Author's Note: In a sense, this is my way of trying to resurrect/reinterpret two fan characters I haven't really done much with over the span of three years. One is my El Tigre fan character Serenity, the other my League of Super Evil fan character Firecracker. Firecracker's getting a complete re-introduction here, so there isn't really any need to give any back story/info, but Serenity on the other hand, might require some basic explanation.

Serenity is a Miracle City native that became a superhero at age sixteen (she is the same age as Manny Rivera; she just happens to appear in my fan fiction about El Tigre that takes place when Manny's in high school). She created a belt that allows her to transform into her superhero alter ego Electron; it also artificially creates her "super powers" of being able to shoot electric beams, as well as fly. In this particular story, she's eighteen with two years of superhero experience. She's also part of the three-person superhero team, Team Lightning which includes herself, her boyfriend Felix (Conflagration), and the leader Zeo (Lightning Livewire). Felix is only present in this first part, though, and Zeo is mentioned in passing.

1: Pieces

-Miracle City: Felix's Apartment

Serenity reached out and lovingly ran her fingers down the fabric of her orange Electron uniform. A huge string of memories bubbled up in her mind, popping like fireworks and sending small electric currents of longing through her veins and straight to her heart. There was an all-too-real pang that swept through her, rushing from her head to her toes. Immediately, she pulled away, balling her fingers into tight fists.

Tears prickled in her eyes; she couldn't deny how difficult this was going to be...

Her breath caught in her throat; her eyes landed on her burnt sienna half-mask. The eye holes had small rips and tears; she remembered tediously and poorly cutting those holes out herself. Even her fingers felt the leftover ghost of the scissor handles.

Gulping, Serenity steeled herself and left the room, fast-walking down the hallway. Her head down, arms a pair of helicopter propellers. Right before she reached the living room of her boyfriend Felix's apartment, she stopped, leaning against the wall and sliding downwards until she hit the carpet.

Unexpectedly, Serenity collapsed further to the floor and slowly rolled into fetal position. Her brown hair came out of its' ponytail and started to fall around her face as the tears started leaking from her eyes. The sudden rush of emotion was so strong, Serenity felt her energy and strength draining away. All she could do was lay there, waiting for the tears to stop.

Felix opened the door, his hands fondling the knob a few seconds before he entered. He wore a tight lipped smile, part of a drumstick hanging out the side of his mouth. Bumping the front door shut with his hip, he pulled another drumstick out of the KFC bucket he was carrying.

"Serenity?" he called through a mouthful of food.

No response. He dropped the drumstick back in the bucket and wandered farther into the living room. What he finally saw made his eyes widen; he swallowed suddenly.

Serenity was rolled up into a ball on the floor, shaking and shuddering. Without hesitation, he threw the bucket aside and rushed towards his girlfriend, pulling her quaking form into his lap and tenderly wrapping his arms around her.

"Are you okay?" he asked gently.

Serenity sniffed and looked at him through half-lidded eyes. "I don't know..."

"Talk to me," he urged, rubbing her shoulder. "I'll listen, baby. Okay?"

"Felix, honestly-," Serenity protested.

Felix sighed heavily, cutting her off. "Quit lying to yourself. You're on the verge of depression-"

"You're not a psychiatrist!" Serenity huffed, pushing away from him and backing away until her back was propped against the wall. "I'm sick of you, Zeo, and everybody else telling me how to live my life!"

"If I were trying to stop you, I would've completely intercepted the letter you got from Metrotown Tech," Felix said evenly, looking directly into her dark green eyes. "I was the one who told you about the letter in the first place."

Serenity sighed and squeezed her eyes shut. "...when did you become the responsible one?"

"It scares me, too," Felix chuckled.

She opened her eyes again. "Though, really, I made my decision. I know the consequences, the whole nine yards that come attached. What happens next happens. Why is that so hard to understand?"

"Have you ever seen yourself from the outside looking in, Serenity?" Felix interjected, folding his arms. "I know you're sick of everybody trying to get you to second guess yourself, but I'll tell you why they are: It's blatantly obvious that you were born to be a superhero, okay? You have an unshakable morality code; you care about upholding truth, justice, and goodness no matter what the cost. You took every step it took to become a true team player and..." He furrowed his brows. "You're the most alive when you're Electron...That's when you've always been at your best. It's all you talk about; it even beats out sciency technobabble as your favorite subject."

The entire time Felix spoke, he held Serenity's full attention. The expression on her face told him that she knew he was right; that she really did agree with everybody's warnings. There was just something holding her back from giving in. If only Felix could break it apart.

As much as he hated himself for it, he wanted Serenity to break down and fall into his arms, letting him take the brunt of her tears and grief. As a superhero, she was tough as nails, but when she was just Serenity, she needed support. She needed someone to lean against and help her manage her stress. Was there some part of her that hated leaning on others when she was just Serenity?

She looked at him with eyes full of steel. "I'll just tell you why I'm so determined to go to Metrotown Tech," Serenity said. "I've never been formally trained and I'd really like to refine my inventing skills. I haven't tinkered with my Electron belt since I was sixteen!" She smacked the wall behind her with open palms for emphasis. "I never have time for it as a superhero. And, even though I'm extremely reluctant to give up my post for even a nanosecond, I may never have a chance like this again. I'm taking the advice you gave me when we first started dating, Felix." She smiled slightly.

" 'Sometimes you have to throw all caution to the wind and just do what your gut tells you. Your gut isn't always right, but there's always a way to pick up the pieces you left behind. There might even be an unexpected opportunity hidden in the pieces you're trying to pick up.'"

"I was wrong," Felix argued, touching his forehead. "You proved that that perspective isn't the right one to have."

"And you proved to me that it was," Serenity countered. "We wouldn't be together if you hadn't convinced me that some risks are worth taking."

"This is way different than what that was," Felix cried, his eyebrows forming a sharp, creasing V. "You're taking a risk that requires throwing away what you love the most just for an opportunity that you might get to do what you could only wish you could do before. The other situation was you picking an experience you always wanted and knew you'd have definite results from."

"I just want to try," Serenity said, sighing. "I'm not leaving forever."

"How can you be so sure?" Felix asked in a breathy voice.

"I'm not," Serenity agreed. "But I just want to try..."

There was silence for a long moment, both of them just looking into the other's eyes. From the set of Serenity's shoulders and her stiff pose, Felix realized that he was fighting a losing battle. Sighing, he looked away from her for a brief moment, feeling his heart sink to his shoes. He'd just have to believe in Serenity's judgment. He closed his eyes and sighed for what felt like the thousandth time in the course of fifteen minutes.

"Man...when did we switch personalities?" Felix mused.

"I can tell you're getting sick of the mushy gushy," Serenity commented with a smirk.

"Not if I'm getting something from the mushy gushy," Felix laughed.

"Yeah." Serenity shook her head. "Good luck with that."

"But I brought home chicken!" Felix protested, leaning in towards her and putting his hands on her knees. "Fried, greasy chicken!"

"Quit covering my pant legs in grease..." Serenity complained as she leaned in closer until the tips of their noses were touching.

-Metrotown: Skullossus' Evil Space Lair

Skullosus was out of town for the week doing...whatever big top super villain guys did to uphold their reputation. Of course, there was still stuff that his robot minion Skullmandos-and his in-house "mad scientist" Firecracker-had to attend to.

Yawning and stretching, Firecracker wandered through Skullossus' lair in nothing but a large T-shirt with the Force Fighters V on the front. She entered the kitchen, shivering as her bare feet met cold linoleum tile. When she reached the fridge, she skimmed the chore list that Skullossus had left attached there with a kitten magnet: He wanted her to build the tachyon powered hover car that he'd seen the blueprints for on her desk, as well as get a box of fresh chocolate doughnuts and a Starbucks coffee the morning he returned.

Rolling her eyes, Firecracker yanked the fridge open, nabbed a carton of orange juice and popped it open, taking a long swig before closing it and putting it back. Skullossus absolutely hated it when other people drank directly out of the carton; that's why she got such a wicked, subliminal thrill from doing just that.

There was no way Firecracker was going to start building today. Not when this was such a prime and golden opportunity for her. Skullossus never left the lair this empty!

First order of business? Firecracker was smirking like the Cheshire Cat as she exited the kitchen and went straight to Skullossus' personal study. She flicked on his computer, brought up YouTube, then slid into a preparatory position, tapping her foot as the video started.

Psy's "Oppa Gangnam Style" started playing full blast. Never quite able to master the dance moves that went with it, Firecracker just started floundering and flopping around like a fish out of water. Purposefully, she started swatting at various papers on Skullossus' desk, sending them flying. Howling in a deranged lunatic fashion, Firecracker kicked the spinning chair parked in front of the computer, watching it spin radically as she indiscriminately stomped on and crumpled the papers that had hit the floor.

When the song ended, Firecracker surveyed her rampant destruction with a cheek to cheek grin. She turned, ready to leave the room, but stopped when she came face to face with one of the Skullmandos. A recorded message played, showing a hologram of Skullossus Star Wars style: "Firecracker, until I return, you're in charge."

The hologram disappeared, leaving Firecracker standing there stunned and silent. Skullossus must be doing something major or huge to have her take on any form of command. Most of the time, Firecracker was confined to the lair, keeping to herself and the laboratory that Skullossus had set up; he spoke to her directly as little as possible, usually choosing to communicate through colorful sticky notes instead. Sometimes, she questioned whether or not he realized that she wasn't one of his mindless robot minions...

Throwing responsibility aside, Firecracker pondered: It'd been close to two years since she'd last done any major scale or even minor scale crimes in Metrotown. The only times she got to go anymore were on inane and boring chore runs! Perhaps it was time for Metrotown to remember that Firecracker was still an active super villain and not just a chore peddling flunky?

Normally, Firecracker had to wear an all-crimson uniform that she swore made her look like a misplaced Trekkie. Skullossus had already warned her about the consequences of him catching her with her Force Fighters V night shirt. So, what would he say about her donning what she considered to be her "trademark villain outfit"?

She briefly looked at herself in the mirror: her black suit still fit. Smiling impishly, she tugged at her silver tie and adjusted the fedora she was wearing so that it covered one of her bright yellow eyes. If only she could dye her pale yellow hair back to her preferred gray or silver, then her chosen image would be complete.

Satisfied for the moment, she exited her bedroom and stalked down the hall flanked by two Skullmandos. She tugged at the cuff of her white shirt and adjusted the lapels of her suit jacket, going over her evil scheme in her mind. After today, she'd never have a chance like this again. In the past, she'd tried to convince Skullossus to go with one of her plans or schemes, but he always waved them off, calling them sophomoric and stupid; that her plans were so low-scale that he'd be laughed at and scoffed by the other villains in town.

Grinning, Firecracker swore that this was going to be her ultimate vengeance towards those claims.

When she reached the main control room of Skullossus' floating space lair, Firecracker held up a hand, signaling the Skullmandos to stop. Folding her arms behind her back, she called out: "Video!"

Several pitch black video screens descended from the ceiling. "Show me a feed of Metrotown!" she commanded.

The video screens flickered, showing views of skyscrapers downtown, the suburban rows of houses just outside of town, as well as the lairs of different super villains throughout town. It kind of bothered Firecracker how much coverage and scope Skullossus had; how paranoid could he be?

But then again, he was Metrotown's most powerful, a title that used to be held by Firecracker's dad Leo Sernara. She remembered that, growing up, she hadn't seen much of her dad; he was usually so wrapped up in sustaining his underground evil empire and keeping his mafia in line that he never had time for anything else. He'd never thought she'd make much of a super villain either, that she was nothing in comparison to her older brother Apollo. The thought left a bad taste in Firecracker's mouth. She didn't want to think about any of her family members, let alone Daddy Dearest.

Curling her lip back in a snarl, she pulled her newest invention out of her jacket pocket. It was a small rectangle-shaped controller with a bright LCD display and a series of buttons. For a moment, Firecracker was mesmerized by the bright colors and shininess, but then stopped, forcing herself to focus. She adjusted the appropriate settings, then pressed the 'finalize' button.

Smiling manically, she shouted "ZOOM" at the screens, watching with bated breath as the cameras zoomed in on the unsuspecting citizens of Metrotown...

-Metrotown: L.O.S.E. Lair

Voltar was lounging on the couch, his gloved hand stuck in a bag of Goldfish crackers; his expression seemed completely and utterly vacant as he mindlessly stared at the TV screen.

Worriedly, Red Menace walked over and looked down at Voltar. "Hey Boss, are you okay?"

Voltar just mumbled incoherently in response, followed by a low series of chuckles and cackles from Docktor Frogg. That was when Red noticed that Voltar had several wires attached to his head; the wires fed to a machine that Frogg was holding in his claws and staring at with an intent, somewhat malicious expression.

"What's going on, Docktor Frogg?" Red asked curiously.

Frogg looked up, his eyebrows at a sinister slant. "I challenged Voltar to sit through a 24 hour marathon of whatever vapid reality TV was on." The wicked smile on his face corkscrewed into a Cupid's bow. "I told him if he could survive, he'd get five bucks."

"That's a lot to go through for five bucks...," Red mused.

"You've known Voltar long enough to know what lengths he'll go to for free stuff," Frogg snorted.

" he okay?" Red looked at the boss again, noting that one of Voltar's molten yellow pupils was starting to float slightly to the left.

In response, Frogg reached over for the TV remote. The first two times, his claws couldn't quite grasp it, causing him to grunt and curse under his breath. When he finally did pick up the remote, he turned off the TV, then held up the device he'd been looking at, showing Red a display that resembled the display of a heart monitor: The green line was completely flat.

"Voltar's DEAD!" Red shrieked.

Frogg pulled the monitor away and sighed. "No, that's actually very close to what his normal brain activity looks like," Frogg assured Red. "He just needs some time for his pea-sized brain to dissect what he just watched-"

"No, Honey Boo Boo! I won't try your go-go juice!" Voltar cried suddenly. "Mixing Red Bull with Mountain Dew is one of the worst things a person could ever do!"

After that spastic episode, Voltar slumped and collapsed face first off of the side of the couch, rolling onto his side. The Goldfish bag flew from his hand and spilled golden cheesy crackers all over the already dirty floor, much to the utter delight of Doomageddon nearby.

Frogg was trying to hold back laughter, but his funny bone died when he saw the horror-struck look on Red's face.

"He'll be fine!" Frogg insisted when Red turned to stare at him.

"Voltar never did anything to deserve this!" Red cried, gesturing at the spreadeagled form of Voltar on the floor.

"It was my revenge for Voltar throwing a water balloon in my face yesterday!" Frogg harrumphed.

"It was a harmless-"

"He did it when I was talking to a cute girl!" Frogg steamed, his face turning bright red. "Do you know how hard it is for mad scientists to get the opposite sex to talk to them?!"

"She was out of your league anyway..." Red said casually, shrugging.

"What?!" Steam was starting to curtail out of Frogg's ears.

"She was out of my league, too," Red backpedaled, making "calm down" motions with his hands. "Didn't you notice the tattoo on her arm? She was a member of the Sernara clan!"

Frogg's eyes widened, then he folded his arms and fell back against the couch again, frustrated. "I could have gotten connections. Put the League of Super Evil on the map. I would've had a really attractive woman at my side and the world at my feet," he pouted.

While Frogg was going on about his loss, Red moved around the couch and knelt, taking a closer look at Voltar. Then he carefully reached out and picked Voltar up, cradling him in his large hands.

"I don't think Voltar would appreciate waking up on the floor," Red commented.

"He'll be fine!" Frogg hissed.

"Will you be okay, Docktor Frogg?" Red asked, an eyebrow raised.

"Once I stop mourning the loss of being substantial..."


Red just shrugged and carried Voltar to his room, gently placing him on the bed. As he got up to leave, something made Red stop in his tracks. He'd seen the various crayon drawings Voltar had pinned above his headboard before, but there was one that really stood out. A recent addition.

It was a picture of Voltar and Frogg sitting on planet Earth, back to back, with a barely legible side note: President and Vice President of the World.

Frogg was working intently on an invention in his room, trying to get lost in connecting wires and adjusting circuitry. Muttering the picky color patterns of different wires to himself, it became a mantra. A great distraction from how bitter he was feeling.

There were a few sounds in the background that Frogg found himself unconsciously zeroing in on: Red walking through the lair, talking to Doomageddon, the unnerving sound of Doomageddon's teleporting. The birds outside, twittering; the neighbor Steve's hose going as he incessantly watered his lawn.

Frogg couldn't help the nagging feeling that something...substantial was missing. As more time wore on, the measurable peace and quiet was almost unbearable. He stopped poking at wires and just stared at glowing motherboards as he silently contemplated.

It hit him like a ton of bricks: The lair was an entirely different place without Voltar stomping everywhere, making some sort of loud declaration or demand every few minutes.

Despite himself, Frogg pulled away from the invention he'd been working on, wandered out into the hallway and then, inadvertently, found himself standing just outside Voltar's door. Gritting his teeth, he reached out and knocked with his claw. "Hey, Voltar?" Silence. "I have the five doll-"

Frogg was cut off by a sudden loud and intense burst of synthesizers. The sound jarred him, rattling from his toes to his teeth and shaking him like a human maraca. A few seconds passed, and the song became jarringly familiar; a slew of unwanted memories rolled into Frogg's head.

Next thing he knew, Frogg felt a physical, very painful jolt: something told him that the nerve connection between his brain and his limbs had been cut off. Scared, Frogg looked down at his now limp body; he tried to move his arm, but it stayed immobile. What made things that much worse was that the music had grown louder.

Unbidden, Frogg's foot started tapping, then his entire body shot forward like an arrow released from a bow. He smashed into Red Menace. When he backed away, Frogg was looking up at Red, his own confused and startled expression mirrored there.

"I got this...weird urge to start boogying!" Red laughed.

"It's affecting me, too!" Frogg replied, as his arms started swinging crazily like a dual pair of clock pendulums.

Suddenly, Red reached out and grabbed one of Frogg's claws, dipping him and then pulling him up into a tango pose. Red was blushing furiously with embarrassment while Frogg tried to ignore the current predicament and focus on the music playing. He concentrated for a long minute, ignoring that he was still dancing like a spastic monkey.

Just as he figured out what song was playing, the door to Voltar's room burst open, bopping poor Frogg in the nose and sending him spinning. Voltar somersaulted through the air, landing en pointe with his arms stretched overhead in a V; Red held up a "10" sign before being launched back into dancing.

"Frogg!" Voltar trumpeted, wide awake now. "What's going on?"

Frogg was still spinning with stars circling around his head. A few incoherent and garbled sounds came out of his mouth, but after he shook his head and regained his bearings, he said: "Somebody's playing bad 80's music."

"Bad memories! Bad memories!" Voltar cried, trying desperately to plug his ears.

Red started belting lyrics: "...cause if friends don't dance and if they don't dance!"

The three of them felt like they were being pulled by an invisible fist as they danced down the stairs, through the lair, and out the front door, into the street. Frogg's eyes were bowling balls: The entire neighborhood- kids, parents, adults, and elderly alike were dancing as ridiculously and uncontrollably as they were.

Before Frogg could come to any other conclusions, he realized that everyone was glaring heatedly at the League of Super Evil. A hefty woman in pink cried, "What did you freaks do now?!"

That was enough to truly connect the dots: Somebody was controlling everyone in Metrotown like puppets.

"This isn't our fault!" Frogg cried. "We're in the same boat as everyone else here!"

"I don't believe you!" a blond teenage girl yelled. "Your inventions backfire on you so often that of course you idiots would be the victims of your own prank!"

"Just turn off whatever stupid contraption caused this already!" an older man chorused. "I'm missing Golden Girls!"

Sputtering Frogg looked around at all of the angry faces, stress rising. Hurriedly, he thought of the collection of inventions he had in his lab, started mentally going through the catalog of them all. Nothing immediately stood out or felt like a valid solution.

"Yes! What's going on now is all because of the League of Super Evil!" Voltar bragged, cackling like a moron.

"Voltar!" Frogg hissed. "We're dealing with an angry mob!"

"Exactly!" Voltar agreed, smirking.

Frogg just groaned and sighed, happy for the first time in five minutes that everybody was inexplicably dancing. That way, the angry mob accessorized by torches and pitchforks would be held off for at least a few minutes. But...somehow, the crowd had found a way to zero in on the three of them, closing them off to the point of no escape.

Squeaking, Frogg looked around, desperately searching for some small break or gap in the crowd. What few he found, somebody else noticed and that person strategically placed themselves or someone else to fill it.

"Hello Metrotown!" a loud, theatrical voice called out.

Frogg turned to look up, just like everybody else: There, flying via jet pack, was a midget woman in a 20s style gangster outfit, holding a megaphone in her right hand, an unknown device in the other. Using the magnification built into his goggles, Frogg honed in on the device she was holding and gasped.

"I'm Firecracker, the spritely and unpredictable!" she called out with a short wave. "And I'll be your DJ for today. Any requests...?"

A chorus of complaints started up; she cupped her hand around her ear and smirked. "Wait, I don't take requests!" Barking with laughter, she played with the settings on her device. A series of sonic waves swept from an antenna on top of the device, radiating out.

The music grew louder; against his will, Frogg found himself lining up with all of the annoyed neighbors. He placed his claws on somebody's narrow shoulders while somebody else was placing their hands on his lanky waist. A bright, poppy Latin song started and everybody started marching in a rhythmic conga line.

Frogg looked up and glared at the villainess, watching as she reeled back, legs crossed and laughing.

"Just let us go already!" a brunette cried when Firecracker was in close enough range. "I got stuff I need to do. What do you want: money, power?"

"You just convinced me to make this an all day marathon," she said, snickering. "Last person that doesn't pass out gets a cookie!"

"I demand you stop this at once and give me that cookie!" Voltar bellowed from the front of the conga line.

Frogg's jaw dropped slightly, then he shook his head. There was never a time when Voltar didn't butt in or say something unnecessary or stupid. But, then again, if Voltar managed to keep this woman distracted, Frogg could sneak up on her, steal her device, then jam the frequency.

Luckily, she was drawn towards Voltar like a fly to honey, her facial expression a mix between bemused and skeptic. "You have to follow my terms to get the cookie," she replied coyly.

"Show me the cookie," Voltar demanded.

Firecracker laughed jovially. "There's no cookie."

Meanwhile, Frogg was trying to pull away from the conga line, but his attempts were unsuccessful. He groaned, staring helplessly at his claws, wishing they weren't connected to his brain and nerve activity. From the neck down, his body was a slave to that device...Wait! That sudden realization reminded him that he still had control of his goggles. And he'd done quite a bit of upgrading to them lately.

"Why did you promise me a cookie if there is no cookie?!" Voltar sputtered angrily.

"I never promised you a cookie!" Firecracker teased, smirking. "Hey, what's your name?"

"Don't get off topic!" Voltar steamed.

"I'll give you that cookie if you tell me your name," she urged, eyebrow raised.

That was when a bizarre looking long brass tube shot out, hitting Firecracker's device and puncturing a hole in the side. Grimacing, Firecracker looked down and watched as the elongated brass tube started retracting. Sparks flew from the device and she dropped it like a hot potato, yelling: "Fire in the hole!"

A small red and orange fire broke out, yellow sparks spitting and flying everywhere. Now free from the conga line, people started running away, getting on their hands and knees, hiding in bushes, or slamming doors behind them as they rushed inside. Firecracker floated just a few feet overhead, ecstatic as she pulled out a large fire blanket and used it to extinguish the electrical fire.

A few feet away, Frogg grunted and hurriedly tried to fix the left eye socket of his goggles. Having difficulty screwing it back to its' original position, he cursed under his breath. In a strange set of circumstances, Doomageddon suddenly teleported right in front of Frogg and grabbed the extended tube of Frogg's goggle eye socket. He got up on his hind legs, then pushed the socket back in place, snickering at the confused expression on Frogg's face.

But just as Frogg was thinking about thanking the doom hound, Doomageddon launched himself at Frogg's shoe and started gnawing on it.

"I wondered where you were, Doomy," Red said as he came over and pulled the doom hound off of Frogg.

"I'm going to give that woman a piece of my mind!" Frogg groaned, shaking his claws.

"Um...I think Voltar beat you to it," Red replied, pointing.

Frogg looked in the direction Red was pointing; Voltar, undeterred by being forced to dance to cringe-inducing 80's music and almost being blown up, was yelling his head off at Firecracker. His gestures were emphatic and strong, but it wasn't having any effect. Firecracker only looked like she was close to a laughing fit.

Feeling some sort of kinship with Voltar's anger in one of those few times in his life, Frogg stomped over to join him. Once he was close to Firecracker, she turned her gold eyes towards him. The close proximity gave Frogg a jolting realization: just how much shorter she was than him. She was barely taller than Voltar...

"Hi!" she said with a cheerful smile.

"I don't appreciate being manipulated like a rag doll!" Frogg huffed, every angry word he wanted to say getting diffused by some inner knowledge that it wasn't going to phase her.

"So, you're the one that stopped me?" She reached out and stood on her toes, touching the rim of Frogg's goggles. "How did you get the eye socket to stretch so far?...Amazing." Her jovial indifference turned into something else as she continued staring intently. "I didn't think superheroes had anyone with tech savvy on their side."

Frogg was a bit unnerved by Firecracker's intense stare, but he didn't push her away. "I'm not a superhero," he replied, toneless.

Chewing on her bottom lip, Firecracker finally stepped back, folding her arms behind her back in a thoughtful way. "Then help me remake my device and let's start causing tandem chaos throughout Metrotown!" she proposed with an impish smile.

"Wait!" Voltar interjected, raising his hands like a referee. "First, I don't get a cookie and now you want to steal my mad scientist?!"

"Just forget about the cookie, already, Martian Man," she sighed. "Really, do you have a sugar addiction or something?" She put her hand on Voltar's helmet and pushed him aside, looking up at Frogg again. "I never caught your name?"

"Docktor Frogg," he obliged with a half-grin.

"So, what say you, Froggy?" she asked, flicking one of the antennae on Voltar's helmet.

"I demand to be acknowledged!" Voltar complained.

In response, Firecracker pulled a stun gun out of her jacket pocket and blasted Voltar with it, knocking him unconscious. "There, you've been acknowledged!"

Then she turned back to Frogg again, sticking the ray gun back in her pocket and looking at him expectantly. He just stared at her, looking down at Voltar, then back at her smirking face again. For some unexplainable reason, her facial expression eerily reminded him of the Cougar. The similarity unnerved him. Despite the part of him that wanted to accept her offer and see what more there was to Firecracker, past experience held him back.

"What did you intend?" he asked, wanting to sate at least part of his curiosity.

Before she could answer, Red ran over, picking up Voltar, then standing between Firecracker and Frogg in a defensive stance. He was glaring daggers at her and looked more furious than Frogg had ever seen the guy in his life.

"Don't hurt my friends!" he growled, steam rolling out of his nostrils.

"Stun gun was on its' lowest setting," Firecracker replied, bored. "Come on, doesn't he irritate you to the point that you want to zap him, too?"

Red continued glaring and Firecracker rolled her eyes.

"Martian Man will be back up and yapping like a chihuahua in a minute," she groaned, crossing her arms.

Just as she'd promised, Voltar's eyes snapped open and he hopped out of Red's arms, marching straight up to Firecracker. He clenched his fists and glared at her as one of his eyes twitched.

"How dare you do that to the great and mighty Voltar!" he shrieked.

His reaction made Firecracker's irritated expression turn into a smile. She was actually trying to hold back laughter as she looked down at him. "Fine, I'll get you a cookie. A great big chocolate chip cookie with marshmallows, fudge, and M and Ms stuck inside."

"I only eat red M and Ms," Voltar countered, holding up a declarative index finger.

"Alright, twice the amount of red M and Ms you normally have," she conceded.

"Can I have hot cocoa?!" Red Menace said happily, clapping his hands.

"Sure." She nodded. "And you, Froggy?"

For the umpteenth time in so many minutes, Frogg was absolutely flabbergasted. Voltar was willing to overlook being shot by a freaking stun gun for a cookie? Shaking his head, Frogg scrutinized Firecracker's expression, looking for her true intent. All he saw was a smiling face with sparkling eyes. He wasn't going to put his guard down; he just hoped that Voltar and Red would share his reservations.