|Tales to Astonish 4
Author: D PM
AntMan face to face with Egghead! Will he survive?Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Words: 6,770 - Favs: 1 - Published: 08-15-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3107102
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Ant-Man and the Wasp
A Marvelous Tale Told in the Might Marvel Manner!
Betrayed by the Ants!
Within the hustle and bustle of our nation's capitol, a meeting was taking place. Deep with the safe confines of the Pentagon, the United States Atomic Energy Commission was holding an emergency meeting. The subject of their being there stood before them defiantly.
Doctor Elihas Starr, or Egghead behind his back due to his head's conical shape and lack of hair, smugly stared back at the neat row of scientists before him. "I take it you have come to a decision?"
The man in the center spoke first as he eyed him with contempt. "Dr. Starr, it is the decision of this committee that you be relieved of your duties and that your security status be revoked."
If Dr. Starr was in any way troubled or surprised by the man's words, he chose not to show it. "I see, and your reasons?"
"Dr. Starr, you were brought onto this board due to your exemplary record, but your tenure here has been nothing short of a disaster."
Egghead stifled a yawn as the man continued to talk. The director grew more agitated as he spoke. "Slipshod reports, mislaid files, and above all your attitude! Dr. Starr, I find your mere presence here an annoyance, and I see nothing in your file or in your attitude that would justify keeping you on staff."
"Then am I allowed to go?"
The leader of the board lost all composure at the man's flippant remark. "Get out, out, out!" Flinging the various files and scattering papers, the man resorted to tugging at his graying hair in frustration as Egghead strolled out of the office flanked by two armed guards.
The board members would later swear that they heard Egghead mutter under his breath. "Fools, you don't know what real power is."
December 6, 1962
In the suburbs of Center City, an evil wind blew through the air. Past garish decorations and banners proclaiming sales, Hank Pym, otherwise known as Ant-Man, was at the moment facing his most ruthless foes: distraction. The distraction in question was a welcome one in the form of his wife, Maria, but a distraction all the same. "Honey" She purred as she draped her arms over his shoulders and whispered into his ear, "Shouldn't we be getting ready to go to the party?"
Hank forced himself out of his work-induced trance and looked at his wife. "Hmm?" Before him lay the scattered blueprints and various notes from the late Dr. Marsh. "Oh, right, the company party. Sorry dear, I got caught up in this design. Take a look at this." he lifted a nearby blueprint up. The paper showed an intricate design of could have passed for a human head. Maria ran her fingers over it and gave a low whistle in appreciation.
"Amazing, it looks like an artificial brain."
"It is" Hank beamed as he placed the design back down and stood up from his workbench. "I can't believe what Marsh was working on, it's so beyond our current scope its like something out of Asimov."
Maria kissed him on the nose. "Then why not take it to Mr. van Dyne? I'm sure he'd appreciate it. Isn't he always going on about science fiction?"
"Yeah, but if hand these over to him he'll just forget about it a month later." Walking away from his work area, Hank rubbed his hand over the stubble that covered his chin. "Alright, I suppose I could mention it to him at the party, how much time do we have?"
"About an hour, if we hurry."
Hank smiled as he entered the bedroom and snagged his suit out of the closet "Great, that gives us plenty of time to get ready."
The sound of Maria's irritated voice made him turn around. "What do you mean we?" she asked as Hank finally noticed the slinky evening gown his wife was wearing.
Hank conceded defeat. "Alright, that gives me plenty of time to get ready then."
"I'll be in the car dear." As his wife left, Hank caught a glimpse of the familiar red and blue suit hanging up in the very back of the closet. "Sorry buddy, but this is one time I don't think shrinking is going to help." Closing the door, he started to make himself presentable to his fellow employees. "Yup, tonight this looks like a job for Hank Pym, action scientist." he joked as tried to recall how to tie a bowtie.
At the van Dyne estate, the annual holiday party was currently underway when two late arrivals entered through the front door. Across town, another meeting was being held; only this one was less than jovial. In one of the many warehouses that dotted the wharf, a gaggle of men were discussing a recent problem that was affecting their business. Their business, however, was not the usual nine to five office drudgery, and their problem was not the usual perils that most businessmen face.
Sitting at the head of the table was a short man with oily black hair. Boss Moran had been running the rackets since the War, and he learned the trade from the best. Seated by his side was an almost comically tall man with a fat neck and who was currently wringing his hands. Around them sat other gentlemen, some of whom did not fit that title. The headman grunted and stared at the other men. "Alright you mugs, business is down. I know that, this rock here" he jerked his thumb at the larger man, "knows it, and all of you know it. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"
Legs Mackie, one of the older members of the gang, carefully raised his hand. "Boss, maybe we need to get some outside help, like maybe from the Chicago families?"
The Boss slammed the table in frustration. "And let them know how weak we are? Not a chance. Once word gets around that our trucks and shakedowns are being stopped cold by some freak called 'Ant-Man', then every two-bit hood on the west coast is going to gunning for our territories, and we ain't got the manpower to hold off everyone."
The clearing of a throat made everyone pause. A portly man, dressed entirely in white, stepped in through a side door. He carried an attaché case under his arm. Several men drew various firearms, but the stranger ignored them and stepped closer to the Boss. "Boss Moran?" the stranger asked.
"Yeah, what's it to you egghead?" Moran fired back as he stared at the stranger's shaven and pointed head. "And how did you find us?"
"I believe I have the solution to your recent troubles. I believe the solution lies, not in brawn, but in brains. Using mine for example, I deduced where you hold your meetings."
Waving his guards to stand down, Moran leaned back in his chair. "You have my attention."
The man smiled as he placed his case down upon the table and opened it. Inside were plans and bits of machinery. "Gentlemen, before you is the key to victory, the death of Ant-Man."
"Looks like a bunch of doodles and junk."
"Indeed Mr. Moran, but I can assure you that with my intellect Ant-Man's days are soon drawing to a close. I will perform this deed for you"
Moran interrupted. "For a fee, right? How much?"
"Ten thousand dollars up front, and another ten once the deadly task has been accomplished."
The amount of money sparked off arguments between the mobsters. Moran silenced the room with a glare. He spoke after a lengthy silence. "That's a lot of dough."
"Indeed, but think of your profits once you are free of this troublesome burden. Twenty thousand dollars in comparison to your weekly profits returning to their full strength is a pittance, is it not?"
Moran silently regarded the man. "Alright, it's a deal. You can come back here at the end of the week and pickup your first payment. I take it you'll have the plan that's going to knock our socks off by then?"
"Indeed. Gentlemen, I suggest you mark this day well, for it shall go down in history as the day Ant-Man's defeat was instigated by" the man in white paused for second as he tried to come up with a suitable moniker, "none other than Egghead."
Meanwhile, back at the van Dyne estate, Hank Pym was currently staring into the punch bowl and counting down the seconds until he could leave. Maria was off mingling with the other employee's wives. He was startled out of his trance with a hearty backslap. "Cheer up my boy!" Vernon van Dyne offered as he none too gently pushed Hank away from the table. "You've outdone yourself this year, so why are you doing a wallflower act at my party?"
Hank grinned sheepishly. "Sorry about that sir, guess I'm not much for social graces."
The older man laughed. "Ha! My boy, I should introduce you to my daughter Janet. She knows a thing or two about high society." Slowly pushing him away from the crowded party, van Dyne leaned in close and whispered. "Just between you and me though, I can't stand meeting with all these pencil pushers. Say, have I told you about the next breakthrough I'm working on?"
Hank stared to speak, but was cut off midway. "No sir, I don't believe"
"It's like a telescope, but instead of seeing through space, you can through see through everything."
Vernon van Dyne was already in his own world as he spoke. "Just came to me in a dream really. Going to put all those other companies in their place. Well anyway, back to playing host. Tell me how that shrink potion you're working on turns out."
And while still talking, Vernon van Dyne exited back into the party, leaving Hank standing by himself. "Maybe it was a good thing I didn't give him those designs. He'd probably turn the whole thing into a walking radio." His thoughts drifted to other things as he mingled with the other guests.
There are many ways to solve a problem. Dr. Starr (or rather Egghead) knew the best way, both in dealing with the problem of Ant-Man and impressing the gangsters, was to use the most direct and simple way available. Simply shooting the man was not an option, nor was blackmail or anything else that could work on a personal level.
Before him lay every available piece of data that he could find about Ant-Man and ants. Newspaper clippings, scientific journals, and even some copies of security camera footage gave him a great deal of information but sadly very little usable data. Scribbling his notes down, he began to talk to himself as he wrote. "Alright, one, subject is capable of shrinking." Running his fingers over a set of chemical journals, he paused in his note taking before taking a different path. "One A, the process of shrinking a human was first written about by Doctor Henry Pym, and then again several months latter by Doctor Jerry Morgan. Both were chemists working independently of each other, and both were unsuccessful in mass marketing their respective formulas. One B, subject may have ties to one of the men. Dr. Pym is presently living within Center City and working for the van Dyne Corporation. Dr. Morgan was last reported as living in Albany, NY. Two, subject may very be unconnected with either man, and instead discovered how to make the process of shrinking organic tissue viable on his own."
Standing up, he moved over to a blackboard and stared to craft various plots. "Since nothing is known about the subject, planning around subject's self would futile. Perhaps Ant-Man is simply Ant-Man. What is known about the subject are the methods used-ants."
The drawings on the blackboard started to take shape as Egghead started to speak and draw faster. "Yes, ants! Without their aid, the subject is simply a man and a man can be killed. Perhaps a method could be devised to usurp the control" he stopped as he erased a large portion of the blackboard. "No, not until I discover how he controls the ants himself. He might very have trained them to spy on criminal suspects" he made a separate note before returning to the blackboard, "and it would stand to reason that he know if someone made a move against them, however, it may be possible to disrupt his control, if only momentarily."
Looking at the flowing lines and seemingly random babble etched in chalk, he stepped back and rubbed his chin. "Hmm, so then the ants must be a part of the equation, but not the main part. The subject fancies himself a hero, and mostly targets buildings prone to crime" he circled the words "banks" and "jewelry stores", "and that are also accessible to ants and with capabilities of becoming makeshift holding cells."
Walking back over to the table, he picked up a day old newspaper and brought it back with him to the chalkboard. "The Wentworth Diamond is scheduled to be on display at the city museum this weekend. A foolhardy thief would find himself being trapped inside the building if the security system were to be tripped." Glancing down at the various papers, Egghead smiled. "The perfect bait."
Hank stifled a yawn as he flopped down in his easy chair. "I had a wonderful time tonight dear," Maria said from the hallway bathroom as he heard the sounds of water running. "Aren't you glad you went?"
Hank absently spoke as he picked up the day's newspaper and flipped through it. "Pleased as punch." After mindlessly scanning the headlines, he dropped the paper and went into the bedroom. While he heard his wife talking as she bathed, his mind was on the closet.
Opening the door, he stared at the red and blue costume. "We actually had a good time tonight. Crime's the lowest its' been in years. So why am I keeping this silly thing around?" He took the suit and the helmet out and laid them down on the bed. "I've done a lot with these powers, but is that what I'm supposed to be doing with my life? Putting a gaudy suit and tackling bad guys?" Looking back into the closet, he spotted Maria's similar 'Wasp' costume staring back at him. "And what about Maria? If I got hurt, no, I won't even think about that."
Picking up the suit and helmet, he stood silently as he tried to come up with a plan. "Maria is so much more used to this type of thing than me, but I can't let her go out there and risk her life. She seemed to enjoy herself tonight, maybe she'll consider quitting, or at least"
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard the sound of the shower stopping. "Hank darling," the sounds of wet feet on carpet followed the voice as Maria entered the bedroom and saw her husband standing there holding a familiar costume, "oh, I didn't realize you were busy."
The sight of his wife wearing only a towel pushed the thoughts of Ant-Man far from his mind. "I wasn't doing anything important darling." Tossing the suit away, but making sure to carefully place the helmet down, Hank loosened his tie.
Maria raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure?"
"Nothing that can't wait until the morning."
Egghead smiled contently at the large pile of money before him. The gruff voice of Moran brought him back to the present. "Alright cue ball quit eyeballing the dough and tell us what you came up with."
"It's simple really. Am I correct in believing that you gentlemen are aware of the Wentworth Diamond?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"Then you must be aware of its location as this Friday. My proposal is that several of your men are to break into the City Museum and steal it."
Moran was less than pleased. "That's your big plan? I could have had Rocky come up with something better!"
Egghead was nonplused at the outburst. "It is simple, I admit, but isn't the direct approach the most logical? Given Ant-Man's habit of protecting buildings that can be used to his advantage, plus the presence of a valuable gemstone, it does stand to reason that the man will at least try to protect the item. Your men will break into the museum. I will ensure that Ant-Man will know of the act, and when he comes to stop your men, I will ensure that he is captured."
"Oh yeah, and just how are you going to do that?"
He chuckled. "I fear that shall remain my little secret." Scooping the money into his open case, he stood up. "Fear not gentlemen, after this weekend the only ants you'll have to worry about will be the ones at picnics."
As soon as he made his exit, Moran shot a look to his underlings. "Alright, I say we give him one chance. He screws this up." He pointed to several menacing looking men "and I want you boys to show him how we handle know it alls, understand?"
The next morning, while Hank was back at work, Maria found herself still in bed and staring at her costume. "I avenged my father, but there is still so much evil out in the world. I know Hank's heart isn't in this, but I just can't sit by and do nothing."
Getting up, she flung the costume over the back of a chair. "I thought I could escape the violence, but I guess I was wrong. I have the power to do right, and I won't ask Hank to risk his life anymore. From now on, the Wasp is going fly solo."
As she moved through the house, thoughts of the day's worth of cleaning were brushed aside when she spotted the headlines on the morning's paper. "Hmm, a diamond? Maybe this could be my big chance." She folded the paper up and started to plan her big move…
Hank sighed as he pulled into the garage. He softly muttered as he slipped his shoes off and entered the house. "Another day another dollar."
Putting his briefcase down by the door, he noticed how dark it was in the house. "Maria?" There was no answer. Moving as silently as he could, he stepped into the kitchen and grabbed a knife. "Maria, honey, are you there?"
He pressed himself up against the wall and held the knife in front of him. Tiptoeing down the hall, the sound of something breaking in the other room made him forget about stealth and concentrate on action. Charging down the hall, he kicked down the door and readied himself for combat.
What he saw made him drop the knife. Before him lay the scattered remains of his wife's clothes. The lamp on the nightstand was on the floor, casting weird shadows across the room. Seeing a note folded up near the window seal, he quickly snatched the piece of paper up and looked at it. "You blasted fool!" he cursed as he crumpled the note up.
Later that same evening
Maria quietly slipped into the dark house. For a normal sized person, this might have been tricky, but given that she was barely an eighth of an inch tall, she found it fairly easy to slip under the door and creep past the shoulder high carpet stands until she neared the bedroom.
Reaching into her belt, she pulled out the proper pill to return her to her correct size and swallowed it. She felt a little light headed as the room suddenly shrank around her. As she pulled her mask off, she was blinded as the lights in the room suddenly came on.
Hank was sitting in a chair near the light switch. His shirt was rumpled and his eyes were bloodshot. "Enjoying yourself?"
"Hank, darling, I can explain"
He jumped to his feet. His voice was shaky, but there was no anger in it, only disappointment. "Oh, you mean the note? 'Out for a walk, don't wait up', that one? Maria, I thought someone had broken in, I thought you were in danger."
She waved away his fears. "And what should I have said: 'Dinner in the fridge, investigating spy ring, don't wait up'?"
"It would have been the truth at least."
She sighed as she sat down on the bed. "This is what I am used to darling. I was fighting for my life when I was teenager. Tell me, were you making explosives in the basement when you were a toddler?"
Hank rubbed the bridge of his nose. "No, but blast it Maria, I thought you wanted a normal life. Haven't I given that to you?"
She smiled sadly. "Yes you have, but fighting against oppression is in my blood Hank, and I can't simply ignore it. With this power, the balance of the free world could shift too wildly if it were to fall into the wrong hands. I'm sorry Hank, but with my knowledge and skills I can't simply stand by and play housewife while people are in danger. Especially you."
Hank looked at Maria. His face grew pale. "Me? What are you talking about?"
"I used my father's helmet to monitor the ants, and to see through their eyes. I found a message for Ant-Man. Just for Ant-Man, I should add."
Hank felt his palms grow sweaty. "A message? From who, what did it say?"
"It said: 'Ant-Man, I will steal the Wentworth Diamond Saturday night at midnight. I challenge you to stop me.' Whoever left it wrote it in some kind of invisible ink near several large anthills. The ink sank into the dirt and formed the letters, but it was invisible to the human eye. "
Hank rubbed his brow. "Great. So far all that blasted formula has done has made me a walking target. If I say I failed then I'll look like a fool, but I can't keep this up."
"You think it's a trap?"
"Without a doubt. It's probably some two-bit hood with a chemistry set who wants to make a name for himself."
"So what are we going to do?"
Hank stared at his wife. "We are not going to do anything." Before she could complain, he held up his hand. "Look, it's only a rock. This sounds like a personal challenge. If we don't show up, maybe this guy will get bored and go home."
"Or maybe he'll do something worse."
Hank walked over to the window and stared out into the dark suburbs. "Alright, I'll go, but as Ant-Man. If Hank Pym were to show up people might start suspect something." Picking up his red and blue suit, he held it out before him. "Maria, I think it's time for Ant-Man to retire."
Her reaction was expected. "What? How can you say that after all the good we've done?"
"Because I'm scientist, not some long john wearing acrobat. Look, I'll be the first to admit we've done some great things in this town, but I belong in a lab. Not out there fighting for my life night after night."
Before Maria could protest, he held up his hand. "I know what you're going to say Maria, but how about a compromise? I stay here and be Hank Pym, boring chemist and ant researcher, and you can protect the people."
Maria, tears welling up in her eyes, threw her arms around her husband. "Oh Hank, that's a wonderful idea."
Further planning would have to be made, but for the moment Hank and Maria had it all figured out. Putting everything back, the two decided that a more thought out plan would be in order first thing tomorrow morning. As they settled back into domestic haze, Hank felt strangely relieved yet fearful. "This is going to be Ant-Man's last adventure, and perhaps the beginning of the Wasp. I know Maria can handle herself, but maybe I was too quick to retire. If this is going to be Ant-Man's last ride, I think it would be better with a little help."
Egghead beamed as he looked at the assembled thugs and mobsters. Moran looked up at him from the far end of the table. "Alright mack, we're here, but why did you call this meeting?"
"Simple my dear fellow. Since you have paid me to exterminate your little pest problem, I think it would be wise if a few of your men were accompany me."
Moran was less than enthused. "Hold it, I paid you king's ransom to do the job, but now you're saying you can't do it?"
"Not at all my good sir. Ant-Man will be exactly where I predict, but a few of your men shall tip the odds in my favor. I am sorry I called this meeting, but I just perfected something that will ensure victory."
As he spoke, he removed a large helmet from a nearby crate. The appearance of several large wires indicated that the helmet was connected to something inside the crate. Moran spoke up. "And what on Earth is it?"
Egghead's smile grew wider. "This is the key to victory of which I spoke. Inside this box gentlemen is the tool to end the meddlesome Ant-Man once and for all."
Moran was less than enthused. "Ok smart guy, what's it do?"
Egghead wagged his finger at the gangster. "In layman's terms, it shall reduce Ant-Man to a mere man. Send at least four of your best men to the City Museum no later than 11:30 PM. I shall be waiting there."
The days passed by as expected. The hours of planning and preparation seemed to speed by in a blur as Hank slipped on his costume. Standing in front of the mirror was Maria, a slinky black evening gown hugging her body in just the right way. "Remember the plan?" he as asked as he put his helmet on and swallowed a pill.
Maria simply nodded in agreement as her husband shrank down to insect size. Carefully cupping her hands, she held them out as her now diminutive husband climbed on. Gently placing him inside her purse, she went outside towards the waiting cab.
The cab ride over to the museum was uneventful. She would be arriving late, but she wasn't there for the festivities. Mingling in with the crowd, she discreetly made her way around the building, keeping an eye on all the possible ways to set up a trap. Making her way to the washroom, she sat down her purse. She busied herself by turning on the facet and making sure her back was to the door as Ant-Man climbed out of her purse and made his way towards the window. She offered a prayer as she saw him slip through the air conditioning vent. "Good luck darling."
The exhibition ended at eleven, but there were still a few stragglers left in the main hall as the night watchmen moved to make their rounds. The watchmen in the basement, however, were not the same ones that had clocked in several hours ago. Egghead, still dressed in his white suit, smiled broadly as three guards approached him. The nearest one spoke as the other two drew their weapons. "Alright, we took care of the guards, but why didn't you let us cut the alarm system?"
Egghead's smile never wavered as he removed a large helmet from a nearby create and slipped it over his baldhead. The helmet was connected to a large metallic vest, which he quickly put on. "Elementary gentlemen. For you see, in a few scant seconds I am going to go upstairs and trip the alarm."
The thugs were not particularly happy to hear about this new development in the plan. All three of them cried out in unison. "What?"
Egghead walked up to the main floor carrying several small parcels under his arm. "Believe me gentlemen, this shall mark the end of Ant-Man. Give me twenty minutes, and then you can have the diamond and your pick of the museum's treasures."
Ant-Man crept along the windowsill as he stared at the massive diamond. Checking his watch by the moonlight, he saw the hands point towards 12 as he heard something clanking down the hall towards the exhibit. Standing tall, he saw a man's outline in the doorway.
He heard the man speak out loud to himself as he heard something shuffling on the floor. "I guess that cowardly little man showed his true colors after all!"
Figuring that was as good of a cue as any, Ant-Man straightened up. "That's what you think!"
The man threw up his hands. His voice quivered as he spoke. "Oh no, Ant-Man? I give up!"
Sensing something funny in the man's voice, Ant-Man popped a pill in his mouth and leapt from the sill. He reached his full height as he landed, but the second his boots hit the floor he realized he had been tricked. He was blinded as the hall's main lights flared to life.
The figure before him was a portly man dressed entirely in a white. A large vest made from some kind of metal stretched against his torso while a helmet not unlike his own covered the man's head and face. The man bowed mockingly. "Ant-Man, it does me much pleasure to introduce myself as the man who shortly will end your life. You may call me Egghead, and in the event you have failed to notice it, you are presently my prisoner."
True enough, Ant-Man glimpsed down at his feet and mentally cursed. The floor tile he was standing on was coated in some form of glue. He tried to jerk his feet free, but found himself held fast.
Egghead was obviously enjoying his foe's predicament. "I wouldn't bother trying to escape. That adhesive could hold an elephant to a steel girder, so I rather doubt you could do much to it." Seeing Ant-Man's hands near his shiny helmet, Egghead chuckled. "Ah, the infamous helmet I have heard so much about. Yes, I do believe that is how you make the ants do your bidding, unless of course you are hiding a pair of antenna under that metal dome. Please, summon forth your six legged minions."
Hank was staring to panic. "This guy is good. That gizmo of his must be a counter of some sort. I bet if I tried to summon any ants, he'd either cancel out my orders or even turn them against me. I can't risk that, but then I dare not act."
Putting on a brave face, Ant-Man folded his arms. "So you're in charge now? Listen buddy, I don't take order from anyone, especially someone that looks that silly."
The humor and color drained from Egghead's face. His jowls shook in rage as he sputtered at the trapped hero. "You, you dare mock me? I am the greatest scientist this world has ever known!" As he shouted, armed men dressed in guard uniforms entered the hall. Hank's relief was short lived as one of the men drew his gun and aimed it directly at him.
"What are you doing? You caught the guy, why isn't he dead?"
Egghead responded by slapped the guard's hand like an annoyed teacher. "No you fool, you can't just kill him! He mocked me, and I am going to see to it that he recognizes my genius before he dies!"
Hank smiled inwardly at this new development. "Then one of you had better go and get some snacks because it will be a cold day in blazes before I say something that stupid."
Egghead tore the helmet off his head and marched over to the captive Ant-Man. "Did you design that ridiculous headgear yourself? I doubt that, take a look at this beauty and see a real genius in action!"
Hank gingerly took the helmet and examined it. "I was right, this guy is a genius. The design isn't as streamlined as mine, but I'm sure with better materials he could probably whip up something that could make my stuff look like Crackerjack prizes." To Egghead himself, he casually tossed it back and snorted. "Eh, I've seen better."
Egghead's calm humor vanished as he stepped back. "You liar! This is the superior design, and I am the superior to you! Admit it, say it now!"
"Sorry, but my mother taught me to never tell a lie."
While his ploy was working on the rapidly loosing his cool scientist, the three other men were clearly not affected. "Look, we paid you to deliver this bum to us, now are you going to be a problem or what?"
As Egghead shouted and ranted, Hank noticed a strange sight out of the corner of his eye. His face betrayed no emotion, but inwardly he was overjoyed as he spied a line of ants crawling along the base of the wall. A long thin line of black ants crept silently along the wall, with several more lines of the insects blocking the entrance to the main hall. A thin line of the creatures was scurrying up the wall towards the light switch. A small red and black dot crawled up the ants and stopped short of the switch. Hank's brow grew damp as he imagined the tiny figure gesturing to him. "I got to keep that nut from turning his helmet on, least it disrupts Maria's control."
Taking a chance, Hank egged Egghead more. "Come one, you said you were a smart guy, right? You're telling me you're going to take that kind of abuse from some trade school dropout?"
Egghead snarled at both the guard and Ant-Man. "Quiet! This is my chance, my chance to prove my genius! If you simply shoot him, all of my work will have been wasted!"
The other two thugs were less than sympathetic. "Cry me a river why don't you" the closest one sniggered as he joined their comrade in keeping a loaded weapon trained on Ant-Man's vitals.
"Yeah, the boss paid good money to see this bum caught, now why don't you butt out and let us do our jobs?"
Egghead seethed in rage as the three guards started to laugh at him. Gripping his helmet so hard his knuckles were almost as white as his suit, he lashed out and brought the device down upon the hand of the nearest guard just as the lights went out. Confusion reigned as Hank felt a pair of hands grip his and the familiar voice of his wife whisper in his ear. "Shrink darling, hurry!"
Popping one of the proper pills, Hank felt himself growing smaller as he was tugged out of his boots. Gunfire allowed him to see a few fleeting glimpses of the action around him, but he ignored it as Maria joined him in size. The diminutive duo hopped onto the back of a nearby ant and quickly fled the scene as one of the stray shots shattered the one of the glass exhibition cases. Alarms began to ring throughout the museum as the pandemonium increased. Egghead shouted as Hank heard the sound of metal impacting on flesh. "You brainless fools, you ruined everything!"
Hank and Maria fled through a nearby air vent as they heard the sounds of police sirens drawing nearer. One of the thugs, perhaps the first one Hank mused, summed up the situation nicely. "Aw, shut up you know it all!"
Despite the danger he had been in, Hank couldn't help but have a smile on his face as they rode the ant together towards the outside.
The next day, things were considerably calmer around the breakfast table. Hank sipped his coffee as he scanned over the morning paper. "Interesting how those phony guards got caught, wouldn't you agree?"
Maria smiled back at her husband as she cut out an article detailing the previous night's activities. "Indeed, but it's a shame that Egghead fellow escaped."
Hank chuckled as he began to eat his breakfast. "True, but judging from the reaction of those thugs, I doubt he'll be dumb enough to sty around here for much longer. I doubt we've seen the last of him, but it will be a while before he shows up in town again, I'm sure. In any event, last night proved that the Wasp is far more suited to protecting this town then Ant-Man. " Before Maria could protest, he held up his hand. "I'm not saying that I'm going out into the backyard and burning the costume. I know I talked about giving up the hero bit for good, but after seeing you in action, I think it would be best if Ant-Man took a brief vacation. I can still help, but I'd rather be Dr. Henry Pym, chemist."
Maria stared in shock at her husband. She couldn't even try to conceal her grin. "Of course darling, of course."
The conversation drifted to other things as the morning sun streamed in through the blinds.
The desert can hide many things. Out in the dusty back roads sat a run down bar that was frequented by men, and the occasional woman, who preferred to keep their respective lives secret. But even in such a dingy flophouse there shall and always be at least one or two gents who fill the need to wonder at their fellow lodgers and travelers.
The subject of discussion sat at a rickety card table over in the corner. The light overhead had long been out, but light from the other rooms and the outside showed enough of the man's tattered and soiled white suit to give the other residents some pause.
The question would be inevitably asked. "Who's the new guy?"
The answer would be given with the same clockwork precision. "Eh, some nutter. Came in a while back and won't shut up about bugs."
For those who dared to get close enough to the man, their actions would allow them to hear just what was preoccupying the stranger's thoughts.
"Ants, ants, smarter than me…"
Notes to Astonish
Well, once again here we are brothers and sisters. To begin, this particular story was inspired by "Betrayed by the Ants" which first appeared in Tales to Astonish #38 and is credited to Stan Lee (plot), Larry Leiber (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), and Dick Ayers (inks).
Only a little bit of fan mail this time out, from the fabulous first female of the fantastic:
Great job on this story. I have to say, I quite
liked the ending
with the Wasp where she...well, let's just say I thought it was very
Thanks for sharing. :)
And take care yourself Tiff.
Be sure keep your peepers peeled for upcoming works, especially next issue when the Wasp flies solo in "The Vengeance of the Scarlet Beetle".
And also keep an eye on your monitors for these soon to be classic works too!
Journey Into Mystery #7-The Thunder and the Thug! Lady Thor is trapped, will she escape in time?
Sensational Comics #6-The Hulk VS the Metal Master! Also, be sure to tune in to read a very important announcement from the management concerning this title.
Amazing Adventures #3-Droom meets Zamu! 'Nuff said.