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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
DianeCastleFR132221,108,5182415615653,38012 Dec 121 Oct 14No

Set Up

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 disclaimers, spoilers, and other information are all in previous chapters.



Alex watched tons of turned-over station wagon come crashing down on top of her. She looked at the cartop carrier on its roof, and she slid her silvery form inward enough not to get hacked into pieces when the rails of the carrier hit the pavement. Then she gritted her teeth, even though she didn’t really have any teeth while she was a silvery blob.

The station wagon hit her and the pavement with a ferocious crash. The weight of the body crushed the sides of the car, turning the inside of the thing into mangled metal and plastic. The roof smacked her like she was hit by a… well, like she was hit by a car. If she wasn’t silvery, she would have been very, very dead.

As it was, it just hurt. A lot. Everywhere.

The car roof caved in, as the cartop carrier rails took the brunt of the impact. Every window shattered, hurling safety glass all over the place. The engine busted through the hood of the car and smashed into the asphalt. And Alex moved.

Jo easily tipped the car up onto its side to see if Terawatt was dead. “What the f-”

As soon as Alex had gotten the chance, she had puddled through the broken windshield and into the crushed car interior. So when Jo tilted the car onto its side, there was nothing under the car.

Alex flowed up inside the car and lunged forward with a long, thin flow of silver. Jo was looking down, and didn’t see her coming until it was too late. Alex jabbed Jo right in the eyeball and let loose with a mammoth electrical blast.

Jo screamed in pain. She fell backward onto the asphalt, grabbing at her eye with both hands. “You bitch! You fucking bitch!”

Alex flowed up and floated out of the wreckage of the car, then hovered ten feet above her opponent.

Jo shrieked, “I can’t see! I’ll kill you for this, you bitch! I’m blind!”

Alex felt really bad. Had she really blinded Jo? She hadn’t jabbed her with something sharp, or even a finger. She had poked her with a tendril of her silvery goo shape, and that was pretty mushy. But the lightning blast was another matter. She had gone for Jo’s eye because she wanted the best conduction she could get. And maybe she had been hoping to knock her out with a lightning blast to the brain. But she didn’t want to blind anybody. Not even ‘Crush’ the latest supervillain.

Jo yelled, “You’re DEAD! Do you hear me? When I get my hands on you I’m gonna rip you into so many tiny pieces you’ll wish I let that Atron bitch get you!”

Uh-oh. That was what she was afraid of. She made sure she was sticking with her Terawatt voice, and she said, “I knew it was Danielle Atron when the prison reported that your new lawyer was named Nora Dallienet. Which is ‘Danielle Atron’ with the letters scrambled.”

Jo took two vicious swings in the direction of Alex’s voice. Fortunately, Alex was about seven feet out of Jo’s reach.

And Alex sighed to herself. Jo’s eye looked okay. It wasn’t even bleeding. It was just all dilated. So maybe she had shocked the heck out of Jo’s optic nerve and overloaded it. Which meant maybe Jo really was blind, at least for a few minutes. But what could she do to stop someone with Jo’s powers in just a couple minutes? She flew over to the destroyed police cars and looked through the ruins.

One of the policemen stepped over and politely asked, “Terawatt, what are you looking for?”

She said, “Antidote. If you’ve got any, we could use it right this second.”

“Sorry ma’am, but that’s not something we carry around. Officer Watt’s car is the only patrol car where we keep any onboard, and that’s only because he’s needed it a couple times, thanks to you.”

She asked, “Is everyone okay?”

He said, “My partner caught a chunk of something heavy, and his arm’s broken in a couple places. Probably a few ribs, too. But we called it in. There should be antidote and EMTs here any second now.”

She said, “I have no idea how long she’ll be down, and she’s dangerous even as she is right now. Without antidote, I don’t think anyone has a chance of restraining her.”

“Right. Anybody who can throw a Chevy isn’t going to be bothered with a pair of handcuffs.”

She flew back to Jo, who was still lying on her back with her hands over her eyes. She said, “Miss Baker, the effects should be temporary. If I were you, I would be more worried about what the GC-161 would do to your body. The human body is not designed to lift three tons and throw it through the air.”

Jo hissed, “My body is fine, you bitch. When I get my sight back, I’ll show you.”

As Jo struggled to get to her hands and knees, Alex finally noticed that Jo was barefoot. And that there were a bunch of places on the parking lot where a foot-shaped dent had gone a couple inches into the asphalt. If Jo started out with a pair of shoes, they probably didn’t last past the first time Jo stomped on something or lifted something heavy.

Alex tried again, “Miss Baker, the chemical is turning your skin and hair blue.”

“Well DUH, you moron,” Jo growled. She managed to get to her hands and knees, but her balance was all wonky too, and she fell over when she tried to stand up. “I hate you so bad!”

Alex sort of felt bad that it was her fault Jo was hurt, but she sort of felt good that someone working with Danielle Atron was stopped. As soon as the police backup and two ambulances pulled into the parking lot, Alex and the police officer, whose last name was Turner according to his nametag on his uniform, stopped everyone from getting near Jo until the antidote was administered and took effect.

Then Alex just had to administer the antidote. She flew over and hovered about seven feet above Jo. “Miss Baker?”

“What do you want n-” Alex poured half a tube into Jo’s open mouth. Jo choked and gagged on it, and tried to spit out what she hadn’t swallowed. “No way! I’m not takin’ any antidote! No way!”

Alex poured some onto Jo’s face, and then used her telekinesis to pour the rest of the tube into the rips in Jo’s wetsuit. She figured the wetsuit would keep the antidote inside it, against Jo’s skin, even if Jo didn’t want it.

And Jo really didn’t want it. “You bitch! Stop it!” She tried to wipe the antidote off her face, and she frantically tore at her wetsuit to get the antidote off her skin. “I’ll kill you!” Her strength easily turned parts of the wetsuit to tatters.

But in less than a minute, the blue color began to fade from Jo’s skin. And her hair began to change back to normal, starting at her scalp and moving down the strands. Jo sagged back helplessly against the asphalt, “You fucking bitch! Please, don’t do this to me! I can’t go back to being all… weak… and useless…” She began to sob softly. “I can’t go back…”

The phone in her sleeve was buzzing, so Alex flew a hundred feet straight up to take the call. “Terawatt here.”

Willow’s AutoTuned voice gasped, “Oh my God, I’ve been calling you for like a minute solid, and you weren’t answering, and your GPS chip put you in the school parking lot, and the police had that marked as a 10-98 and a 10-10 and an officer down and a 10-9000!”

Alex blinked and said, “Okay, give me that one more time. And I don’t know the police radio codewords.”

Willow went a little slower and said, “Okay. 10-98 means ‘escaped prisoner’ so like duh, that’s Jo Baker. And 10-10 means ‘fight in progress’. And officer down? Badness. And the 10-9000 isn’t legal in California, but the Paradise Valley P.D. have started using it for superpowered danger. Somebody on the force must like ‘Dragonball’. And Colonel O’Neill said he was flying in with a team to help you. And… Oh God, I have worse information coming in! Your dad. He just got a phone call and ran out of a meeting and told them Danielle Atron had your mom. And he ran like three red lights, and his phone is busy so he hasn’t disconnected from whatever call he got, and it’s probably Atron. And his GPS chip says he’s driving south on I-5, and he must be going pretty fast. Definitely over the speed limit.”

Alex said, “This is bad. Ultra-mega-bad. Warn everyone else and have them meet somewhere safe that no one would think they’d go. Like the back of Gloria’s shop. But not their homes, and not the school.”

Willow said, “The colonel’s trying to call you, so I’m signing off until I have more intel.”

The phone buzzed, and Alex answered it in her Terawatt voice. “Terawatt here.”

Jack gasped, “Holy crap, don’t do that to me again. I’m old! I could have a coronary! We’ve been trying to reach you for three solid minutes!”

She said, “I was in the middle of a superfight, and then Acid Burn called me with really bad news.”

He said, “We’re still an hour out, plus time for movement from the tarmac to wherever you need us.”

She said, “George Mack just reported that Danielle Atron has his wife prisoner. He’s driving south down I-5 and can’t answer his phone. He may have one of Atron’s people on the line, giving him directions.”

Jack said, “Roger that. Do you have your supervillain under control?”

She said, “Just barely. Miss Baker got something new from the drug. Superstrength and invulnerability.”

“Not just really good telekinesis?”

She said, “No. This is super-strong as in ‘pick up a station wagon and throw it’ strong. And the bullets and shotgun rounds went through her clothes but just bounced off her skin.”

Jack whistled, “Whew. Can’t say I’m sorry we missed that one. How many casualties?”

She said, “We were lucky. One officer with a broken arm and ribs. I got there before she tore the policemen into pieces or killed a hundred schoolchildren to get to Alex Mack, who apparently she was supposed to turn over to Atron.”

Jack said, “I’m getting pretty peeved with that woman.”

“Me too.”

He said, “If you have your supervillain threat under control, then the next stage of the operation has to be dealing with Atron’s kidnap scheme. We can re-direct our flight path and move to an intercept route for George Mack’s car. If he’s driving south, then Atron is probably south of you and within easy driving distance. That’s more intel on her than we’ve had before. I’ll have the pilots make nice with every AFB between you and San Diego, and see if I can line up a fast chopper for us when we arrive.”

“Thanks. Thanks a ton,” she told him.

She hung up, and started to fly back to the ground, but her phone went off again. It was Willow. “Tera! I got everyone but R.A. and he’s not answering, and his GPS chip says he’s moving south down I-5 about twenty miles behind George Mack!”

Alex thought some very, very bad words in her head. She didn’t know what to say, so she just said what Jack said, “Roger that.”

She darted over to Mr. Warren’s yard. There, on the ground at the side of the house where Ray would have climbed up Mr. Warren’s trellis to get to the roof, was Ray’s backpack. And her backpack. And her camera bag. And her videocamera, lying on the ground in the flowerbed, with a big dent beside it like Ray fell off the trellis and landed in the dirt.

She flew down and checked the ground. It was soft, so maybe Ray was okay, or at least not too badly hurt. Even if he was probably a kidnap victim too. She checked the videocamera, in case Ray caught something related to his kidnappers.

The film of the Terawatt – Crush battle was pretty good. Ray was probably using the peak of the roof as a camera support. But he was flinching every time Terawatt was in danger.

And when the battle was over, he got up and walked to the trellis with the camera still recording. She could see the street between the school and Mr. Warren’s house, and there was a plain white panel truck there, with two men in plain white coveralls and white painter’s caps.

She could see that one of them had a great big tranquilizer dart gun. Crud. She turned off the videocamera, brushed it off, and slipped it into the camera bag where it would be safer.

She pulled out her Terawatt phone again and called Louis. “L.D.? It’s me. They got R.A. Come to the west side of old Mister Warren’s house and retrieve two backpacks plus a camera bag.”

“I can be there in… four minutes.”

She said, “Great. The videocamera has footage of the Terawatt battle. Tell the station that the supervillain is escaped prisoner Jo Baker AKA Joelle Harriet Baker AKA the new supervillainess Crush.”

“Supervillain? Crush? You’re kidding.”

“I totally wish I was. I’ve got more crisis points, and I’ve got to fly. Over and out.”

She flew back to the policemen, who were helping the paramedics strap Jo down on a gurney. Jo had gauze taped over both eyes, which looked bad.

She said to one of the officers she’d met before, “I’m sorry, but Miss Baker was just one part of a plot by Danielle Atron. I have to deal with some other crises.”

He said, “We’re good with that. You may want to call in and check on Dr. George Mack and his wife Barbara Mack, because the word’s out on them too.”

She said, “Thank you, officer Weller.”

As she lifted off again, Jo yelled, “I hope Atron rips your tits off, you bitch!”

Alex waited until she was a couple hundred feet in the air and moving toward home before she called Captain Collins. It was probably a bad sign that she got put right through to him.

He said, “Terawatt! I’m glad you called. The mayor ditched your phone number on orders from the governor, so we couldn’t call you and give you a heads-up. Your photographer friend? A.L. Mack?”

She played dumb. “Who? Oh. The girl with the camera hiding by the Sterling Building. I thought her name was Alice. Alice Marx?”

“Alex Mack. Her dad’s one of the big cheeses at the Paradise Valley Chemical plant. When the big GC-161 fiasco went down, Danielle Atron kidnapped him and his whole family, except the older daughter who’s in college on the East Coast. Atron’s at it again. We have reason to believe Atron grabbed Mrs. Mack, and Mr. Mack rushed off to do something. He isn’t answering his phone and we haven’t seen him anywhere. There’s no one at the Mack residence, either.”

Alex said, “So this thing at the high school was Atron sending a supervillain to kidnap the daughter too. Now some of the things Miss Baker was yelling are making sense.”

He said, “The girl doesn’t seem to be at the school now, even though her car is still in the school parking lot according to the principal. If she’s smart she’ll stay away from it and her house. We sent a squad car over to her boyfriend’s house, but she isn’t there, and the boyfriend didn’t come home either, and he’s not answering his phone.”

She said, “So we don’t know if they’re separated, or if they’re together in hiding somewhere, or if perhaps Atron’s people have grabbed at least one of them as well.”

He muttered, “That’s right, cheer me up…”

She asked, “Can you give me the addresses for Alice Mack and the boyfriend?”

“Alex Mack,” he corrected. “Alexandra Louise Mack.”

“Alex. Got it,” she said, like she had no idea who Alex Mack was.

After he gave her the addresses, she gave him her 1-976 number and warned him that Jo Baker might require more antidote before her strength was completely down to normal. Then she signed off.

Boy, now that all that adrenaline was starting to wear off, she hurt all over, especially her chest and her stomach and her legs. She was not going to let people dump cars on her anymore, ever again.

She flew up to about a thousand feet before she moved over to her house. And she looked really carefully all over the place before she decided there was nothing unusual.

And just about the time she started descending, she realized there was a little satellite dish on the end of the roof of her house. Her house had cable tv and cable internet. They didn’t have satellite anything. “Oh crud.”

She stopped in mid-air and called Willow. “Tera here. Can you check the Mack house for anything like cameras or microphones or like that, with a satellite hookup for broadcasting?”

“Ooh… A separate broadcast system with a satellite dish? Let me see…” Alex could hear lots of typing going on. “Uh-oh, that’s a metric poopton of potential satellite receptors. If Atron’s smart, she’s got an illegal piggyback on one of the commercial sats, so I’d have to bust their firewall and decode a few million signals just to find it, even if we knew which one. If she’s not, she’s probably using something like a standard satellite internet connection. That would be jammable, and maybe even traceable.”

Alex went silvery, changed her shape so she was pretty much a silver pipe a couple inches around, and went lower. She didn’t understand why she could talk when she was silvery. She just held the cellphone out in the air, a couple inches from her silvery form, and talked into it. “If Atron has the house wired, I may not be able to get in and do what I need to do with getting caught. Maybe she’d just watch me on some hidden cameras. Maybe she’d set off a really big bomb.”

Willow said, “She’s been hiring mercenaries, so they probably have access to illegal surveillance gear and really big boominess. I’m checking now.”

Alex flew lower and said, “I’m coming down right over the satellite dish. It says… DirectNet on it.”

Willow said, “Okay. I’m hitting the DirectNet firewall now. It’s pretty good. Unix boxen with everything updated are tough firewalls. Oooo-kay. That might work… Nope, they got that thing patched. Lemme see… Oh poo, they have that patched and up to date too! What else can I try…”

Alex floated around her rooftop really carefully. There was a tiny thing about the size of two cigarettes pointing down over her front door. There was another tiny probably-camera pointing down over the back door, and one pointing down over the front of her garage, which they didn’t even open anymore because it was her dad and Annie’s home lab. And there was no way of knowing how many cameras were running inside the house.

“Ah-hah!” Willow crowed. “A popular open source firewall component made by… Red Tree Software! They’re using my software to filter packets for their TCP/IP protocol stack, which means…” Alex could hear the sound of frantic typing for several seconds. “Ta-da! And we’re through the packet filter, and now we’re into the application layer… hang on a few seconds… and we have access. Can you get me an ID off the satellite dish or the hub it’s hooked to?”

Alex flew around the satellite dish and looked at the white cable running from the dish to the attic vent. She was already silvery, so she just pulled her phone into her morph and flowed up into the vent and followed the cable to a box that had lots of blinking lights… and eight wires going over to what looked like four big bricks made out of clay. Uh-oh.

She read off the ID code on the top of the box. Then she said, “I think I found the ‘really big boom’ part. There’s four big blocks of what I think are plastic explosives.”

Willow asked, “Are there detonators on wires stuck in the stuff?”

“Umm, yeah.”

Willow calmly said, “Okay, I looked all this stuff up. Use your telekinesis to pull all the detonators out, and then move the high explosives at least five feet away from the detonators.”

“I can do that,” Alex said. The detonators slid easily out of the clay-like junk. Once she had the detonators out, she picked up the plastic explosives and pulled them into her silvery form. They went in the shed out in back, where they would be safe. She hoped. Then she stayed silvery and flew back into the attic. She searched the whole thing and didn’t find any more bomb stuff. But she was figuring there could be more plastic explosive elsewhere in the house if the bad guys wanted.

Willow said, “Okay. Six cameras running live. Two looking down into what I guess is your front yard outside, one looking down into what I guess is your back yard…”

“I found those three already,” Alex mentioned.

“Okay… one in an entryway looking at a nice dark brown door, I’m guessing it’s the inside of your front door. One looking from the inside at a white door that looks like it could be your back door, if the other one’s your front door. And one pointing at a square table on a white linoleum floor and I think that’s an oven in the background. And there’s a big sheet of paper on the table, with a cell phone on top of it.”

Alex said, “I don’t know if I got all the explosives. There could be more, hidden somewhere in the house.”

Willow said, “Right. I’ll just screen ingoing signals on the connection and let the outgoing signals go as is. No sending boom messages to the system from outside the house.”

Alex said, “Great. Thanks. I’m going in. If I show up on any camera, buzz me.”

She was already in the attic, so she puddled over to the attic trapdoor down to the second floor. She pushed it open a couple inches with her telekinesis and puddled through, then gently moved it back in to position. She still didn’t know if there was sound with any of the camera pictures, and she didn’t want to let Danielle and her people find out she was in the house before she was ready to let them find out.

She flew down to the kitchen and stayed up near the ceiling. Yep, there was the little camera, pointing at the table and the oven and the stove. She stayed up at the ceiling as she flew over the table. The paper on the table just said, “Open the phone and press speed dial 1.”

She flew out to the garage, and went to her dad’s ‘garage secure area’, which was a fireproof safe hidden in the garage wall under one of the workbenches. And the combination to the safe was her birthdate, which Willow had said was a really not-safe combination because lots of people used birthdates and other important dates for their combination-dial safes, and criminals knew that.

She took out the vial of green liquid and drank it, trying to ignore the nasty taste and the even nastier aftertaste. Then she slipped the empty vial back in the safe and slipped back out of the house the way she came. She checked her phone for the time. How could it only be ten after twelve with everything that had happened? She turned and flew toward Gloria’s store.

She dove down into the empty streambed to get to the right drainage pipe, and then she puddled her way up to the grate behind Gloria’s shop. She slipped under the security door, and puddled over to a spot where no one out front could see. Then she went normal.

Louis was sitting on a stool working on his phone and looking worried. His eyes lit up when he saw her, and she had to put her fingers to her lips to get him to be quiet. He ‘casually’ stepped over to where she was standing.

She could hear Nicole and Gloria in the front of the store, so she whispered, “Robyn?”

Louis pointed to the front of the store and she gave him a thumbs-up. She whispered, “They have mom and dad and Ray. We think.”

He nodded unhappily. He whispered, “I got your footage over to KPVC. They’re pretty happy with it. Robyn and Nicole are playing waitress and worrying about you.”

She whispered, “Send ‘em back here one at a time.”

He pulled out his phone and texted Gloria. T back here. wants 2 say hi.

Gloria rushed through the doorway, hurried over, and gave Alex a huge hug. Alex put a finger to her lips in the ‘quiet’ gesture.

Gloria babbled in a whisper, “Oh God, we were so worried, and we haven’t heard from Ray, and Willow told us about your folks…”

Alex forced a smile and said, “Just put Robyn and Nicole and Louis to work. Robyn waiting tables, Nicole making doughnuts with you supervising, and Louis doing your taxes. With any luck, all of this will be over in several hours, and you won’t have to worry about anything.”

Gloria whispered, “Right now I’m worrying about whether you need something to eat.”

Alex grinned and gave her another hug. Then Gloria went to the display cases and pulled a glazed apple fritter, a Bavarian cream, a large chocolate éclair, and a cinnamon twist.

Alex wolfed down the apple fritter while Louis frowned, “How come I don’t get free donuts?”

Gloria pointed at her laptop computer and said, “You get my new accounting software set up and some data entry done, and you can eat as many donuts as you want.”

Louis grinned, “I am all about the accounting software packages and such.”

Alex whispered, “He really is good at this stuff. And salesmanship. Get him to think about boosting your sales after the news crew business slacks off.”

Gloria sent Robyn back, and it was all Alex could do to keep Robyn from squealing when she ran over for a hug. Robyn was fine waitressing for the afternoon and into the evening, as long as Alex was okay. Then Robyn sent Nicole back, and Nicole was speechless as she ran over for a hug too. Nicole was good with the cooking part, because she had no idea how to make donuts and she wanted to learn, now that she knew how good they tasted when they were done right.

Once Alex had checked that they were all safe, she puddled out under the back door, down into the stormwater runoff system, and out to the dry creek. Then she flew to the top of one of the taller office buildings in town.

She had to stop there, because she was feeling really nauseous, on top of the aches she already had. She knew the green serum from the garage safe was supposed to affect her, and needed two full hours to be fully active, but she hadn’t realized that ‘affect you’ was going to mean ‘make you so nauseous you just want to vomit all over the place’. It was all she could do to keep down those donuts, and she was sure she needed the calories.

Her phone buzzed, and it was Willow. “Tera, good news. Sort of. I traced the signal. Whoever is watching your house is in Bakersfield. The warehouse and light industry district. So probably not an office building or a house.”

She asked, “Could George Mack be heading there?”

Willow said, “He could be. But Danielle Atron could have hired mercenaries based there, when she’s somewhere south, or even somewhere else in Bakersfield. Or the mercenaries are making George go to them, and Atron is somewhere else far away.”

Alex said, “What about the phone sitting on my kitchen table?”

Willow said, “Nada until it gets turned on and used. I’ve already got your cell tower hacked. When you talk to her, I can trace the call through the cell tower and monitor the packets and find out just where she really is. That’s our best bet. She has no idea we’re prepared for when you go into the house, so she’s probably not got this avenue firewalled and redirected as much as she could.”

Alex said, “Not as much as you could, anyway.”

After Willow hung up, Alex went silvery just so she couldn’t throw up. She felt so awful she just wanted to take a ton of medicine and crawl into her bed and be unconscious for a day. Or two. Or seven. Or three hundred and sixty five. Ugh.

She called Jack and tried not to sound like she was horribly sick. “Tera here. Atron has cameras in the Mack house, waiting for either me or Alex. Acid Burn traced the satellite signal to watchers in Bakersfield, in the warehouse and light industry district. But we don’t have any evidence Danielle is there too. Still, George Mack and Alex’s boyfriend Ray are moving separately down I-5 toward Bakersfield or somewhere beyond. When I go into the house and use that phone, I expect to be talking to Danielle herself. At that point, Acid Burn will be able to trace the other end down to a cellphone tower.”

Jack said, “Bakersfield, huh? We’ll re-write our flight plan for Edwards Air Force Base, and if we’re really talking about downtown Bakersfield, I’ll see what Walter can swing us.”

“Okay.”

Jack said, “Tera, this will be okay. We’re gonna make it work out. Atron won’t think you have any support coming, because she doesn’t do supportive. She had the supervillain mindset back when she was just a pharmaceuticals exec.”

“Thanks, Jack. I needed that.”

“Over and out.”

She didn’t tell him that what she really needed was an air sickness bag the size of Los Angeles. At least, that was what her tummy was telling her. And she needed a really big headache pill, because she was getting the worst headache of her life. This serum was such a bad idea. How was she supposed to face down Danielle Atron and a pile of minions, if she could hardly keep from urping all the time?



Danielle Atron stared down the man. Oh, he thought he was tough, but he had no idea. “Shut up, Rojo.” Oh, and he thought he was being subtle. A Hispanic man using the Spanish word for red as his alias. Well, he was going to be rojo in the face when he realized she was right. “You will do what I want, when I tell you to.”

He insisted, his slight Southern European becoming more pronounced as he became agitated. “Ms. Atron, this is a waste of effort! This Terawatt, she flies!”

Danielle glared at him. It was all she could do not to lose control. She didn’t think he’d like her when she was angry. “And this time, she will have support. She had men in military gear backing her play in Illinois as of last week. She’ll use them now.”

He grimaced. “And how do you know this?”

She snapped, “Because I have eyeballs! And a brain! I studied the CNN coverage of her appearance in Illinois, and I looked up the unused camera footage, which they post on their website for news junkies. She had military backup, or at least people who dressed the part, down to what looked like official U.S. military tactical operations vests and firearms. There were three of them, maybe more who never appeared on camera. So I want every one of your men here, with every weapon they’ve got, and all the defensive preparations we discussed!”

He folded very satisfactorily. “Si, senora. But the men will not be happy about this.”

“I don’t pay them to be happy.”
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