Chapter 9

Xander was surprised at the number of abandoned satellites that circled the earth, either because they had broken down or the company that had put them in orbit had closed down, they ranged in size from a basketball to a school bus, allowing her to easily retrieve several of the smaller ones at a time, wrapped in her cape, while carefully handling one of the larger ones.

It was tiring work, and only the additional energy she received from the nearly unfiltered sunlight allowed her to recover just under three hundred and deposit them in a field near her castle before the sun set. She pushed down a yawn and took a deep breath before shooting up into the sky one last time, moving beyond the boundaries of Earth's atmosphere and into space itself, drinking in raw sunlight for nearly five full minutes before she returned.

"Pardon me, miss," a man in a stained and torn labcoat said. "Do you know where we are?"

"An island in the Bermuda triangle," she replied. "Dr. Conner, I presume?"

He winced. "I see you know me."

"I brought you here because your alter ego was causing trouble and they had no way to keep you locked up," Xander explained.

"I... I'm not sure how I feel about that," he admitted.

"Beats a prison cell and once I have some time I'll see about helping you develop a cure," she replied.

"I'm dangerous," he warned her. "When the lizard is loose he's a cold blooded killer."

"I can tank bazooka shells without a problem," Xander replied.

Dr. Conner paused and considered that. "If he says anything about eggs... please don't kill him."

"Do I want to know?" Xander asked cautiously.

"No, you really don't," Conner said.

"I'll see about building you a lab and a sunning area," Xander decided. "I had some free time and the materials."

"What are your powers, if you don't mind me asking," Dr. Connors said politely.

"That's a bit complicated," Xander said. "I'm strong, fast, and can fly, but that's barely scratching the surface."

"Sounds like you won the power lottery," he said.

"Except for being turned female for three days a lunar cycle, I really have," Xander agreed.

"Turned female?" Dr. Connors asked.

"Let me introduce myself, my name is Alexander, though I go by Xander or Superman when in costume, or Supergirl when female and in costume," Xander explained.

"I'm Dr. Conner, I go by Curt when human and The Lizard when devolved into a large maneating reptile," he introduced himself, attempting to make a joke of things.

"Nice to meet you," Xander said, shaking his hand. "Now, I understand your specialty is genetics, so what kind of equipment do you need?"

Curt winced. "Very expensive kinds," he said. "For the most part, I can get by using chemicals to manipulate DNA, it's like using a garden hose to play pool, but I absolutely must have a top of the line genetic sequencer."

"Can't make the shot if you can't read the angles," Xander agreed.

"Exactly," Curt agreed. "I can easily use chemicals to synthesize a gamma cell to irradiate the samples and speed up alterations, but the clearer a picture of the processes I am dealing with, the easier it is."

Xander paused and considered what Curt had just said. "You used gamma radiation in your formula?"

"Yes, just minute amounts, but it unlocks the full potential energy of a cell, allowing for some truly impressive results," Curt explained.

"That I don't doubt," Xander said. "You ever heard of Bruce Banner?"

"Who do you think I got the idea from?" Curt asked. "The man is an unparalleled genius when it comes to gamma radiation and any field it touches upon."

"That does not surprise me," Xander said. "I'll start on the lab, but we'll hold off building any gamma anything until I can get Dr. Banner out here for a consult."

"That would be wonderful," Curt said, smiling broadly. "But are you sure you can protect him from the Lizard?" he added worriedly.

"He'll be as safe as can be," Xander assured him, "that part I'm sure of. Now let's build a lab for Dr. Banner to visit you at."

"If you have a computer with an internet connection I can have a set of blue prints ready for you and a list of all the supplies I need in about an hour," Curt said.

"I'll need to build a computer, but I've got more than enough supplies for that," Xander said, waving towards the clearing filled with satellites.

"Isn't someone going to come looking for all the missing satellites?" Curt asked.

"I only took unowned and abandoned satellites," Xander assured him, "so it's all legal salvage."

"That's a relief," Curt said, "the last thing we need is the Avengers attacking."

"Or the Defenders, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the New Mutants, X-Calibur, Alpha Flight, Beta Flight, Gamma Flight," Xander listed off.

"Power Pack attack!" a young boy called out and a wave of fog rolled over the clearing.

"Or Power Pack," Xander said, grabbing Dr. Connors and vanishing in a burst of speed, landing in the crater of the volcano where an obsidian castle sat, the runes carved into the stone giving it an evil glow.

"Did we just teleport?" Curt asked, a small patch of scales visible on his neck that were slowly receding as the shock wore off.

"I cancelled out our inertia and moved at super speed," Xander replied.

"Who is Power Pack?" Curt asked.

"A group of four or five super powered children with their own spaceship," Xander replied. "I'm guessing their Kymellian smartship Friday told them I was taking down satellites and since they don't have the wisdom to check if my actions were legal, decided just to stop my 'evil' plan."

"Kymellian smartship?" Curt asked curiously.

"Alien race that looks a bit like humanoid horses, built smart ships, self repairing ships with their own AI," Xander explained.

"I wonder how they got the ship," Curt said.

"You can always ask them," Xander replied. "I figure after an hour or so of making them chase us they'll be tired enough to listen to reason. I'm surprised they reached my island without me noticing, but I'm guessing Friday's cloaking ability is pretty damn impressive."

"I don't think I've ever met super powered kids before," Curt said, "or a Kymellian smartship."

"Both quite friendly unless they mistake you for a villain," Xander assured him.

"Freeze ya yahoos!" a small blonde boy in a red and black outfit with large silver moonboots ordered.

"That's Franklin Richards aka Tattletale," Xander explained, "he astrally projects himself to gather intel."

"Um," Franklin said nervously.

"I've got Ben Grimm on speed dial," Xander told Curt. "Should take all of a minute to get his mom on the phone."

"Ack!" Franklin vanished.

Half an hour later...

"Why do you have so much redwood patio furniture?" Curt asked as they sat at a picnic table and drank coffee.

"It was on sale," Xander replied, ignoring the sounds of a small group of super powered children trying to sneak up on them.

"Ah hah!" Mass Master said as he condensed from a cloud back into a young boy, revealing Tattletale and the three other members of Power Pack.

"Surrender evildoers!" the small blonde girl called Energizer ordered. "And return my cartoons!"

"And how has he stolen your cartoons?" Reed Richards asked as Susan dropped the invisibility field that was hiding her, Reed, and Ben.

Franklin ducked behind Gee, him being the largest of the Power children.

"A number of satellites were being stolen so we tracked them here," Gee explained. "One of them was carrying Energizer's My Pretty Pegasus special."

"I checked NASA's registry before clearing out dead and abandoned satellites," Xander said. "I shouldn't have interrupted any legal broadcasts."

Reed pulled out a laptop and started typing away. "I see... five stations that have gone off the air, one of which covered Manhattan. They appear to have been using several of the abandoned satellites to boost their signal. With no legal owners, there was no one to care."

"So she wasn't stealing satellites?" Lightspeed asked, while Gee watched Reed type and page through screens at an incredible rate.

"Just collecting legal salvage," Xander assured them.

"And the evil castle?!" Mass Master demanded.

"I wanted to make a creepy looking castle to discourage trespassers," Xander replied.

"B-but I'm missing my show!" Energizer said, sniffling.

"How about you watch it in the castle while the adults see about fixing the satellite program?" Xander offered.

"It's spooky lookin'," Energizer said as she looked at the castle.

"I'll go with ya," Ben offered. "I'm behind in my cartoon watchin' anyway."

"You will?" Energizer asked hopefully.

"Sure will kid, let's go," Ben said, offering a rocky orange hand to the tiny blonde girl.

Xander grinned and lead the way, tactfully ignoring Franklin hiding behind Ben and using him as cover to try and sneak by his parents.

"I better go along, just to be safe," Mass Master said, joining his little sister.

"He really should wear a mask," Sue told Lightspeed. "In fact, unless you plan on everyone knowing your secret identity, you all should." Power Pack's identity was hardly secret to the Fantastic Four, regardless of what they might pretend for the younger children.

"Jack and Katie might be able to get away with not wearing one," Gee said, "But the rest of us really should. I'll ask Friday about making some for us."

"Not mad about a sleepover turning into... this?" Lightspeed asked.

Sue laughed. "While I'd love for him to have a normal life, that simply isn't possible and at least with Power Pack he has friends who can understand him."

"I would appreciate getting a call before you tackle an omega level threat however," Reed said.

"Omega level?" Gee asked, concerned.

"That would be me," Xander explained as she returned.

"I didn't know you were that powerful," Gee admitted.

"Remind me to provide Friday with some upgraded sensors," Reed told Sue. "He's an omega level being, possibly more."

"He?" Julie asked, looking Xander over.

"Long story short, I'm like a werewolf, but I turn female from moonrise the night before the night of the full moon until sunrise the morning of the night after the night of the full moon," Xander explained. "Regardless of gender, I am or will be once I have fully recovered, pretty powerful."

"You still haven't recovered?" Reed asked, concerned.

"Think of it like waking up in a clone body that has never exercised. I am slowly getting back in shape."

"But physically you are uninjured?" Reed asked, just to make sure.

"I'm hale but not hardy yet," Xander replied. "Now, back to the problem at hand, which satellites do I need to return to orbit and exactly where should I place them? Or should we just make a couple of satellites with more processing power to give some of the small stations a better range?"

"Your efforts to clean the upper atmosphere have been appreciated," Reed said, "So to contribute to that, let's just build a couple of satellites and offer their use to replace some of the aging units up there as well."

"Works for me," Xander agreed. "I have designs for solar collectors that are an order of magnitude more efficient as well, so we can use more energy intensive designs."

"Anything we can do to help?" Gee asked hopefully.

"If you'd care to use Friday, you can help place a couple in geo-synchronous orbit over the United States," Reed offered.

"I'd love to," Gee said excitedly.

"Susan Richards," the invisible woman introduced herself to the man in the labcoat who'd sat there quietly.

"Curt Connors," he replied.

"I believe Spiderman has mentioned you," Susan said. "Still having transformation problems?"

"Unfortunately," he admitted. "Thankfully there's plenty of room and no people around here, so I should be able to work on a cure without endangering anyone as soon as we get a lab built. Speaking of which, I better go. The sun is going to set shortly and I need to be somewhere away from everyone."

"Base of the volcano has some nice warm caves and hot springs," Xander offered. "I'll grab a shark for The Lizard, he seems to like those."

Xander vanished in a blur of speed with Curt.

"Transformation problem?" Lightspeed asked.

"He transforms into The Lizard," Susan explained.

"That's bad," Lightspeed said with a shudder.

"That's also why I brought him out here," Xander replied as he reappeared. "Except for the occasional suicidal android and myself, this place is empty."

"Suicidal android?" Susan asked.

"They rode in on a raft together and then tried to destroy each other," Xander explained. "Once that failed they blew themselves up. I have no idea why."

"That's weird," Susan said thoughtfully.

"What about the native population of the island?" Lightspeed asked.

"I built this island," Xander told her, "I am the native population."

"How do you build an island?" Gee asked.

"I dove into the ocean and drilled into the bedrock, raising a volcano, brought in topsoil and plants, collected some local fauna and voila!" Xander replied.

"how did you prevent tidal waves?" Lightspeed asked.

"Freeze breath," Xander replied.

"How many powers do you have?" Gee asked.

"Lots," Xander said with a grin. "Any other questions?"

"Why all the lawn gnomes?" Lightspeed asked.

"Security," Xander said as seriously as possible, trying to make a joke but realizing that they would make serviceable golems with a little work.

"With lawn gnomes?" Gee asked doubtfully.

Xander picked up a lawn gnome and engraved a series of glyphs and runes on it with her thumbnail.

"I dislike magic," Reed said, typing while he talked," It's so imprecise."

"It's more art than science," Xander agreed, "but it has its place, plus I made this island specifically to be spooky and magical."

"You are just a big kid," Susan said with a grin.

"Yes, yes I am," Xander agreed, breathing on the runes and setting the small statue on the ground.

The lawn gnome yawned and stretched like he'd just woken up before seeing everyone looking at him and covered his eyes while freezing in place.

"I thought only rabbits did the whole 'if I can't see you, you can't see me' bit," Lightspeed said.

"He's got rocks in his head," Xander pointed out, "You can't expect rocket science from him."

"He moved," Gee said looking around until he found the tiny statue standing near another lawn gnome, its eyes covered with its hands.

"I don't know about security, but that is really spooky," lightspeed said.

"Now two of them are doing it," Gee said.

"It seems like the moment you look away, they move," Susan said. "Very disturbing."

"The effect is linked to the wards on the island, but should spread to all of them as they come in contact with each other," Xander explained.

Gee spun around and saw three gnomes covering each other's eyes, frozen in place. "Won't people just break them? I mean, they're just lawn gnomes."

"They have a repair function that uses temporal magic to turn back time on them to the very second before they were destroyed," Xander replied. "So no matter how many times you destroy them the moment you look away they'll be repaired."

"So the basis of your security system is creeping people out?" Lightspeed asked.

"Exactly," Xander agreed. "I don't really need security so it's mostly an excuse to mess with people who are trespassing."

"Halloween is your favorite holiday, isn't it?" Gee guessed.

Xander grinned.

Typing by: Abyssal Angel