Gleaming the Spheres

May 14, 2015:

Ant-Man, Lunair, and Martian Manhunter deal with the sudden appearance of crackling energy spheres that threaten to implode a chunk of Manhattan into another dimension.

Upper Manhattan, NYC

Not known for its tourist trade, Upper Manhattan is generally considered to start at the base of Central Park, along 59th Street, though you're just as likely to hear New Yorkers tell you to look north of 96th Street. It's one of the most affluent areas in the U.S., a center of business and commerce and upscale residences ranging from the mansions of the Upper East Side to the high-end condos and luxury high rises of the Upper West Side. While its most northerly neighborhoods may not quite rival the two sweeping swathes of ritz and power that flank the great park, even traditionally poor Harlem has seen considerable gentrification over the past two or three decades.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

So far…

It's been an average day in NYC. The sun is shining. Traffic is a nightmare. Tourists from all over the world take more photos than they'll ever look at later. Costumed individuals fly through the air, swing through the streets, and parkour across the rooftops.

Among the police bulletins, news reports, and tweets that punctuate nearly every minute of the day are a series of seemingly disconnected messages about short-lived bursts of bright yellow energy that materialize around the city for seconds or minutes before disappearing again.

Not a big deal, right? Unfortunately, from the various messages reporting this phenomenon, it sounds like the energy bursts are lasting longer and getting larger.

So now:

At the edge of Central Park, a young couple finds their hair standing on end, as if static electricity is suddenly sparking. The edges of their loose clothing are drawn toward some nearby point in the air.

Then, there's a burst of light, and the two members of the couple shriek and flee! Then, there's a ten-foot-wide sphere of crackling energy. In fact, it looks not unlike this…

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J'onn, for the most part, kept out of the limelight when possible- he tends to keep to the southern hemisphere, allowing big blue to take care of the north. However, he lives not far from NYC and strange energy bursts are certainly something that may be problematic. J'onn flies over the city, Martian Senses picking up the disturbances as they happen- tracing them towards Central Park. he lands not far from the disturbance as it appears. He stands motionless, watching with glowing red eyes- waiting. Just in case.

Lunair is kind of heroic. But when you're a HYDRA project and tranq darted fairly often, life is a little difficult. But she's not going to go on and angst about it. She's got stuff to do. Gifts to get her boyfriend, plans to make, fruit to take home. Homework to do. Even though she adores botany. And there's a pause as her phone starts acting strangely.

She blinks. She was going to get a slushie in the park when there's a freaking burst of light. She jogs over, carrying her messenger bag with her. What the noodles?
There's one more hero racing to the scene — as fast as his winged mount can fly him.

It's Hank Pym, the tiny titan better known as ANT-MAN, and his trusty mount, the flying ant Donovan!

His voice blares, much louder than his size might suggest, being amplified through his helmet. "Evacuate the area!" he calls out. "Get away from the entity!"

Pulling Donovan's reins to slow him as the mighty mite nears the park, Ant-Man leaps off his ally and night-instantaneously increases in size, somersaulting to land on his feet in his normal human height.

"Please!" he continues. "Get back! I'm a trained professional! Believe me!"

Meanwhile, the ball of crackling energy continues to glow, a slow pulse of brightening and dimming as its globe-like components float about and — perhaps — even more slowly growing in size.

The seven-foot tall green Martian looks over towards Hank as he begins to shout. His eyes seem to glow a bit brighter- and those unable to defend themselves are gently urged to exit the large urban park. Its cold, or time to go home- just a small psychic push for their safety. "The citizens of this city will be protected." he offers in that bass voice before he turns again towards the 'entity' "What is this?" he asks of Hank. "What danger does it represent?"

Okay. A light thingy. Lunair kind of blinks at it. And then, there's a loud voice? Is she hearing things? Lunair pulls an orange bottle out of her bag, frowns at it and throws it into a trashcan. Sigh. Then, all of a sudden, ANT-MAN! The girl jerks, startled. Then there's a familiar voice. "Hi!" It's the alien guy! J'onn, yes? Yes. Regardless, power armor of some sort appears over Lunair in a dark blue color. "Is it friendly? Hi Light!" Wave.

"Funny story," Ant-Man replies. "Kind of funny, anyway."

From his belt, the hero procures a small device that he uses to begin scanning the glowing ball of energy.

As another voice joins the conversation, Ant-Man turns to regard the approaching woman.

"I'll be honest," he says, looking back and forth from the Martian Manhunter to Lunair. "I'm glad to see I won't be tackling this alone. This is a wayward 'zit' of energy from a pocket dimension. Normally, we'd never see this sort of bleed-through. But … ah … an intern incorrectly typed in the parameters for synthesizing—"

He stops. "You know what? Specifics there may be unimportant. Here's what we need to know. This is a hole — like a rip in fabric — into a dimension that stores mass from our dimension. We need to seal it up before it pops, because as it grows, it risks bursting. When it does, it's going to suck a ton of mass from this spot with it. Like, half this city block."

"I see. How then do we seal it?" J'onn asks of Hank simply, as he begins to fly in place- ready to react. "And what should we expect from this 'entity'?" he states as he continues to scan the anomaly with his additional Martian Senses- able to more fully understand the tear as it forms than most simply due to evolutionary advantage.

Lunair blinks beneath her black visor. She tilts her head. It… seems to make sense so far. There's a quiet curiosity from the power armored person. "Yeah, I get the feeling that just poking it isn't going to end well. I've only been to a few portal type closings but none of the physics zit type," She admits. She's got an evolutionary advantage, but alas, not in the senses department.

"Well, here's the thing," Ant-Man says. "We need to stitch it up, metaphorically. But to do that …"

He grimaces slightly. "I need to shrink you down with me. We need to swap our mass over there, so it's got less to work with for us. The downside — other than being the size of an insect — is that the stitching isn't so much an act of finesse as it is of stunt driving. Zig-zagging between macromolecules of extradimensional energy."

With a shrug, he adds, "You know — standard Thursday afternoon fare. So … either of you in?"

"How small do I need to be?" J'onn asks as he simply begins to change shape on his own- shunting his own mass out as his form shrinks- it seems Mr. Pym isn't the only one who can change size at will. "I am able to shrink to Microscopic, but not sub-atomic sizes." he explains, even as he puts into action what Hank has suggested. "Or, I can lower my density to such that I am able to phase through physical objects. Either is within my abilities. This is your mission, Sir, tell me which would work best."

"Ive never shrunk, but I can - go with it. How does it happen?" Lunair looks a little confused. "I'm actually really good at driving," It's one of her talents, really. Then a head. Tilt. "… your Thursdays are a lot more interesting than mine." At least he doesn't have to deal with roving HYDRA squads.
"If you've ever been a cropduster, it's a lot like that," Ant-Man responds, as a swarm of ants surges forward like a wave, carrying what appears to be an unwieldy chrome instrument that resembles a firearm as much as it does a microscope. In addition, two devices that could be first-generation walkmans are brought along.

"You'll take one of these," Ant-Man says, handing one of the not-walkmans to the Manhunter. "Once you shrink appropriately, the device — which will change size with you — will begin to automatically deploy its payload in a uniform fashion. Your biggest task will be navigate between the energy globes without touching them. Touching them is bad." He shakes his head. "We don't want that."

Bending over to pick up the microscope-gun-device, Pym clears his throat and looks to Lunair. "So, let me know when you're ready to go down a few sizes. And I've got a ride all ready for you if you need some help flying."

"Very well." J'onn replies, with a nod. "I will begin, then, to apply this payload. Thank you for the warning." The Martian states flatly as he gets down to the size of an Ant- making an assumption based on what he'd seen before. Flying, of course, is no problem for the Martian Manhunter. He begins to fly- his arm shifting so that the device trails just behind him as he zips through the air like a little green bug.

Ants!? Lunair blinks. She looks between the two. "… hi ants," Remembering her thought that Earth would have a lot less problems if people got along with more things and said hello to aliens. Lunair listens, though. She will accept a not-walkman, then. "Sure thing. And that'd be neat. I'm not sure if my boots and armor will work when I am that small. Maybe they will…" She considers. But she will let herself get shrunk down.

With a nod, Ant-Man offers a thin smile. "Fantastic. Let's do this."

ZZZZZORRRRPPP

goes his microscope-gun, and Lunair, for a nanosecond, is coated with a liquid spray of particles that are almost immediately bathed in chemicals to catalyze a reaction that results in her being roughly an inch in height! On the ground near her feet is a winged ant that stares at her expectantly. It even has a small saddle and reins for a rider.

A moment later, Ant-Man himself is similarly tiny, leaping into the air to land on another flying insect. "We have to hurry! I'm not sure how much longer this phenomenon will subsist — and this the largest of them so far."

He adds, just a /bit/ more quietly, "…so I'm not sure if the tear will open large enough to let any residents through."

J'onn continues on, flitting from place to place as the others begin their own tasks, shouting out- his voice booming much like Hank's had. "Shall I connect our minds to allow for better communication?" he offers out, while weaving through the energy field.

Lunair's eyes widen a bit. Did she just get ZZZZZORRRRPPP'd? She did. She is shrunk! It's a bit mind boggling. "Well, this is new," An arm is waved experimentally. "Oh, that's kind of cute." In an odd, anty way. "Okay!" Lunair will gently climb into the ant with the same care that one would a horse. It is a living being after all. "… I'll try to be polite if I bump into anyone." But she settles on to help.
As the heroes begin to weave their way through the mobile, crackling energy mass, they may begin to encounter various forms of resistance.

For one, the crackling is a LOT like electrical static — and bolts of un-lightning spark out in gargantuan (well, minute) arcs to briefly connect together two glowing spheres, lighting both up in the process.

For another, the movement of these globes is erratic, so plotting an easy course through the gaps between energy spheres is a bit tricky.

For yet another, there's a LOT of these darn things!

Ant-Man zips about, his winged mount soaring upward before diving downward and nailing a ninety-degree turn nearly on a dime in order to avoid being smashed together between two rippling balls of energy. "Whoa there, Ringo!" he calls out, rubbing his steed's head for assurance.

"Manhunter, I'll admit I've never been one to do well with telepathic communication. But if it's your preference, feel free to talk that way!"

*Very Well. I shall act as a switchboard for thought-based communication. It is rather quick, and unaffected by this tear in the universe.* The Manhunter thinks into Hank and Lunair's heads, *Only what you wish to be communicated will be communicated.* he assures the others as he continues to flit and fly between energy blobs with a surprising grace. His Martian Senses allowing him to better 'feel' where things are, particularly at the size-scale the trio now have.

"They have names? What do I call mine?" She asks. She will do her best to keep her ant-steed safe. Lunair is a mercenary who generally has no problems killing things in combat, but this feels different somehow. This is so bizarre. Does J'onn know about the nanites in her brain? There's a deep unease. But no time to contemplate it. She and her ant have zaps to worry about. They have to go low, pulling a cobra-like flight maneuver. "Whoa."

"We got this." Good ant, goood. She tries this brain thing. *Testing? Hi there. Okay, I think I got this.*

"That's Donovan," Ant-Man says to Lunair. "He might be the most mellow insect friend I've ever had."

But even as the shrunken adventurers zag their way between the crackling energy spheres, there are other sounds that may catch their attention. Ripping, tearing, cracking — the sounds of crumbling asphalt as chunks of the street, and trees along the edge of the park, are pulled up toward the energy.

"Watch out!" Ant-Man cries. "Manhunter, you want to deal with that damage control about to say bye-bye to existence? We've got to hurry, or else — whoa!"

Ringo, Pym's mount, appears to be not quite as adept at zipping about as he might be. A single ant leg grazes one of the pulsing energy orbs, and the ant seems to disappear or disintegrate.

Ant-Man, however, is still present … for the moment. Unfortunately, he's falling through the air — directly into the center of the swarming mass of crackling energy!

"A little help?!"

Does J'onn know about the nanites in Luna's brain? Yes. He knows.. He's seen them- when one can see through flesh and bone, and see at the microscopic scale without aide its not so difficult to figure these things out. Does he actually care? No. He doesn't. Lunair has shown herself to be of a heroic bent, and so he accepts her as she is. J'onn is only transmitting the thoughts of others, he is not truly 'reading minds' at the moment. *Lunair, go to Hank's aide. I must pick up the pace, here." There's a tiny pop as J'onn's speed breaks the sound barrier- its not unlike the sound of a gun going off, he begins to flit on that far side of the opening tear, applying Hank's solution to the anomaly at increasing speed. He is a green blur as he shrinks down even more to allow himself better maneuverability. The device itself is shielded by a 'bubble' of J'onn's own body, only the emitting end revealed to keep it protected from the increased stress.

Lunair is generally heroic. Generally. But she goes with it. *Okay,* Lunair and her ant kind of bobble and Zip. "C'mon little buddy." Maybe she'll - oh yeah. She can give her ant armor. Maybe it'll help, maybe not. But Lunair and her armored ant mount flit over in a hurry to scoop Hank up and have him ride on. "You're probably better at steering than me," So she lets Hank decide if he rides fron or behind her. Nevertheless, she will make sure Hank is not going to fall and be disintegrated.

"Whooo
ooo
aa
a
a
a
!"

cries Ant-Man as he flails about, dropping like a tiny rock through the air. Moments before he's about to faceplant against a sparking bubble, Lunair's maneuvering allows him to clutch on to the front legs of Donovan the flying ant. While the airborne steed dips a bit with the added weight (and its momentum), its newfound armor hisses against the crackling energy … but it is protected!

"Oh, thank goodness," Pym whispers with a sigh. "We're almost done, I think…" He looks about, and almost as if on cue, the mass of energy begins emitting a sound similar to balloons deflating.

"Good, good. So," he adds, "now we want to get away from the ground-zero point of this phenomenon before it implodes back into its own dimension-space."

The Manhunter zips around the anomaly coming to fly near Ant-Man and Lunair, *Come then! Let us go while this thing closes.* he responds as he flies in formation with Donovan, Hank and Lunair towards away from the closing rift.

"Ah, sorry!" She frowns. It's her first time riding an ant. Lunair offers a thanks to Donovan. Thanks ant-bro. She's relieved and winces as the armor crackles. She quietly repairs it on the fly. They nod. She steers Donovan as best as she can, mainly working on catching anything she needs to and keeping the ant nicely armored.

"Good! Good! Let's high-tail it!" Ant-Man exclaims. "Or maybe that's high-abdomen it, buddy," he adds, patting Donovan as well.

The ant-riding pair zoom off away from the energy spheres, following the Martian Manhunter to a safer distance than "immediate proximity to danger."

Moments later, the deflation sound increases, and the tearing tree branches and trunks, along with jagged chunks of asphalt, are temporarily pulled closer toward the weird energy.

Then, there's a nearly deafening POP and the glowing disappears, collapsing in on itself as the energy is sucked back into its own dimension.

The floating asphalt immediately drops. Trees stop buckling and whip back toward their original growth postures. Branches and leaves sprinkle the sidewalk.

"Well," Ant-Man says, "I think that may have done the trick."

J'onn nods over to the still Ant-Sized duo near by. "Lets hope so." J'onn says as he begins to return to his natural size. He stands in quiet as he surveys what damage this anomaly had caused. "Damage is minimal." he reports as he continues to quietly scan the surroundings. "I do not sense further disruptions." he continues as those glowing red eyes of his scan back and forth.

Cricket is all business as she walks from midtown manhattan. She must be using a bluetooth that is hidden by her hair, worn loose and free, because she seems to be talking on the phone. Or perhaps, in spite of her business class attire, she's just a run of the mill crazy who is talking to herself. "No. No, I'm afraid that won't do at all. We at Stark Industries have very high standards and unless you can remove the problem I have mentioned, we will stop using your product. Do I make myself… clear?" The petite asian woman has to pause as she looks at what unfolds in front of her. But the pause is the only sign that it has caused her any dismay. "I will get back to you in a weeks time. If the problem isn't solved again, we will not be renewing our contract with you. Goodbye." A quircked brow and Cricket watches the mayhem. She mutters softly to herself. "JARVIS, sending you a scan of my current location for analysis."

Lunair is riding Donovan-and they high-abdomen it on out. She keeps Donovan armored until they are away from the popping and such. Zooming off is good, yes. Lunair peers at what just went down. "I hope so… that was… something," She considers. Lunair will wave at Cricket, if she's even big enough to be noticed just yet. But Lunair is still armored up. Oops.

Noticing Lunair wave, Ant-Man's eyes widen under his helmet. "Woops," he mutters. "Let me get that for you."

With another quick ZZZZORRRPPP, Pym's microscope-weapon fires a second burst of catalyzed chemicals at his companion, whose size rapidly returns her to her normal height.

"There you are," he adds, getting back on his saddled flying ant and flitting into the air at face level.

"Thanks to the both of you — my instruments aren't reading any immediate subsequent anomalies, but I'm going to keep an eye out for any social media reports. I have the feeling, though, that we've saved the day. The last thing Manhattan needed was to be inverted in another dimension."

"Yes. Thank you. Your timely arrival ensured this problem could be solved appropriately. Without your technology we would not have been able to solve this issue with the minimum of collateral damage." J'onn says, even as he turns to look towards Cricket. Odd that she was passing though his field that pushed human minds away. Odder still that she seemed to have no thoughts that he could read. Not even a mind. The Martian turns to scan the odd woman. "Most interesting." he states, his attention turning towards this newcomer.

Oddly enough, in spite of Lunair's very small size, Cricket does indeed wave back to her. She couldn't possibly have seen an ant-sized flying object waving to her though, could she? Well, her human facade couldn't, but she's not entirely human and often forgets she needs to fake it. She approaches as Lunair is made her regular size again. She looks to the flying ant and its rider. "My sources tell me that there is currently nothing being reported on police scanners. As J'onn refers to her being interesting, Cricket regards him, giving him a quick scan. Definately not human. "I could say the same about you, sir."

Whee! Lunair is embiggened! Her eyes widen a bit beneath her helmet. She smiles. "Thanks, Mister -" Pause. "Ant." Ant guy? She has no idea. "Thanks for helping us not be all inverted," She offers. And Lunair is technically not human, depending on how one classifies mutants. But she's always kind of thought of herself as a human. Either way, there's a farewell for Hank and a pause. Did… that lady wave back while she was tiny? How odd.

"Ant-Man. It's Ant-Man," Pym replies. "But it's OK. I'm not really a big name."

He offers a casual salute and then begins taking to the skies. "I'm sure we'll meet again — hopefully in a situation where we all know what's going on to the same degree. Until then, though, I thank you for your help. You and the Manhunter both."

As Cricket approaches and joins the conversation, Ant-Man lets out a low whistle. "Sources, eh? Glad to hear someone's got a solid channel for that sort of thing. I've got to rely on my own lab instruments. Speaking of which — there's an intern I need to have a chat with … !"

With that, the airborne Ant-Man zips off toward the afternoon horizon.

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