A/N: Well, last chapter's here. Thanks for reading.
"How goes the transfer?"
"Smooth," was Vince's summarized reply. "My boys are moving the stuff as we speak. Spread out all throughout the back roads and detours, as ordered. We're not chancing anybody catching us."
"And where are you?"
"Back at the house," he added. "If she's as stupid as ever, she'll come slithering back looking for something to give the Feds for evidence, and that's when she'll get my little surprise."
Danielle Atron pinched her temples. "I swear, Vince, that if this is another bomb-"
"Nothing so noisy," Vince reassured. "Mack's going to get a far more... personal message."
"Keep me updated, and rendezvous with me afterwards, preferably with Alex's head on a platter. Atron out." The ex-CEO hung up as she walked over to where several men were loading boxes of file folders into a moving truck. "Keep it going, boys. I want to be out of this dump soon."
"Don't worry, Miss Atron. We'll be done in less than an hour," one of the men replied. Atron smiled at their efficiency. These weren't Simon's punks, but several of Vince's 'associates' from his days in the SEALs. They had worked for Atron before in PV-Chem's security force, having all gotten shining recommendations from Vince, and were every bit as tough and nasty as their CO. When he got fired, they left with him to serve as added muscle in Off-The-Record Security.
Alex has nothing on me, Atron told herself. If she thinks she'll be able to outsmart me, she's dead wrong.
Below the streets of Pittsville, the silver blob darted through the pipes and drains with unerring speed and surety, its amorphous form consisting of the combined molecules of Alex and Robyn.
"Are you sure we're going the right way?" Robyn queasily 'spoke' to Alex. "What if we end up in a water treatment plant or something?"
"I'm positive." It was one of the odder quirks of Alex's morphed form: she always seemed to know exactly where she was going. No rhyme or reason as to how, she just did. "You know, it probably would've been better if you didn't come. This is probably going to get dangerous."
"I'm not afraid." Robyn told herself. "I'm... not afraid."
"Well, here's our turn-off." Alex jerked herself up towards a run-off drain, coming up just outside the back door of Atron's lair from last night.
The blob split in two and reformed into separate entities. There stood Alex, calm and collected in her jacket-and-jeans combo. There stood Robyn, clutching her stomach as it churned from the disorienting movements she just went through.
"We're here!" Alex announced. "So, Robyn, how're you feeling?"
"You... you go on ahead," Robyn moaned as she staggered away. "Right now, I need a moment of silence with my breakfast."
"Suit yourself." Alex crept over to the back door. "If something goes wrong, try to run and get help," she added as she morphed through the open crack at the foot of the door.
After reforming, Alex cautiously began stepping through what appeared to be a modest kitchen. For some reason, Alex felt unnerved, as if everything looked... normal. Curious, she flipped through the cabinets, pulling out dishes and a few plastic containers filled with dry goods, but nothing particularily interesting. Alex then saw the fridge and opened it up. Nothing was inside but a half-gallon of milk and some cold-cuts. Again, anything that screamed 'Property of certifiable nutjob Danielle Atron' was not to be found.
You wouldn't even know someone like Atron lived here from looking at this, she realized as she closed the fridge and shook her head. I guess not living in a manor anymore would make anybody emphasize frugality.
Seeing as how the kitchen was a bust, Alex left the kitchen and entered the living room. Looks on-the-level. TV, couch, bookshelves, all the standard stuff, she noted in passing as she climbed the stairs and took a glance into each of the rooms. The bathroom revealed nothing, as did the bedroom. I doubt that it's Vince's room, she thought with a giggle.
But when Alex reached the room of her past imprisonment, she noticed something especially odd. The quarantine tube was gone! Wires, consoles, everything, not a trace of it remained. That sort of thing doesn't vanish overnight, especially if only two people are moving it! She briefly took off her hat to wipe her brow. Something stinks here. There's no way Danielle and Vince can cover their tracks all by themselves.
Alex went back downstairs and paused when noticed something she hadn't before: a slightly-ajar door below the staircase. Not taking any chances, Alex charged her fists up in preparation for ambush as she telekinetically opened the door and crept down the stairwell into the basement, where a surprisingly-clean office set-up sat at the far end. Across from the sizable desk was another TV and a pair of chairs. Behind it was a comfortable office chair and several empty shelves. And I'm guessing that this is Off-The-Record, Alex deduced as she stepped over some old cardboard boxes laying on the floor. Looks like they've cleaned up here too, so- what's this?
Alex noticed a photo sitting on the ground. She bent down to pick it up and looked hard at the image it held. It was an old photograph of a man and a woman. Between them was a small girl, seemingly no more than ten. Alex read on the back: Silas, Marianne, and Dani.
Alex squinted to take a closer look at the woman. She looks vaguely familiar, she thought. Where have I seen her before?
From his hiding spot in the closet behind her, Vince looked towards Alex with a derisive grin. She's taken the bait, he told himself, and now curiosity will kill the freak. Silent as can be, Vince drew a handgun and attached a silencer, then slowly aimed it out towards Alex's head. One shot was all he needed to put her out of her misery.
Unaware of the looming threat behind her, Alex pocketed the photo in her jacket and turned to leave. However, she wasn't watching where she was going and tripped on a box, causing her to fall forward as Vince pulled the trigger. The shot missed cleanly and hit the wall. "What th-" Vince fired twice more at her, but to no avail as Alex morphed and slid under the desk.
Vince was understandably furious. DAMMIT! he roared inwardly as he took out a combat knife and slowly creaked open the closet door. Poking himself out, he glanced around the basement, looking for any possible surprise. After a minute, he stuck his foot out of the closet.
Before Vince knew it, the desk was suddenly catapulted forward towards him. It slammed right into the closet, blocking it off and trapping Vince between the door and frame. The man shouted in pain as Alex made a mad dash up the stairs, clutching only a single file. Vince reached for his radio. "Simon, go to plan B!" he snarled. "Don't let her leave that house alive!"
Ignoring Vince's pained protest, Alex bolted out of the basement. Her escape was suddenly cut off by a pair of Simon's goons grabbing her arms. "Hey, what gives?" she panicked as they dragged her towards the kitchen, where Simon stood in front of the back door. "Oh, it's just you," Alex casually replied. "Don't you ever learn? Surely by now you know what I can do, so why don't you just let me go and-"
"Oh, no! Not this time, freak!" the leader said with a sneer. "Simon says that I'm through taking crap from you. Why don'cha put away those fancy tricks and fight me like a man, or is your spine as watery as the rest of you?"
As the punks released their grip, Alex looked up with an odd glance. "You want me... to fist-fight you?"
"You deaf? We're gonna fight like men! No guns, no electric fingers, just you and me. Mano-a... um... womano?"
Much to his surprise, Alex put her fists up. "Okay, Simon. Let's go, preferably before you butcher up another language."
"Now we're talking!" The punks cheered and formed a circle around Alex and Simon as they put their fists up. "I'll have you know that I'm a beast with my fists." With a shout, he threw the first punch. Alex merely leaned backwards with seemingly minimal effort, causing the swing to cleanly miss. Undaunted, Simon continued to jab and hook like a stereotypical boxer, with Alex evading every blow through simple movement.
"Okay, I'm impressed. Can I go now?" Alex asked. "I really don't have time for this."
"Stop talking and fight, you little halfwit!" Simon lunged with a powerful cross. Alex leaned off to one side and grabbed Simon's arm. In doing so, she put pressure on his electric burn. The leader roared in pain from the stinging touch as Alex kneed him in the stomach.
His arm burning in pain and his belly groaning from the impact, Simon sat there on his knees, cursing and snarling. "You said no powers," Alex said. "I fought fair. Now can I go?"
"Alright, that's it!" Standing up, Simon reached for his hip and drew a gun. He didn't even get the safety off when... WHACK! Simon suddenly collapsed to the floor. Alex and everybody looked up over him, where they saw Simon's assailiant: Robyn Russo clutched a large wooden plank.
"Way to go, Robyn," Alex spoke. "I didn't think you had that in you."
"I didn't think so, either."
Looking around her, Alex noticed that all the other punks were staring uneasily, as if they weren't sure what to do now. "Anybody else?" Alex calmly asked. They all ran out the door instantly, leaving their fallen leader alone with the two girls. "Guess not."
Alex was just about to walk away when she noticed paper sticking out of Simon's pocket. Out of curiosity, Alex took it out and read it: RENDEZVOUS AT LYNCH AND 23RD. "Well, I know what I'm doing this afternoon," she commented. Looking back down at Simon, Alex grimaced. "Robyn, can I borrow your cell phone?"
Ten minutes later...
With a moan, Simon staggered to his feet. His radio crackled to life. "Simon, pick up!" shouted Vince. "Pick up, you idiot! What's your status?"
"Status?" Simon scowled. "I'm quitting, that's my status! That brat isn't worth the abuse!"
"You can't quit now! She's still-"
"Kill her on your own time, gran'pa! Simon says that he's outta here."
As Simon marched out of the house, a police car suddenly pulled up in front of him. Before he knew it, the officers had grabbed him and held him against the hood. "He matches the caller's description, all right," one of the officers announced. "Check the house. There may be others." Simon said nothing to his credit.
Truth be told, he was actually quite relieved.
From their hiding spot across the street, Alex and Robyn watched Simon get hauled off. "Y'know, Alex, you should really consider getting your own," Robyn replied as Alex handed her back her cell phone.
"I've never been big on the fad, no offense," Alex simply answered. "Anyway, I've got a hot date with a crazy hag. You sure you'll be okay grabbing a cab into town?"
"Better than another morphing trip." Robyn uneasily shuddered. "Just one thing, Alex... What are you going to do once you meet her?"
"Dunno." Alex shrugged. "I'm kinda making this up as I go along." With a nod, Alex morphed and flowed down a storm drain. Robyn sighed as she dialed for the taxi.
Inside the house basement, the officer checked around intently, but groaned. His partner called him on the radio. "Anything?"
"Nope. The house is bare."
"Eh, we got who we came for. Let's go," he said. "We'll come back once we get some proper search warrants."
Beneath the floorboards, Vince quietly waited as the officer walked over his hiding spot. It was cramped, for sure, but he hadn't installed the hiding spot purely for aesthetics. With a calm expression, he glanced towards a small pile of manila folders and a familiar flash drive sitting nearby.
At the warehouse, Atron tapped her foot impatiently. Vince should've reported in hours ago, she groused. I swear, if Alex Mack isn't a bloodstain by now, I will personally-
A soldier approached Atron and saluted. "That's the last one, Miss Atron."
"Excellent." Atron smiled. "Once night falls and the streets are quiet enough, we'll move out."
"The only place you're moving into is prison!" someone else shouted. "Preferably for a permanent stay!"
Taken aback by the sudden interruption, everybody immediately looked around for the source of the voice. "Look!" a soldier shouted. There, standing atop a stack of precariously-stacked crates near the window and with her arms crossed heroically, was Alex Mack, her silhouette bathed in the sun's glare.
"You're still here?" Atron snapped. "Well, don't just stand there! Shoot her!" Surprisingly, they stood in confusion without even acting. "What are you waiting for?"
"Well..." one of the soldiers moaned. "She's just a kid. How do you expect us to shoot a kid?"
"Here's 50,000 good reasons!" Atron held up the electron rifle and fired at Alex. Of course, with the sun's glare directly facing her, she missed by a good three feet and hit the crates just below Alex's feet.
As the blast struck the crates, Alex lost her balance and tumbled to the ground with the stack. "Darn," she swore as she put up a shield to avoid the debris. "It always looked so much easier in the movies." The soldiers immediately opened fire on her, but failed to hit anything as their shots bounced off her shield. With no intention to stick around, Alex morphed out of the mess and retreated up a wall onto an upper catwalk.
"Forget her! Just get the truck out of here now!" Atron ordered. "I'll catch up after I attend to... business." Not needing an explanation as to why, the soldiers hopped into the rig and signaled the driver to move out, leaving Atron to march over towards Alex with her weapon humming.
Recovering, Alex noticed that Atron was in a radically different outfit than what she was used to seeing. The woman was wearing a simple black bodysuit, with gloves, boots, and a belt that was all colored a dark silver. Her close-cropped red hair served to accentuate her image. "Nice outfit," Alex taunted from the rafters. "Let me guess... laundry day. All your Armani suits are at the cleaners, so you tricked out your pajamas."
"This outfit, Alex, is symbolic," Atron explained. "I want this image of mine to be the last thing you remember when I finally have you killed."
"Oh, I'll remember, all right." Alex smiled. "I'll remember how I was killed by a crazy old hag in her pajamas." Obviously not impressed with Alex's joke, Atron fired her weapon, sending 50,000 volts blazing towards her. Alex responded by leaping out of the way, vaulting over Atron's head in an impressive telekinetically-lifted bound and landing behind her, then raised her palm and fired her own zap shot with the intent to to knock her out.
POW! It hit Atron right in the shoulder, making her briefly flinch from the blow before she righted herself. "Heh, nice try," she replied, "but I expected as much when I put this uniform together." Atron pinched her sleeve. "See? Rubber-lined to absorb your little spark show."
Alex scowled in annoyance. "You've thought of everything, haven't you?"
"How do you think I got so far in life?"
"Point taken." Alex morphed out of the way of another blast and took cover behind the fallen crate stack. Well, zap shots are one thing, but let's try something a little more direct. Using some telekinetic power, Alex lifted a pair of crates up in front of her and chucked them at Atron. She managed to shoot down one, but the other came at her too fast and she had to dive out of the way. Seeing her opening, Alex morphed again and balled up, packing herself as tightly as possible. "Slime ball, side pocket!" she called out as she launched forward towards Atron with all the velocity of an electrically-charged bowling ball, knocking her to the floor with a groan of pain.
Rolling furiously, Alex reared around for another pass. This time, however, she failed to notice Atron draw a small device from her sleeve and throw it at her. As soon as it hit Alex, she felt herself literally explode, splattering all over the floor like puddle water. Not willing to wait for her recovery, Atron got up and ran for the stairwell.
"Oooohhh..." Alex moaned as all her scattered droplets immediately moved towards the center of the room, where they recombined and reformed into the one true Alex Mack. That's never pleasant, she woozily thought. Now where did she go? Alex slowly staggered towards the stairwell after her adversary.
A fight as noisy as the one inside the warehouse would obviously be bound to attract attention, and already it had drawn a crowd from nearby. The police were setting up barricades and trying to push the people back, even shouting to them to leave the area. Even the local news was on location, reporting on the ongoing situation.
In her motel room, Annie watched the TV intently as it blared a special report. "For those of you just tuning in, we have reports of what is believed to be gunfire and explosions going off within the vicinity of the Connery Warehouse at Lynch and 23rd," announced the reporter. "Local authorities have asked that all civilians remain in their homes until further notice, though the mounting crowd standing outside has yet to be dispersed for their safety."
DAMMIT! Annie dashed for the door, nearly crashing into Barbara. "Sorry, 'scuse me, Mom."
"Annie, where are you-"
"Call it a hunch," Annie quickly explained as she pointed to the report, "but I think I know where Alex is!"
"There?" Barbara looked absolutely shocked. "Annie, are you crazy? You could get hurt!"
"You said it yourself, Mom. Just have faith." Barbara had no objections as Annie ran out of the room and dashed towards the street.
As Annie reached the sidewalk, she was nearly cut off by an approaching taxi. "Annie!" shouted Robyn from inside. "Thank goodness! I... I wasn't sure where else to go, so I came here."
"It's her, right?" Robyn nodded. "Well, move over, 'cause I'm coming with you!" Annie got in with her. "Lynch and 23rd, and step on it!"
As the taxi pulled away, Barbara watched from the upper walkway, then bowed her head. If anybody can hear me, she mentally whispered, please watch over my daughters.
Stepping out of the stairwell, Alex wandered out onto a catwalk overlooking the warehouse floor. It was a pretty steep drop from where she stood, and she briefly sweated. As she walked past the supervisor's booth, a blast of lightning lashed out and struck her in the back, and Alex fell down hard onto the metal mesh ground.
"You're a persistent little pest, aren't you?" Atron sneered as she stepped out from the booth. "See, this is the kind of power I would have loved to have at my side." She raised the rifle and fired a shot. Alex rolled off to the side as the bolt of electricity struck the ground. "I could've build your reputation up into a deity, but you were always too busy hiding to even take the chance."
"Build me up? I seem to recall something about you trying to blow me up instead. And before that, you threatened to send me to the dissection table."
"We could come to a compromise," Atron added. "I'm a very flexible negotiator."
"Oh, will you shut up?" Alex charged her fists with electricity as a warning gesture. "Seriously, you're always running your mouth about how great you think you are. You are without a doubt the most egostistical woman I've ever met, and I wouldn't rule by your side for anything."
Atron looked hurt and insulted. "Well, don't say I didn't make the offer." Thus the fight continued as Alex dashed back and forth on the upper decks, dodging lightning bolts and firing back taunts.
Stepping out of the cab, Robyn groaned at the crowd standing about. "We're never going to get in there, not with all those policemen standing about," she replied as she and Annie looked at the warehouse from around the block.
"They don't seem too concerned about the back area, though," Annie observed. "We'll try there."
"For the record, if we get caught, I know nothing about you or the situation." Robyn followed Annie around the block and towards the rear access of the warehouse. To their immediate fortune, the loading dock was wide open, allowing them to sneak inside.
Almost as soon as they did, the sight of bright flashes of electricity caught their attention. "Upstairs," Annie called out as she and Robyn crept up the stairwell and peered out towards the catwalk. The first thing Annie saw was "Danielle Atron?" Indeed the cruel CEO was shooting at Alex with some kind of fancy weapon. But it was the sight of Alex that drew her attention.
"C'mon, Alex! You can do it!" Robyn quietly shouted as she watched her friend in action. Annie was speechless as she kept her eyes on her sister. There she was, facing certain danger and possible death, and yet she didn't seem like she was afraid. In fact, it looked more like she was enjoying herself.
She's either very foolish or very stupid to be doing this, Annie realized, but right now, she's very incredible. Annie only hoped that Alex wasn't biting off more than she could chew, especially in a situation like this.
"Y'know, Danielle," Alex called out as she expertly morphed and reformed around another bolt, "for someone who insists on being the perfect model of dignity and intelligence, you sure do go crazy trying to catch what you can't hit."
"Well, for someone who prefers staying hidden and uninvolved, you sure do enjoy putting your neck on the line for others. So noble..." Atron mockingly clapped. "... and stupid!"
"You call helping people stupid?"
"Those so-called people can't even help themselves. Look at Paradise Valley, for example. Everybody did what I said, blindly and obediently. No one questioned me, even when they knew I was up to no good."
"That's because they were afraid of what you'd do to them if they stepped out of line." Alex slowly stood up and dusted herself off. "I'll admit, I was afraid once. But you made me realize that you're really all bark and no bite."
Atron's smile vanished. "Shut up!"
"I didn't have to put on a cape and mask to spoil your plans. In fact, you did all the spoiling yourself. You became so obsessed with trying to catch me that all I had to do was just let you and your goons rip your reputation into shambles."
"Shut up, shut up, shut up!"
"Oh, and who can forget that night where you went and blew up your own plant? Real smooth planning there, Danielle." Alex laughed loudly, letting it echo throughout the entire room. "Between my friends and my powers, did you really think you could trap me? Some genius you are!" Atron's face had turned a near purple from her rage. "
"SILENCE!" Atron shouted. "I don't have to take this from a mutant like you!"
"Look who's talking! At least I don't look like some kind of corporate ninja, what with that get-up of yours!" Alex was laughing madly. "I'm not afraid of you! No one's afraid of you!"
"You should be, you little runt! Now DIE!" Atron fired a bolt, catching Alex by surprise and knocking off her feet. The force of the blow sent Alex careening into a stack of gas drums. Without a second thought, Atron fired at the drums, igniting them and enveloping Alex in the resulting explosion. The woman was looking positively psychotic as the explosion billowed from the production floor, laughing as her self-proclaimed nemesis vanished into flames. "Let that be a lesson to you, Alex... NO ONE stands up to me and lives!"
"ALEEXXXXX!" Unable to stand it anymore, Annie screamed and tackled Atron to the floor. "You..." Annie growled. "You monster! You heartless monster, how could you do that? What did she ever do to you?"
Atron threw Annie off her and against the floor, getting an audible groan of pain from the elder and now only Mack sister. Pinning her down with her foot, Atron sneered. "If you care for her so much, then, by all means, you can join her." She raised her weapon, ready to flash-fry Annie into nonexistence.
"Don't you dare touch her!"
The voice echoed throughout the warehouse, making the three woman pause in inexplicible fear. Then they saw her... and what they saw instantly made all their faces run white. Slowly rising from below to face them was Alex... but not in the way they recognized. Her entire body now gleamed a bright silver, with small arcs of rolling electricity and liquid ripples flowing every which way. No other color, no texture, not even her outfit to protect her modesty (not that she seemed concerned about it right now). About the only recognizable feature was what looked like her baseball cap sitting on her head, its consistency altered with its wearer.
Robyn felt her throat run dry, but eventually squeaked out a "How..." as she ran over to help Annie. "How did..."
"I...I'm not sure," Annie fearfully replied. "I guess the stress of the situation triggered a reaction in her powers. But this... this is impossible, even for her."
"You just can't take a hint, can you?" Atron roared as she fired a bolt at Alex, striking her dead in her chest... but with no effect. Atron fired another shot, and Alex again absorbed it into herself. Hovering slowly towards Atron, Alex crossed her arms in defiance, a grim scowl crossing her face.
Recovering quickly, Atron stood up and grabbed Annie by the wrist. "Cute tricks, mutant, but even you won't risk hitting her, now will you?" Alex raised her palm and fired a Zap Shot at Atron with all the force of a lightning bolt, just as Atron tossed Annie into its path.
For a moment, it looked like Alex would accidently hit her sister, but the Zap Shot instead split in two around Annie, looping around her sides harmlessly before reuniting behind her and nailing Atron in her gut. Even with the rubberized suit absorbing the electricity, Atron felt herself knocked backwards from the sheer impact of the attack.
With a sneer, Atron sat up and prepared to fire, but Alex rushed forward and grabbed the weapon. "Hey, give that back!" Alex only shook her head as she channeled electricity into the gun, causing it to overload and explode into useless slag. "NO!" she screamed. "You... stupid... how could you..."
Atron didn't get to finish that sentence, for she suddenly felt Alex grab her by the front of her suit and fly themselves through a skylight window, outside the warehouse and over the open street. Atron stole a glance towards the ground and felt herself sweating from the height. "So, whaddya think, Atron? High enough for ya?" she boomed, her voice carrying a mighty echo.
"Please, Alex..." Atron groaned. "Show some... mercy."
"C'mon, admit it. You're scared spitless of me," Alex taunted. "That's why you want me dead so much, because I'm a threat to your perfect little ego. Well, if you insist on playing with me, then by all means bring it on. There's nothing you or Vince can do to scare me anymore."
All the color left Atron's face. "But... "
"But I'm only going to say this once, Danielle Atron." Alex brought Atron to eye level and glared at her through white-hot eyes. "If you EVER try to hurt my family or friends again... then I won't be responsible for what I'll do to you." Alex suddenly let go of Atron, sending her plummeting to her death with a scream...
... but stopping inches short of spattering all over the pavement. "Whu... huh..." Stuttering, Atron looked up to see Alex hovering above her, calmly smiling as she gripped her leg.
"Psych!" Alex giggled as she dropped Atron onto the ground, getting nothing but a pained groan from the evil woman. Before Atron could respond, Alex punched the ground next to her in a single, mighty blow, causing the street below to crack and shatter. Atron panicked and screamed again as the street around her collapsed into the sewers, sending her into the filthy water below with a splash. "Happy trails," Alex waved. Atron only garbled angrily as the river current sent her floating away into the dark tunnels.
With a smile, Alex rocketed back into the warehouse and brought herself to a hover next to Robyn and Annie. Both of them were absolutely astonished at how powerful she had become.
Robyn was the first to find her voice. "Al... Alex..." she barely gasped. "Is... is it really... you?"
Alex smiled, the glowing radiance of her body making her look absolutely stunning. Slowly, Robyn got to her feet and looked up at her friend. Alex was just about to speak when she suddenly winced.
"ALEX!" Annie shouted as Alex collapsed onto the roof, her silver glow fading into human skin and her clothes reforming upon her. Soon, Alex Mack was sprawled on the roof, human once more and unmoving. "Alex, are you alright?" she shouted, shaking Alex in hopes of getting a response. "Speak to me."
Alex's eyes fluttered open, and she slowly turned towards Annie. "I'm... I'm okay," came Alex's weak reply. "Just really... really tired."
"You've burned up so much energy that you just couldn't hold your transformed state anymore," Annie explained. "It's most likely the reason of your fatigue and why you-"
"Annie," Robyn cut in, "let's just say that Alex saved us and leave it at that."
"Works for me," Alex replied. She then sighed. "I guess I should've given Atron to the cops, right?"
"You've done your part, Alex," Annie replied. "Now let the proper authorities do theirs."
"But they won't even know she was here."
"They will now." Robyn pulled out her cell phone and switched the screen to a photo of Atron, holding her weapon and looking absolutely crazy. "I snapped it while... well... while she was gloating over your-"
"Trust me, she's never looked better." Laughing, the girls shared a group hug.
Back at the police station...
"So, Vince Carter was willing to pay you to serve as an accomplice?"
"Yes." Across the table, Simon sat there quietly, all his usual meanness gone in favor of bitter humility. "He told me to have my men take hostages at Sedgewick while he set the bombs."
"And you are aware of the one hostage who got loose and, according to their testimony, zapped them into unconsciousness?" came Grace Lasky continued pressing.
"Same one who kept making a fool out of me." Grace looked at Simon expectantly. "I never caught her name, okay? All I know is that I never want to see her again." Simon turned away.
It doesn't look like he's a threat to Alex's secret. Probably too humiliated to admit that he got beat up by a girl. Grace let a calm smile cross her face. Alex... whatever you did, I'm grateful.
Grace got up and left the holding tank, where a sergeant stood waiting. "So, did he say anything?"
"No," Grace shook her head. "Just random angry insults."
"Well, he didn't look too angry." The sergeant looked cross. "Are you sure he didn't say anything?"
"Are you going to argue with the FBI?" she challenged. The sergeant paused, then shook his head. "Didn't think so. Anyway, I think I've gotten everything I could here, so I'm off for home." Right after one last stop.
"In our top story, local and Federal authorities continue to investigate the reports of gunfire and explosions coming from the Connery Warehouse at Lynch and 23rd." Robyn's photo of Atron appeared onscreen. "Celebrity convict Danielle Atron, having been released from prison on parole just last year, has been named by an anonymous eyewitness as the prime suspect behind the mayhem downtown. All citizens are asked to report any and all new information relating to her."
"Oh, I can't wait to see how she gets out of this one," Alex teased as she and her father sat in the hospital room. George was awake and was already eager to leave, though he wouldn't be officially released until tomorrow morning. Still, Alex was just happy to see him moving.
"In related news, authorities have yet to confirm or deny any explanation regarding repeated claims of citizens seeing a strange silver spark flying in the sky during the incident, although an investigation into it being the cause of a large hole in the middle of 23rd Street is underway."
Alex smiled sheepishly. "Yeah... heh... that was kinda my fault," she said, "but I don't regret it." Without a sound, George shut the TV off. Alex could tell that he looked distressed, and it was a fair bet that she was the distress in question.
Alex sighed. "Dad..." she began. "I'm sorry for lying again. It's just that you and Mom seemed so happy that the whole GC-161 mess was over, and between Annie and me..." The Super-Teen slightly hesitated. "We just didn't want you to worry about it anymore."
"Alex, I made you the antidote, but it was still your choice whether or not to take it," her father replied. "If you had just told me that it didn't work from the get-go, or even that you simply didn't take it, I wouldn't have held it against you."
"But you told me that there was the risk of long-term damage."
"There always is with chemicals, but that's besides the point," George continued. "Alex, I'm a scientist. When I see a situation, my first response is to study it scientifically. The only problem is that I don't always listen to my heart as much as my brain." Alex was surprised at her father's reasoning. "But you're a strong, courageous woman with a pure heart, and I've always loved you for that."
"Trust me, Alex, I don't need any science to explain it." George sighed heavily. "I only wish I had your courage ten years ago. Maybe then I could've stood up to Atron and stopped her plans from ever starting, instead of being so meek and helpless around her."
"Maybe." Alex shrugged. She wasn't quite sure about that, especially after hearing the stories of others who tried to stand up to Atron and vanished. "So, I guess now you're gonna obsess over curing me, huh?" she moped.
"Annie told me everything about you and her GC-161 studies. Personally, I'm actually kind of jealous that she got to study you instead of me." George weakly chuckled, which slightly unnerved Alex. "You don't seem to be in any danger healthwise, especially if you've gone this long with these... gifts." Alex smiled at her father's reassurance. "But if something does happen... just promise you won't hide it from me."
"I promise, Dad," Alex whispered. "I promise." George and Alex pulled into a loving embrace, once more a father and daughter who were proud for each other.
"Also..." George pulled Alex's head in to whisper. "Can you see about morphing out and sneaking in a Burger Fool meal for me? I can't get a decent burger in this place for anything." Alex simply laughed as she continued the hug. When it came to her father, some things never changed.
And from the doorway of George's hospital room, Barbara Mack smiled. That's the George I know and love, she thought. And Alex... I'm so proud of you, too.
"So, basically, Dad's not going to prod me about what I do with my powers, just so long as he feels that I'm not abusing them, which I never do," Alex explained to Annie as the elder Mack daughter packed her clothes in her suitcase. "And though he says I'm okay, I did agree to let him know of any new developments in my... unique condition. Of course, I'll still be telling you first, since you're the reigning... Hey! Are you listening?"
"Huh?" Annie looked up. "Oh, yeah, Alex. Go ahead."
"Look, about last night... I'm sorry, okay?" Alex bowed her head in guilty shame. "Attacking you was a very stupid move. I had just been so upset over the past few hours that I simply snapped without thinking."
"Apology accepted, Alex, but you're the one who was right," came Annie's reply. "I was so worried about the worst-case scenario that I never once thought that you're more capable than I give you credit for."
"Seriously, Annie, I'm in the wrong more than you are."
"Tell me, Alex," Annie continued. "Yesterday at Sedgewick and today, how did you feel knowing that you were using your powers to make a positive difference in a life-or-death situation?"
Taken aback by the question, Alex paused to remove her hat and scratch her head. After a bit of private reflection, she said, "To be honest... it was kinda scary, but fun, too." Alex smiled. "I mean, I wouldn't want to make it an everyday event, but it was nice to finally let loose and be me. None of the usual hiding and lies, but just simply... doing."
"If that's the way you feel about it, then I really have no right to try and control you anymore." Annie looked up to Alex with a sad gaze. "I'm just worried about what will happen when everybody learns about how the most powerful being in the world is just a 19-year-old girl from California?"
"Well, I wouldn't call myself that, but-"
Annie put her hand on Alex's shoulder. "But seeing you now, so powerful and grown-up... I'll bet you could tell the whole world and no one would ever give you a hard time about it." A smile crossed Annie's lips. "It's your choice, Alex. Whether you go public with your powers or keep them secret, I'll be there for you in any way I can."
"Thanks, but..." Alex trailed off. "I don't want to tell the world, at least not yet. If the whole world knew about me, then I'd never be able to lead a normal life, and there's still so much I want to do first." Annie nodded in agreement. "And besides, what about Mom and Dad... or you? Everybody would be bugging you three over me if they knew."
"We'll get by. We always do," Annie replied. "The thing about our family, Alex, is that we never give up on anything we start on, just as I'll never give up on you." Alex felt proud at that statement, and the two sisters shared a heartfelf hug. For the first time since three years ago, they were closer than ever.
"Starting tomorrow, I'm heading back to my counselor so that I can start a degree program," Alex announced. "I want you to be proud of me when I finally get that sheepskin."
"I'm proud of you already just for taking the first step," came Annie's reply. "Oh, and someone was by earlier. They asked for you and left you this." She handed Alex a letter. With a curious shrug, Alex opened it up and pulled out a note.
Before you say anything... I didn't tell anybody about you. I figured you deserve at least that much respect. Anyway, I want to thank you for helping to stop this mayhem. It's not much, but a little bird told me you could use this.
Hopefully, we can start to be friends again. Until then, I'll be watching out for you.
Alex smiled as she pulled out some money from the envelope. It totaled to 300 dollars. "Well, Grace, it's a start," she said as she grabbed her hat and jacket.
Now it was Annie's turn to look confused. "Uh, who's Grace?" she asked. "Seriously, Alex, is that a friend of yours?"
"I'm not at liberty to say just yet."
"Alexandra Louise Mack, don't you dare be keeping things from me!" the elder sister demanded. "And where do you think you're going, anyway?"
"Where else?" Alex turned and smiled. "To the impound."
And so, Alex Mack defeated the evil ambitions of Danielle Atron and brought peace back to Pittsville Gardens... for now. However, this is only the beginning of what will be her own journey into history. Her life will take her to places unseen, learning truths untold, fighting enemies unimaginable.
Fight on, Alex! The world is waiting for you!
Coughing and sputtering, her pristine outfit ruined by sewer water, Danielle Atron marched alongside the empty country road. She was wet, angry and very humiliated.
As she strode along muttering strings of curses, a humvee pulled up beside her. "Miss Atron!" Vince shouted from within the vehicle. "Are you alright?"
"What kept you? I called you fifteen minutes ago, only for my phone to die afterwards," she snapped. As Atron got into the jeep, Vince wrinkled his nose. "Say one word, and I will hurt you."
"Sorry." Averting his gaze, Vince drove down the road. "Don't tell me. Mack, right?"
"At her power levels, I'll need to significantly re-evaluate my long-term strategem," Atron growled. "But make no mistake about it, I'll teach that little mutant not to make a fool out of me! Did you print out the files like I asked?"
"Right here." Vince handed Atron a plain manila envelope. "After all the trouble I went through, it had better be worth it."
"Of course. The very thing that made her is going to be her undoing." Atron eagerly took the file and read over the title. "If she wants a war, I'll give her one. Time is all I need... time and money."
PARADISE VALLEY CHEMICAL INC. TOP SECRET
MUTAGENIC CHEMICAL COMPOUND "GC-161" *DISCONTINUED*
GEORGE MACK, PROJECT LEADER
"So, what are we doing next, Miss Atron?"
"For now, we lay low and recoup our losses," came her simple reply. "After all... tomorrow is another day."