Spectre From The Past Off The French Coast


The storm tore at the Joshua's single mast and the waves battered the hull of the small ship with all the fury of a North Atlantic storm – albeit a mild one by the standards of the North Atlantic.  But it was sufficient to pitch the little sailing ship violently around in the boiling sea as the struggled to get to the nearest port and safety from the worsening storm.

Crouched down in the small cabin of the Joshua Molly McGrath clung to her trembling two-year-old son Josh for whom the boat had been named.  The small blond haired boy was terrified and clinging to his mother for protection.  He wasn't crying but he wasn't far off so Molly was gently rocking him back and forth and whispering calming words into his ear all the while working hard to keep the very perceptive boy from picking up on her own fear.  They were in severe danger she knew that.  The storms force was increasing rapidly soon it would become a full blown North Atlantic storm and the Joshua had no chance of surviving an encounter with one of those, even the largest ships avoided Atlantic storms where possible.  Down the centuries whole fleets had been lost to their raw power.

Abruptly Joshua pitched violently to port and Molly was knocked flying barely managing to hold onto Josh who emitted a terrified wail.  Instinctively she shielded him with her own body against the sudden rain of belongings and pots and pans.  The ship righted herself barely.

"Molly are you and Josh okay," Jim called from outside.

"We're fine Jim," Molly called back having to yell over the sounds of the storm.  "Josh is petrified but other than that were okay."  Before Jim could reply there was a sharp crunch and Joshua shook violently.  Near to her wood and glass fibre shattered and a freezing jet of seawater started spurting into the cabin.  Molly scrambled back to her feat and holding tightly to Josh hurried on deck.  The breach in the hull meant only one thing; the Joshua was on a reef and doomed.

Jim was speaking desperately into the radio giving their co-ordinates to the French coast guard.  Molly hurried towards the stern of the Joshua flipped open the seat and retrieved three life jackets two adult size one miniature and just small enough for Josh to wear.

Before she could begin putting it on the toddler who was now paralysed in terror, a forty-foot wave smashed into the Joshua's starboard side knocking the ship onto her side and sending all three passengers into the freezing Atlantic.

Jim McGrath struggled back to the side of the Joshua.  Over the roar of the wind and the waves battering the hull he could hear Molly desperately struggling back to the side of the slowly sinking boat.  Grabbing the side of the ship with one hand he swung around and faced his wife who was struggling in the rough seas towards him still clutching a soaking wet and completely terrified Josh to her.

Reaching out as far as he could Jim managed to take Josh from Molly and hold him to his chest.

"Josh hold on to daddy," he said softly.  "Hold on tight."  The boy didn't need any encouragement as he wrapped his tiny arms around his father's muscular forearm and held on in a vice-like grip.

Molly had almost reached them when another massive wave broke over the Joshua drenching them in white freezing water.  Jim held desperately onto Josh with all of his strength as the water tried to rip the terrified child away from him.  Finally after what seemed like an age but was really only a few seconds the wave passed and Jim was able to see again.  He couldn't see Molly.

"Molly!" he called at the top of his lungs Josh's own shout of 'mummy' being drowned out by the more powerful voice of his father.  "Where are you?  Molly!"  Molly did not answer.  Jim thought he saw a flash of her receding into the distance before another wave broke over the slowly sinking Joshua completely blocking his view.  When he could see again there was no sign of her.  "Molly," he screamed desperately.  There was no answer and Jim realised with mounting horror that she wasn't here.  He clung tighter to Josh hoping desperately that any moment she would reappear.

She never did.


St Pierre Hospital Paris, Three Days Later

Jim McGrath awoke to find himself lying in a hospital bed.  His old friend and direct line boss Jefferson Smith was standing over him, looking relieved but also strangely sad.

"Hey you're awake," Jeff said softly.  "You've been unconscious for three days.  How are you feeling?"

"Like I swallowed half the Atlantic Ocean," Jim replied.  "Where's Josh and Molly?"

"Josh's fine.  A little hypothermic and very scared but otherwise he's okay.  He's on the kids ward, I've got Chuck up there keeping an eye on him."

"And Molly?"  Jeff didn't answer he didn't need to.  The look in his eyes was enough.  Molly was gone.  Jim shook his head.  "No!" he whispered feeling as though he had just been punched in the stomach.

"I'm sorry Jim," Jeff said sadly.  "They've searched all day for three days theirs no sign of her anywhere.  She hasn't been washed up on any beaches or anything.  She's gone.  The storm was so intense that it's possible that her body will never be found.  They called off the search an hour ago."  Jim was shaking his head desperately trying to deny what in his heart he already knew to be true.

Jeff stood waiting for the inevitable as he watched the terrible truth sink in upon his old friend.  The look of grief that came into his friend's eyes struck to the very core of his soul.  Then Jim closed his eyes for a second in agony and emitted a deep wail of grief and pain before starting to cry.  Jeff pulled a seat up next to his friend before gently pulling Jim's head to his chest and holding him while he grieved for his lost love.


Santa Maria Bay Northern Spain

The two boys walked along the beach examining with great interest the flotsam that had been washed onto the rocky shore by the storm that had battered the coast for nearly three full days.  There was all sorts of stuff, wood, bottles, bizarre piles of seaweed, and some things that looked to have been washed off the deck of a ship.  Then they saw something odd, tangled up in a mound of seaweed near the top of the beach.

Cautiously they moved over.  It was a woman, dressed in dirty, torn clothing that had once been very nice.  She had dark hair and was breathing but only weakly.  Both boys ran away yelling for their parents.


Santa Maria Hospital Present Day

Nurse Ann Maria Kanirez walked into the hospital room of the Jane Doe that had been here for close on nineteen years.  She'd been in a coma the whole time – though there was no real damage to her brain.  They'd never been able to revive her so had long since given up trying.  Now they merely monitored her – kept her body nourished and hoped that she would one day come out of it on her own.

Ann Maria moved up besides the dark haired woman who was now in her late thirties early forties yet still quiet beautiful and checked her bioreadings they were a lot better than normal.  Something had happened during the night.  Before she could think what might have happened she heard a soft groan and turned to look at the woman in time to see soft brown eyes open for the first time in nineteen years.  Immediately Ann Maria darted from the room yelling at the top of her lungs for the nearest doctor.

She returned a few moments later with an extremely sceptical Dr Antonios in tow.  This Jane Doe had been in a coma for so long that it seemed impossible that she could have come out of it so quickly or so suddenly.

Yet as soon as he entered the room he saw that Nurse Kanirez was right.  The woman was awake and had even managed to sit up and was looking around her room with great interest.  She noticed them come in and turned her gaze on them.

"Who… who are you?" she said in a voice dry and crackley from long disuse.  "Where am I?"

"I'm Doctor Enrique Antonios," Antonios said coming over.  "You're in Santa Maria Hospital in Northern Spain.  You've been in a coma.  Can you tell me you're name?"

"Molly," the woman said in what was definitely an American accent.  "Molly Ann McGrath."


Del Oro Bay Three Months Later

Molly stepped off the train from the airport and looked around.  Del Oro Bay had changed a lot in nineteen years; there were many more buildings and some things she'd never seen before.  From her elevated position outside the train station sitting on the top of a hill she could see right down into the bay which was filled with sailing ships, yachts and other pleasure craft.  Beyond it all – sitting on its island – she could see N'Tek headquarters its windows gleaming in the bright morning sunshine.  It was the only thing that was familiar to her.  Though even it looked a little different to what she remembered.

Taking a deep breath Molly hailed a cab and got in.

"Where to miss?" the Hispanic taxi driver asked politely.  Molly considered for a second raking her memory for the address that the private detective she'd hired to find her husband and son – though she doubted she'd recognise them now – had given her.

"Number 324 Oceanside Drive," she said after a moment.

"Right away then miss.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride."  The taxi driver pulled off and entered the stream of fast moving traffic.  Molly leaned back on the seat and tried to think about what she was going to say to her family especially Josh – what did you say to your son when you'd missed almost his entire life?  I should have thought this through better, she thought, I should have called N'Tek from the hospital or used that emergency beacon Jim gave me built into my pendant to get their attention.  That would have brought Jim or another agent to me no doubt.  I shouldn't just turn up like this.  Molly fingered the silver pendant around her neck.  She'd been found wearing it and the hospital staff had kept it in the draw beside her bed.  She'd worn it constantly during the two months of physiotherapy that had been needed to help her walk again – her once toned muscles had atrophied considerably during her coma.  At the end of each day she'd been too exhausted to do anything but eat and sleep.  Somehow she'd never thought to activate the emergency beacon built into the back of the elegantly engraved pendant.  Jim had given it to her years ago – she wasn't an agent herself and had never been, but she'd known that Jim was it was how they'd initially met.

Molly thought back to that day twenty-three years ago.  This Russian guy named Ivan Vostok who wanted to use her to exhort money from her wealthy but elderly father had abducted her.  She'd been rescued by this handsome guy in this weird uniform and had learned that his name was Jim McGrath.  As thanks she'd asked him out to dinner – in defiance of normal N'Tek regulations on such things Jim had accepted.  It was there that their relationship started, they fell in love and a year later married.  A year after that Josh had been born – she'd named him after her father who died a few weeks after her wedding.

Molly brought herself back to the present and looked out of the window at the city passing by outside.  There were so many differences to how she remembered it.  There were many more people around for one thing many dressed in styles of clothing that would not have even been considered the last time she was here.  There were even some who wore little clothing at all.  Just shorts, trainers and in the case of the girls what were little more than bras over their breasts and in the case of some of the boys they wore no tops at all revealing pumped up bodies to the world.  Molly blinked a little surprised at seeing so many big muscles around, she guessed that bodybuilding had grown in popularity during her long slumber.  After a moment she shook her head – she was going to have allot of catching up to do in more ways that one.

A short while later the taxi driver dropped her off at her destination.  After paying him what seemed to her an exorbitant fee she turned and looked at the house where according to the information she'd been given her son lived.

It was quiet nice.  Built in the style typical for this part of Del Oro – with lots of windows and a veranda on one side that looked out on the beach and the sea which was on the other side of the road.  A red sports convertible was parked on the driveway.  Molly didn't recognise the make.

Cautiously she walked up to the house.  She walked up the three steps to the front door and took a deep breath.  She had no idea how Josh was going to react to her; she'd been gone from his life for so long, she didn't know if he would want her or if he would reject her.  Reaching forward she pressed the doorbell, a soft chine rang through the house.  After a moment there came the sound of footsteps approaching the door.  The door opened and then she saw her son for the first time in nineteen years.

He was tall like his father and very well built – he was obviously into fitness big time.  The blond hair was the same as she remembered though it was a little shorter and combed right back, so were the warm hazel brown eyes that regarded her intelligently and at the moment with great curiosity.  Looking at him Molly could see an awful lot of Jim in his appearance and manner.  Though he had her eyes.

"Hello Josh," she said softly.  Josh frowned in confusion.  Who was this woman?  She seemed vaguely familiar, but he was sure that he had never met her.  She was like a spectre of something that once was or like a face from a dream.

"Do I know you?" he asked.  Molly felt a stab of pain at the realisation that Josh did not recognise her, he'd been so young when she'd 'died' that he would be barely able to remember her, if he remembered her at all.

"You used to know me Josh," she replied softly meeting his curious gaze.  As she looked at him Josh felt a sense of déjà vu, that was how he vaguely remembered his mother looking at him.  "But it has been so long that you probably don't even remember me.  May I come in?"

A by now very puzzled Josh nodded and stepped aside to let this mysterious, but oddly familiar woman in.  Molly walked in noting with some surprise how tidy the place was, everything neat and orderly.  According to the detective she'd hired to find her family Josh lived on his own – she would have expected the place to be the usual bachelor pad mess.  To see the place so clean was surprising.  Josh closed the door and turned to speak to his mysterious visitor.

"Who are you lady?" Josh demanded.  The woman turned to him and regarded him intently for along moment.

"I'm your mother Josh," she said softly.  Josh gaped for a moment completely and utterly lost for words.  Then he began to get angry.

"Look lady," he said gently hiding his growing anger.  "That is completely and utterly impossible.  My mother died when I was two years old in…."

"A sailing accident," the woman finished.  "I drifted away from the side you're father was holding you and unable to help me.  The current was too strong for me to get back; the storm had formed a viscous rip tide.  I heard you both calling for me but I was barely managing to keep my head above water.  I yelled back but couldn't be heard over the storm.  I grabbed a piece of flotsam from the Joshua's broken mast.  Then I must have passed out.  For when I woke up I was in a hospital room in a little seaside resort in northern Spain called Santa Maria.  The doctor told me that I had been in a coma for nineteen years.  That was three months ago.  I've spent the last month trying to find you."  Josh frowned.

"A plausible story," he said.  "If it were true."  Molly sighed and shook her head.

"You know you are a cynic," she said with a smile.  "But then I would be cynical if our positions were reversed.  I assure you I am telling the truth."  Josh shook his head.  Molly rolled her eyes.  "God what will it take to convince you that I am speaking the truth."

"You can't," Josh replied.

"Get you're father he will know."

"That would be a little difficult," Josh said knowing that she was referring to his real dad Jim McGrath and not Jefferson Smith his adoptive father.  As he spoke he was unable to keep the pain of loss out of his voice.  "He's been six feet under for seventeen years."

"Dead," Molly repeated feeling abruptly as though she'd been punched in the stomach.  "Jim's dead?"  Josh nodded in affirmation looking away to hide the look of remembered pain in his eyes.

Molly staggered backwards not wanting to believe but knowing that it was true.  Please no! she thought, Jim cannot be dead.  He cannot be.  One look at Josh though and the pain he was obviously remembering told her that it was true.  Jim McGrath – the man who'd saved her life, the love of her life, and the father of her son – was dead and had apparently been so for along time.  The joyous, tearful reunion with him that she had imagined would now never come to pass.  Molly bumped into the wall and crumpled to her knees as the realisation dawned in its entirety.  A high-pitched wail of despair was torn from her as her eyes began to sting with tears.

Josh spun to look at the woman who claimed that she was his mother when he heard her high-pitched cry of despair.  She was crumpled against the wall, a look of deep grief on her face, tears welling in her eyes to spill down her cheeks in great silvery rivers.  The grief was real, she wasn't faking it.  He could tell that just by looking at her.  After a second he realised that however unbelievable it seemed she had been telling him the truth all along.  She was Molly Ann McGrath, his mother, back from the dead.

Josh sighed and walked forward.  For a second he stood over her, she wasn't paying any attention to him or her surroundings.  Instead she was hugging herself, rocking back and forth, crying.  To him his father's death had happened long ago and although still very painful he no longer cried over it.  All he remembered of that day was his father going out one day and never coming back.  But to his mother it was a fresh, raw wound.  For her seventeen years hadn't passed since that day.

Josh squatted down to his mothers eye level.  Cautiously he reached out and put a hand on her shoulder.  Molly immediately took notice and gently put her small, delicate hand over his larger stronger one.

"How," she asked softly in heartbroken tones.  "How did he die?"

"There was an explosion at N'Tek.  Dad was killed in the blast so were many others including Marco Nathenson."  Molly nodded.

"Who…who looked after you?"

"Jefferson Smith did," Josh replied.  "He took me in and adopted me.  Please stand up."  Josh helped Molly back to her feet.  As gently as he could Josh guided the shaking, weeping woman into the living room and over to the sofa.  Gratefully Molly sat down.  "Stay here," Josh instructed.  "I have a call to go make I'll be back soon."  Molly nodded and watched as her son left the room.

Josh walked into one of the other rooms where he was out of his mother's earshot.  He didn't want her to hear any of this, not until she was ready to hear it.  Josh made the bio link appear on his left wrist and pressed the communications button.

"Hi bro you there," he said softly.

"I'm here hermano," Berto Martinez replied sounding surprised to here from him.  "What's up?"

"Can you connect me to Smiths office.  I've got a visitor here he needs to know about."

"Sure I'll connect you now.  Who is it?"  Josh hesitated for the briefest instant.

"My mother," he said.  There was shocked silence from the other end.  Then there was a bleep.

"Smith here," the familiar voice of his stepfather said.  "What is it Josh?"

"Dad I've got a visitor here that you need to know about."  Josh explained everything that had just gone on.  For along while there was an amazed silence on the other end of the bio link.

"I'll be right there Josh," Jefferson said after a few moments unable to disguise the utter amazement in his voice.  "Until I get there don't tell her anything.  And remember son she might not be who she appears to be.  She may just be a good actress after information."

"I know that dad.  Much as I want her to be the genuine article I cannot believe that entirely.  Not yet," Josh responded.  "I won't tell her anything about N'Tek, I promise."

"I know you won't son," Jeff replied.  "I'll be there as soon as I can."  Smith broke the connection on his end then.


Jefferson Smith pulled up outside Josh's beachside home fifteen minutes later.  He had been utterly astonished by what Josh had told him.  About the mysterious woman who appeared at his home claiming to be his mother.  Jefferson didn't know what to think.  How could it be Molly?  True her body had never been found after the sinking of the Joshua but that didn't necessarily mean that she had survived.  Though the story that Josh had told him about her being washed up on a Spanish beach and being in a coma for the last nineteen years was certainly a very plausible one.  He'd already sent a message to N'Tek's European headquarters in Paris ordering an agent to be dispatched to the hospital in Santa Maria, to investigate that end of her story.  But he wanted to see this woman for himself.  He'd known Molly very well indeed – he'd been Jim's best man at their wedding – she'd been a good personal friend he would know if it was her or if it was someone pretending to be her.  Someone like Dragonelle may be.

Getting out of the car and locking it down in reflex he moved up to the front door and fished in his pocket for his key to the house.  After a moment he found it and let himself in.

"Josh," he called stepping into the hallway.

"In here," he heard Josh call from the living room.  Jefferson walked into the living room.  Josh was sitting in one of the easy chairs, Molly – if that was who she was – was sitting on the sofa, her eyes red and puffy from crying.  Josh had told him how she had reacted to the news of Jim's death.

Molly looked up at the sound of his entrance.  She smiled weakly in greeting.

"Hello Jeff," she said softly.  "It has been along time."

"Indeed," Jeff replied.  She certainly looked like Molly and sounded like her but such things could be faked.  As much as he wanted to believe that Molly was back from the dead he could not afford to take any chances.  "If you are who you say you are."  Molly rolled her eyes.

"God Jeff you've gotten paranoid in you're old age," she said in a typical Molly remark.  Josh chuckled that sounded exactly like something he– or rather Max Steel – would say.  "There has to be some way for me to prove to you that I am who I say I am."  Jefferson considered.  Molly's medical records, especially her dental records still existed they could use those and then there was a DNA comparison between her and Josh – if she was who she said she was then the results would be obvious.

"There are to possibilities," he said after a moment.  "You're medical records still exist if you are who you claim to be.  We could also run a comparison between you're DNA and Josh's."

"I didn't think that was possible," Molly commented.  If it was true then biotechnology had come a hell of along way from the time she remembered.  Back then DNA technology hadn't existed.  Idly she wondered what other new technologies had been developed during her sleep.

"Maybe not in 1982," Josh responded.  "But easily possible now."

"If there is no other way to convince you that I am Molly McGrath then I will submit to this DNA test of yours," Molly said reasonably.  Jefferson blinked in shock.  He hadn't expected her to actually agree, if she were an impostor then she should have tried to do everything in her power to avoid a DNA comparison.

"Very well," Jeff said recovering quickly.  "I'll make a phone call to arrange it.  Excuse me for a few moments."


N'Tek Headquarters A Short Time Later

Molly was more than a little surprised when Jefferson took them out to N'Tek Headquarters, and even more so when they went to one of the entrances to the underground complex located under the car park.  She had not expected Jeff to bring them here.  She glanced over at Josh.  He didn't seem surprised by any of this and it didn't take her long to realise why.  He's an agent; she realised, like Jim was.  Why am I not surprised?  He's so much like his father that's why and as the old saying goes like father like son.  But as she looked at him she got a feeling that Josh was a different kind of agent to Jim – just as reckless considering his penchant for extreme sports that her private eye had reported to her – but different somehow to Jim and every other agent N'Tek had.  What that something was she had no idea.

Smith used his security code and palm print to call one of the lifts and they clambered inside.  As they got into the car Josh considered whether to go into Max mode as he normally did whenever going down to the headquarters of the real N'Tek.  Ordinarily he would do so automatically but this wasn't an ordinary situation.  Should he reveal his abilities to a woman who he was almost completely convinced was through some miracle his mother, or should he wait for the DNA evidence to prove or disprove her claim.  He cast an appealing glance at his father for guidance in this instance.

Jefferson caught the look that Josh was throwing his way as the lift doors closed and the lift began to descend the fifteen floors to the first level of the underground complex.  He knew what Josh was asking, do I go into Max mode or not?  Jeff considered.  If 'Molly' was who she claimed to be, then she would eventually have to be told about his nanotech abilities including the form-shifting ability that differentiated Max Steel from Josh McGrath.  If she were who she claimed to be then there was no real point in refraining from showing her at least some of his son's powers now.  But if she was an impostor sent by this terrorist group or another to get close to Josh then Josh changing to Max would be a waste of time as she would have already accomplished at least part of whatever mission it was she was on.  They didn't really have anything to loose.  He nodded back to Josh his message clear, it doesn't matter.  Go to Max mode if you want.  He knew full well that it was what Josh would do.  When here at N'Tek – the real one – he was much more comfortable being Max Steel than Josh McGrath.  And in many ways so was he.  He couldn't keep a proper distance as there should be between a superior agent and a junior one but it was a little easier when Josh was Max.  Thinking about him as an agent instead of his son was a little easier that way.

Molly took note of the silent exchange between Josh and Jefferson but had no idea what those looks signified.  It was obvious that Josh had asked a silent question and had been answered.  But what was the question and what was the answer.  Before she could ask them – assuming they would answer – Josh did something that literally took her breath away.

Something appeared on his left forearm in place of his watch – some sort of band covered with controls and small status screens.  Before she could ask what it was Josh pressed one of the buttons there with a casualness that indicated that he did it on a regular basis.  Then she heard a soft crackling noise and her eyes went wide as a ripple of strange yellow-green energy passed over his body and he changed into someone else.  What the hell? Molly thought glancing quickly over at Jeff to see his reaction.  There was none he'd obviously seen Josh do that many times.

Molly looked back over at her suddenly different son.  He was dressed now in what was obviously a variation on a standard N'Tek jumpsuit – assuming of course that the design hadn't changed in nineteen years – he had a strange metal harness-like thing over his chest and what was obviously a combat harness around his waist and on the sides of his legs.  The coloration was the same a combination of brown, blue with highlights in silver.  His hair had changed colour and style from blond to a dark brown, swept back to having a parting in the middle.  Josh seemed to sense her looking at him and looked over reassuringly.  It was all Molly could do to stifle a shocked gasp.  His eyes were now blue not brown and his features were just different enough that he didn't look like Josh McGrath just like someone who faintly resembled him.  He looked like a younger, more athletic version of her own father – though his features were smoother and without the cleft in the chin.

She was completely and utterly stunned by the transformation.  How the hell did he do that, she wondered Human beings aren't chameleons we can't change colour and we certainly cannot change like that.  But Josh can.  How?  Does he still use his real name when he assumes this other appearance or does he use another name?  Can he do anything else?  Is this what makes him so different from the other agents that N'Tek has?

Before she could launch into a barrage of questions for both men the lift stopped and the doors opened.

"This way," Jefferson said leading the stunned Molly out of the lift.  Max brought up the rear.  He could tell that Molly was overflowing with questions particularly about Josh's transformation into Max.  But it was not time to really answer those questions now though he would answer if she asked.  First they had to do that DNA comparison.  With their technology it would only take a minute or two after the blood samples had been taken.

A few moments later they reached the medical section.  Dr Yevshenko was waiting for them.  Having been alerted twenty minutes earlier by Smiths call she had the DNA analyser up and running waiting for them.

"Ah good you're here," she said smiling in a friendly fashion as they entered the medical section.  "I have the DNA analyser up and running.  All I need to do is take a blood sample from both of you."

"Then lets get this over with," Molly said shivering slightly at the thought of a blood sample being taken from her.  She had always despised needles ever since she was a little girl.

"Sit here please," Yevshenko said gesturing to a seat.  Molly took it.  "Max sit over there please."  Molly looked sharply at Josh as he walked over to the indicated seat and sat down.  There was the answer to the question of whether he used a different name when he changed into the form he currently had.  He did use another name and the given name was Max… but what was his surname?  Somehow she doubted that he would still use his real surname.  Would he use Jefferson's surname?  Or did he use a completely different one?

The doctor came over to her then holding a small medical gun.

"Roll up you're right sleeve please," she said kindly.  Molly reluctantly did so.  The doctor gently wiped an area of skin with an alcohol pad then pressed the one end of the gun to the skin.  "You'll feel a slight sting now," she said.  As she spoke Molly did feel a slight sting in her arm.  Immediately red liquid flowed up into a small cartridge slotted into one end of the device.  The doctor pulled the gun away.  Molly looked at her arm expecting to see a small injection mark, there was none.  "The hypospray uses an organic sealant to seal the wound," Yevshenko said in answer to the silent question.

"Oh."  Molly watched as Dr Yevshenko went over to a desk on which sat a large machine and a group of empty cartridges for the hypospray. 

After removing the full cartridge and placing it in the analysis machine Yevshenko placed a fresh cartridge into the hypospray and moved over to take a blood sample from Max – who calmly held out his arm and allowed her to take a sample.  After taking the blood sample from Max she returned to the analysis machine and placed the cartridge containing the blood sample in the machine as well.  After quickly programming the machine to ignore the nanoprobes that would be floating about in Max's blood sample, she programmed the machine to scan the DNA in the two samples and state the possibility of mother/son relationship then started it up.

For a few minutes all they heard was a soft whirring sound as the machine went about the process of first extracting the DNA codes of the two individuals then comparing them, looking for the similarities that would exist between the DNA of a parent and a child.

Then the machine bleeped as it concluded its analysis and put the results up on a screen while simultaneously producing a hard copy print out.  Molly waited anxiously as Yevshenko pulled out the print out and read the results of the DNA analysis.

"Well," Jefferson Smith questioned.  Yevshenko looked up.

"The results of the test is a positive match," she said in a shocked tone.  "Probability of similar match one in seven hundred billion.  As impossible as it seems," she gestured at a grinning Molly.  "This woman is Molly Ann McGrath and Max is her son."

"Now do you believe me," Molly asked a wide grin on her face.

"Yes," Jefferson said.  "But you have to understand we had to be sure."

"Sure I understand.  So what happens now?"

"Well I'll leave that for you and dad to discuss," Max said standing up.  "I have to go I have a literature exam this afternoon.  If I don't show Professor Guerard will have my head."  Jefferson chuckled knowing that Max/Josh wasn't joking.  Molly for her part wasn't surprised when Max called Jefferson dad.  Jim had died when Josh was four Jefferson was the only father he'd really known.

"Go on then," Jefferson replied smiling inclining his head at the door.  Max grinned back then left the room.

Jefferson turned around then and looked at Molly.

"Now then," he said.  "What are we going to do with you?  I imagine that you have a lot of questions."  That Jefferson Smith is the understatement of the century, Molly thought.


Two Weeks Later

For Molly the last two weeks had past in a whirlwind.  There had been so much to do so much to catch up on.  First her official death certificate had had to be declared null and void, and then she'd had to find a new place to live and a job.  Fortunately N'Tek had helped her with it all, she now had a job working for the corporate side of N'Tek in the products marketing division, and a house had been purchased and fitted out for her.  They'd even provided her with a new car.  And then she'd had to deal with the local and national media who'd gone mad when the news had broken that she was alive.  Eventually – with a little help from N'Tek and Feds – the media had been persuaded to leave her alone.

Now she stood before a full-length mirror in her new bedroom.  She was wearing a nice formal dinner suit that she'd purchased two days ago.  Her figure wasn't what she would have liked it to be.  She wasn't as athletic as she had once been – instead she was very thin almost anorexic.  She made a mental note to start on a fitness program.  But that was for the morning.  Tonight she was going out with her son and his girlfriend – a lovely Chinese girl named Laura Chen.

Smiling she thought about Josh.  Though he was her son he was very much a stranger to her.  Getting to know him again was going to take along time but they were both willing to go down that road.  She could not regain the years that she had lost while in a coma but she could build a close relationship with him.  So far what she knew about him was limited mainly to knowing a little about his interests and hobbies, and knowing that he possessed superhuman abilities and lived a double life as N'Tek agent Max Steel.  She thought a little about Josh's powers.  They were amazing to hear about and even more amazing to see – though she had not seen most of them.  She'd seen the form shifting trick he did whenever he changed to Max or vice versa, and seen a little of his enhanced speed and strength but little else.

A car horn sounded outside.  Molly went to the window and looked out.  Josh's Shadow sports car was outside.  She could see Josh and Laura climbing out and coming to the front door.

Molly left the window and hurried downstairs.   She reached the front door just as the bell rang.  Smiling she opened the door.  As expected Josh and Laura were standing under the overhang.  Both looking very nice, Josh dressed in an expensive black tuxedo cut in a style that emphasised his athletically muscular physique.  He does look a lot like his father, she thought feeling a slight stab of pain at the thought of Jim.  But it was true, Josh was a lot like his late father and not just in terms of physical appearance, according to both Jefferson and Marshak Josh's personality was very similar to Jim's.  Laura was dressed in a nice classic black evening dress that hugged close to her athletic body.  She looked beautiful.

"Are you ready?" Josh asked.

"Yes.  Let me just go and get my purse."  Molly nipped back inside and grabbed her purse from the back of the chair in the living room.  Then she rejoined her son and his girlfriend who were waiting patiently at the door.

Closing the door behind her Molly went with they out to the car.  She was going to enjoy tonight.  Hopefully it would be the first of many such engagements she would share with Josh and Laura.

The End