“What are you doing exactly?”
“Increasing the magnetism field to keep the particles secure. The current field doesn’t appear to be strong enough to keep stable during the barrage. I may have to use Ioxomagnetism. It’s a theory thought up by Hank Pym, it uses a new type of energy to power the magnetic field. The field creates the energy and the energy powers the field. It’s an endless cycle and creates a potentially unlimited and powerful magnetic field. It’s still experimental, of course. Starting the cycle is where the trouble lies. You have to stabilise it quickly or else it will rapidly go out of control. There is a chance it may destroy a portion of the ship, so all variables must be accounted for, of course. So, any more questions?”
“Do you always talk like that?”
“You sound like a living textbook.”
“You came here to learn, Johnny, not talk about girls and cars.”
Reed was examining an area of the ship while Johnny looked on. The ship seemed to be complete at first glance but it was only merely the base. The specialised tools necessary for the cosmic storm research still need finishing touches. Reed couldn’t let any safety problems happen on this mission, he’d already used up all his “get out of jail cards“.
“Ah shucks, I thought you’d be a fun guy Reed!“ Johnny joked sarcastically.
Reed ignored Johnny’s remark and continued to examine the framework.
“How much horsepower would be in this thing anyway?” Johnny questioned
“Well if you count the…”
“Forget it, forgot I’m talking to Wikipedia-made-man! Ooohhh what’s this thing?” Johnny remarked as his attention was suddenly grabbed by an interesting looking capsule.
“An gravity stimulation chamber. Emm… basically makes the gravity much stronger in space so we can walk normally.” Reed tried to explain to Johnny.
“Cool! Mind if I try?” Johnny declared while jogging over to the machine.
“Actually I do mind….”
He was cut off mid-sentence by the sleek noise of the chamber opening.
“I’m talking to a hyperactive dog…Johnny!” Reed shouted, clearly out of his depth.
“How do you turn this on?” Johnny asked, searching his surroundings.
“Never mind, big obvious lever ahoy!”
“Johnny! Break anything and I will get the blame! I really could not deal with…” Reed was cut off yet again.
Johnny lifted the lever up and his whole body suddenly turned limp. He flopped onto the floor, gripping the lever as tightly as possible.
“Johnny, turn it off, please! I…”
“Reed….” his voice was slurred as gravity weighed down his mouth and throat, making speech difficult. “The lever…It won’t…go up….it too heavy…”
“Relax, errr…stay right there!”
“Do I…have…a choice…?”
Reed responded quickly and ran to the outside of the machine and quickly began configuring it. With a beep and a whirl, Johnny’s strength suddenly returned. The door slid open to reveal an angry Reed glaring at Johnny.
“That could have ended badly, Johnny, you’re a hindrance and a danger, I’m afraid I’ll have to get you to leave the premises.”
“A hindrance? Reed, if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have accounted for one variable”.
This was met with a raised eyebrow by Reed.
“When we come back to Earth with the gravity majiggery still going, how the hell can we lift the lever? We'd be trapped in the ship until the government can figure out how to stop the gravity without wrecking their precious budget-paid ship. Not bad for a apprentice.”
Reed stared at Johnny silently as he let Johnny by. Johnny patted Reed’s shoulder and winked as he began to walk away.
“Wait, what do mean “we”.” the puzzled Reed questioned the leaving figure of Johnny.
“I believe I may have qualified for your safety inspector position!” Johnny responded smiling.
Reed smirked back.
“Do I have to listen to that dummy, Reed? I’d probably deck him by the end of it.”
“Ben, please, the controls of the ship aren’t my responsibility, they’re Doom’s. He designed them, not me.”
Reed was persuading Ben Grimm to learn the controls of the ship. Ben was one of the best pilots in the US. However, he is also trained in piloting spacecraft, but “business” in this area wasn't booming as of late.
“You said when I took this on, I wouldn’t have to be near that mook and that you’d take care of everything…” Ben brought up, glaring at Reed.
“I am not the one who created the control system, Ben. You mightn’t get a contract of this size again soon, so you better play nice.” Reed debated calmly.
“Fine, I won’t deck the idiot but I won’t take any s*** either.” Ben declared storming off to the ship’s cockpit.
Regardless of Reed having a hard day, he needed his full concentration on the task at hand. These people counted on him. He surveyed his environment and its people. A woman in a white coat was discussing components on a check board with an engineer. Sparks almost covered the body of another engineer who was eagerly welding parts before the deadline. Scientists pondered over Reed’s latest blueprint. A green object and a shimmer were in the distance. Reed suddenly did a double-take on the suspicious subject. All he seen was a lone scientist doing last-minute examinations of a gas. Reed sighed. He’d overworked himself again and his eyesight showed it. Reed knew the negative consequences of when he was overworked and worried how much damage had been already done.
“You okay, pal?”
Reed looked up to see the face of a worried Ben Grimm.
“Don’t tell you went overboard with the thinking again. You know you need sleep and food now and again, don’t you?” Ben explained with a friendly grin.
“I just….” Reed stuttered.
“Don’t even bother Reed, you’re the same old hardworking guy from Uni. Tell you what, why don’t we get a bit to eat and discuss old times. Might get the old noggin going again. Whadya say?” his head signalling to go.
“What about Doom?” Reed asked curiously.
What about him?! He knows that I’m the only guy around who ain’t p****ing in himself every time he steps foot in a room. I’ll make sure he’s off your back, okay?” Ben boomed while pointing his finger for emphasis.
“I suppose, but…” Reed was then cut off.
“No buts, I wasn't asking!” he said pulling Reed up with a smile.
“Johnny! You’re lucky I got that apprenticeship in the first place! You have to be qualified to go up in space, for god’s sake!”
“Reed didn't seem to think so.”
In a modern Latverian apartment, the Storms were arguing, as usual. Unusually though, it didn’t involve women or cars.
“Did you even ask him properly in the first place?!” Susan interrogated Johnny.
“Yeah….kinda…” Johnny said, eyes looking away from Susan
“My god Johnny, I might as well have a 12-year old!” she boomed furiously.
“A 12-year old with engineering qualifications…” Johnny debated cheekily.
“Not yet, also yours is a completely different field, it’s…cars and all that, not spacecraft!” Susan shouted, unsure of how to end this argument.
“Actually it’s land-based transportation, so yet again you underestimate me.” he said emphasizing with his index finger.
“My words just bounce off you like pong…I’ve never met a more stubborn child in my life!” she declared, realising the argument was futile.
A phone call interrupted the argument.
“Hello? Yeah, Susan Storm here…. He what? At this short notice?… The launch is in a week, I can’t get someone qualified in that amount of time, is he really necessary to the project?….I could try get Doom to get a replacement, if….oh alright, good then, you sure a missing person won‘t affect anything?…”
Johnny suddenly realized how he might achieve his dream of going into space.
In the darkness of a cockpit, a sinister figure was towering over a console. After a night’s work of secret changes to the ship’s design, its work was done. A master of the programming art, this code would be well-hidden until it was far too late. After scanning its work, it turned and left silently. This piece of coding would change the lives of the Fantastic Four, forever.