The Secret Return of Alex Mack

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The Secret Return of Alex Mack is a Mega Crossover Fanfic by Diane Castle focusing on the title character of the 1990s Nickelodeon series The Secret World of Alex Mack. It is a sequel to her earlier fic, The League of Extraordinary Women, and is launched by Alex Mack's efforts, once she returns to her own world, to find the local counterparts to her teammates from the previous story, and to establish a genuine superhero identity for herself in order to protect her friends and family while she continues to help people with her powers. Along the way she becomes affiliated with a small, unconventional government organization created to deal with supers, which results in her going from a small-town local hero to a global one, and lets her begin assembling a team of extraordinary individuals -- many super-powered, some not -- around herself.

And it also leads to the discovery of a global conspiracy to kill off 99% of the world's population...

The Secret Return of Alex Mack can be found here. It is the first story in and the original inspiration for The Teraverse, a Shared World writing project, as well as one segment of Castle's larger series, A Brane of Extraordinary Women.

Although an effort has been made to conceal anything that might be too big a spoiler for the overall story, there are still likely to be spoilerish details unhidden in the text below -- consider this fair warning that you might run into them.

Artwork for The Secret Return can be found on the home page of A Brane of Extraordinary Women.

As a Mega Crossover fanfic, The Secret Return of Alex Mack incorporates elements from the following works:

In-Universe works which affect the plot in one way or another:

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • Doctor Who: At one point Alex is watching the show and complaining about how Genre Blind the characters are.
  • Dune
  • Hackers: Willow deliberately lifts her handle as Terawatt's hacking expert -- "Acid Burn" -- from Angelina Jolie's character in this movie. Several characters notice and comment on it.
  • Firefly: Appears to have made it to the air a couple years earlier than in our timeline, as one of the SRI's original pair of hackers goes by "captainmal".
  • The Herculoids: Source of codenames for the India op, after a much-earlier joking threat by Jack to do so.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The first time Alex really comprehends what Willow can do with a computer, and what she might have done to Larry Ellison and Oracle had she wanted to get revenge, she mutters the classic line "Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry" to herself.
  • The Iron Giant: Shar becomes a huge fan and watches it all but daily. And a line from it becomes Foreshadowing of her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The works of Jack Ryan. One of the SRI's original pair of hackers uses the handle "jackryanrules".
  • Kim Possible
  • Leather Goddesses of Phobos: The "adult novelty" store where Barbara Mack bought the first pair of Terawatt's boots for Alex was called this. This one is a hard call, but it seems far more likely that the Infocom game existed in-universe and the shop was named for it, than to extrapolate the shop out of a crossover with a work which was an adult parody of golden-age science fiction.
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
    • During Alex's trip to San Diego Comic-Con, mention is made of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Maybe. Depending on how one works out the timeline for The Teraverse, these may be counterparts to those films made a decade or so earlier than in our timeline.
  • Marvel Universe
    • In particular, Yuki seems to have read enough X-Men to quickly figure out how to make the best (and classic) use of ice powers.
  • Mass Effect: Alex attends a large Mass Effect-themed event at Comic-Con promoting the "next game" in the series.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Much Ado About Nothing (and William Shakespeare in general, as part of Alex's English classes)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Alex and Hanna decide to give Jack the codename "Pinkie Pie". Much later, there is an op where everyone has pony codenames. And some of the names stick around afterwards, thanks to Jack -- like "Princess Celestia" for General Hammond.
  • Naruto: Shar picks up Gratuitous Japanese from a set of subtitled DVDs, as well as a taste for ramen.
  • Pokémon: Alex's family jokingly suggests "Pikachu" as a name for her superhero identity before she settles on "Terawatt". Probably not coincidentally, Alex acquires a Pikachu plushie at Comic-Con, which Shar later appropriates.
  • Sailor Moon
  • Saturday Night Live makes multiple appearances in the story, most notably an episode featuring a sketch that stars Azure Crush and Pamela Anderson as Terawatt.
  • The Shadow: Danielle Atron uses characters from The Shadow as metaphors for the identities of Alex and Terawatt.
  • The Simpsons: Jack O'Neill is a major fan and has appropriated Mr. Burns' Catch Phrase, "Eggggggscellent".
  • Transformers: More code names, plus Jack gets the term "Hate Plague" from it.
Tropes used in The Secret Return of Alex Mack include:


  • Action Girl: Alex, Hanna, Jo, even Shar. Hanna's code name is "Action Girl".
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Averted: Willow's parents are explicitly identified more than once as Ashkenazi Jews, implicitly acknowledging the existence of other Jewish subcultures and genotypes.
  • Alter Kocker: Mina tells a story to Alex and friends which ends up with her grandmother calling her grandfather this.
  • Alternate Universe: Alex's knowledge of certain persons from several other universes prompts and often helps her attempts to make contact with their counterparts in her own universe.
  • Amazon Brigade: Terawatt's superteam, named after the Justice League, in which women outnumber the men at least two to one, depending on the exact deployment. Klar is often The One Guy when they're in the field.
  • American Accents: Hanna is or becomes a master of them, and uses them to disguise her origins.
  • And a Diet Coke: Subverted. Alex needs all the calories she can consume, but despite this she drinks Diet Coke because she likes the taste.
  • Anything That Moves: Azure Crush's friend Didi very cheerfully gives off this vibe, while also appearing to be an Ethical Slut.
  • The Assimilator: The North Korean super (based on DC's Parasite) who can absorb other supers' powers.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: This attitude is genetically programmed into Hanna "Action Girl" Heller. It takes her considerable effort and training to learn how to hold back.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The North Korean super squad includes a 50-foot woman.
    • The 200-foot tarantula Terawatt and the SRI fight in one of their earlier missions -- and its car-sized babies.
    • Gojira.
    • Oversized creatures of one type or another are distressingly common in The Teraverse, and are often the product of a biochemical cocktail called "Deemer's Solution".
  • Avengers Assemble: One of Alex's goals through much of the story is finding and bringing together the native counterparts of the women with whom she worked in another universe during the events of The League of Extraordinary Women. Along the way she ends up with a genuine superteam forming around her.
  • Badass: Hanna is a very classic badass. Alex doesn't quite realize (or believe) it of herself, but she's one, too -- to the point that many people thank that she's the single most powerful and dangerous individual on the planet. (She might not be, but you couldn't tell it from what she's accomplished.)
  • Badass Adorable/Killer Rabbit: Shar, as "Pyre" -- an eight-year-old capable of killing Gojira...
  • Badass and Child Duo: Terawatt and Pyre during the Gojira arc. Played with in that Pyre has had her powers longer and is more dangerous than Terawatt.
  • Badass Bookworm: Dr. Brian Stanley, who amputated his own hand to escape a silicate and then went right back to work on a way to defeat the creatures.
  • Badass Bystanders: The Macks' neighbors, the second time the Collective tries to kidnap them.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The New York City event crashed by Poison Ivy and Bane, at which Action Girl made her first public appearance.
  • Beautiful All Along: Eliza Thornberry, who gets her braces off, her braids brushed out, and sports contacts instead of her glasses after hooking up with the SRI.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted as everyone comes out of combat visibly injured at least once. Even Alex, whose morph makes her nigh invulnerable and prevents Clothing Damage, still comes out of some incidents with burns and bruises:

Sergeant Meadows looked at her and asked, "Is there anywhere on you that isn't bruised?"
[Alex] said, "My hair."

  • Beware the Nice Ones: What the SRI in general think of Alex -- a sweet, innocent kid who you'd think would run home crying if you were mean to her, but who is actually an unstoppable force of nature -- and who doesn't quite realize just how impressive she is.
  • Bi the Way: Willow. And Azure Crush's best friend Didi.
  • Big Eater: Alex, although she does her best to hide it around people who don't know she's Terawatt, and she has far better manners than the usual example of this trope. Because she burns a huge amount of calories even when she's not using her powers, she needs to eat three or more times as much as a normal human.
  • Big Stupid Doodoo Head: "Jerkhead" seems to be about the worst thing Alex is capable of calling someone -- with one notable exception.
  • Blessed with Suck: Klar is permanently invisible, and because of this is blind in the visible spectrum (although he can see in infrared). And until he genetically engineers a sheep which the invisibility formula will affect (from which clothes and ropes of invisible wool and weapons of invisible horn can be made), he must go on ops completely naked and unarmed.
  • Blob Monster: Fought by Terawatt and the SRI in Downington, Pennsylvania.
    • The slime-like green goo which nearly killed everyone on the ISS is also a blob monster, although it is able to form tentacles.
  • Blood Knight: Hanna. She is essentially an apex predator who revels in battle, the more dangerous the better.
  • Bond One-Liner: Hanna starts making these toward the end of the story.
  • Book Dumb: Alex, at least initially. Intimidated by her elder sister Annie's scientific brilliance, Alex slacked off in middle school and early high school. However, inspired by the events of League (and given lots of tips on how to manage schoolwork better by Willow Rosenberg, Hermione Granger and Sam Carter) she began taking her studies far more seriously, with outstanding results by the middle of the story.
  • Born Unlucky: Louis seems to suffer from this, even when his girlfriend Marsha's accidental TK use is taken into account.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Alex and the other SRI supers tend to actually train with each other in combat and other skills.
  • Boy Band: In-Universe example: towards the end of the story, Alex discovers to her complete mortification that a boy band called "The Click Five" has a top-40 song about Terawatt.
  • Breeding Cult: The Collective, at its core.
  • Buffy-Speak: The majority of the story is told from Alex's point of view, and the narration, while not first-person, is rendered in a voice that is clearly intended to reflect her personality and thoughts. As such, it's presented in a very low-key Buffy-Speak, in which the "insufficiently educated" aspect is slowly subverted through the course of the story as Alex takes her studies increasingly seriously (see "Yay, SAT vocabulary!" under Running Gags below).
    • The few passages told from the point of view of Buffy Summers are a bit more literally rendered in "Buffy speak".
    • Hanna eventually develops a kind of neo-"Valley Girl" manner of speaking -- partly from Willow, partly from Alex, and partly from other sources -- when she's not on-duty and is "just being a teenaged girl". Subverted in that it's more a deliberate choice made in order to better fit in with her contemporaries than a natural evolution of her manner of speaking.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Jack O'Neill, as far as the rest of the United States military establishment is concerned.
  • Busman's Holiday: Alex comes to realize that trouble seems to lurk, waiting for her anywhere she goes for any reason. Lampshaded toward the end of the story:

Jack grumbled, “You’d think you could go one stinking vacation without finding trouble.”
“Yes sir,” Alex agreed unhappily.

  • The Cameo: Several of the sources in the list above contribute characters who just make a couple small but plot-relevant appearances.
    • World-class cosplayer (and voice actress) Jessica Nigri appears as an unnamed blonde Alex spots at Comic-Con (semi)dressed as Pikachu.
  • The Cape: Terawatt. She's the archetype of the Cape for her world.
  • Captain Ersatz: Local versions of various DCU characters begin appearing, most notably Bruce "Batman" Paine.
    • Riley Finn is (according to Word of God and numerous clever clues scattered through the text) the local analogue to Clark Kent. (Terawatt eventually becomes the "godlike global savior" archetype in the public eye, which means she's the analogue to Superman proper.)
    • And there's evidence that the local version of Selina "Catwoman" Kyle is more than just the trophy wife of a Greek billionaire.
    • The North Korean super-squad are based on various members of the Legion of Doom.
    • Thanks to one incident toward the end involving metal bracers, Willow Rosenberg seems to partake of at least a bit of Wonder Woman.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Alex wonders if Eliza Thornberry has problems eating meat because of this.
  • Catch Phrase: "Ya, right, you betcha" for Jack.
    • Alex enlists Willow's (and Buffy Summers', and an entire team of people's) help to actually replace a cultural catch phrase she doesn't like ("tera-" as a general intensifier prefix, for good or bad things equally) with one she does like ("tera", meaning "really really good").
    • Not long after, there's a sketch on Saturday Night Live about people selecting catch phrases.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Numerous and well-executed, often taking the form of seemingly-irrelevant Funny Background Events or inconsequential parts of someone's Backstory when they first appear.
    • One good example is a telekinetic combat move suggested to Alex by Jack O'Neill, the idea of which Squicks her at the time. Fifty or so chapters later, it's exactly what she needs to save herself in a tight situation -- and later becomes her tactic of choice for taking down an enemy without killing them.
    • Another is the series of slapstick sitcom mishaps that occur to Alex's friend Louis and his girlfriend Marsha.
    • Yet another is the fact that Jack O'Neill was a foster child.
    • The number of people in the Macks' neighborhood who have become shut-ins or suffered some kind of disability over the previous year or three.
  • Child Soldiers: What Jack O'Neill can't help but see Alex and the other super-powered teens in his command as, and feels guilty about it. It comes to a head when Shar manages to get herself onto the battlefield against Gojira; it doesn't matter that she's the one who actually took down the foe, Jack goes ballistic about an eight-year-old in combat and she gets banned from even getting near to any future SRI operations.
  • Choke Holds: Alex's signature move in the back half of the story is to telekinetically clamp her opponent's carotid artery shut, resulting in near-instant unconsciousness for most targets. (Sadly, it didn't work on Gojira)
  • Clark Kenting: Alex makes an extensive effort to visually differentiate herself from Terawatt. Terawatt's masked costume incorporates platform boots, a padded bra and a shoulder-length light-blonde wig along with subtle makeup (actually coloration on a saran-wrap-thin sheet of plastic that adheres to her face, for near-instant application) to appear older and much taller, and she deepens her voice and speaks in a manner she sometimes thinks of as pompous. Meanwhile, in her "civilian" identity, she's gradually dyed her hair several shades darker than her natural blonde and cut it pixie-style, and habitually wears flats to appear much shorter than Terawatt. Terawatt also tends to hover anywhere from a couple inches to a foot and a half off the ground at all times just to reinforce the illusion of height; most observers think she's in the vicinity of six feet tall or more and built like Pamela Anderson.
    • Played with a bit, also, in that Terawatt occupies a role in her world much like Superman's in the DCU -- and her secret identity is a journalist. (Well, journalism student.)
    • Averted several times by persons (most notably Sheila Rosenberg and Margaret Walsh) who put together a lot of little details -- her chin, her gestures, a few other things -- and figure out her identity. Hermione Granger similarly manages to connect Terawatt and Alex's "Annie Farrell" identity.
  • Clothing Damage: Averted by Terawatt, whose "plasmoid" form protects her clothing as well as her body.
    • Azure Crush gets her boots eaten by a beach monster.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Most of Azure Crush/Jo Baker's dialogue.
    • Jo Lupo has a fair share as well.
  • Code Name: Alex chooses "Terawatt" after much discussion, and is the first public superhero to use a codename (at least until the other writers of The Teraverse began filling in the world history), and inspires the use of code names by the supers who come after her.
  • The Commandments: Alex's college mentor, Frank West, ticks off a list of rules for being a photojournalist at the start of her first assignment with him. Some are numbered, some aren't; they include things like "don't drive a flashy car that might get stolen or noticed, especially if you are trying to follow people", "never be a dick to people who are going to be holding your life in your hands", and "never pick a fight unless you know there's no way you can lose".
  • The Conspiracy: The Collective. From the internal politics we occasionally see, they act something like a cross between a Mega Corp and a Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy.
  • Continuation Fic: While Alex Mack's participation in The League of Extraordinary Women actually takes place before this story it really doesn't pick up and carry on from the end of The Secret World of Alex Mack except in the sense that it directly follows the end of the series. The Secret Return, however, is an actual continuation of the ideas, themes and characters from the show.
  • Cool Big Sis: Debbie Thornberry, to her little sister Eliza, despite trying to also radiate the standard late-teen ennui.
  • Cool Plane: The SR-71 Blackbirds the SRI uses to get Terawatt where she needs to be. They're modified to let her ooze (in morph form) through a special port in the canopy to board or debark from the planes in flight.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Danielle Atron, who is so overwhelmed by her own greed and arrogance that she pretty much fails to be an effective Big Bad -- all the flaws and inanities she displays in The Secret World of Alex Mack are here, and in some cases magnified by her circumstances and her decisions.
  • Cosplay: Alex and Willow both spend all four days of Comic-Con cosplaying as various heroines. (In Alex's case, when she's not being Terawatt.) There are also about a hundred Terawatt cosplayers, not to mention various and sundry other costumes Alex spies during her time there (see The Cameo, above, for one).
  • The Cracker: P$ychon4ut, aka William Robert Halsey.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Buffy Summers. See Curb Stomp Battle below
  • Curb Stomp Battle: In the grand tradition of his source material, Gojia basically stomps all opposition, including the Russian Army and Terawatt -- until it runs afoul of Shar as "Pyre".
    • Buffy Summers inflicts a complete and utter curb-stomp on the team of Collective agents who make the mistake of following her onto an ice rink.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack O'Neill.
  • Death Ray: The maser weapon Sam Carter improvises out of spare parts and Terawatt's lightning power. Originally hacked together in order to prevent a collision between the ISS and a very large dead weather satellite, it turns out to be a literal death ray that is the only thing which seems to kill the green alien goo threatening the station (and Earth).
  • Death Trap: Maggie Walsh sets up one for Terawatt in the form of a bogus mobile MRI trailer during the Ogden's Marsh incident.
  • Deep-Cover Agent: Claire Tobias, NID agent.
  • Defictionalization: In-Universe: Shar combines her fire powers with training in Shaolin Kung Fu in order to learn how to do "firebending". Oddly, it seems to work. And after this point, she only ever refers to her powers as "firebending".
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: During the raid on the Collective tepui, Riley allows Jo to stab him -- apparently killing him -- so she can establish her bonafides as a Double Agent; both are relying on his Healing Factor to make the normally deadly wound survivable. It works, twice over -- Jo gets inside the Collective, and Riley's "corpse" is ignored during the attack until he starts attacking from the inside.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Alex hurtles headlong toward this after Shar's Heroic Sacrifice. It takes the Collective kidnapping Jack and Willow from their honeymoon to pull her back.
  • Determinator/Plucky Girl: Alex. No matter how tired, scared, hungry or hurt she is, she just does not stop doing what is right and necessary.
    • Shar, for all that she's still in grade school, is turning out to be the same.
  • Devolution Device: Deemer's Solution has this effect, or one that looks a lot like it, on human recipients.
  • Disability Immunity: Hanna's genetically-engineered inability to feel or even understand fear comes allows her to ignore the nightmare-projection attacks of The Midwich Cuckoos.
  • Discard and Draw: Because its effects vary even between doses applied to the same person, it's possible for someone to alternate taking GC-161 and its antidote until they receive a powerset they want to keep.
    • Danielle Atron does this to make herself an (alleged) equal to Terawatt.
    • Victor Cready and Ray both do this as well to get better control of their own powers.
  • Disney Death/No One Could Survive That: Riley, after Jo Lupo "fatally" stabbed him during the assault on the Collective tepui. They were both counting on his Healing Factor.
  • Disney Princess: On a trip to Disneyland, Alex finds (authorized) Terawatt merchandise being sold alongside the various Princesses, and objects (privately) that she's not a Disney princess.
  • The Ditz: Azure Crush's Muggle best friend Didi isn't exactly the sharpest spoon in the drawer, but she can be surprisingly Genre Savvy.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Revealed to have happened at least a couple times to Willow as a child -- most notably an incident where she injured her father by greeting him too enthusiastically -- but carefully hidden from her by her parents.
  • Drink Order: Alex prefers Diet Coke to almost anything. Given the absolutely huge amount of food she has to eat to fuel her powers, almost everyone in the know about her finds this both amusing and ironic.
  • The Duke of Wellington: The ancestor of Ron Wellesley, whose father is the current Duke.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Shar's Heroic Sacrifice after she's infected by the nanobots. She essentially turns herself into a thermonuclear bomb to halt the impending Grey Goo Disaster.
  • Dynamic Entry: Hanna parachutes through a skylight to enter the battle against Bane and Poison Ivy.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Averted in that the SRI operates out of several perfectly above-ground military bases and office blocks.
    • Played for Laughs with the backdrop Alex literally cut-and-pastes together for use in videoconferencing, which shows a huge Batcave-like base that most of the SRI knows doesn't really exist.
    • Played painfully straight by various bad-guy headquarters, most especially the complexes under the Spencer mansion and the Umbrella building during the Resident Evil segment. Lampshaded and mocked by both O'Neill and Alex.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Alex's friend Robyn gets one when drunk, and even the process of removing it turns out to be humiliating.
  • Enemy Without/Evil Twin/Jekyll and Hyde: The canonical effect of "GC-Divide", which Alex uses to defeat Danielle Atron during their final confrontation.
    • Inverted by "Dani" Atron, the "good twin" created by Alex's action, who not only helped defeat her twin, but felt remorse and a need to atone for all her crimes.
  • Energy Absorption/Feed It with Fire: Tsurara, who has "ice powers" because she's constantly absorbing all the heat out of everything around her.
  • Escort Mission: Klar gripes to himself about hating escort missions when his assignment to get Jill Valentine out of the Spencer Mansion during the Resident Evil arc runs into a few snags.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Collective in general, but Margaret Walsh and Howard Locke in particular.


  • Fan Convention: Early in the story, Willow and Alex attend San Diego Comic-Con, where they both cosplay most of weekend, and Alex makes an appearance as Terawatt to judge a Terawatt costume contest -- and stop an armored car robbery.
  • Fangirl: Many examples, particularly aimed at Terawatt: most notably Ayananta, the Indian super, who is wearing a Terawatt T-shirt when first seen; and Annie's major professor.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Collective's attitude to "homo inferior" -- basically anyone not a super of some variety, no matter how minor.
    • Flung right back by those who want to tar all "Orphans" as automatically evil.
  • A Father to His Men: Jack O'Neill respects and protects the people under his command from anyone outside the SRI.
  • Feed the Mole: One of Jack O'Neill's plans for dealing with known Collective agents in the SRI. Played with at the climax of the story, when things become so confused the reader can't be sure who's trustworthy and who's not.
  • Festering Fungus: The green slime which threatened the International Space Station.
  • Filk Song: Several are provided as part of Castle's end-of-chapter author's notes.
  • Forced Meme: Alex enlists Willow's (and Buffy Summers', and an entire team of people's) help to replace a growing meme she doesn't like ("tera-" as a general intensifier prefix, for good or bad things equally) with one she does like ("tera", meaning "really really good"). Unlike most examples of this trope, the effort succeeds to the extent that most people seem to have entirely forgotten the earlier usage.
  • Foreshadowing: "You stay. I go. No following."
    • There are dozens of other examples as well, such as the repeated mentions that the black-hat hacker known as "P$ychon4ut" is safely behind bars. Or that a character was adopted.
  • Forgotten Trope: In-Universe -- Alex discovers all the now-obsolete meanings for words in Shakespeare that turn Much Ado About Nothing from a boring, hard-to-understand play into one of the dirtiest things she's ever read, in her opinion.
  • Freak Lab Accident: In the classic style, these are the cause of maybe half the "good guy" supers in the story, particularly Sako "Tsusara" Yuki and Andrew "Ultraman" Clements.
  • Free-Range Children: Eliza Thornberry; upon hearing about her, Willow Rosenberg muses that the elder Thornberrys make her usually-absent parents look like micromanagers.
  • Funny Background Event: Also Funny Off-Screen Events -- almost all are Chekhov's Guns waiting to be fired.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Sam Carter, who kitbashes a Death Ray out of some spare parts and a handy superheroine.
  • Genre Blindness, In-Universe, Alex complains about genre-blind characters on Doctor Who
  • Genre Savvy: Jack O'Neill, often hilariously so. Alex, too, to a lesser degree at first, but she rapidly catches up with him.

Didi said, "Oh come on, Az, even I know not to say that. What happens as soon as the guy says that in a movie?"

  • Geo Effects: Before she was an actress, Buffy Summers was a champion ice-skater. And when a Collective hit team goes after her she lures them into an ice rink, where she turns her ice-dancing skills into an absolutely deadly combat form and kills them all in a matter of minutes.
  • Get a Room!: In the aftermath of the climactic battle at the Collective's base at the tepui, Alex considers saying this to a snuggling Jack and Willow, but decides not to when she realizes they probably would, leaving the cleanup to everyone else.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In-Universe example -- pretty much any conversation that involves both Jack and Willow includes something along these lines from either or both of them.
  • Girl Posse: Kelly and her gang at Alex's high school.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Crossed several times in the course of the story, starting with the Chinese obliterating three of their own cities with nuclear weapons to stop the spread of a Collective bioweapon, to the actual appearance of Gojira.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Neither Terawatt nor the New York Bat kill people. That doesn't mean someone going up against either of them won't end up in a bloody heap when they're done.
    • For an early teen, Shaman can be just as brutal when directing her animal armies.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: While other characters can and do swear colorfully, Alex continues to use only terms suitable to her original audience on Nickelodeon -- with one notable exception.
    • Also, Jack tries to tone his language down to this level around Shar.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The SRI (Superpowers Research Initiative), which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Government Conspiracy: Several, for good, bad and in between:
    • The NID and the Shop on the bad side.
    • The SRI's efforts to preserve Alex's (and everyone else's) secret ID on the good side.
    • The SRI's cover-up of the circumstances of Shar's death is something of a grey area, as it's not just to protect her identity after death, but also to forestall fear and accusations about supers who can turn themselves into nuclear bombs.
  • Grappling Hook Pistol: Action Girl has two, courtesy of the Batman. And she loves them.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In-universe, Shar picks up some via a set of subtitled Naruto DVDs.
  • Grey Goo: The last gasp of the remaining members of the American bloc of the Collective is an attempt at a nanobot-based plague which goes "worst case" -- and is only stopped by Shar sacrificing herself.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Less obvious than most, and all over the story. The "Orphans", Hanna, and the man-apes in the Congo, just to name a few.
    • Hanna is half-human and half... not.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Willow's parents, effectively, although it was in part motivated by their knowledge that she was exceptionally mature and capable even at an early age.
    • The elder Thornberrys.
  • Has Two Mommies: Shar's off-screen friend Toni.
  • Hate Plague: The prion created by The Collective, deployed in Beirut, Laozhang and Ogden's Marsh. Inspired by the Trope Namer, Transformers Generation 1, Jack O'Neill uses the trope name to refer to it (which the media then pick up).
  • Healing Factor: Riley's already-impressive healing rate, due to his Orphan physiology, gets supercharged in the wake of exposure to some biochemicals during an operation.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Shaman's ability to speak to animals. At first glance it may not seem all that impressive, but either she's very persuasive, or it has some degree of Command to it, because she can get animals to fight for her -- like when she shows up for the final battle with an animal army numbering in the hundreds. Batgirl thinks she's the scariest person around.
  • Heel Face Turn: Azure Crush. Begins when she helps Terawatt fight the mutated giant clams in Santa Monica, seems to hit a critical mass when she realizes she's begun to act like the Alpha Bitches she hated in high school now that she's beautiful.
    • Victor Cready hates his powers and actively defies Danielle Atron to give himself up, so that he can get CG-161 antidote.
    • "Dani" Atron, the "Jekyll" side of a Jekyll and Hyde Enemy Without split Danielle Atron underwent thanks to a "GC"-class chemical Alex doused her with during their final confrontation.
  • Heroic BSOD: Alex after Shar's Heroic Sacrifice, to the point that she wants to give up being Terawatt.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Partially possessed by intelligent nanobots, Shar uses her powers to set off a small fusion explosion in order to stop a Grey Goo disaster.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Two In-Universe examples are mentioned in the epilogue: the times Alex got pregnant, the SRI gave the cover story that Terawatt had gone on an extended mission that took her away from Earth for several months.
  • Hive Mind: The Midwich Cuckoos.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: One major reason the Collective has not already taken over the world is that they deliberately engineered several generations of their "superior" humans to be highly aggressive and competitive, then put them into leadership positions. Consequently, the Collective became a collection of splinter groups with shared goals whose leaders waste a lot of their time on internal politicking and one-upmanship, instead of acting as a single unified power bloc.
    • To a lesser degree, the idea to "seed" the Orphans and their predecessors into the population at large rather than raise them within the Collective results in at least a third or so of them growing up with values and ties that motivate them to fight the Collective rather than support it.
  • Home Guard: The National Guard when they show up in the story. Whether they're simply providing security or are actually engaging in combat, they're shown to be competent and skilled, albeit slightly Trigger Happy -- which isn't always a bad thing given what they face.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Chapter 155 ends with Willow and Alex making "cat" puns about Selina Kyle.
  • I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: Discussed and invoked by Alex regarding some of the female cosplayers at Comic-Con.
    • Appears to be a way of life for Azure Crush's friend Didi.
  • An Ice Person: Yuki Sato. And an unnamed North Korean super.
  • Identity Impersonator: Jo Lupo, for Terawatt, on several occasions.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapters in each arc of the story have names that refer to or pun on the subject of the arc. For instance, the Resident Evil subplot spans chapters entitled "Residence", "Residents", "Residential", and "Resident".
  • Immodest Orgasm: Alex has trouble sleeping when Jack and Willow share the room next door.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: Built into Alex's Terawatt uniform as part of the disguise. Apparently blatant enough that Saturday Night Live didn't think it was exaggerating things too much to put Pamela Anderson into a Terawatt costume.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Alex's Terawatt uniform is designed in such a way that the only way it can be put it on is if you can turn into a liquid form and flow into it. Alex lampshades this in-universe when indicating to a crowd of onlookers that one way to identify a Terawatt imposter is that duplicate costumes have a zipper in the back, and the real thing doesn't.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:

"I'm Buffy... the Empire Slayer."

  • Insistent Terminology: Jack insists on prepending "Tera-" to almost everything in Alex's life, including the "Tera-mom" and the "Tera-dad". He takes a perverse joy in Alex's annoyance with it, and eventually it starts spreading to other members of the SRI.
  • Insult Backfire:

Jack pretended to sniff like he was crying. “You’ve become sneaky and underhanded, just like me! I’m so proud!”
Willow fussed, “Oh stop it. And nobody’s as bad about this stuff as you are.”
Jack beamed, “Thanks!”

  • Intrepid Reporter: Alex settles on this as a career, and makes a good start on it during the course of the story.
    • Her mentor Frank West is one already.
  • Invisibility: Klar's only real power.
  • Invisible Streaker: Klar. Eventually he manages to reproduce his invisibility in several sheep, allowing him to make him invisible wool clothing (and booties).
  • It's Raining Men: The SRI frequently deploys its personnel -- Hanna in particular -- into combat by parachute.
    • Terawatt takes this Up to Eleven by dropping from jets at 600MPH and 30,000 feet -- without a parachute.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Happens off-screen when the Chinese nuke several of their cities to prevent the spread of a Collective bioweapon.


  • Lady Swears-A-Lot: Azure Crush.
  • Large Ham: Trish's friend "Nature" (real name: Wendy) is described this way in-universe.
  • Latex Perfection: Invoked, briefly, when Willow confirms that Riley and his men are who they say they are when they first meet Terawatt -- she offers "Mission Impossible-level disguises" as a reason they might not be.
  • Leet Lingo: P$ychon4ut and S4l1x480.
  • MacGyvering: Samantha Carter kitbashes a maser weapon using only found hardware on the International Space Station. Made a bit easier in that Alex was the power source, but even so, not exactly a simple task.
  • Male Gaze: Despite explicitly designing her superhero identity with a much larger bust than she possesses, Alex still complains about the attention men pay to it.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: Charlie O'Neill encounters this trope when his girlfriend Hanna "Action Girl" Heller involuntarily injures his hand with her thighs when he manually stimulates her to orgasm.
    • Hearing about this, Alex wonders how other superstrong people, specifically Azure Crush, manage to have sex with their partners without hurting them.
    • We also hear that Jack regularly gets bruises from sex with Willow.
  • Manchurian Agent: Riley, Lupo and Willow all fear this about themselves when they learn of their origins; Willow explicitly namechecks The Manchurian Candidate.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover
  • Master of Illusion: The supervillain who tried to rob Comic-Con could project full-sensory illusions, although with a limited range.
  • May-December Romance: Jack O'Neill and Willow Rosenberg.
  • Me's a Crowd: Played with. When a supervillain tries to rob Comic-Con, Terawatt is aided in catching him by just about every Terawatt cosplayer attending the convention that day.
  • The Merch: Thanks for her friend Louis and his father, there is a company (Driscoll Enterprises) which creates and sells licensed Terawatt merchandise. Even so, the existence or Terawatt merch makes Alex a little uncomfortable -- especially when she encounters another superheroine wearing a Terawatt T-shirt.
  • Meta Origin: Hypothesized at one point by Alex's father, who suspects the existence of a master "can acquire powers" gene that not everyone possesses, along with other genes that influence the powers a person might gain; if they have the master gene and are exposed to the right kind of biochemical or other agent, they gain powers.
    • On a different level, a large number of superhumans and monsters directly owe their existence to Dr. Margaret Walsh and/or her research.
  • Metaphorgotten: From chapter 127:

And speaking of boys, she really didn’t want to hear about Azure Crush and her naked blue body, but the December issue of a certain filthy magazine was already out, and selling like hotcakes, or maybe really filthy hotcakes with naughty pictures drawn on the tops.

  • Mind Over Matter: One of Alex's powers is telekinesis, which she uses in increasingly inventive ways. It later turns out that most if not all of her powers are actually TK, operating on different scales.
    • Louis' girlfriend Marsha develops TK after exposure to biochemical-laden mud.
    • "Solstice"/Ayananta from India.
    • Carriette White.
    • In fact, many supers turn out to have some variety of TK behind their apparent powers.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: GC-161's power-granting properties were initially an unexpected side-effect of what was intended to be a simple diet pill. Unlike many other fictional examples, these properties were perfectly open to further research and refinement, which both Danielle Atron and George Mack do during the course of the story.
  • The Mole: Both subverted and played straight.
  • Moment Killer: Willow very effectively keeps Alex and Ray from losing their virginities to each other by being entirely too helpful and encouraging.
  • Mood Whiplash: The aftermath of the Carrie White incident is the first instance of this we see in the story, but is nothing compared to what happens after Shar makes a Heroic Sacrifice to stop a Grey Goo disaster.
  • Most Common Superpower: Deliberately invoked in the design of the Terawatt costume, which dramatically exaggerates Alex's naturally slender and modestly-endowed figure in order to make a visible difference in their appearances.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: Possessed by most if not all Breslynn Orphans, as well as their predecessors from earlier generations of Collective efforts.
  • Mundane Utility: Alex figures out how to charge rechargeable batteries with her lightning, and uses this to keep her cameras, cell phones and other gadgets going at all times. She also uses her TK to clean the house, do dishes, and to pick locks, as well as stabilize her camera when taking photographs.
    • Tsurara, who sucks the heat out of everything around her, gets a job as the cooling system for a nuclear power plant.
    • Shar uses her her pyrokinesis to cook food.
    • Hanna uses her Super Senses to make sure her boyfriend is keeping up on his personal hygiene.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: "Dani" Atron, after splitting from -- and defeating -- the original Danielle Atron.
  • Nanomachines: The focus of, and last gasp project of, the American bloc of the Collective. See Grey Goo above.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Alex does this to her own recollections of other people's speech, usually in the form of "X said bleepity-bleep, and they didn't actually say 'bleep'."
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Collective.
  • The Nicknamer: Jack O'Neill.
  • Nigh Invulnerability:
    • Any meta with a "plasmoid" form. Terawatt in particular has survived just about everything up to and including operating in space, with basically minor damage at worst.
    • The "siicates" are invulnerable to just about everything except certain radioactive elements.
    • William Birkin during the Resident Evil arc survives almost everything thrown at him once he turns into a monster.
  • Noodle Incident: We get a lot of these in regards to Jack and Willow's relationship. For example:

Jack casually said, “Hey, a bet’s a bet. Remember what you did to win our little bet last week? First one to the restaurant?”
Willow insisted, “Hey! I paid for the dry cleaning on your uniform afterward. And the steam cleaning for your car interior. And I bought a whole new bottle of olive oil.”

  • Nuclear Option: The Chinese nuke three of their own cities to stop the spread of a Collective bioweapon.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Appears to be Buffy Summers' primary skill for coping with life.
    • Jack O'Neill also uses it to a surprising degree to keep his opposition off-balance.
    • Following Jack's model, Alex discovers it's a very useful tactic when fishing for information from non-SRI military folks.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Invoked at least twice, particularly Jack referencing a fire-using super as "Flamey the Wonder Ouchy 2: Electric Boogaloo".
  • Oh Crap: Danielle Atron gets two "Oh crap" moments in her final confrontation with Terawatt -- first when Terawatt walks completely untouched through the first salvo of weaponsfire which Atron expected to utterly annihilate her, and then when Terawatt manages to hit her with a GC compound that will make her physically split into two individuals -- while she's wearing a suit of power armor.
  • Older Than They Look: Terawatt in the final epilogue, when we learn that Alex's powers apparently include arrested aging, and that 71 years later she still appears to be in her mid-twenties.
  • Omnicidal Maniacs: The Collective is an entire organization of these, planning to kill off 99% of the world's population. However, at least some of them are doing so to prevent what they see as an inevitable Malthusian catastrophe. After which they will rule what is left.
  • One Steve Limit: When the Macks take in Charlene "Charlie" McGee, they start calling her "Shar"; within the story this is part of hiding her identity from Shop agents who might still be hunting her, but on the meta level it's probably as much because there was already a character named "Charlie" in play.
    • Averted with the probably-inevitable collision between Dr. Samantha Carter and Dr. Samantha Finn.
    • Also averted with Jo Lupo and Jo "Azure Crush" Baker.
  • One-Woman Army: Terawatt, more because of her Determinator qualities than because of sheer power.
  • Open-Minded Parents: The Macks, who learned of Alex's powers in the finale of The Secret World of Alex Mack, and have been nothing but supportive of her decision to be a public superhero upon her return from the events in The League of Extraordinary Women.


  • People Jars: Alex finds a room full of them under the Spencer Mansion during the Resident Evil arc -- only they don't precisely have people in them.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Shar is described as being a living WMD. In a note at the end of that chapter, the author explicitly references this trope as a "correction".
  • Pixie cut: One of the first changes Alex makes to her "everyday" appearance to differentiate her from Terawatt is to cut her shoulder-length locks back to a simple pixie cut.
  • Playing with Fire: Shar's primary powerset, along a smattering of classic psychic powers.
  • Pop Culture Isolation: Hanna, initially. Jack and his son among others work assiduously to change this.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Jack O'Neill. To an absolutely ridiculous degree.
    • As her isolation from any human culture at all is rectified, Hanna begins to become one of these as well.
  • Power Incontinence: This is a frequent side-effect of gaining superpowers with GC-161.
    • For the longest time, Marsha doesn't know she has TK, and is causing the series of amusing accidents afflicting herself and her boyfriend.
    • Tsurara's powers are always on, always absorbing heat from everything around her -- including people.
  • Precision F-Strike/This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Alex, who normally can't bring herself to call anyone, no matter how evil, anything harsher than "jerkhead" faces Danielle Atron at the climax of the story and says, "Let's dance... bitch."
  • Promotion to Parent: Jo Lupo -- among others -- observes that Alex's relationship to Shar is more maternal than like the "older cousin" the cover story makes her out to be. And when planning for college makes Alex realize that she and Shar are going to grow apart...

Alex smiled and kissed her on the top of the head, because Shar was already too busy for Alex a lot of the time, and as Shar got older, and discovered boys, and found new stuff, she’d get more and more busy. Alex suddenly had to swallow a lump in her throat and blink away some tears. She needed to talk to her mom and see if her mom felt like that all the time these days.

When Shar makes her Heroic Sacrifice to stop a Grey Goo disaster, it utterly devastates Alex for this reason.
  • Properly Paranoid: As befits what amounts to a special forces team, the members of the SRI are this from the moment they first appear. Eventually, Alex picks up this trait as well:

Alex studied the mess. "And maybe we stay on duty again tonight, so a giant Birkin-y cement monster doesn't get a chance to slorp its way through downtown Davenport."
Riley gave her a lopsided smile. "Tera, have I ever told you that your pessimism is a very reassuring trait?"

  • Puberty Superpower: Alex tells her parents that she doesn't plan on getting pregnant, even after marriage, until someone can guarantee this trope for her children -- as opposed to, say, with powers at two. Or in the womb.
  • Reality Ensues: Terawatt's first appearance set off all manner of political and social furors, and some of the first "fan" websites about her are basically porn.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Jack, the elder Macks, a few others. Outside of the villains and politicians, it's actually hard to find an authority figure who isn't reasonable.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Studiously averted with everyone in the story who is supposed to know how to use firearms; everyone realistically adheres to Gun Safety protocols.
  • Rob Liefeld: Alex explicitly namechecks him when rejecting the idea of adding a leg-mounted pouch to the Terawatt costume.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Some of the first "fan" websites about Terawatt are basically porn sites.
  • Running Gag: "Yay, SAT vocabulary!" and variations thereon.
    • Alex's eating habits, and the reactions of other people to them.
    • Willow remotely changing ring tones on people's phones.
    • "Can I firebend them?"
    • Shar overhearing private conversations from two floors away, through closed doors. And commenting loudly.
  • Secret Identity:
    • After returning from her extradimensional adventure in The League of Extraordinary Women, Alex designs a superhero identity for herself. The story is basically about what happens once she begins using it in public. The story also deconstructs the trope by showing how difficult it is to maintain a comic-book-style secret identity even with a government agency and a genius hacker helping cover for her -- and even then at least two people still put together all the details available to the public and work out who she is.
      • In addition to Terawatt, Alex has several other identities, including Lt. Annie Farrell, Jack's quietly competent hacker/adjutant, and a teenaged version of Annie Farrell. Hermione Granger deduces that "Annie" is actually Terawatt.
    • Shar chooses a hero identity -- "Pyre" -- and makes her own costume in imitation of Alex's.
    • Hanna ends up wearing a mask and her hair differently when on operations to protect her privacy.
    • Eliza Thornberry takes "Shaman" as a codename; her sister Debbie designs a costume for her.
    • Andrew Clements decides on "Ultraman".
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism/Load-Bearing Boss: Wesker in the Spencer Mansion during the Resident Evil arc.
  • Shooting Superman: Seen especially in the Congo op, where the warlord and his soldiers persist in emptying their guns at Terawatt even though it's obvious that nothing is hitting or harming her. Ends with the warlord trying futilely to hit her with his now-empty submachine gun.
    • Taken up to 11 in Terawatt's final confrontation with Danielle Atron.
  • Shout-Out: Almost every second line uttered by Jack O'Neill is a pop culture reference, ranging from 2001: A Space Odyssey to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • Show Within a Show: In addition to the "real" works that also exist in the Teraverse listed above, a children's program called The Fuzzy Family gets several mentions.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Outside of the SRI, her team and her family, almost no one really knows the limits of Terawatt's powers. For instance, few people know that the SRI uses the last two operational SR-71 "Blackbird" planes to get her where she's needed fast and assume she can fly at supersonic speeds.
  • Snark Knight: Jack.
  • Spit Trail Kiss: Between Louis and Marsha after the first time he sees her in her Mack-made Terawatt costume.
  • Spock Speak: Hanna's default manner of speaking.
  • Spy From Weights and Measures: The SRI officially appears on DHS organizational charts as "Hazardous Waste Assessment, Amelioration and Abatement".
  • Spy School: They're entirely off-screen, but the superspy-training facilities that some countries have are mentioned, including Harworts (the non-magical counterpart to Hogwarts native to Alex's world) and the United States' Culper Academy.
  • Square-Cube Law: Just how the various monsters and the North Koreans' giant woman get around this is discussed In-Universe; in some cases there's at least a possible explanation (the giant tarantula), but for others even the scientists essentially throw up their hands and say "we have no idea".
  • Static Stun Gun: Alex uses her lightning powers to knock out targets on several occasions, and at least twice uses a fake "prop" stungun to hide the fact that she did so while in her civilian identity.
  • "Staying Alive" Dance Pose: Alex's dad does this at one point, to the amusement of most of the rest of the family.
  • Stealth Hi Bye: Eliza Thornberry does this to Alex a couple times.
  • Step Three: Profit: The ill-conceived "Kids of the Breslynn Orphanage" email campaign orchestrated by the India bloc of the Collective. It was apparently intended to garner more Orphans for their side, but basically assumed just informing them of their origins would be enough to convince them all to join the conspiracy. Instead of generating a wave of new members for the India bloc, it instead drew a great deal of attention to the Collective and its plans.
  • Super Senses: Hanna.
  • Super Serum/Psycho Serum: GC-161, depending on the genetic structure of the person it's administered to.
  • Super Soldier: Hanna "Action Girl" Heller, who was genetically engineered to be one.
    • To a degree the Breslynn Orphans were also designed in part for this purpose.
  • Super Speed: One of Andrew "Ultraman" Clements' core powers.
  • Superhero
  • Superhero Paradox: Inverted. Almost all the villainous individuals and organizations already existed before the start of the story, and most of the superheroes become such to oppose them. In particular, Alex chooses to become a superheroine mainly because there was already a supervillain out there -- Danielle Atron -- who had attacked her and her family, and who was manufacturing other supervillains to do her dirty work.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: Lampshaded by Alex when, while carrying a bazooka and working her way through the Spencer Mansion during the Resident Evil arc, she keeps finding caches of bazooka ammunition in unexpected but advantageous places. She can't figure out why, unless the villain she's pursuing is doing it to mess with her head or lead her into a trap.
  • Take Our Word for It: We never do find out exactly what is in the "Kids of the Breslynn Orphanage" email which made Riley, Lupo and Willow react so strongly.
  • Take Over the World: One of the goals of the Collective -- once they clear out a pesky few billion people here and there.
  • Take That: Alex snaps off one at the X-Men version of the SR-71 "Blackbird" jet when she sees the real thing is nowhere nearly as spacious as the fictional version.
  • Telepathy: Possibly Shar's strongest power after her pyrokinesis, and about as well controlled.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: After Shar's Heroic Sacrifice, Alex shuts down completely and decides to stop being Terawatt. It takes the Collective kidnapping Jack and Willow from their honeymoon, and the subsequent discovery of their central base to snap her out of it.
  • There Is a God: Alex's experiences in this story and in League have convinced her that a "big G" God exists.

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.

  • Those Wacky Nazis: The ultimate genesis of the Collective is a World War II-vintage effort to clone Hitler. Along the way they discarded a lot of the Fascist baggage but kept the megalomania, and substituted a Fantastic Racism for their original variety.
  • Thigh-High Boots: Shiny white PVC knee boots with platform soles and five-inch heels help Alex maintain the illusion that Terawatt is much taller than she is.
  • This Is Reality: Occasionally invoked or said word-for-word to underline the difference between comic books and Alex's real life.
  • Throw-Away Guns: The Congo warlord who tried to throw his submachine gun at Terawatt after emptying its magazine.
  • Title Drop: In chapter 212 -- just not for this story:

So Alex ... explained all about the secret world of Alex Mack. It took a while.

  • To the Batpole: Inverted: Alex's father installs a pipe from the Macks' garage into the town storm drain system so that Alex can leave the house in "puddle" form and reappear as Terawatt pretty much anywhere in town.
    • Later, the SRI do much the same for the apartment they arrange for her to live in while attending college in Washington, DC.
    • And of course, there's the Teraverse's version of the Trope Namer.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Alex, continuously, without ever really noticing, even when others point it out.
  • Totally Radical: Alex's father, possibly deliberately invoking this trope, comments on Alex's (successful) attempt to influence developing slang by asking her about her efforts to "pimp rad lingo". Alex complains he's out of date.
  • Training from Hell: Alex puts herself through this, slowly ramping up the difficulty as her physical and psychic limits grow. For example, by the middle of the story she's doing 100 upside-down sit-ups every morning by holding herself to a wall with her TK. Plus martial arts training from another super. And her academic schedule could be seen as just another form of this.
  • Transformation Sequence: Played with. Alex basically dives in her liquid form into a gym bag holding her costume, and pretty much just flows into it, then comes back out and returns to human shape.
    • However, people watching find the change to be startling and the difference in personality and presence between bubbly, slightly insecure Alex and the stolidly confident Terawatt to be profound and even a little unsettling, to the point that some suggest it's actually a case of Multiple Personalities. Then again, those whom Alex trusts enough to relax around while Terawatt often see that bubbly personality emerge from behind the hero persona. Which can be just as and maybe a bit more disconcerting.
  • Transgender: Danny, a nine year old boy numbered among Shar's friends, is first hinted at, and then clearly revealed later to be transgender; surprisingly, his/her parents recognize and accept (if not quite fully understand) that they have "a little girl who'll need medical assistance".
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Occasionally demonstrated by Shar, either because of her traumatic experiences with the Shop, or because as a poorly-controlled telepath she can't help but pick up adult things from adult minds.
  • Twin Tails: Hanna wears a clip-on pair as part of her disguise during the Korean op.
  • Two Words: Obvious Trope: Alex says "Two words: Jail bait" to a sleazy reporter who hits on her at Comic-Con.


  • Unskilled but Strong: Azure Crush, initially. Eventually she gets some training from The Bat, but even then she is still little more than a super-strong brawler.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Several instances, often disposed of in a single sentence along the lines of "she told them what she had planned, and they all agreed".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Name: "Hazardous Waste Assessment, Amelioration and Abatement" (aka HWAAA), is the official name under which the SRI exists in government organizational charts.
  • Utility Belt: Alex gets one as a gift to add to her Terawatt costume after her first couple ops with the SRI, mainly to hold energy bars, but also a couple of useful toys.
  • The Verse: The Teraverse, also called the "Alex-verse" by the authors contributing to it.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Ray. In introducing him to Shar, Alex mentions how they met at a young age. They're dating throughout the course of the story. And the epilogues make it clear that they got married.
  • The Virus: The green alien lifeform found on a comet by Sam Carter and a shuttle crew takes over its hosts and controls them for a while before completely consuming them.
  • Weak but Skilled: Alex. She's far from the strongest TK in the world -- Carrie White and Samantha Carter both exceed her by at least an order of magnitude or two, for example -- but she essentially grew up with TK, and accordingly has far finer and more instinctive control of it than practically anyone else.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Terawatt needs food badly. Even when not using using her powers Alex burns, as she puts it, "stupid amounts of calories". And using them? Makes her absolutely starving in almost no time flat. When the India op had her going for seven hours straight with no breaks and no meals, she ended up so hungry that she was stumbling and almost incoherent when it was over. (But even so she still managed to keep a nuclear missile from obliterating Moscow by disassembling it in flight.) One of the biggest reasons she wears a Utility Belt is to have someplace to keep energy bars on her while in uniform.
    • Breslynn Orphans are killed by GC-161; just splashing them with it is enough.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Azure Crush says this at the end of chapter 117, prompting her Genre Savvy best friend to call her on it.
    • Alex says "What else can go wrong?" in regards to a bad day at the end of chapter 84, and her "business" phone immediately rings. She looks skyward and promises never to say it again.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Despite Alex's repeated claims that Hermione is important and necessary to her plans, she all but vanishes from the story as it rolls to its climax, and doesn't even get a mention in the Where Are They Now? Epilogue. (Don't worry, she gets lots of appearances in subsequent stories written for The Teraverse, including a prominent role in one of Diane Castle's sequels to Secret Return.)
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Two, one for most everyone other than Terawatt, and one for her.
  • Where Does She Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: A couple from her parents, a lot from the government, and once in a while something from the Batman.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Invoked word-for-word by Alex as the kind of person she doesn't want to turn into as a result of her experiences with the SRI.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: While it doesn't seem to be inherent to GC-161, not everyone who is subject to it can cope with the changes it causes. For example, Alex's parents made use of it in order to escape from a kidnapping, and both suffered problems with their mental balance in short order.
  • World of Action Girls: While overall the gender ratio of supers in the Teraverse seems to be close to 1:1, the core super cast of the story is predominantly female.
  • X-Ray Sparks: The giant octopus-like monster in the Umbrella headquarters building when Terawatt hits it with lighting, only it has no skeleton to outline inside when it lights up.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Willow's mother uses so much Yiddish in her brief appearance in chapter 138 that the author has to provide a glossary at the end. There's even more surrounding Jack and Willow's wedding, but it's not footnoted.
  • Younger Than She Looks: Alex as Terawatt; she's deliberately designed both the uniform and the persona to give the impression that Terawatt's in her middle twenties. When people first learn her secret identity, one of the most common reactions is to comment on how young Alex seems in comparison to Terawatt. For instance, when Julie "Batgirl" Madison first meets Alex out of the Terawatt uniform, she says, "My God you’re young!"
    • Inverted into Older Than They Look in the final epilogue, when we learn that Alex's powers apparently include arrested aging, and that 71 years later she still looks to be in her mid-twenties.
    • Played with for laughs when a disguised Shar (all of eight and three-quarters years old at the time) is identified as a "54-year-old midget" to someone who doesn't have clearance to know her real identity.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Marsha is told this at a convention by two different cosplayers while wearing a Mack-made Terawatt costume which only differs from the "real thing" by having a disguised zipper.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Umbrella's plan for North America is called this word-for-word several times.