A/N: This was originally going to go into the "Tales of Paradise Valley" bin, but I decided to make it a standalone piece after seeing how far I developed it.

Alex Mack and all related characters (c) Ken Lipman and Thomas Lynch

A Day in the Life of Danielle Atron

Atron Manor...

"Good morning, Paradise Valley!" shouted the DJ over the alarm radio. "It's already becoming a beautiful Friday morning out here, and it's just gonna get better this weekend. Remember: the annual PV-Chemical Science Fair will be held later on today at the Paradise Valley Convention Center. Be there or it's the ol' Flusharoo for-" CLICK!

The broadcast was cut off as a hand slapped over the snooze button with a groan. After a few minutes, the blankets moved off the the bed, allowing the occupant access to the outside world. She looked miserable, and her normally well-trimmed red hair was a mess. Rubbing the sleep off her eyes, she stood up and looked out the window.

"Another day..." said Danielle Atron as she gazed out at Paradise Valley from the second floor of her manor. It was a glamorous two-story home that she had built for herself years ago, just on the outside edge of the town. To the locals, it served as a reminder of how well-off Atron was, though they never complained. Their beloved town heroine always shared her wealth with those who needed it. In fact, more than a few people claimed that if anything ever happened to Atron, all of Paradise Valley would simply go out of business.

In the meantime, the redhead realized that it was time to earn her keep... whether she liked it or not. The next half-hour saw Atron exercising to a video workout. Atron believed that it was important to be strong in both mind and body. The mind came easy; she had dominated high school at 15 before moving out to college, and she had never looked back. However, she felt that looking strong was equally crucial.

Soon, the tape had ended. After showering, dressing for work, and eating a hearty breakfast, Atron stepped out of her manor to the waiting limosine. "To the plant!" she ordered as she sat down in the back.

9:30 AM, Paradise Valley Chemical

"Good morning, Miss Atron," greeted the gate security guard as the limo pulled up. Atron paid it no mind as her ride drove up to the administration building and stopped outside the doors, allowing her to step out. Holding a briefcase of papers and wearing a lime-green business suit, she was an imposing figure.

Stepping into the building, Atron was greeted eagerly by employees. Some merely said hello, but a few of the especially bold ones offered to carry her things to her office, which she ignored. Suck-ups! she grunted to herself. That's just the problem when you're doing so much good for people... they expect you to do more and more.

Having ignored the crowds, Atron made a beeline into the Research & Development wing. This was her favorite area of the plant. Ever since she was young, she loved to create. Whether it be chemical, mechanical, or otherwise, Atron was always awed by the process of creation. She originally ran the R&D area when she first established PV-Chem, but being CEO tended to take up more of her time...

... which is why she was thankful for an equally-dedicated staff. "Good morning, George," Atron sweetly greeted to the portly man who, in her mind, would give her the greatest scientific conquest of her career. "How're things today here in the ol' R and D?"

"Well..." George Mack wiped his balding brow. "Me and the team have been a little... let's say concerned for your GC-161 Project."

The sweetness suddenly turned sour. "George... You do realize that I woke up this morning in a good mood, so for your sake, please don't ruin it."

"I dislike stepping on your toes as much as the next person, Miss Atron, but..." George hesitated. "Lately, the people you assigned to this project have been getting more and more restless, and there's even rumors of them quitting on you."

"Well, you just let them know that if they walk out on me, I'll see to it that they'll never work again."

"I will, but I think reassuring them might be a better choice." George stood up. "If you want, me and the group would like to discuss terms for the project later today, say... 2:00."

"You? Dictate terms with me?"

"This is your GC-161 Project that's on the line here. If they leave, I may just end up going with them, and how are you going to explain that to your investors?" Atron's anger subsided into thought. "I'm just saying, Miss Atron, that we've been busy for about a year on this and we're not feeling any more comfortable about it. A bit of a morale boost for something this big would help."

Atron glared at George, obviously impatient to leave. "Are you done?" she asked.

"Actually, there is one other thing," George continued, looking slightly embarassed. "My briefcase seems to have... um... disappeared recently, and I figured I'd bring it up since... well... you're here."

Atron sighed. "I'll see what I can do. Now get back to work." George obliged, allowing Atron to leave for her office.

9:47 AM, Atron's Office

"Lousy researchers..." Atron grumbled as she entered her office and threw her briefcase onto the desk. "Think they know it all, playing this game against me." Sighing, Atron pulled out a can of specialized fish-food from her desk drawer and put some on a plate, then went over to the fish tank and began to scrape bits of it into the water. The large fish swimming in the tank eagerly ate it up. "Well, at least I've got you to confide in," she aimlessly replied to the fish as they swam about, thinking their fishy thoughts.

She then went back to her desk and checked for paperwork. As usual, the IN pile had plenty of important documents to go over and sign. Paperwork was among the things Atron hated most, along with sassy scientists, lawyers, and children (especially that as-of-yet-unidentified Kid). "No one said running a chemical plant was easy," she muttered to herself.

10:25 AM...

"So, I figure that if one GC-161 sensor can pick up a small sample of the chemical, imagine putting them all over the plant." Atron merely looked on in boredom as her security chief, Vince Carter, talked on about his latest "Catch That Kid" scheme. He was holding a small blue sphere. "Simply hide these all over PV-Chem, and it'll establish a plant-wide radar system that'll be sent over to this control panel." He gestured towards Dave Watt, who held up a small computer monitor. "From here, you'll be able to keep track of his every movement. Trust me, there'll be no place for the brat to hide."

"And... you want me... to authorize placement of scanners all over PV-Chem..." Atron repeated.

"In a word, yes." Vince smiled, hoping to garner a positive response.

Atron shook her head. "Vince... Two years ago, I would've jumped for joy at this plan, but now..." She sighed. "Ever since that accident, it's been one fiasco after another, and it always seems to come back to you. Lord knows how much money I've wasted on your malfunctioning scanners, not to mention that robot."

"Yes, I'll admit the security drone was a bit underdeveloped," Vince pressed, "but this one WON'T fail, Miss Atron. The Junior High's booking field trips to PV-Chem as we speak, and every kid in town will be passing through here sooner or later. This is completely foolproof."

Shaking her head, Atron forced a smile. "When can you begin installation?"

"Immediately. We'll have it all up in two hours, just in time for the first herd of brats."

"Very well. You've got your authorization." Vince was just about to walk away when Atron grabbed his wrist, forcing the ex-Navy SEAL to face a glaring CEO. "But if you don't get that Kid real soon, the last thing you're ever gonna get from me is a pink slip. Clear?"

"As crystal."

11:45 AM, the backseat of Atron's limo

"And then Jerome says the most hilarious thing," Carlton Hendy absently chattered as he adjusted a few screws on his newest science fair project. "That's no hypotenuse. That's my wife!"

Sitting across from him, Atron rolled her eyes in exasperation. She had left PV-Chem fifteen minutes earlier to attend private errands, and one of them was to escort her nephew to the convention center, where the annual science fair was being held. Though it gave her a break from the paperwork, Carlton was not a particularily good conversation partner. "Honestly, Carlton, can you be any more boring?" she absently mumbled as she read a novel.

"Well, I'm just trying to bond with my aunt. Mom figures that's the least you can do after what happened at the plant two years ago."

"I told her I'm sorry, okay? Not my fault Vince's scanner malfunctioned on you."

Carlton looked indignant. "You're only angry because my mom... your own sister... threatened to sue over my mistreatment. Now, because of that, you can't hold the fair at your precious plant, thus costing you all that positive PR."

Atron seethed in anger over Carlton's words. She wasn't sure who she was angrier with: Carlton for being a vindictive twerp of a nephew, or her sister for how she struck another blow towards Atron's ego. The rest of the ride was in bitter silence.

Eventually, the limo pulled up to the convention center and Carlton stepped out, carrying his project. "Thanks for the lift, Aunt Danielle," he said condescendingly.

"Well, well, look who's finally here." Carlton turned his head to spot Annie Mack smirking at him. "Still playing the status card, eh, Carlton?" she said, gesturing to the limo. Atron quietly rolled down the window to overhear.

"Lay off, Mack!" Carlton snapped. "This year, it IS gonna be different between us."

"You said that last year, if I recall," Annie taunted back. "And the year before that, which also was when you tried to pin your act of sabotage on my sister. Don't think I've forgiven you for that, either."

"Well, she's not here to watch your back, so you'd better be careful."

"I'm shaking." Annie cooly wiped some hair from her face as Carlton silently fumed.

As much as Atron wanted to watch Carlton's browbeating continue, she had other things to do. Signaling her driver, the limo pulled away.

12:05 PM, "Soul of Thailand" restaurant

"Hello, Miss Atron," the waiter greeted. "What would you prefer today?"

"Gimme something that burns going down," she replied as she looked over the menu. "And don't skimp on the curry."

The waiter smiled. "I have just the thing. Would you be interested in some Red Duck Curry?"

Atron put down her menu and looked at the waiter crossly. "Would I? If you don't want me placing a call to the INS, I suggest you get a move-on. Chop-chop!"

"Yes, Miss Atron!"

As the waiter left, Atron reached into her bag and pulled out a bottle of Pepto-Bismol. She knew she was gonna need it when her ulcer started acting up again. A scant fifteen minutes later, Atron's meal arrived and she proceeded to enjoy her lunch. Every bite burned madly in both her mouth and her stomach, but she didn't notice.

Lousy Kid, she growled to herself as she downed another spoonful of curry. Always making me look stupid. In Danielle Atron's mind, the spice of her meal was nothing compared to her rage towards her unseen adversary.

12:50 PM, Atron Park

"I hearby dedicate this municipality in the good name of Danielle Atron and all of Paradise Valley." Atron smiled as she cut the ribbon surrounding the statue, thus completing her term of service. As the crowds quickly dispersed for the snack table, Atron's forced smile faded into a frown of pain.

"Ohhh..." Atron rubbed her cheekbones. No sooner did she get out of lunch than she had to dedicate three new developments in a row: a library, a park, and the statue. And through it all, she had to smile. "It's times like this that I miss Barbara," she groused, remembering her former PR specialist. "At least she knew to give me time to recover between dedications."

1:03 PM, Vince's Office

"Whaddya mean, there's a delay?" Atron shouted to Vince, making the normally-fearsome man wince. "You said you'd have it all up by 1:00!"

"I did," Vince calmly replied. "But I went out for donuts, and I come back to find this idiot goofing around with the console." He glared at Dave, who bowed his head in shame.

"I thought maybe I could play that new video game I borrowed from Joe on it," the truck driver moaned.

Vince groaned. "Well, now, thanks to you, it'll take me another hour to debug the system."

"I said I was sorry, Vince."

"Like I haven't heard that-"

"Shut up, both of you!" Atron roared as she put down her briefcase and the cellophane container holding her leftover curry lunch. "Vince, get busy debugging, or I'll sack you faster than a quarterback."

"Yes, Miss Atron." Vince saluted as Atron stormed out, leaving him alone with Dave.

Dave decided to break the ice. "So, uh, Vince," he began, "If you're not still mad at me... can I at least have a donut?"

Vince responded in the only way he could. "No donuts for you!"

1:25 PM, PV-Chem east hallways...

This is so humiliating, Atron thought to herself. Danielle Atron, world's greatest genius and entrepenuer, reduced to running a dog-and-pony show for a bunch of stupid kids who don't even care. Behind her, a group of apathetic Junior High students followed closely. "As you can see," she spoke, "Paradise Valley Chemical prides itself on being the producers of all the chemicals you and I use everyday, from flouride for your toothpaste to chlorine for your pool. We are currently in the process of developing a radical new entry into the competitive field of dietary suppliments, which we hope to have out on the shelves within the next year."

"Bor-ring!" rang out a shout from the back, making Atron turn her head.

"Who said that?" the CEO snapped. At once, all the students parted away, revealing Atron's addressor. "So, you think chemicals are boring, do you mister..."

"L-Louis Driscoll," he shakily replied, his earlier boldness replaced by apologetic meekness. "And... well, I'm sorry."

Another student walked up to Atron. "Don't mind my friend here," she replied as she shot a death glare at Louis. "Anyway, it won't happen again."

Atron looked at the girl oddly. "And you are?"

"Alex. Alex Mack."

"Mack, eh?" Atron sneered, then softened into a curious expression. "I know you. You're... George's kid, correct?" Alex nodded as the CEO suddenly began to pace her, which was starting to make Alex very nervous. There's something about her that I can't quite finger, she aimlessly thought to herself, as if an unknown force was drawing Danielle Atron towards this seemingly-insignificant girl. Something that I don't know whether to appreciate or despise.

"Sorry, ma'am." Alex apologized, trying her hardest not to feign her emotional distress, lest her mutated chromosomes act up and start a glowing fit. "Really, he didn't mean to..."

"You just remember who dear sweet Daddy is working for. Got that?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good." Atron walked back to the front of the tour group. "Now, let's continue. And no sudden outbursts this time."

As Atron rambled on once again, Alex came up to Louis and gave her a nudge. "For this you owe me big."

"Sorry," was all Louis could say.

2:02, PV-Chem, Boardroom 9

"Alright, let's get on with it," Atron groused as she sat at the end of the table, giving her a full view of the entire boardroom. The CEO glared at the various R&D researchers, including George, sitting around the table. "So, what seems to be the problem?"

"I'll field this one, Miss Atron," the ever-sycophantic Lars Fredrickson spoke up. "Apparently, these unimaginative lab rats are beginning to question the GC-161 Project, and they don't want to end up being sued over it."

"Well, not in so many words, but yes," George spoke, unaware of everybody quietly glaring at Lars. No one liked how the Belgium chemist always sucked up to Atron, nor his habitual browbeating of the other researchers, but George never noticed. "I'm all for progress at any cost, and so is everybody else. We just want some assurance that, when all is said and done, this chemical isn't going to spell trouble for us."

"Define trouble."

"Lawsuits, investigations, possibly being arrested on association."

"I see." Atron paused to think. "Well, as you all know, I'm paying you to find ways to make GC-161 a perfectly safe substance, but I can understand what you're getting at." The CEO stood up and gazed over the room. "Tell me, what would it take to appease you on this?"

"You can start by getting FDA approval," said George. "Though I'm not sure they'd go for it once they see the preliminary studies."

"Oh, ye of little faith, George." Atron smiled, which only served to make George nervous. "I can assure you all that once the GC-161 Project bears fruit, lives everywhere will benefit." Mainly mine! she added to herself. "Anyway, next topic..."

"And we want a raise!" Gordon "Scooter" Kramer added. "For all the time we're putting in on this, we deserve some added compensation."

"Don't talk out of turn, Mr. Kramer," Lars cut in. "That has nothing to do with anything."

"No, Lars. He's right," Atron said with a sigh. "I know we've been delivering a lot of pay cuts last quarter, but I think we can work something out." If only to shut them up and get them working again, she once more told herself. "I'll take it up with Accounting. Now, anything else?"

3:11 PM, the backseat of Atron's limo

As the limo cruised through the streets, Atron stared down Carlton for what was the second time today. He had an angry expression on his face. "Lost again, huh?" Atron smirked.

"Oh, shut up," Carlton sneered. "I don't need your sympathy." Nearby, his science project, a robotic-looking quadraped creature, sat next to him. There was a big "2nd Place" ribbon plastered on its side. "Lousy Mack. Always making me look stupid."

"Oh, don't look at it that way, dear nephew," Atron replied. "You see this as another failure. Me, I see it as a small step in your long climb to self-glory. I mean, how do you think I came to be the rich, powerful, feared ruler of this town?"

"Didn't you steal the land from your grandmother?" Carlton muttered under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Nothing..." Carlton grumbled.

Well, that's what you are, Carlton. A big nothing. Completely oblivious to her nephew's presence, Atron sat quietly in her seat and resumed reading her novel.

3:45 PM, PV-Chem Main Lobby

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. With Carlton dropped back off at his home, Atron returned to the plant, only to find the lobby in a state of chaos. Security guards ran every which way as alarms blared and flashed.

Amidst all the mayhem, Atron spotted Vince near his security office. "What's going on?" she asked.

"We have him!" Vince smirked, gesturing to the radar console. "Our mutual pain-in-the-rear snuck in five minutes ago, and security is on him like a wet blanket. I've been keeping track of his movements with the scanner system, and he's a fast one."

"Well, don't just stand there!" Atron ordered. "Get him! GET HIM!"

"Right!" Vince turned to his radio and buzzed in a guard. "Alright, men. What's our status?"

"Perimeter secure," the man replied. "He's not getting out without us knowing."

"Excellent." Atron arched her fingertips. "I want a containment crew prepared, as well. I'll be in my office, so keep me updated, Vince." The man saluted as Atron ran off towards her office. "Today, the brat's luck is officially over," she said with a smile.

In the R&D area, however, no one noticed the silvery blob as it slithered out of an air vent, took cover behind a desk, and reformed into Alex Mack. She was holding what looked like a briefcase. Alright, I got Dad's briefcase, she replied to herself, but I'll never escape with this alarm going off. I gotta get out somehow.

Looking around, Alex saw what looked like a blue sphere sitting on a shelf above her. Willing it down into her hand, Alex examined it intently. Looks pretty high-tech, probably Vince's, she observed. An idea suddenly sparked in her brain, as did electricity in her fingertips.

"What the-?" Vince nearly choked on his donut as he gazed at the monitor. Growling, he took his radio and buzzed Atron. "Miss Atron, one of the scanners in the R&D area has just shorted out. I'm going to investigate."

"Fine, fine!" Atron groaned anxiously. "Just get him!"

Grabbing a nightstick, Vince ran out of his office and into the halls. A few seconds later, Alex oozed into the room and reformed. He fell for it, she said with a smirk. She then noticed the monitor. I'm guessing this is how he was keeping track of me. Well, let's see how shock-protected it is. Alex began to zap the device, overloading it until it exploded into useless slag. Her job done, Alex remorphed and escaped once more into the vents.

She secretly wondered how long it would take before Atron tore Vince a new one.

It took about ten minutes, after which Vince was called to Atron's office. "You told me it was foolproof!" Atron shouted furiously, making Vince cower back in his chair. The normally fearsome man was literally whimpering in cowardice. "By all means, he should be mine right now, at this very minute!"

"I... I didn't think he'd lure me away like he did," Vince stammered. "I don't even know how he got to my office so fast."

"Funny, because I don't know how fast it'll take me to have you escorted off the premises."

"Oh, please, Miss Atron, don't fire me!" Vince dropped to his knees and grovelled. "I've been with you for twenty years, almost as long as this company was around. I'll find that kid, I swear!"

Atron rubber her chin in thought. "True, you have been quite the asset. Someone like you is hard to come by," she calmly replied. "I'll need time to decide your fate. In the meantime, you have until the mid-year report to get your affairs in order, because I can no longer guarantee your continued future here at Paradise Valley Chemical."

"Don... don't worry, Miss Atron," Vince shakily spoke, all his confidence gone. "I'll get... I'll get him..."

"You'd better."

Wobbling to his feet, Vince sauntered off to his office, where his destroyed monitor sat smoldering. He then noticed something else askew. "Hey, where's my donuts?"

About a mile past the gate, Alex calmly walked down the road towards the town, holding a briefcase in one hand and a box of donuts in the other.

"Annie owes me big for this one," Alex said with a chuckle as she willed a donut to her mouth and took a bite. "Vince really shouldn't skimp on the sprinkles, though."

5:45 PM, Atron's Office

"No, sir, our research is going swimmingly," Atron said over the phone. "The R&D boys couldn't be happier." Especially after how they squeezed that raise out of me, she griped, recalling the meeting with the researchers. "It'll be out within the year, sir. You won't regret your investment. After all, at PV-Chem, it's progress at any-" The phone hung up on the other end.

Growling, Atron hung up her phone and prepared another plate of fish-food. She still had fifteen minutes before she could go home, and there was still some paperwork to go through. Meanwhile, nearly everybody in the plant had either left for the day or was preparing to. With a sigh of resignation, Atron fed her fish, then went back to her desk and resumed the tedious task of paperwork. "Next quarter, I'm going digital," she absently said, obviously annoyed at how the pile never seemed to shrink.

6:18 PM, Halflife Cafe

"Atom burgers, Atom fries, Atom milkshakes," Atron grumbled as she looked at the menu. Looking up towards the waiter, a perky teen by the name of Gloria, she asked, "Is there anything here that isn't swimming in empty calories."

"Well..." Gloria stifled a gulp. "I can... get you a salad. Would you like that?" Atron shot a glare at her. "Miss Atron, I mean?"

"Yes, I would very much like that. Make it to go."

"Okay, Miss Atron." Gloria took the menu and walked back towards the kitchen, a slight tremble in her step. Being so close to a demanding Danielle Atron often had that effect on people.

Having left the plant for the day, Atron had stopped off at a diner hoping to grab some dinner. She almost regretted it, though, for she was absolutely disgusted with all the high-fat high-calorie menu items. What really disgusted her was how the other patrons, nearly all of them teenagers, were practically gorging themselves on this food.

THIS is the future of Paradise Valley? she thought to herself incredulously. At this rate, they'll be dying of heart failure before they even hit the job market. Pulling out a pocket recorder, Atron switched it on. "Memo to myself," she spoke into the receiver. "Contact PR firm in the morning. Plan city-wide 'Eat Smart for Your Heart' campaign. Hopefully, it'll help turn this fat town around within the year."

9:49 PM, Atron Manor

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful for Atron. She got home and ate her salad, then enjoyed a bit of television, mostly business news. A brief workout and a shower later, she was back in her bedroom.

As Atron prepared herself for the night, she looked over her view of Paradise Valley from the window and sighed. "I live in a nation of idiots," she growled. "A nation of simpleminded schmucks who just can't seem to understand how pathetic their lives are, yet get to tell everybody else what to do just for giggles."

"One day, though, I'll make the whole world notice my genius, and then they'll see the idiots for who they are. They'll be asking for real leadership, the kind only I can provide, and I'll give it to them." Her monologue continued unabated as she got into her bed. "I'll give them a leader who actually has a reason to be there for them. I'll give them progress, the likes of which no one will ever imagine. I'll make this nation mine... because they'll see that no one else deserves such a lofty position."

"And I know that it'll happen, because there's always tomorrow," Atron finished as she drifted off to sleep. "Tomorrow is another day."