Because you all missed it even if you wouldn't admit it… although a bunch of you did admit it and go out of your way to ask for more. When I was making a last pass to finish converting all my old story DOCX files to Scrivener archives for ease of indexing, I found a few different pieces of future chapters that were easy enough to pull together into something coherent. So I did. Enjoy.
Three Months Post-Marriage, Take Two:
"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 referred to henceforth as 'Burkle Particles', 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 peered over the top of her tablet, watching for a moment 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 before returning to her work. Considering this was evidently their second time through this particular sequence of events, the whole thing felt rather anticlimactic. Illyria had already successfully completed the experiment once and imbued herself with a more advanced form of Hank's powers. There was no reason to believe this attempt would end any differently. Illyria fiddled with her belt and Janet watched as a silver helmet that bore some resemblance to the 'Ant-Man' device that Hank had been tinkering with before his death materialized out of nowh-
"Are you seriously thinking of wearing that out in public, Mother? Because you look ridiculous."
While the end result wasn't in doubt, Janet mused, there was at least one thing different about this attempt. Even after seeing the many and varied superhuman things that Illyria was capable of, it still blew Janet's mind that the woman had quite literally made a daughter for the two of them to dote on. Well, technically Illyria had taken a preexisting being similar to herself named Oriens, molded a physical form using the DNA of Winifred Burkle and Janet, and then fused Oriens into the construct to give it life… but the end result was the same. They had a daughter, one Dawn van Dyne. With Janet's wings, powers, and overall build, Winifred's coloration, and Illyria's visible signs of inhumanity. Green, rather than blue, but almost identical apart from that. And-
"…ants and wasps go together better than giants and wasps do, daughter, which will make our costumed identities properly thematic as befitting of our mated status. Furthermore-"
"You know what's even more 'thematic' than ants and wasps? Staying in the same subfamily or genus." Dawn gestured down at the black and yellow outfit she was wearing, street clothes at the moment but sharing the same black and yellow color scheme - and yellow chest emblem - as the teen's Hornet costume. "What about something else out of the genus Vespula
? You could be Yellowjacket, unless you and Janet want to become two-namers who are both the Something Wasp?"
Frowning, Illyria looked down at herself. "But just the other day, I overheard you speaking to the Ultimates' new costumer designer about coming up with a few conceptual drawings for an Ant-Woman costume."
Dawn shook her head at that. "Nice bit of selective hearing there, Mother. No, I asked him about an Ant-Girl costume. I'm hoping that if I ever meet a nice girl who's not a mutant or novus, we can give her powers like yours. There are so many amazing things you can only experienced after a size division, and turning the girl inside out because you tried to extend your own field around her pretty much kills your chances of getting a second date. And the girl, for that matter."
Head cocked to one side, Illyria stared at Dawn in confusion. "Why would it acceptable for you to be thematically coordinated with this theoretical girlfriend of yours when my wife and I can't be?"
"Because I don't want people getting the wrong idea about my theoretical girlfriend because she'll match you while Mom and I match?" Dawn looked over at a red-clad woman standing in the corner before shuddering. "I said I wanted to look like Wanda when I grew up, not date like her. No offense."
"None taken. Speaking of Pietro, though, we do have a reservation for a lovely restaurant in Venice in an hour." Wanda reached up and tugged on the necklace she was wearing, pulling an open-face pocket watch out of her cavernous cleavage and checking the time. "So if you wouldn't mind saving the family squabble for later..?"
Nodding, Illyria began one final check of her outfit: a chunky silver belt wrapped around the middle of a red catsuit bearing black markings on the chest and arms, with a black miniskirt thrown over the catsuit and accessorized with black gloves and boots. Once she was satisfied, she reached down to her right hip, depressing 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. She'd assumed that Hank's memories - and Illyria's previous experience - would allow her wife to retain her clothing through her shift, but it was a relief to actually see it a giant-sized Illyria in a giant red and black catsuit kneeling 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. Maybe Dawn was onto something, she conceded, because there was no way she wanted pictures of her wife in that mess appearing on the Internet.
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 glow stick 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 one inch. An adequate second first test, if I do say so myself."
Four Months Post-Marriage, Take Two:
Scowling, Max Dillion floated over the streets of New York City as he tried to decide where to go next. Sure, he'd escaped from the two FBI agents at the hospital using his powers, but with the Kingpin out of the game, he had no idea where to go. Back to Justin Hammer? No, the old man had sold him to Fisk like a prized show dog. There was definitely no loyalty there; Hammer would probably wait until the FBI offered a reward for him and then turn him in. So not only did he have to figure out who was left out of his connections to the criminal underworld and who could help him start over, but he had to find one of his containment suits if he wanted to be able to use powers without burning his clothes off and leaving his dick swinging in the breeze.
Looking down, he frowned. The containment suit should probably be his first priority, Max decided.
The Kingpin had gone down. Max couldn't believe it. Especially because he knew that punk in the spider tights was responsible for the whole thing. Somehow. Spider-Man had taken out all of the Kingpin's enforcers, Max included. What were the odds that Spidey'd then decided to wander off and someone else had come along to deliver the knockout punch? Hmm. Maybe after he had a suit and a new identity, Max would put a little effort into finding out exactly what happened. His history teacher had always said that 'those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it'… and while he'd previously believed the woman was just nagging them to do their homework, Max had to admit now that she might be on to something. He'd lost to Spider-Man once. If he didn't figure out how, what was to stop the webslinger from abusing him again and again?
Hmm. A Bank of America sign caught Max's attention. Well, as long as he was already out here… why not bang out a couple of quick jobs and then go and check out the spots he'd left suits in to see if any of them were still untouched? Or not, he quickly realized: the sacks were cloth and the money was paper, so it would burst into flames the minute he touched it. Damn. All right, his best bet was probably the box on the roof of his old apartment. Considering the FBI agents had flat out told him they had no idea who the hell he was, what were the odds someone had been there and taken it away already?
Ugh. All this shit because of some pimply little fucker who didn't know when to keep his nose out of other peoples' business. Max wasn't sure where it was going to end up on his list, but he was going to find out who the little fucker was and… suddenly, the energy holding Max aloft crackled and destabilized. Looking down at his hand, he watched it flicker between blue energy and pale human flesh. "What the fuck?"
Then he was too busy screaming to think as gravity took over, sending him plummeting to land on the roof of an inconveniently placed car. Max didn't land cleanly, though, and as the passenger side caved in he found himself dumped onto the pavement, the pain of the impact exacerbated by the tendrils of electricity crawling over his no-longer-superhuman body. What the… what the fuck had just happened to him?"
"Holy shit, it's raining skinheads." Oh fuck. Oh fuckity fuck fuck fuck. Max stared up at… well, they weren't the Ultimates he'd seen on television before getting knocked for a loop by Spider-Man. Maybe the second-stringers? A redheaded girl in Captain America's costume who was strong enough to lug around that famous shield of his, a chick version of Iron Man, and a blonde in a black and red catsuit who was holding a pair of very big handguns and did not look afraid to use them. And here he was, wanted for various crimes, indecently exposed, and without access to his powers. He was so beyond fucked, it was ridiculous. The girl in red, white, and blue took a step forward. "Up and at 'em, Sparky. Our bosses have a few questions about where you got your powers."
Iron Woman let out a laugh at that before going quiet and turning to look back over her shoulder at something. When she spoke, Max revised his estimation downward: not Iron Woman but… Iron Girl or something. The voice had a definite teenage quality to it. "They might also have a few questions about a multiple homicide I'm being sent a report on. Three people electrocuted to death in a hospital that a 'glowing blue object' was then seen leaving? Gee, now who could be responsible for something like that..?"
Rolling her eyes, the blonde pointed one of her guns at him and then jerked the end of the barrel upward. "Get up." When Max continued to stare at her, she sighed. "I thought his file said he was from New Jersey? Shouldn't he understand commands in plain English?" Crouching down, she stared at him curiously. "Where are you from, Max?"
The blonde looked up at her companions for a moment before returning her attention to him. "'What' ain't no country I ever heard of. They speak English in 'What'?"
While she had a bit of a Russian accent, her English was intelligible enough… which made it all the stranger to Max that he had no idea what she was talking about. "…what?"
Growing, the girl raised her right hand, pointing her gun in his face. "English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?"
"Then you know what I'm saying?"
"Are you the one responsible for the 'blue glow' deaths over at the hospital?"
Thrusting her gun forward, the blonde pushed the barrel against his forehead. "Say 'what' again. Say 'what' again. I dare you. I double dare you, motherfucker. Say 'what' one more God damn time!"
Hopping down off her blond steed's shoulder, Dawn shook her head as she returned to full - albeit not entirely impressive, especially compared to some of her teammates - size. "Really, Redback? Jules Winnfield?"
"If there's a situation that's not improved by Pulp Fiction
quotes, I don't want to know about it." Rising to her feet, Alexandra Petrova slipped her guns into their holsters before gesturing down at the still form of their target. "Not to mention the obvious homophone humor. It's Electro. Say what. Say watt. Get it?"
Dawn stared at her subordinate in disbelief for a few seconds before groaning and burying her face in her hands. While at least Redback had a sense of humor, unlike the member of the Ultimates that she was patterned after, it was a very strange sense of humor indeed. "Just… cuff him so Iron Girl can fly him back to the Triskelion for processing. I'll go check in with the other team."
As Dawn shrunk back down so her wings would manifest, she heard Carolina Potts let out a groan of disgust. "Do I have to? He's naked."
"Oh grow up. There's almost a ton of armor between you and the naked guy."
"That I'm going to have to power wash after this!"
"That woman was vulgar."
"You were perfect."
"I hate this part of it."
"The way of the world, Krave."
Sergei Kravinoff grimaced at the shortening of his chosen stage name but opted not to chastise his manager. After all, if the man hadn't learned how much it irritated Sergei by now, complaining one time more certainly wouldn't change his behavior. Looking down at his hands, he curled them into fists. "She brought up the genetic-"
"You handled it. You handled it, bubby." His manager clapped him on the back. "Now, we've got a great stunt guy lined up and fitted for a costume. You two can fight all night if you want, or you can make it quick." Sergei narrowed his eyes and the manager held his hands up in surrender. "Don't worry, he knew when he signed on. He's terminally ill. As long as we agreed to leave his family a nice little nest egg to survive on…"
Snorting, Sergei shook his head. "I want the real one." What was the point of dressing up some random man for him to fight and possibly kill? There was no challenge there. No restoring his tattered honor. And it certainly wasn't a good use of the very expensive modifications he'd undergone to prepare himself for this battle. Brushing against someone on his right, he scowled. "This camera…"
His manager put a calming hand on his left arm, steering him a bit to the side to prevent another accidental collision. "Just for background. Filler for the special. We'll edit out all the stuff we don't like, baby. I'll take care of you. This is just for anything that happens this week that the audience might find…" He trailed off for a few seconds before finally finishing his thought. "Interesting."
"Sergei Kravinoff, may we have a word with you?" A brunette in a black leather vest and pants with a purple arrowhead on her chest stepped forward, gesturing first to herself and then to her statuesque red-haired companion. "My name is Longbow, and my companion is Thrúd. We're here on behalf of SHIELD because we have some evidence that you, sir, have illegally tampered with your genetic structure. Which is outlawed by international treaty, hence the usage of the phrase 'illegally tampered'."
Lowering her hand to the hilt of her sword, Thrúd pulled the first few inches out of the scabbard to reveal a very sharp blade covered with runes. "Be glad that Katherine is leading this mission, mortal. Among my kind, we take a very dim view of oath breakers."
Longbow sighed, turning her back on Sergei as she slapped her teammate lightly on the bicep. "What did we tell you about using real names in the field, Thrúd? You're supposed to call me Longbow, not Kate or Katherine or-"
"But you still call me Thrúd. And the Ultimates call my father Thor."
"Because you two refuse to use codenames!"
"I have been Thrúd Thordóttir since before your ancestors came to this island! Why do I need a new name?"
It had been his manager's idea to get the genetic enhancements, Sergei reasoned, rather than waiting six months to a year while he prepared for his renewed hunt in a natural manner. It would only be fitting for the man to take the fall for him. And so with that in mind, Sergei turned and bolted as the two girls continued to argue over something as silly as a name. Just as he was reaching the end of the block, a third girl in black and yellow appeared out of thin air in front of him. Drawing her arm back, she unleashed a swift right hook that sent Sergei spiraling into unconsciousness.
Grabbing the infamous 'Kraven the Hunter' by the ankle, Dawn pushed herself up to taller than her usual height to enhance her strength and began dragging him across the pavement toward where Kate and Thrúd were still arguing. In front of a pair of video cameras and a crowd of civilians. Of all the stupid… clearing her throat, Dawn picked Kraven up by the waistband of his pants and tossed him at the pair of girls. "Way to keep your eyes on the prize, girls."
"It's her fault!"
Dawn rolled her eyes as the two girls drew themselves up and pointed at the other. "I don't know if this is some kind of alpha female thing that you're not dumb enough to try with me because of who I am, and you need to go beat the crap out of each other in the gym to see who's got the biggest dick. Maybe you have crushes on each other and this is your totally bizarre way of expressing it because you're both too scared to ask the other out on a date. Or maybe this is that UST thing I keep seeing in shitty Dramione and Drarry fics, and you just need to go have some crazy angry sex that breaks the headboard so you can resolve your sexual tension. I don't know and, more importantly, I don't care. Figure it out, figure out how to fix it, and fix it. That's an order."
Exchanging unhappy looks, Kate and Thrúd sighed before nodding. "Yes, ma'am."
"Glad we're on the same page." Glancing down, Dawn poked Kraven's insensate form with the toe of her right boot. "For now… Thrúd, teleport Kraven and Longbow back to base. Wait at the landing pad for Iron Girl… and then exchange prisoners with her. She can take Kraven to the brig and you'll get Electro."
Raising an eyebrow at the odd order, Kate gestured for Dawn to continue speaking. When the brunette declined to elaborate… "…okay? Is there a point to this?"
Dawn smirked. "Did I mention he's naked?"
Six Months Post-Marriage, Take Two:
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 ridiculously tall blue-eyed blonde who was wearing what was essentially a British version of his own distinctive outfit. Well, modified for a woman's physique, but close enough to being a mirror for government work. "Tony was telling me all about that submarine rescue you guys did a few weeks back. That was pretty amazing."
Nodding, the woman pumped Steve's hand a few times as she 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 student up at Fettes College in Edinburgh with Brian?" Janet bit her lip to keep from laughing. Judging by the way the blonde was blushing as she stared at Steve, someone had a bit of a crush. Maybe she could play matchmaker while they were here. For someone with access to the assets Steve did, distance would hardly be a barrier. Brussels - or London - was only a few seconds away when you knew someone who could make portals.
"Thankfully it was one of the pretty boy staged press photos. My son had a poster of you too; one of Bucky Barnes's battlefield photos." Janet shot a glance over at Sir James, who was shaking his head in fond exasperation as a younger man who was quite obviously his son rolled his eyes. "I'm sure you can tell which is which… my son Brian Braddock, and my daughter Betsy. Captain Britain. The only person under seventy-five who'd agree to wear a Union Jack on their chest. Well, she and Brian flipped a coin for it."
Smirking, Brian pulled a coin out of his pocket and showed off both sides. The queen's head… and the queen's head. "I didn't feel like leaving the comforts of the lab for training. If I let her choose, she always picks heads. So she gets the exo-suit and lots of dangerous and exhausting training, and I get to give speeches and have tea with important politicians."
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." Betsy tapped her 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 Betsy's shoulders as Tony appeared seemingly from nowhere, leaning on the statuesque woman as Fury and the two male Braddocks departed to return to circulating. "I don't know about that, Betsy. I've been told my ability to attract the loveliest of ladies borders on superhuman. Bet your suit can't do that." Tony winked before nodding at something behind Janet. "Speaking of, I don't remember seeing them when I met up with you for that submarine mission. Names, Betsy, I need names. 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. Betsy just shook her head in amusement. "You're talking about the Valkyries, I assume? Which one? Pick a clichéd Norwegian female name and shout it, and someone will perk up. There's an Annika, an Astrid, two Emmas, a Heidi, a Kari, a Rebekka…"
"Really now? Hmm." Tony eyed the group of buxom women, each wearing some rather skimpy chain mail and in possession of a primitive metal weapon: swords seemed to be the favored weapon, but Janet saw a few axes, maces, and spears mixed in. "Well, I don't actually know any Norwegian… never had a reason to learn… but I've always been told I'm a cunning linguist." Janet and Betsy both groaned at the bad pun, the joke going right over Steve's head, and Tony gave them a rakish grin before patting Betsy on the back and making his way over to the Valkyries.
As they watched, Tony replaced the faceplate on his armor and Janet realized what he was intending to do: use either software or a Norwegian-speaking employee as a translator so he could flirt with the Valkyries. It didn't take Natasha long to spot her fiancé's actions and break away from her conversation to confront him. The voices carrying over from the group switched from Norwegian to Russian for a moment before Natasha shook her head fondly and put her own mask on, turning to the women. A few minutes later, a four person group wandered out of the base's main gathering area in search of a more private location: Tony and Natasha, with two of the Valkyries between them. Before Janet could offer her own, none too complimentary thoughts, a new voice joined the conversation. "Damn. Man gets more ass than a toilet seat."
"What?" Shrugging defensively, Dawn rubbed her hands together, leering at the slightly depleted cluster of scantily clad women. "Can't say I blame him, though. The one on the end… bubble butt with the mace? I… hang on, I think I have a mythology reference on the list that would be appropriate here." Pulling a piece of paper out of… somewhere… Dawn unfolded it and ran her finger downward slowly. A few seconds, she perked up and folded the paper several times before hiding it away once more. "I would hit that so hard, whoever pulled me out would be crowned the King of England."
Janet groaned and reached up to bury her face in her hands. "Dawn Evelien van Dyne!" How the hell had Dawn ended up on this little adventure of theirs, again, while all the other Avengers had been forced to stay home with the Reserves? Oh. Right. Part of it was her nagging 'Uncle Nick' to let her come along and see Europe for the first time, and the rest was the Ultimates and Nick not trusting her to leave the Triskelion standing if they did in fact leave her behind without adult supervision for a week or more.
Next time, Janet swore to herself, she'd convince Nick to take that chance.
"What?! Look at that ass!" Raising both hands, Dawn used her fingers to make a square and then leaned to one side so Janet could… what, was she supposed to join her daughter in leering at this poor Norwegian girl? "You know that saying about trying to stuff twenty pounds into a ten pound sack? If there's a better way to describe the fight those bikini bottoms are losing, I wanna hear it."
As Betsy laughed loudly and Steve looked ready to spontaneously combust from embarrassment, Janet glared first at her daughter and then at her wife. "For the love of God… I can't dress you up or take you anywhere. And Illyria! Why am I the only one yelling at her here? I thought we agreed that I'd be the good cop."
All attention turned to Illyria, who simply shrugged. "I do not disagree with any of our daughter's assessments. Tony is remarkably promiscuous for a person of your relatively restrictive and prudish culture. The blonde with the mace has an overly large posterior and perhaps should have been issued garments that take that into account. And I too would not mind taking one of the Valkyries to bed, although I believe I would choose the buxom one with the sword in an effort to lessen the fight you would inevitably feel a need to put up. You are, after all, a 'breast girl', Janet."
Dawn and Betsy cackled.