Robyn sat on the love seat beside Ray, while Nicole and Louis were positioned on the couch. Ray strategically placed them together because they were who Alex was going to confess to about her powers returning. Annie silently walked into the room and sat down on the end of the couch beside Louis and Nicole.
Louis and Nicole looked around them at Annie, Ray, and Robyn, noticed how quiet they were being, and then looked at each other with questioning looks. Their curiosity was peaked.
"Uh guys?" Nicole spoke up, a nervous edge to her voice. "What's going on? Why are all of you acting so mysterious?" Then Alex walked into the room. She made her way around the edge of the couch and stopped beside the t.v. in front of Nicole and Louis.
"Nicole. Louis. Thanks for coming over ....." she acknowledged them anxiously, her hands clasped tightly together in front of her.
Louis and Nicole looked at each other again, realizing that they were the center of attention.
"So Alex ....." Louis said directly. "You look like you're ready to explode or something. What's the deal?"
Alex glanced at Annie and realized the irony of Louis' words. Little did he know that she actually could explode, and with but a thought. During a testing session earlier in the week, Annie asked Alex to attempt instantly exploding herself into hundreds of tiny, liquid droplets, just like she was doing at the time when her powers first returned. As soon as the thought appeared in Alex's head, "POP!" Annie was standing in the center of the garage with her younger sister's liquid-self splattered all over her.
"If only you knew how right you were Louis" Alex replied with a sigh. Louis cocked his head. "Huh?"
Alex held up her hands in a calming gesture. She couldn't help but be slightly tempted to just get it over with and demonstrate that her powers had returned by exploding right in front of everyone. The thought of scaring Louis out of his wits was certainly a delicious one, but she knew it would be too unsettling for Nicole and Robyn. Robyn already knew her powers had returned, but Alex knew they spooked her a little when she used them.
Alex began again. "Listen Louis, there's something I need to talk to you and Nicole about. So bear with me, because this is pretty difficult for me, o.k.?" Nicole's expression turned dire and she suddenly stood in front of Alex, taking her hand.
"Oh my God Alex, are ..... are you alright? You're not sick are you?". Nicole feared Alex was having health problems from the GC-161 she had been doused with. Alex smiled warmly, placing her hand on Nicole's shoulder. "I'm o.k. Nicole. I'm as healthy as a horse" she assured her. Nicole sat back down on the couch, a look of relief crossing her face.
Alex took a deep breath and began to pace. "Well, as you know, four years ago, I was doused by GC-161 and acquired super powers from it, and then, last week, I took my father's antidote ....." she explained.
"Tell us something we don't know Mack ....." Louis quipped with a chuckle, his humor ill-timed as always. Nicole nudged him in the shoulder for quiet.
"Well, anyway ....." Alex continued hesitantly, ignoring Louis. "Some new ..... developments ..... have arose that I wanted to tell you about. This hasn't been easy for me either, but I realized that both of you are my closest friends along with Ray and Robyn, and if I didn't tell you this, I would never be able to look either of you in the face again".
"It's o.k. Alex. You can tell us. You know we're all friends here" Nicole added sympathetically. Alex glanced at Annie again. She slowly blinked her eyes and nodded reluctantly. Alex took the hint.
"Thanks Nicole. First of all, and this is the most important part, what I tell you here now, has got to be kept a total secret. I have to have your word that you'll never tell another soul about this outside of the people in this room. It's the only way I can feel comfortable in telling you".
"You have my word Alex" answered Nicole honestly.
Alex looked at Louis expectantly. Louis Driscoll was the clown of their group, as well as being known for saying exactly what was on his mind. Just like Nicole, he never minced words about anything, but Nicole was a much more 'tactful' speaker than he was.
Just one week ago, when Louis caught Alex using her powers, it didn't take twenty-four hours for him to disclose her secret to Danielle Atron by calling Ray on a cell-phone and openly discussing her abilities.
Unknown to him, Ms. Atron's plant security force was secretly monitoring phone transmissions in Paradise Valley since she was so close to putting GC-161 on store shelves nationwide as a miracle weight-loss drug. Louis' big mouth not only exposed Alex's secret world, but also got her and her parents captured by the plant and nearly killed.
If it wouldn't have been for her best friend Ray, boyfriend Hunter, and David Watt, Alex and her parents wouldn't be alive today. Later that evening, after Alex and her friends thwarted Ms. Atron's plans, Louis called her on the phone to tell her how sorry he was about his carelessness. Alex had never heard this side of Louis before. He literally cried into the phone for her forgiveness, and swore he'd never do anything like it again. Alex forgave him, and has since kept that particular conversation between them.
Louis's face grew solemn. He realized Alex was being completely serious, and the memory of his private phone conversation with her last week popped into his mind.
"I promise Alex. I won't say anything" he swore, holding up his right hand as if the other one was placed on a Bible.
The others glared at him with mild surprise. They exchanged looks between themselves at Louis' serious tone, but Alex wasn't surprised.
"The suspense is killing me Alex. What is it you want to tell us?" Nicole asked impatiently.
"Well, o.k. I guess the best way to do this is to show you ....." Alex conceded as she reached down, took Nicole by the hands, and pulled her to her feet. Nicole was completely puzzled.
"Remember when you told me last Saturday that you would have liked to have known what it was like to morph?" Alex asked her friend with a fragile smile.
"What?" Nicole said, confused. Alex tightened her grip on Nicole's hands and said "Trust me".
Nicole's eyes widened in surprise as a warm, prickly flush instantaneously erupted within and flowed throughout her entire body. She gasped as Alex transformed both of them into liquid, combined and collapsed into each other, and puddled on the floor. Louis rose from the couch, looking on in stunned amazement.
Annie just sat on the couch quietly as Ray and Robyn stood to watch.
"Oh my God!" came Nicole's gurgling voice from the puddle, as they quickly swished underneath the couch, around the den, and back to their original spot.
There, Alex reformed herself and Nicole back into human form, still holding hands. Nicole stood before Alex, completely speechless. Alex let go of Nicole and took hold of Louis' wrist, a wry smile on her face. "Your turn now ....." she said to him.
Alex and Louis melted into a silvery puddle before he could react, repeated the same course around the room, and then returned to human form. Annie placed a worried hand over her eyes and shook her head in quiet exasperation.
"Wow! That was so cool!" exclaimed Louis. "Alex! You've still got your powers?! I ..... I thought you took an antidote?"
"I did Louis, but it wore off. But I'll let Annie explain that part of it".
Alex noticed Nicole's still-stunned expression. "Nicole? Are you alright?" she asked. "I hope I didn't scare you by morphing you like that. Don't worry, it won't hurt you".
"How ..... when did the powers come back?" Nicole stuttered, sitting down on the couch. Her legs felt shaky.
Alex was amazed something could actually leave the extremely-opinionated and steel-willed Nicole Wilson speechless. She suppressed a giggle, finally relieved that she had shown Louis and Nicole her powers.
"They sort of ..... 'popped' back in Sunday morning ..... literally ....." she explained. ".....and Annie told me that this time, they're permanent".
"But I thought the antidote was suppose to get rid of the GC-161 that was inside your body?" Nicole argued, finally regaining her composure.
"Well, it did" interrupted Annie politely, trying to help Alex explain. "But the GC-161 that was once in Alex has given her own cells the capability of producing her own special form of the chemical, which gives her her powers back, and a much more powerful version of them this time".
Alex was grateful Annie involved herself in helping to explain. She knew Annie wanted as few people as possible knowing about her secret, but it showed Alex that Annie was just trying to help, and not treat her like a child.
"When they re-appeared, I ..... 'we' ..... really didn't know what to do" Alex continued. "Just like before, I could be at risk if anyone found out about them. Everyone thinks I'm just plain, old Alex Mack again. I'm sorry I didn't tell you guys sooner, but we told Ray, and then Robyn walked in on us and found out, and all that happened with Hunter, and it's just been hard for me to ....."
"It's o.k. Alex ....." Nicole interjected. "It's o.k. I understand. It's just pretty ..... overwhelming to actually experience you using them is all. But I'm happy that decided to tell us".
"Me too" Louis added. "..... And your secret is safe with us. I swear".
Alex saw Annie's reaction to Louis' vow. Her older sister seemed genuinely impressed.
"I know it is Louis" Alex grinned. "I know. And now, to the second order of business ....."
Jerry Carter sat on the couch in his older brother Vince's house, channel-surfing through the Saturday morning cartoons. Jerry was 26, the youngest of the three Carter brothers, and lived alone in Pittsville Gardens where he was an mechanic.
Physically, he was very similar to Vince, but he had longer, darker hair. Jerry was on vacation when Vince called and asked him to house-sit for a few days while he went out of town on business. Jerry quickly accepted when Vince enticed him with two hundred and fifty dollars and free run of the house and fridge. The only condition was that he had to stay inside and not go anywhere, but make sure people knew there was someone home. Knowing his brother was in the security business, Jerry didn't bother to question to him about it. It was just his brother's way of doing things.
A cell phone chirped in the front pocket of his shirt. Vince gave it to him before he left with instructions to carry it with him everywhere, answer it only, and not the house phone. Jerry took the phone out on answered. "Hello?"
" .....Jerry, it's Vince" came Vince's voice from the other end. "How's everything at the house? All quiet?"
"Yeah Vince, all's quiet here. Just a few phone calls from some of your clients, but I let the answering machine take them like you said" replied Jerry.
"Good, good. I'm almost finished here, so I'll be back by noon tomorrow. Keep everything under control for me, o.k.?"
"No problemo big brother. I'll see you tomorrow" Jerry said, turning off the phone.
From inside his rental car parked on the roadside across from the California Federal Prison outside of Sacramento, Vince pressed the 'off' button on his cell phone and placed it back inside his blazer. While he was talking to his younger brother, Vince had been observing a silver Mercedes Benz which exited the front gates of the prison compound and made it's way towards him. It finally pulled up behind his car and stopped. A short, rotund, balding man in a dark, double-breasted suit got out of the Mercedes and Vince responded in kind and met the him halfway between the cars.
"Mr. Cook ....." said Vince, offering to shake the man's hand. Mr. Cook took Vince's hand. "Mr. Carter ..... I appreciate you meeting me like this" said Samuel Cook, Danielle Atron's lawyer. He had just finished a visit with Ms. Atron at the prison. Vince met Samuel Cook once before when he was still Head of Security at Paradise Valley Chemical, and related to the lawyer since he was as cut-throat and ruthless as he was. Mr. Cook was a crafty lawyer who handled a lot of Danielle's shadier legal matters in the past. Mr. Cook knew Ms. Atron was as crooked as they came, but he never wavered in his loyalty to her, much like Vince. He also provided his services for a number of Ms. Atron's secret investors who were helping to fund her illegal research into GC-161. Vince considered the two of them birds of a feather.
"No problem. Anything for Danielle" Vince replied. "So, do you have something for me?"
"Yes I do Mr. Carter" Mr. Cook said pointedly, retrieving an envelop from his inside coat pocket. "Ms. Atron dictated this letter to me a few minutes ago and asked me to give it to you. She informed me that you were the only one she could trust with it and would know what it meant".
Mr. Cook dutifully handed Vince the envelop. "Good day Mr. Carter" he said curtly, and turned to walk back to his car.
Vince watched Mr. Cook suspiciously as he drove off seconds later, and carefully eyed the envelop for several seconds without saying anything. He got back into his car and opened the envelop, pulling out a piece of legal paper. He unfolded it to read it.
Vince's eyes widened as he read two words at the top of the paper; 'Deerborn Way'.
Vince knew right away what Danielle was relating to him, as they discussed this secret password when she first began the GC-161 project. The word was the name of a street in Paradise Valley where she grew up with her grandparents when she was child.
She used it once ten years ago to instruct Vince to eliminate one of her GC-161 researchers, Dr. Hunter Reeves, when he threatened to expose her illegal development of the chemical.
He understood what she wanted him to do now; and that was 'clean up' the mess left behind after her plans to market GC-161 failed and she was arrested.
Danielle and Lars Frederickson managed to eliminate almost up all of the physical evidence of GC-161 when they tried to blow up Alex and her parents in the plant's main labs, but there was still evidence left behind.
Vince knew Danielle wanted him to destroy any and all incriminating evidence the FDA and FBI possessed against her, and to make sure none of it was traced back to any of her secret investors where it could expose their identities. Without adequate evidence against her, Danielle could escape a life in prison, and she and her investors would make it very worth Vince's while.
But he also knew there was another meaning in Danielle's letter too, one that was very clear to him. After he destroyed all evidence, he was to exact revenge on all those who ruined her plans.
The Mack family.