PART TWENTY

Grace Lasky tried to avoid dozing as she kept up her surveillance on the Mack residence. She wondered when she was going to be able to take a break. Agent Black assured her more agents were going to be assigned and that she was going to get some relief. She was close to exhaustion and needed a good eight hours sleep.

A moment ago, Grace thought she spotted something reflective several yards distant moving along the sidewalk bordering the shadows, but she shook it off as just a piece of debris being swept along by the cold wind outside.

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp! went her cell phone on the car seat next to her, causing Grace to gasp and jump in surprise. With an irritated sneer, she looked down at the phone, picked it up, and hit the 'talk' button. "This is Lasky ..." she said matter-of-factly. "Oh, hello again Agent Black. Something up?" she asked, mildly surprised that he called her after just speaking with him only a little while ago.

She listened intently to her partner on the other end. "Grace ..." he said hesitantly, "...We have a problem. I was just notified by Agent Garth that our Field Director in Sacramento has become impatient and pulled most of our team off of this assignment and that we're aren't going to get any help. It looks like it's just up to you and me to keep an eye on Vince and the Macks".

"You're not serious?" Grace asked, rolling her eyes in disgust. "Unfortunately, it's true" replied Agent Black. "Everyone else has already flown out to their other operation, and we're the only ones left as I speak. We're going to have to change our strategy on this since it's only the two of us now. I've got Vince under wraps here, so keep an eye on the Macks for the next two hours and then drive here and meet me at Vince's. Got that?"

"Got it...." she answered smartly, and turned the phone off. "Damn!" she whimpered, tossing the phone onto the seat beside her.


Alex's puddle-self momentarily turned red and roiled as her anger with Grace's spying surged through her. She was positioned just beneath the sedan's rear bumper, and wasn't sure how exactly to approach Grace. Alex was utterly furious with this woman who tried to help Vince expose her to Danielle Atron over a year ago. The anger she felt within her was almost uncontrollable, and Alex feared that she might be feeling some sort of side-effect of her emotion-sensing powers, as is if it were some sort of lingering affect from her fight with Annie moments ago.

She dismissed the cause for now, remembering how she could have been turned into Ms. Atron's experimental lab rat and eventually wound up dead had Grace's plan succeeded. No, she wasn't going to pass up the chance to face Grace this time, but exactly how would she do it?

Her mind raced while she sloshed on the cold asphalt beneath the car. Then the thought of Annie's earlier warnings popped into her mind, and how worried her older sister was about the ever-increasing power of her abilities. Alex came to a decision, that it was time to see exactly how far she could push her powers and find out just what she was capable of doing. And of course, it would be at Grace's expense.

Alex cleared her mind, or whatever it was in this state, and concentrated solely on her liquid form. She could feel a new, bizarre, hot tickling sensation race through her, and she knew her idea was going to work. She flowed forwards in front of the rear passenger side tire, and extended a silvery tendril outwards from the top of her ooze-form, reaching upwards along the rear door. Once it reached the glass, a club-like shape formed at the end of the tendril, and then instantly transformed into Alex's human right hand!

Alex felt the hot, tickling sensation flowing through her faster as if her body itself were a whirlpool and the water jets inside of her were all turned on high. The sensation was beginning to make her feel almost drunk. Focusing, she rapped her knuckles on the glass with two light knocks and retrieved her hand, quickly liquifying and re-incorporating it into her puddle.

Half-dozing, Grace jumped and spun around in the driver's seat to see what tapped her rear door window. Looking across the back seat at the glass, she saw nothing. She inspected the rear-view mirror on the passenger side and again saw nothing. " ....What the hell?" she asked aloud. She slowly turned back around, facing forward again, dismissing the sound as the imaginary result of her drowsiness.

Alex went into phase two of her plan. She moved to a position under the car directly beneath Grace, and again reached up with a liquid tendril from the center of her puddle, this time bumping the bottom of the car!

Inside the automobile, Grace jumped once again in surprise and inadvertently bumped her head on the roof. She frantically looked through all the windows around her and began to wonder what was going on. Was it some sort of animal around the car? A bat maybe? Or was it a piece of debris being blown by the wind? She decided the only way to find out was to get out and look. She opened the car door and got out.

Below, Alex was using her "morph-sense" to keep track of what Grace was doing, and she could 'sense' her getting out of the car. She immediately went to phase three and dashed to a position under the car's front bumper. She willed herself to become transparent, and at the speed of thought, her puddle-shape faded into invisibility. Incredibly, Alex then commanded puddle-form to begin boiling and bubbling over, and within seconds, she separated and divided into almost a thousand, marble-sized, droplets! With a burst of great speed, Alex felt her consciousness race in on itself.

There was a sensation of floating, as if it were only her head without a body that existed, but at the same time, even her head felt as if it weren't real. Unbelievably, she could still somehow 'feel' each and every droplet of her body as they rested on the pavement ready to obey her commands. She could see as she normally could in her human form but from pavement-level, yet not in the panoramic view she experienced while a complete puddle. Another mysterious aspect of her powers.

Annie tried to explain the effect to Alex once, that when she scattered into a field of droplets, her consciousness somehow became a type of incorporeal electromagnetic field. In other words, she became ..... a ghost. It sent chills up her spine when Annie explained it that way, but right now, she exalted in the feeling of power it gave her. She felt almost .....indestructable.

She could suddenly 'hear' Grace's thoughts as the pretty oriental girl exited the car, but she couldn't acutely 'read' them as she did with her telepathy. In this scattered, spread out form, her telepathic ability must only be strong enough to communicate with someone, not delve deeply into their minds and clearly read everything. How odd. She made a mental note to report this to Annie.

Grace quietly closed the car door behind her and tentatively approached the rear of the car to look around. Alex mentally 'giggled' at Grace's anticipation as she prepared to implement the next part of her plan, and was surprised to see Grace bolt to attention, spinning around in a three hundred and eighty degree circle.

She heard Alex's giggle!

"Who's there?" Grace blurted out, being careful not to shout and attract undue attention. "This is too good to be true" Alex thought devilishly. Alex willed her hundreds of droplets to roll towards Grace, and to become as hard as marbles in the process. She could feel each one of them strengthen as they restricted and congealed into themselves. If Alex could smile, she would have.

Seeing nothing, Grace began to walk unsteadily back towards the driver side door to get back in the car. Then, the inevitable happened and the FBI agent stepped on Alex's hard, round droplets, causing her feet to fly out from underneath her! Since the droplets were still transparent, Grace couldn't see them! She landed squarely on her back, the air knocked from her lungs, stunning her momentarily.

"What's wrong Grace? Slip on something?" thought Alex as 'loudly' as she could, and Grace's eyes widened when she clearly heard Alex's words in her mind. She sat up, propping her hands behind her to sit herself up. A look of total fear crossed the agent's face, and Alex heard Grace mutter "Oh shit" under her breath.

Alex decided the time for tormenting the girl was over, and knew that she was going to have to return to human form if she wanted to find anything out. She commanded herself to transform back into a teenage girl, imagining her reflection in a mirror.

In stunned silence, Grace watched hundreds of small, silvery, liquid marbles appear all around her, and then melt into tiny, individual puddles which moved away and started coalescing onto a single spot on the road six feet in front of her.

She could only watch in paralyzed wonder as the droplets quickly formed a single, larger puddle of silvery ooze, which in turn began stretching upwards and outwards.

"Oh ... my ...God" squeaked Grace sheepishly as she saw the gelatinous goop before her materialize into sixteen year old Alex Mack.

"Hello Grace. Long time no see ....." Alex said with contempt, her arms crossed on her chest, looking down at the fallen agent. Grace's jaw dropped. "A...A...Alex?" she sputtered. All the FBI training in the world didn't prepare Grace for anything like this.

"What's wrong Grace?" countered Alex. "Isn't this what you wanted all along? To expose me? To expose the GC-161 kid like you tried to do with Vince a year ago?"

Grace slowly got up and stood on shaky legs in front of Alex, moving gingerly towards the door of her car. Alex threw a thought at the vehicle and Grace started in surprise when the doors magically locked by themselves.

"Planning on going somewhere Grace?" asked Alex facetiously, taking a step forward. "Where do you want to go? I thought you were too busy following and watching me?". Grace held her hand up towards Alex. "Alex, please. Wait a second.... I'm, I'm not here to cause any trouble or do anything to you ..." she assured with a desperate tone.

"Oh, I know you're not going to do anything to 'me' Grace. Now, what happens to 'you' is an entirely different question .....", Alex responded before she was interrupted by the sound of her sister's voice behind her.

"Alex! Don't!" warned Annie in a controlled shout, running up beside her younger sister.

Just moments ago, Annie had walked to the end of their sidewalk and was looking for Alex in the darkness after she dashed out of the house, and was horrified when she looked down the street to see Alex's morphed body reforming under the illumination of one of the street lamps! She was even more shocked when she saw the familiar car beyond her sister and a person sitting in the street that could only be Grace Lasky! Without thinking, she raced to head Alex off, but she was too late.

"Alex..." pleaded Annie in a calming voice. "I understand you're really angry and confused right now, probably because you're feeling overwhelmed. So let's all just try to be calm, o.k.?". As Alex earlier feared, Annie was worried that her sister's telepathic ability was overloading her emotions and making her irrational, and chastising Alex for exposing herself to Grace Lasky wasn't going to help matters now. She was sincerely afraid that Alex was on the verge of seriously hurting Grace.

"Alex..." Annie added. "C'mon now, let's stay grounded here, alright?". Alex's eyes brightened as she cast a bemused glance at her sister, then looked back at Grace who was now leaning against her car. "No, Annie, I don't feel like staying 'grounded' right now" she replied with a sinister tone. "As a matter of fact, why don't we take this conversation elsewhere?".

"Alex ..." Annie said cautiously, "Don't do anything crazy ....".

But Annie never finished her sentence as she watched her little sister's eye's focus on Grace and squint in concentration. The look on the FBI agent's face said it all as Grace suddenly felt a sensation of complete weightlessness overcome her, and all Annie could do was watch helplessly as Alex telekinetically shot Grace Lasky straight upwards into the night sky.