The New York City branch of Stark-Fujikawa, where inside one lab, Doctor Beynon goes about his work. A small flying robot approaches him and asks ‘How goes it?’ Dr Beynon replies ‘Hadley, my friend… you may just be a robot, but since I built you myself, I’m more than confident that you can see for yourself the glee on my face… after months and months of hard work… my miniaturizer is almost complete’. Hadley agrees that it has been months, to which Dr Beynon asks what difference it makes - for as soon as they take this public, it will all be worth it. ‘All the pain, all the ridicule from my fellow scientists… it truly is a thing of beauty, isn’t it?’ he declares, looking at the large construction he has built.
Suddenly: ‘Hey, Bradley -’ a voice calls out, and as a hand touches Dr Beynon’s shoulder, he shouts in fright. ‘Whoa… hey, take it easy… no harm, no foul… it’s just me… need to be so jumpy’ another man tells Dr Beynon. ‘Oh… Fred… what do you want?’ Dr Beynon asks. Fred informs Bradley that a few of them are headed down to Pier Four to check out the Richards press conference, and asks Bradley if he is interested in joining them. Bradley Beynon scowls, and thinks to himself, ‘Reed Richards… that hack? What a freakin’ joke! Another self-serving photo op with the darling of the scientific community… while real scientists like me toil away in obscurity. Mighty as well see what the delicate genius will “honor” us with this week’, and he tells Fred that he will go.
Shortly, at Pier Four, Reed Richards a.k.a. Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four stands on a podium, while Sue Storm-Richards a.k.a. the Invisible Woman sits alongside some military official and others in suits. Bradley and Fred sit a few rows back from the podium, while reporters and camera crews are positioned strategically in the area. An object sits on a small able, covered by a cloth.
Reed greets the audience, and the members of the press, thanking them for joining him on this beautiful summer day. ‘I don’t think we could’ve asked for better weather’ he remarks, before introducing himself and claiming that normally he would not abide all this pomp and circumstance, but that he feels it is important to demonstrate to the youth of this world that science is an integral part of a healthy and ever-growing society. Reed continues, stating that they need to do everything possible to encourage the next generation of scientists, and explains that it is in that spirit that he is here to make what ha hopes will be a worthwhile contribution to their country’s space program.
Dr Beynon looks at Fred and frowns, while mocking Reed, ‘Like we don’t know who he is! What a blowhard -’ Dr Beynon whispers, before Fred asks ‘What are you mumbling about, Bradley?’ Bradley tells Fred to look around at all this fanfare: ‘For what? So he can grace us with his “brilliance”?’ Fred points out that Professor Richards is one of the top scientific minds on Earth. ‘When he unveils a new invention… it’s news!’
But Bradley tells Fred not to make him laugh, before Reed smiles and removes the cloth, revealing his newest invention: ‘Something I came up with one afternoon while I was experimenting with random particles…a portable hand-held miniaturizer!’ ‘Wha -? Did he say… “miniaturizer”…?’ Dr Beynon gasps.
Reed holds the miniaturizer towards a cameraman’s camera and explains that unlike Dr Henry Pym’s breakthrough in size-changing molecules, this device only works in inanimate, non-organic objects. He reveals that the benefits of carrying oversized cargo during space travel by miniaturizing it seemed obvious. ’Hey! My camera!’ the cameraman exclaims as the miniaturizer’s rays strike it. ’Don’t worry. This device can reverse the process as well’ Reed announces.
The crowd claps, while Dr Beynon shakes his fist and wonders why he never thought of reversing the process. ’Professor Richards! Care to explain where you stole the idea for your “invention”?’ Dr Beynon shouts.
The cameraman looks at his shrunken camera, while a military general shakes Reed’s hand and thanks him on behalf of NASA and the US government. ‘I accept your generous donation to the space program… and I thank you’ he adds. Reed tells the general that it is his pleasure - anything to keep the program on track. ‘Just watch out for those cosmic rays’ the Invisible Woman jokes.
‘I know you hear me, Richards! ‘Fess up!’ Dr Beynon shouts, while police officers move in behind him. ‘You’ve got a spy at Stark-Fujikaka, don’tcha!?’ he calls out, while the officers drag him away for making a scene. ‘Time to go, pal’ one of them mutters. ‘This isn’t over, Richards!’ Dr Beynon shouts. ‘By the time I’m done with you, you’ll wish you’d never heard of Doctor Bradley Beynon’. ‘Him and me both, fella’ one of the officers mutters.
Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute of Higher Learning, Salem Center, New York, where two of the X-Men - Dr Cecilia Reyes and Dr Henry McCoy a.k.a. the Beast, are playing a game of chess. ‘Well, bless my stars and garters… look at that… checkmate’ the Beast exclaims as he moves a piece on the chessboard. When Reyes doesn’t respond, he calls out ‘Hello? Anybody home?’ Cecilia looks up, ‘Huh? You say something?’ she asks. Hank tells her that he did, and informs her that she has been summarily trounced, when he said “checkmate” - despite this being part of chess etiquette, he is, in a sense, rubbing her nose in his victory. Hank adds that the Cecilia Reyes he knows would not let that go without some kind of reactionary retort. ‘So, what’s up, Doc? I’m the only one who’s supposed to be blue around here’ Hank points out.
Glancing out the window, Reyes replies that she is not in the mood for verbal sparring. ‘Don’t tell me that…’ the Beast begins, to which Cecilia explains that she is bored. She adds that she doesn’t mind downtime, before asking if this is what they do when they are not out protecting a world that hates and fears them? ‘Being cooped up all the time -’ she begins, to which the Beast smiles and holds up two tickets, ‘Nice summation, Doc. But have no fear… there’s more to this Beast than his mutant gift of bounding brilliance’. He explains that the tickets are for this Friday’s performance of “LA Bludgeon” at the MET. Reyes smiles and tells Hank that she is and enquires as to whether he is asking her out. Hank whistles and looks away, ‘Huh? You say something?’ he jokes. ‘Just admit it… you’re asking me out…’ Cecilia insists, but Hank replies that he admits nothing. ‘If you’ve seen this particular opera -’ he starts, but Cecilia tells him that she just wants to hear him say it.
They are unaware that their teammate Ororo “Storm” Munroe is watching them. ‘Apparently, the dance continues’ she thinks to herself, deciding against interfering. She walks into another recreation area, where Wolverine a.k.a. Logan smokes a cigar and sits on a sofa, as Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie exclaims ‘Ah just don’t know about this, Logan’. ‘What’s ta know, farm boy? Yer going. End of story’ Wolverine declares. Sam replies that, to put it bluntly, he is not exactly a card shark.
‘What is going on here?’ Storm enquires. Wolverine tells Ororo that Cannonball has cold feet. ‘About to kick him up into the major leagues… and he’s dragging his heels’ Wolverine explains. ‘Ororo… thank goodness, a voice of reason!’ Sam smiles. ‘Logan’s trying to rope me in as a fourth for some poker game Friday night’. Ororo replies that it sounds innocent enough, and asks what the argument is about. ‘Ain’t no argument at all, darling. He’s going’ Wolverine remarks. Sam throws his hands into the air and declares that he isn’t any good at poker, and that he doesn’t feel like embarrassing himself in front of strangers. Wolverine tells him that these guys aren’t strangers, that Sam has known ‘em for years, but that one of them cheats. ‘You’re gonna be a pair of honest eyeballs’.
Storm remarks that this definitely sounds like something she does not want to involve herself in, and turns to leave. ‘But you’re team leader! Can’t you just ground me or something?’ Sam pleads. Ororo offers an ancient African mantra, instead: “You’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them”. ‘Hey! That’s a song!’ Sam exclaims.
Later, at Stark-Fujikawa, Dr Beynon is in his lab. Hadley the robot hovers beside him as he prepares to demonstrate the miniaturizer. He tells the officials standing nearby that this is the demonstration they have been waiting for. ‘Get your microscopes ready. As promised, my miniaturizer will now shrink down an object to a probable sub-atomic size. The object in question? This plastic toy truck’. Hadley asks why it was not a real truck, to which Dr Beynon mutters ‘Budgetary concerns”, before one of the officials tells him that is enough. ‘Pardon me?’ Dr Beynon asks. ‘How dare you, Sir? We have a distinguished reputation here at Stark-Fujikawa… and we didn’t earn that reputation by resorting to chicanery…or outright theft!’ the official declares. ‘Theft?’ Dr Beynon asks, wide-eyed. The official points out that Reed Richards just patented a miniaturizer very much like this one. ‘You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?’ he asks. ‘Y-you’re not suggesting…’ Dr Beynon utters. ‘Uh-oh’ Hadley remarks. ‘You have got to be kidding me! My idea… stolen from that bum, Richards? ARGH!’ he shouts. ‘Tantrum alert pardon me…’ Hadley utters as he flies away from Dr Beynon.
The official looks unimpressed and tells Bradley to get a grip on himself, and announces that he should consider his employment here officially terminated. ‘Sell your stolen ideas to a corporation more gullible than Stark-Fujikawa!’ he suggests, before turning to leave with the other officials and bidding Bradley a good day. ‘Oh, you can count on that, you short-sighted pencil-pushers! All of you - Richards included - are gonna pay for this!’ Bradley shouts, shaking his fist.
Later that night: ‘What floor are we on?’ Hadley asks deep inside Stark-Fujikawa. Bradley tells his robot to shush, before realizing that this is not the right floor, that they are lost. ‘Very observant’ the robot remarks, while Bradley shines his torch about, and remarks that he has never seen this part of the building. His torch shines over a sign that says “no admittance”, and decides ‘We’ll see about that’ as he picks the computerized lock, and the door swings open. ‘Whoa!’ Bradley exclaims when he sees some sort of storage room filled with equipment, weapons and armor. Hadley suggests to Bradley that they just retrieve his miniaturizer before they are found sneaking around. ‘I have a suspicion that you would hate prison’ Hadley adds. ‘In a minute’ Bradley declares, he tells his robot to calm down, pointing out that he bypassed the building’s security. ‘Lotta stuff in here…weird stuff’ Bradley announces. Searching through the storage room, Bradley comments on the dust, and supposes that Stark had this stuff in storage for years before Fujikawa took over the company. ‘Y’know…i f we’re seriously going to take on Richards - Mister Fantastic himself - some of this stuff may prove useful’ he decides, as he shines his torch on some strange armor and announces that he has come up with a brilliant plan.
Pier Four, West Side Highway, a few days later - Friday night, to be exact. ‘Doing a little redecorating, guys?’ Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch asks as he flies into a lab, where Ben Grimm a.k.a. the Thing is holding up a very large piece of equipment, while Reed, dressed in a suit, has extended one arm under it, tinkering with part of the equipment. Susan is dressed in an evening gown and holds her son, Franklin, up on an invisible field. ‘Careful now, Ben’ Reed tells his friend, reminding him that the ceilings in here are lower than they were at the Baxter Building. He asks him not to bump that power core module as he moves it. ‘And remember to place it upright in its housing. You’ll hear a click when it’s in place -’ Reed begins, before the Thing interrupts him: ‘Hey, who’s doing who a favor here? I’m the ever-lovin’ Thing, not yer ever-lovin’ house-keeper!’ He knows where it goes, and how it goes there. ‘You’re not making me babysit tonight, are ya? Not that I don’t love the little terror, but I got some plans of my own… and they don’t involve wearing a monkey suit to the MET!’ Ben declares.
‘Yeah! Higher, Mommy!’ Franklin exclaims. Susan tells Reed that they need to get going, as she doesn’t want to miss the first act of “LA Bludgeon”. ‘Of course, Sue’ Reed replies, before assuring Ben that he is off the hook tonight. ‘That’s right, Uncle Grumpy’ Sue adds, announcing that they are taking Franklin to a friend’s house on the way to the opera. ‘So you can breathe easy… this time’. Franklin quotes his mother, “Uncle Grumpy”, and tells her that she is funny. ‘Yeah… yer hysterical, Mom’ Ben mutters, before telling Reed and Sue to have fun at their little shindig. ‘Me and Johnny are gonna have us a swell time…’ he grins.
‘We are? What’s this “we” business?’ Johnny asks as Reed and Sue leave. Seeing Ben put the power core module on the ground, he asks him if he isn’t supposed to put that in the other room. ‘Shuddup’ the Thing mutters. ‘Like I said, I got plans. And you happen to be a major component… and turn down the thermostat, wouldja? Yer bakin’ me’. Johnny switches back to human form, as the Thing tells him ‘Poker, kid… I’m talking about poker. A game that separates the men from the boys’. ‘Oh yeah? Which one are you?’ Johnny asks. ‘Watch it, kid! The mouth on you -’ Ben begins, to which Johnny tells him ‘Peace, brother. Let’s not get agitated’. Ben declares that this is important. ‘So’s my date tonight, Uncle Grumpy’ Johnny announces. ‘And I’m gonna cancel it for you? Forget it! Find yourself another chump -’ Johnny begins, until Ben points a finger at his teammate and tells him to call his chippie and tell her “sorry, babe, can’t make it tonight”. ‘Because tonight… you are the chump’. Johnny sighs, and folds his arms ‘I guess I’m the chump’ he mutters. ‘you betcha. Now, c’mon… we gotta get ready… he’s gonna be here any minute now’ the Thing declares, as a motorcycle pulls up outside on Pier Four.
Soon, Ben sits it a round table, blue, poker chips stacked up before him as he shuffles a deck of playing cards. ‘Nothing like the sound of a deck shuffling… now where is that yancy-lovin’ yo-yo?’ Ben remarks. ‘Right here, Rocky…’ a voice calls out. ‘Ahoy, land-lubbers… look what just washed in…?’ Ben remarks as Wolverine and Cannonball stand in the doorway to the room. ‘You been duckin’ me, Grimm’ Logan smiles, reminding him that they were supposed to get this over with a year ago. ‘And you got the nerve to skip town on me?’ Logan points out. ‘Blame yer buddy, Onslaught, pally…’ Ben replies. He states that the past is the past, and the time is now. ‘The game is five-card stud. And Logan’s brought a friend’.
‘Eloquent as ever…’ Johnny remarks as he enters the room. Logan tells Ben that he will need another chair, before telling Johnny and Sam to get their introductions out of the way so they can get on with this. ‘Hey, Johnny, good to see you…’ Sam says as he shakes Johnny’s hand. ‘You, too… Guthrie, right?’ Johnny replies. ‘You got it. Call me Sam’ Sam smiles.
‘You don’t trust me?’ Ben asks Logan quietly. ‘Where’d you get that? Just figured I’d even the odds’ Logan replies. ‘Hey! You didn’t know I was bringing the hotshot -’ Ben points out. Logan smiles and asks his old friend who he is trying to kid. ‘I know you…’ he reminds him. ‘So, be honest. The hayseed’s a ringer?’ Ben asks. ‘Guess you’ll just have to find out. Scared?’ Logan asks. ’Who, me? You ain’t exactly Galactus, y’know’ Ben points out.
Johnny and Sam eye each other up. ’Oh, brother. First time?’ Johnny asks Sam, who replies ’Uhh…yeah’. Johnny assures him that it is his, too, and adds that he thinks they are just here to make the other two look good. ’Really? Oh, boy’ Sam utters. Logan lights a cigar and tells the kids to stop gabbing and to deal the cards.
Meanwhile, at the Metropolitan Opera House: ‘Some turnout, eh, Doc?’ the Beast tells Reyes, who is dressed up in a red dress, while the Beast wears a suit. Reyes replies that it feels weird, like everyone is looking at her. ‘Ummm… I think they’re looking at me’ the Beast points out. ‘No, I’m serious, it’s been awhile since I’ve been out like this. I feel like everybody’s staring at me… like they know what I am…’ Reyes explains, asking Hank if he feels this way every time he goes out, she asks him how he can stand it. ‘You get used to it’ Hank smiles. ‘Whatever’ Reyes mutters, before Hank suggests dinner after the show - ‘Perhaps the Rainbow Room -’ he begins, before Reyes tells him to keep on his best behavior. ‘Moi? Always’ Hank declares, when suddenly, someone in the crowd announces that a limo has just pulled up.
‘Quit shoving!’ someone exclaims as everyone tries to get a look at the limousine. ’Huh… what’s all the commotion about?’ the Beast wonders. ‘Well, I never!’ someone declares. ‘Get a picture!’ someone else shouts. ‘Omigod, McCoy, do you see who that is?’ Cecilia remarks, staring that it is Reed and Sue Richards in person.
‘Look this way, Professor Richards!’ a photographer calls out. ‘Sue! Over here!’ another shouts, while a third asks ‘Let’s see that dress’. As the camera flashes flutter around them, Reed smiles and remarks that this isn’t exactly turning out to be a quiet night at the opera. ‘Just keep smiling, dear. You know how this works’ Sue smiles back. ‘True’ Reed admits, adding that he supposes it is safe to say this is probably the worst they will have to deal with tonight.
Backstage, opera performers are getting into costume, having their makeup done and warming up their voices. ‘Places, people! Places! We’ve only got five till curtain!’ a man holding a clipboard calls out as he walks around. ‘Quit squirming! Lemme get this thing on your head’ a costumer tells one of the actresses.
‘Perfect…’ Dr Beynon thinks to himself as he enters through one of the backdoors. ‘No one’s even looking in this direction’. He looks around for a nice, secluded spot, and sees a broom closet. “LA Bludgeon” he thinks to himself. ‘Feh! What an innocuous opera! These half-wit performers make me sick!’
Bradley turns the light in the broom closet on, and puts his equipment down. ‘Richards is out there, innocently thinking he’s about to enjoy a pleasant evening! Wait until he gets a load of the surprise I’ve brought for him!’
Back at Pier Four, Ben and Logan have cigars hanging out of their mouths, and each man holds his cards close. ‘Surprise, surprise, surprise. Gomer here can hold his cards… knows how to bet… knows not to call… I’m impressed’ Ben declares, looking at Sam. ‘Man… those cigars, fellas. I’m the Human Torch and you’re smoking me out’ Johnny remarks, while Sam reveals that he did play “Go Fish” with his dad. ‘But, be that as it may… ummm… Ah’m not exactly sure what I’ve got here’ he admits. Ben tells Sam not to sweat it, ‘Yer just filling space here, anyway’ he adds, while Johnny looks at his cards intently. ‘Oh’ I’m not even gonna touch that one…’ he remarks, while Logan tells Ben to leave Sam alone. ‘I told ya…he’s just here to make sure you ain’t hiding an ace in yer cracks…and since no one’s pulled ahead in this game… I might as well get serious’ Logan announces, smiling, he tells Ben that he will raise him. ‘Yer playing my song, “Bub”…’ Ben replies as more poker chips are tossed into the center.
At the Met, the performers are on stage singing, while up in the balcony seating, Cecilia informs Hank that the Richardses are sitting right across from them. ‘Okay, okay… I see them! I know Reed, alright?’ the Beast replies, assuring Cecilia that he will introduce her during the intermission. He asks her to shush, as he is trying to listen to the lyrics. ‘But they’re not even singing in English’ Cecilia points out.
Reed and Sue smile as they listen to the operate below them.
While, back in the closet: ‘Oh, I know you’re sitting out there with your beautiful wife and your beautiful life… but tonight, all of that’ll be a distant memory! The only thing you will remember…is that the better scientist came out on top!’ He removes his jacket, sweat pours down his face, as he uncovers the equipment he brought with him - a machine with “fear”, “doubt” and “hate” written on it. He examines the machine and thinks that once he figures out what the knobs do, then they will see some action. ‘That’s right…let’s try this one’ he tells himself, while fiddling with a button.
On stage, one of the female performers suddenly marches towards one of the men, ‘God, I hate this passage!’ she exclaims. ‘You shut it, fatso!’ she declares, shoving her elbow into the man’s back, causing him to stop singing and fall forward. ‘What in the world?’ Reed wonders, standing up on the balcony. ‘Hey!’ someone calls out, rushing from behind the curtain on stage. ‘Shut your piehole!’ the female performer snaps as she continues to punch the male performer. ‘Reed…what’s happening to them?’ Sue asks.
Across the theater room, the Beast and Reyes look equally shocked, and Beast declares that he doesn’t think this is part of the performance. ‘Sure it is… if you’re watching the Jerry Springer show!’ Reyes jokes, while more of the performers start punching each other.
Backstage, Dr Beynon sighs, and starts to press other buttons on the machine, unsure if it is working or not. ‘Ah well, no matter…I’ve got plenty of time’ he decides, before recalling that his prearranged diversion at Pier Four should be happening right about now.
‘Awww, no!’ the Thing complains. ‘You gotta be kidding me!’ he mutters, as he stares wide-eyed across the poker table. Wolverine is equally surprised: ‘I’m seeing the same thing you are, Bub… and I don’t believe it, either’. Johnny smirks, and Sam sits, puzzled, ‘Huh? Oh… Ah guess I do have all of the chips, don’t I?’ he remarks, casually, before asking ‘How’d that happen?’ Wolverine asks Sam why he gets the feeling that he just hustled them, to which the Thing exclaims ‘Oh, right, like you guys didn’t have this planned from the start?’ Sam smiles and assures them all that he didn’t hustle anyone. ‘Guess it just goes to show ya…never underestimate a Kentucky native’, before asking if it is his turn to deal. ‘The Hayseed’s getting cocky now’ the Thing mumbles, while Johnny lights a cigar using his finger, and remarks ‘Guess it’s not always age before beauty, is it?’
The Thing complains that this is the greatest example of beginner’s luck he has ever seen, to which Sam says that he can’t disagree there, before announcing that he is feeling luckier by the minute. Suddenly, though, a figure looms up behind the table, ‘Deal me in!’ a large green and silver armored being declares as he smashes his fist down on the table, splitting it in two. ‘Hey!’ the Thing exclaims. ‘What the flamin’ -’ Wolverine begins, as the new arrival excuses himself and announces that he will get right to maiming. He grabs Wolverine and Cannonball and knocks them aside.
Wolverine pops his claws and remarks ‘Pretty polite for a party crasher’, while Johnny recognizes the intruder as the Psycho-Man. ‘Oh, you wanna see psycho? Watch this!’ Wolverine snarls as he starts slicing the intruder with his claws. Johnny wonders how the Psycho-Man escaped from the Microverse, to which the Psycho-Man replies ‘Err… none of your business’. ‘Well, in that case… flame on!’ Johnny shouts, switching to his Human Torch form. He tales flight, hovering over the others, he tells the Thing that something is fishy about this Psycho-Man. The Thing agrees, and wonders what the story is here.
‘HA!’ Wolverine shouts as his fist strikes the Psycho-Man’s face. ‘Didn’t hurt! Didn’t hurt!’ the robotic-sounding voice of the Psycho-Man calls back. ‘Oh yeah? C’mon over here and say that!’ the Thing calls out. ‘you want him, Mister Grimm? You got him!’ Cannonball shouts as he blasts straight into the Psycho-Man, dropping him off in front of the Thing. ‘Nice trajectory change, Guthrie’ the Thing remarks as Cannonball suddenly turns in his flight, while the Thing raises an arm and declares ‘As for you - do I have to say it? It’s clobberin’ time!’ and his fist connects with the Psycho-Man, sending him flailing through the air.
Back at the MET, Dr Beynon shakes the device and wonders what the matter with it is, as he is pressed every button, and still nothing. ‘Is it even working at all?’ he asks, while the chaos on the stage has spread to the audience, who start attacking each other - throwing chairs and pulling curtains.
Reed looks down at the drama and remarks that it has turned into a full-fledged riot. ‘It’s time for us to act!’ he tells Sue, who rubs her head and tells her husband that she is feeling a little strange.
Across the theater, Reyes is also clutching her head, ‘I can’t believe… this is my life now…’ she mumbles. The Beast is slumped against the balcony and tells Cecilia that he can’t put a coherent thought together. ‘Not smart enough…I can’t even recall Einstein’s theory…’.
Reed pulls something out of his jacket pocket and announces that he is getting Ben and Johnny down here to help. ‘Luckily, I always come prepared for this type of eventuality’ he points out, as he extends an arm, reaching out of the theater, past the lobby and outdoors, where he fires the device into the air.
At Pier Four, the strange Psycho-Man lies motionless on the floor with the men standing over him. ‘Huh. Whaddaya know? Blasted thing’s a robot’ Ben remarks, rubbing the back of his head, he adds that he knew that this was not the genuine article. ‘Now the only question is…why?’ Wolverine asks.
The Human Torch motions out a window where a large number 4 can be seen in the sky. ‘I think we may find the answer, check it out…the Fantastic Four signal flare! Coincidence? I think not…’. Cannonball suggests that they get over there, and blasts out an open window. ‘I like the way you think, Sam’ the Human Torch calls out.
The Thing tells the younger men to go ahead, and he and Wolverine will catch up in the Fantasti-Car. As they rush out to the vehicle, Wolverine tells the Thing to take his fancy flying car, as he has his own transportation. ‘Suit yourself, shorty…we’ll see who gets there first!’ the Thing calls back. ‘Is that another wager?’ Logan asks. ‘By the way, you guys don’t have your own signal flare, do ya?’ the Thing enquires. ‘No…and we’re really hurting because of it…’ Wolverine replies sarcastically.
Back at the MET, Reed cries out in agony as Sue latches an invisible jagged-toothed clamp onto her husband’s shoulder. ‘Oh, yes! Scream, “darling”! Your constant analysing never did this family any good’ Sue mutters, boasting that she was ten times the leader Reed was. Reed cries out once again, as Sue instructs him to get on his knees. Reed collapses to his knees and clutches his shoulder, while Sue stands over him: ‘My God, you are so weak! You make me sick!’ Sue declares. ‘You’re right - what’s happening to me?’ Reed asks.
At the same time, back in the broom closet, ‘Blast it! Is this thing ever going to work?’ Dr Beynon asks himself, frustrated, he slams the device onto the ground. Reed suddenly looks shocked, and clutches his head, wondering what has happened - why has he done this to himself? ‘It’s all wrong! I’ve been too free with my own emotions! Too warm to those I love! It’s just wrong!’ he announces, adding that he has lost his scientific objectivity - the basis of his life is slipping away.
At the same time across on the other balcony, Cecilia also clutches her head and declares that she will never have a normal life again. ‘Being a mutant - a freak - has ruined everything’ she decides. The Beast is in anguish, deciding that all he has set out to do - the cure for the Legacy Virus - still eludes him. ‘I’m a failure…’ he decides, when suddenly, Reyes punches him from behind: ‘Quit whining, you blue-furred idiot! I hate you! I hate this life you’ve dragged me into!’
At the same time, ‘Get up! Get up so I can put you down like a dog again!’ the Invisible Woman shouts at Reed, asking him what kind of leader he is - what kind of husband, and what kind of father? Slumped over, Reed replies that he has lost it all - everything is gone. Sue starts swinging an invisible mace, ‘Fine…you won’t get your face off the floor… no problem! Just hold still, “dear”…I want to get a clear shot!’ she tells him.
And, in the broom closet, the device makes a hissing sound, and Dr Beynon throws his hands to his head, ‘This thing must be broken!’ he shouts, adding that he can’t believe his bad luck.
The Beast falls from the balcony, but clutches onto the edge of it, thinking that he is not smart enough to do anything - that he is just a complete failure, at everything he has ever tried. ‘Why go on living?’ he wonders. Cecilia starts smashing a chair and complains that she is trapped in this life, and that she can’t stand it. ‘I want out!’ she adds, before shouting ‘I HATE MYSELF!’
Back in the closet, Dr Beynon notices that the box is smoking, and wonders how.
At Pier Four, the Thing stands in front of the Fantasti-Car, ‘Fer the luvva - Reed’s not gonna like this…’ he mumbles, looking at the destroyed car, before supposing that Reed will love making improvements when he rebuilds it. Suddenly, ‘Grimm! Yer a terrible host, ya know that, don’tcha? That rust-bucket wrecked my chopper!’ Wolverine declares, referring to his motorcycle, as he approaches the Thing. The Thing tells Wolverine to calm himself, not to go berserk on him. ‘While you’re sitting here finger-wagging, Junior Flame and Kid Blast-Off are out having all the fun’ the Thing points out. ‘Fine! But our rides are trashed! How’re we gonna get there now?’ Wolverine asks.
Shortly, ‘Taxi! Hey, right here! YO!’ the Thing calls out as a cab drives past he and Wolverine as they stand on a corner nearby Pier Four. ‘Oh, brother! You think a cab’s gonna stop for us?’ Wolverine asks. He sighs as the cab drives on past. ‘Well, I’ll be - nice manners!’ the Thing shouts out. ‘Ya blasted ingrate! How many times have we saved this city? Sonnuva -’ he complains, unaware that back inside Pier Four, the robot Psycho-Man’s eyes light up.
Outside the MET, opera-attendees that have been able to leave the building are doing so, as Sam and Johnny arrive on scene. ‘Johnny, take a look! All these people…high-tailing it outta there like there’s no tomorrow!’ Cannonball exclaims. ‘So I see… can’t say I blame them…I can’t stand opera, either’ Johnny replies.
On the balcony inside the theater, Sue asks Reed what has happened to them, ‘I feel so…’ she begins, as Reed replies that it might have been some kind of mind control, and declares that he will find out.
The Beast has dropped down to ground level, ‘It’s over…whatever I was in the grip of - it’s released its hold on me’. He hopes it lasts, while Reed stretches his body down from the balcony, thinking that with the benefit of hindsight, there was something very familiar about the way their minds, their emotions were being manipulated. The Beast sees Reed and bounds towards him, ‘Are you and the missus unharmed?’ he asks. Reed greets Henry and assures him that they are both fine for the moment. ‘Any idea what happened to us?’ the Beast asks. ‘Perhaps. But whatever it is, I think we may find what we’re looking for backstage…’ Reed suggests. ‘Lead the way!’ the Beast tells him.
‘My God… I never thought this would happen to me again… not like this… I thought I’d made sure of it! But if he’s back -’ Susan thinks to herself, before Cecilia approaches her, ‘Mrs Richards?’ she calls out. Sue spins around, ‘Who?’ she asks, as Cecilia explains that she is a doctor and an X-Man. ‘And if you went through anything like I just did, you could probably use a hand’ Cecilia remarks, adding ‘Ummm…by the way, when this is all over… can I get your autograph?’
In the back of a cab, Wolverine and the Thing scowl. ‘See? I toldja someone would stop for us’ the Thing mutters. ‘Just try not to speak, Grimm…the way you jumped in front of this cab and begged for a ride -’ Wolverine begins, but the cab driver assures them he has seen a lot worse. ‘Some guys’ll do anything for a ride! When they’re desperate, they’ll do whatever it takes to get in my cab!’ the driver boasts. ‘Yeah, that’s great’ Ben mutters, asking the driver if he can step on it, as they really gotta be there now. ‘Hey! You wanna get to the MET, I’ll take ya to the MET! But Don’t you back-seat drive this taxi!’ the driver warns them, glancing backwards. ‘I don’t care how many times you’ve saved the world, buster -’ the driver begins, while Wolverine tells Grimm to pipe down, when, suddenly, a fist rips through the roof of the cab.
‘What the -? Awww, no!’ the Thing mutters, as he realizes the robotic Pscyho-Man is on the roof. ‘Shame on you for not checking to make sure I was completely disabled’ the Psycho-Man calls out. ‘Now it’s my turn to disable you!’ he boasts. ‘Well, I’ll be - this robot doesn’t give up easy!’ the Thing remarks as he reaches an arm out of the window, but the cab driver brings the taxi to a screeching halt. ‘You two! Get that thing off my taxi!’ he exclaims, as the Psycho-Man robot goes careening backwards through the air. ‘I mean it! You get that -’ the driver begins, before crashing into a newsstand on the side-walk.
At the MET: ‘Uh-oh’ the Human Torch exclaims. ‘Johnny… this don’t look so good…’ Cannonball declares as the two young heroes arrive the theater proper, and see that it has been torn apart. ‘Nice place. Who’s the decorator? Annihilus?’ Johnny jokes, while Cannonball announces that he doesn’t sees the Richardses, or Hank and Cecilia. ‘Yeah, and where are Ben and Wolverine? Shouldn’t they be here by now?’ Johnny adds.
But they are still dealing with the robot Psycho-Man. ‘Grimm! Quit messing around over there’ Wolverine calls out, as the Thing rips the cab roof open and pulls the driver out. ‘We gotta spike this tin can before it gets its bearings’ Wolverine points out. ‘My taxi!’ the driver declares, to which the Thing tells him to shut up, and points out that he is alive.
‘Aw, cripes’ Wolverine mutters as the Psycho-Man bursts upwards from the dumpster it fell into. ‘Get off!’ it tells Wolverine. ‘Here we go…round three…ding!’ the Thing exclaims, while the cab driver runs for his life. ‘Let’s get this over with so’s we can get outta here’ the Thing declares, while the Psycho-Man throws Wolverine into the cab. ‘You two aren’t going anywhere! I’ll see to that!’ it boasts. ‘I’m going for the extra point, baby!’ the Thing calls out as he slams a hand into the back of the robot. Wolverine sees the Psycho-Man reach for the cab, ‘This is gonna get messy…’ Wolverine points out. ‘Awww geez… first, the Kentucky Fried Kid smokes me at poker… now this’ the Thing mutters as he sees a shadow loom over him - and the Psych-Man slams the cab down on the Thing. ‘Huh. That’s gotta hurt’ Wolverine remarks, before he slices the robot from behind. ‘I’m going to feel that in the morning’ the Psycho-Man declares, before the Thing bursts forth, holding the cab overhead, ‘Detroit’s finest can’t dim these baby blues -’ the Thing begins, while Wolverine dodges the Psycho-Man who lunges forward, ‘Hot potato! Hot potato!’ the robot calls out.
Wolverine tells the Thing that he is sick of this nonsense and asks him to give him a lift. ‘Huh?’ the Thing asks. ‘Just do it’ Wolverine snaps, before adding ‘Now, I want you to make like Hideo Nomo before he got traded - it’s called a Fastball Special!’ and with that, the Thing launches Wolverine through the air, and the mutant hero lands against the Psycho-Man, shoving his claws into the robot, who falls to the ground, split in two. ‘And another one bites the dust… don’t think it’s gonna get up this time, do you?’ Wolverine asks, while the Thing announces that he doesn’t get it. ‘This thing breaks up our game…Stretcho sends up a flare from the MET, this has gotta be some creepo’s hair-brained scheme…but to do what? And why?’ What a revolting development this is’.
Suddenly, the robot starts to speak: ‘Richards…that hack…revenge is sweet…you’re the greatest, Doctor Beynon…whoops! You weren’t supposed to hear that!’ The Thing wonders who Beynon is, while Wolverine replies ‘Who cares? Let’s just get to the MET…start begging for another cab, bub’.
And, shortly, Wolverine and the Thing are dropped off at the MET in another cab, ‘Lookit this place…it’s trashed!’ the Thing remarks, as they arrive backstage, ‘What’d you find back here, Shorty?’ the Thing calls out to Wolverine. ‘What do you think I found? The end of the road’ Wolverine replies, as he sees the Beast holding De Beynon captive, and Reed examining the device, while Cannonball and the Human Torch stand nearby, Cecilia stands back with the Invisible Woman, who is still clutching her head. ‘Hey, guys…Ah think we’ve just about wrapped things up here…‘ Cannonball begins. ‘…And this gentleman appears to be the one responsible’ the Beast concludes.
The Human Torch is going through the captive’s wallet, ‘Bradley Beynon…guy’s got a Stark-Fujikawa ID…’ Johnny tells everyone. ‘What’d you do…pick the guy’s pocket? Classy…’ the Thing jokes. Mister Fantastic tells Johnny to put it away, as it is not necessary to invade the man’s privacy. Reed reports that it is all over, that the mechanism is broken beyond repair. ‘I’m guessing the psychic feedback…the extreme emotional feedback of the entire audience - us included - shorted it out completely’. Reed suspects that the mechanism itself is an emotion-stimulator box, the weapon of their old adversary, the Psycho-Man. ‘Ya don’t say…’ Wolverine remarks. ‘The Psycho-Man?’ the Invisible Woman snaps, angrily. She leans over Beynon and wonders how this man got his hands on something that belongs to the lunatic Psycho-Man. ‘I swore to myself that I would never let myself be manipulated like that ever again - and you - you did this to me?’ she shouts. ‘Sue… please… I told you it’s over now…’ Reed tells his wife, while the Beast announces that he is not familiar with this instrument, or the Psycho-Man. ‘This box can control our emotions?’ he asks. Reed explains that it has the ability to regulate the duration and intensity of those controlled emotions, and that he suspects Mr Beynon didn’t have the knowledge to operate it properly.
‘Ah guess all’s well that ends well, huh, Doc?’ Sam remarks to Cecilia. ‘What?’ she asks. ‘Ah’m just saying…the good guys win again, right?’ but Cecilia looks annoyed, ‘What’s the matter with you people? I’m with Mrs Richards on this one…I wanna tear this guy apart for what he did to my mind -’. The others all gather around Cecilia as Wolverine tells her to calm down. ‘Are you crazy? Get outta my way, man! I’m telling you I want a piece of that guy!’ ‘Sorry, sister…we don’t do things that way…do we…?’ the Thing asks. ‘No, Ben…we don’t’ Reed replies, as he goes over to his wife and asks her how she is.
The Beast looks puzzled and tells everyone that he hates to break up the festivities, but that the good doctor Beynon has flown the coop - and he has taken the psycho control box with him. Everyone turns to where Dr Beynon was supposed to be sitting, and sees that he has vanished.
But, nearby, Bradley Beynon is running down a corridor, ‘Richards…you sap! Thanks to your long-winded explanations, I know what this thing can do now…and I know I can repair it’. He just needs to make it back to his lab.
And, soon, back at Stark-Fujikawa, ‘Whew! You’re a slippery one, Bradley…I wasn’t even followed’ Beynon thinks to himself as the door to his laboratory opens. He tells himself that he has to get the box working again, before noticing someone in the shadows of his office. Seeing that it is the Psycho Man, he calls out to his robot, ‘Hadley! It’s you! Some distraction you turned out to be! Richards’ partners showed up at the MET!’ Bradley complains. ‘What happened? Lost your nerve? I thought I programmed you better than that -’ he begins, when suddenly, ‘You…foolish…human…!’ a voice booms. Bradley goes wide-eyed and looks scared. ‘W-w-w-’ he begins. ‘SILENCE!’ the real Psycho-Man booms as he moves out of the shadows. ‘You dare assume that you may take what is mine and wield it as your own?’ he asks, before announcing that he has travelled to this world to reclaim what has been stolen. ‘And as a bitter consequence of your actions… you will now face the unholy wrath of the Psycho-Man!’
The Psycho-Man grabs Beynon and pulls him close, as the doctor replies ‘Psycho Man? Never heard of you -’, to which the Psycho-Man offers to remedy that - slowly and painfully. He suggests that he will exploit Beynon’s greatest fear, causing him to experience it over and over again. But then offers to simply kill him now.
Suddenly, there is a rumbling sound, and both the Psycho-Man and Beynon turn to the wall, which is busted open by the arrival of the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Cannonball, the Beast and Reyes. ‘Talk about timing!’ the Thing exclaims. ‘Getting here just in time to save this meddler from the real Psycho-Man…ya gotta love the irony!’ The Psycho Man tosses Beynon aside and holds up his device, ‘The inevitable occurs…no matter. Away with you, human…I shall simply activate my -’ he begins, but discovers that he cannot, as it is not functioning, damaged beyond repair. ‘How?’ he wonders, before Wolverine and the Thing slam into him, knocking him into the air.
Reed and Sue go over to Beynon, and Reed asks him if he has any idea what he has wrought. ‘Get away from me, Richards!’ Dr Beynon exclaims. ‘C;mon! Let’s take him down quick, fellas!’ Cannonball calls out as he blasts into the Psycho-Man. The Thing remarks that he is liking this boy more and more, that he has got spunk. ‘Nice one, kid!’ Wolverine exclaims. Johnny agrees with Sam, ‘Let’s finish this creep!’ he declares as he unleashes a blast of flame at the villain. ‘Do your worst, young Torch. The final victory will be mine! I will twist each of your deepest horrors - like putty in my hands - purely for my amusement!’ the Psycho-Man boasts. ‘Keep away! Get back!’ Beynon shouts holding up a metal pole to use as a weapon, he lunges at Reed, who simply stretches his body backwards, and Sue throws an invisible force field up around herself. ‘You’re just making it harder for yourself’ Reed tells Beynon, while Sue suggests he give it up, as he doesn’t have the Psycho-Man’s technology to help him now.
The Psycho-Man has taken hold of Cannonball, while the Thing and Wolverine attack him. ‘I mean it! Stay away from me! All of you -’ Dr Beynon declares, holding the metal pole up, when the Beast approaches him from behind. ‘Pardonez-moi’ the Beast remarks. Beynon swings around, the Beast ducks, while Reed calls out to Dr Reyes, telling her to look out - but the metal pole just slams into her/ Reyes tells Reed not to worry about her, as her mutant force field can keep her safe from this loser. ‘Whoop! Careful, folks! He’s swinging wildly…out of control’ the Beast declares, before leaping out of the way, as Dr Beynon swings his pole down on another piece of equipment - and is devastated to discover that he has broken his miniaturizer.
‘No more messing around!’ Wolverine exclaims as he shoves his claws into the Psycho-Man’s back. He declares that it is time to send this monstrosity back to where he crawled from Dr Beynon is devastated that he has broken his minitaurizer, while Reed notices that Beynon has caused some sort of core leakage. ‘If he tries to activate it now -’ Reed thinks to himself, while Beynon spins around, ‘You! Richards! This is all your fault! You’ve spent your life belittling every other scientist alive - including me! Well no more! I’ll shrink you down to the nothing you are!’ He then picks up the miniaturizer and aims it at Reed. ‘Stop! You don’t know what you’re doing -’ Reed calls out, while Sue tells her husband to be careful. ‘Oh my stars -’ the Beast begins.
‘Your attempts to fell me are amusing at best!’ the Psycho-Man tells Wolverine, who holds the villain up high, still skewered on his claws. ‘What you do not realize is that I am as ever lasting as the eternal fears that you will never escape’ the Psycho-Man boasts. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah…heard it all before, bub! Magneto you ain’t!’ Wolverine replies before he flings the Psycho-Man off his claws, ‘Heads up, Grimm!’ Wolverine calls out as the Psycho-Man careens towards him.
‘This is it, Richards! You’re finished! Prepare to see the world from a whole new sub-atomic perspective -’ Beynon grins as he presses a button on his broken miniaturizer.
‘I think I catch yer drift, Shorty! Batter up!’ the Thing declares, as the Psycho-Man connects with the Thing’s fist, and is sent once more careening through the air, this time towards Dr Beynon and his busted miniaturizer. ‘Wha -? NO!’ Dr Beynon exclaims.
‘I was afraid of this…’ Reed begins as everyone shields their eyes from the glare that he been brought forth from the energy leaking from the miniaturizer. ‘Due to the damage to the power core, Beynon’s machine was already unstable - but now, with the damage done by the Psycho-Man’s impact…’ his voice trails off.
‘Reed…look! Susan calls out, as energy pours up around the Psycho-Man and Beynon. ‘What is happening!’ the Psycho-Man shouts, while Beynon screams ‘NOOOO!’, and an instant later, they both vanish. ‘Good Lord…’ Cecilia utters. ‘Well, that was certainly fortuitous…and quite interesting’ the Beast remarks.
Reed agrees, and explains that the Psycho-Man’s impact resulted in a localized effect of the miniaturizer’s function, and he suspects that both Beynon and the Psycho-Man are finding themselves in the Microverse as they speak. ‘The implications of which are thoroughly -’ he begins, before the Thing shouts ‘Oh, boy…gangway! Egghead alert! And two sure ain’t better than oner! Somebody shut ‘em up!’
Wolverine tells the Thing that somebody needs to shut him up, and adds that he still has a poker game to win tonight. ‘Why - ? You’re kidding, right?’ Cannonball asks. ‘Do I ever kid, boy?’ Wolverine replies.
And so, back at Pier Four, in one of the living areas, Ben, Logan, Sam and Johnny are seated around a table playing poker, while Reed and Sue stand near Hank and Cecilia who are seated on a sofa. Reed points out that they never did get to view the ending of the opera, to which Hank reveals that the Viking princess perishes, of course - ‘High cholesterol, I believe is the cause…’ he claims. ‘Cute, McCoy…is this sofa real leather? Sweet…’ Reyes replies, before Hank asks Reed what his thoughts are on Beynon’s fate. Reed replies that they reap what the sow, and what some see as a random act, others see as simple karma. ‘Perhaps Dr Beynon will thrive in the Microverse, perhaps not. In any case - Am I rambling again, dear?’ he suddenly asks Sue, who is yawning. ‘Of course not, Reed. I’m just tired. It’s late’ Sue points out.
The Beast asks Reyes if she is okay, and she replies that she guesses so, but that she can’t forget what she went through tonight. ‘My fears exposed…things that aren’t easy to admit, even to myself…some cure for boredom, eh?’ Susan smiles and tells Cecilia that she knows what she has been through, and to believe her when she says that in their life, in their occupation, what doesn’t kill you only serves to make you stronger. ‘Trust me’ she smiles. ‘Well, said, Susan’ the Beast agrees, as he stands up and shakes hands with Reed, who also agrees, and thanks Hank for is assistance, adding that all things considered, it was almost pleasurable. ‘Call me old-fashioned, but perhaps we should work together more often’ Hank suggests.
The four of them turn to the table where Sam and Johnny have both fallen asleep. A cloud of cigar smoke billowing above the Thing and Logan. ‘Hey, hot-head…it’s your turn to bet…let’s just see what you’ve got here’ the Thing declares, before he grabs the sleeping Johnny’s hand and checks his cards. ‘Hey! I see what yer doing there, bub! Cheaters never win, y’know…’ Logan snarls. ‘Then again…’ the Beast smiles.