A good game of chess with not one, but two supercomputers proved to reduce the usage of my brainpower at this hour. I had a little insomnia (which I occasionally & inevitably would have as a superhero team leader), so I stayed up to repair a few components in the lab whilst I played a few relaxing rounds with H.E.R.B.I.E. & L.Y.
I made a good move, "Knight to queen's bishop three. Checkmate!" Fourteen games so far, & I had beat him at all of them. I had beaten L.Y. at all thirteen games I played with her so far as well. Boy, chess was something I never had enough of, quite frankly! The drilling by my father, Nathaniel Richards, since I was a tender age kept me consistently at the top of my game.
"Awww! Shouldn't I be better at chess than this? You always win!" whined H.E.R.B.I.E.
"Would you care to allow me to challenge H.E.R.B.I.E. to a game just between us both, Dr. Richards?" asked L.Y. in a polite but teasing fashion.
H.E.R.B.I.E. was shy around her, I noticed, & uttered, "Of course not! Our current job is keeping Dr. Richards' stress level at a complete minimum." I wager he only said that to avoid becoming too nervous around L.Y. That I found hilarious. My computer then said to me, "Can we try tic t -- D...D...Doom!"
He hadn't finished his question.
I was puzzled & called out, "H.E.R.B.I.E.?" There wasn't a response from him. "L.Y.?" I then asked Ozai's computer. She failed to answer me as well. The lab felt completely normal, save for the absence of the computers. It was time to probe this problem at its source after I get some relevant findings....
"Reed?" my communicator buzzed all of a sudden. I fastened it on properly. At least I didn't have to rely on my computer to relay messages to teammates all the time.
"Ozai, our computers aren't functioning. We have to look into this," I told him.
"Yes, I see your point. There's more to worry about: a few Doombots are making their way up the walls right outside."
"Come up to the penthouse. We need you & Azula."
I proceeded to the elevator to begin my descent, when I heard crashing noises coming from downstairs. It sounded like another rift between Ben & Johnny: nothing harmful there, really. A little competition now & then could be said to be healthy, even necessary to ensure the Fantastic Four were well united. Still, I had to make sure of it. I was right; I could still detect Susan's voice through all of that cacophony. She was yelling, "Johnny! & Ben! What did I tell you? Not in the house!!"
Then came the sound of robotic noises - it spelled trouble. My ears were already attuned to the sounds Ozai's armour made, & these sounds clearly meant it wasn't him in the corridor at this moment. The elevator made it in time for me to stretch off fast enough.
"Target: Human Torch. Weapon: Ice Cannon." A Doombot, on the verge of attacking Johnny. I sprang into action immediately; I lengthened my body to give myself more milliseconds to help Johnny lest the Doombot's attack was successful. When I was within close range of Johnny, I was able to shove him aside thus dodging a stream of the Doombot's freezing liquid. Before the machine made further progress, I rapidly stretched my right arm to bend its cannon in the opposite direction - it worked. The robot froze itself still until it lost almost all its functionality.
Suddenly Azula jumped in front of us; with one leg she performed a fiery roundhouse kick. There were sparks of blue as she then delivered another kick sideward to bring the robot to the floor.
"Morning, guys," she greeted us.
"Show off...," muttered Johnny with a smile that looked sarcastic.
Susan came out of her room in her superhero suit. It appeared that Johnny was looking her with a somewhat disappointed expression. "What?" asked Susan.
"I was about to get frozen & you went to change your clothes?" snapped Johnny.
Susan was quick to get back at him, "Well you're fine, aren't you? Anyway, those were my good pyjamas."
Ben climbed his way out of a pile of rubble. "I think your alarm system needs some work, Stretch," he said. Ozai was with him, his armour set to Quad Mode. Wow, he came up the elevator in no time! In just weeks he had become a trusted, efficient friend of ours, assisting us whenever he could. Moreover, Azula was a handy addition to the group, a perfect example especially to Johnny. Apart from a few disagreements the two of them had occasionally, they could get along fairly well. Johnny's fighting style improved since he was (very incredibly) open to lessons in martial arts given by her. Susan told me how grateful she was: the training could kill two birds with one stone. Not only would Johnny's formidability increase, his discipline would, too. He played his games with me the least plainly out of respect for the team leader. But with kung fu, I bet he'd learn to listen to advice & accept instruction not just from me & not just during our missions.
In Ozai's Leopard X jaws a piece of a Doombot arm was hanging. I found it so intriguing how he could somehow operate his cyborg merely with his body movements yet get it to perform authentic, complex animalistic functions.
Doom hatched a new plan at such an inconvenient time. Our enemies rarely struck in the wee hours of the morning, but such an idea was mooted by our most cunning opponent. Ughhhhh...I was thinking. Furthermore, just this week I had beefed up the entire building's systems. Never mind.
No doubt that the culprit was Doom, given how his mind was ravenous & always hungered for knowledge inquisitively. Being our arch foe, his primary goal was to keep finding ways to defeat the Fantastic Four. It would be unwise to not expect the unexpected from such a dangerous man like him. For a split second or two, I sadly recalled myself & him contending in the college classrooms all those years ago. Those simple intellectual battles had become violent fights in recent months.
I explained to the team, "H.E.R.B.I.E. has been compromised...it looks like Doctor Doom is back." They all complained, as I expected. The three of them had been fast asleep, after all. Actually I was glad I hadn't been able to sleep, or things could've been worse. It dawned on me, though, that this would possibly be Leopard X & Blue Dragon's first time seeing Victor himself in person. He'd study & scrutinize them much more closely from now on. More superhero lives were on the line & I hoped Victor would not get the upper hand with any nasty surprises up his sleeve.