Polyergus ultronus

May 03, 2015:

Ant-Man and the Wasp attempt to discuss Hank's move to THINK and end up fighting an artificial ant queen with Ultron's programming.

van Dyne Industries, New York City


NPCs: Ultron


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The name on the glass door to the lab reads 'HENRY PYM, Ph.D.' in tall letters. On most days, there'd be a bustle of activity within as numerous experiments are pursued simultaneously.

At the moment, though, there's only one project: packing boxes.

Pym himself finishes squiggling some label in marker on the side of a newly closed container: 'Hazardous chemicals.' He sets it aside on a nearby counter and then begins writing the same phrase on another box.

Well Janet wasn't sure this was right when HAL informed her that Dr. Pym was packing up his lab. She shrinks and zips down, it is faster than taking the elevator even the executive elevator as fast as it is. After several moments of just staring in shock at all of the boxes she grows back to full human sized sitting on one of the lab tables now. "What is going on Hank!?" she is in one of her latest black and yellow 'leather' costumes made with the fabrication units you made for her.

With a sigh, Hank's shoulders slump just a bit. "You know, I'll be honest: I was kind of hoping this was going to take much less time than it has. Too many delicate components to direct our, ah, six-legged companions to move and organize without incident." He finishes up another box label — 'Part. Reagents - DO NOT OPEN' — and gently places the marker on top of the box.

"I'm sorry, Janet. I appreciate the support you've shown. The space, the funding. The friendship. But…" he pauses for a moment and grimaces slightly. "I don't want to put you in danger. And it seems like the further I pursue these lines of inquiry with cybernetics, the more likely that would be. So instead…" he waves a hand to the collection of packed equipment.

Janet looks clearly dismayed at your wave, glancing across all of the boxes there. "But." she starts then frowns stopping. She just takes a long moment "The lab is reinforced and safe Hank… I am sure you are not going to do anything to the building that you won't be able to undo with science and a bit of effort." yeah she trusts you. I mean she trusted you enough to let you infuse her with Pym Particles and modify her genetics. I mean Wasp Wings right. What the heck.

Janet hops down off the lab table and walks over. "Where are you going to go… I mean if you are worried about the building we could set you up in a remote lab?"

Hank Pym shakes his head and puts a hand on Janet's shoulder. "It's not just the building, don't you see? I'm worried about yo — "

Just then, there's a crash that sounds like it's coming from counter space across the lab — where the ant farms are kept.

"What's going on?" Pym mutters.

On the other counter, it sounds like there is movement. And a buzz with a distinct rhythm. With a moment of attunement, one might tell that it's morse code. And it's repeating the same word. PYM PYM PYM PYM PYM

"Janet," Hank states, "I think the ants might have activated something they shouldn't have."

Well that figures. Serious tak. The guy almost admits he is worried about her. Then Ants Activating Something Dangerous. "Right." she notes with a bemusement "I suppose we should either dive out of the lab and drop the shielding.. or we should rush into certain danger and try to save them?" yeah well she seems more inclined into rushing into danger. She really seems to relish this whole superheroing even for Ants.

Janet starts to shrink rapidly, because even if it is fleeing she can fly faster than she can run after all. Those super science wings pop when she gets below 4ft in height and soon she is buzzing in front of you.

Even as Janet begins shrinking, Hank turns to an untaped box on the floor and pulls out his chrome helmet. Then, he jumps up upon the counter and tugs off his jacket, shrinking as he sets the helmet on his head and reveals the costume beneath his civilian garb.

He's silent for a few moments, making as much distance as he can across the lab counter before making a tremendous leap to the next counter. "I — I can't seem to reach them!" he calls out. "Something's blocking the signal!"

The Morse buzzing continues, slowly growing louder. But that's not all: as the insect-sized heroes make their way towards the other end of the lab, they can see an oncoming swarm of ants, rushing as fast as they can!

Janet hovers near you "Okay .. um… crud!" she then does something she finds, distasteful, she pops her own antenna as she tries to reach out to the ongcoming swarm of ants. Really she is trying to calm them with her thoughts, boosting your efforts perhaps. Or at least understand what has them in a frenzy. Are they fleeing or attacking. She really doesn't want to hurt any of your ants. Heck she isn't sure you would forgive her after all.

There's a mess of sounds to untangle as one nears the site of the swarm. Against one laboratory wall was a half-dozen or so massive ant farms containing different species.

Luckily, they're not all in a state of chaos. Three of the ant farms seem intact, and one can — with a bit of concentration — make out the signals that pass for mundane communication among the drones of these different farms.

However, there are two farms whose glass facades have broken, and from which ants have poured out. One of these colonies, whose nearby label reads "Myrmecia gulosa (bull ant)" is confused, with its members trying both to salvage the geography of the shattered colony and to defend that territory from any potential predators.

The other of these colonies, whose label reads "Solenopsis mandibularis (fire ant)," has a far more singular goal — the repeating mantra-buzz of PYM PYM PYM PYM that accompanies the rush of a host of brown insects launches itself across the counter-tops toward Ant-Man and (below) the Wasp. At their rear, perhaps, urging on the others, one might get a momentary glimpse of a bright, silver queen.

"So," Pym shouts, "I have a theory…"

Janet swoops up a bit higher for a better view of the Queen in the back now. "Is your theory they are really mad at you for some reason… or is it that they want to give you a hug… because all I am getting is your name over and over again…. so what is the theory?" she isn't really teasing, well except about the hug business. She knows worst case you could grow again so she isn't inclined to swoop down to save you yet. She tries to project at the Bull Ants to go back to the damanaged ant farm and be calm!

As if in response, the queen looks up to the flying Wasp with glowing red eyes. It seems to grow wings out of its back … a back that resembles metal more than insect exoskeleton.

"I, ah, may have tried to develop an artificial insectroid recently," Pym says, launching himself over the nearest fire ant to land on the back of another. When it, and its nearest companions, turn to snap at him, he takes another leap away. "I thought I'd packed it up — but I think the worker ants helping me move took it in as one of their own. It was going to be an entomological innovation," he adds, his voice sinking. "An ant that could coordinate the labor of trillions of other ants, for the good of man … Polyergus ultronus."

As if on cue, the queen's wings begin to beat, and the red-eyed creature zips upward into the air, directly toward Janet! "PYM," it signals, and its army echoes with a buzz below.

Janet hovers there watching this while she listens to Hank "Soo…. does that mean you won't be too upset if I smash it… because it seems to be really mad right now and hostile…" she zips up a little further from it's army because she wants time to recover in case this thing kicks her butt down towards the swarming ants. "Because.. well sorry Hank!"

With that appology still in the air Janet extends her palm at the oncoming robot ultron ant and starts to zap little wasp stings at it now.. .ZZT ZZT ZZT.

"Right! Yes! Please — please do!" To cement his point, Ant-Man lands between two fire ants and punches one in the side of the head. Then, he somersaults onto its back and keeps running into and through the swarm.

The Ultron queen ant zags about, trying to dodge the Wasp's stings. Unfortunately, one bores a hole in a wing, and the creature begins spinning about in a corkscrew. "PYM!" it chirps again, and its eyes glow brighter. Then, a sharp laser beam bursts from its face toward the winsome heroine.

"The sooner we can shut it down, the better!" Hank shouts. "I'm trying to get closer to the bull ants that we might use as allies … but it looks like the queen's attempting to adapt! If you can keep it on its toes, we might have a chance! We can't let it leave the room and get connected to any sort of network!"

Janet almost gets blasted with the eye lasers, dodging the first blast and then she really almost gets zapped by the second blast "Wait … Adapt!?" she twists and her side gets singed. Thank goodness for the armor weave in the unstable molecular mesh making up her costume "Ack.. hot.." she lifts both hands now and ZZZTS a larger sting at the robot ant queen even as she starts to dive right at it.. ZZZT ZZZT

The Wasp's blasts take out Ultron-ant's wings, and the artificial insect crashes to the counter-top below, smashing into several snapping drones, crushing several before the queen rolls onto its feet. Its own head extends quickly, with a massive pair of pincers emerging. "PYM!" it chirps, and turns to chase down the other miniaturized adventurer. Almost simultaneously, the host of fire ants does the same.

"Almost … there!" Ant-Man cries, nearing the edge of the counter. With a desperate leap, he launches himself toward the broken ant colony of the bull ants. "Thanks for the help, Janet — I think Ultron's preoccupied enough to keep them confused."

A brief signal for help later, and a second swarm of ants moves Pym's way … this time, as allies. He slips onto the back of one, and they charge their cousins to meet upon a tiny field of battle.

Janet doesn't really want to zzzt the fire ants, so she swoops along above the swarm headed towards Hank and ZZZTs at the metallic queen still. Trying to knock some back legs out to disable it for Hank before he gets there on his Bull Ant mount. "Why is it so angry Hank?" she shouts down at the battle field.

Of course the security footage of this whole thing will be very odd later. Two small swarms of ants and the occasionally flash of red lasers and burst of wasp sting across the miniature battlefield. None of the building security is really alarmed because no alarms have gone off yet.

The bull ants begin springing into the air, jumping high above and then down onto their enemies, Ant-Man's makeshift steed among them. "I may have reached a little too far with my early AI work," he replies. "Ultron — in this form and others — has a major grudge against me for creating it. You know — unghh!" he adds, kicking away a fire ant, " — the Oedipal thing."

"It's stuff like this that's making me see the need to go. I can't risk bringing harm to you, Janet! I mean, imagine what would have happened if everything hadn't been unplugged and boxed away?"

Janet isn't the scientist she is plenty smart though "It would have what.. uploaded itself… eaten the technology… should I be worried about HAL?" which is the personal assistant program you designed for her. She swoops low and tries to blast the ultron-ant-queen from behind. "I think you just need a remote lab or someting..where the people in the tower won't be in danger from stuff like this is all Hank!" ZZZzzT

"Remote is the plan! Safe is the plan!" Ant-Man replies between a left- and right-cross combo to another fire ant. "But part of 'safe' is your life not being threatened!"

Meanwhile, it's full-blown antpocalypse as the fire ants and bull ants do their best to decimate one another. While Ant-Man's helping the bulls, the Ultron queen shreds many of them with ease. Unfortunately for Ultron, the Wasp's blasts continue to pepper it, eliminating limbs almost as fast as the queen can build replacements. As it does so, however, it /seems/ like the insectroid may be very slowly becoming smaller.

"Keep at it!" Pym calls. "We've got to press on so that there's nowhere for it to go! And once it's eliminated, the others will return to normal — I hope!"

Wasp definitely hopes so there. She drifts lower to keep up the pace of ZZT wasp stings at it "Man this thing is durable for something so small.." she knows her Stings can lay a major beat down to just about anything after all. She drifts too low though and a fireant snags her and pulls her into the scrum "Ack!" it is very temporary as she bursts back up and ZZZTS the ant latched onto her leg. Then sends another volley at the ultron-ant "You do remember I am a superhero with superpowers that you gave me Hank.. I can handle some danger!" in fact she loves the danger and the rush. "but remote does make sense from the building and all the normal workers…"

More fire ants attempt to snap up in the air at the Wasp as she flies about. The Ultron queen does as well, jumping with a burst of strength that falls just too short. Another red laser beam fires from its eyes with a sharp »ZARK« sound.

"That's it, you sonofa … keep your focus there …" Ant-Man mutters to himself as he sprints across the backs of various ants engaged in close combat with one another. "Jan — if you can time a well-placed blast just right, I think we can overtax him … NOW!" he shouts, launching himself forward like a staple-sized bullet at the back of the queen's head.

Janet winces there as she gets nailed in the leg by that ZARK of a laser blast. Still singed not hurt, damn fine sciencing the costume Hank. She does listen to your NOW and dives in hard and fast ZZT ZTT ZZZZT ZZT into the Thorax of the Ult-Queen-Ant "On it!"

The combined efforts of Ant-Man and Wasp seem to disrupt the Ultron queen enough for the insect war to pause momentarily, the fire ants' fury subsiding. The artificial ant, meanwhile, has nearly been ripped in twain by the Wasp's sustained fire.

"That's it!" Pym cheers, and points to the queen attempting to regenerate itself. A combined team of fire and bull ants begin tugging at its thorax, head, and extremities, pulling the queen apart. Tiny electrical sparks fly as it is destroyed, and the lights in its eyes die out.

"Quick, friends, let's not wait for it to cannibalize any components for power," Pym says, and the ants begin to spread out the pieces of the queen. "Janet, you have enough juice to slag these parts in a flash? I don't want to risk this version of Ultron being reborn while we can prevent it."

Well not that Janet isn't in danger of being dragged down by the fire ants again she zips down and starts to ZZZT each of the components when the ants pull it apart "Sure thing Hank!" she dances around from component to component and ZZTs them moving as quick as she can manage to do the job.

With a heavy sigh — perhaps one of relief more than anything else — Hank puts a hand to his helmet and purses his lips. He's quiet for a minute or so, watching Janet fry the busted pieces of the ultronus ant.

"I'm sorry I didn't talk this through with you. I am. But I just — there's only so much I'm willing to risk, Jan. I need to see these projects through. I can't do that here. Plus …" he clears his throat and sets his hands on his hips. "There are some resources that I want to get access to, and this was the best way to make that access happen. Like it or not, market-driven corporations aren't generally up for sharing their secrets with potential competitors."

Janet blasts the last couple of fragments as she ZZZTs them once more and then lands next to you with a laugh "That was exciting!" yes she is definitely singed but the adrenaline is still rushing inside her. "Oh…" she blinks "Well true… but I don't want you out on your own Hank.. how can you get access to stuff from other corporations on your own?"

For the first time today, Pym allows himself a slight smile. "Oh, you know, I /THINK/ I'll be alright. There are some conversations best hand outside the confines of industrial NDAs and the fear of product marketability." He raises a hand. "I know that you've never been guilty of pushing me to prove that sort of feasibility. Just speaking in generalities."

As Hank speaks, the various ants begin returning toward their colonies, attempting to rebuild what parts of it they can — although it's clear they'll need some assistance.

"I'm not trying to push you away, not fully. I'm doing what I thought was best." He sighs and takes his helmet off. "Running concurrent iterative simulations of theoretical science in my head is easier than allowing myself to get too close to someone, you know."

Janet just sighs at that, she figured that was part of it. "Hank you are not a robot no matter how many of them you seem to like to create. You also do not get to decide what others get to do or not do or feel." she shakes her head. "I do agree that your plan to get outside the company to be able to talk to other academics and do more pure research…" she considers that idea. "So don't push me away, let me keep helping your research somehow you goof…"

"I'll try to do better, Jan," Hank replies, hanging his head a bit. "I don't want to lose you from my life … even as I recognize that I might be accidentally losing you from my life in a totally different way."

He slips his helmet back on and smiles. "Tell you what. You ever seen ant infrastructure development up close and personal? Very different affair from what you can witness from a distance."

Janet reaches out and touches your shoulder "Good Hank because I worry about you and how can I make sure you are okay if I can't keep an eye on you." that part is teasing, but the worrying and therefore caring seems to be genuine. She lets go when you helmet up and then nods "Sure. I mean no I haven't ever seen them work on development.. just the finished product really. Want to show me around?"

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