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The Secret Return of Alex Mack

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This story is No. 3 in the series "A Brane of Extraordinary Women". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Alex is back from her 5-day trip to Hermione Granger’s world. But she's going to need everything she learned if she wants to survive, starting with finding her world's Willow Rosenberg. (Cross with BtVS, SG-1, HP, DCU...)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > General
Harry Potter > General
Stargate > General > Characters: Jack O'Neill
Television > Secret World of Alex Mack, The
DianeCastleFR132291,148,9192466085690,14912 Dec 1225 Oct 14No

References

A/N: Alex’s powers and new knowledge will make more sense if you go read the first story in this series: “The League of Extraordinary Women”. The disclaimer, spoilers, and other information are in chapter 1.



In the morning, Alex woke up and rushed through a shower, since she forgot to do it the night before, what with the gloves and the testing and everything. She had to make sure she used the new shampoo for treated hair, and she had to be careful with the blow dryer. But she got off to school plenty early.

She even had her best cameras along with her. She had a really, really excellent digital camera her folks bought her for Christmas, and a really good GoPro videocamera she bought for herself with her donut shop earnings. And both of them were small, so she could tuck them and their cases in her backpack without worrying about everything else. But she wanted to have both along in case she had the chance to photograph anything good. She didn’t want to hope for a robbery that Terawatt needed to go to, but maybe some cool action shots on campus would be nice.

Maybe she needed one of her dad’s fisherman’s vests to carry the cameras and gear around in. Or maybe she needed to buy one of her own, so it would fit her… and not smell like old dead fish too. Maybe the online camera store had something that would work for her.

Maybe she only needed clip-on camera cases that she could put on her belt, and something really small for everything else. After all, each camera wasn’t any bigger than two or three cellphones stacked on top of one another. Even if wearing what was basically a utility belt might look suspicious to the wrong person, even if there was no Batman in this universe. Yet.

Maybe she should look into a web belt like Sam had. She’d seen Sam carrying a gun and another weapon and a canteen and half a dozen other things on it without affecting her movements any. Or maybe one of those belts like that for hikers.

Still, she didn’t need more than the cameras and their cases, a couple spare batteries that she could recharge herself, a small LED light system for night shooting when she couldn’t just use lightning from her fingers, computer cables to hook the cameras up to stuff, maybe her cellphone so she could transmit the pics, her macro lens and telephoto lens, maybe some extra memory cards, and a few sundries. And the cameras were small. And being able to recharge her rechargeable batteries by herself really made everything easy, even if she had ruined over a dozen rechargeable batteries before she figured out how light a charge to use and how short a time to zap them between her fingers. With her telekinesis, she didn’t think she’d need a tripod or a ‘steadicam’ rig for her cameras. That really cut down on the bulk. And she didn’t think she needed a true high-quality infrared or Starlight-vision camera. One of these days, she might, but maybe by then she could afford something really awesome that was also really small.

She really didn’t need a big old bulky camera bag like her dad used to lug around when he was taking pictures on vacation. Of course, that was partly because he had an old camera that was massive and had a lens about half a foot long, and he had a tripod that was even bigger, and he packed tons of camera gear that he mostly never used. She still remembered those days of waiting to get twelve rolls of film developed, only to find out that he had taken a picture of her with her eyes half closed so she looked drunk, or he’d taken a picture that cut everyone’s head off, or he had the exposure set wrong. She had to admit it: she’d learned a ton about light and photography from watching the goof-ups her dad made with his camera. It seemed like every vacation they ended up with maybe ten or fifteen good pictures from a dozen rolls of film, and most of those were the ones she took.

As she drove over to pick up Ray for school, she decided she was going to test out her cameras and figure out what she needed to do so she could operate them remotely while she was Terawatt. Maybe her dad would have a couple good ideas on that. Or Annie.

Then school was back to extremely boring. Mrs. Finnegan wanted to talk about how Shakespeare and other old writers did the A-plot and B-plot thing that you saw in tons of tv shows, so modern writers were just using really old ideas. Mr. Porter wanted to talk about how politics used to be: step one, try to talk someone into what you wanted; step two, when you didn’t get your way, attack them with your army. Louis had a couple wisecracks about how that was still the way things worked. Alex didn’t mention that supervillains were exactly the same, except some of them just skipped the step one part and went straight to step two. And Mrs. McGurty went over example trig problems that Alex already knew how to do. Then lunch with her friends. Then Spanish went pretty well, because Senora Martinez asked her one of the phrases she really knew well. And in Earth Sciences, they wrapped up a big section so it was time for a test next week. Most of the class groaned, even if the stuff was really not hard. Not that she said so.

Then, instead of getting a bunch of her homework done in study hall, she had to go to a meeting. Mr. Carson and Mina Johnston came by and pulled her out of study hall so they could talk about the yearbook. At least Mina thought Alex’s email was pretty awesome, and Mr. Carson thought it was great that the yearbook editors wanted to plan so far in advance and map out a way to manage the whole process.

Alex fibbed, “My dad showed me these books he’s got on being a good manager, and time management, and charting for businesses. I really think we should draw up a Gantt chart and a flowchart for the yearbook, so we can handle the deadlines without running around going crazy.” Because Pete and Paul, this year’s editors, pretty much did the opposite. Pete ran around like a screaming ferret on crack, and Paul yelled at everybody whose team hadn’t gotten their stuff done, even if it wasn’t their fault, and neither of them actually, you know, helped people get their stuff done or get their teams back on track.

Mr. Carson thought it was great, and the idea of having really good stuff to hand off to the next year’s editors just made him smile. He also liked the idea of a little survey people could click on to give them feedback. Alex was pretty sure her friends Austin and Duncan could put something like that together in a couple days, because they were in the computer club, and she was thinking only one webpage with five questions..

Mina wanted to put together maybe five or ten different page templates, based on what everybody always used in the yearbooks, so they could fill out a page just by slapping in a template and then filling in the components as things came in. Alex thought that was great, because then they could lay out pages for stuff that hadn’t happened yet, like how the track and field team would do at regionals and maybe even state, with placeholders for pictures and text and logos.

Mr. Carson really liked the idea of a ‘dos and don’ts’ talk to the seniors about the action shots, because he always, always, always had trouble with one or two or forty kids on that, every single year.

So the meeting went really well, even if she knew she was going to be the one putting together the flowchart and the Gantt chart from Mr. Carson’s notes on which deadlines were when. But she didn’t get to spend any time on homework.

She was glad to get to the donut shop and do something that was fun and delicious. Gloria had her new cinnamon-glazed apple fritters ready, and she was having a special on them through next Monday, so people would come in and try them. And get addicted to them so they’d buy more even after the prices went up to where they would be normally. And customers kept asking Alex if they were any good, and maybe she got a little carried away describing them, but she sure sold a lot of apple fritters. And boy, glazed apple fritters that were still hot? Mmmm! She managed to stop herself at only one and a half. And they were seconds that didn’t make it through the molding and baking process, so Gloria would have had to throw them out anyway. So she was doing a public service by making sure Gloria didn’t have to throw food away.

Okay, she didn’t really believe that. But it was what she was going to tell her mom if her mom asked her how many donuts she ate at work.

By the time she got home from Gloria’s her mom already had dinner cooking, and it smelled delicious. So she did dusting and picking up and vacuuming and all. Cleaning a house was way easier if you could do all the stuff with telekinesis at the same time. So she had the back room and the den totally done before dinner was ready.

At dinner, her dad asked her what she got done. “Oh, just a couple rooms. Vacuuming. And all the dusting including some cobwebs up in the corners of the room. And picking everything up and putting it where it goes. And cleaning the tv screen and the stuff on the shelves. You know.”

Her dad smiled, “Honey that would take me all day.”

Her mom smirked, “Well, if you decide to stop superheroing, you’ve got a great career ahead of you as a maid.”

She pouted at her mom.

Her dad said, “Oh, I remembered to bring home that book on charting for managers. I think you’ll really get a lot out of it.”

Her mom said, “Oh! And I got the gloves fixed.” When her dad gave her mom a puzzled look, her mom said, “Alex needed the ends of some fingertips removed for her lightning bolts. I trimmed the glove fingers back a bit, tied the thread off tightly, and used some of your fake leather spray to seal everything. I think they look pretty good, if I do say so myself.”

Alex said, “That’s great, mom. Now I just need to work on aiming my cameras from a hundred feet away.”

“Can you use your telekinesis on them at that kind of distance?” her dad checked.

She shrugged. “Well, I’m pretty sure I can. I need to do some testing on that tonight. But even if I can turn the camera on and press the buttons and operate the focus, I can’t aim the camera when I’m not looking through the viewfinder.”

Her dad just said, “Hmmm...” Which was so helpful. Even if it meant he was thinking hard about it.

After dinner and an hour working on homework, she decided it was time for a couple trial runs. First, she flipped on all the lights for the back yard, and she walked out the back door. She used her telekinesis to hold her video camera in place over by the back door, while she walked to the fence at the back of the yard. Then she checked whether she could operate the camera. She still had a good ‘grip’ on the camera, and she could hold it steady. She could turn it on and off. She could flip on the auto-focus. She could pan back and forth. She could get a hundred feet or so away from the camera without any problem. She just couldn’t be sure she was aiming at the place where she was standing, which was pretty frustrating. She stared at the camera, and it looked like she had it lined up pretty good. So she tried taking several ten second clips of her moving around or standing still.

She was really disappointed when she looked at her footage. The focus was good. There was not even a little shaking, since she was holding it with telekinesis instead of her possibly trembling hands. But she missed the target about three quarters of the time. It didn’t look like she was taking the pictures. That was a dead giveaway that she was faking it. Not good.

She showed her dad what she had filmed, and he saw the good points and bad problem right off. “So this is really steady, like you’re using one of those fancy steadicams, or some sort of fancy tripod rig. But you’re missing the target. So you need a way to look at the camera and tell how to adjust things when you’re way over there.”

“Right, dad,” she agreed.

“Okay. Do we have anything we don’t use anymore that can clip onto the camera?”

She said, “Sure. We have lots of camera stuff. And the camera has attachment points on the underside that fit into a tripod or a frame, and it has the cold mount on top where the high-end flash would go. And we’ve got some of both. Your old tripod, and your old flash attachments, and some other stuff.”

He nodded and thought for a bit. “Let me go see what I can cannibalize, and then I’ll see what I can come up with for you.”

She admitted, “Anything will be an improvement. Otherwise it’s the ‘I set it up on a tripod and ran away from the superbattle’ excuse. And that’s dumb, because photographers can do better from a distance, using a good telephoto lens.”

He gave her a grin and went to rifle through the old camera junk in the garage.

She grabbed her dad’s book on charts for managers and flew up to her room to get some more homework done. The charts book at least wasn’t an inch and a half thick like that time management book. Okay, she’d looked through the index of that book, and she could tell they wanted to teach people about a ton of different things that were all time management kinds of things. She figured most of the time she could really use the ‘time management for yourself’ part more than the ‘time management for your team’ part. Especially if she was going to be a student and a donut shop worker and a family member and also a superheroine.

She looked over the first couple pages for Gantt charts, and she felt better. Okay, those didn’t look too scary. Mostly, just drawing a timeline thing, with individual little timelines for when you could start a particular piece of the project, all the way to when you had to be done with that piece. That looked good, because the yearbook had about two dozen pieces, and four main deadlines throughout the year, even if only the last deadline really mattered. And if she told everyone they had to have their stuff in a week or two earlier than the real deadline, that would give her and Mina a ton of slack.
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