Ray walked into his garage, crossing over to the window on the far wall which overlooked Alex's house.
He looked out and didn't see Alex or Annie coming yet.
Unknown to him as he kept watch, he didn't notice the silvery ooze behind him which flowed up out of the drain vent on the floor in the center of his garage. Alex reformed herself, Annie, and the box of equipment as her best friend continued to look for them out the garage window.
Alex looked at Annie and silently pointed towards Ray's back, and her older sister responded with a grin.
Alex quietly mouthed "On three" to Annie and began to count off her fingers. One, two, three .....
"Boo!" yelled Alex and Annie in unison.
"Yikes!" squealed Ray, scared half to death. He spun around with a gasp as the girls laughed at his shock.
"You know Alex, now I understand why you loved to torment me by sneaking up on me with your powers" Annie admitted, still laughing. "The look on Ray's face was absolutely priceless".
Ray was still wiping the cold sweat off of his forehead. "Where'd the heck did you two come from?" he demanded, his voice irritated and shaky. Alex stepped forward and put her hand on Ray's shoulder, then pointed towards the drain vent in the floor with her other hand.
"From there Ray. I morphed Annie and myself here through the pipes" she explained. Ray looked at his best friend in complete astonishment. "You morphed?!" he asked. "But .....but you took your dad's antidote! You don't have your powers anymore!".
Alex stepped back and held up her hand, pointer finger extended. Her entire finger began to glow and emit electrical sparks from it.
"My powers are back" Alex said with a satisfied smile. "Dad's antidote seems to have worn off".
"Alex, that's great!" Ray said happily, and then his face turned solemn again. "Oh, and then the first thing that occurred to you was to scare the hell out of me?" Ray asked, placing his hands on his hips.
"Lighten up Ray. I was just foolin' around" Alex pressed, still giggling at Ray's scare.
Annie was already rummaging through her box of equipment. "We had to have somewhere with some privacy so I could run some tests on Alex without anyone walking in on us Ray" she explained.
" ....And we didn't want to be cornered by those reporters still hanging around outside the house, so I morphed us over" Alex added.
From her box of equipment, Annie unloaded a microscope, a laptop computer, a case of discs, a pair of leather pouches, several bottles of chemicals, and a bottle of alcohol and placed them on a work bench along the wall.
Alex noticed the bottle of alcohol and a feeling of dread flushed over her. "What's the alcohol for?" she asked unsteadily. "For the needle ....." Annie answered absently. Alex's face went pale as she looked at Ray, and then back to Annie.
"Needle?!" Alex exclaimed.
"Yeah Alex. So I can prick your finger to get some blood samples".
"Wait a sec! You never said anything about needles Annie! I already got stabbed by Dr. Whiteside yesterday. I'm not going to get poked again!" Alex complained as her skin began to glow with a bright golden hue.
Ray realized by Alex's glow that she was getting a scare similar to the one she had inflicted upon him a moment ago. He couldn't help but tease.
"Aw c'mon Alex. It's just a little needle ...." he chuckled.
"Veerrrry funny Ray ..."
Annie turned to Alex. "Alex, I've taken blood samples from you before when you were younger and you never made a fuss like this. You're sixteen years old. Don't be such a baby" Annie scolded as she retrieved a needle from one of the leather pouches and began to clean it with alcohol. "Besides, it's for your own good and I can't get any accurate readings without a blood sample".
"But ..." Alex tried to protest, but Annie held up a cautioning finger and silenced her little sister.
"Your finger Alex" Annie instructed, motioning towards Alex's hand.
Defeated, Alex's shoulders sagged and she offered her right hand to Annie. Annie separated a finger from the rest and pricked it with the needle.
"Ouch!" cried Alex.
The girl examined the headline of the Paradise Valley Gazette with growing fury.
ALEXANDRA MACK, THE "CHEMICAL KID" ..... read the big, black bold print.
She finished scanning the headline on the front page as her eyes moved to a large color picture below it.
Set there was a huge image of Alex, her parents, Ray, Hunter, and David Watt surrounding her with the burning Paradise Valley Chemical Plant behind them.
When Alex and her parents and friends were at the plant that fateful day, a number of reporters had quickly appeared on the scene and snapped the picture when Alex and her friends and thwarted Ms. Atron's plans.
The girl saw the insert below the picture. "Alex Mack is a hero for stopping Danielle Atron's plan to poison the American with the dangerous chemical GC-161....." she read with an angry, sarcastic tone.
"A 'hero' huh? Sounds more like a freak than a hero to me" she hissed.
" .....and guess what? Her 'daddy' gave her an antidote and she doesn't have her powers anymore. So beginning tomorrow morning, I'm going to make sure Alex Mack pays for what she did to me".
Vince Carter parked his jeep off the road behind a small stand of trees. Climbing out of the vehicle, he slung a small, camouflaged satchel over his shoulder and made his was down a heavily wooded bike path stretching some twenty yards until it came to a large clearing that sat adjacent to the northern-most point of Paradise Valley Park.
Crossing the clearing, he came to a hilltop that looked down over a small RV trailer park. He scanned the dozen or so trailers below until he came to one parked near the bottom of the hill under a pair of elms. It was an old, white and brown, twenty-five foot long trailer with leaves caked upon it's roof.
Vince looked down upon the very humble home of PV Chemical truck driver David Watt, his former partner who helped him try to track down the GC-161 accident victim for two years before he was fired by Danielle Atron for failing to find the child.
"So Dave, you spilled your guts to Gino Lawless about me eh?" he said aloud with a sinister growl.
".....And after all we've been through together" he added with fake sincerity.
Vince moved along the hilltop where a stretch of dense foliage ranged down the slope, and he quickly concealed himself within it and descended towards Dave's trailer. Former Navy Seal training came in handy in Vince's line of work, and he used it expertly to approached the trailer undetected. At the bottom of the hill, he scanned the immediate area for people, and found luck was on his side. Dave's trailer was parked in a secluded part of the RV park, so Vince's approach was hidden from view from prying eyes.
He didn't see Dave's Moped, which was usually parked near the door of the trailer. Dave wasn't home.
Exiting the bushes and moving stealthily, Vince scurried silently up to the side of the trailer, and positioned himself under an open, screened window on the trailer. Rising up, he looked inside and saw that the lights were off.
Slumping back down, he moved towards the front end of the trailer where two propane tanks were bolted onto it's pulling rig. Vince looked around again as he reached into his satchel and retrieved a glob of gray putty-like material, and deftly squished it around the neck of the on of one the propane tanks' valves.
It was a special explosive mixture Vince himself had concocted, which left no traces after it was detonated.
"Perfect for this job" he said to himself, as he molded the explosive onto the tank's valve. Reaching into his satchel again, he retrieved a plastic object shaped like, and slightly larger than a matchbox, which had two, short copper prongs protruding from one end. He stuck the prongs into the gray, plastic explosive and uncoiled another small wire which extended outwards some four inches.
With the detonator's antenna deployed, Vince silently left the way he came.
Moments later, Vince was standing beside his jeep again. He tossed his satchel into the front and climbed into the driver's seat. Opening the glove box, he took out a metal device the size of a deck of cards.
On it were two round buttons; on green, and one red.
Vince pulled a six inch long telescoping antenna out of the top of the device, and then pressed the green button. A green light beside it lit up, indicating that the remote controlled detonator was turned on.
David Watt veered off of Almond Avenue and into the drive of Henderson's RV Park, a bag of groceries secured in each of his moped's tote-satchels. He waved politely at Mrs. Barlow, who was reclined in a fold-out chair under the retractable awning of her RV. She waved back with a cheerful smile.
Dave was a tall man of over six feet and average build. He was well-liked in Paradise Valley by all that knew him, even though he was something of a klutz and wasn't known for being the "brightest' fellow.
Yet, his honest, easy-going personality and heart of gold endeared him to everyone, especially Alex Mack and her family. Just two days ago, he helped to save the lives of Alex and her parents when he went to FDA agent Gino Lawless' office with photographs of their abduction by Danielle Atron's security goons.
For a year before that, Dave had discovered and hidden the secret of Alex Mack's incredible GC-161 spawned powers from Ms. Atron and Vince, nobly protecting her from attempts to have her eliminated by the plant's evil CEO.
Even though Dave was out of a job after the destruction of PV Chemical, he felt like he was on top of the world. For the first time in his life, he was popular; a hero! He had people's respect and admiration and more friends than he could count.
Mr. Mack, who had been offered jobs on countless occasions by Sedgewick Chemical Company in Pittsville Gardens, said he would try to get Dave a job there when he started Monday. Life just didn't get much better than this.
Dave slowed and took a hard right onto a dirt path which led directly to his trailer, and the weathered hulk came in sight some one hundred and fifty feet away.
"Now, maybe you'll get the message to keep your mouth shut David" Vince snarled as he depressed the red button on the detonator, the red light beside it flickered to life.
As Dave neared his trailer, he was blinded by a sudden flash of light. A powerful, intensely hot shock wave struck him and slammed him off of his moped, and his last vision before losing consciousness was that of his trailer exploding into flames just ninety feet in front of him!
Vince sneered contentedly as he heard the loud explosion rip Dave's trailer apart, and looked through a pair of mini-binoculars as a plume of black smoke rose above the treetops over a hundred yards distant.
"Mission accomplished" he chuckled, cranking up his jeep. Vince backed his jeep out of the small stand of trees, and pulled back out onto the paved road to leave. He didn't notice the small slip of paper which had fallen from his satchel when he tossed it back into his jeep blow out and come to rest on the side of the road.