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"Behind me, children." the Dragonman calls out around the gout of fire he's breathing at the alien invaders swarming the Negative Zone Portal room. It had been a nice quiet day. The kids were in the lab working and Ben and Johnny were looking over paperwork. Then ninjas attacked. They had made their way to the N-zone Portal and locked it open before Alex Power pinned them to the ground using his powers over gravity. But then the real trouble began.

The ninjas collapsed in on themselves, revealing them to be insectoids. Worse yet they were carrying eggs. Eggs which hatched and grew instantly to human size. It was an ambush but fortunately Ben and Johnny were able to get everyone together so no one had to face this onslaught alone.

"NO!" Val calls out in answer to Dragonman's order. "We can't leave the gate open. Uncle Johnny! You have to reach the other side of the room, there's a fail-safe"

"They're focusing on me and Ben. We're being overrun, Val," Johnny calls out as he flies over Ben who busy blasting away with the big gun Val had given him earlier. "Can't get to it. Alex?!!"

Lousy time for me to be powerless, Ben thinks but keeps firing. Really could'a timed this better.

"Trying, there's too many of them," Alex calls out as two of the Moloid children use the karate moves they'd been studying on one of the larger insectoids. "I...think we have to run for it."

Leech, the mutant kid who's a living power dampener, yells out, "Punch! Punch! PUNCH!"

"Oh," Val says reaching for a spanner.

Damnit. Ben thinks but calls out, "Somebody wanna shut that kid up? I'm tryin' real hard not ta get killed over here."

"Why is he...?" Johnny asks turning to look at Leech just as Val hits the kid over the head with the spanner.

"Leech wanted someone to knock him out." Val says to Johnny's horrified look.

"Why would...?" Johnny begins to ask and Val hooks her thumb at Franklin.

"Whoa," Franklin says as all the reality warping powers at his command come flooding back. "BUG SPRAY!" he calls out and blasts every insectoid in the room before running and hitting the fail-safe for the N-zone portal. "Got it. Shield's up."

"Okay. So someone want to tell me when Franklin got his powers back?" Johnny says a little mystified.

"You should pay closer attention Uncle Johnny. It's been pretty obvious if you knew what you were looking for. Why do you think Dad has Leech rooming with him?"

Ben has to agree with Val as he'd figured it out a few days ago. Still wouldn't do to make Johnny look bad. Well not in front of the kids. Okay, not in this situation. "Backup's on the way," he says instead. "Called the Avengers, time to clear out of here and wait for the cavalry."

Val looks to Ben with a mix of fear and sorrow on her face. "I don't think we can do that, Uncle Ben. The shield isn't going to hold. It wasn't made for this. If the main controls hadn't gotten destroyed by the bugs, I could activate the vibranium shielding on the other side from here..."

"So what are..." Johnny starts to ask.

"We have to go through and turn it on manually and we have to do it right now. Before everyone over there knows the doorway is open."

"No way." Johnny says.

"Not happenin'." Ben echos though he trusts Val's judgement and sees she's right.

"Listen, we just need a couple of minutes. Franklin could probably buy us that by himself. I only need some of the Future Foundation," Val argues.

"I could totally squash them," Franklin says as an arm pushes through the shielding of the portal. "See?" he says blasting the insectoid.

Val pushes a strand of hair out of her face and meets both her uncle's eyes. "There's a second Annihilation Wave waiting to invade Earth and we're all that stands in it's way. Tick-tock, super heroes."

Ben and Johnny look at each other but they know there's really no choice. "Reed's gonna kill us," Johnny says.

"Reed? Na, it's Sue who's gonna kill us." Ben replies.

"Okay, everyone," Johnny says turning to the assembled kids and the Dragonman robot. "Ben's already called for the Avengers, so backup'll be here as soon as they can. But right now, we have to go through there and fix this thing. While we're gone, the Dragon is in charge. Anything that comes through that portal that isn't us, you burn to a crisp, understand?"

"Yes sir," the Dragonman replies as all the kids nod their heads.

"All right then," Ben says arming his big gun and turning to the portal, "here we go."


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Benjamin J Grimm

September 2017

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