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Fanfic / The Secret Return of Alex Mack

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The Secret Return of Alex Mack is a fanfic by Diane Castle, based on the lead character from Nickelodeon's The Secret World of Alex Mack, and a sequel to Diane's The League of Extraordinary Women. After returning to her home universe after the events of The League of Extraordinary Women Alex applies what she's learned to becoming a real superhero and putting together her own team. This kicks off a Massive Multiplayer Crossover story as Alex recruits new members for her team, some from her world's counterparts to the extraordinary women she met from other universes, and others that she meets along the way. And then someone recruits her. It then adds in just about every B movie monster and bad guy, ever, and a massive global conspiracy for them to fight.


It has also provided the basis for a Shared Universe to which other authors are contributing stories.

This story provides example of:

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  • Action Girl: Several, including Alex, Hanna (whose code name is "Action Girl"), and Jo Lupo.
  • Adults Are Useless: Defied. Alex finds her parents' support invaluable, and wonders why she didn't tell them about her powers years ago. Then, when she starts working with the US military, their help in transport and logistics lets her achieve vastly more than she could have done alone.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Jack isn't quite old enough to be Willow's father, but he's not far off it, and he feels like he should take their relationship slowly as a result — but she's having none of that. Alex and her family are initially concerned, but come to the conclusion that they make each other happy and they're both adults.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Terawatt's standard method of entering a building occupied by hostiles, such as a bank being robbed, or a lab full of silicate monsters. Justified since she doesn't need human-sized tunnels; she can slip through standard air conditioning vents. Also, telekinesis is an excellent tool for undoing any locks, covers, or other obstacles.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Willow Rosenberg's parents are described as being Ashkenazi Jews, but she has known from a very early age that she was adopted, because she quite clearly isn't.
  • Alternate Universe: Alex's experience meeting people from multiple universes helps her track down the local universe equivalents, and gives her some insights into their characters, and pasts, but there are many major differences between them, as well.
    • Jaime Sommers exists in Alex's world, but she never had the skydiving accident that led to her gaining bionic parts.
    • Bruce Wayne is now Bruce Paine. He's also just starting out, whereas the Batman whom she met had long experience.
    • Selina Kyle is apparently the trophy wife of a Greek shipping magnate. She's really a member of the Collective, and suspected of using her burglary skills for industrial espionage.
    • Hermione Granger is an analyst working for MI-6. She gets her own backstory in Hermione Granger and the Boy Who Lived, a Darker and Edgier Hogwarts-by-way-of-James-Bond fic.
    • Buffy Summers had some success as a figure skater, is now starring in a reality TV show, and is the girlfriend of an NFL football star.
    • Willow Rosenberg is CEO of a small computer database and security company.
    • Jack O'Neill's wife, instead of his son, was killed in an accident involving his gun.
    • Samantha Carter is a NASA astronaut.
  • Amazon Brigade: Most of the people Alex recruits for her team are female. Partially justified since she primarily went looking for the local counterparts of her Alternate Universe teammates, but Hanna and Shar just happened to be girls. Most of the men she works with were brought in by the military, not found by her.
  • And a Diet Coke: Alex has to eat a lot to keep her energy levels up, but she prefers the taste of Diet Coke, so she often makes food orders that have a lot of calories, and then asks for a Diet Coke.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The story ends with a Distant Finale showing Alex/Terawatt, now in her seventies (although she looks a bit younger thanks to her enhanced body, she mentally feels her age) and having absolutely no desire to retire, taking off on another mission.
  • An Ice Person: Sato Yuki, aka Tsurara ('Icicle"), who gained her power during Gojira's attack on Sendai, Japan. In a cruel twist of fate, "Yuki" is Japanese for "snow".
  • Apocalypse How: The bad guys' ultimate goal turns out to be Class 2, culling unenhanced humans in order to preserve resources for the Master Race. Some of their experiments risk Class 5 or even Class X, though, if not stopped.
  • Armed Legs: In Alex's world, Buffy is an Olympic ice skater and a Breslynn Orphan. And when it comes down to it, ice skates are based on blades and sharp points moving at high speed. When a snatch squad follows her onto a rink, half of them survive with serious injuries; the other half don't.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Action Girl's default combat style. It's not because she lacks intelligence, but simply because she loves the challenge.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • The result of exposure to Deemer's Solution. This results in a 250-foot spider, with baby spiders the size of a horse.
    • One of the North Korean supers is a ninety foot tall woman. Klar uses the trope name in his report, referring to her as "attack of the fifty-foot woman".
  • Attack Reflector: Sufficiently powerful telekinetics and metal-controllers can return bullets to sender. Attempting to fire missiles at such a meta will get you killed when your missiles come back and hit you.
    • A Collective telekinetic tries throwing metal scraps at Major Carter, only to be Swiss-cheesed himself when she fires back with her much stronger blast.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The SR-71 Blackbird can fly at Mach 3.5, but has ridiculous running costs, and thus all but two of them were decommissioned. However, it's subverted in this case; using them to ferry Terawatt around is still an economically sound decision, because she frequently prevents colossal property damage and loss of life, and fast response times can make all the difference.
  • Badass Adorable: Shar, AKA Pyre. An eight year old cute kid, capable of putting the hurt on Gojira. Or setting off a thermonuclear explosion.
  • Badass Bystander: The second time the Macks are kidnapped, the kidnappers end up facing down all the of whom have powers of their own.
  • Badass Crew:
    • The Superpowers Research Initiative, a collection of of Badass Normals, Empowered Badass Normals, and Badass Bookworms who fight all manner of Nuclear Nasty, zombies, and Blob Monsters. Perhaps best exemplified in the Silicate arc, where the SRI is the only team to not lose containment.
    • STARS is supposed to be this, being a team of the best SWAT officers in four states and containing several Special Forces veterans. Unfortunately, they weren't prepared for zombies and being sabotaged by The Mole didn't help either.
  • Ballroom Blitz: Poison Ivy, Bane, and some henchman crash a museum gala, sparking a massive brawl with Batman and the SRI.
  • Bare Your Midriff:
    • Crush's idea of a "combat uniform" for the Korea op is a sports bra and short shorts. Given she is Nigh-Invulnerable, she can get away with it.
    • Alex works out in a sports bra and shorts. Only in the privacy of her home, but between the metabolic effects of GC-161, and most of a year of regular intense physical activity, her figure is enough to make her older sister feel a bit inadequate.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Thanks to her morph ability and a specially treated stain-resistant costume, Terawatt manages to emerge from massive fights without a hair out of place and still clean. However, she does end up bruised, and after flying through a Mark 77 explosion, she is all bruise.
      Sergeant Meadows: Is there anywhere on you that isn’t bruised?
      Alex: My hair.
    • Averted by everyone else, who gets appropriately bloody and dirty in combat.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Alex is one of the nicest, kindest people you'll ever meet. She's also Terawatt, the world's most powerful superheroine, and will hand you your ass if you try anything.
    • Willow is sweet, affectionate, bubbly, environmentally conscious, and loves to bake for her friends. People who upset her, though, tend to find themselves being prosecuted for hundreds of unpaid parking tickets, possession of child pornography, etc.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence:
    • The Korean DMZ Battle, pitting most of the SRI against an entire squad of North Korean supers.
    • The final story arc, which sees every single superhero strut their stuff in an all-out attack on the Collective's base.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Terawatt reaches Harry and Ron Just in Time to disable the silicates that had surrounded them and give them a chance to retreat. A few hours later, she and her team descend on Tokyo to turn the tide of their outbreak.
    • Terawatt, Action Girl, and Klar storm the museum gala just in time to save a badly outmatched Batman from Bane and Poison Ivy.
    • Ultraman arrives at the prom just in time to open the gym doors, which Hanna and Jo couldn't open, thus saving pretty much everyone at prom.
  • Big Eater: Alex regularly eats several times as much as a normal person would, but just burns it all off with her GC-161 metabolism. If she's going to have a meal with people who don't know about her powers, she'll usually have a second meal in private before or afterward so she doesn't attract too much attention.
  • Blob Monster: Most notably the Downingtown Blob, which consumes any organic material it finds to make itself larger.
  • Blood Knight: Action Girl, who regards Bane as a Worthy Opponent, regards fighting a Cat Girl as great fun, and is disappointed that she doesn't get to fight raptors in the final battle.
    Alex: Hanna thinks everything dangerous is extremely cool. She had fun fighting that North Korean catgirl who clawed her to shreds and just about killed her.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Several super-powered characters receive additional martial arts training.
    • Terawatt gets MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) training, one of her main training priorities after getting back from her multiverse trip. She doesn't really use it directly, but the idea of physical conditioning leads her to start similar workouts with her telekinesis, to incremental but noticeable effect.
    • Pyre receives training in Kung Fu after watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and asking if she can learn Firebending. This is important, since as General O'Neill notes, her sole other means of self-defense is "tactical nuke".
    • Batman later takes Azure Crush under his wing and teaches her martial arts as well.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Subverted. The plastic-and-metal tube Alex is carrying around for self-defence is a mere prop, not the home-brew taser she claims, but it provides a cover for her to shoot an attacker with a very real lightning bolt from her hand without revealing her identity.
  • Breather Episode: Lampshaded when everything is going well for Alex, from her photography to her school marks to her boyfriend's basketball performance, and even a former nemesis seeming to have mostly reformed.
    She figured that meant mega-bad stuff was lurking around the next corner.
  • Bullet-Proof Fashion Plate: Terawatt's uniform is treated to resist stains.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dozens of them.
    • Jack O'Neill is the world's least mature Colonel, despite being a complete badass leading a team that has saved the world numerous times.
    • Hanna is young, not formally trained, lacks a normal fear response, and has been known to put her life on the line against orders. Normally she wouldn't have a place in the military. But she has moderately superhuman strength and speed, lacks skills beyond combat and survival, and is quite loyal to Terawatt (who saved her life), so she's useful to the team.
  • Busman's Holiday: Multiple times.
    • Alex and Willow go to Comic-Con...and a parahuman attacks a bank truck.
    • Alex goes to Paris as a graduation gift...just in time for a bioweapon to be released.
    • Deliberately invoked during the Davenport cleanup arc. Alex goes to report on the cleanup, but brings her Terawatt bag just in case.
  • The Cape: Terawatt, naturally. A heroine in perfect white, who comes out of the sky to save the day.
  • Cast from Calories: Terawatt, and all other GC-161 cases, eat far more than normal most of the time, and using powers drives appetites Up to Eleven.
  • Catchphrase: Shar adopted hers from the Iron Giant. It's also a very sad case of Foreshadowing.
  • Celebrity Superhero: Alex isn't particularly attached to the limelight, but she lets a trusted friend hold the relevant intellectual property rights in order to be able to control the narrative and shut down websites or products that she doesn't approve of. So there is Terawatt clothing, and merchandise, and a Twitter account, and even Terawatt Barbie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Numerous well-executed examples.
    • Jack suggests a potentially dangerous telekinetic move that Squicks Alex out, but she later uses on a lightning-proof bad guy. It soon becomes her default attack.
    • Pyre's ability to go nuclear.
    • Alex accurately describes her electrokinesis over 100 chapters before it becomes relevant.
    • The little old lady down the street who always wears dark glasses? She has Eye Beams.
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted when Alex's older sister remarks on Colonel O'Neill's looks, in front of eight-year-old Shar.
    Annie: Well, I can sure see why Willow’s all hot for the general.
    Shar: Yeah, because he’s really funny, and he’s really nice to Auntie Willow, and if anybody’s mean to her, I bet he goes all general-y on ‘em!
    Alex: Yeah, that’s exactly right.
    Shar: And Auntie Willow thinks Uncle Jack is really good at sex stuff too!
  • Child Soldiers: Jack O'Neill is not happy that Alex, and many of the others that she works with, are just kids under the age of 18. He really doesn't like it when eight year old Shar gets involved.
  • Choke Holds: Terawatt frequently telekinetically squeezes an opponent's carotid artery shut, dropping them in seconds. Her precise control means that it's actually safer for the target than several other attack methods (like blasting them with lightning).
  • Clark Kenting: Alex goes to a lot of effort to physically distinguish herself from Terawatt. Terawatt wears (5-inch) high heeled boots, and usually floats a bit off the ground to appear taller, while Alex always wears flats. Terawatt wears a long blonde wig, while Alex has cut her hair short. The Terawatt costume includes a padded bra, and a polymer facial coating with much more striking makeup and lipstick than Alex would wear.
  • Claustrophobia: Alex doesn't think she used to have this, but after half a day of being squashed under a pile of rubble in silvery form until she was dug out, she now has a problem with it.
  • Clothing Damage:
    • Azure Crush suffers from this, especially since she's a melee fighter. Victor Cready destroyed her clothes with fireballs to slow her down, and on a later occasion a giant clam ate her new shoes. Just as well that with her new super-physique, she doesn't seem to care much about whether she's wearing anything.
    • Averted with Terawatt, whose Nigh-Invulnerable silvery form can include her clothing.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Hanna is this, having been raised completely alone by her father above the Arctic Circle. She slowly gets better.
  • Colonel Badass: Col. Jack O'Neill of course. Also Col. Watanabe, the Japanese officer in charge of Japanese meta-response.
  • Combat Medic: Riley Finn serves as this, being both a highly skilled soldier and a medic. His wife, Samantha Finn, might also count, being a Peace Corps doctor who always carries a gun.
  • Cool Big Sis: Debbie Thornberry, who despite trying to act like she doesn't care, really does try to watch out for Eliza.
  • Cool Plane: The SRI has a couple of SR-71s that they use to move Alex around the world in a hurry, when they have to. For extra coolness, she normally jumps out of them over the target and flies down (still going at hundreds of miles per hour), rather than go through a normal landing. In fact, they don't even do normal takeoffs; the plane touches down, collects her in silvery form at a hundred miles an hour, and then lifts off again.
  • Cosplay: During the Comic-Con arc Alex cosplays as Kitty Pryde and Willow goes as Jean Gray. There's a surprising number of Terawatt cosplayers as well, and Terawatt offers to (and does) judge the Terawatt Cosplay contest.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: The SRI is, at first, officially the Hazardous Waste Abatement and Amelioration Agency. While they do help clean up hazardous waste spills, such "clean-up" generally involves killing whatever mutant monster the waste created.
  • Covert Pervert: Grover and his friends' first and only use for the invisibility formula? Watching the cheerleaders shower.
  • The Cracker: William Robert Halsey, aka P$ychon4ut, a notorious hacker who works for the Collective. He's also a Serial Killer who was arrested and sent to prison before the story starts, though the Collective freed him.
  • Creepy Physical: Alex worries about this trope before getting a full exam (including gynecological) from Dr. Fraiser, thanks to hearing about gyno exams from a friend.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Buffy Summers, who spends the entire story a brainless but pretty reality-TV star...until she lures a Collective snatch team onto an ice rink and Curb Stomps them with ease.

  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jo Lupo, as Alex notes, is implied to have one. She routinely carries far more weapons than normal, sleeps with a gun, and is pretty quick to suggest that Hanna was abused by her not-really-father.
  • David Versus Goliath: 5'6" Action Girl versus 7' Bane. And versus the even larger Tromaville monster. And although she doesn't stop to fight the North Korean Sasquatch, she does put three shots into what would have been a sensitive spot on a human as she goes for her next opponent.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Double-agent Jo Lupo stabs Riley in the back in the lead up to the final battle, confirming her loyalty to the Collective. It's actually prearranged, though, with his abnormal Healing Factor allowing him to survive and his "corpse" to be overlooked.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Late in the story, GC-161 grenades are used against Orphans by both sides. Danielle's Booby Trap in the Collective's main base is just lots of GC-161 with a dispersal mechanism. Not only is it instantly fatal to Orphans, regular humans end up with various powers, which they either can't control or have no idea how to use.
  • Determinator: By the time Hanna is rescued by the SRI, she is dying of an infection, has a bullet in her abdomen, and is working on very little sleep. Despite this, Hanna manages to return to Finland from Germany, and is awake, alert, and combat-ready.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Maggie Walsh's trap was prepared for telekinesis, electricity, distress calls, silver morphing, and countermeasures for seven different methods of escape, plus it had a failsafe bomb linked to the doors — but she didn't anticipate Terawatt turning up the fuel concentration until it wasn't in the explosive range anymore, then cutting through the less-durable floor.
  • Disability Immunity: Hanna's inability to feel fear allows her to resist The Midwich Cuckoos' Mind Rape. She doesn't get angry watching her mother's murder, she's thrilled to finally see her mother.
  • Discard and Draw: Given sufficient GC-161 and antidote, you can cycle through powers until you get what you want. Danielle Atron is the first to use this technique, using it to gain the same TK/morph/electricity trio that Alex has. The method is later used to stabilize both Victor Cready and Ray.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Alex's meeting with the computer and science clubs about yearbook photos starts out fine, but then someone asks about her time at Comic Con, and then someone looks up the photos of her in a skintight Kitty Pryde outfit. And this is a roomful of mostly male teenage nerds, so the meeting gets derailed.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": After gaining powers, Joelle Harriet Baker rejects her name and adopts "Azure Crush" as her new name.
  • Don't Do Anything I Wouldn't Do: Willow tells Alex and Ray this when they're going home after Alex is crowned Homecoming Queen. Ray quietly observes that he can't think of anything Willow wouldn't do.
  • Doorstopper: Over one million words long, with 234 chapters. And it's only one book (albeit the largest) in a series, which is over 3 million words in total and still going.
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: Alex spends time reminding herself not to fall victim to this when she initially meets her world's version of Jack O'Neill, even if he swiftly proves himself trustworthy, and this also contributes to her establishing a friendship with the 'local' Willow and Hermione.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Of all the ways to make a Heroic Sacrifice, turning yourself into a (briefly) living nuclear weapon to conclusively eliminate a Grey Goo threat gets major style points.
  • Dynamic Entry: Action Girl makes her public debut by parachuting through a glass ceiling to engage Bane.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: By the time that the Collective is crushed at the Battle of Christakos Tepui, four cities, several towns, and numerous buildings are destroyed, millions of civilians are dead, and at least seven nuclear weapons have detonated.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Azure Crush's boyfriend calls her "Smurfette" for her blue skin. He is the only person she lets call her that.
  • Emergency Transformation: Mr. and Mrs. Mack, along with Ray, take GC-161 to gain powers in order to survive a kidnapping attempt.
  • Enemy Mine: The alien bio-organism in the "Mission" arc is so dangerous, Maggie Walsh orders a captured Collective agent to cooperate with the SRI to prevent its release.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Collective's main base has numerous dinosaurs living around the area, presumably because Maggie Walsh got bored.
  • Evil Genius: Maggie Walsh, widely acknowledged as the smartest person in history and the brains behind the Collective's various horrors.
  • Expy
    • Terawatt and Riley Finn both cover aspects of Superman. Terawatt is the world's greatest hero and symbol of hope. Word of God is that Finn is Clark Kent, both being wholesome Mid-West adopted farm boys whose cover identities are newspaper reporters.
    • After an incident with bracers, Willow may be set to be a Wonder Woman expy, though a Texas Ranger later takes the Spanish version of the name.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Downingtown Blob seems to be able to consume any organic material, up to and including upholstery. It can be hurt with fire or electricity, but it will immediately consume the damaged cells, minimising the effect.
  • Fearless Fool: Hanna/Action Girl, due to her genetic engineering completely removing her ability to feel fear. Alex and Jack slowly teach her that just because she can't feel fear doesn't mean she's invincible.
  • Feed It with Fire: Once she gets her ice powers, Tsurara needs a constant heat source to live.
  • Fighting from the Inside: After being infested with Grey Goo, Shar resists just enough to summon all the rest of the nanobots to her and compel Alex and Hanna to leave, then suicide-nukes herself.
  • Fire/Ice Duo: Tsurara and Victor Cready are a match made in... well, a lab.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: During the Silicate Crisis, Terawatt watches Italian soldiers pouring gunfire into the silicates long after they've discovered that bullets don't work, prompting her to wonder if there is some military rule about shooting stuff even after you know it won't work.
  • Freak Lab Accident: The origin stories for Ultraman and Tsurara.
  • Free-Range Children: The Thornberrys are completely fine with letting Eliza wander around the Congo by herself. Admittedly she can talk to animals, but still.
  • Friend of Masked Self: Downplayed; Alex doesn't claim to personally know Terawatt, but she does publish the first clear video of her, and helps her friend Louis to obtain Terawatt-related trademarks and other intellectual property as a result. However, Danielle Atron joins the wrong dots and concludes that Alex saw Terawatt get her powers and knows who she is.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: One of many way to get superpowers. The results include the Breslynn Orphans, proto-Orphans, and Action Girl. Less human results include all manner of nightmarish monsters.
  • Genius Bruiser: Alex becomes this over time. She already has a decent understanding of chemistry thanks to her father, and fighting an unending stream of Mad Science results in her learning a great deal.
  • Get a Room!: After the final battle, Alex considers telling Jack and Willow this when they start smooching in the ruins of the Collective's base, but realizes that they would find somewhere to have sex and decides not to.
  • Giant Spider: One of the story arcs is a crossover with Tarantula!. The spider is somewhere between 150 and 200 feet across, and its many, many babies are the size of cars.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: When Harry and Ron are assigned to a team investigating the silicates, but before anyone knows anything except that a team of marines vanished without reporting in, Hermione asks Terawatt to help. Naturally, she responds immediately and gets there Just in Time.
  • Gone Horribly Right: GC-161 was supposed to be a diet drug. You will lose weight with it, but only because your metabolism is supercharged to the point starvation is a real threat.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Terawatt and Batman won't kill you. That does not mean they aren't willing to squeeze your arteries shut, zap you unconscious, or sever your tendons with a batarang.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Alex, in keeping with her PG-rated Nickelodeon origins, swears this way. Jack tries (and largely fails) to do this around Shar as well.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Action Girl's favorite way of getting around. She got them from Batman.
  • Grenade Launcher: The M4/M203 combo is the SRI's standard weapon, and they break out M32 grenade launchers sometimes as well.
  • Grey Goo: A Collective branch in Xymos, Nevada develops some, only to be killed by them when the nanites breach containment.
  • Groin Attack: Subverted when Action Girl shoots the North Korean Sasquatch three times between the legs, and only makes it angry.
  • Guns Akimbo: Sergeant Carlson is large enough to use both a M240G and a M32 at the same time.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Hanna/Action Girl is part human, part...something else.
  • Handicapped Badass: Sgt. Carlson's wife Corine is missing a leg and has a lot of metal reinforcements in her due to a car accident. Turns out a prosthetic leg works real good to kick people, and a metal-reinforced hand lets her punch a lot harder.
  • Harmful Healing: Carter manages to kill the alien goo infecting denaturing (boiling) it with maser radiation. The result is horrific agony and first-degree burns inside her.
  • Hate Plague: The Collective develops a prion disease that turns the affected into obsessive, ultra-paranoid killers. The plague is sufficiently horrible that nuclear weapons are the appropriate response to an unchecked outbreak, and Lebanon asked Israel to nuke Beruit. The Ogden's Marsh incident turns Iowa into a war zone with the National Guard fighting against berserker hogs and mortaring farmhouses.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Alex and Willow mock this trope while watching Doctor Who. Later, Claire asks Alex this when confronted at a computer conference. Alex, after briefly wondering if that sort of question really worked, responds that she'd already texted everyone.
  • Healing Factor: Riley gains one after surviving exposure to the T-Virus. It is noted as being "somewhere between Wolverine and Spider-Man".
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Shaman's 'talk to animals" power sounds weak. However, talking to animals gives her massive recon abilities, and she brings two hundred peccaries and howler monkeys to the final showdown.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Once her life turns around and things are going better for her, Azure Crush mellows toward Terawatt and even teams up sometimes.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pyre suicide-nukes Nevada to kill the out-of-control Grey Goo infestation.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Alex hides her backup Terawatt suit by hanging it up in her closet with her cosplay outfits.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Terawatt wears bright white.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Little 5'2" Buffy is dating 6'4" NFL quarterback Freddie.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: After Maggie Walsh is crippled by an explosion during the Final Battle, she has her pet velociraptors finish the job.
  • Identity Impersonator:
    • Jo Lupo sometimes dons a Terawatt costume to provide cover for Alex.
    • On another occasion Jo adopts Alex's Annie Farrell identity while Terawatt is appearing at a NATO conference to discuss Superhero issues.
    • Willow pretends to be Alex, cosplaying as Kitty Pryde, in the audience when Terawatt makes an appearance at Comic-Con.
    • Alex offers to arrange for one of the SRI soldiers to sub in for Batman, if Bruce needs to be in two places at once.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • In an attempt to slow down the rampaging Birkin monster, Jack spreads surfactant on a water-slick stone floor, making it ever slipperier.
      Jack: How’s your Jackie Chan fu?
    • Buffy is attacked by a four-man snatch squad, but makes it to an ice rink before they reach her, and proceeds to remind them that ice skates are based on blades and sharp points, travelling at high speeds.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Willow gets completely smashed at her bachelorette party after a cousin has the bartender switch the vodka (80 proof) in her Cosmopolitans for Everclear (190 proof) and ends up with triple the alcohol.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Alex's college mentor Frank West is one, and Alex is working on being one as well, and already has a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. Over the course of the story, Alex has (from an in-universe perspective) run into a shootout to get the world's first footage of a superhero after monitoring the police scanner for months, ninjaed her way into a meat-packing plant to do an expose, filmed at least two of Terawatt's battles, and produced some of the best footage of the Davenport Building cleanup, all before she even gets to college.
  • Invisible Streaker: Klar, at least until he manages to make some invisible sheep from which he can obtain invisible wool.
  • Jar Potty: When tracking Hanna's movements, Willow finds a freighter with signs of a possible stowaway: food wrappers and two full jars, one for liquids and one for solids. Considering how hardcore Hanna is, it probably didn't even make her uncomfortable.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: GC-Divide forces this, splitting the target into two people, one of whom is the original's moral opposite. Having been exposed to the chemical before, Alex uses the chemical on Danielle Atron and leaves her to fight her "good" side.
  • Just in Time: Discussed in particular regarding the death of Carrie White; Jack makes it clear to all concerned parties that even if other SRI agents feel they arrived too late to help they actually arrived as quickly as they could based on their available information, and it's not their fault that Carrie was driven to breaking point so abruptly.
  • Kaiju: Godzilla itself shows up as a Collective creation and proceeds to rampage along the Russian and Japanese coasts before Pyre stops it. Tsurara dubs it "Gojira", a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "gorilla" and "whale", after Alex notes that "oversized amphibious Tyrannosaurus-Iguanodon thing with a ginormous alligator tail" really doesn't work.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • Aside from being various pyrokinetics' default combat use, the SRI calls on the Air Force to drop Mark 77 incendiary bombs on various nasties.
    • Subverted with the Downingtown Blob, which can be burned, but will immediately consume the burned cells and thus minimise its losses. Fighting it with fire or electricity would be theoretically possible but would take days or weeks. Ultimately they do dispose of it with a high-temperature incinerator, but only after it's already subdued.
  • Kill It with Ice: The only strategy that really works against the Downingtown Blob. Although that still only paralyses it.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: It's only rated FR-13, after all.
    • When Alex is choosing a superhero name, she briefly considers "Wonder Woman", whom she met while fighting D'Lazza.
      Alex: She’s the one in the bathing suit and the tiara, with the…
      George: <cups hands in front of his chest> The enormous… <sees his wife's glare> …set of skills?
    • Riley Finn, pretending to be a reporter, drops Terawatt's name while fishing for information.
      Male Teenager: Terawatt? The hot chick with the huge… <glances at the girl he's trying to impress> …badguy fighting skills?
    • And when discussing the silicate amoebas' reproduction:
      Harry: I didn’t think you were paying any attention in biology classes.
      Ron: Just the lessons where that cute blonde student teacher with the big… amoebas did the talking.
  • Left for Dead: Exploited when Riley Finn gets stabbed in the back by Jo Lupo. His Healing Factor lets him survive it, but now the Collective trusts Jo more and Finn is overlooked.
  • Leg Cannon: The SRI builds Sgt, Carlson's wife Corine a prosthetic leg with a single-shot .50cal gun inside.
  • Leotard of Power: Terawatt's costume is just a slightly modified leotard. Justified in that she only needs it for disguise; her silvery morph gives better protection than any body armour, and carrying more weight makes it harder for her to fly.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Technically Klar isn't locked in, he just can't leave the freezer because the cold is his only protection from the Downingtown Blob.

  • MacGyvering: Sam Carter improvises a Maser using random stuff lying around the International Space Station. It helps that she has Terawatt to power it.
  • Magic Antidote: Averted. The GC-161 antidote must be taken almost immediately after exposure to counteract the drug's effect. Waiting too long results in the GC-161 altering your DNA, forcing regular doses of antidote to suppress powers — although you can still use it to alter your powers as mentioned above under Discard and Draw. And after a year or so, the antidote doesn't work at all.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: One of the North Korean supers has this power, and Terawatt refers to her as a "Magneto type" when warning the others.
  • Woman of Steel, Man of Kleenex :
    • When Charlie O'Neill manually stimulates Hanna to orgasm, she injures his hand when her legs clench up.
    • This prompts Alex to wonder how Azure Crush manages to have sex without killing her boyfriend Sergi. A later side story reveals that Crush has indeed broken some ribs.
  • Martial Pacifist: Terawatt doesn't kill other humans, and constantly tries to talk people down. When they (frequently) ignore her, though, she has a variety of nasty nonlethal takedown methods available.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Too many to list them all. The main crossover 'verses involved are:
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event:
    • North Korea tries to create an army of metas by giving 680,000 of their soldiers the various different power-giving substances. The results aren't pretty; the treatments kill 99.9% of the soldiers, give six formidable powers, and mutate the rest.
    • On a less morbid note, Paradise Valley's massive GC-161 contamination has resulted in dozens of citizens getting superpowers. In the side stories, at least three metahumans gained their powers while passing through. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that over six thousand Paradise Valley inhabitants had superpowers.
  • Master of Illusion: "Psych" is able to make people see, hear and feel whatever he wants, including concealing his own presence and attaching real pain to illusory wounds. Fortunately, he can't target very many people at once; when he's mobbed by a crowd, his illusions start to break down.
  • Master Race: The Collective aims to cull the numbers of lesser humans to leave more resources for themselves.
  • Medals for Everyone:
    • Following the Korean DMZ Battle, all military SRI personnel receive the Congressional Medal of Honor and the civilians receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom—Terawatt's is "With Distinction". Those are the highest honor a soldier or civilian can receive.
    • It is later noted that Britain, France, Ireland and Italy are all racing to give Terawatt medals first, and Finland is trying to decide. Italy later gives her their highest honor, Knight Grand Cross with Grand Collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
  • Meta Origin: Alex's father hypothesizes the existence of a master "can acquire powers" gene that regulates if you can get powers and what that power is.
  • Midair Repair: Well, "repair" isn't actually the goal, but "clinging on for dear life and fiddling with hardware to get a job done while travelling through the air at high speed" certainly happens when Terawatt grabs hold of a nuclear missile as it's being launched, and has to disarm and disassemble it before it reaches the target.
  • Military Superhero: Action Girl's "costume" suggests this, she just wears regular military fatigues with a mask.
  • Mind over Matter: Telekinesis is Terawatt's main power, and Sam Carter later theorizes that electrokinesis and the morph are just telekinesis being applied at a subatomic level.
  • Mind Rape: The Midwich Cuckoos force the entire team to view their worst memories...on repeat.
  • Missing Steps Plan: The Collective's sales pitch to recruit the Orphans consists solely of an e-mail telling them that they're a genetically engineered superhuman.
  • The Mole: Clare Tobias is an NID mole in the Collective.
  • Moment Killer: Alex and Ray might have had sex at Comic-Con...if Willow hadn't brutally murdered the mood by giving Alex a graphic pep talk plus a bag of condoms, lube, and wet wipes.
    Alex: I’m totally un-sexy after Willow’s whole ‘get down and dirty’ talk.
    Ray: Umm, I’m pretty un-sexy just from looking in that bag. I don’t think I could’ve handled the talk too.
  • Mood Whiplash: An absolutely brutal example in Chapter 219. What starts as a light-hearted road trip Breather Episode becomes a battle that ends with Pyre's death via suicide-nuke. Reader reviews were...mixed.
  • Mugging the Monster: At Shar's new school, naturally there are boys who give her a hard time when she cries at things that remind her of her murdered parents. Alex lets the school staff know about the problem, pointing out that it's possible she'll flip out and scratch them up with her nails or something. Of course, the reality is that if Shar truly lost control, they'd be lucky to identify the bodies. Of anyone in the entire school.
  • Mundane Utility: Pretty much everyone has found non-combat uses for their powers.
    • Alex uses her telekinesis to dry her hair, dust multiple rooms at once, move packing boxes, and help her eat more food. Her electrokinesis allows her to charge batteries, as well as light welding/cutting. And she uses constant arcing between her hands as a torch.
    • Shar uses her pyrokinesis to cook meat, a use Terawatt suggests before even meeting her.
    • Hanna helps chop a salad for dinner, but doesn't feel like she contributed much, because cutting things up with a knife doesn't take her long at all.
    • Tsurara gets a job as a nuclear power plant's cooling unit.
  • Mythology Gag:
  • Narrative Profanity Filter:
    • Jo Lupo is prone to colorful language, though as Alex is the viewpoint character, we never see much more than "and then Jo said a very interesting combination of swearwords".
      Jo had some different words. Most of them involved words Alex was not allowed to say, put together in some ways Alex had hardly ever heard before.
    • Colonel O'Neill points out that the forces behind a nuclear submarine theft are probably using a Hate Plague to kill all witnesses.
      The captain proceeded to drop another half dozen colorful Russian phrases, at least two of which Jack had never heard before. Not even from Gates.
  • The Neidermeyer: Colonel Leonetti of the Italian Army, who totally mishandles the silicates situation and gets his own men eaten for it. Alex promptly dubs him "Colonel Stupidetti" for it and makes sure he isn't responsible for any more supervillain situations.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Some Orphans have a high tolerance for alcohol, with tiny little Buffy drinking margaritas by the pitcher. Willow, on the other hand, is described as "a cheap date," who gets drunk the first time she goes out to dinner with Jack, and then later at her bachelorette party gets wasted when her cousin spikes her cosmopolitans with Everclear.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The location of the Collective's base is a secret for most of the story. Then they try snatching every unaligned Orphan, at which point Batman foils the attempt on Bruce Paine and finds a clue. And there's only one location in the area that is always covered in fog.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Several characters have it.
    • Terawatt is invulnerable to almost all attack while morphed, although she can still feel pain.
    • Azure Crush is completely bullet-proof, to the point that it takes an anti-tank railgun to break her skin.
    • Silicate monsters can shrug off gunfire, incendiary devices, explosives, and impacts. They can only be killed by injecting them with specific radioactive isotopes such as radium-228 or strontium-90.
    • Gojira manages to ignore the massed fire of entire Russian tank brigades, ships, and multiple nuclear anti-submarine weapons.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The Collective attempts to determine Terawatt's identity by stealing blood samples and hospital records from medical offices in Paradise Valley. However, it turns out that a good 8% of Paradise valley inhabitants had noticeable amounts of GC-161 exposure, not to mention people too poor to visit, those passing through (the origin story of at least three superheroes in the series at large), or those who — like Alex — avoided the doctor due to their exposure.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Nevada Spiders Battle leaves hardened Special Forces soldiers arachnophobes and is a in-universe case of You Do Not Want To Know.note 
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: The US Marshals assigned to Azure Crush are rude, crude, sexist jerks. Despite this, they stand their ground in the face of a supervillain attack and are among the only casualties.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Invoked by Marsha when she and Louis foil a kidnap attempt by telekinetically flipping a fire-control switch from "fire" to "safe". The gunman drops the gun and pulls a knife.
  • Nuclear Option: Nuclear weapons (euphemistically referred to as Operation Failsafe by the SRI) have been used multiple times. No less than four cities have been nuked after being hit with a Hate Plague, Gojira was struck by two nuclear anti-sub weapons, and the Xymos Event was officially a nuclear self-destruct.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: With no demons or Slayers in the local universe, their version of Buffy Summers became an ice skater and an apparently brainless reality TV star, stringing along a boyfriend who thinks that she's just eye candy. She's actually one of the genetically enhanced Breslynn Orphans, though, and when a four-man snatch squad comes for her, she lures them onto an ice rink and curb-stomps them all with her superior command of the terrain.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Lampshaded by George Mack after his family brings up his spotty history with photography.
    George: Boy you take a couple thousand out-of-focus photos where you accidentally lose the top two feet of the picture so everyone’s head gets cut off, and no one ever lets you forget.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with.
    • Charlie McGee's name change is as much to prevent confusion with Charlie O'Neill as it is to protect her identity.
    • Samantha Carter and Samantha Finn are still present without name changes, though they have yet to meet.
    • The side stories add two more O'Neills who are unrelated to Jack O'Neill, Marie O'Neill and Jordan O'Neil.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Even more than the curling up into a ball and sobbing, what really tells Alex's family that she's not okay after Shar's Heroic Sacrifice is that she doesn't feel like eating. It's doubly a concern because her GC-161 metabolism means that she needs to eat a lot.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Colonel O'Neill notices that Terawatt isn't moving like normal, and then she refers to her technical staff by name instead of nickname — so he tasers her. Sure enough, it was an imposter.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Alex is incredibly grossed out when her mother mentions using a diaphragm during sex.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Pyre, a massively powerful pyrokinetic capable of killing Gojira. Diane explicitly refers to her as such at one point.
  • Phlebotinum Bomb: Distrusting the rest of the Collective, Danielle Atron plants GC-161 bombs all over the main base.
  • Pistol-Whipping: This actually makes sense as an attack strategy for Terawatt, who frequently has to pull guns out of soldiers' hands anyway (eg when rescuing Shar from the Shop), and might as well take the chance to knock them down.
  • Police Code for Everything: Paradise Valley PD refers to superpowered incidents as "10-9000". Justified, given they've been dealing with GC metas for years.
  • Powered Armor: The Collective develops a set, only to run into power supply issues. They end up giving it to Danielle, who uses it against Terawatt.
  • Power Incontinence: Several times, as GC-161 powers are often beyond the user's control.
    • Alex started out with many incidents of spontaneously manifesting powers. Her current level of control is a mixture of good luck and years of experience.
    • The Macks and Ray lack proper control of their powers during their Emergency Transformation. George has to grip whatever metal he can find to keep his lightning earthed, and Barbara becomes obsessive and violent.
    • Victor Cready lacks any control over his powers, resulting in him being permanently on fire and stuck in his morph state.
    • Pyre loses control when she takes out The Shop, and boils away a lake before she gets it back under control. She also destroys Alex's pyjamas when she has a nightmare.
    • Alex's friend Marsha is telekinetic, but she doesn't even know she has powers due to her relatively weak powers. She does learn to control it after finding out she has powers.
  • Power Parasite: One of the North Korean supers is this, and steals the powers of both friend and foe. Post battle, the SRI team discusses how he could do that, as even Terawatt doesn't see how "power leach" makes sense as a power.
  • Powers Do the Fighting: Alex and Shar fight exclusively with their powers—Terawatt's MCMAP training is never used, and Shar's kung fu training is for civilian self-defense.
  • Promotion to Parent: Alex after the Macks adopt Shar. As a result, Alex is completely devastated by Shar's death.
  • Psycho Serum: A major side effect of GC-161 is mental instability, though Alex managed to avoid this.
  • Red Baron: Lord Rupert Giles, in his younger years, picked up the nickname 'Ripper', and "not because of a fondness for seamstress work."
  • Retired Badass: Batman's butler Alfred is a former 006 agent. Not only that, but he was retired for being too old (Double-Oh agents are required to retire at 45), not due to injury.
  • The Revenge of the Sequel: The "Return" in the title indicates that Alex Mack is returning for this fanfic sequel to the original, using The X of Y in the process, and that she's returning from the League of Extraordinary Women multiverse team-up.
  • Revealing Cover Up: The Collective uses fog machines to hide their base from being photographed by satellites. However, this just means that there is one tepui which is always covered by clouds, which sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Klar carries a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum as his personal weapon.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Played with.
    • GC-161 pyros lack any protection from their own fire, forcing them to burn themselves whenever they activate their power. However, Shar is immune to her own powers.
    • Tsurara's ice powers work via sucking up all the heat around her. Without a constant supply of heat, she freezes everything around her, becomes painfully cold, and might actually freeze to death.
    • It is eventually established that Alex is immune to eye damage from her searingly bright lightning.
    • Indirectly; Klar has to specifically use the invisibility formula on sheep so that he can make invisible clothing for himself from their wool, so that he doesn't have to keep going around naked when he wants to use his powers.
  • Running Gag:
    • Alex's "Yay, SAT words!" in her internal narrative.
    • Shar keeps asking if she can firebend the bad guys.
    • Louis' and Marsha's dates ending in disaster. This is eventually established to have been a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy caused by Marsha's unknown and uncontrolled telekinetic powers responding to her fears.

  • Secret Identity:
    • Deconstructed. Alex has the advice of a professional super heroine, the support of family and friends, and is backed by a government agency providing super-fast transportation and a Body Double. Despite this, her identity is deduced by more main villains and several minor characters.
    • Alex also has a separate "Annie Farrell" identity, in which she is either Lt. Farrell, Jack's Hyper-Competent Sidekick hacker and adjutant, or just a "not Alex Mack" incognito identity.
  • Secret Identity Change Trick: Alex's powers make this much easier; she can deliberately leave behind her clothing when entering her silver morph, then reconstitute herself inside her Terawatt costume, in about 15 seconds including wig-straightening.
  • Secret Public Identity: Azure Crush, Victor Cready, and Tsurara are all publicly known as metas, due to either their criminal activities or the impossibility of disguise. Crush is permanently blue, and Tsurara requires a constant source of heat to avoid freezing to death.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: After Terawatt remains in her silver morph the entire time she's rescuing Harry and his friends, Hermione realises that she was probably in the country already in her civilian identity for unrelated reasons, and that it would therefore be possible to identify her by checking airport records. After reflecting on how much she owes Terawatt, though, she resolves to tamper with those records and cover Alex's tracks.
  • Seen It All:
    • Alex has fought enough mad science horrors that she casually refers to the silicates—a Nigh-Invulnerable world-ending threat—as "a headache".
    • She also decides that a 150-foot-wide tarantula is smaller and less scary than D'Lazza and Dark Willow.
      And what was wrong with her life that this was only the third scariest thing she’d ever seen?
    • Rabbi Sol has plenty of stories of wedding disasters, and as a result is Crazy-Prepared for anything.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Multiple:
    • The Spencer Mansion has one that automatically activates if all the staff die. Given that they're researching various zombie viruses, this actually makes sense. Surprisingly, it actually works, killing everything on site.
    • The Xymos Nuclear Event is officially this, to cover up Pyre's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Self-Surgery: Played realistically.
    • Hanna attempts this after being shot, but is unable to find the bullet and settles for sewing herself up and injecting penicillin.
    • Samantha Finn treats her own pneumothorax after being shot and left for dead, though she is only able to aspirate the wound while waiting for rescue.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: A deliberate choice to distance "Alex Mack" from "Terawatt". Terawatt wears a padded bra, and 5-inch heels that basically require her to sashay in order to walk in a straight line. Ray is very impressed the first time he sees her in costume.
  • Sexy Whatever Outfit: Alex complains about this around Halloween, noting that "sexy" in a costume name really means "slutty", and taking offense to a Terawatt Cosplay that has a large cutout over the breasts.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Alex has her father make her an GC-161 anti-antidote in case she ever has to fight someone with antidote. She takes it before rescuing her family, knowing that Danielle Atron will have some antidote ready. The anti-antidote makes her incredibly sick, results in minor liver damage, and any further doses could be fatal. She's already immune to the antidote, since her exposure was years ago.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Azure Crush, who spends the vast majority of her time in skimpy clothes and posed nude for Hustler. In fairness, it wasn't purely to show off; Hustler paid her $5 million for it, which was more money than she previously expected to earn in her lifetime. Terawatt doesn't approve, though, and tells the press that she will never do anything similar.
  • Shed Armor, Gain Speed: Justified for Terawatt, who needs to limit her weight in order to have spare telekinesis when flying, and whose silvery morph is more resilient than anything she could wear.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Used proactively by Jo Lupo to prove her loyalty to the Collective, stabbing Riley in the back. Then subverted when it turns out that they planned it that way; she knew he'd survive it due to his Healing Factor, and he gained freedom of movement by being Left for Dead.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Paradise Valley Police Department uses "10-9000" for superpowered threats.
    • Jack's two hackers/IT guys use the screennames captainmal and jackryanrules.
    • The most-used SRI call signs are from My Little Pony, and double as Meaningful Names. Helpfully explained by Alex:
      Alex: I’m Rainbow Dash, the flyer with the powers. Riley’s Applejack, the tough one. Willow’s Twilight Sparkle, who’s the super-brainy one. Hanna’s Spike, who’s a dragon. And he tagged Hermione Granger as Fluttershy.
    • The final battle is one to Where Eagles Dare, both in and out of universe.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • The SRI, at least in the beginning. Despite saving the world from a variety of a monsters, it isn't until the Korean DMZ battle that they come out of the shadows.
    • Pyre is this even more than anyone else. She has only been publicly seen once, during Gojira's rampage, and then is reported as killed in action at Xymos. This despite being the most powerful meta the SRI has ever encountered, who killed Gojira single-handed.
  • Split Personality: There is such a large difference between Alex's shy, slightly insecure self and Terawatt's brave, self-assured personality that at least one person has suggested that Alex has this.
  • Spoiler Title: Chapter 227's title, "Where Raptors Dare", spoils a twist about The Mole.
  • Squashed Flat: Happens to Terawatt several times in her silvery form, such as the time that Azure Crush hammers her into the ground with a car. And Gojira collapses a building on her, leaving her trapped under the rubble in flattened silvery form for half a day.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Pyre is the strongest, most powerful meta in the entire series, and has minor telekinesis, precognition, mind-reading, and mental domination on top of throwing house-size fireballs. This is why she's killed off.
  • Superpower Lottery: The result of getting hit with GC-161, which grants varying powers. Terawatt "won" the "jackpot", getting TK, Morph, and Electrokinesis with excellent levels of control (at least after plenty of practice) and without any serious side effects. Powers gained from GC-161 include:
  • Superpower Russian Roulette: GC-161 powers often come with Power Incontinence, or emotional instability. Victor Cready gains a silvery morph, fire powers, and flight, but cannot switch off his own flames, leaving him in constant pain. And a GC-161 version with a 30% mortality rate is an improvement over the original.
  • Super Speed: Ultraman's main power, he can run at about 280kmh/160mph. He could run faster, but he's currently limited by his shoes catching fire due to friction.
  • Super Zeroes: Exploited when Ray is accidentally exposed to GC-161 and has to Discard and Draw until he gets something manageable. He ends up being able to jump a few inches higher and shave a fraction of a second off his sprint times, which he's pretty happy with since it's inconspicuous.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Lampshaded. While searching the Spencer Mansion, Alex notes that she's finding bazooka ammo in odd places, and wonders why it is there.
    She [Alex] couldn’t figure out what all the bazooka ammo was for, unless Wesker knew she had that guy’s bazooka and was playing some sort of creepy game with her, or leading her into a trap.
  • Take That!: Having fought real vampires, Alex is unimpressed by Anita Blake romancing them, and stops reading the series.
  • Taking You with Me: Tsurara, realizing she cannot live long when she sucks up all the heat around her, attempts this on Gojira. Fortunately, Terawatt manages to talk her down, and Pyre's fireballs warm her, and she realizes that life as a biochemical heat sink is possible.
  • Taught by Television: Or, at least, got the initial idea from television. After watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, Shar asks if she can learn Firebending, and gets Kung Fu lessons. After this, she always refers to her pyrokinesis as "firebending".
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • Alex makes the mistake of giving Shar martial arts advice in front of her boyfriend.
      Alex: When you’re small, like you and me, you have to have really good form before you try anything for real, because big guys have more reach, and more muscle, and more weight, and if they just jump on you it’s not any fun.
      Ray: I’ll remind you that you said that someday.
    • Not long afterward, when proving her identity to a stubborn corporal, she asks what more evidence she could give than flying, and whether she needs to "electrocute your privates?" She meant to refer to the soldiers standing nearby, of course...
  • Theme Naming: The chapters in each story arc tend to be a pun on the arc's theme. There's the "Desert" arc (Desert Flower, Lion of the Desert, etc), the "Residence" arc (dealing with the T-virus from the Resident Evil series, Residence, Residential, etc), the "Silicates" arc (Silicate, Silicosis, Silicide).
  • This Is a Drill: It's not the conventional shape, but a metal ring coated in diamond dust and spun at high speeds with telekinesis makes a very effective cutting tool.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Eliza Thornberry is very much a tomboy, while her sister Debbie is much more ladylike.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Grover Dun, aka Klar. When first introduced he's a scared kid who's stuck invisible. A hundred chapters later, he's a revolver-wielding Badass Bookworm who impresses STARS officer Jill Valentine in combat.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Hanna's lack of fear makes her this, forcing Alex and Jack to keep her from, say, knife-fighting sharks in waist-deep water.
    • During the Chamberlain Incident, the two surviving pranksters try to run Carrie down...after seeing her torch the school and in front of multiple superheroes.
  • Transformation Sequence: Played with. Alex tends to turn into Terawatt by diving into her costume gymbag and switching outfits.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Everyone is required to talk to a therapist regularly, usually via phone for security reasons.
  • There Is a God!: Terawatt tells Shar that, with everything she's seen, there is a higher power out there somewhere
    Charlie: Do you believe in God?
    Alex: Charlie, I’ve been in other dimensions and other universes. I’ve met someone who was in Heaven for a while. I’ve been in a hell dimension and seen a gateway to another one. I’ve fought a hellgoddess and met an Earth goddess. After all that, I think I pretty much have to believe there’s a Higher Power out there.
  • The Talk: Alex gets a particularly graphic version of it from Willow at Comic-Con, and Shar ends up getting both The Talk and The Other Talk at the age of eight (AND A HALF) due to her psychic mind-reading.
  • Tied-Together-Shoelace Trip: Marsha does this to Vince when she and Louis foil the Macks' kidnapping.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Terawatt actually says this as she and Danielle face off in the Final Battle after pulling an Unflinching Walk through a hail of (telekinetically blocked) gunfire. Given Alex's Gosh Dang It to Heck! tendencies, this is basically a Precision F-Strike.
    Alex: Let’s dance… bitch.
  • Threat Backfire: After Alex busts Claire Tobias's attack on a computer conference, Claire tries to theaten her. Alex's response?
    Alex: Get in line. I’m A.L. Mack. I’ve already been targeted twice by Danielle Atron and once by Azure Crush. Someone who’s extra-strong? I’ve seen scarier. In my own high school.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Several.
    • Azure Crush has zero training, but is Nigh-Invulnerable and can lift over 20 tons.
    • Carrie White has no training, but manages to easily keep Action Girl, Jo Lupo, and Ultraman at bay, and even Terawatt is forced to attempt Talking the Monster to Death. Her telekinesis is far too strong for Terawatt to affect her, and she can block lightning with giant chunks of road.
  • The Unmasqued World: Terawatt isn't the first meta. She's just the first to go public. While not stated in Secret Return, it is implied by the various super-soldier and genetic engineering programs, and is explored in various side stories.
  • Up to Eleven: When Shar first escapes from captivity by letting her fire powers run wild, she boils off an entire lake, containing perhaps 20000 cubic feet of water. And bakes the mud underneath. And burns furrows through that mud "like little tornadoes." And that was just one part of her damage radius.
  • Utility Belt: Terawatt gets one partway through the story. While mostly a convenient way to carry more energy bars, it also holds a wire saw and mini circular saw blade, both with diamond dust on the edges.
  • Vigilante Man: When the SRI is called to hunt down a monster in Tromaville, it doesn't take long to realise that the place is thoroughly corrupt, and the "Toxic Avenger" killing some of the ringleaders actually made some sense. Which isn't the same as saying it was the right or best choice. Colonel O'Neill isn't in any hurry to bring him onto the SRI team, despite his Super Strength and Super Toughness, because he's too much of a loose cannon.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React:
    • Played very straight. The villains undertake groundbreaking biological and genetic research, producing effects previously thought impossible, while the heroes put on costumes and stop the latest spectacular creation from eating 90% of the world's population. Superpowered heroes are always either accidental, or the result of villainous experimentation. Even when the heroes have confirmed a reliable technique to give people usable GC-161 superpowers, they only ever use it to stabilise cases of accidental exposure, and they stop as soon as the result is something manageable.
    • Slightly averted at the start of the story, where Alex returns to her world with a plan to get serious with her superhero work. However, that work is all about reacting to superpowered crime.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Willow/Acid Burn, who acts as Alex's Mission Control, with Jack frequently chiming in as well.
  • Walking Spoiler: Shar/Pyre, due to the nature of her death.
  • Walking Swimsuit Scene: Azure Crush spends the entire battle with mutant clams in a bikini.
  • War Is Hell: The constant brutal combat against horrific enemies is not pretty or glamorized, and Terawatt notes that, having experienced war herself, she understands The Red Badge of Courage.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Terawatt is one of the weaker characters power-wise, but more than makes up for it with years of experience, incredible levels of control and zero issues fighting dirty. She can fake having Super Strength by combining punches with telekinetic force, she boosts her airspeed by hitching rides on vehicles, and her brief training from Buffy and Sam gives her ideas about using telekinesis to divert thrown objects and spoil guns' aim. She also makes good use of her environment, such as dousing Victor Cready's flames with a fire hydrant, infiltrating buildings via their air conditioning systems, flooding Maggie Walsh's trap with extra fuel vapour until it's outside the explosive range, and tying one of the silicates to a tree.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Orphans are fatally allergic to GC-161 and instantly dissolve into silvery goo upon exposure.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Nearly everyone involved in the story is either too savvy to ever ask this or learns why you don't say this.
    • Alex learns the hard way not to ask this, and then apologizes to the ceiling:
      Alex: “What else can go wrong today?” And her Terawatt phone went off. Oh crud.
      Alex: I’m really, really sorry I said it, and I’ll never say it again, okay? Don’t make it be something bad!
    • Azure Crush makes a similar error:
      Azure Crush: What can go wrong?
      Didi: Oh come on, Az, even I know not to say that. What happens as soon as the guy says that in a movie?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Carrie White is clearly established as this, as Terawatt and the rest of the SRI recognise that she was driven to her attack from years of bullying and focus on trying to talk her down before Carrie's injuries and various other parties force Terawatt to essentially let Carrie die as she can't stop her from attacking them.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Most of Terawatt's foes qualify, but special mention must go to the black op that hunted down eight-year-old (and a half!) Charlie with grenade launchers and high-caliber rifles.
  • The X of Y: As a fanfic sequel, it's also using The Revenge of the Sequel: The Secret Return of Alex Mack.
  • You Cloned Hitler!: Howard Locke turns out to be one of (several) Hitler clones made after World War 2.
  • Younger than She Looks: Alex deliberately crafts her Terawatt costume to make her look older than she is.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: It is confirmed that the laws of physics are different in the various worlds visited in the series, such as the magically-extended bags Hermione gave her teammates reverting to standard bags and the dragon-hide jackets just becoming an interesting form of leather after just a few days in a different universe, as well as chemicals like GC-161 losing their 'potency' in other worlds.


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