical / mental "basket case," and a highly contagious carrier of the disease in the bargain. Once inoculated within him, the virus was designed to also go after any form of sentient machine he came in contact with, and feed itself / wreak havoc with their datastreams to boot; Rochelle and Maisie both quickly proving that point.

And then the fecal matter REALLY began to impact the oscillating circular air-mover.

Not only did the virus ravage his body, exacerbating even the minutest remnants of every physical trauma he'd ever endured - like ramping up by a factor of 1,000 the arthritis in his hands and knees - it also savagely attacked his brain, inducing everything from terrifying nightmares and hallucinations, to ghastly psychotic "epiphanies" that relentlessly tried to goad him into physical violence on his own person, at their conclusion.

But even that wasn't the worst of it.

As time went on, the Inspektor's disease actually began to talk to him directly in his subconscious - a wicked sort of artificially-induced schizophrenia. Like an evil poltergeist, a heavily synthesized voice would randomly pop into his consciousness, and instantly begin to run down and wreak absolute emotional havoc on virtually everything and everyone that was nearest and dearest in his life. It would suggest that he quit this silly "fantasy" he called his existence, relax and float downstream, and become one with the Void {"It is Not Dying,"}. It would find and dredge up any doubts, worries, or insecurities it could locate, then would viciously hammer the mental scar-tissue to the point of rupture and heavy bleeding. It would blow up minor peccadilloes into global conflagrations - to the point that the poor Inspektor began to avoid sleeping altogether, lest his snoring earn him a bullet in the back. It would smugly brag that even if he somehow found the source that unleashed such cruelly vindictive misery on him, he'd still wind up a mindless thrall, once the disease had run its' course; the malaise claimed it was purposely designed without an antidote - a literal one-way ticket straight into the very heart of Hell itself. And even worse still, once he'd been fully "turned," he'd immediately visit his condition on those same nearest and dearest to him, totally oblivious to the eternal torture and ultimate damnation he'd willingly condemn all and sundry to. In short, this disease was about to turn Inspektor 12 into a horrible ad-hoc electronic Nosferatu {undead}, losing all he loved AND his free / self-will in the bargain.

As the Inspetor's luck had it, each progression of the virus coincided with various traumatic episodes within his Family-Harem at large, which the synthesized schizophrenia immediately exploited with the cruellest glee; Maisie's initial "demise" overlapping the emergence of the "poltergeist voice" being the most important example. With that excruciatingly nagging voice firmly in place, from then on every action or reaction directed at the Inspektor by one of the Girls was thus immediately given a negative spin, thereby both preying upon, and exponentially expanding and reinforcing the nascent strains of paranoia / psychosis / schizophrenia that had been introduced at the outset. As such, by this late stage of the game, the poor Inspetor really did feel that all his Girls had turned on him for good, and that he himself was merely a scandalously shameful waste of perfectly good oxygen. All his accomplishments; all his achievements; all the ongoing good his numerous and quite diversified works were perpetually doing for "robokind" as well as mankind; not one little bit of it all mattered to him anymore. He now only wanted to be free of this damnable PAIN, both physical and mental; nothing else was important, period. He craved a good long rest, but knew it would never come. However, even though he was well and truly spent from the horrid physical and mental struggle he'd been engaged in from the get-go, there was still one small but exceedingly stubborn bit of his shredded psyche left to him. And before it too finally plopped down into the ghastly organic brain-soup that used to be Inspektor 12’s formidable mental faculties, it had one last duty to perform.

Whilst his Girls were sexily strutting their way towards him, blissfully ignorant of just how dire the overall situation was fast becoming, the dreadfully suffering Inspektor 12 quickly read the latest field report just in from the Dukem Brigade currently on shift, sent a final missive to the top Associate leading the field teams, summoned "Dearie" and gave her a final set of detailed instructions, secured his office {in Typical Nuclear Blast Bunker Fashion} once the wonderfully blank robot surgi-tech had cleared the suite, then without a moment’s pause, resolutely invoked the "final solution" that was Robo Depot Code Vermillion - DEFCON 1. After him verifying the protocol in triplicate, it was instantly disseminated throughout the whole R-D global network via only the most secure and/or hack-proof wireless frequencies; there was now nothing else for the Inspektor to do, but await his fate with whatever small bits of dignity he could tiredly conjure up.

As for the protocol itself, Code Vermillion was the Inspektor's "nuclear option," or to be a bit more precise, was his "Kill Oscar Goildman-esque" last line of defense, but with a subtle twist. Such was his physical and mental state, the Inspektor, by virtue of his being the literal epicenter of R-D, was now a clear and present danger both to himself, and the whole of his business empire - as well as concurrently posing a serious threat to the security of the greater ALPA network as a larger entity.

Remedial action was out of the question; the conditions that drove the Inspektor to the brink of Code invocation were tacitly assumed to be irreparable, all attempts at redress having been thoroughly explored, tested, and exhausted in failure already, hence the invocation in the first place. The focus now was on his rapid containment and complete neutralization immediately thereafter. Failure to do so in any way would open a literal Pandora's box, which also was totally out of the question. By neutralizing Inspektor 12 - with extreme prejudice - Code Vermillion operated under the resolute notion that whatever hostile force was behind the Inspektor's torture and dissolution would be thwarted with his loss, or at least distracted long enough for countermeasures to develop and rapidly deploy. The virus wasn't a simple murder plot - the entity or entities that engineered and used the disease on him were out for utterly disgusting “torture as ongoing personal entertainment,” as opposed to a mere "hit" that would be over with much too quickly for their perverted liking. Therefore, they'd be likely to want to see Inspektor 12 suffering in person at some point, being just as narcissistically ego-driven as any Nazi at Dachau or Auschwitz. This fact was something that the Inspektor was both counting on AND willing to gamble on. He wouldn't survive, but by golly he'd reach out from beyond the grave and mete out some Typical Inspektor "How about a nice refreshing glass of Shut-the-Fuck-Up?" -type Justice, some way, somehow. Code Vermillion thus was basically a lure - albeit an extreme and unlikely one. Although he could now literally feel the dread malignancy rapidly closing in on the final few uncorrupted synapses within his hideously overtaxed brain, he also felt an inexplicable surge of perfectly lucid self-confidence - a surge that unbeknownst to him, also violently balked the all-but-completed disease itself, at an extremely crucial point in the process. At that same instant, barely thirty seconds after Code Vermillion had been broadcast, there came a solitary message inbound on the same channel, surely one of the earliest "Roger, acknowledged, will fully comply" replies Robo Depot would soon be deluged with. The actual text however, totally baffled the Inspektor:


"Say what?" the bewildered Founder of Robo Depot actually croaked out loud. Three capitalized letters? What the hell WAS this, coming literally one second before Inspektor 12's personal Doomsday Clock finally tolled the Midnight Hour {in Typical Wicked Pickett Fashion}? And furthermore, exactly why was all that blasted and damned mental "not white, but neon-polka-dot-noise" he'd been enduring for almost three solid months suddenly silent, as well? As he studied the trio of seemingly innocuous letters - whilst not having even the merest hint of a notion as to what they might mean - he once again felt a strong surge of lucid self-confidence and immediately became completely engrossed in trying to crack the code he was absolutely certain the three letters contained, his awful malaise totally forgotten for the moment.

For the next several minutes, Inspektor 12's fingers were nimbly flying over his workstation keyboard, as he doggedly sought out his answer, wherever it was hiding at present. He scoured over 100 individual databases scattered all over the globe in perhaps five minutes, such was his state of lucid determination. And just like that, in a tiny, seldom-accessed remote data-node that was physically outside of, but somehow also directly networked into the ALPA mainframe, he suddenly obtained the information he was desperately seeking. A slow smile, and one of his most devilish eye-twinkles appeared on Inspektor 12's haggard and ravaged countenance as the gist of the information slowly sank in. He leaned back in his office chair, still totally pain-free physically and mentally, and casually put both feet up on the workstation. He sighed tiredly as he clasped his hands behind his upwardly tilted head. "Say your prayers, Blueboy - the STFU bottle is already in the flash-chiller, and I'm damn well gonna pop its' cork with YOUR sorry little ass when the time comes, so help me Mel Torme."

A millisecond after the hoarsely-croaked vow left the Inspektor's mouth, his brain was instantly and simultaneously assaulted with both a blinding flash of light, and an equally deafening concussion of sound - the twain events making even the most powerful thermonuclear detonation known to mankind seem like somebody popping a blown-up paper bag, in comparison. With a horrible scream, The Inspektor fell over backwards in his office chair, as searing pain lanced through his brain, then lashed throughout his body, only to abruptly stop, and then the brief but intense cycle began to run over and over and over again in a hopeless loop. Blind-deaf-pain; blind-deaf-pain; blind-deaf-pain; blind-deaf-youwannabuyaduck-pain; blind-deaf-pain. A simple conditioning pattern, actually - designed to lock in all the synthetic garbage, and lock out all rationality and reason. The Willow Bay Mystery Virus had fully run its' course at last - and the poor Inspektor was now gone to the same hellish dimension that also claimed as residents the likes of Peter Green, Jim Gordon, and Syd Barrett, among many others. There was a terrifying, totally unearthly roar as Inspektor 12 exploded into hyper-frenzied action, blithely obedient to the incessantly ongoing instructions that now completely dominated and governed him - and totally oblivious to all the myriad security measures that sprang into full operation the instant he "went"..............

"Oh, CRAP!!! Not this, not now!!!" Chase was the only one to voice the stupendous shock all the Girls felt the instant Code Vermillion was broadcast; everyone else was too appalled to react for the moment. A weird apathy quickly descended over the Family-Harem as they struggled to comprehend all the ramifications this totally unexpected event was triggering. Had it really come down to this, the imminent loss of their Most Beloved - BEFORE the Girls could set things right with him again? Why such cruelly bad karma now, after all they'd endured since Willow Bay? Wordlessly, the Sisters looked at each other for perhaps five seconds before they all started sprinting down the final long corridor that led from the main Robo Depot campus to the anchor of the sprawling complex that was Building 917. As the lovely but frantic mechanical women burst into the oversized quadrangle that served as a spacious foyer for the old zeppelin hangar, the entire group literally skidded to an astonished halt. They had entered the quadrangle from the south - just as a hulking, yet familiar male figure burst in from the west, and a dainty, petite, but also familiar female figure popped in from the north - all at precisely the same moment. "Duke!! Dearie!!! Did you get the alarm too?" Liza's voice was amazingly clear and firm, given the high anxiety of the moment.

The burly, imposing frame of Duke Nukem heaved ever-so-slightly as he doffed his trademark dark Raybans, belying the fact that he'd likely sprinted the entire campus a-la Jesse Owens, once the alarm hit. His sharp grey eyes locked in on Maisie, and grew large as a pair of Walton Family turkey platters. "Miss Maze?" His querying rich bass voice was soft, stunned, and rather disbelieving. A beaming Maisie immediately launched herself into a breath-taking standing long jump, horizontally soaring a good fifteen yards before landing neatly in Duke's outstretched arms. They kissed passionately for a delicious few minutes; no words were necessary.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Girls congregated around "Dearie," rather bemused by her radically-altered appearance. She'd obviously taken Rochelle's sly hint about emotional programming upgrades to heart, verified by her enhanced electro-aura, which was now a veritable riot of rainbow colors, as opposed to the simple cool blue and light grey tones she previously displayed. Even more striking was the physical makeover she'd obviously also quickly undergone. Her gorgeous and naturally wavy chestnut-brown hair was now loose and flowing down past her shoulder blades, in contrast to the simple neat ponytail she always wore before. In place of the usual scrubs and sneakers worn under her white lab coat, Dearie now sported a rather fetching grey flannel t-shirt type minidress, accented with a wide black belt, opaque tan nylons, and a luscious pair of soft-gloss grey leather high-heeled boots, which added perhaps three inches to her dainty 5'2" chassis.

A tasteful touch of pastel green eyeshadow really made Dearie's almond-shaped, electric-green eyes pop; whilst "liquid plastic look" fuschia lip gloss, and classic White Linen fragrance completed the overall package. Quite simply, once she "let her hair down" {literally}, she was as stunningly beautiful as all the Family-Harem women were. All that was left was the Inspektor's assessment and approval, and she'd officially join the Electro-Mechanical {Blah Blah} Sisterhood. For now, though, Dearie assumed the role of spokesperson, graciously allowing Duke a bit more quality time with Maisie. "May I assume you've all replied to the Vermillion Alert, as per protocol?" she sweetly inquired. Her absolute calmness brought the Girls up short, being in such stark contrast to their own DEFCON 1 metal state. "No!" our most Foxey Den-Mama replied, in total astonishment. "We got the message while on our way here anyway, albeit for a much different reason. It seemed logical for us to just get here ASAP, and work the direct source in person."

Dearie smiled dazzlingly at Liza, and said "If that's the case, would you and the Girls do me a slight small favor then, Den-Mama?" Liza was as puzzled as her Sisters, but they all readily acquiesced. "Splendid. If you all would kindly recall the physical message, and reply to it in proper fashion this time, I'm sure something good will shortly result. Please trust me on this?" Liza simply nodded and said "Sure thing, Honey," before going as blank as her Sisters already were. It didn't take long before the entire Family-Harem emitted a collective sigh of relief, as the odd stone or three fell off the awful load they all were lugging like Our Boy Sisyphus. "Oh Dearie, thank you ever-so-much for this wonderful clarification!!" Liza exclaimed, punctuating with a warm hug and a sweet kiss for the pixieish brunette surgi-tech. "The Girls and I have been snoozing at the foot of the Moloch-Machine, as it were - we totally forgot proper protocol with regards to this specific scenario, and its’ very special circumstances. Distractions eight billion to the dozen, and whatnot.” Liza grinned lopsidedly. “When the sy-reen blew, we-all just flew!"

Giggling furiously at Liza's drawled and wryly-humorous admission, Dearie took it all in stride, and brightened her already lovely smile. "My distinct honor and privilege, Madam Liza-Beta; no harm, no foul. I exist in liege to Hippocrates first and foremost, but that's really just a smokescreen to cover my fundamental character flaw of deep compassion for everybody in general, and this Family-Harem in particular, outside forces notwithstanding. But I must caution the lot of you that we're already deep into the endgame - and from here on in, we all are going to see things that will emotionally and psychologically crucify us. I already have, as a matter of fact." She shuddered deeply.

By this time, Duke and Maisie had rejoined the group, holding hands just like any good couple would. Dearie held out one of her own delicate hands to Duke, symbolically giving him the floor. Duke tenderly took it, and gently drew her to his side opposite Maisie, before continuing the narrative right where Dearie left off. In his very best no-nonsense manner, Duke said "Since we don't know how much of a window of opportunity we have left, now's as good a time as any to quickly fill in the gaps of this crisis for you lovely Ladies." Duke paused just long enough to perch his Raybans securely on top of his flat-top haircut, so the Girls could be reassured in a small way through ongoing direct eye-contact. "See, Sophia and I have been quietly working here together, under the deepest cover possible, since the day after you all first came home. In a nutshell, she and I have headed up two small task forces, both dedicated to the Mystery Virus; hers is for disease research / caregiving, and ultimately treatment; and mine is for the investigative field work to locate the source, and aid in Sophie’s research from the field thereafter by guarding against and eliminating hostile threats before they can breach the complex here. Both the units' personnel and us leaders were personally hand-picked by the Inspektor, who immediately swore us all to absolute secrecy for the duration, no matter what."

Duke motioned the entire group over to an L-shaped sofa/setee combo, where they all quickly got comfortable. Maisie shot a sly glance at Sophia / Dearie, who sat next to her. "Let me guess - the Inspektor asked you to either dial down, or completely turn off your emotions so you'd have fewer distractions during treatment and research?" Sophia smiled brilliantly, and sighed happily. "Guilty as charged, Your Honor. I put so much of my emotional programming under heavy geis that it interfered somewhat with my socialization parameters - me never properly introducing myself to you all being one result, and my slightly "blank robot stereotype" mannerisms being another. Now that the fat is finally in the fire, I figured it was high time to completely dump the "Mrs.Klinker-cum-Joe Friday” schtick, and become myself again. Oh, and by the way, you all can still call me "Dearie" if you wish. That nickname is already sorta near-n-dear to my electronic heart since you all were the ones who gave it to me. Makes me feel "welcome," if you catch my drift?" Sophia's eyes were moist and shiny, and she emitted one tiny sniffle.

Once again, Chase was the first one to react, reaching across Maisie, and warmly clasping one of Dearie's dainty hands. "As far as I'm concerned you're already a Sister to me, Sophia!! I just wish we'd known that you and Mister Duke were working the crisis from other angles. I think I can safely speak for all the Girls when I say that a crap-ton of pressure would have been taken off all of us, had we been clued in from the start. Yet we've managed it all somehow without losing the main focus so far, so I guess it's all good. We're all on the same page NOW, and that's what really counts." The winsome Doll-of-them-Oll gave Dearie another warm hand-hug, and blew her a kiss with her free hand. Maisie, Liza, Gina and Rochelle were all crying silently, overjoyed at the tremendous amounts of pluck, courage, and spirit that now seemed to be raging totally unchecked within their dearly beloved Baby Sister, despite the critical circumstances. This development alone was a great stress-reliever within itself, but they all knew that celebrating or capitalizing on it would have to wait until post-crisis.

Duke gave Chase his very best Cheshire cat smile, and continued with his "plot points," his rich deep voice as calm and soothing as any therapists'. Five minutes of explanation later, Duke hit the summary. "The kicker to this whole situation was only uncovered by my second-shift squad less than 72 hours ago. We have traced the damned virus back to its' point of origin - namely one Carl Franklin." The gasps following Duke's statement threatened to implode the room; not one single female present could vocally articulate even so much as a grunt, such was the shock and disbelief. Sure, they'd all mused about it being Carl since before Maisie's and Rosie's crashes, but it was more bitter-silly conjecture that a serious probability. Hell's bells - "Carl Franklin-as-Villain," to the Family-Harem's way of thinking, was about as frightening a prospect as "Mr. Fred Rogers - Serial Killer," for Pete's sake! This sorry excuse for a mechanical man was having a good day indeed if he got both shoes on their proper feet - tying them correctly was an excuse to celebrate for a solid week.

Absolutely no dummy, Duke correctly read the Girls' thoughts, and smiled grimly. "Yeah, I know Carl's a far cry from MENSA-material, but the fact remains that even a broken clock will be "right" twice every 24 hours. Underestimating him now could well prove fatal to the Big Cheese, kapish?" The Girls all nodded soberly. Duke sighed. "We've been working 'round the clock to reverse-engineer the virus contained in the blood sample the Inspektor gave us about a month back, but we're no closer to a treatment, let alone a full-blown cure, now than we were then." Duke stopped, then smashed a fist into his palm in total frustration. "If I ever get my hands on that miserable little fucktard, I'll tie him up tighter than the springs of a brand new abdominizer, so help me Mr. Miagi," the hulking field-agent muttered. To the group, he added "Even knowing where, when, and whom the virus came from isn't much help; the basics of the code he used are so random as to be nonsensical." The Girls began to softly groan and mutter, but all and sundry were startled silent by a piercing alarm that suddenly came from within Building 917.

Sophia's eyes grew large with fright. "Ohmygosh, that's the panic alert!! Come on!!" She sprinted into the old zeppelin hangar, followed closely by Duke and the Girls. "Half of you go on the elevator, half come up the stairs - I don't want any avenue of escape open!" Duke barked. He, Maisie, Liza, and Gina mounted the stair platform, and tightly gripped the handrail. In an instant, they were whisked five stories up the cork-screw stairwell, at close to 3 g's - under more pleasant circumstances, a pretty neat mini-thrill-ride. They arrived just as Dearie, Gina, Rochelle, Chase, and Rosie were exiting the equally fast-and-furious elevator - or as the Inspektor dubbed it, the "Who says I'm Dumb?" -waiter. The whole group quickly scanned the entire area. The cupola atop Building 917 was basically super-duty, hurricane-resistant, nuclear bombproof and deeply Transitions-mirror-tinted glass walls on all sides that ran about three quarters of the hangar's roof lengthwise, topped with a rounded and mirror-tinted glass dome that matched the original building's contours.

The interior space was divided in half with the only partition - also made of the same heavy glass - precisely bisecting the center of the cupola. Office, conference space, and a light repair facility each occupied a third of the square footage on one side, whilst sleeping, eating, and recreation / toiletry amenities could be found on the other. The not-so-dumb-waiter ingressed on the "business" side, whilst the rocket-escalator debouched on the "pleasure" side.

Since the central partition wasn't opaqued at the moment, Duke's group could easily see the ominous sight that had utterly silenced and immobilized Dearie's group over on the other side. The portion of the suite that contained the Inspektor's office, conference room, and mini lab wasn't there, or so it seemed. What was there was a super-hi-def holographic image that gave the very convincing illusion of this portion of the cupola continuing on a good 30 feet to a portcullis with the gate pulled down. The only time the holo activated in this area of the suite was if the blast gate got triggered and came down, completely sealing off the office, conference room, and lab in Typical Panic-room Fashion. This had obviously happened; no escaping intruder could have used either elevator or escalator without them instantly knowing it, and even if they had, they still would have been trapped inside the hangar, 'cos all ground level doors had been sealed the instant the alarm sounded, and would not open from the inside without a special security code known only to a select few. As such, the entire entourage reached the obvious conclusion that the "hostile threat" had originated from WITHIN the Inspektor's office.

Whilst piercingly-icy tendrils of fear, dread, and anxiety raced through each mechanical woman's data-stream at lightspeed, Dearie quickly ambled over to the multi-comm on the partition, and briskly addressed it. "Roselle-Honey, would you kindly dial up the hangar’s penthouse video security feed from the 15:45.0 mark to the 16:00.0 mark, inclusive, then run it for us on the blast-gate, please?" A sprightly contralto voice said "Your wish, my command, Soph - d'ya want me to drop the barf-bags now, too?" Most everybody smiled wanly, while being a bit puzzled about the barf-bag reference. The current Robo Depot mainframe truly was Rosie's offspring; impish voice, sense of humour, and all, no doubt about it. "Just the video for now, Sweetie. We'll holler if we need anything else." Dearie patted the multi-comm absently, before strolling back to the blast gate.

Moments later, a square the size of a 224-inch plasma screen blacked out the center third of the holo, and began to run the suite's security feed. Duke's group by now had joined the others, all eyes intent on the video. There soon appeared the familiar, and much-Beloved figure of the Inspektor, looking more ill and haggard than anybody had ever seen. He was typing furiously at his private personal workstation, totally engrossed, his famous and quite well-worn fur-covered top hat from his rock-star days occupying its' usual place of honor on a stand near his left elbow, next to a printer. "This was just after the Inspektor Invoked the Code," Sophia stated quietly, as a point-of-reference. "I was down by the foyer, co-ordinating on the phone with Duke when this happened, but since I was also streaming this same feed in the background as an extra precaution - well, you'll see."

The group saw their Beloved cease his frantic typing, and lean back, feet up on the desk. He looked up towards the ceiling, and muttered something that the ladies and Duke couldn't quite make out. However, before the Girls could even begin to speculate what he had said, they saw the Inspektor freeze up, then wince in obvious - and incredible - pain. They all gasped as his arms and legs flailed out violently, as if in horrifically grand-mal seizure, just before he fell over backwards in his swivel-chair, his battered top hat loyally spiraling down right after him. Five excruciatingly tense seconds passed before the Inspektor suddenly sprang up to his full height, threw his head back, and let out what must have been a truly terrifying roar - the howl of a complete madman. Despite the silent video-feed, every last hair on the collective hackles of the Family-Harem was standing straight up when their Beloved went off like that. Even Duke and Dearie shuddered heavily. Their absolute terror was complete moments later when the Inspektor stopped his awful howl, donned his battered furred hat with a wild, yet intricate rolling-up-the-hand-to-arm-to-head flourish - a-la “Puttin’ On The Ritz” - then lowered his head and turned to gaze directly into the lens of the security camera.

At this point, some strange force suddenly compelled each mechanical woman to zoom their optics to maximum magnification. The Girls were suddenly eye-to-eye with a pre-recorded Daemon. His eyes were blazing, literally flaming with supernatural intensity; a lurid, roiling orange-red blast-furnace, rimmed with yellow, and shot through with miniature electric-blue lightning bolts! Pupils, irises - gone. Inspektor 12’s eyes had become twin windows looking straight into the epicenter of Dante’s Ninth Circle.

Liza screamed. Chase screamed. Then Rochelle, Gina, and Rosie. Sophia cringed, then buried her face in her hands - she'd seen it in realtime already, but the shock was still potent enough the second time around, even via silent playback. Duke let out a soft "Dude - Un-REAL!!" Only Maisie had enough wits about her to speak coherently, although her voice was faint and wavering something fierce. "Oh Dear God NO - not The Man In The Beaver Hat!" Maisie's soft, anguished plea ended with a choked sob. But alas, it was so - in yet another cruel twist, the man they all Loved Beyond All Else had been transformed into an identical twin to the late great Lon Chaney's vampire/maniac from the legendary "London After Midnight," one of the Inspektor's very most favorite silent horror films. The same dark circles around each bulging, blazing eyeball; same long and rather wild hair; same set of wickedly sharp teeth, bared in a truly Evil grin; Hell, even the furred top hat was exactly the same. Try as they might, the Girls could not reconcile the Beast in the video with the Man they all Loved so; Inspektor 12 - Thomas McCauley - was just......gone..... Yet before all these appallingly harsh realities had a chance to sink in, Inspektor Hyde quickly upped the ante in a most horrific Fashion.

As the group watched, utterly transfixed, the Inspektor went over to his workstation, and typed in a quick command. Moments later, a quite comely figure shyly entered the Inspektor's office, coming off the not-so-dumb-waiter. A gorgeous brunette with delicious Anglo-Asiatic features, she was dressed in patent leather thigh high boots, and a racy red-print silk sarong that featured an alluring slit that started below the knee, and progressed diagonally up to a point just below her rather remarkable bustline. Make that "remarkable; remarkably-remarkable" bustline, 'cos it consisted of three, count 'em THREE plump breasts {and outrageous double-cleavage}, fully exposed, save for the nipples which were humorously "covered" by a narrow band of more racy red silk that really didn't elevate her modesty level all that much. Quite used to his Boss's many colorful quirks, Duke let out a quick bark of laughter: "Really? 'Three-handed Texas Hold-em'!?!?’ Too much!!" Liza groaned at Duke's comment, whilst shaking her head morosely: "How on Earth did he find out about Kaitlyn? She was supposed to be kept under wraps until his next Birthday - she hasn't even been beta-tested yet!"

Before anyone could reply, the video seemed to glitch; first the Inspektor's image became a blur, then Kaitlyn's did as well. They merged briefly, then separated. An instant later the Inspektor came back into focus - holding Kaitlyn's severed head in his hands, a look of pure shock frozen on her lovely face. The rest of Kaitlyn - or rather the garish and grisly jigsaw-puzzle that now was "the rest of Kaitlyn" - soon became visible; a jumbled mound of dismembered body parts, ripped-out wiring, shattered circuit boards, and all of it drenched in the thick red-orange fluid that was Robo Depot's patented combination break-in coolant and lubricant. But the gruesome tableau didn't end there. All and sundry were gobsmacked when they looked closer at the remains. Kaitlyn's arms weren't just torn out of their sockets; her fingernails were ripped from her fingers - themselves ripped apart at each knuckle, which were ripped from her hands, which were ripped from her wrists, which were ripped from her forearms, which were ripped from her biceps, which were ripped from her shoulders. It was the same for her toes, feet, and legs; her torso had been cleanly shorn of the three breasts, and was halfway split in two. Even her severed head was sans ears, eyes, and nose. It goes without saying that her delicate electronic innards were likely in the same condition as her outer shell, if not much worse.

"Roselle-Honey, please pause the playback." Maisie's sultry voice gave everyone a start, snapping them all out of the shocked thrall they had been in. "Is anyone besides me curious to understand just how the Inspektor was able to be so, ah, thorough?" As a unit, the Girls and Duke numbly nodded yes. "Roselle-Honey, please return the feed to the 15:58 mark and resume playback, if you would?" "Done and done, my Mistress Maze. You're wanting the 48x super slow motion too, righto?" Maisie smiled faintly: "Spot-on, Kiddo. You're on top of your game, which is a huge help to us all." Roselle giggled brightly. "Aw shucks, Maze - I'm just doing my bit for the Cause. No need to embarrass me with praise." This small exchange between Roselle and Maisie gave the others a chance to regain some much-needed mental equilibrium, before plunging right back into the heart of the maelstrom. Even under 48x super slo-mo, the Inspektor's dismantling exercise was still mostly blurred; clear images of him and Kaitlyn occurred perhaps every seventy-odd frames, or so. Gina suddenly piped up, "Hey Dear Sisters of Mine, enable your optics to the same 48x resolution playback of the vid - it's all clear, then."

The Girls quickly adjusted, and Maisie walked back to the multi-comm. "Roselle-Honey, back the feed up to the 15:58 mark again, then loop it through my cpu and back to the projector. This will let Duke see the vid the way we would with the extra resolution. Sisters, cancel your own 48x optical settings." "Sure thing, Mistress! Brilliant notion, that." Roselle instantly matched word to deed, as did the Girls, and the feed soon resumed. This time, everyone could clearly see the Inspektor calmly and methodically carrying out poor Kaitlyn's vivisection. They all were soon struck by the frequent bursts of visible electrical energy that came out of the Inspektor's hands as he worked. He looked for all the world like a medieval wizard practicing reverse-sculpture, enhanced with electro-magick. Horrible as the scene was, one and all marvelled at the Inspektor's incredible skill and precision. "It's like he's the most ultimate machine of them all; no way in Hell could I come within a country mile of Tommy's plane of operations right now, and that's grossly understating the case," Maisie said breathlessly.

Sophia quietly spoke up. "Let's keep on topic, Ladies and Gentleman. Those energy bursts the Inspektor generates contain the fully incubated virus, now in it's second strain of mutation. Even if the physical damage is such that Kaitlyn can be repaired and reassembled, she'll still be a thoroughly ruined AI, not worth trying to cure, as well as a carrier of the virus herself. And if we're all not extremely careful from here on in, we'll wind up just like the poor dear. Lord only knows how much more virulent the second generation of the virus might or might not be, so it's best for us to leave well enough alone, and work the containment angle as hard and as fast as we can." The pixieish mechanical woman paused for a deep breath. She quietly added, "If nothing else, we have to put an immediate end to the Inspektor's suffering; he's been several times through Dunderbeck's Sausage Meat Machine already." Blackly humorous as that statement was, all the Girls - Chase included - nodded silently in total agreement. A grim proposition to be sure, but it looked like few other options remained, barring a Miracle, or three. After a few quiet moments of contemplation, Liza roused herself. "Well, I don't see any reason to postpone the inevitable any longer. Roselle-Honey, would you please shut off the holo, and adjust the blast-gate opacity setting to 'outside, looking in'?"

"You betcha!" was the bright, instant reply. In a twinkling, both the video feed and the hologram image vanished - revealing the horrifically heart-stopping sight of Inspektor 12 totally plastered up against the blast-gate, splattered head-to-toe in Kaitlyn's "gore," with even more of it smeared randomly all over the thickened glass, from floor to ceiling. His handsome face was utterly unrecognizable, as it was locked into a Daemonic grimace that was part pain, part rage, part confusion - and total lunatic. As the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate would have it, the Inspektor naturally just had to be directly opposite Chase when he "popped back in again" in Typical Nightmare at 20,000 Feet Fashion {word to your Mother, Corporal Cluck - er, Captain Clerk - er, Major Jerk - er, Sir Willy the Miniscule And Insignificant!}. Quite understandably, the winsome wind-up woman nearly jumped clean out of her lovely synthetic skin in terrible shock and fright, momentarily forgetting that a stout eight inch thickness of well-tempered glass was keeping "Mistor Hyde" at bay. Before she could freak all the way out however, she somehow managed to quickly get hold of herself, and dial down the trauma to a reasonable level - which impressed the hell out of everybody else, and eased tensions to a certain degree. It was then that the details began to reveal themselves.

For starters, the Inspektor wasn't moving - he looked for all the world like a screen capture of Wile E. Coyote having suddenly discovered just how faulty his "Acme Spring-Loaded Funhouse Mirror" really was, which momentarily puzzled the Girls. "Over the course of our assignments, Duke suggested a few security system tweaks," Dearie explained. "We put two in the suite here; an oxygen-vacuum / sedative fogger, and a sonics mega-blaster. They're tied into the blast-gate trigger, designed to pacify intruders - and they obviously seem to work as intended." She giggled softly, and flashed an impish smile. "He literally got caught on his feet, and simply fell forward where he was - the gate is propping him up!!" The others saw that it was so, and breathed a huge collective sigh of relief.

Meanwhile,, Maisie had just made an interesting discovery of her own. "Hey guys - come back here where I am, and have a look at this." The others walked back to where Maisie was, close to the partition. They turned to look back at the blast-gate. All and sundry were astonished to see that the wild smears of Kaitlyn's "gore" actually spelled out a cryptic message - several of them, as a matter of fact - when viewed from this distance. "Kay eff see? Now why does that ring one of those little bells in me?" Gina mumbled absently. She glanced at Rochelle, who brightened up seconds later. "Say!! Didn't we see 'KFC' on nearly every message-marquee we passed in the campus, on our way here?" Maisie and Liza nodded in unison, thoughtful expressions on their beautiful faces. Duke nodded as well. "Now that you mention it Miss Rochelle, I clearly remember seeing “KFC” flashing a few times on the billboard atop the Admin building, as I was making my own way here." Rochelle was suddenly pensive. "I wonder - could this be one of Tommy's pranks-within-a-calamity? You know, the sort of thing he suddenly pulls during a business-scourge, to throw his opponents totally off-kilter?" Liza shrugged her shoulders, but her pretty face never lost the look of intense concentration. "Could be, Hon. But for all we know, Tommy could also simply be telling us he's got the munchies for some 'chick-chick-chick-en.' " Liza's drawling deadpan delivery of "chick-chick-chick-en," one of the Inspektor's oldest running jokes, instantly caused giggle-fits to ripple through the rest of the Girls. The giggles were contagious enough to soon rope in Sophia and Duke too, who both easily gave in to the moment, treating themselves to another small mental respite in the bargain.

"You Ladies do realize, don't you, that the Inspektor is clearly trying to tell us all something?" Duke was fixedly gazing at the smear-messages during his address to the Girls, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "Whatever the hell “KFC” means, he wants us to focus on it - otherwise, he wouldn't have bothered to write it BACKWARDS so many times, just to get his point across." The Girls were amazed. "Holy cow, you're absolutely right about that, Sugar." Gina had a dazed look on her face, before shooting Duke one of her sexy smiles. Chase said, "Wait a minute, I don't get it. The Inspektor's message isn't written backwards?" Duke chuckled in a kindly manner as he turned his head to catch Chase's eye. "Think from the Inspektor's point of view, Miss Chase. He wrote the message so WE could see it from the opposite direction, here on our side of the glass. It's kinda like the way the word "Ambulance" is always printed in reverse on the vehicles, so as to show up properly oriented in a rear-vision mirror. Thus, from his perspective, he was indeed writing backwards. And damned skillfully too, I might add." Duke had noted how neat and orderly the writing was, just as if it had been written conventionally, under perfectly casual circumstances. Chase's eyes were huge with realization - and hope. "Oh, I see how it is now! Maybe he's not as far gone as we think, if he can still come up with a neat trick like this one whilst he's so ill?" Liza came over and gave Chase a warm hug, and a sweet kiss. "Perhaps so, Honey; perhaps so. We won't know for sure until he's fully contained and in the ICU, but this seems to certainly be a positive indicator." The others all agreed, and thus reassured, Chase returned her beloved Den-Mama's Love in-kind.

A sudden flash of movement caught the corner of every eye in the room, prompting the group to re-orient on a specific portion of the blast-gate. To everyone's total astonishment, the Inspektor had somehow reanimated, and began furiously pounding on the stout glass in front of him. A world-weary Sophia shook her lovely head in resignation, and began to slowly pace around the suite, all the while muttering to herself in total disgust about Tommy throwing off both pacifiers so quickly and easily. Seconds later he threw his head back, and unleashed another blood-curdling howl. Thanks to the heavy glass, Duke didn't hear anything, but all the suddenly-wincing Girls sure did, due to their electro-enhanced hearing. Faint though the howl might have been to them because of the insulating layers of dense material between source and receptacle, it was still powerfully sinister, inducing raw naked terror, the likes of which none of them had ever experienced before now. For the moment, all they could do was sadly watch the woefully diseased man as he began to thoroughly trash the rest of the enclosure he was confined in. Barely choking back a hellishly anguished sob, Rochelle marched right up to the glass, placed her left hand against it tenderly, and said in a wailing whisper, "Oh my most Precious Love, how on earth can we get you to come back to us all?" In complete empathy with their lovely Sister, all the other Girls were barely holding back their own floods of tears as Rochelle finished her quiet and most piteous plea.

At that precise moment, an ethereally angelic-sounding voice gently spoke up directly behind them: "Perhaps you all might could use an antidote?"

Sans their living daylights {and some bladder and colon contents}, Inspektor 12's entire Family-Harem, Duke and Sophia included {and you too, Willona}, spun on their heels with blinding alacrity, only to freeze in place a heavily stunned moment later.

A true Apparition was sweetly staring them all in the face.

This was Gina's big cue to immediately seize up and faint dead away - which she obligingly did, 'cos she done be writ that way............

In Typical Cliffhanging Fashion.

The Saga:
The Homecoming
One Zero Nightmare
Miracles, Miseries

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