2992/Battleground beneath Our Feet

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Battleground beneath Our Feet
Date of Scene: 19 August 2020
Location: Pym's Mobile Lab
Synopsis: No description
Cast of Characters: Scott Lang, Douglas Ramsey, Hank Pym

Scott Lang has posed:
Bio-electrical and pheremonal signals ripple throughout the myriad tunnels and crawl-ways that stretch throughout the underground ecosystem where insects reign.

What do those signals communicate, even as millions of those very insects swarm about in ways that seem simultaneously chaotic and highly organized?

Some are indecipherable, even by those whose technology is dedicated to understanding the creatures who send them. But they seem panicked--or terrified--or angry!

Others, more recognizable, call out, in numbers great enough that their messages can be interpreted by dedicated technology, for recognition and aid! 'HELP!' they cry. 'HELP US SURVIVE AND WIN THIS--'

'A N T - W A R !'

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug wrinkles his nose, and then says, "Ants. Why'd it have to be ants?"

Flashback to four year old Douglas Ramsey, who was going to get a special birthday cake that year. It had Transformers on it. He was so excited.

But the ants found it first. Little black pharoah ants, forming a bivouac from the back door of his kitchen to the cake. His cake. Their cake.

"I hate ants."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym is listening. Recently, tiring of resizing himself, he began focusing more on his neglected inventions. Ant communications was one of those. There in his lab a huylking communications bank fed signals into a hard connect helmet and he took in ant messages from the tri-state area.

"Hello, little friends..."

<<Hi Hank!>>

Hank beams. "Don't decapitate anyone till I get there. I will figure out a plan that benefits you all."

<<Sugar?! Sugar, sugar sugar!>>

"... Maybe."

Scott Lang has posed:
Scott Lang is not listening--at least, he's trying not to listen. "I can't understand you!" he cries, desperately clinging to the back of an ant whose signals make no sense to him. "Why can't I understand you? Can you understand me?!"

The ants reply in some way that makes no sense to him. "Yeah, okay, I guess that /was/ a dumb question. But if you want me to help you--you need to find someone who 'gets' you! Know what I mean?"

He looks around, squinting at the walls of the tunnels through which his ride's all but galloping.

"Wait--where are we going? I don't recognize this soil!" Scott frowns and mutters, "I never thought that would be something I'd ever say or care about saying..."

The ground rumbles under the Westchester County soil as the mobilized colony rises up in search of aid, pulling Ant-Man along.

"Hank!" he calls out through his helmet. "Can you hear me? How far can this message travel? This is bad, buddy! And I promise--this time it's not my fault, for real!"

Further below, the tunnels open to expansive caverns in which millions of ants brutally combat one another for survival and conquest!

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"...Just put out some ant baits and call it a day. I really do not get the fascination." Doug says, "Or why Mr. Kord sent me along on this - uh - fact-finding expedition."

He glances back at Hank and decides not to belabor him with the story of how ants cheated him of his special Transformers birthday cake and that's why he's hated them ever since. Something tells him Dr. Pym would not grok it.

"...Sigh. If you send me down there, Dr. Pym, I'll see what I can do."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym receives the message from Scott Lang and hurries to reply. "I have you on speaker, Scott. We're coming! Hang on! Now see here, Mr. Ramsey ants are noble creatures deserving of respect and understanding. They've saved my life several times, often at the cost of their own. If it helps you can think of them as six legged dogs. A dog would eat a birthday cake left unattended too. But dogs are cute so we forgive them." He disconnects the helmet he's wearing and plops it onto Doug's head. Ironically it makes him look like an ant. "This won't work disconnected till we get close. He grabs a set of similar capabilities, but similar to a streamlined headset. A touch f a button and metal plates form around his head and face to provide protection. Hank points to a modified Quinjet that looks similar to an ant.

"We'll take rover to Scott's location and shrink there. I have a couple Pym particle tablets for you... you don't have any neurological, biochemical, cardiological conditions? Hemorrhoids? Forget the hemorrhoids. Those turned out to be meaningless."

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Yes, but the visceral language of trauma stays with us - you know what nevermind -" Doug closes one eye and then then says, "This is a whole THING with you, isn't it?" He murmurs. "Well, there are some people who think I might be on the-"

Too late. He's already climbing into the vehicle, which shows that above all else, he's a trooper.

Scott Lang has posed:
Ants, ants, everywhere ants!

Scott clings to the back of a carpenter ant that, along with four of its brethren, tear apart an enemy soldier. Then he's knocked off, tumbling down a vertical shaft as his ride is cracked open by pincers.

"Noooooo ... worrieeeees!" he shouts over the helmet's comm system before landing on his back with a rush of air.

An ant looms over him, sending a very understandable signal: KILL KILL KILL KILL

"Whoa, buddy," Scott says, raising a hand. "It doesn't have to be this way--"

Both human and ant are enveloped in a swirling mass of melee, antenaae quivering, mandibles chomping, legs striking out, as the opposing colonies clash for what must be their final battle!

Hank Pym has posed:
With the... Ant-Wing on autopilot, Hank adjusts Doug's helmet to his own brainwaves. Then he adjusts it again. Then he does another brain scan and says, "**** me ant-style. Your brain patterns make Finnegan's Wake look like Dr. Seuss... can you let your mind go blank a minute? Think of an attractive girl (not my daughter) or guy for a minute. Almost there..."

Both are nearly thrown off their seat as the Ant-Wing comes to an abrupt halt... a few hundred yards from Hank's house. the scientist peers out. "He might have told us he was right here... I blew a few hundred bucks launching the damned thing. I'll set us down nearby, not to toast my little friends. You be nice!" he snaps at Doug. the little jet descends over concrete.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Well my mind doesn't ever really go blank but let me see if I can focus on something--" Doug says, before he closes his eyes and then begins to sing under his breath.

"Et ils vous diront que le noir est vraiment blanc
La lune n'est que le soleil la nuit
Et quand tu marches dans les salles dorées
Tu peux garder l'or qui tombe
C'est le paradis et l'enfer, oh non

Imbécile, imbécile
Tu dois saigner pour le danseur
Imbécile, imbécile
Cherchez la réponse
Imbécile, fou, imbécile..."

That does calm his mind a bit. "I'm always nice!" He says. "Usually nice. But... *ants*." He says. Fine, he'll be good!

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym shrinks and hops out of the jet and quite a hop it is. "Say Douglas, I noted your uniform has the slippery, sculpted look of unstable molecules... it doesn't have anything like chainmail or steel mesh, does it? Because sometimes ants..." The scientist is interrupted by a huge red ant barreling out of an entrance. "Oh hello friend, we... aaaaaagh!" The insect grabs Pym in its mandibles, for a moment.

"Why you miserable..."

Scott Lang has posed:
As the Ant-Wing nears the battleground, the din of insect communication increases to a nigh-unbearable extent.


The other, unintelligible save, perhaps, for those gifted with linguistic powers, chants out a very different set of war-cries:


And, perhaps, the craft's monitors can pick up the sight of human limbs flailing in the midst of this antastrophe, accompanied by a signal that's breaking up: "... can't ... help ... oww!"

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug wrinkles his nose and then says, "Uh-huh." Then he looks around, and opens his fanny-pack. "May I?" He says, before he gets out a honey oat granola bar, opens it, and snaps it neatly in two. "You start by creting a destraction that sends everyone back to their sides. So..." He offers both halves to Hank.

"Enlarge these on either side of the battle line. Hierarchy of needs."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym flings one half of the bar, then the other, both enlarging as they land. "Please, allow me." He produces several sugar cubes from his belt and hurls them as well. "Don't teach your grandfather how to steal horses, kid. Well, your young uncle at any rate. Hmmm, let me see now... <<CUT IT OUT!!!>> The shout causes a feedback whine in the helmets of his friends. Two million antennae stand up suddenly and quiver. He waits for their further reaction. The electronic waves are garbled and strange for some reason.

Scott Lang has posed:
"Oh, yeah!" Scott shouts in response. "Gentle Hulk! That seems ... doable!" His tone seems more sarcastic than the words themselves might suggest. "While I'm at it, I'll be a joke-cracking Batman!" He mumbles to himself, but the statements nonetheless get transmitted: "... tell me not to control the ants, now I need to control the ants ... doesn't like 'Pymster' ..."

The ants, meanwhile, attack any and everything that doesn't seem to be communicating it's on 'their' side. More and more tunnels seem to open up, creating larger cavernous nexuses of previously separate passages. Relatively speaking, these are cathedral-sized spaces and, before too long, grow to Costco-sized chasms.

Some of the ants do, however, seem to notice the potential food source, even before it's enlarged, hostilities ceasing or, perhaps, changing to an instinctive collect-and-store foraging survival response. When the food does suddenly become gigantic, there's a ripple effect of excited communication that turns everyone's attention to the sudden ludicrous surplus of food. Almost all signals make the same call: FOOD NEED TAKE STORE SURVIVE! although those listening to Hank try their best to balance their attention between foraging and listening to their two-legged friend.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Okay now." Doug says, into the mic, "Mr. Lang, I'm going to give you some instructions, and you need to follow them exctly. Well, not exactly, I'm pretty sure your accent will be terrible, but trust me when I know what I'm saying."

"Wiggle antenna up, down, left. Wiggle your rear left, left, right, right right, left. Stamp your feet and then clap your hands on the ground. Then give a full body shake starting at your tuchus and ending with your head."

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym lets the ant go and it skitters away. Several other approach the pair and stop. Helmet dodad or not, it's Hank Pym and the little friends do recognize him. That bitey ant... obviously from the other side, the losers/posers! "Reed's girl cild corrects my math, I work for my ex who runs my goddam company and schtups one of my best friends, my own daughter out does me and doesn't need me for anything but grilled cheeses... wiggle tuchus... a half million dollars of gear and he gets away with wiggling stuff. I give up. This one tells me how to communicate with ants. What the **** is left for me? Honestly?!"

Scott Lang has posed:
"Okay!" Scott calls out confidently. He concentrates and sends an unmistakeable message to the ants:


The ants begin to follow the command, but they seem confused part-way through and skitter about in an irritated fashion, mandibles more and more excitedly beginning to snap in Scott's direction.

"Hey, guys, I don't think you got that right ... I might have just insulted their genetic line or something!" Scott nervously whispers.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"No, no, no, not the Konami Code!" Doug says. "Listen, I know this will work."

Hank gets the translated version of what Doug is intimating in Ant:


"It doesn't matter what other people can do, Dr. Pym, it's what YOU can do to contribute that counts! The world needs more than one of almost everything! If it has a super-genius, so what? If you were good at carrying boxes, people need that too!"

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym boggles a bit. "Ni ni bong? You're going to have to apologize all over again. /That?? It's the worst thing one ant can call another. Konami... Yeah Doug talk to me when your ex trades you for a ****ing living legend and you've gone a couple years without a date. Oh for... here! <<Watch this you noodleheads!>> Hank grows till he towers over Doug, even though he's about three inches. He sighs deeply and begins doing the ant dance per Doug's instructions. Wiggle his fingers for antennae, wiggles his tuchus, slaps the ground and finishes with the body wiggle. Two million heads watch unblinking.

"I swear to god above... if either of you mention this to the Avengers..."

Scott Lang has posed:
"Yeah!" Scott cheers. "Listen to him, Hank! Who /cares/ if Tony Stark has all the money and patents and girlfriends and ..." He pauses and then clears his throat. "You know what, screw that! I want all that stuff, too! But we're /here/ and /this/ is happening and we're saying /god knows what/ to a bunch of hungry, angry ants!"

A few ants nearby twitch their antennae as if nodding, ant-style.

"So let's get them to stop turning their home into a massive sinkhole and they can feast like kings on Nutri-Grain already! What do you say, pal?" Scott sticks out his arm, hand in a fist, for a long-distance bump. "And you too, Konami Kid!"

As Hank does, indeed, start doing the arcane ant-treater ritual dance, Scott tries to clap his hands in time for support. "You /ant/ touch this!" he shouts.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
"Basically... who cares. So someone else is dating your Ex-Wife. If you actually care about her you're just happy she's happy, and now her constant leaving her hair in the bathtub drain is somebody else's problem and you can watch what you want to watch on Netflix. So you're not Reed Richards, at least you don't have Doctor Doom *constantly* gunning for your ass."

"My mutant power is being able to *talk to stuff*. And it may not be a flashy power, but it's mine and I milk it for what it's worth." Doug says, with a shrug. "Also, it occurs to me, all those guys, they all think about big stuff and only big stuff. So maybe you're the super-genius who focuses on the little things." Well, him and Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi...

Hank Pym has posed:
Hank Pym finishes dancing and transmits, <<You ants behave and bask in this new bounty. I, the Ant god, enjoin you from fighting for at least a week! I have no idea what reprogrammed you little primitive screwheads, but you better give me a quiet week -at least.>> He turns to Doug, looming. "I never said anything about comparing myself to Reed Richards. Why would you even go there? Are you comparing me to Reed Richards? Okay, you know what? I'm done here. I'm walking back to the house and ordering Chinese food and watching Lovecraft Country. Come with if you want." He starts stomping back to the jet.

Scott Lang has posed:
"I talk to stuff all the time, too," Scott says with an exasperated sigh. "But my daughter just tells me that's because I'm a moron." He looks toward Doug. "I'm not calling you that, but I think my daughter might be. Indirectly."

"But yes," he continues, nodding, "Doug's right. We're here to sweat the small stuff! We're, like, micronauts* or something!"

[* Not at all like that. - Ed.]

Scott tries to mimic Hank's dance, looking more like a shark-themed backup dancer than anyone with real skill. "It's working--I can feel it!" Moments later, Hank finishes his dancing, but Scott's eyes are closed while he's in the groove.

The ants, paying attention to Hank, attend to his words and the hostilities cease. SURVIVE THRIVE PROSPER TOGETHER, they reply.

Douglas Ramsey has posed:
Doug stays where he is, and since he's still pretty tiny, he looks at an ant and says, "Maaaaaaaaaaan, that guy is *prickly*, isn't he?" He shakes his head, and then says, "It's hard to forgive you guys for that cake - but - you're pretty all right. Enjoy the granola bar." He shrugs, and walks off.