Ant-Man and the Wasp
When Cyclops Walks the Earth
In the countless planets that populate the universe, there is one in particular that bares special mention. It is called A-Chiltar by the natives. It is a harsh world, filled with treachery. Its natives are skilled in mental and psychological warfare, using the fear of their targets to conquer them.
Word went out from the ruling council to all war ships hovering over the planet. "There is a small planet in the Ascade System. The inhabitants refer to it as 'Earth'. Conquer it for the glory of our planet!"
Hank Pym, for the first time in a long time, smiled. He was, in his own opinion, looking at the most beautiful sight outside of a new scientific discovery. "Need any help honey?"
His wife Maria smiled demurely as she rubbed suntan lotion on her thighs. "Of course, if you're not too busy that is."
Hank put down his magazine and carefully made his way over. They were resting on a small boat rocking gently in the South Aegean Sea. After their fight with Dr. Doom, they had decided on a small vacation. Janet Van Dyne insisted on paying for it, hence their private boat.
As Hank rubbed the slippery oil into Maria's well-toned thighs, his mind drifted. "You know honey, this is the first time we've been alone since-" her hand to his lips cut him off.
"I know dear, since our honeymoon." Maria's eyes were covered by her sunglasses, but he could tell she was upset. Most couples had pleasant memories of their honeymoon. Most couples were not the Pyms.
Hank mentally cursed himself for bringing up the topic; the memory of her father's death was still a sore spot for Maria. He tried to change it to more pleasant fare, but he noticed something odd on the horizon.
"What's that?" Maria noticed it too.
Scores of ships were sailing away from a small island. Hank forgot its name, but he was sure it couldn't be good. "Want to check it out?"
Maria's smile returned. "I thought you'd never ask."
Hank tied up the boat as Maria walked along the dock. The area, save for a few small fishing boats, was deserted. Walking closer inland, Maria spotted an old man sweeping idly in front a closed up store. "Excuse me, can you help me?" She spoke English, trying to play up as an unsuspecting tourist.
"No help, go home. Inn closed for season." The man's English was rotten, but she understood him enough.
"Why is it closed?" She spoke Greek, hoping to get a better answer.
The man harrumphed. "So you want to know? Alright, we have monsters."
Maria raised an eyebrow. "Monsters?"
"Yes, like back in the old days. A Cyclops was seen a few miles inland, took some fishermen. We sent in the police, they never came back. The villagers decided to flee, hoping to get some help on the main land."
Maria nodded and looked around. The place looked like people had left in a hurry. Every single building was boarded up. What really got to her, however, was the quiet. Aside from the steady brushing, there was hardly a sound. "So you're the only one left?"
"Maybe. I've got no family left, everything I own is here." He stopped sweeping and held his broom like a club. "Let the Cyclops come, I won't be run off like an old woman!"
She couldn't help but smile at the old man's bravery. "My husband and I were looking for a place to rest for the night. Would it be possible to get a room?" She opened her purse, flashing a few bills inside.
The old man's attitude changed. "Well, for such a pretty lady I suppose I could find a nice place to rest." He went back inside the inn as she hurried back to the docks.
"I wonder what Hank is going to think of all of this?"
Hank was skeptical, but he kept his mouth shut as the old man repeated his story. Once they had checked in, they took stock of the situation. "Is the gear safe on the boat?"
Maria nodded. "I checked it myself. But are we safe? From what he said, this thing is a hundred feet tall." She nervously looked out of the window towards the darkened forest that bordered the town.
"Scared? I'm surprised." Hank turned down the thin top sheet on the bed and climbed in.
"Not scared, just nervous. We've handled a lot of strange things, but a giant monster?" She joined him.
"What about that alien from Kosmos?"
"Well, I suppose that counts, but all this talk of myth and monsters, plus that Lady Thor character," Maria shook her head. "It's a silly thing to get fixated on I suppose."
"Tell you what, when we defeat the monster we'll ask what church it goes to, ok?" Hank placed a hand on her arm. "Let's just take it as it happens, promise?"
~The next day
After a night's sleep and decent breakfast, the two headed off towards the forest. "According to the old man, a few fishermen vanished near a small inlet." Hank reached around and felt his backpack. He was reassured by the weight of the helmet.
"Right, followed by some children and goat herders in this forest." Maria waited until they were out of sight before shucking off her sundress. Under the simple clothes she wore her Wasp uniform.
"I think it would better if we're together." Hank decided to keep his gear in his bag, lest he run into a curious local.
"True, but I'll still shrink. If there's trouble, just," Maria's voice was lost as she walked over the edge of a small rise and fell into a hole.
"Maria!" Hank rushed forward, but stopped at the edge.
"Sorry, Hank, I guess I wasn't looking." She rubbed her backside gingerly as she waited for the offered hand. When it didn't come, she caught Hank's staring. "What's wrong?"
"Look around you!" Hank stepped back to make sure his eyes weren't playing tricks on him. The ground around Maria was too oddly shaped to be natural.
She hadn't fallen into a hole; she had fallen into a footprint.
"I think I need to suit up too." Hank quickly changed clothes as the Wasp began taking measurements of the ground.
"Incredible! Judging from this footprint, this monster must be sixty feet tall!" She peered over the edge of the imprint left by the monster's big toe. "Look, more footprints going off towards the center of the island!"
"So they start here? That's odd." Ant-Man stared into the dark woods. "The shape suggests this creature was facing the forest. Did it walk backwards then forward again?" His thoughts were grim as they trekked deeper into the wood.
"Hank, it's quiet." The Wasp gazed around. Hank slipped off his helmet and strained his hearing.
"You're right. I can't hear anything. Where are the animals? This close to the ocean you'd think we'd hear the wind or surf."
"I'm going to try and scan the local insects. There might be a few left that have seen something." She placed her hands to her temples and adjusted the wavelength. She howled in agony as ear-splitting feedback broke over the speakers.
Driven to her knees, she clawed at the helmet as Hank frantically helped her. Tearing it free, she collapsed, blood running from her ears and nose. "Maria!"
Hank yanked off his own helmet and knelt at her side. Checking her vitals, he was relieved when he found a pulse. "Got to find a doctor though, maybe there's one still on the island."
Hank was torn. He knew he had to get Maria to a doctor, but at the same time he didn't dare move her. As he looked around, frustrated, his attention was taken by another problem.
The ground under his feet began to move and shift. Picking Maria up, he dashed back towards the village, as a massive hand broke free of the topsoil. "My God, we were on top of this monster the entire time!"
Caught in a landslide caused by the monster's torso freeing itself from the dirt, Hank shielded Maria as best he could as he tumbled down the monster's stomach. The creature's single baleful eye glared down at them. He was dimly aware of giant hands reaching out and ensnaring him before he was swallowed up by darkness.
The A-Chiltarian commander smiled under his rebreather. The humans they had captured had been a pathetic lot. Using the ancient fears of the people, they had constructed a robot that resembled what the Earthlings called a Cyclops.
From there it was a simple matter to gather a select grouping of test subjects. Each human, regardless of their station, responded the same: total fear. "If this is the best this sorry planet has to offer, we'll be ruling this sector within an Earthen week." A device known as a Mentalscope collected the results; it was the crowing achievement of their scientists. It was a databank that analyzed and stored memories. Through this, they were able to determine what the humans feared.
Lights flared to life on a control panel. "Ah, the first catch of the day." The commander chuckled as he examined the machine. "And what luck, we seemed to have captured one of those costumed specimens the humans have been talking about."
"A super hero, I believe that is what they are called."
Hank came to, and quickly took stock of the situation. He wasn't dead, nor was he inside a monster's stomach. There was limited light, but enough to give him an idea. He was inside a machine.
The thought shook him awake as he felt around in the dim light. He wasn't bound and he could climb. "But where and how? Should I wait until this thing stops?" Groping, he felt what could have been an access panel behind his knees. Reaching, he turned on a small flashlight inside his helmet. The light wasn't much, but it allowed him to work.
"Calling for insects isn't going to do me any good. My frequency and this creature must be similar. That's why Maria was hurt!" The memories galvanized him. Reaching into his belt, he removed a screwdriver and a powerful magnet.
"Whoever built this was good. This panel must allow access to prisoners." He saw the screw inside the metal. "Bolted from the outside, clever." The magnet was small thing he been tinkering with; based on something he read from Stark Industries, he had used some common materials and had the magnet amplified with transistors that were capable of reversing the polarity.
Adjusting the magnet, he switched it to the positive side, forcing the bolts free. Once the panel was open, he climbed upwards into the robot's insides. "A small ladder! So, they must service this thing somehow. If I can find a power source, maybe I can shut it down, or at least steer it." He noted the size of the ladder's rungs. "Small fellas, but basically humanoid. I suppose I should be grateful for that." If they had heads, he figured he could at least punch them into submission if reason failed.
Climbing several dozen feet, he came to a small opening. Peering inside, he saw several panels with alien writing on them and a place were one could rest on one's back. "Jackpot!"
Squeezing around, Hank fumbled with the panels as best he could. "Seems to be a base five language. No time to translate, but I think I can wing it." Unscrewing the panels, he examined the wires. "Insulated, probably not a good idea to cut those." He poked around with one hand while tuning his helmet with the other. "I'd better change my frequency, in case they try to jam this machine."
Feeling around, he felt where the wires were connected. Grasping them, he disconnected a handful. The robot lurched to a stop.
"What happened?" The Cyclops robot stopped in its tracks. The single eye closed, signaling a loss of power.
"I don't understand commander. That machine is the finest device our engineers ever produce. The atmosphere is a bit more humid than our world. Perhaps moisture caused a short in the system?"
"Bah! Its skin is harder than our ship's hull. No amount of water could damage it! No, there must be another reason.
The command bridge froze. Over the loudspeakers an alien voice echoed. "Hello? Is anyone reading me?"
Ant-Man found a small microphone over his head. "Maybe a way to communicate with the base? Makes sense, they'd have to keep in touch somehow." Straining himself, he gripped the device and felt around for a switch. "Hello?"
Garbled static flooded the speakers. "Hello? Is anyone reading me?"
More static came. "This is the Ant-Man. I've taken over the machine. Do you understand?"
The bridge was silent. "He did what?" The commander sputtered once the translator circuits had been activated.
"A human, in charge of one of our weapons? We're doomed!" Wailing seemed to come from all decks.
"Calm down, maybe it's a bluff." The commander tried to think of a way to save the situation. "If that man-animal has command over that robot…" he shuddered.
"Sir, look at the viewing monitor!" An underling panicked. The commander could see why. Thick black lines were swarming over the robot's shell.
"What are those things?"
"The natives refer to them as 'ants', sir. A form of life lower on the food chain, yet capable of reducing farmland to barren waste. Many species are extremely poisonous as well."
"And this Ant-Man is summoning them? By the gods, what manner of being can summon such creatures?" The commander paled.
"Truly, this being has science that dwarfs our own. If he can control such lesser beings, who is to say he won't turn his attention to us?" Leaning over the intercom, the commander tried to keep his voice level. "We understand. What are your terms?"
The speaker crackled. "I want you to return the people you abducted, then I want you to leave this planet and never return."
The commander froze. He was responsible for the conquest of the planet. If they left, it would be a black mark on his record. He would be disciplined, possibly demoted. He would be treated the same if the base fell to this invader, only posthumously. Glancing at his men, he made a split decision. "Your terms are acceptable."
"Sir, you can't mean it!" A cry of dismay went up from the men, but he held up a hand.
"I can and do. We came to this world without proper intelligence." He looked at the frozen image of the ant encrusted robot. "But we will leave with something valuable all the same." Turning back to the troops, he issued orders. "Release the prisoners, wipe their memories and prepare for liftoff. I want us gone before dark." He returned to his chair. "At least I can show the Council these images to verify my claims. If we could somehow capture one of those powered Earthlings…" the thought drifted to the back of his mind as the crew released the prisoners and prepared for lift-off.
Hank climbed out of the robot. Maria was standing at the feet, her helmet off. They embraced under the Cyclops. "Are you ok?"
Maria smiled weakly. "I'm dizzy, and my head feels like an overripe pumpkin, but other than that fine." She tapped the robot's ankle. "I see you were busy."
Hank quickly explained his recent actions. Maria took it all in stride. "So, it was aliens, not gods?"
"As best as I can tell." He saw people appearing over the horizon. "Better put our masks back on." Thus attired, the pair greeted the confused fishermen and other missing villagers. A roaring filled the air as a strange craft blasted off from the shore.
Back at the inn, Hank put another ice bag on Maria's head. "I'm telling you, I'm fine!"
"And I'll feel better when we get an actual medical doctor to look you over." He sat down on the bed next to her. "Maria, when you collapsed." She put her fingers to his lips.
"I know darling. If the same happened to you, I'm not sure what I'd do." Changing the subject, Maria pointed outside. "So what are we to do with a sixty foot tall robot?"
Hank shrugged. "I hadn't really planned that far ahead. I'm tempted to drive it out into the ocean, but what if someone finds it?"
"True, but who could we turn it over to?"
"I'm tempted to say the Greeks." Hank lay down next to her. "Let's go back in the morning and decide then"
~The next day
Hank and Maria were dumbstruck. They had left the Cyclops robot in a carefully hidden grove under a tarp. When they arrived the next day, the tarp was casually tossed aside and the robot was gone.
Pinned to a nearby tree was a small note. Maria pulled it free and read it. "Good job, but we'll take it from here." At the bottom was a small symbol showing an eagle inside a circle. "Who could this be?"
"I'm not sure, and I don't know if I should be happy or worried." Hank drew her closer. "One thing's for sure. This world has gotten a lot smaller."
Be here next time you hep cats when the Ant-Man and the Wasp have a bebop beat down against Trago. He's like, killer, man.
This tale was based on "Where Cyclops Walks the Earth" which was first published in Tales to Astonish#46 (August 1963). Credits to Stan Lee (script), H.E. Huntley (pencils), and Don Heck (ink)
And to find out what Hank and Maria do next, read Avengers#1
Mail to Astonish
I found this to be a great chapter replacing Ant-Man with the Wasp on this little adventure. It's great to read about Maria meeting the other heroes of her universe. Please keep up the good work upon this great series of yours.
I hope Janet got her Human Torch autograph. Other than that cameo appearance, this was very much a Hank and Maria tale. You did a deft job of adding both of them to the FF story. I see in the Upcoming Tales notice that Avengers #1 is slated to appear. In the original version, Hank and Jan played an essential role in the founding of the super-group. I'm eagerly anticipating your version. Of course, I don't mean to slight Sensation Comics #13 and Amazing Fantasy #4.
I really liked your descriptions in this story. The banter between Maria and Hank was also really fun. Great stuff, thanks for sharing.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Maria is going to be meeting a bunch of other characters, have no fear of that.
Amazing Fantasy#5-The Grim Ghost Walks the Streets
Sensational Comics#15-Iron Man! The Angel! Are they friends or foes?
Journey Into Mystery#16-Lady Thor VS the Cobra
The Avengers#2-Earth's Mightiest Heroes take on their first real foe!