I sat at the bar, drinking another beer, trying once again to forget the bullshit I'd been through the past 20-plus years. It was actually easier for me to get drunk to get drunk, since comparatively little of my body was still flesh and blood, but staying drunk wasn't easy thanks to a robotic liver that never broke down, so as soon as I finished one brew I ordered another one.
It was in this state that the Chief found me, as he sat at the stool next door. The Chief ordered a round for himself, and I turned, looking at the Chief from under my fedora before turning back to my beer.
"It's time again, isn't it?" I said, unable to hide an edge of frustration. Despite my efforts, and the efforts of those I loved, our mutual foe had never been brought to justice. Every so often, he found a way to come back and haunt us.
The Chief nodded, solemnly. He'd gotten greyer than when I first joined the force, the Irish red hair and mustache now looking like sheets of silver. He was old, and he looked it.
Unlike me. I never could get old. But damn it, I felt it.
He sipped his drink, and turned to look at me. "He's planning to strike again. Our intel operatives decoded an encrypted message we intercepted yesterday." He handed me a note, written on flimsy paper - a variant of flash paper. As soon as I read it, I set it ablaze, like always, and watch it turn into smoke.
The same way life had been treating me, I guess. Using me and discarding me.
"I know you don't have to do it, G," the Chief said. "We've got other agents these days. It's just that..."
"None of them know this enemy like I do," I finished. Didn't even need a gadget to hear what he was thinking. That chrome-armed cat lover was my archnemesis. I knew him better than I knew some of my friends. Or at least, the ones who hadn't died, while I remained here, an unchanging testament to the days before.
The Chief finished his drink and set the glass before him. "We need you on this. After this one, you can take some off-time."
"What good would it do me, Q?" I said as I finished my beer and paid my tab. "I'm always on duty. Besides, you know what that bastard did to me. My family. I swore I'd bring him down, and his whole organization with him.
Quimby shivered a bit. But he nodded, left a few dollars on the counter, and left without saying another word.
I stood up as my liver sped through the alcohol and put my right hand to my head, thumb on my ear, pinky by my mouth. I whispered her name into the receiver and waited as the glove-phone dialed. I didn't want to disturb her again, but she'd made me swear. After what that bastard did to her mother, Penny wouldn't forgive me if I didn't call her in on a case involving him.
Then again, I'd never forgive myself for making that promise to her. Damned if I did, damned if I didn't.
She picked up after two rings. "Uncle! You going to be home late tonight?"
"No, honey. He's popped up again."
She didn't say anything. But I knew what she was thinking. "I'll get the notebook and Brain. When will you pick me up?"
"I'll be home in five. Get the car ready, Penny. Maybe we can get him this time."
I could hear it in her voice as she said goodbye. She wanted vengeance almost as much as I did. For both of us, that bastard had robbed us of normal lives - she never knew her mother, and I was a mechanized crimefighter, unable to go back to being human, unable to grow old. they made life easier in a lot of ways, but I'd give it all up if I could be a normal person again.
But I couldn't.
For me, there was another reason to do it. Penny's mother, my sister. Penny never knew the woman, but I did. And for that, I'd nail the bastard to the wall. The world was so damn dark without her.
I found a clearing and took the first step towards that goal. "Go Go Gadget Copter," I said. And with that, rotors and control sticks popped out of my hat. I gripped the sticks and flew back home to pick Penny and the dog up.
I'd bring him down. The Claw and MAD would fall if it was the last thing my gears did. I always kept my promizes, and I'd sworn it.