Hell Jell-O

April 06, 2015:

After encountering an inappropriately sized gelatin mold, Lunair and a couple members of the Fantastic Four return to the Baxter Building for decontamination, only to find that the labs are already busy.

The Baxter Building

A towering middle finger to the limits of conventional science.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

SOME TIME AGO

Approximately fifty meters of satanic gelatin in the shape of a bunny quivers over Times Square, courtesy of Diablo's attempt at quitting crime and breaking into the instant food game.

NOW

Thing leaves a trail of ominously glowing red gelatin in his wake as he lumbers into a Baxter Building laboratory. He isn't the only hero responsible for showing the misplaced bunny that there was no room for it in Manhattan, but he may well be the dirtiest, thanks to fighting it from inside: he is covered in the stuff from head to toe, and while it isn't immediately painful, it's still aglow.

Also, he's like, fifty percent sure that he caught it creeping up his body once when he wasn't paying attention to it. Or it thought he wasn't paying attention to it.

The glowing and the source might have been enough to merit scans for all of them, but Ben pretty much insisted after that.

"Friggin' holiday don't even make any sense," he grumbles on the way in.


Meanwhile, in one of the labs, Sue is finishing up another blood draw from one Gwen Stacy. "We'll check these against the first samples," she explains. "And I want to be taking these at least weekly. I want to be able to rule out hormones as a potential source of the changes. I'm going to have to do some research on spiders. I don't suppose you know what species it was?" As she hears an entrance down the hall, she peeks her head out the door. "Ben, is that you?" she asks, eyes widening when she sees the goo. "And…is that a biohazard?"


Reed Richards is walking behind his good friend with a datapad in his hand. Offhandedly, he remarks to Ben's opine. "Well, the Christian religion, as they converted pagans in Western Europe found that it was easiest to blend their cultures. The rabbit, a sign of fertility, was extremely important to the pagans at that time. Much like the Christmas Tree that became part of Christian culture. Once you view it as a blend, the rationalization becomes much more clear. Hi, Sue."

Reed takes a look at Gwen Stacy before his head swings back towards Miss Storm.


Gwen looks quite relieved as her and Sue go over the results, she's examining them under a microscope herself, "The protein cells seem normal now. I'm not sure what's causing the changes either, I just hope we can figure it out." She picks up her tablet and begins to look over it, "Here we go…" She shows it to Sue, "Latrodectus Hesperus."


"I never thought jell-o could be malevolent." Sure, Lunair's not the biggest fan since she spent a good chunk of her life in a hospital, but … she's at least not covered in goo. And sure, Johnny is cool and all but there's something in her brain that's been bugging her and it isn't an obnoxious pop song. Brains are cruel that way.

"Wait, is it a biohazard?" Peeeeer at Ben. Step a little away. "I like the candy," Lunair weighs in on the holiday.


"Alright," Ben replies as he pauses in the doorway, "but what kinda bunny did you ever know to give a shit about eggs?" This comes after giving that analysis of the Christian-pagan connections a moment or two to tumble around his noggin; afterwards, he leans out of the doorway to offer, "I dunno. 's why we're here," for Sue and Lunair's peace of mind. "I'm feelin' fine, but it stinks like rotten cherries and brimstone, so who even knows?"

A quick glance between Reed and Sue.

"'side from one'a you in a few minutes, that is. You busy in there?"

Once that question is out, he turns his eyes down to Lunair to offer: "Yeah, guess that part ain't so bad, if you gotta put up with the rest've it. Not really my thing, but it ain't no pebbles off'a my back."


"To the lab shower, please," Sue shakes her head at Ben with a rueful smile, pointing out the path. "Don't pull the lever yet, though, I want to get a sample. I've got a friend of Johnny's here," she adds in explanation for Gwen's presence, not wanting to give away her secret unless she chooses to herself. "She's quite good with biochem herself, though. It might be a useful exercise for her." She flashes a smile over her shoulder at Gwen, stepping out to catch sight of Lunair as well. "Hello," she greets warmly. "I'm Sue, and if you have more of that goo on you, you should follow Ben to the shower, please." After which Reed gets a careful look. "Everything go all right?"


Gwen had gone to school with Johnny and she had met Sue a few times but when she starts realizing just who is speaking she starts to Fangirl a little. Reed Richards and Benjamin Grimm in the same room as her? That was amazing.

Looking incredibly embarrassed she says almost shyly to the pair of heroic legends, "Hi, I'm Gwen." Then she notices Lunair whom she had met, but only in costume and she smiles at the other girl.


"Eggs are common for birds and amphibian birth, Ben," Reed says, completely nonplussed as if he simply cannot fathom the question. He's not trying to be a jerk, but may come off that way.

"It was fine, my love. Aside from a bit of messiness, it presented no significant issues." Reed approaches Sue to land a chaste peck to her cheek before he sits on one of the benches. "Hello," he says to Gwen, wondering if this is Johnny's new gal or not.


Lunair looks confused a moment. "I'll go after him." She's totally not going to wander in at the same time. That would be weird and rude. "Hello, Miss Sue! I'm Lunair." She seems comfortable enough using her real name with her. Lunair nods at Ben. "Yeah." Lunair does love her some candy, though. She has a shocking sweet tooth. Pause. Sniff armor. Wince. "Yeah, shower."

"Hi Gwen!" Wave, smile. She has no clue Gwen was one of the spider peeps she worked with. Nice folks, if very arachnidy. Then Lunair blinks at Reed. Thinkthink. Then she looks to Ben, "Do you think I should've brought some ferns from Savage Land or something?" Always bring a gift if you're a guest!


"My point exactly: these back in the day guys wanna use rabbits ta bridge the cultural divide, or whatever, fine, I guess, but it's gotta hop around hidin' eggs for kids too? Leavin' 'em baskets an' shit?" Thing rails while tromping down a path he could walk in his sleep; Ben coming home covered in alien goo is pretty much a Monday at the Baxter Building.

"Whole thing's mixed up— culturally an' scientifically. Just a big bunch'a— ah, screw it, guess it don't matter. Ain't like I gotta understand Easter ta clobber the next jerk pullin' holiday-themed crap."

As he settles in the privacy of the shower, he calls, "Name's Ben! Bic Head usually waits ta come get his gal pals ta gawk over all'a Reed's toys; must be somethin' special!"


"Don't wash it all down the drain, Ben!" Sue calls after the Thing. "I need samples! Also, Gwen is Johnny's friend," she informs everyone. "So everyone be nice." She tips her cheek up to Reed's kiss, returning it with a gentle one of her own. "Should I ask how you escaped the goo shower?" she asks, amused, before turning back to Lunair, pausing on her way to pull a collection kit out of a drawer. "A pleasure to meet you, Lunair," she says with a warm smile, then raises a long-handled q-tip. "Would you mind if I collected a few samples before you hit the shower?"


Gwen began to quietly collect the samples her and Sue had been working on over the past few weeks and put them away, also turning off the computer screens with the analysis running; slightly scared Lunair might see them, "The Savage Land? I don't think I've ever heard of it. Is it a nickname for somewhere else?" She does her best not to interrupt the smoochey times or showers.


"Mad skills," Reed says deadpan before shrugging. "Easter, when you think about it, should be far more important to Christians than any other holiday. Interesting that it takes a back seat."


Lunair looks puzzled. Then she looks a bit worried. Her mouth opens, then closes. "No, not at all." Someone seems - uneasy - seeing things. She looks curious, and uncertain. "Um, go for it. And Savage Land is a place. It has dinosaurs. I almost got eaten." Which would've sucked. Lunair will let Sue collect samples, standing nice and still. She is going to let Ben have his shower in peace, not thinking smoochey times are odd. People are affectionate. That's that.


"Some asshole rabbit probably hid the Easter spirit somewhere, is all," Ben deadpans. The *plop!* of a handful of goop being dropped onto a metal tray in arm's reach of the shower follows the observation, and then:

Showering.

"Screw that dinosaur!" he calls over the sound of running water.


About this time, Johnny makes his way out of his room. He was asleep all morning. And, in fact, for much of the day. This is because last night, just before midnight, Jericho "Aspect" Trent sent an URGENT message to the FF about some kind of a portal being opened to some sort of a hell dimension by some variety of HYDRA agents (a stupid variety, it turns out) and there was a "Gone to the Microverse" sign on Reed and Sue's door, and Ben wasn't there - which means Sue and Reed might have actually BEEN in the Microverse and it wasn't code for "On a date, leave us alone Johnny," if Ben was with them.

"Oh man. What's that smell?" Johnny asks. "Also, Reed, dump the data buffer on my suit, 'K? We fought extra-D slendermen last night."

He's in his pajamas and a robe and charizard slippers, because he heard other people; he heads for the kitchen to see if there's anything to eat. Hey, is that Jello?


"Probably you, Storm," America says, coming in after Johnny and answering his question. "Did you even bathe after last night?"

She's dressed as she usually is- tricolor-themed streetwear. She doesn't look as bright and focused as she usually is- she too has been sleeping late today. Johnny fought, but she punched that portal into nonexistence.

"Visitors?"


Sue's smile quirks at Reed's answer, but she moves on to taking a sample of the goo from Lunair's shoulder. It's quick, easy, and over in a flash. "Thank you, Lunair," she says with another warm smile. "That's all, quick and easy. Johnny, is there still lunch meat in the fridge?" she calls after her brother. "I'm sure everyone's getting hungry." The q-tip slides into a little plastic keeper, then the whole thing goes back to the lab for analysis. She even swings by the pick up the tray from Ben's contribution. "Thank you, Ben!" she sing-songs over her shoulder. "America, this is Gwen who is Johnny's friend, and Lunair, who was helping Reed and Ben with…a jello monster?"


Gwen perks up a little when she hears Johnny's voice since he was a familiar face, calling out, "Hey Johnny! Cute slippers." She really did love those slippers, she was kind of jealous he had them! Smiling in Miss America Chavez's direction she extends a hand, "Nice to meet you America." She is so glad the thing about her being Johnny's girl had been cleared up, that was embarrassing.


"Hell Jello!" Ben clarifies from the shower.


"Hell Jello," Reed echoes going back to his datapad. "Johnny," he says without looking that up, "You're quite capable of doing that all on your own. If you need help figuring out how to dump said data, HERBIE would be glad to assist."


"I guess I'm not surprised he picked Charmander," Lunair considers the slippers. "It's good to see you! How have you been?" Then there's an amused look. "I am made of meat. I guess he couldn't help it. It was still unpleasant," She considers. Lunair is nothing if thoughtful. "Hi! And yes, evil jell-o. Don't eat the samples. I like the lime flavor best anyway." It's true. She is quiet, uncertain but listening. Data… in suits… interesting.


"HEY BEN! Don't stay in there too long, you'll get wrinkled," Johnny yells, and frowns at Reed. "Aww, I wanted to watch your face when you saw the readouts of the portal with the teeth and the slime."

He grins at Lunair, "Hey, you're not as goth-lolita today as last time." Yes, he pays attention to these things.

He sticks his head into the fridge. "Aww man. No, we're out of lunch meat. And we have a party worth of people here. I'll phone down to the sandwich shop and order up a tray, anyone need vegetarian or gluten-free?"


America shakes Gwen's hand and nods, "Likewise." She is not a woman of many words, usually.

"Something with meat, Storm. Your treat," she smirks a little. The mention of Lunair being a goth-lolita has America staring at her for a few seconds, before returning her attention to the voice coming from the showers. "Evil Jell-o? I get the impression we had it better last night."


The lab shower is a rather efficient thing, given the frequency with which the team encounters strange chemicals and/or excretions in the field. Ben steps out a little while after America's arrival and returns to the group wearing a towel wrapped around his shoulders, a fresh pair of machine-furnished pants, and a scowl.

"Nah, but I could use somethin' from the bodega, while you're at it: got this pain in my ass that won't go away, all of a sudden," he says to Johnny while moving towards Sue. He keeps a reasonable distance from the latter to avoid getting in her way, if she's working. "You get anything, yet?" he presses, impatient.


"Thank you, Johnny," Sue calls back into the kitchen, getting the tests started in the lab and then leaving them to run as she returns to a suddenly full house. And with so many people, all being distracted by each other, she has a chance to sneak over next to Reed and slip an arm around his waist, chin on his shoulder. "I've got some test results for you to look at later," she murmurs with another kiss to his cheek. "Later, though." Rather than let Reed and Johnny debate over the downloaded info, she walks over to a computer to start the process herself. Without saying anything about it.

"Twenty minutes for the analysis, Ben," she adds with a wry smile over her shoulder.


"Lookin' forward to it, my love," Reed says. As she pulls away from him he looks over her shoulder to affirm his suspicions. "I'm fine with whatever Johnny." His internal organs don't really process food the way normal people's do. He could explain it, but he's been told it's 'gross' and what not.


The worst thing other than muggers Gwen had dealt with in costume was Shift going all evil-Shift so the thought of evil Jello from Hell causes her to giggle. Johnny's question gets a shake of her head, "Anything is fine with me."

When Sue is going over to do the analysis, she asks, "Do you need a hand?"


"I can help pay for snacks," Lunair remarks. "And yeah… I can't be as recognizable." She LIKED her ruffles, thank you very much. She blinks owlishly at America. And then there's a polite smile to Ben. She looks confused, but goes with it. She really does seem to have lived under a rock. Headtilt. "My turn for a shower!" Time for a stank-b-gone! Hey, she wasn't going to hop in with Ben. That would be rude, creepy and intrusive of her. She's also going to keep out from getting underfoot.


Quick head count - seven, so buy enough food for seventeen. Especially if Ben had GOT to fight a monster, because he always works up an appetite. He picks up the phone and pushes a preset, then talks for a few minutes. They seem to know what to expect. This may happen more often than one would expect. Even with the subscription to the Healthy Foods Coop.

"OK, they'll have it here in about fifteen minutes."

He walks past Miss Chavez and says, "No, I didn't shower. I turn into fire, that kinda kills all the bacteria."

And into his room where he can find a clean uniform. One of the white ones? Nah, they're like mustard magnets. Pale blue? Oh, no, wait, RED! … What? You haven't seen Sue's closet. And Reed has at least forty different pocket protectors.


America smirks and walks over to Ben. "Heard you two went hunting wrabbits." She slides her hants into her hoodie pockets. Now that she was waking up, hunger had begun to gnaw at her stomach. Lunch with the team might just be the thing.

This was the first time in a while that everybody had been together at the same time, she was surprised Johnny hadn't marked the calendar.


"Friggin' computers," Ben grumbles. Turning away from the object of his ire, the pebbled ex-astronaut regards America with knit brows and a downturned mouth. "Diablo tried makin' Jello from demon bones," he explains while folding his arms. "Test batch got away from 'im, or somethin', I guess. I dunno, guy's kind of a putz, you ask me— not to mention tryin' to cash in on this whole— eh, I'm gonna get started again."

He lumbers away from the computer to find a chair. A couple seconds later, a robotic cooler rolls in from the kitchen with a beer in its manipulator, just for him.

"What's that 'slendermen' bullshit about? Ain't that somethin' from the 4chan?"


"So far, it looks like jello," Sue informs those curious about the tests, shaking her head to Gwen with a small smile. "For now, the machines will take care of most of the analysis. So. Socialize, chat," she shoos everyone away from the computers, smiling out over the gathering. Family.


"Guuuuuuuhhhhhh." It's the closest Reed gets to whining but he finally stands up from his seat, puts the datapad down, and goes into the social lounge to actually refrain from being such a fuddy duddy. And because well, because Sue said so.


Blink. "That is so cool." A robotic cooler that rolls in. Neat! Lunair tilts her head a little. "I think he's probably one of those guys who has to use safety scissors forever." And ever. Oh, Lunair. She looks to Ben and pauses. "I thought it was some-awful site or something. Some spooky creepypasta," She remarks. "I don't know. I think sometimes legends become reality or vice versa." She's actually pretty smart despite her social deficits. It's just the social kind of hides the brains.

"What would you want me to call you by the way?" Mr. Rocky seems awkward. Then a blink at Johnny. While she is curious about what Sue is up to, she's learned from Beast that one does not merely go poking into labs. "Hey, do you know much about nanites?" That's a general question.


Gwen continued to peer over Sue's shoulder until shooed away, she wasn't sure if she should be hiding in a corner or asking for autographs at this point. Lunair's question about nanites gets her interested and she asks, "What kind of nanites? Or just in general?"


Johnny, having emerged in his red uniform, staggers back in shock as Reed appears outside the lab.

"Don't scare me like that, man!"

The buzzer sounds and he goes to the door, accepting the big box from the person there - he already paid and left a tip, because it works better - and unloads it onto the outsized coffee table in the socializatorium.

"Oh cool, they gave you extra peppers, Benji," Johnny says. Totally innocently. Not one word about the slight case of the belching last time that may or may not have tested the bullet-proof glass windows.

Johnny knows nothing whatsoever about nanites (as far as you know) and shrugs, "Nope," when Lunair asks.


"Slenderman. Some sort of idiocy on the iternet- it just so happens that whatever we fought last night rather resembled him. It. Whatever Slenderman is." America clarifies. She looks for a good place to lean against and continue the conversation. "Better than a jell-o monster, though."


Ben doesn't complain about the extra peppers as he stomps towards the table. Instead, he scoops Johnny's order into his palm and takes it back to his seat while wondering, "What, you never seen a paper before?" of Lunair. A beat later, he adds, "Might as well go with 'Ben'. I dunno shit about nan-anything, 'cept that it's small."

Looking to America, he says, "An' dunno about that, neither: I'd take Jello-O over some internet crap, nine times outta ten."


"Entire Atlantean army," Sue notes as everyone compares villains of the moment, heading for the kitchen to pull out paper plates for everyone when the food arrives. "What sort of nanites, Lunair?" she asks the girl as she comes back to the group. "And what part are you curious about? I can tell you about some of the medical applications for them, but if you're looking at engineering information or capabilities, Reed would know best."


Grabbing one of the spare sandwiches Gwen sits down and begins to unwrap it as she sits down near Johnny, "Johnny Storm, have I ever mentioned you have possibly the coolest life out of anyone I've ever known?" Being friends with a member of the Fantastic Four was one thing but sitting in a room with all of them in the Baxter Building? She would probably be telling her grandkids about that one day.


Reed nods knowingly, "I'd be happy to share. If you have anything you need, just make me up a list and I'll put together a dossier for you."


Lunair pauses. "Nanites in someone's brain. Of an unknown type," Hypothetically. TOTALLY HYPOTHETICALLY. She nods at Johnny. Then a blink. "Extra peppers?" Oooh. "And I do see them. Ben! Cool." Ben seems nice enough, and Lunair goes with it. "What if someone wanted to take nanites out of their brain?" She asks. Lunair watches them, seeming a bit wide-eyed and happy about it all. This is cool.


Johnny watches as the Devouring Earth (AKA Ben Grimm) once more devours his sandwich. The one marked JS on the wrapper. The decoy sandwich. His real selection is the plain old cheese sandwich, untoasted, boring, bland. He corrects that problem as he eats it, though. Toasted cheese sandwich fresher than anyone else has ever tasted. Oh yeah. He just has to do the 'Bre'r Rabbit' expression as he eats it.

Atlantean army, yeah, that's a fight. Johnny was fortunate enough to be racing a car in Cleveland that night, or misfortunate perhaps; he was quite upset that his sister was fighting essentially alone in that, but the fishmen didn't keep to a reasonable schedule at all.

"Huh? Me? Cool life? No way. I'm just a world-class race driver, financial controller for a major charitable foundation, thanks to my sister, and the hottest super-hero on the scene at the moment, at least thermally. And I'm cripplingly humble too," Johnny deadpans.


Ben's sandwich goes flying at Johnny's head somewhere between the first bite and the end of that list of accomplishments.

"Can't figure out how ta order a damn sandwich, though," he mutters before sipping his beer to cool the burn.


America was not in town for the invasion. In fact, she was out of town. Way out of town. She was, in fact, fighting Atlanteans, but not these Atlanteans, and not in this universe. There are some universes in which Namor could be a total $#@@….

Once she grabs her sandwich, she bites in and hehs. "Careful, Storm, you let all of that hot air go to your head, we will be able to use you as a float for the Macy's parade."


Sue's brows rise at Lunair's clarification. "Well, that would depend on a few things," she says slowly. "But I would think that getting into their programming would be the hardest part. If they were programmed and then inserted, it would be difficult. If they were programmed but have a method to be altered, something like a wi-fi connection, then it would simply be a question of finding the right frequency to hack into them and reprogram them."


Gwen nibbled on her sandwich, using a napkin to wipe her mouth before rolling her eyes, "Yes, definitely the most humble I've ever met." Mostly because of the slippers she asks, "Did you play the new Pokemon?" She may or may not have even had a DS in her purse with it loaded.


Lunair looks to Sue, and looks thoughtful. "I see." That's worrisome. She looks amused by Gwen, America and Johnny's conversational exchange. "I like the grass lizard one," She nods sagely at Gwen. Lunair helped with the Atlanteans, and giggles as Ben chucks the sandwich at Johnny. She stifles it though, putting her hand over her mouth.


"Your usual double-meat reuben is the one in the wrapper marked ROCKY," Johnny grins, catching the sandwich that had his initials on it, before it can hit skin and raise chemical blisters. He can eat the pepper-laden thing if he's careful. Or, use it for crowd control.

"And it doesn't have any extra peppers in it either."
He offers the other half of the now-toasted cheese sandwich to help cut the burn. There are guests present, so it doesn't have any habaneros in it. Just cheese.

"No, I didn't get a chance to," he tells Gwen. "My gameBrat keeps getting borrowed by my chief driver's twin girls." The little darlings. Thieves, at age seven. Hardened poke'-criminals.


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