PART EIGHT

"Pay attention Alex, this is important" Annie ordered with a frustrated tone.

Alex was sporting four fingers with Band-Aids on them from Annie's finger-pricking, two on each hand, and didn't feel like being co-operative at the moment. She just wanted to get away from Annie and her tests.

She was growing agitated and her fingers ached from Annie's experiments which had been going on for over an hour. Ray stood silently to the side, watching the experiments. At the moment, Alex was concentrating on levitating a wooden lawn chair as Annie pricked a fifth finger, this time on Alex's right hand. The chair bobbled in the air but remain afloat, as if by magic. But there was no "magic" to it, because Alex discovered only a few hours ago that her bizarre GC-161-spawned super powers, which she thought lost forever, had returned!

Alex yelped quietly at the sharp pain of the needle but maintained her concentration on the chair.

"O.k. Alex, you can set the chair down now" Annie conceded. Alex released her telekinetic hold on the chair and lowered it to the floor with a clunk.

"That better be it Annie, because I'm not getting poked again" she warned as Annie and Ray could hear the anger in her voice. "Don't worry Alex, I think that's all I'll need" Annie answered patiently, trying to keep Alex calm. She knew this was all for her little sister's own good, but she also understood that it wasn't any fun for Alex to be a pin cushion either.

Annie placed the blood sample from Alex onto a clear, glass slide and inserted it underneath her microscope. Alex held out her punctured finger to Ray and he placed a Band-Aid on it. Alex sighed.

"Man Al, you're taking a beating" he said cringing slightly, referring to the extremity of Annie's tests.

"I'm sorry for teasing you earlier".

"It's o.k. Ray. I guess I probably deserved it for scaring you" Alex admitted, massaging her fingers. She walked over beside Annie, who was examining the blood sample under her microscope.

"Well Annie, is it the same?"

Annie looked up at her younger sibling. "Yep, and it's got to be one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. But there it is again..... GC-161. And it's properties are amazing!"

Ray stepped up and chimed in. "So you're saying there's GC-161 in Alex's body when she uses her powers, but there isn't when she doesn't use them?"

"But how can that be, Annie?" asked Alex. "Do I still have GC-161 inside of me or not?"

"Well, yes, and no" Annie responded as she turned to her laptop without looking at Alex and began typing information into it. Alex and Ray looked at each other and cocked their heads, completely baffled.

"What does that mean?" Alex demanded loudly, irritated that Annie had not given her an immediate answer. Annie spun around on the stool she was sitting on and faced them.

"It's like this Alex. When I took the first blood sample, I was looking for GC-161 in your system, and I didn't find any. That totally confused me because I know your powers have returned with a vengeance. So when I took the second blood sample when I had you use your powers, I detected the chemical in your system. Twice when I took samples when you weren't using your powers, there was no trace of GC-161 in your system, but the three times you activated them, there it was again, GC-161; or at least a hybrid compound of it" explained Annie.

"Hybrid?! What does that mean?!" Alex exclaimed. Ray only listened in stunned silence as Alex's voice rose to panicked proportions.

Annie raised her hand in a calming motion. "Don't panic Alex. You're not in any danger health-wise from what I can tell, but the results I've gotten from these tests have indicated that your body is manufacturing it's very own GC-161 whenever you activate your powers. Yet, when you aren't using the powers, your body does not produce it".

"I don't understand Annie. How can my body make GC-161?" pressed Alex.

Annie took a deep breath. "It's probably a result of the four years of contamination you had to the chemical Alex. Remember when I told you that I had my doubts about dad making a successful antidote for GC-161after being exposed to it for so long? Well, this is exactly what I was referring to when I said that. From what I can deduce, your body adapted to the presence of the chemical over those four years and has literally learned to produce it's own brand of GC-161. I wouldn't be surprised if this condition had something to do with your immune system, but I need more sophisticated equipment to analyze these blood samples to tell for sure".

Alex listened intently as her sister explained. Annie realized her sister had an intense disdain for science and knew some of her explanations went right over her head, but after the last four years, Alex had still become quite well-read on the subject. Annie just then realized that Alex wasn't the naive thirteen year old she was when she first received her powers. Annie continued to explain, confident that Alex understood her.

"You see Alex, the human body operates on electrical impulses sent from the brain and those impulses travel at the speed of thought throughout your whole body. So whenever you start concentrating on using your powers, your brain is actually 'commanding' the cells in your body to instantaneously produce it's very own artificial form of GC-161, which in turn, manifests your abilities. When you stop concentrating, the hybrid compound apparently dissipates and returns to a dormant state and there's no trace of it. Dad's antidote was successful in purging the GC-161, but it didn't compensate for the actual 'function' of the cells in your body being altered".

Annie could tell Alex was seriously trying to soak up and process what she had told her.

"But if Mr. Mack found out Alex's powers were back, couldn't he just make another antidote?" Ray asked curiously.

Annie spotted the concerned expression on Alex's face after Ray's question. She could tell that Alex didn't want to lose her powers again, and she immediately noticed the sad frown which began to grow on Alex's face. Alex's lower lip protruded in a pout.

She gazed upon her younger sister with a hopeful glint in her eyes. Alex spotted it instantly.

"From what I can tell" Annie replied, " .....another antidote would be useless. This is now a natural function of Alex's body, and I don't believe another GC-161antidote would have any affect on it. I think Alex's condition is probably .....a permanent one" Annie responded honestly.

Alex's eyes widened. "My powers are ..... are permanent?"

"From what my tests are saying right now, yes, I believe so" Annie assured her. Alex suddenly grasped her older sister in a hug as Annie laughed at Alex's elation. Ray laughed too, happy for his best friend. He'd known Alex long before she acquired her powers from being drenched in GC-161. They'd known each other since they were both three years old playing in the sandbox, but after the last four years, he couldn't imagine Alex without her incredible powers.

" .....and another thing Alex" Annie added as her sister backed away and held her at arm's length.

A tear of joy rolled down Alex's left cheek.

"What?" Alex asked hesitantly.

"I don't think we have to worry about the blood test Dr. Whiteside took either".

"What do you mean?" asked Alex.

"Well, since you weren't using your powers when he took that blood sample yesterday, there shouldn't be any traces of your body's unique GC-161 compound in it for him to detect".

Alex rolled her eyes in relief. "It looks like luck is finally on my side" she proclaimed happily, as she squinted her eyes in concentration and shot a zapper from her fingertip which bounced to and fro around Ray's garage. Amazingly, the small golden orb of electrical energy flew wherever Alex's gaze sent it.

As Alex looked across the garage to send the discharge bouncing off the wall beside the room's outer door, she gasped in surprise as it finally fizzled out just inches over the head of her friend Robyn Russo, who was standing in the doorway staring at Alex's fireworks display in wide-eyed wonder.

"Uh oh" said Ray. Annie just rolled her eyes.


In his hotel room at Paradise Valley Arms, Gino Lawless sat on his bed going over several small stacks of papers concerning the now-destroyed Paradise Valley Chemical Plant. Gino was still in town on assignment for the FDA compiling information and charges against Danielle Atron for her illegal attempts to market GC-161 as a miracle weight loss drug.

The phone on the table beside the bed rang. Gino picked it up and cupped it on his shoulder as he shuffled through the assorted documents.

"Lawless here" he said absently. He suddenly straightened up, put down the documents he was reading, and grabbed the phone with his hand. "What?!" he said into the receiver, an incredulous look crossing his face.

"When?" he asked the person on the other end. "Alright, yeah, I got it. Henderson's RV Park. 1212 Almond Avenue. I'll meet you there in twenty minutes". Gino sprung from the bed, grabbed his coat, and bolted out the door.


Robyn just stood there aghast, trying to contemplate what she just saw. Her friend, Alex Mack, who just told her the night before last about super powers she no longer possessed, only stood there in disbelief after walking through the door of Ray's Garage to see Alex shooting balls of electrical energy from her fingertips.

"A.... Alex?" she stuttered in shock. "What ..... how did you do that? You, you still have your powers?!"

Ray instantly jumped towards Robyn, gently pushed her away from the door, and locked it this time.

"Oh, that's great Ray. You left the door unlocked?" Annie chastised. "Why don't we just invite those news crews in too?"

Ray winced at Annie's scolding. "Sorry ....." was all he could spit out. Robyn walked over to Alex, who had was standing there looking at her with her jaw hanging. "Alex? Why do you still have your powers?" she asked again, stepping right up into Alex's face, a betrayed tone in her voice. Alex's mouth opened and closed, but nothing would come out.

Annie jumped in to defuse what could easily turn into a serious situation. It was apparent that Robyn was thinking that Alex had lied to her about still having her powers.

"They just came back this morning Robyn. We came over here so I could run some tests on Alex in private" she explained hurriedly. Robyn looked at Annie, then back to Alex, and Alex shook her head up and down in agreement. Robyn was one of the most sensitive people Alex knew, and was even more insecure than she was!

"It's true Robyn. My dad's antidote didn't work" Alex finally exhaled. Robyn's expression seemed to soften as she realized Alex and Annie were telling her the truth. Then Ray stepped in.

"Robyn, what are you doing here anyway?"

Robyn's eyes suddenly widened as she remembered why she came over to Ray's.

"I .... I called Alex's house a few minutes ago and they said she was over here at your house. When I tried to call, I couldn't get an answer, so I ran right over to tell you" she replied, making Ray remember that he had left the cordless phone in the house.

"Tell us what Robyn?" asked Alex.

"That my dad heard over his police scanner a few minutes ago that your friend from the plant, the truck driver Dave, is in the hospital. His trailer blew up" Robyn answered shakily.

"What?!" said Alex, Annie, and Ray in unison.