By Hanks-a-lot

INTRO—Here, perhaps the least appreciated Avenger of the early '60s, Hank Pym, is spotlighted. As he was in the early years, gentleman Hank is brilliant and proactive in the field of science, but a bit slow in the human relations field. Be assured that I will not depict him as the ultimate hero of the universe just because his name is Henry. I am not going the Bruce Timm route where Bruce—Batman— Wayne is the savior of an incompetent Justice League. Heroes are heroes because they can solve their own problems. The Wasp's character is the totality of Jan Van Dyne of that era and of the last years of the 2000s. She's spontaneous, spunky, territorial, combative, heroic, flirtations and, at times, slutty.

There was a need to tweak many things from the 1960s. Firstly, there is no Giant-Man Fan Club visiting his home. If people knew his identity, having a mask would be pretty silly. Not to mention, if these teens had something of a friendly relationship with Hank, their lives would be in mortal danger from revenge-seeking vermin. Nor will there be large rings outside of his penthouse with retractable cables anchored to the corner of his building. If he used them to descend safely onto the street a consistently there would be a mob stake-out in those locations waiting for him. And forget about being shot out of a pen-sized cannon and then have his flight stopped by a mountain of assembled ants at a pre-selected area—GOOD GREIF! His travels will be mysterious to the public. The reader will also see that the time of Hank's widowhood was slightly altered.

As hard as it is to follow a serialized novella, I ask for your attention because there will be four recruitment efforts underway. Three different villainous teams will look to increase their membership. The fourth—Blackie Gaxton's mob- will look to engage the services of an evil genius.

Those familiar with Marvel's 1960s circulation will recognize the parade of characters here. Some, like Yolanda Vanko and Henry's sister, Erica, are original and will be so noted. Otherwise, all characters depicted in this fan fiction belong to Marvel Comics. As wisdom allows, these characters will be presented in their original persona and circumstances. This story also carries isolated adventure-pockets that are based on actual events that happened in the early '60s.

BE WARNED: If your mindset is comfortably nestled in Political Correctness, stop here and forget the existence of this story. You'll be offended. For example, the term, "Negro," was a term of respect given to an African American in the '60s. Other terms that would send the shallow into fits are the prefixes "Miss" and "Mrs." No, they don't mean that the speaker thinks women should be enslaved and be let out only for reproduction activities. They were also terms to show one's esteem to the particular female who was being addressed.

A maturity that brings one beyond PC is required. If you jump up and down and stain your underwear insisting that you see offensive references where there are none, this isn't for you. I don't mean that in a mean-spirited manner— it's just a fact.

The first chapter will read like a newspaper for the benefit of those unfamiliar with Hank Pym and then we take off. This story opens two weeks after Avengers# 7 and 24 hours after Journey into Mystery #108, and days before Tales to Astonish #56. It opens around the beginning of Spiderman #15.

And so let us begin Vanko and Pym, Inc.: Book One. . Please buckle up—I hope you enjoy the ride.

Chapter One: The Past Remembered

It was 1964 and the southern portion of the United States was shaken by a splinter terrorist group that seceded from the Ku Klux Klan. As amazing as the public found the report, the Klan seemed too docile in the minds of these disgruntled members. Their only option was to form The Sons of The Serpent.

Their furious activities, their ability to elude law enforcements brought almost as much jaw dropping incredulity as their claim that they were led by the Confederate Army's sharp-witted battlefield tactician, General Lee. The General, they insist, had faked his death in October of 1870. He staved off the aging effects of a nearly a century and now lead the Sons of the Serpent in a new campaign of racial purification. This time the South will win, was their controversial chant.

Thousands of miles to the north, big city residents dismissed the group as whacko fanatics who would soon be crushed under the weight of their own superstition and ignorance. But the S.O.T.S. have been operating and growing for a year now. Why have the majority of northerners dismissed the group with only a shake of the head?

Perhaps it was because they were so far away. Rising taxes and the increasing crime were so much closer— hence, more real. Add to those concerns the failure of the Stamford-based Osborn Industries' cosmetic arm that left large numbers of Connecticut and New York workers unemployed, and one could almost smell the anxiety in the air.

But it wasn't all dark expectations and fears. In New York City, burdened by their own depressing thoughts, the folks sought the relief in the opening of The World's Fair. The excitement of the Fair took a back seat to nothing… except for the steady stream of superheroes who took their battles against villainous Mega-beings to the streets.

One group of these champions resided in a block-long mansion by Manhattan's famed Central Park. Stretching along East 70th Street towards Fifth Avenue, the mansion, had gardens and fountains. It was surrounded by thick, 12-feet high walls, National Guardsmen and innumerable electronic defensive devises that were not visible.

All this gave evidence that the luxurious residence was gifted by Billionaire Anthony Stark to a collection of individuals who were reputed to be "The World's Mightiest Heroes"…. The Avengers.

At 5:22 PM, Sunday June 21, an athletic six foot, one inch figure walked the mansion's red carpeted second floor hallway. He aimed his stride towards the window to on check the weather. Most of the day, windy downpours were playing peek-a-boo with the city residents.

Before he noted the conditions, he had to smile at his reflection in the glass. If he wasn't the hero called Giant-Man, Dr. Henry Pym wouldn't even wear his predominately red costume and mask in Halloween, much less in today's June.

Earlier this morning, he and his lovely partner, Janet Van Dyne— "the Wasp"— had arrived at the extravagant abode to pick up the small blueprint that the brilliant industrialist, Tony Stark had designed. It was a special gun and "bullet shell" to carry Henry's revolutionary solvent. Dr. Pym claimed that it could be placed in a special shell casing, be fired at a target, and upon contact, instantly eat through any fabric and electronic circuitry. Since Hank and Jan were in the mansion, they decided to stay longer and enjoy its luxurious benefits.

While the spa attendants pampered the female half of the heroic duo, Henry Pym exhausted himself in the weight training room, re-invigorated himself in a hand-to-hand combat lesson with a certain star-spangled partner, played chess with a computer (while watching the Phillies' Jim Bunning no-hit the Mets between rainy downpours) and swam a few laps in the under-the-mansion pool.

Now, nearly six hours after his entry into the mansion, Henry knew what to expect if he tarried longer. The butler, Edwin Jarvis, would invite Jan and Henry to stay for the night. Jarvis liked the couple and he had a way of asking that brought about a feeling of guilt to anyone who would say "no." Henry hated to disappoint so likable an old fellow like Edwin, but he would never stay until the next morning. Unlike his attractive female partner, Hank could not adjust to sleeping anywhere but his own bed.

According to the mansion's weather radar, there would be a mere 20 minute respite from the hard summer rains. That was enough time to make their trek back home in insect size and not worry about Mother Nature. They could fly over the East River, Welfare Island (located in the middle of the river), and arrive at their new penthouse domain in Long Island City. It wasn't really a "city." It was a defined territory in New York City's borough of Queens. The rising rent in Manhattan was one of the major reasons that the size-changing biochemist was forced out into the neighboring location.

But as it so happened, at the beginning of the break, Henry's beloved Jan had decided to go to the bathroom.

The flying ants that he would summon to himself could make it across the river. With a 1/8th-inch Avenger mounted on their backs, the trek offered no hint of impossibility. But the trip wasn't without hazard if they missed their window of opportunity. Pelting rain and strong winds were not friends to Ant-man.

Jan would fare better if she shrank down to only four inches. The artificial wings that Hank grafted onto her back were stronger than those belonging to any insect. And at thirty-two times the size that Hank was required to shrink in order to ride the insect, she could take the pounding water drops better than he and the ant.

Henry looked out into the cloudy day. The smaller, delicate branches of the surrounding trees were still. Good, that meant that there was no breeze to speak of. Still, Jan should really speed it up in there.

The wait brought in quietness. The silence streamed his mind away from the annoyance over Jan's bad timing and into replaying the last four years of his life. They had seemed to pass in break-neck speed. And four strong women were in the center of it all.

Maria… Being the youngest college professor in Princeton University's history, Henry was 22 when he met the Hungarian dissident, Maria Trovaya. The cream hair-colored beauty was a Princeton student boarding a bus headed for New York City. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was scheduled to address the United Nation General Assembly concerning the independence of the new Republic of Congo. Maria and thirty other students with families living inside of the Soviet satellite countries were going to march outside of the U. N.

The sign that she carried into the bus read, Free your own people before giving advice to a LIBERATED sovereign nation. The sign was half her size and he had chuckled wondering how long her slim arms could hold it over her head.

After five minutes of conversation, Professor Pym was so moved by Maria's fiery spirit that he promised to meet her there at the protest. After his last class, he borrowed a fellow teacher's car and raced to New York City. Professor Pym later offered her a ride back to her dorm. Maria stayed behind while the other students made their way to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

They discovered that they had so many shared interests and credos. This included being two of the very few on university campus who were brave enough to say that they believed in a God. What followed was a whirlwind romance. Months later, they married— in hindsight, the wedding probably came too soon for the loving couple. But at the time, the union couldn't have come quick enough. For their honeymoon, Maria wished to visit her family. It was easy enough; fly to France and from there to Hungry.

Married to an American gave her U.S. citizenship. Certainly the communists who gripped the throats of her countrymen would not dare touch her. Unfortunately, both husband and bride were blinded by overconfidence. In hush whispers she strategized with her parents and her fifteen-year-old brother as to how they could sneak past the borders. In a bolder voice, Maria expressed her opposition to the government before close neighbors. She thought that her audience was strictly family members and friends in those various pre-dinner home meetings. But when the couple was about to return to America, Hungarian agents were waiting for the newlyweds at the airport.

After that, all that the young husband could remember was waking up in the Health Unit of France's Orly International Airport without Maria. Mysteriously, there was no record of Maria and Henry boarding a plan beyond France eight days ago. The Soviet airliner, Areoflot, insisted that the couple were not on their passenger boarding records.

In France, Henry went crazy trying to get the American Consulate to launch an investigation. All that he could squeeze from them was a U.S. letter of protest. Even his attempts to contact Maria's parents and brother were met with replies of "no such resident at this address."

Days later, an unidentified male phoned him at the Consulate. Though the caller denied any link to either government, the man had enough information on Hank and Maria to be taken as a credible informer. He told the heartbroken husband that the outspoken Maria was forever silenced. Her remains were incinerated at a garbage dump like worthless trash.

Between breath-stealing sobs, young Dr. Pym could make out the man saying that the Hungarians were currently brokering an exchange of captured US and Soviet spies. The agents from both sides were too valuable to their respective operations and the men needed to return to their governments rapidly.

"No one can afford for their apple carts to be turned over," the caller warned. Henry was to expect nothing from his government and only repeated denials from the Hungarians about his dearly beloved. At most, she would be declared a missing person in France, but that was all. If Henry persisted, he would be tried and, for political expediency, be convicted for her murder since he was the last one to have been seen with her.

He returned to Princeton a defeated and broken man— he was bereaved of his dear wife and he was betrayed by his county. Even all the past sermons that he remembered from his Christian upbringing sounded no more encouraging and coherent than the leaves rustling in the wind.

If it wasn't for the constant care of his older sister, Henry would have made good on his intention to end his own life. After five weeks of debilitating depression, one of his frequent drunken tirades produced a key to escape from his mental prison. He woke up, as he had many times before, in a room that evidenced the rampage of the night before. But this time, in his hand was a small tape recorder. He had wondered why he had not thought to look inside of the night stand on Maria's side of their bedroom long ago. If he had, he would have heard her sweet voice sooner.

The recording revealed that she suspected that she wouldn't return with her beloved husband. The message from the angel-toned beauty was clear: Go on. Live on. Remember her, but do not dishonor her name by refusing to live a constructive life. A religious woman who refused to be told by any establishment what not to believe, Maria quoted a few parting verses: "Let not your heart be troubled…" " I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." "... can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I NOT forget thee."

If it wasn't for Maria's voice, the words would have run insignificantly past him like sand between open fingers. Finally, there was one haunting Scripture that branded itself in his mind: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:" Perhaps one might say that at the time he heard those motivating words, the Ant-Man was born.

After his eyes shed what seemed to be a river, Henry washed, combed, shaved and then straightened his affairs with Princeton University. Because of his long unexplained absence, Professor Pym's tenure at the University was in peril. He decided it was better for both sides to resign his post.

Dr. Pym's respect for his country was replaced by anger. But that emotion was nothing in comparison to his burning rage for communists. Fueled by his great loss, he contacted the once esteemed US Government to present his current project. Henry's experimental sub-atomic particle serum could change a person's size. It would be an important advantage to agents behind the Iron Curtain.

Showing limited success on lab mice, the US government payroll-ed his experiments. The fellow scientists that he had hired to help perfect the shrinking potion gave up after several tries. This falling away of his supporters added to Hank's disillusions. Only by again listening to his beloved Maria's parting words could he find the fortitude to continue.

With no other subject available, the scientist used the shrinking serum on himself. A nude, quarter-inch Henry Pym soon found himself fighting off insects. One of those combative insects was a soldier ant. Once Henry had defeated him, it was strangely apparent that other ants considered him a leader. With their aid he finally made his way home and he dived into a test tube holding the antidote. Encouraged by his experience, the full sized Mr. Pym again went to the government.

Tragically, the other scientists who had abandoned him and the project had poisoned U.S. officials' mind. The one individual who Henry thought would never back-stab him, Dr. Elihas Starr, lead the chorus of "Crackpot" and "Unstable grasp of reality." Twice before, Henry had lobbied to secure Elihas lab jobs when no one else wanted him. The man who Henry thought would consider himself in debt to the young scientist evidently didn't share the same sentiments.

In a quick about-face, the CIA division of the government was no longer interested. Besides, Stark Industries was leading the way in advanced electronic surveillance. That sounded more feasible than altering a human's body in the order of a low- grade science fiction movie.

Erica… Henry's older sister, Erica Yolanda Pym Collingsworth. He called her Yollie because as a pre-teen, Erica preferred using her middle name. She christened him Nee because, as a toddler, Henry answered adults' queries about his name saying "Neh-Nee." Even today, Erica remembered her heart-break the moment he finally learned how to pronounce his name.

Sister and brother were inseparable, especially after they were left orphans at an early age. Their partnership worked well as they were bounced from one family member to another. Erica was extraordinarily strong and Henry learned from her the lessons needed to be a promoter. At the beginning of each school year Henry anxiously pleaded with his big sister not to arm wrestle the "stronger" boys that were a grade or two older than she was; but little Hank wasn't so distraught that he couldn't pass the paper bag to collect money from betting school mates. Yollie's victories in the initial and rematch challenges were definitely rewarding. But by mid-October, bruised male egos meant a drying up of the money river flow.

So here came the Holidays— Nee had the heartbreaking little pout, and Yollie was the scheming, heart-yanking mood setter. They played family and friends of their parents for extra digs into their wallets.

There went the Holidays— Sister Pym developed great scouting techniques. Brother Pym developed a remarkable skill in electronics and spray painting. From mid- January to early-March Yollie searched the trash cans of rich families. She concentrated on the homes with young children. Without fail, the duo found broken toys. Once they were brought home, Nee would refurbish them. Soon they were selling "hot item toys" at a discount.

Then here came June. After a long winter, the schoolboys encouraged themselves with their increased size and strength. What they somehow failed to realize was that Erica's muscles also matured over the seven months. They again fell victim to Pym and Pym, Inc. The profitable duel allowed themselves semi-vacations from money production over the summer. September meant they would be scooted off to another family member and a new school. That meant that Henry could cry over his sister's insane, sure-to-fail arm wrestling challenges in front of a new pool of suckers.

Now, the time when Erica "inherited" an accordion for her 13th birthday is an adventure to be revealed at another time.

As an married adult in 1961, she provided food, rent money and care-giving for Henry during his break-down. Erica had an "in" with a TV news writer, Raymond Ailes. She'd tell him where reporters could catch politicians who avoid the press. In return, he gave her the top news leads before they were broadcast. Appearing to have a crystal ball to detect and deflect upcoming problems, Erica secured great respect from her employers at the US government.

Ailes also gave her advice concerning the outrages U. S. behavior over the lost of her sister-in-law. If she loved her brother, she had to discourage him from going to the media. There were powerful forces in the government who used underworld connections to arrange for car accidents and untimely falls out of the window.

Big sister then recruited her own league of informers specifically for the survival of Henry and herself.

After Henry recovered from his mental disability, he accepted the invitation to move in with Erica and her husband Barry. At that time, Hank still held his sister at arm's length. Yes, he saw her as a loving family member, but he also saw someone that was veiled by the tissue-thin promises of the government. She would not understand what he felt.

Fooled by the government or not, Erica was not without insider connections. The former C.I.A. operative married the gentleman from Friendship Tennessee. Her Barry was a rising star in the eyes of many in the President's Cabinet. Soon Mrs. Collingsworth joined her Under Secretary of State husband to become a high-ranking nonmilitary personnel in the Pentagon.

When dealing with problems, one of the family mottos that Erica continued to instill in Hank was, "Less tears to cry, more sweat to solve it." Perhaps that was why Maria's reference to the working ant stuck in her husband's head. At any rate, the motto was the driving force behind Yollie's push to get Nee's personal life back on track.

Erica also convinced Henry to use the remainder of the U.S. grant money that was intended for size-changing experiments and invest it in instruments that could manipulate ants. Why not? Didn't he get a few of the insects to take him back to his desk and to the size-restoring antidote? Controlling ants was something that would interest the military side of government. Insects could get into many restricted areas undetected. Hank also dabbled in miniature electronics. If both projects could be merged, ants could be trained to bring with them tiny homing devises into targeted areas. Consequently, U. S. airplane bombers would become the best in the world when it came to precision hits.

Yollie used her influence in the Pentagon to secure an income for Hank as a scientist providing war-related gadgetries. Unexpectedly, Henry stumbled into his own anti-espionage campaign. He invented circuitry that he placed inside of a hard plastic helmet. It could transmit cybergentic waves and communicate with ants. He altered the molecules of the size-changing liquid to make it a clingy vapor. His helmet, its electronics and clothing could also shrink after being permeated by the gas. Thus Ant-Man, the chief spy-buster, stepped onto the threshold of Legend.

With the success of the new crusader, Yollie convinced officials that a money route should be open where government bounty money (set aside to combat espionage) could be "lost." After a few untraceable funds were misplaced, Henry no longer needed to stay with his sister.

Henry asked how he could possible repay her. Yollie replied, "Just keep wearing a red outfit when you visit me. I don't want to mistakenly reach for the bug spray."

His sister opened more things than a new life for Hank. She opened closed mysteries of two heroes. Spider-man was the first— that is an adventure, like the accordion incident, to be told later. But the most impressionable revelation concerned a fellow Avenger.

Henry received a tip from Erica that an Eastern menace, the Mandarin, had a two-man spy team in Long Island, New York. Ant-Man discovered their identities and captured them. In exchange for an opportunity to defect, they exposed the Mandarin's plan. He was going to somehow steal Stark Industries satellite spy drones while in orbit. The Ant-Man raced to tell owner and CEO Tony Stark. He made it to the luxury apartment above the Stark plant's Administration Building.

Slipping through a small space under a window, he found the man who was so generous to the Avengers. Ant-Man was stunned when he saw the booze-indulging industrialist sitting on his lounge chair. The front of his shirt was wide open exposing a chest plate similar to the one worn by Iron Man.

Alone and under the influence, Stark cursed out loud, stating that he was unable to enjoy a normal spoiled, billionaire life by his bad heart, the pressures of running his father's Empire, and prancing around as Iron Man. Hank believed that it was best to turn around. He would later inform Erica and let the Pentagon summon a sober Anthony Stark to a meeting.

Fours later—11:12 PM, New York time— two satellites went down in Red China. At 4 AM, a third went down in the same area. By 7:20 AM, Tony Stark was sitting in a meeting where military leaders were identifying the culprit.

As expected, Iron Man took care of the Mandarin. Still, the discovery of Stark's secret blew Henry's assumption. While in the company of the other Avengers, Ant-Man wasn't bothered about being the least physically imposing. That was because he had assumed that he had the smartest brain in the group. The fear of trailing badly in his imagined importance hierarchy led to the manipulation of the shrinking sub-atomic particles to become a size-increasing stimulus. A week later, Giant-Man walked among the Avengers.

Janet… His life went swimmingly (relatively speaking) until his friend and former associate, Professor Vernon Van Dyne, was murdered. Vernon was one of the few people who Henry had confided in. The esteemed Professor Van Dyne was the first to call the size-changing sub-atomic particles, "Pym Particles". His flighty, but attractive, socialite daughter, Janet Olivia Van Dyne contacted Henry Pym with the horrendous news of the murder. What he didn't know about his friend was that Vernon could never keep a secret from his inquisitive daughter.

The first impression that Hank received was that she was a bit dingy and reserved. But that assumption evaporated after a session where Jan vigorously cajoled, and later threatened to expose Ant-Man's identity in order to allow her to join him in the hunt for her father's killer.

Hank surgically implanted on Jan small artificial, but extremely functioning wings that were plainly visible when she shrunk. Together as the Wasp and Ant-Man they brought the killer to justice. But instead of moving on with her life, Jan stayed with Henry. The excitement of heroism and the attractiveness of Doctor Pym were magnetic.

In these last 13 months, the duo had shared adventures and a growing affection. He had to admit that he would have been lost on the field of battle without her. And the girl who first appeared all fluff and flighty gradually showed a spirited, intelligent and alluring personality to go along with her good looks.

Her wide eyes and her smile were so hauntingly like Maria. The differences were that Jan was inches shorter, her face was narrower, and Maria had hazel eyes as oppose to brown. Oh, and Jan wore her religion like an expensive bracelet. She only spoke of it when she was in the company of wealthy Bible-thumpers who could help her in a future commercial venture. Otherwise it was something to hide in the wall safe of her mind. That was okay with Hank. The wounds to his own faith had caused his beliefs to leak out some time ago.

For the past five months, he and Jan had also aligned themselves with the newly formed fighting group. The very unlikely union of very different characters—a blond haired, self-proclaimed deity, an armor wearing man-arsenal, a short tempered green skinned juggernaut—was Jan's idea. And so was the name that the group adopted—The Avengers.

"Ready?" a feminine voice asked from behind Henry. He was brought back to the present with a startled jump. That brought giggles from Jan. There she stood; beautiful big brown eyes, slightly turned-up feminine nose, and gorgeous smile. The familiar black body-length leotards started from the top of her head. It had openings for her eyes and the lower portion of her face. The red one-piece body-contoured bathing suit over the leotards brought out the sensuality of her body. The red suit had shoulder pads and it slightly stretched away beginning at her waist to give it a "shorts" look. The matching gloves and boots gave her a real cute appearance.

"All right, all right. I wasn't expecting you to sneak up on me," he replied.

But she would not let go of his start so easily. "Let's get a move on, Mr. Courageous. The rains are coming and we wouldn't want you to get all shook up over droplets."

The couple made their way downstairs stopping to thank the Mansion's butler, Edwin Jarvis. Jan also made sure that she said goodbye to the mansion's only permanent resident.

Steve Rodgers— Captain America— was rescued by the Avengers when he was imitating Sleeping Beauty. He had been encased in Antarctic Ice since World War Two. After being rescued from suspended animation, the suave hero had played musical membership chair with the departed, brutish Hulk.

Presently, Steve Rogers was sitting in the Library. On the small table, by his comfortable chair, were two books about the World War that in his mind ended only recently. He was just now lost in a book chronicling the post-war and current years. Steve was a man trying to catch up with the modern age after being spat out of the mouth of history. He had so little of it in the war years and none today. Henry tried to make Steve feel comfortable in this modern age. The last thing they had shared was today's no-hit pitching performance of the Phillies' Jim Bunning against the New York Mets. Baseball was something that bridged gaps between men.

Henry understood that Steve saw himself as a square peg in a world of round holes. But his pity was tempered by the fact that the Star Spangled Avenger had the female-attracting facial features of a movie star. And his perpetually neatly combed, vibrant blonde hair stood out like a beacon in any crowd. Henry's wet-sand colored hair had to be cropped short because it could never be managed without a ton of hair dressing.

Henry also had to admit that even after months of strenuous exercise, Henry's muscles weren't as voluminous as Steve's. Even now Steve's tank-width shoulders were stretching his grey sweatshirt to its limit. Henry slightly shook his head. Sure, Henry was glad that he hid the barb wire of childish jealousy. But he was ashamed that he even had to suppress such pettiness towards such a fine man as Steve.

Jan, on the other hand, wasn't as sensitive. She had picked up on Hank's "hidden" envy and enjoyed running with it.

Jan walked over to the studious reader. She pulled up her mask to reveal her full face. Jan then bent over suggestively. She then pulled the book down and away from Steve's eyes.

"Goodbye, handsome," the vixen smiled.

She was always doing that, Henry thought. She was openly flirting with handsome men in front of him. At first he thought it was rather funny. He imagined that it was her way of making him pay more attention to her. But there were two issues in the background. Firstly, her flirts had opened the door to two unwanted incidents months ago. Secondly, last week, when Henry had bestowed a glowing appraisal of his new lab assistant, Yolanda Vanko, Jan became flustered. It was an innocent expression of appreciation, and now the double standard began to gnaw at him. If Jan thought that his sincere praise for the young woman was inappropriate, why was it okay for her to continue her borderline scandalous attention towards men?

Jan walked away from Steve swaying seductively, "Make sure you don't get eye strain. It would be a shame to have you not notice when I enter a room."

Yes, Jan had shown signs that she wasn't the wallflower that first entered Henry's life. Her confidence level was skyrocketing as she was seeing and enjoying her effects on men. Well, probably manipulation was a game that she had always played, but he hadn't seen it the first few months that they were together. Still, Henry kept to himself both the increasing uneasiness of her conscious male-maneuvering, and his resentment over her double standard.

Being a gentleman of a by-gone era, Steve had stood up when Jan turned to exit the room. He looked into Hank's eyes as if to apologize for some offense that he hadn't committed. Henry just shrugged and expressed as convincing an unbothered smile as he could muster.

In seconds the duo stood on the mansion's front porch. They each discharged two electric pulses with different functions from their respective hoods. The first was to activate the comfort-cooling mechanism in their costume. It was successful in combating the outside heat that instantly sought to oppress them.

The second electronic command allowed Jan and Henry to shrink down to their public personas fast.

Five months ago, the Pym Particles were transformed from a vaporous property to a liquid-in-a-capsule component that could be ingested and assimilated into their bodies. Their costumes were submerged in a small vat full of the same liquid and left to dry. Neither the humans nor the clothes immediately shrunk, but for the following 19 hours, the altered potion's power could be stimulated by cybergenic impulses. These were the impulses that were generated from the electronic circuit first found in Henry's plastic helmet and recently brought to a higher level of circuitry sophistication under the duo's hoods. With the improved in-hood technology their size-changing was performed quicker and with more control over their stature.

The hoods themselves were a marvel. Dr. Pym had experimented with jolt-resistant, steel-link properties that felt like fabric, folded like clothes, but would resist sudden change that wasn't consistent throughout the mask. This was most advantageous in preventing, say, a bullet fired to Henry Pym's head. He would suffer a headache, but the bullet had no chance to penetrate into his skull.

Jan used her eye for the dramatic to design his cowl. There was openings for his eyes. It opened in a triangle to reveal his lower face. It was narrow at the upper bridge of the nose and widened to at his jawline. The mask continued to run along his jaw line towards his mouth. It ended in a semi-circle covering his chin. But this section was mot a mere chin strap to hold the mask in place. The semicircle held his microphone from which he could transmit to telephones and wireless communicators.

Jan's black mask had the same communicative device, Fearing her lovely face could get scratched in an altercation, Jan opted for a simpler opening with real cloth around the front of her face. Her cut-away moved away from the center of her face and then down.

Henry held on to his attractive partner's gloved hands with his right hand. The flight between the iron bars of the front gate was a small effort for the Wasp, but it would have exhausted her to continue carrying him for the seven-block distance to the East River. Hitchhiking onto car trunks would be necessary.

But all thoughts of further travel were stopped as the heroic pair overheard a desperate rant from a civilian who addressed one of the National Guardsman posted at the entrance.

The agitated man was clean shaven, and well-dressed, wearing a light spring jacket that was clearly meant for last month's cooler weather. He wore it under the heat and humidity well.

"I must see the Avengers. It's a matter of life and death," he insisted.

His despair drew the curiosity of a crowd, but Jan continued her flight away from the scene. "The kook's" entertainment value had its limitation. On the other hand, the curious Henry had to find out what fueled the urgency in the man's pleas.

"You've got to be kidding," the Wasp said to her buddy hanging on below her.

"No, I'm not. If you won't turn around, I'll just shoot up to giant size."

She hesitated wondering if she should humor her hunk-a-bundle. Henry wasn't waiting. He let go of her hands and increased to a height of twenty feet before his feet harmlessly hit the street. Immediately the crowd turned their attention to the colossus who strode towards them.

The towering hero's voice boomed, "What seems to be the problem?"

The goodly attired man smiled in relief. His grin made his almost nonexistent upper lip disappeared under his hawk-like nose. The man appeared calmer as he moved away from the Guardsman. He brushed back his brown hair that was still moist from the last rainfall and then spoke.

"Giant-Man! I'm so glad to see you. Above any other I had to reach you. I have a message from the future."— He opened up his jacket to reveal six sticks of dynamite strapped around his stomach— "You won't have one."

References: Amazing Spiderman #6, Tales of Suspense #54, 55, Tales to Astonish # 44, 60. Avengers #1, 4, 32. Bible Text: Proverbs 6:6, Isaiah 49: 15, Jeremiah 29:11, John 14:27

Ray Ailes, Barry and Erica Pym Collingsworth are original character written for this story.