Sep. 13th, 2011

ever_lovin: (human: lock-n-load)

"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."

ever_lovin: (human: lock-n-load)
"That's it, Franklin," Johnny calls out as he, Franklin and Ben fight to keep the Annihilation wave back. "You're doin' just fine." And then a few seconds later the first wave is gone and they can take a breather.

"Okay Artie, let's get a look at what we're dealing with. Bentley, give us a countdown." Val says from the controls for the portal within the Negative Zone. All together there are five of them; herself, Artie, Bentley, Alex and Mogg.

Bentley (the younger clone of the Wizard) pulls out an image enhancer and reports, "As expected, the initial invasion force was to secure, and dilate, the portal. The larger Annihilation Wave is in a defensive perimeter positioned some two hundred fifty thousand kilometers away. Assuming they've been alerted and aren't going to just bomb us - and the gate - to death from above...figure maximum velocity, landing disembarking...maybe four minutes. Is that going to be enough time?"

"Has to be," Val says studying the blowout schematic of the locking mechanism of the portal Artie has projected via his powers. "Man, this is a nightmare."

"Uh-huh," Alex agrees looking over her shoulder. "Triple redundancy, integrated software and hardware."

"Quantum encoding...there's no reprogramming the locking mechanism."

"The Reed is very, very clever," Mogg the moloid says.

"Super, Dad," Val replies, "just freaking super. Ideas?"

"Remote access?" Artie offers.

"The locking sequence has to be keyed after shield activation."

"We would need a big enough power source, a transmission superstructure, tech-specific architecture...and probably more time." Alex says.

"Which we don't have." Val counters.

"Wouldn't matter," Bentley says lowering the image enhancers. "You're not accounting for background radiation or data sinks. Your chance of success is around point-zero-zero-eight percent. Think harder."

"Any idea if we enhance the energy shielding on our side that we can hold them off longer?" suggests Mogg.

"Yeah, we could use the building's primary dynamo," Val muses.

"Maybe," Bentley replies. "If the shield was powered by the building's main generators. Wait...are we factoring in that Annihilus does or does not possess the Cosmic Rod?"

"Figure he does."

"Pffft...point-zero-zero-five percent. We would be much better off just nuking this place." Bentley goes back to looking through the image enhancers while the other four look at each other as if considering.

"We could do that," Alex says.

"Would it completely rupture the portal?" Val asks. "That could be doing their job for them."

"Not sure. But even if it didn't, the dead zone from the fallout should buy us enough time..."

"So, again," Val says interrupting him. "Stall? That's our best idea? And with what bomb?" She tempted to look at Bentley to see if he has one but she doubts he'd have a nuke...no, he doesn't have his backpack.

"You're also forgetting that even the enhanced shield wouldn't maintain full integrity in proximity to ground zero. We could die of radiation leaking through into the lab." Mogg counters.

"No other choice, cost of doing business..." Artie says.

"We have to stop them," Alex says with a shake of his head. "It's sure there's some fissile material in one of the labs."

"Chance of success: eight percent." Bentley comments. "I find the idea of building another bomb very exciting."

"So that's it then?" Alex says feeling a hint of Oppenheimer's chill.

"No," Val forces herself to say. Too many variables and not enough of a success rate. Yet there is one course that has a hundred percent chance of success. "Still too much risk, Alex. The odds aren''t good enough. Someone's going to have to stay behind."
ever_lovin: (A Death in the Family)
"Someone's gotta stay? That's it...there's nothin' else?" Ben asks once the situation was explained to him, Johnny and Franklin.

"Bentley?" Val says in reply.

Bentley watches the read out of the image enhancer but the army of insectiods is like a cloud and he really doesn't need the numbers to know how dire things are. "Sixty-three seconds until the Annihilation Wave hits."

"One minute, Uncle Ben," Val says tonelessly. She wishes it could be some other way but facts are facts. "We're simply out of time."

Ben thinks back on the week he's had and can't argue that now would be a great time to go. "Well, then..it's been fun. Get everyone on the other side Johnny."

"You've got to be joking!" Johnny says taken aback.

"Not this time pal. Because of you, I just had one the best weeks of my life. No way I go out owin' you."

"C'mon! There's gotta be something you're not thinking of...right?" Johnny begs the kids. "Isn't there anything else?"

The kids look at each other one more time hoping for a miracle but no one has anymore ideas.

"No." Val says and the kids turn back to the portal and begin walking through.

"Okay...that settles it then," Johnny says as if he accepts the choice.

Bentley takes one last look before stepping through. "They're here. Incoming."

"Tell Alicia..," Ben starts to say but then turns when he sees Johnny move as if to hug him. Aw cripes man, kid's gonna make me cry. Instead Johnny grabs Ben's collar and waistband, spins and throws him towards the portal. "Johnny! What're you...NO!" Ben manages before he's through the portal.

Johnny reaches and activates the energy button before Ben can race back.

"You stupid dumb...Open this back up! OPEN IT!!" Ben yells.

"We can't," Val says looking downcast. "There's no time left! If he's going to activate the vibranium shield it has to be now."

"I could make more time." Franklin offers still feeling the buzz of his returned powers.

"No. That's not...that's..." Ben's really tempted, really, but then he thinks, And have another M-day or Onslaught on their hands. Damnit, I'm sorry Johnny I just can't risk the world for you. "Val, just tell him how to work the thing."

Val looks up to Johnny. "Okay Johnny, listen closely. Enter the access code (4-3-2-1), that'll engage the failsafe lockdown. This will also randomize the access code, so no one on your side - including you - will be able to open it again." She pauses and wants so badly to apologize but it's just facts right? She's not sending her uncle to his death.  There's really no other choice, the facts speak for themselves. "Dad will have a backdoor built in. We'll be back."

Johnny knows this last isn't going to be any help for him but smiles for Val anyway. He knows she's trying to make him feel better, to give him some hope. Behind him the first barrage of energy attacks begins. "Entering the code." He reports and then looks to Ben. "When you see Reed and Sue...you tell them...tell them this is where I made my stand."

The gravity of the situation has frozen Ben in his tracks. He can't move and his limbs feel leaden. HIs chest tightens.

Johnny turns back to the portal's instruments. "Engaging the locking mechanism."

A sudden spasm grips Ben and he nearly collapses from a sudden weight. His skin feels like it's suddenly drying out and hardening. "Urk! Wai..." Panic hits and he wants to fight the situation. He starts pounding on the energy shield. "Wait! No!" He feels like he could smash through anything as a sudden energy surge washes through him. He could save Johnny...but then damn the world. "NO!NO!NO!" Too late he's back to his old self (When did 'his old self' mean the Thing?) and Johnny's still in another universe sacrificing himself.

"Unbelievable." Johnny says and Ben just gives him a look.

"You don't wish it any more than I do," Johnny says and holds out his hand to the energy shield. Ben raises his and touches Johnny's through the shield. Johnny pulls back first as the blasts from the Annihilation Wave are nearly on top of him.

"So. This is it." Johnny says over his shoulder as he turns to face the Wave which now covers the horizon as far as he can see. "A billion to one." He laughs a little. "You think I'm afraid of that? You Think I'm Afraid Of That?!?! FLAME ON!!!!"

Ben can only watch as the vibranium shield closes. "Oh God, John..." he manages before all his strength leaves him and he falls to the floor. Grief and guilt well up inside him and overwhelm him.

Smothering...pulling him down...


Drowniing...washing everything away...


Until he feels Franklin and Val crawl up beside him...


Gotta be strong.....they need me.


It should've been me.

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Benjamin J Grimm

February 2013

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