Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Like one of my other fics, I divided the existing body of this one into several pieces as I told one reviewer I was thinking of doing: the first few days, the Dome, and then more to cover the reboot. This version actually includes Illyria becoming Ant-Woman and Dawn's first appearance, even. Woot.
Three Months Post-Marriage, Take One:
"Ant-Woman height multiplication trials, first attempt. Doctor Winifred Burkle recording. Using the notes and memories taken from Doctor Pym regarding his similar work, I have studied Doctor van Dyne's DNA and found a biomechanical method of simulating her powers via the exposure of two separate chemicals to certain forms of radiation. These chemicals, collectively known as 'Burkle Particles' from this point forward, should allow me to grow and shrink in a controlled fashion thanks to the nanotech interface I have created for said same purpose. Preparing for growth attempt number one."
Janet watched as her wife moved to stand in the center of the same giant room that Hank had used for his first attempt at height multiplication. Was it simple serendipity? Was there truly nowhere else on base that she could use for an experiment of this kind? Or was it something more, perhaps Illyria's way of impressing upon everyone around her that she was replacing Hank Pym in every way that mattered: as the lead scientist of his former department, as the Ultimates' height multiplier, as Janet's spouse…
Hopefully this was going to work, Janet mused, or else Illyria would be out three months of research and SHIELD would have a pile of dead bodies for nothing. It had taken a number of absorptions before Illyria could properly remodulate her 'shell' into a body that any sort of chemical treatment could properly react with, all of them purely human to keep from even accidentally introducing unwanted variables into things. Not that she didn't trust Illyria to manage her own ability, but she was a scientist too. Better safe than sorry. In the end, they'd let her open a portal to a particularly troublesome area of Afghanistan and… well, the marines were having a much easier time of things these days.
Illyria fiddled with her belt and Janet watched as a silver helmet akin to the 'Ant-Man' device that Hank had been tinkering with before his death materialized seemingly out of nowhere. The aforementioned interface, presumably? Janet wasn't sure whether or not her wife's costume was better than Hank's hooded brown leather catsuit look. While she didn't rock the whole 'giant-sized serial killer' vibe Hank did, she did look… bizarre. The base was a latex catsuit as best Janet could tell: the top was primarily red, with a black circle on Illyria's chest that had lines shooting off to disappear over each shoulder and another that reached downward to her chunky silver belt. Below the belt was a black latex miniskirt over the lower half of the red catsuit. She'd also tossed on matching black latex gloves and boots whose edges were cut in a peculiar, jagged fashion.
Not that she really had room to talk about costumes. Her original sleeveless, halter neck catsuits were hardly stylish, and she wasn't too sure she liked her new designer-approved costume, either: a black and yellow leather top with matching black leather pants and boots. Especially since she'd heard him chiding Summer of the Four Seasons about wanting to wear black leather, calling it 'deader than the dodo'. Hmm. She'd made a few friends while doing the talk show circuit for Nick back when the team formed. Maybe she could book her and Illyria a session with a designer of their own to discuss costume options? And speaking of the snooty little gay Frenchman who had belittled black leather and then wrapped her in it… how had Illyria snuck this by him?
How an encounter between the two might have played out ran through Janet's head and she winced. The better question was probably how had he survived opening his mouth around her wife.
Movement on Illyria's part pulled Janet from her thoughts and back to the experiment at hand. Reaching down to her right hip, Illyria depressed what had looked like nothing more than a bulge but was apparently actually a button of some kind. A thin band of black began to glow with a blue light that soon spread across to two black rectangles in the middle of her belt. Grunting, Illyria tilted her head back as the blue raced up the black band that between her belt and the circle on her chest, filling it with the same blue glow before moving out through the other two black bands and spreading over her shoulders. A blinding aura of blue-white light erupted around her and began to grow, stretching upward slowly until it nearly filled the room. And then it was over.
Janet blinked rapidly, trying to clear the spots from her eyes. When her vision finally cleared, she let out a low whistle. They hadn't been sure that Hank's memories would translate into Illyria being able to retain her clothing immediately upon shifting the way she'd eventually taught him to, but the proof was in the pudding: one giant-sized Illyria in a giant red and black latex catsuit kneeled before her. Actually, upon closer inspection, Illyria's outfit had changed slightly during her growth: each forearm and calf was marked by a pair of glowing blue bands, and the strange metal helmet with antennae had morphed into a red cowl with slimmer antennae and a silver dome over each ear. Janet sighed and shook her head; now Illyria looked like a bizarre giant-sized serial killer. Getting Illyria in the same room as a qualified designer had just gone from a 'would be nice' to a 'must have' in her mind.
Shrugging off her jacket, Janet was a half second away from shrinking so she could fly up to what was currently head level for Illyria… when she realized they had a large audience and she didn't have her costume on under her civilian clothes. So instead she found herself settling for shouting up at where Illyria was looking around curiously. "Well, the nightlight effect means Nick won't be sending you out with Wanda and Pietro any time soon… but at least you kept your clothes on and your insides on the inside. How tall?"
"Sixty feet and three-tenths of an inch. An… adequate… first test, I believe."
Six Months Post-Marriage, Take One:
Janet van Dyne looked around with wide violet eyes as she followed the other members of the Ultimates into The Dome in Brussels. The modern monstrosity, the European version of the Triskelion if she understood correctly, overlooked some river whose name Janet hadn't caught, looking utterly out of place among the charmingly quaint buildings of Belgium's capital.
Turning her attention back to the present, mostly to avoid tripping over something or someone and looking like a fool, Janet caught sight of… a group of people in brightly colored uniforms? One almost looked like a British version of Steve, while behind him Janet could see a fair-haired woman wearing a black, red, and gold uniform for Germany standing beside a red and white-clad man who likely represented Austria. Eleven others milled around, each wearing a suit whose design was clearly meant to represent the flag of an EU member. What the hell?
A scientist in a lab coat with a mug in one hand wandered out of a back room and Fury decided to start the tour, gesturing grandly to the graying man. "Ladies and gents, I'd like you all to meet Sir James Braddock of the European Defense Initiative. Sir James has been overseeing the super-soldier program on this side of the pond for the last two years and he's as big a name in bioengineering as Bruce Banner was back home."
Sir James reached out, grabbing Nick's hand and shaking it. "Please excuse the mess. We're still six to eight months from going public with this place and weren't expecting to give out any tours. Anyone fancy a cup of tea?"
Shaking her head, Janet bypassed Nick and James, followed by her wife as she trailed Steve towards… God, were all of these people seriously super-soldiers? Wait. Hadn't there been a superhuman test ban treaty at some point? That Hank had been in violation of with his cocktails involving her DNA? That had been her understanding of things back when Nick had essentially blackmailed them into joining the Ultimates and SHIELD: if they helped him, he'd cover for Hank's lapses in judgment - that being before Fury found out that she was a naturally occurring freak and not a Hank-made one - and if they didn't, they'd rot in prison. How, then, was the European Union walking around with over a dozen super-soldiers that nobody cared about?
"Uh, it's Captain Britain, right?" Steve offered up a hand to the man wearing what was essentially a British version of his own distinctive outfit. "Tony was telling me all about that submarine rescue you guys did a few weeks back. That was pretty amazing."
Nodding, the man pumped Steve's hand a few times as he grinned widely. "Oh, Tony's hilarious, isn't he? Everyone here just loved him. Well, I suppose you know what he's like, don't you? He's on your team. We've all been just as excited about getting the chance to meet you too, Captain. Did you know I used to have a poster of you on my wall back when I was a pupil up at Fettes College in Edinburgh?"
"Other boys, it was John Lennon or Che Guevara. My son, it was the ultimate icon of military imperialism." Janet shot a glance over at the elder Braddock, who was shaking his head fondly. "Brian Braddock, ladies and gentlemen. Captain Britain. The only man under seventy-five who'd agree to wear a Union Jack on his chest."
Scoffing, the now-named Brian just rolled his eyes at his father's antics. "Don't listen to him, Captain. I'm the one who actually designed the exo-suit. My father's just ugly enough to look intelligent."
Janet, who had been content to listen and let things unfold around her, decided she wanted clarification of the unfamiliar word. "Exo-suit?"
"The outfit I'm wearing." Brian tapped his chest proudly. "It's our loophole in the ISHTB, at least according to the EU's legal division. The suit is what provides my powers: super-strength, flight, and superhuman durability. Outside of it, I'm as human as Tony Stark."
An arm wrapped around Brian's shoulders as Tony appeared seemingly from nowhere. "I don't know about that, Brian. I've been told my ability to attract the loveliest of ladies borders on superhuman." Tony winked before nodding at something over Janet's shoulder. "Speaking of, can you remind me what that blonde's name is? We chatted a bit last time I was here and… well, I may be engaged these days, but I didn't get to where I am now by failing to make contingency plans."
Well that was a bit of a relief, Janet decided. While she generally wasn't a fan of womanizers… seeing Tony so hung up on Natasha was just disturbing. So in this case, a wandering eye was a very good thing. Brian just shook his head, though. "Gisela Weiss. Or technically, Gisela Weiss-Schäfer now. She decided to adopt a hyphenated name after she and her partner had their civil union last month, although she'll still use Weiss for press releases and the like."
"Civil union? So she's batting for Janet and Illyria's team these days?" Brian nodded, sneaking a peek at Janet. If he was expecting a reaction from her, he was in for a disappointment. As part of the changes required for Illyria to serve as a test subject for her own Ant-Woman experiments, she'd been forced to regenerate a nervous system for her shell. Shortly thereafter, she'd discovered the fun of touch on all its levels and had become an exceedingly tactile person… who tended not to care about society's thoughts regarding the proper time and place for such things. While she still had some shame, it took a lot more than an offhand comment from Tony to embarrass Janet these days. Tony rubbed his chin consideringly, still looking past Janet. "Well now. I can't decide whether that's disappointing or hot. I suppose that depends on whether or not they made any tapes of the honeymoon. Considering she can't break me in half, though, unlike Janet's other half… I think I'll take my chances…" Breaking away from them, he slipped past Janet and made his way towards what turned out to be the woman in Germany's colors. "Gisela, darling. Guten tag!"
Steve just shook his head and muttered something unflattering under his breath, but Janet expected as much. Their field leader was very much an old-fashioned man… a product of his times, she supposed. He was still sneaking off base to visit that rat hole gym he'd aspired to join back in the forties and buying 'new' copies of vinyl albums from before she'd been born. If they couldn't even get him into the twenty-first century on the basic stuff, what were their chances of changing his beliefs regarding modern dating and romance? Coughing lightly to get Brian's attention, Janet nodded towards the nearest clump of super-soldiers. "Is there anyone else we should meet? Our little tour here sorta fell apart when your father and Nick ran into each other."
Wincing, Brian gestured for her to follow as he led her over to a pair of men, one in yellow and red and the other in red, white, and blue. "Sorry. I'm supposed to be the public face of the EDI, too. The European Defense Initiative, if you missed that acronym somewhere. Not quite as catchy as 'the Ultimates', but it'll have to do for now. Anyways, allow me to introduce Carlos Fraile from Spain and Hugo Etherlinck from France. The Parliament hasn't finalized their codenames yet, but we're thinking Captain Spain and Captain France anyway. Just to keep things nice and simple."
"I hear you. My wife had a hell of a time settling on a codename when she joined the Ultimates six months ago. She wanted to stick with Illyria, since she's used that name longer than humanity's walked upright…" Brian opened his mouth and Janet waved him off. "Long story, too long for right now. But yeah, she already had a name that she wanted to use but since she was taking my ex-husband's place on the team, SHIELD wanted her to be Giant-Woman. They compromised on 'Ant-Woman', since she decided ants and wasps went together better than giants and wasps and that way we were 'thematic'. Looking back on it, I probably should have helped her fight for a better name. As soon as they rolled out 'Ant-Woman', she decided to take up Hank's habit of raising ants for combat uses. I think we've got twenty farms of differing sizes scattered around our lab now. I had it easy, on the other hand. My powers come from me having insect DNA mixed into my body…" Not really, but that was the company line for the time being. "…and since I used mostly Vespula germanica for my work, Wasp it was."
There was a moment of silence, the men probably still trying to process her comment about Illyria's age, before Brian retook control of the conversation and guided Janet, Illyria, and Steve onward to their next stop. "And my moody Italian friend here is Umberto Landi. Captain Italy, we're assuming. You might have seen those leaked training photographs of him on the news lately. They started the demonstration that Thor decided to get involved in."
Umberto shrugged before leaning back against a pillar, fiddling with one of his fingerless black gloves. "Eh, don't blame me for the protests. Not my fault if security doesn't know how to keep a secret. I was ordered to a training exercise with the Carabinieri, and so I went to a training exercise with the Carabinieri. Wasn't the first time. Probably the last, though."
A sharp whistle cut through the air and Sir James pointed to Brian, Carlos, Hugo, and Umberto before waving the others off. Brian explained his father's actions as they began to move. "There are fifteen member states involved in the initial stages of the program here, but these four are the only ones ready for the kind of combat you're about to get involved in." He passed between Tony and Gisela, forcibly separating them and giving Natasha a chance to grab her wayward fiancé's arm so she could pull him along as the group moved deeper into the base. Rhodey slipped out of the shadows with a level of stealth surprising for a man walking around in a short ton of metal and electronics, taking up a position on Tony's other side to keep him from making a run for it. "Much to Mister Stark's unhappiness, I'm sure."
"What do you mean?" Janet picked out Clint standing on Natasha's other side, directly ahead of her, Steve, and Brian. If the fairly normal human was allowed in on this, what was wrong with superhumans that were even only halfway trained? They still had a leg up on Clint. Not that she had anything against the man or anything. But, well, he was the weakest link as best she could tell. And they were leaving some potentially strong links behind while taking him. It didn't make sense to her, and… "Nick was a bit light on the details for this op."
Tony let out a bark of laughter at that one. "No, to be light on details would require us to actually have some details, Jan. We're going into this blind and believe me, I am not at all amused. Especially since I should be in America right now dealing with the acquisition of a small tech company whose products I want to integrate into my Iron-Tech's shield projectors. What I want to know is what any of this has to do with Thor. I thought that was why we packed up to ship over here. Not that I mind having another chance to visit your lovely facility…"
The looks that Nick and Sir James exchanged did nothing to quell Janet's sudden sense that something was very much wrong… a more significant problem than just that of Thor attacking Italian riot police. James turned his head as the door opened again and nodded to the new arrival. "Gunnar. Perhaps you could explain things to our American friends..?"
After pausing for a moment to link his laptop to the projector in the front of the room, the man looked up at them. "My name is Gunnar Golmen. I've been heading up the Norwegian team for the last twenty-four months. We did a lot of market research before we started work on our country's representative and decided to take a more mythology-inspired route, instead of the direction the other countries chose. After looking at our capabilities, popular culture, and dozens of other factors, we began working to emulate a particular and very significant figure: Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. Like Doctor Banner, we were unable to crack the secrets of Captain America's super-soldier serum and opted for a biomechanical approach to the post-human we were developing, much like our European brothers." A ball of ice began to grow in Janet's stomach as Gunnar flicked to a slide that showed a man in a lab wearing what looked like a stripped-down version of Thor's top, the normally glowing blue discs dark and lifeless. "Using Norse iconography, I designed a harness that would imbue the wearer with flight, durability, and a level of strength unseen even in the mutant community." The next slide showed a finished top and belt in the background, with Gunnar bent over something that had the vaguest of resemblances to Thor's hammer. He wasn't seriously going to suggest that Mjöllnir, which Janet had seen transport a bomb capable of destroying the solar system to a place where it was no longer a threat, was his creation… was he? "However, our biggest success was the power battery we created in the form of Thor's mystical hammer. This hammer could ionize the environment and artificially manipulate the weather, or even use its four-dimensional engine to teleport the user anywhere in the world."
Well. That answered that question.
Gunnar scowled as he flicked through the next few slides, all featuring a man who was most definitely not the Thor they knew wearing the vest and belt while swinging Mjöllnir… strength tests, it seemed, along with tests of his ability to teleport and call lightning. "Of all the super-soldiers we designed here, Thor was unquestionably the most formidable and would have been the leader were it not for my lunatic brother. Obviously, you've all met Thorlief Golmen. Or Thor, as he's been calling himself since he stole my damn hardware."
Tony summed up what they were all thinking. "Is this a joke?"
"I only wish it was, Mister Stark. I've always been very close to my brother, you understand." Clicking to the next slide, Gunnar gestured to a picture of the man they all knew as Thor. "He might be a little odd and lack social skills, but he's all the family I have and I tried to spend a lot of time with him after his nervous breakdown." Gunnar shook his head sadly, moving on to a picture of the two of them. Janet tilted her head to the side, staring at them. Nope… she couldn't see it. Maybe Missus Golmen had been calling the plumber over to snake her drains when she got pregnant with one of them? "He was a nurse himself before he went into the hospital. Always interested in animals and the environment. I never thought he could hurt me like that. Or what he did to this place…" The next slide showed Thor in all his glory, swinging Mjöllnir as lightning skittered off the head to skewer everything in sight. A second was him crashing through a wall with the help of his hammer, and a third showed him flying up through the roof and off into the sky. "That was eighteen months ago. Eighteen months and we're still picking up the pieces of what we lost that night."
Finally, Janet couldn't keep it in any longer. Sure, Thor was a bit strange and way too dramatic sometimes, but he had come through for the team several times before Illyria had arrived and had even added his hammer to their cause twice since when they were desperately in need. "What's he saying, Nick? That Thor is a fake? His hammer and stuff is all just hardware he stole from a lab? I don't believe that for a second."
"That would be because it is a falsehood, Janet." The arms that had wrapped around her waist at the start of the presentation loosened and Illyria stepped out from behind her. Cocking her head to the side, Illyria's normal red and black latex Ant-Woman costume rippled and morphed into the patched catsuit she'd been wearing the first time they'd met, her hair acquiring the blue streaks she so often kept hidden these days. "Loki Laufeyson. My grandson takes you in and raises you, and this is how you repay him? The betrayal of your foster brother?"
'Gunnar' gasped loudly, eyes bugging out as he backpedaled away from Illyria's advancing form. "Buri?"
Nodding, Illyria spread her arms wide. "I am one now, but was once many. Illyria, God-King of the Primordium. Buri, father of Bor, father of the Æsir. Uranus, father of Cronus, father of the Olympians. Other pantheons, now dead and gone from this world. I lived seven lives at once, shaping this world and the planes above and below. I was forced to leave, but now I have returned and what I find displeases me. You displease me, Loki."
"I… I'm sorry, m'lord. M'lady?" As he ran out of space in which to evade, Loki dropped to one knee in front of Illyria. "If I'd known that you…"
Illyria scoffed, waving off his excuses. "If Bifröst is passable, then Odin Borson has work for his children here. Work that I assume you desire to interfere with, for I can see no other reason for your actions against Thor." Reaching down, she clamped a hand around his throat and yanked him off the ground, his feet dangling a few inches off the floor as he gasped and choked. Several times his body went blurry and flickered, like bad television reception, and it took Janet several repetitions to figure out what was going on: he was trying to teleport away but Illyria was somehow blocking him. Cool. "Miss Lehnsherr. Could you perchance tell me the odds of doing to Loki what I did to Hank?"
Looking over at her fellow mutant, Janet watched as Wanda's eyes unfocused and her mouth began to move silently. Eventually, she came to a conclusion. "Bad enough that not even a compulsive gambler would put money on it."
"I see." Illyria looked up at Loki for a moment before returning her attention to Wanda. "Perhaps you would be agreeable to… 'stacking the deck'? So to speak?" Wanda's lips curled up in a smile as she focused, red light gathering around her hands. Before anyone could stop her, the woman who styled herself 'the Scarlet Witch' unleashed twin bursts that dodged around Illyria's body before curving in to strike Loki. The man shook mightily, almost wrenching himself free of Illyria's chokehold, and then went still. Raising her free hand, Illyria slammed it into the man's chest and began the process of killing a god.
And then the world went white.
As she integrated her newfound power and abilities into herself, Illyria found herself connecting to the world around her on a level that she hadn't been since the height of her power. When she realized why, she let out a low, sinister chuckle. While Loki was a sorcerer of not inconsiderable skill, his ability in that realm only augmented his primary superhuman power: he was a manipulator of reality, much like Wanda Lehnsherr. Now, thanks to him, she was too.
Since marrying Janet in Boston and agreeing to cohabitate with her, Illyria had read a great many things about relationships and families. And there was one thing missing from their union at present, the product of a twofold biological barrier: gender and species. But now that she had the power to make her very thoughts into reality…
Zero Hour, Take Two:
One brow arched imperiously, the woman snorted. "I am no common half-breed. I am Illyria, God-King of the Primordium, Shaper of Things." Oh fuck. She'd slept with Thor's arrogant, gender-confused sister. Fury was going to kick her ass. Or… maybe not. Given how mercurial an ally the Norseman was, being the one who recruited their new godly ally could be a massive feather in her cap, finally allowing her to step out of Hank's shadow in the eyes of SHIELD and her fellow Ultimates. "But on the subject of half-breeds, I once again find myself desiring to do violence for Harmony's misdirection on the subject of 'clubbing'. If you would like, you may join me, Janet."
Once again? Beating on this Harmony chick was a regular thing for Illyria? And shouldn't she be discouraging such a thing, even if the soon-to-be-victim was a vampire? She was a superheroine after all. "Do you have to? I was thinking maybe we could go find some food and I could get to know you. I already know one god, so I'm curious what you're like." Maybe this was it. Her Those Days moment. It wasn't going to be anything bad. Quite the opposite, even. But meeting someone who claimed to be a god was still a huge thing, which probably was why it registered as one of Those Days.
And if meeting a god didn't count, fucking one probably did.
"Hmm. Remarkably similar responses from you despite differing prompts on my behalf. Coincidence or providence?" What? "At any rate, while I do not rely on the same primitive methods of energy absorption that your kind does, I am willing to spend further time in your presence. Very well, we will continue our conversation over the meal known as dinner." Sliding out of bed, Illyria's body shook violently and suddenly her nudity disappeared beneath a black, red, and blue catsuit. Janet blinked. Okay, that was incredibly cool. After a few seconds, Illyria's lips quirked up slightly in what was barely a smile. "Again I find myself needing to remind you that you will need clothes if you wish to leave this location."
A second - possibly third - reference to repeat actions. What the hell was going on? Janet's eyes widened. Were they stuck in a Groundhog Day
-esque loop, repeating the same day over and over? Or… actually, fuck it. Her head hurt enough as it was. She was going to get dressed, get food, and ask questions and have solutions handed to her instead of needing to puzzle them out herself. Sliding towards the edge of the bed, Janet hesitated as Illyria's eyes followed her. "Erm, can you look away?" Illyria's mouth opened and Janet cut off the argument she assumed was coming. "Yes, you've seen it, but I'm still not into parading around naked just because." Sighing, Illyria made a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn and stared at the wall. "Thank you."
Janet watched Illyria for a moment to ensure she was actually cooperating before sliding out of bed, dashing over to the closet and pulling out another of the sleeveless, halter neck catsuits she wore under all her clothes in case she had to use her powers. As she wriggled into the black latex garment, she watched Illyria putter around the room, carefully keeping her back to Janet so as not to break her word. Then the bluenette paused, picking up a piece of paper. "What is this?"
"Hang on." Yanking on a pair of jeans and her 'The Sting's the Thing' t-shirt - because wearing a shirt with a cartoon version of herself on it amused her to no end for some bizarre reason - Janet wandered over to see what Illyria found so interesting. When her eyes fell upon the piece of paper, she realized that it was indeed one of Those Days and not for any positive reason.
"On second thought, let's go kill this Harmony chick." Suddenly, there was a… thud against the door. Then a second and a third in rapid succession. Not quite the proper sound for the rapping of knuckles on wood, but something substantial was impacting with the surface. Leaving Illyria to stare at their marriage certificate - because she so didn't want to deal with it herself at the moment - Janet moved to answer the door. Opening it, she blinked.
And then blinked again.
Standing in the hall were a pair of… well, a girl and a woman rather than a pair of women, technically. The older of the two had blonde hair, gold eyes, protruding brows, and blood running down her face. The source of the 'knocking', presumably. The other was a slim, pale girl with Illyria's brown hair, bright green irises and matching streaks in her hair, and Janet's almond shaped eyes, porcelain skin, and… wasp like wings? It was becoming a bit of a theme but… the hell?
"Hey, Mom. Mother."