The Astonishing Ant-Man #1

Jun 24, 2017 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Ant-Man, Avengers, Avengers

Randy Lander presents
Marvel Rebooted – The Astonishing Ant-Man
Issue #1 – Small Changes
by Jerry Lewis
in loving memory of S.L., 2004-2017

Ant-Man MR

 

Sean had been waiting for hours to get his train ticket on the crowded line. Why do so many people on Long Island always want to go places? Sean could never answer this question. He was still waiting, only two people in front of him. If only they would move a tad bit faster…

Sean was very light and skinny for a twelve-year-old. He was in the seventh grade, and he was moving from Long Island to Colorado Springs. His family was already in their new home in Colorado. He had been staying at his grandfather’s so he could finish his last week of school before he left his hometown for good. Even more, he wanted to spend as much time as he could with his friends. Outcasts to most of the kids in their school, they were amazing once you got to know them, at least to Sean. They were Ethan, Zach, Daniel, Packie, Gino, and Gabby.

Gabrielle. Sean was madly in love with her, and, surprisingly, she liked him back. Sean never confessed it, and his friends only teased him about it privately, but it was all for fun. Like Sean, Gabby never confessed it either. Each was afraid of rejection. They both could’ve practiced in front of the mirror, rehearsed, but once it came to the moment, it was always some stuttering, blushing, red faces. Now, even if they were prepared, it was too late. Sean was leaving.

Gino waited nearby for Sean to get his ticket. All the others waited too, a short distance further, except for Ethan who was at the dentist. Sean was disappointed that for some reason his teeth were more important than saying good-bye, but it was probably because Ethan’s mom made him keep the appointment.

Sean made it to the window to get his ticket. The teller reviewed Sean’s information. “Heading to Colorado, young man?” the teller asked redundantly.

Looking back at his friends, Sean saw them all chuckling at their phones. Only Gino was watching Sean, his phone not even in hand. Sean sighed and replied to the man awkwardly, “Yeah.”

Gino could hear the obvious unease and grinned at Sean. The others took notice and all started laughing to themselves. Sean’s ears turned red and he tired to ignore his friends’ teasing.

“There’s your ticket. Have a nice trip,” the teller smiled.

“Thank you, sir,” Sean said.

Sean went to his friends and they took turns embracing him in big hugs. Passersby watched with kind amusement, indifference, or curiosity. But Sean didn’t care. He was going to miss them all so much. “Guys, I’ll try to visit every chance I’ve got,” Sean reassured the group. It wasn’t true though. He was twelve. He’d be lucky if his family took a vacation back here, but really, they all knew that this was the last time any of them would see each other.

“You better,” Zach said.

Sean grinned an understanding smile, and then he looked at Gabby wondering how she was feeling. He cleared his throat. “Hey, Gabby,” he started.

She hadn’t hugged Sean yet. Instead, she was hanging back looking rather glum. He walked to her, and the others gave them some respectful space. She turned to Sean quickly and kissed him. Surprised, Sean did not resist, and he kissed her back, pulled her tighter.

The moment lasted forever, as though a flood of countless fun-filled afternoons were flashing by between their lips, but as it broke, it was gone in a heartbeat. As they released one another, the train whistle sounded loudly. It was time. The train would be arriving soon, and Sean looked toward the group with an expression that said everything. I’ll miss you, guys.

The friends all stared back at Sean. He walked toward the platform edge and the gathering queue of travelers. He looked back at and called to them all ignoring the crowd’s heavy blockade an shouted the word be had hoped he would never have to say, “Goodbye!” And they all smiled sadly knowing this was the end, at least for a long, long time. He looked out at the horizon and took Long Island in one final time, his life long home. His eyes swept over the platform at all the people, and he froze.

Down the platform, away from the majority of crowd, Sean saw a little boy trip and fall onto the tracks. A woman was shouting. Below the ledge, Sean could see the kid’s small hand waving frantically. The woman, the child’s mother, was desperately trying to pull the little one up. The train horn sounded again signalling its impeding arrival. No one was helping. The train was coming, and no one was helping.

Without another moment of thought, he was racing down the platform. His friends shouted after him, but he did not slow. He shoved past the few people milling around waiting, and reaching the edge, Sean leaped onto the tracks. He grabbed the small kid and threw him with all his might at the mother. Sean attempted to quickly climb back up, but he slipped. He landed on his back. The train was coming, the rail vibrating under him. He fired a look to his left and saw the train approaching, horn blaring. It was too late.

Oh, God, please help me! Sean took a final leap into the air, the train was too close now; he would never make it! Sean’s feet dangled in the air, the train only inches away, brakes squealing viciously. Sean closed his eyes, bracing for impact, and then, somehow, by some miracle, he felt himself getting smaller…
smaller…
smaller…
smaller…

In milliseconds, the entire world around Sean was getting larger. The people on the platform grew into giants as they watched in horror at the boy about to be killed by the train. Sean fell onto the ground. His eyes still closed, he waited for the pain as the train destroyed him, but nothing happened. He could feel the tracks rattling above, but there was no flash of light or thunder of death.

Sean opened his eyes, gasping in disbelief. He was laying among dark boulders the size of small cars. No, he realized, not boulders. Pebbles? A dark, massive shadow shifted above him, the train coming to a crashing halt. Sean scrambled to his feet and ran a few steps. He spun around trying to wrap his mind around what was happening – how this had happened.

There were screams and shouts, people dialing their phones, sirens, and faintly, somewhere, Sean could swear he heard Gabby sobbing. Far, far above between a massive gap between the monstrous train and the ledge, were gigantic forms – people shifting in panic. Sean’s heart was racing. He didn’t know what to do.

“What just happened?” Sean questioned out loud. “What’s happened!” he screamed. There were tears at the edges of his eyes, but he would not cry. He had to figure out what was going. He could figure it out. He could. He just… just… “HELP!” Sean shouted so loudly his body shook.

The crowd above was confused and scared. “What the hell was that?”
“Where did that kid go?”
“He’s dead! That kid is dead!”
“No! I saw him get out, I think!”
“Sean! SEAN!”
“Where is he, Gino??”
“He saved this kid! He’s a hero!”

The hysteria continued, and soon, no one could say exactly what they saw or remembered. People moved about. And Sean waved and shouted, but no one could hear or see him, and no one was looking for him. They didn’t see blood, so what else would they need to search for?

Sean sat there, waiting for some miracle to make him bigger, some light from above to shine down on him and return him to his normal state. Unfortunately, no such thing occurred. So Sean, not knowing what to do, stayed sitting on the tracks for hours. He stood from time to time and paced back and forth, watching the time tick by, and waiting…
waiting…
waiting…

The police came to the train tracks, looking around for some clue as to what had happened. Sean waved his arms up and down shouting himself hoarse, even making the detective who had crouched to peer under the train twitch at the sound. He had heard something, but he shook his head, shrugged, thinking the voice had been his imagination, and left the scene.

As night crept over the station, and the police gave up, Sean sat against one of the boulder-sized pebbles and hugged his legs, shivering from the breeze in the air. I sure am lucky my clothes shrunk with me, but will anyone find me here? Sean already knew the answer to that question. No.

Sean stood abruptly, a wave of frustrated anger filling him. He looked up at the ledge he’d fallen from. It was at least a mile above. He squeezed his fists. He clenched his teeth tight. He let the frustration coil in his chest like a spring, and then, not expecting anything, not assuming anything, and doing it for no other reason than wanting to release his anger, Sean jumped.

As shocking as his miniaturization, Sean soared into the air, over the edge of the ledge, and landed stumbling on the platform.

Sean regained his footing and stood there staring at himself. He had just cleared the entire distance in one jump. He turned on the spot and yelped. A giant man with a short, white goatee walked over him and down the walkway, and Sean cowered in fear of the enormous foot as it careened over him. He shook and realized how dangerous his situation truly was. He could be squashed in an instant. He had to find someplace safer, and he began to run away from the tracks.

* * *

Scott Lang was a thief before he became the Ant-Man. He had even stolen the suit to unknowingly begin his career as a crime-fighter! But when that happened, his life had changed for the better, and his family was whole again. There had been some complications and heartbreaks along the way, but somehow, he always got by. At the moment, he was on a plane leaving Miami for Long Island. Instead of traveling by flying ants, he decided he would travel the normal way this time.

The seat’s comfortable at least.

Scott had been in Miami to fight a long-time villain of his, the Taskmaster. Though he considered him to be his arch-enemy, Taskmaster thought differently. This always got on Scott’s nerves. It didn’t actually matter i the big picture of what he did as a hero. Not really, but it did matter to Scott. When he had inherited the Ant-Man moniker from the original, Hank Pym, he had also inherited the apathy the super community had for the title.

Hank Pym had been one of the founding members of the Avengers after an attack by Ultron. Hank had never been interested in superhero affairs. He had been more devoted to his lab work and studies than wearing a costume and saving the day. But he had donned the Ant-Man suit and helped the new team of heroes. And three months later, he had hung the suit up.

Time after time, the news would neglect to report on his involvement in incidents. Ant-Man didn’t pull ratings in the 24-Hour news cycle like the other Avengers. He was left out of reports and press photos. The news, social media, and everyone in between would put the spotlight on Captain America or Iron Man, and the incredible shrinking man was hardly an afterthought if a thought at all. Rogers would send corrections to the papers or news sites, but people pay about as much attention to corrections as they give Ant-Man. But that suited Hank Pym just fine. It was not difficult for him to walk away from the limelight and return to his lab.

Scott Lang felt differently. He did want to be a hero, and he was working hard everyday to do his part in the superhero community. He traveled up and down the coast taking on villains and threats. Scott wanted to make a difference in the world; he wanted to make a difference in his life. So far, he had barely been a blip. The Avengers never returned his calls. The news rarely covered him, although being his own press agent didn’t help things. So when a third-stringer bad guy like Taskmaster couldn’t even remember his name, well, that was just beyond frustrating. Sitting here on this plane, he honestly hoped that someone might recognize him. He could hear Hank berating him now for being so “insecure”.

Hank had asked Scott to get back to Long Island this afternoon, though, as usually, Hank hadn’t explained what the “urgent matter” was that he needed to see Scott about, but when Hank said something was urgent, it was urgent!

“Mom! Look!” a little girl passing Scott exclaimed.

He perked up.

“Yes sweetie, those are our bags going into the belly of the plane,” the mother cooed to her little one. She caught Scott’s eye and smiled. “Her first time flying,” she said. “Very exciting.”

“Yeah,” Scott said flatly. He sat back and relaxed, at least the seat was comfy, and soon fell asleep.

* * *

The tiny figure was sitting on a glass of wine spying on the two nearby college girls chattering about whatever it is girls gossip about. He was in plane’s mini-bar going from Oakland to Long Island, shrunken so that he would be unseen. The tiny figure’s name was Eric O’Grady, and he was the third individual to done the Ant-Man suit since its creation. Unlike the thoughtful and serious Hank Pym and the devoted Scott Land, Eric was far less reputable.

Few years back, O’Grady had found the suit abandoned in an alley after a brawl the Avengers had had with some weird robo-alien things. Eric didn’t really know the details, or care. He had found this weird suit, tossed it on, and found he could go miniature with the flick of a switch. He had some fun with the suit until Pym showed up and demanded it back. The guy was a wimp, O’Grady snorted at the thought of the doc. Eric was only a few years younger than Pym, who was pushing mid-40s, and twice the doc’s size. Eric had the build of a boxer and the attitude of a brawler, which he put to good use that first time Pym and he had met.

They were ambushed by a gang of morons from the Rhino Gang or the Goblins or one of those ridiculous Spider-dude related gangs, and fighting side-by-side, Eric had proven he wasn’t just a dumb thug; he could fight. Even saved a bus full of people in the scuffle.

After that, he and Pym had come to an agreement: Eric could keep the suit he’d found if he continued to use it like a hero should and that he would respond to any call from the doc, no matter the situation. O’Grady had agreed. He wasn’t really doing much anyway, so why not try the hero thing? Although, it was Lang that did the hero stuff. O’Grady used it for more “freelance” affairs. He took trips on Pym’s dime, rocked some pretty sweet underground gigs taking out drug cartels or child sex slave rings, dark shit. He was Pym’s covert gun for hire, and it wasn’t so bad.

Now, he sat on the glass staring lustfully after the college girls. wondering what “urgent matter,” Hank had for him this time. How much money is Hank gonna give to me for this? Eric hoped it would be a good amount. He had blown a huge wad in Vegas and was drying up quick.

One of the women came over to the mini-bar, and and spotted Eric on the glass. Thinking he was a bug, she screamed and swatted at him. He fell off and plummeted to the ground.

“Well, that’s not nice,” Eric muttered to himself.

* * *

Hank Pym was sitting at his desk in his home scribbling notes in a pad. He glanced back and forth from the pad to a tablet with a map and a read-out of coordinates and then to his laptop which was displaying a live video feed of a camera mounted to a fire ant. Hank squinted at the screens and his pad and muttered to himself as he did so, “From the station to god knows where… If he could tell which way was north, he could’ve headed to his home… Damn. Damn…”

While watching the news, Hank had watched a report of a boy, twelve years old, that mysteriously disappeared on the train tracks just before a train would’ve hit him. Generally, it could’ve been an elaborate prank or a teleporting mutant or even some new magic user embarrassing themselves in public, but Hank thought differently, especially after visiting the scene himself. He had bent down at the tracks, seeing absolutely tiny footprints, but no one was there anymore! The boy had shrunk. He had executed an act only possible with the use of the Pym Particle, or so Hank had thought. He needed to know if this boy was a mutant, in which case, he would leave him to Charles, had acquired some copy cat Pym Tech, or if somehow, the child had tapped into the Pym Particle without a use of an Ant-Man suit. And it would have to be without a suit. There were three in existence and all accounted for.

Hank stroked his short, light-blonde goatee, the flecks if grey more prominent everyday, wondering if the boy had gone far. Hank had no chance of finding him now, unless he had the help of two people that still used the Ant-Man technology: Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady. He had messaged them both and they would each be arriving any moment.

The front door creaked as it opened, and Hank glanced at his watch. That would be Scott.

“Hank!” Scott called from the entry and soon appeared at the study’s door frame. “Hey, old man,” he said with a grin.

Unamused, Hank returned to his notes.

Scott tossed his luggage down and entered the room. “What’s up? Do I have time to go see Cassie?”

“Just sit down and be patient,” Hank said shortly. “I don’t want have to say it more than once, so just wait for your partner,” Hank insisted, putting his hand on his forehead.

“Partner? Is it Hope?” Scott chimed in optimistically.

“No,” Hank said without looking up. “It’s a little bit of a downgrade.”

“Oh, no,” Scott realized, as if reading Hank’s mind. “Not Eric.”

As if on cue, the front door whipped open and Eric O’Grady breezed into the entry. “Hey, Doc! Where you at?”

Scott closed his eyes pained. Eric walked out of the hall and into the study. He ruffled Scott’s hair, making Scott grumble.

“Hiya, Scottie!” Eric exclaimed.

“I hate you, Hank” Scott groaned, pointing to his senior.

Hank rolled his eyes, smirking slightly. Scott and Eric hadn’t exactly been the best of friends. He hoped that they would get along for this. A boy’s life may depend on it. No, there’s no question that his life depends on this. Everything that could happen to him! At least it’s not as populated as other places, I guess.

He turned to them saying, “If you two have watched the news in the last six hours,” to which both shook their heads as to say no, “a boy the age of twelve disappeared just before getting hit by a train. My curiosity lead me to the scene, and I discovered,” he pointed to the large computer screen mounted on the wall. With a flick of a button on his tablet, images of tiny footprints appeared. “The child shrunk.”

“Mutant?” Scott asked.

“That is a possibility,” Hank replied.

“Someone got an Ant-Man suit we don’t know about?” O’Grady suggested.

Hank looked at them both seriously. “We haven’t lost any tech, have we?”

“No,” Scott said confidently.

Eric grunted. They both looked at him. He scoffed, “What? Only one here who’s ever lost any Pym Tech is you,” he said pointing at Hank.

Hank scowled and continued, “I need you two to find the kid, ensure he’s safe, and bring him here. Do you understand? Search between Uniondale and Terryville. He can’t have gone far.”

Scott and Eric nodded in unison.

Suited up, the two Ant-Men stood in the yard, now tiny, and summoned ants to them to begin their mission. Scott looked at Eric’s suit, seemingly jealous. Eric smirked and tapped Scott lightly to tease him. “Aww, you want my suit, dontcha’, Scottie?” Eric laughed.

Sighing, Scott replied honestly, “It’s so much cooler.”

Soon, Scott and Eric set out on their way to find this “shrunken boy” using the cybernetic Ant-Man helmet to ride throughout Long Island. Beginning at Terryville, the two searched under almost every car, on every windowsill, in gutters, ant hills, birds’ nests, vents, pretty much everywhere with no luck…

* * *

“Uh, can you get me a ride to East Northport, please?”

Sean stood there, just out of the train station, talking to an illiterate pigeon. Sean stomped his foot on the sidewalk, the crack a few small steps ahead of him. Why did I ever think that would work? He groaned, tired and hungry. He slipped to the side, sitting beside a humongous wall, at least in his eyes. How did this happen to me? Saying goodbye to my friends was bad enough!

A massive drop of water slammed into the concrete meters away from Sean.

He pushed himself back into a crevice, for it had started to drizzle. Sean slid in deeper, the rain being a threat to him. Seeing the size of each drop, he could probably drown in one. He pulled his hood up, glad he had it for warmth. Soon, he fell asleep, the rain being unable to get him. The breeze made his teeth chatter in his sleep, but he didn’t stir. Instead, he had fallen into a black, dreamless sleep.

* * *

“Report.”

Hank’s voice crackled through the ear pieces in both Scott and Eric’s helmets.

“Nothing yet,” Scott said solemnly.

“We’re taking a breather, boss,” Eric said.

“A break?” Hank said angrily.

Scott replied almost immediately, saying, “Hank, c’mon, you know we’re do-“

“It’s raining, all right?” Eric cut in. “Whaddya’ want us to do, look for him when we can’t even see? When we’re slowed down in the rain like a bug trapped in tree sap?”

“Yes,” Hank answered. “What about the kid? Anything could’ve happened to him. I bet he’s stuck in the rain right now. I might as well come out there myself and look for him.” It was frustration speaking – concern for the boy. They all knew he couldn’t join them. Hank had made it as clear as he was willing to that he could not wear the suit any longer.

“You want to send us some more troops?” Scott suggested.

“Already en route,” Hank said. “Get back out there.”

Eric raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips to Scott.

“We’re on it, Hank,” Scott said dutifully, and mounted his ant.

* * *

Sean shivered in the crevice, his body shaking like a smoothie machine. He wondered what his family was doing at the moment. Did they even know what happened? I wish I could just go back to normal. Please, God, I’ll do anything!

The rain continued to splash.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sean spotted a couple of ants trotting along as if looking for something. He noticed some red and silver packs on their backs, and wondered what they were for. He had never noticed them before. Was that normal on an ant? Were they always there? Maybe, ’cause you see a lot more stuff down on this level. After a few moments, the ants turned toward the crevice that Sean was in, and he sunk in deeper. The pincers looked jagged and dangerous. Hoping that, by some miracle, he wasn’t spotted, he closed his eyes, bracing himself.

There was a chittering from the beasts, and Sean’s leg was suddenly grasped. He struggled as he was taken, but his attempts were proven to be futile. Well, this is how it ends. Being eaten by a pack of ants. Wow. And they have wings. The ant let Sean drop, and he laid there waiting for the inevitable that never came. He looked up, confused.

Between the two large monsters, Sean saw a figure – no, two figures standing there. Two men, tiny like Sean.

“What…?” Sean muttered.

The two men were taller than Sean, but still miniature like himself. The first pushed the two ants aside and held out a hand.

“It’s okay, kid,” the man said.

Sean took the man’s hand and was lifted to his feet. He rubbed his head and almost stumbled backwards at the sight of the two Ant-Men. “What…? Who are you?

“Kid, you should be more worried ’bout yourself. What happened to you?”the man asked.

The second, taller of the two men, asked harshly, “How’d you shrink, kid?”

“Easy. Eric,” the first said and turned to Sean. “I’m Scott. This is Eric. What’s your name?”

“S-Sean.”

“Steal any Pym Particles lately?”

“What? I-“

“Eric,” Scott chastised.

“No! No way, man. I didn’t steal anything! I just – I saved this little kid, and – and I just- I don’t know what happened! And I’m – I’m – I just want to go home!” Sean was crying. It was finally too much and he was overwhelmed by it all.

“Hey,” Scott said gently. “It’s alright, Sean. It’s alright.” And he put an arm around Sean letting him sob.

* * *

Eric, Scott, and Hank stood over Sean like three giants. He sat on Hank’s desk watching the conversation intently. Hank was scowling in deep thought and spoke smoothly, “Not a single trace of Pym Particles. No Terrigen Mist. It must be a genetic mutation.” He pulled out a phone and began tapping it.

“You gonna call the wheelchair guy?” Eric said.

“Charles,” Hank scolded. “And yes.”

Scott punched Eric’s shoulder. “Come on, man. ‘Wheelchair guy’?”

“What?” Eric shrugged clueless.

Hank stepped away from the pair and the boy and held his phone to his ear. It clicked. “Dr. Pym. To what do I owe the pleasure?” a smooth British voice spoke over the line.

“Hello, Charles,” Hank said politely greeting him. “I have a problem that might concern you. It’s a boy.” Hank explained the situation, and Charles listen thoughtfully on the other end.

“The boy is absolutely welcome here,” Charles finally said. “Do his parents know?”

Hank bit his lip. Sean’s parents had no idea where their son was, much less that he was sitting on the letter “k” of a computer keyboard.Hank knew what they would do. They would be scared and angry and make demands. They would do what parents do and have only their child’s best interests in mind and heart, but Hank knew that would make things difficult for him. He needed to know how this boy had done what he had done, and that meant, as cruel as it might appear, that he would return Sean to them when he was normal again.

“Yes,” Hank nodded. “Of course they do.”

“Very well,” Charles said kindly. “Have they been accepting of his state?”

“They just want answers,” Hank lied.

“Very well. I would love to meet Sean. We can make arrangements.”

Hank and Charles spoke a moment longer, until Hank thanked the Professor and ended the call.

* * *

Professor Charles Xavier sat at his desk in his Westchester School for Gifted Children and peered thoughtfully down at the tiny boy. “You are definitely a mutant, Sean.”

“Whoa,” Sean whispered.

“You entered your first stage of transformation, and, of course, your changes were brought on by extreme stress as well as the natural changes you are experiencing through puberty. This is often the exact catalyst for an X-Factor.”

Hank was seated at the window taking notes in his pad. He looked to the Professor and tilted his head. “What other stages are there?”

“Well, not many mutants enter a second stage. It is a rarity, though a possibility,” Xavier said. “I cannot be certain you will even have any other stages of mutation, but I do want you to call me if you experience any difficulties or new changes. Anything at all.”

Sean raised his hand to ask a question.

Xavier smiled warmly. “You don’t need to raise your hand here, Sean. What do you need?”

“W-Well, h-how do I grow back to normal size?” Sean asked hopefully.

Xavier’s smile faded. He blinked and chose his words carefully. “Sean, we’ve run as many tests as we know, and from what we’ve found, your mutation is a complete change. Sean,” he hesitated. “You cannot grow back.”

Sean’s body began to shake involuntarily. He took a step away from the Professor. “No,” he spluttered and then shouted, “No! You’re lying! This is some cruel joke, isn’t it?! I-I can’t be stuck like this!”

“I am sorry, Sean,” Xavier attempted. “I’m sorry, but you will find that, in time-“

“In time?! In time what?” Sean shouted. “What about my parents?! How can I tell them?”

Xavier rose and turned away from the boy. He stared hard at Hank. “Dr. Pym?”

Hank turned a deep shade of red, his cheeks burning. Hank had not told Sean’s parents, whose hearts were probably aching. He opened his mouth to explain, but a deep, angered voice entered his mind.

“How could you not tell the boys parents, Hank?” Charles psychic voice boomed.

“I-” Hank began only to be cut off again.

“We will speak in here, Dr. Pym. There is no need to alarm the boy any further. Explain yourself. Now!”

Standing in silence, the two men stared at one another. Sean scrunched up his face not understanding why they had simply stopped talking and were having this stare-down. It didn’t matter though. He was still reeling from the shock. He was trapped like this. Stuck forever as a speck. Sean’s eyes were red with tears, and he stormed across the desk to yell at the Professor some more. It was all he could think to do. Before he could spout off his tirade, he heard a hissing.

“Psst! Dude, shush! I’ve gotcha’.”

It was a familiar voice, one Sean had heard earlier that same day. Sean hadn’t even noticed, but, to him, that wasn’t what was important at the moment. It was the person behind him, who was also his size. It was an Ant-Man, but which one?

The man lifted off his helmet revealing his face. It was Eric O’Grady. Eric walked over to Sean and gave him a light punch on the arm. “That’s some shit, huh? Stuck like this?”

Sean sniffed, tears threatening to return.

Eric stepped close and put an arm over the kid’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s gonna be cool, kid. Seriously.”

“How?” Sean whimpered.

Eric grinned. “Come with me, okay? You don’t want to stay here with the bald wonder up there. All these people do is train and be assholes to kids like you,” Eric explained quickly. “Trust me.”

Sean nodded his head, his eyes filling with tears. Eric hugged him tighter, nodding. He understood what Sean was going through, a change that he could never come back from. When Sean had calmed down, Eric used his helmet to summon a flying ant, but it didn’t work. Eric knocked his helmet, for it didn’t seem to work. “Huh.”

“What’s wrong?” Sean asked.

“I dunno. I can’t summon the ants,” Eric responded. “I don’t know why it’s not working.” He banged the helmet with his hand and fiddled with some dials on his belt.

Sean closed his eyes, focusing contently. Suddenly, a small group of ants crawled toward the two, making a platform. Sean, his eyes still closed, motioned for Eric to climb onto the platform. Sean stepped on as well, and it floated upwards, zooming through the air. Eric looked at him in wonder, scratching his head.

“Hey, not bad, kid. How did you do that?” Eric asked.

“I don’t know. It just… seemed natural, I guess,” Sean answered, almost as confused as Eric. “Where are we goin’?”

“What you need is a little adventure in your life. Something so kick-ass, you won’t even have a second to think about how pint-sized you are,” Eric grinned excitedly, and Sean couldn’t help but grin a little in return. Eric thought a minute and snapped his fingers, saying, “J.F.K. Airport. Then we’ll board the earliest flight to Oakland. That’s where I live.”

“How’re we gonna pay, though?”

“Little dude, welcome to the new life,” Eric grinned. “We don’t have to!”

For the first time that wild day, Sean smiled fully. He took a moment to truly appreciate that he was soaring through the air on the back of an ant! It was incredible, and the future seemed, maybe, just a little bit brighter. For now, Sean could forget his worries. Eric O’Grady was gonna take care of him.

* * *

“Dude, you awake? We’re here.”

Sean awoke, blinking his eyes slowly. They were in J.F.K. Airport, and it was active! This was not the time for sleepiness. This was the time for alertness! Now, at about half a centimeter tall, the people of the airport were more dangerous than ever. Yet, Sean didn’t know how dangerous it would get.

“Did you find the flight?” Sean asked.

Eric nodded, pointing, and Sean gave a thumbs up, thanking the ants telepathically before leaving them. He and Eric walked slowly and cautiously, avoiding rushing feet. Soon, they reached the jetway to the plane, creeping between the legs of people waiting on line. The two were almost on when they heard a barrage of gunshots. People started screaming, scrambling for the exit. The stampede trampled the two, but they stayed, hoping to wait it out.

“Eric, don’t you help stop these things?!” Sean yelled.

“What are these people gonna do in return except criticize you?! Of course not! They’ve never helped us. Why should we help them?” Eric lectured.

Sean turned toward Eric, back at the frightened people, then back at Eric. He shook his head, crawling away from Eric and toward the continuous gunfire.

“Sean, what the hell are ya’ doin’?!” Eric screamed angrily.

Sean shook his head again, running off, saying, “We gotta do something!”

Sean took off toward the zooming bullets, leaping into the air, way higher than he thought he was able to. It might be easier to know that he’s not aiming for me. Sean landed on a bullet, using it to propel him forward, slamming his foot into the shooter. Somehow, the shooter was knocked backward with a powerful force, as if hit by a cannonball! Sean landed on the ground, looking at himself. Whoa!Okay, I don’t know how that proportionately works out, I should have the power level that you feel when an insect crawls on your arm!

Sean walked backward, fixing his hair, and glanced backward at Eric, who glared at him, as if betrayed. Before Sean could think more about Eric, someone’s foot came down on him as they went to check on the shooter who had seemingly fallen to the ground for no reason. Sean’s back cracked, and his face pressed down on the ground, becoming extremely sore. You could kill an ant by stepping on it, but, for some reason, Sean, even though hurt, hadn’t had the life squeezed out of him.

Eric ran up to him, avoiding people, and skidded to his knees next to Sean. “Kid!”

Sean looked up, dazed but otherwise fine. “That was crazy!”

* * *

Why did you do that!” Eric asked as soon as the plane took off for Los Angeles.

“Because it was the right thing to do!” Sean replied. “I thought a superhero would know that better than anyone.”

“I’m not a superhero, kid. I’m a freelancer. You don’t understand,” Eric rolled his eyes. “You could use your powers for anything, and you use them to be a goody two-shoes?” Sean nodded curtly and Eric turned. “Shoulda’ let Scott take you under his wing,” Eric muttered to himself and pushed open a zipper. They were among pieces of luggage in an overhead compartment. Eric was snooping through some of them, looking for the “good stuff.”

Sean came next to him, opening one of the zippers with his whole body. “Not just that,” Sean smiled. “There’s such thing as ‘multitasking.'”

“So, what, you gonna be a ‘hero’ now?” Eric remarked. “You gonna be the newest Ant-man?”

Sean hesitated, but he didn’t nod. He considered what that would mean – the commitment to a title and the life of a never-ending battle against evil. He thought of the adventure he was already on with Eric. The carefree life he led really did have its appeal. But he wasn’t sure he liked Eric’s dismissive attitude toward responsibility. He could see a life as both hero and brazen adventurer. So. instead, Sean smiled, making the “so-so” motion with his hand. He continued opening the zipper, taking out a candy lifesaver and sitting on it like a pool floatie. “Maybe, just a little of both,” Sean answered.

“Well,” Eric grinned, leaning on the wall. “I like how you think, Ant-Boy.”

The corner of Sean’s mouth curled into a smirk and he pointed at Eric. “Hey,” he corrected, “That’s Ant-Man,”

~ End of Part I ~

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  • Well, this is certainly unexpected. Not too bad. After the Runaways stopped, I thought we’d seen the last of kid heroes. Now we get the X-Men and this. Looking forward to seeing what you decide to do with Sean.

    • Thanks, Gregggg! (I certainly love the name.) I plan on doing many things with Sean in the future, and maybe some of those ideas will come real soon. But, that’s just a maybe!