I Got Trouble in my Town
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.
Alex woke up Monday morning when the alarm clock started playing music. It was “Trouble” by Pink. Ray had shown Alex some videos of Pink in concert, and Alex sort of wondered if maybe Pink had been exposed to some chemicals somewhere back when she was a teenager, because normal humans shouldn’t be doing some of the stuff Pink did in every concert. While still singing. Like real Cirque de Soleil stuff fifty feet in the air, over a solid stage that would kill you if you fell onto it.
Several years ago, Alex wouldn’t have listened to Pink, because that wasn’t one of the ‘in’ things. But Alex had needed to stop being one of the sheep, because she had real wolves hunting her down. Although calling Danielle Atron a wolf was an insult to every wolf Alex had ever read about, even the one that tried to eat Little Red Riding Hood. Alex had started looking for singers who were less about singing songs that people wrote for them so they could get another Number 1 Pop Hit, and more about having a great voice, and having the talent to write and perform their own songs, and having the courage to write the songs they liked, instead of what the record labels wanted. And ever since Lindsay had played “Don’t Let Me Get Me” for Alex, she had liked Pink.
She sang “Don’t Let Me Get Me” and “Stupid Girls” the whole time she was showering and drying off and styling her hair. She didn’t think anything of it, until she came downstairs and fixed herself some breakfast and started making her lunch. The cheese sandwiches with the tomato slices in a separate baggie had worked really great, so she was doing it again, only she was trying the fancy mustard her mom liked instead of the regular yellow mustard she usually used.
But then her dad asked her, “Honey? Why were you singing about Britney Spears and cursing?”
“What?” She had to stop and think before she realized what he was talking about. Oops. She explained, “It’s a song. It goes… umm…” She had to stop and think through a couple verses to get to the part her dad probably meant. She knew she couldn’t sing like Pink, but she gave it a try anyway.L.A. told me, “You’ll be a pop star,
All you have to change is everything you are.”
Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears
She's so pretty, that just ain't me.
Her mom asked, “A rock star said that in a song? Didn’t the big record companies do… something?”
Her dad asked, “And she really named Britney Spears in the song?”
She admitted, “She’s really brave, and really independent, and really stubborn. There are other singers with great voices too, but she can sing, and she can play musical instruments, and she can dance, and she does what she thinks is right.”
Her mom smiled, “I think I can see why that last part might mean more to you now. Even if she does have a potty mouth.”
Alex decided she’d better not sing out loud in the shower when she was singing some of the Pink songs that had way worse cursewords. Because Pink didn’t care if she dropped the F-word right in the middle of a song, or even used it to rhyme at the end of a line. Boy, if she sang a song that had a line that ended with ‘luck’ and then the next line called some guy a stupid something-or-other that rhymed with ‘luck’, even her mom would know what the word had to be. That would be of the bad, as Buffy would say.
Could you ground someone who needed to go fly around the city on superhero business? Alex figured the answer had to be no, because how could you ground someone to teach them a lesson if you were also stopping a superhero from doing something important, like stopping a bank robbery or keeping criminals from killing two policemen or making sure superthugs didn’t kill everyone in sight?
Anyway, she didn’t want to be late to school after last week. She hurried to get her sandwiches and fruit done so she’d have time to eat the oatmeal her mom fixed for all of them, and also have time for making the ‘ants on a log’. Celery sticks with peanut butter spread down the middles and raisins pressed into the peanut butter. Mmm. It was way faster making them with telekinesis, and then she put half a dozen in a baggie to snack on later. She even made two for her dad and two for her mom.
So she got to school plenty early. That gave her time to go kiss Ray and go say hi to friends and stuff. Libby still wasn’t back at school, and Alex was sort of worrying about her. What if Libby had got hurt when Terawatt was stopping Fireguy, and nobody at school knew about it? What if Libby was so upset she wasn’t going to come back to school at all?
Alex took a break outside at lunchtime, so she could call Willow and let the super phone hacker – or phreaker as Willow called it – do the phone checking. It turned out Willow was already on it. Libby and her dad and her mom had been calling the school a bunch and trying to get her ‘exempted’ from the rest of the school year on account of ‘stress’. But Principal Wilson and Vice-Principal Wright were being really strict on that stuff, and they were saying Libby had to do all her homework and have a teacher monitor her tests, or else she’d have to do the term over again. Alex figured Libby would hate having to really take the tests and stuff with someone monitoring her, instead of just skating by like she usually did. But it would let Libby hide out until some of the school forgot about the whole ‘impersonating a superhero and identity theft and sleazy photos’ thing.
Not that Alex thought anyone would forget about the whole deal, because Kelly and Donna were going to keep bringing it up so Libby couldn’t run for Homecoming Queen in the fall, and a lot of people who didn’t like Libby would sure keep making a stink about it whenever they could. Alex didn’t really like Libby, but she was going to try not to focus on the whole thing because she had more important stuff to do.
And speaking of important stuff, Mrs. Finnegan had the papers back. And Alex had the high grade! She just sat there and grinned like a goofball every time she looked at her 98. And if she hadn’t still made a couple stupid mistakes with commas, she might have gotten a 100.
Ray whispered, “Wow, you have got to teach me how you did that.”
Louis heard and said, “She’s got a something she can teach? I’m in.”
“Me too!” said Robyn.
Nicole had an 89, and she usually had A and A- grades on the papers, so she wasn’t as wired about learning how to do what Alex did.
But at lunchtime, Alex explained the whole thing. Picking the topic. Writing down notes and then an outline. Then making yourself do the paper in one hour and stopping and putting it away for a week. Then fixing it.
Louis said, “So how long did you work on it total?”
Alex said, “Including thinking about it in class after Mrs. Finnegan assigned it?” Louis nodded. “Maybe half an hour thinking about it, one hour writing the outline and rough draft, and maybe an hour and a half editing it and looking up quotes and writing the final copy.”
Louis complained, “Three hours? I spent about eight hours on mine.”
Ray grinned, “Yeah, but seven of those hours were all the night before it was due.”
Louis didn’t say anything, because that was probably true.
That afternoon, Alex met with Mina instead of studying in study hall. All their first choices for assistant yearbook editors had said ‘yes’ to Mina, and Mr. Carson was even really happy about the ‘assistant editor for videography’ and the ‘assistant editor for computer production’. Which really meant Jeff and his Wacky Video Gang were going to get credit for being yearbook staff, and Tommy from the Computer Club was going to be putting together the images and videos to burn onto the CDs along with some special files so there was an intro and there would be maybe a dozen different slideshows. Alex wanted a slideshow for each of the general student groups, from the jocks down past the smart kids to the goths, and Tommy thought that would be pretty easy as long as he didn’t have to try to squeeze in any pictures from the last couple weeks of school. And he was pretty sure he could use all forty student computers in the computer lab so he could burn forty CDs at a time, and if he had help he would be able to burn all the CDs for the whole yearbook in maybe one night.
So Alex was in a great mood when she got to Gloria’s store and started serving donuts to everybody. Half the booths in the shop were taken up by camera crew guys, and they were all talking about stuff Alex wanted to learn about, like working with the ‘talent’ and how a camera guy worked with a sound guy and the guy who did the on-site production and that kind of stuff. The little stations usually made do with the talent and just a camera man, or just camera and sound guys. The really big stations had someone helping the talent with makeup and lighting and wardrobe, and people helping with stuff like running a live feed via satellite back to the news station, so their crews would be a lot larger, and they might need a big truck with a satellite dish, and also an SUV.
The guys who knew who she was made sure to tell her she did great on the Today Show, and reminded her that news crews never got in front of a camera like that unless it was something special, or the camera person was especially photogenic. Alex would have blushed like crazy at that, except the guys started insulting each other with funny jokes.
So naturally, things went downhill fast. Alex felt her Terawatt phone buzz inside her waistband just about the moment that half the crew guys grabbed for their pagers and cellphones.
Alex didn’t even have to look at her phone when she saw every one of the camera guys look at their phones and jump up for the front door. There was pretty much a camera crew stampede there for a minute.
But Alex headed straight for the back room. All she said to Gloria was “Can you grab all my tips? It’s photo-taking time.”
Gloria gave her a nervous nod and whispered, “Good luck.”
Alex took a quick look at her phone, so she’d know where to go. Then she stepped to the backdoor but didn’t open it. She looked over her shoulder and made sure no one was watching except Gloria, and she went silvery.
She quickly oozed out under the security door at the back of the shop, and across the twenty feet of the back alley to where her car was parked. She looked around, and there still wasn’t anyone in sight. She puddled up into the back of the car, grabbed her superheroine outfit, and puddled back down into the grate.
She headed off toward the bank. This time, she needed to cut to the right once she was out of the storm drains, head down the creek for two blocks, and then puddle up the wall of an office building. Once she was on the roof, she went normal and checked that she had her full superhero uniform. She hadn’t bothered to grab her cameras, because she knew she was going to be swamped with camera crews this time. If she tried to take pictures with her telekinesis this time, someone
was bound to get it on video, and that would blow her cover. So all she had with her was her Terawatt phone hidden in her glove.
She flew as fast as she could to the bank, because she knew Keller and Morey and Pete and Gary and all those guys were going to be zooming down the streets to get there super-fast to get their own film footage of Terawatt.
It totally wasn’t her fault that guys were drooling over a busty blonde superheroine in a skintight uniform. At least, Willow was keeping the Terawatt websites clean, and hacking the sites that were skeezy. But there was nothing she could do about the news footage except act like she was really a mature heroine, instead of a teenaged girl.
She flew over the bank, and she was surprised to see four squad cars already parked out front, with doors open and officers pointing guns into the bank. Oh crud, was this already a hostage situation?
And here came the first news crews. Great. She pretended she was ignoring them, and she flew down to the officers who looked like they were in charge of the policemen. There was a van with a couple policemen who looked like they were lieutenants or captains or something.
She knew the camera crews were already pointing cameras at her, so she posed as she landed in front of the officers. She put her hands on her hips and lifted her left leg slightly so her left foot was at the same level as her right calf. Then she floated down to the pavement.
She took one step forward and said in her best Terawatt voice, “Excuse me, officers, but do you require my assistance, or do you have this in hand?”
A hefty guy who was in a suit, but with a badge folded so it hung out of his breast pocket, said, “Terawatt? I’m Captain Collins. We have a standoff right now, but all the hostages are in danger. It looks like we have two bandits. One’s firing lightning bolts, and the other has something like a forcefield so we can’t just have our SWAT teams take them out. One of them just called us and made his demands. They want you to go in and handle the negotiations.”
She said, “I’m willing to do that, even if I’m not deputized or operating in an official police capacity.” Wow, it was a good thing that Batman guy and Selina gave her almost a page of notes on stuff to say to the police. And it was a good thing she wasn’t panicking and she was remembering most of the good lines.
Oh yeah, it was a really great thing, because there was a camera crew over there with a huge telephoto lens and a parabolic mike, just getting everything she said. She really didn’t want to come off as a crazed vigilante.
Captain Collins said, “I’m going to deputize you, which will help you in case there’s property damage or injury. It’ll make us look worse, but the mayor can cram it when we got a bank full of innocent victims we need to help.”
She said, “I intend to try to keep the injuries and damage to a minimum, if at all possible.”
He frowned, “Yeah, easier said than done when we’re talking real, live superpowers.” She managed not to wince as a blast of lightning came shooting out through the one busted bank window and exploded in a ball of sparks over the middle of the street. “See what I mean?”
He still deputized her, which was really going to make that jerk from CBS This Morning eat crow. She said, “Thank you, captain. I’ll try to justify your faith in me.” Then she lifted six feet off the ground, turned so she was pointing hands first at the bank doors, and flew over the police cars to face a hostage sitch.
She was really wishing she’d had time to talk with someone like Selina or Jaime about handling a hostage crisis, but it hadn’t come up.
She landed in front of the bank doors. She could see that the tinted windows all had stuff sprayed on them from the inside so no one could see in. That just left the huge hole in one window, and the bad guys obviously knew about police SWAT teams.
She pulled open the door and stepped through with her telekinesis ready for a trap. She was guessing that Danielle Atron had some sort of plan to shoot her or blast her with something nasty once she was concentrating on the two badguys she knew about.
As she walked in, she saw two men lift a heavy black screen to block the hole in the window, so no one outside could see anything in the bank. Inside, all the bank employees and customers were just standing around at the far end of the room, which seemed really weird.
And there were the two badguys. The one she thought had fired off the lightning blast was wearing a huge, bulky duster and standing with his back to her. The other one was wearing an oversized jacket and looking worried.
She went silvery just in case, but tried to stay as close to her normal shape as she could manage. She floated over to the two robbers, stopping ten feet away when they didn’t make any effort to stop her sooner. She knew it looked weird when she spoke while she was all silvery, but she did it. “I’m Terawatt. You asked for my help. I would recommend showing your good faith by releasing most of these hostages.”
It was a good thing she was silvery, because the doors leading back to the vault area and the special offices swung open, and four more men walked out.
She totally wasn’t expecting what happened next.
A/N: I don’t own Pink or any of her songs, as if you didn’t know. And if you have never seen what Pink does in live concerts, you’re missing something amazing. (Yes, I know, I’m way too old to be listening to P!nk. My children enjoy pointing that out.)