Fantastic Four 2099UGR #2, Volume 2 - 2005

Issue Two, Volume Two


Written by David Ellis

Edited by Jason McDonald and Mike Shirley

Assistant Editor: Jason McDonald

Editor in Chief: David Ellis


Mister Fantastic

Invisible Woman

Human Torch

The Thing

Shandra Willis

Quentin Card

Clarice Berg

Evan Krieger


Mole Men




From Reed Richards' private journal, 20th century

On August 2nd, 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to then-president Theodore Roosevelt, urging him to investigate research being made by Nazi scientists into nuclear fission. That request led to an arms race that introduced atomic bombs to the world stage.

After the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, Einstein later commented, "I could burn my fingers that wrote that first letter to Roosevelt."

I have recently discovered a parallel dimension separated by our own via Subspace. I've dubbed it the "Negative Zone", due to its matter/anti-matter relationship to my home dimension. Its laws of physics are skewed to a phenomenal degree, it is inhabited by myriad lifeforms sentient and otherwise, and it presents boundless opportunities for scientific inquiry and study.

Einstein was also noted for saying in regards to quantum mechanics, "I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice." In other words, there is a logic to the universe, and that view is very much in keeping with my own that all things in the universe are connected; the question is how. The Negative Zone just might yield useful answers to that question.

The temptation to exploit this discovery is tremendous, unfortunately, and it could certainly lead down a path akin to inquiry into nuclear fission. I fear I may one day empathize with Einstein and desire to burn my own fingers.

The Negative Zone, The Year 2099

Shandra Willis knew she was going to regret this.

Somehow, she had found herself talked into hacking the Stark-Fujikawa NZ headquarters' security system. Financial Liaison Jack Bostwick, Technician Janice Berg, Astrometrics Technician Kenichi Oyama, and a few more of her fellow Station 4 co-workers had left the comm center, not wanting to be a part of this stunt. But Communications Expert Quentin Card, Technician Clarice Berg, and a few others had stayed to watch, and the spectacle had attracted several more curious co-workers.

By this point, Shandra was barely aware of them; she was fully absorbed into her system infiltration. Her younger days as a data pirate in Transverse City came rushing back to her with express-train momentum. She'd gone by the handle 'Smiley' back when she'd had more to smile about -- ironically in the lowest, grungiest areas of the multi-tiered city.

The last time she'd pulled an ambitious stunt on a Stark-Fujikawa system, she'd had to leave Transverse altogether to keep the potential heat after her friends. In another bit of irony, she'd soon joined S-F. Now here she was, ghosting the corporate C-space yet again, risking everything. One false move, and all the deceptions, wheeling and dealing, and blind luck that had led her to this point would be exposed. But then, wasn't that how it'd always worked?

She was most at home with the neural uplink that could connect her by cable to the computer itself; she'd once had an interface plug on the back of her neck. But her first act upon embarking for New York had been getting it surgically removed. All that remained was a small scar that she'd passed off as a childhood injury. Presently, that left manual interface as the only remaining option, which she didn't particularly mind. This approach just added to the challenge.

Ten minutes, six virtual miles of coding, eight security protocols, three dead ends, and one or two bouts of blind luck later, Shandra had full access. She also had her co-workers' undivided attention.

"Will you marry me?" an awestruck Quentin asked.

Shandra chuckled. "Request denied on grounds of the requestor's Y chromosome."

Quentin looked perplexed for a moment. "What does that have to do with -- oh."

Jack Bostwick had apparently returned to the gathering at some point, because he wasted zero time giving Shandra a monotonal piece of his mind: "Willis, I don't care if you're Chief of Operations here. This is a serious breach of protocol, and you could land us all in unimaginable bouts of -- oh, for crying out loud. You're not even listening to me. None of you are."

He stormed off; true to his observation, everyone else was too absorbed in the surveillance feed to notice. Most of the headquarters' rooms were empty, though the debris and bodies strewn randomly indicated that a war had taken place through much of the building. Some of the bodies were human, but a noticeable few were plainly ... not.

"Damn ... you think those things are Negs?" Quentin muttered, using a local derogatory term for the Zone's indigenous species.

"They ... certainly look like aliens to me," Clarice observed. "I think I can smell them from--"

"Shhh," Quentin interrupted. "Rhetorical question. And I think we're the aliens, not them. Hey, is that a Mole Man?" Were the bestial genetically-modified human laborers involved in this as well?

Shandra cycled through the camera windows, searching for current activity. "Yeah, it looks like the previous tenants are back, and they're pissed."

Shandra cycled through the camera windows, searching for current activity. "Yeah, it looks like the previous tenants are back, and they're pissed."

Her search didn't take long; a serious melee was taking place in the long corridor that stretched from the lobby clear to the opposite end of the building, terminating in a bank of elevators. Isolating and enlarging the window to dominate the screen, she saw more of the strange creatures advancing on one end of the hall. One figure was stuffing three members of the Fantastic Four and three S-F workers -- all unconscious -- into an elevator while simultaneously guarding the area against the natives. That figure was Sue Storm.

And she seemed to be holding her own. Standing in front of the pile of human allies, Sue stayed in a defensive posture and and gestures with her hands, her masked face twisting in concentration. The approaching creatures were subsequently knocked down in groups like bowling pins. She was obviously using her invisible forcefields like battering rams in order to assume the horde kept its distance.

The problem was, some of the creatures had ranged weapons, and they fired energy bolts at her that simultaneously revealed and weakened the forcefield around her body.

Shandra, both concerned for her friend and fascinated by the battle, accessed the HQ camera's visual filters. Quite a bit was going on that couldn't be seen by the human eye, so she set the screen windows to a grid view once again and set each of the nice windows to play the same scene in a different region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio view displayed the hall-way's goings-on based on the radio waves, but predictably, not much registered other than signals from an S-F worker's belt-clipped comm unit, which had apparently been left on. Faint traces from the creatures' energy weapons also registered; that was weird.

Microwave view also didn't show anything of note, since they were only good for cooking and radar, but the other aspects -- Infrared, Ultraviolet, X-Rays, and Gamma Rays -- were where it really became interesting.

Infrared view revealed body heat and energy sources; warm bodies were seen in warm reds, the energy weapons were a white-hot blue, and Sue's forcefield's showed up in traces of orange, suggesting that her forcefields gave off at least some degree of heat.

Sue's power showed up on Ultraviolet view as well, probably because she was bending light around.

X-Ray view was freaky, revealing the skeletons of the combatants involved, and Shandra found out more than she wanted to know about how the creatures' bodies were but together. Some, like the silvery-skinned ones, didn't even have skeletons, while others, like the insectoids, carried their skeletons on the outside of their bodies. And some, like the mole men, had skeletons that were all too human -- which she supposed was the point, since they once had been.

Gamma Rays held the most extensive representation of Sue's power; it picked up radiation, and the woman's body had been transformed by cosmic radiation, after all. The Fantastic Four were all lit up like Christmas trees, and Sue's forcefields appeared as brilliant, colorful, and powerful as the Negative Zone storms themselves. Sue looked absolutely dangerous.

Shandra shook her head. Down, girl, she thought, she's beautiful, but she's also in trouble.

Indeed, Sue's power levels were dwindling as she became exhausted by the effort of driving back the hordes. They encroached on her personal space now that there were fewer force bolts to delay them. She finally gave up on the offensive attacks and concentrated on the defensive, keeping an all-too-thin forcefield around her as her opponents hammered away at it. Once or twice she even emitted a bright flash of light, which confused Shandra for a moment until she remembered that Sue could also make visible what was invisible -- in this case, ultraviolet light.

She lasted one long minute before the forcefield gave out and she lost consciousness.

Her audience at Station Four breathed a collective gasp of concern. "Sue..." Shandra whispered.

Soft chattering voices filtered in at the edge of Sue's consciousness, but it was the broken-glass grinding in her temples that forced her awake. She had a headache ... bad. She tried looking around at her surroundings to determine what was going on, but the light slamming into her retinas convinced her to keep her eyes closed for now.

So she focused on her other senses, hoping they could fill her in current events without as much pain. She could feel beads of sweat trickle down her forehead, feel the unstable molecular fabric of her uniform cling to her skin, feel the breathing mask suction-press to her face; feel the stiff ache of her muscles as she sat on a hard floor. She could smell and taste stale-yet-breathable air filtered by the mask, thankful it was still in place. Most of all, she could hear voices around her. Some of the voices were unfamiliar, but one belonged to Johnny, who was repeating a word that made no sense whatsoever:

"Station! Station!" Johnny kept repeating the word, and he was met with confused grunts from the creatures he was talking to.

Slowly and reluctantly, Sue opened one eye, then the other. Getting used to the light, she saw that she was in a ruined room that looked like it was once Evan Krieger's office. A large number of creatures, familiar or otherwise, surrounded herself and her teammates and Stark-Fujikawa employees. None of them seemed to know what Johnny was talking about.

"Oh, c'mon," Johnny complained. An ugly purple scar marred his face. "It's like, the universal word. You're telling me you guys haven't seen 'Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey'? It's a classic! Not as good as the first movie, but...."

"Tell ya what," Ben said to the natives, "you guys can eat Johnny. That'll make us all happy."

"A tempting/appealing/appetizing offer," one unfamiliar being replied. It was tall and lithe, with a metallic faceplate that moved slightly out of sync with its words; Sue guessed the plate might be its actual face. "However, it is not our way/method/manner to eat sentient beings, regardless of how much it might quiet their noise."

Evan Krieger, Stark-Fujikawa's Negative Zone division head, snored loudly.

"But killin' 'em is all right?" Ben demanded, glaring at the leader.

"You are referring/mentioning/indicating to those of your kind we have slain."

"Hell yeah, I'm talkin' about 'em, an' I wanna know if we're next."

"Excuse me," Sue interjected, bringing the attention of all present onto her, "but could somebody please fill me in on what I missed?"

So the leader awakens," the creature in charge announced, stalking over to Sue and circling her like a vulture. "We are the true denizens/inhabitants/colonists of what you call the Negative Zone. I am Bh'Ryck. I lead, like you."

Sue looked up at the wiry, scaly creature and tried to pronounce its name. "'Buh ... rick'. I'm Susan Storm ... but what was it you said about me being a leader?"

Bh'Ryck pointed at Sue, then at itself. "You are female of your kind/breed/species, are you not? Female like me."

"Wait, you're female?" Johnny asked, his eyebrows climbing toward his hairline. "You, uh, you don't look it. No offense."

Stopping in her tracks, Bh'Ryck turned to Sue's brother, then glanced at the hugely-muscled bovine figure standing over him, apparently giving some kind of signal. The bovinoid struck Johnny's temple with its weapon; the resulting clack echoed through the office. "Up, hurt that one if he talks again," Bh'Ryck ordered.

But Johnny was concentrating on a different part of her order. "Wait, 'Up'? You're name's Up? That's hilarious!" The bovinoid towered over him and readied its weapon again; Johnny threw up his hands in surrender. "Shutting up."

"My kind/breed/species is Quonus," Bh'Ryck explained, returning her attention to Sue. "The females lead. It has always been this way."

It certainly hadn't been that way with Sue's kind, she silently reflected, though she couldn't help wondering why she didn't lead the Fantastic Four.

"I am the last of the Quonus," Bh'Ryck continued as she resumed walking, her path weaving an angry figure-eight around the hostages. "Now I lead the last of the denizens/inhabitants/colonists. We will restore the natural order."

"What do you define as the 'natural order'?" Reed asked, curious as always.

"No humans in the Circle/Expanse/Cosmos," Bh'Ryck answered succinctly. "Everything as it was, or nothing at all."

"Assuming you're talking about our presence in the Negative Zone," Reed countered, "how does taking over the Zone headquarters figure into the status quo you describe?"

Bh'Ryck turned her back on him, facing Sue once again. "I am finished talking/arguing/discussing to a mere male. You, Susan Storm, are the only human I will talk to."

"In that case," Sue replied hesitantly, "my question is pretty much the same as Reed's. But before we get into that, why do you keep saying three variations of the same word in a row?"

"I do not." Bh'Ryck tapped a tiny circular device on her neck. "This is a language translator. It attempts/endeavors/experiments to change my language's words and concepts/ideas/images into those of your language, and yours into mine. The device is not perfect, so it offers similar words so my intent/point/design is not lost."

"Great," Ben mumbled. "Of all th' possible ways t'go, we get talked t'death by th' thesaurus aliens."

"We are not the aliens/interlopers/intruders," Bh'Ryck shouted, apparently forgetting her rule about talking to human males. "You humans are, and you must be destroyed!"

"But we're trying to help," Sue protested. "We're trying to fix the bad things that have happened to the Zone."

"Bad/harmful/immoral things you started! You are Fantastic Four. Fantastic Four led humans to Circle/Expanse/Cosmos!"

"We didn't do that," Sue clarified. "We are the clones of the original FF, and they discovered the Zone."

Bh'Ryck glared over her shoulder at Sue. "You are Clones/offspring/reproductions, so you share your parents'/procreators'/progenitors' guilt. You will die for it."

Sue gritted her teeth. They were getting nowhere. "You're thinking in all-or-nothing terms. It's more complex than that. We can work together."

"We cannot," the leader growled. "You are allied/associated/unified with Starkforces. That we cannot forgive/excuse/pardon."

Sue tried to keep her voice calm. "We're in an alliance with Stark-Fujikawa in order to save what's left of the Zone and undo the damage."

"Starkforces cannot rebuild/save/undo; they can only destroy! You even joined forces with Waylon, their soldier/warrior/killer."

She drew a blank. "Who?"

"She means Martin Waylon," Ben clarified, and Sue recalled why the name had sounded familiar. "We knew 'im as Oldskool, but to them he was th' soldier that nuked the Zone with that bomb."

"You at least did us a service/benefit/kindness," Bh'Ryck informed Ben. "You killed him. And you do not look like the humans, so you have a place/niche/family with us."

"Is that supposed t'be a compliment?" Ben snapped. "All I wanna look like is human, an' all I wanna be is human, but everything I run into is a reminder that I'm a monster!"

"Ben, we've been through this," Sue reminded him. "You're just as human as we are, Ben. And killing someone doesn't make you a monster -- not if you're tricked into doing it."

"Save it, Suzie. I'm beginnin' t'think Brick here is right: gettin' mixed up with Stark-Fuji's a mistake. No good's gonna come out of it, an' we all know that. They're just lookin' out for two things: their bottom line, an' a spot on our backs where they c'n stab us when they feel like it."

Saddened, Sue locked eyes with Ben. "Is that how you feel, Ben?"

"Maybe, but I'm not about t'take it to the same extreme they are."

"Speaking of extremes," Reed interjected, talking to Sue, "could you ask them how they intend to enforce their status quo? They're not going to talk to me, after all."

That was, Sue thought, a very good question. To Bh'Ryck, she asked, "how do you plan to carry out your 'natural order'?" She had a feeling she wasn't going to like the answer.

"We return the favor/action/deed," Bh'Ryck replied, holding up asmall oddly-shaped object set in a glowing spherical forcefield. "To use one of your language's phrases, we clean the slate."

Sue's eyes widened as comprehension dawned. "You're going to wipe out the Negative Zone. That's crazy!"

"Starkforces did it first. They changed/altered/perverted it so none of us natives could live here. But they didn't do it well/good/complete enough -- we few survived. We are all smart/sentient/aware, but there is nothing left for us. Not with the Death-Bringer coming. So there will be nothing left for anyone."

Sue and her teammates looked amongst each other. "'Death-Bringer'?" she whispered. "Who's she talking about?" Off the top of her head, the only candidate she could think of was Annihilus, the seemingly-immortal Zone being known in the twentieth century as 'The Living Death That Walks'.

"Wait," Reed interrupted once again, addressing Sue. "She stated they're 'all' sentient. Is she saying that's true of all Negative Zone species?"

Hearing this, Bh'Ryck turned to one of the silver-skinned beings. "Nuckra-Ign, explain to him."

The silvery being stepped forward and introduced himself. "I am Ign, of the Nuckra. To answer you're question, we don't know. But every species we've encountered since the Starkforces' bombing has been self-aware. Predator and prey alike."

"Interesting. If it's true that you refuse to consume sentient beings, and all the surviving beings are sentient...."

"Then you're starving," Sue realized.

"We have had to band/group/shelter together to survive," Up growled, standing near a contingent of mole men. "We had discovered these beings you call 'Mole Men', and we were about to make them our prey. Then we discovered they too were sentient, and were in fact altered humans. We made them our allies instead."

"So now it's our turn to join or die?"

"It is far/much/entirely too late for that," Bh'Ryck asserted.

"It seems this is a foregone conclusion, then," Reed commented mournfully. "In that case, if we can't convince you not to detonate the bomb--"

"You cannot stop/avert/halt us either," Bh'Ryck hissed.

"So it seems. In that case, let me be the one to do the honors."

The room fell into a shocked silence. No one expected that.

"You see, I can't help but feel responsible for the previous Reed Richards' actions," he explained. "And his discovery of the Negative Zone eventually led to all of this. So now it's my responsibility to end this."

His teammates reacted negatively. "What're you, crazy?" Ben bellowed.

"Yeah, you can't be serious about this," Johnny added.

"I am," Reed insisted, eyes locked on the forcefield sphere and the misshapen object within it. He walked toward it and Bh'Ryck.

"Then we have a responsibility too," Sue declared, then motioned to Ben and Johnny. The last of the spider-squirrels' venom was wearing off, so it was time for action. "Stop him."

Johnny projected a column of flame around Reed, which the pliable scientist promptly stretched and twisted around on his way to the natives' leader. Ben grabbed Reed's elongated torso and pulled, but Reed simply contracted that section of his body to slip from the Thing's grasp. Reed's advance came to a halt when Sue bottled him up in a forcefield.

Unfortunately, all three of them were so focused on stopping their rogue teammate that Up, Nuckra-Ign, and the mole men were able to blindside and subdue them.

"Impressive/magnificent/excellent," Bh'Ryck commented to Reed. "I see you were honest/authentic/honorable about your desire to help us."

"I want all this to end, Bh'Ryck," he stated humbly, "and I won't let anything stand in the way of that, even my friends."

"Then the device is yours to detonate," Bh'Ryck declared, handing the object to Reed, forcefield and all. "The honor/duty/right is yours."

"Reed, you're out of your mind," Sue shouted.

"Yeah," Johnny chimed in, "first you almost kill us with a homemade teleporter, now this? Dude, your brain's completely skeltered."

"Would you like me to show/demonstrate/instruct you how to detonate it?" Bh'Ryck asked, pacing around Reed.

"That isn't necessary," he replied almost absentmindedly as the sphere hovered over his hand while he tinkered with the mechanisms on his wristband. "This forcefield is similar to the Zone's Distortion Field that converts objects from matter to anti-matter and vice-versa. It's simply a matter of reversing its polarity."

"Okay, that's enough," Ben shouted as he struggled free of Up's hold. Clocking the bovinoid with one punch, he stood up and charged Reed. "It's Clobberin' Time!"

Reed fluidly ducked Ben's rage-fulled punches, snaking his body out of the way with detached ease, keeping his attention on his wristband. He typed a button sequence into its keypad. "There, that should do it."


The sphere and its payload vanished, and the teleporter device on his wrist sparked and overloaded. "Mission accomplished."

Bh'Ryck's body language conveyed confusion. "What ... happened/occurred/transpired?"

"I teleported the device to a different dimensional frequency," Reed explained, "thereby putting it out of phase with the Negative Zone. Simply put, it's somewhere else and nowhere else at the same time."

Bh'Ryck screeched in anger and pounced on Reed. "You lied/decieved/manipulated!"

"Actually, I didn't," he argued as he wrapped his body around like a tarp to contain her. "When I said I wanted all this to end, I meant this hostage situation."

Ben gaped at Reed. "So you were just actin'? How 'bout some kinda indication next time?"

"I had to get close to the bomb, and I couldn't risk tipping off Bh'Ryck," Reed explained.

"Give us some credit, Reed," Sue muttered, looking around warily at the agitated natives. "Meanwhile, we're not out of the woods yet."

"This is not over/finished/concluded," Bh'Ryck shouted, struggling to keep hold of the energy weapon Reed was prying out of her grasp. "Kill them!" she ordered her comrades.

As the other warriors surged forward, Ben backhanded the nearest approaching mole man, sending it flying. "'Kay, now it's Clobberin' Time."

A barrage of energy bolts from the hallway blindsided the natives. They screamed in pain as their wounds sizzled and burned.

A squad of S-F Watchdogs in SItation Emergency GEar stormed the office, continuing to fire on the beings like Allied Soldiers descending on Normandy Beach.

Sue and her teammates watched in horror as the SIEGE-armored humans ripped apart the Zone natives in brutal fashion. True, those same natives had just tried to wipe out the Zone altogether ... but was this the way to handle the situation?

Determined, she shaped a forcefield around the few natives left standing, and a wave of her hand sent the another forcefield cascading toward the SIEGE agents like a tidal wave. "Reed, Ben, Johnny!" she shouted, rallying them.

But the SIEGE agents simply activated glowing auras around themselves, and the battering ram had no stronger an effect on them than a strong breeze might. "Stand down," the lead Watchdog ordered, and two of his squadmates launched pellets at Johnny that exploded into mountains of flame-retardant foam. "We have this situation covered."

"No, we had it covered," Reed insisted as he kept a struggling Bh'Ryck contained. He also kept his distance from the approachign Watchdogs, actually protecting the natives' leader. "And we've averted disaster without any needless loss of life. But this? This is a massacre!"

"Do not protect/hold/shield me," Bh'Ryck shouted at Reed. "If they want a war/battle/massacre, I will give it to them!" Wrenching herself free of Reed's elastic hold, she leaped at the Watchdogs, firing her energy weapon with unmatched rage and desperation.

"Have it your way," the SIEGE leader commented as he and his squadmates pumped her full of lethal energy bolts. Her screams joined those of her fellow natives.

Reed moved over to Bh'Ryck where she lay dying on the floor. "Are there any more like you?" he whispered.

"Yes ... in hiding/seclusion/sanctuary. This is ... not over...." The light faded from her eyes.

The SIEGE leader tapped him on his soldier. "Is it dead?"

Reed glared up at him. "Yes ... she is," he answered through gritted teeth.

"Great. We have orders to confiscate the bodies." The soldier made it sound as if he were here to pick up a postal package.

Ben swung a fist at the leader, bellowing, "yeah, I'll show you where y'can shove your orders, ya little--"

The SIEGE leader caught Ben's fist in the palm of his hand, a small forcefield cushion absorbing the impact. "I said 'stand down', all of you. Our tech's been upgraded with your powers in mind, so it's useless to fight us on this. If anything, you should be grateful they can't hurt anyone anymore."

"Where's their bomb?" another Watchdog asked.

"It detonated between dimensions. It no longer exists."

The Watchdogs paled. "No longer exists?" the leader asked. ""Hikaru himself made its recovery our utmost priority!"

"Considering it very nearly erased us," Sue pointed out with bitter irony in her voice, "you should be grateful."

Grateful. An hour later, the word still echoed in Reed's mind, along with the screams of the indigenous species and Bh'Ryck's dying words that this was not over.

He and his teammates sat in the Hattori, surrounded and guarded by the SIEGE officers and treated by medics. Johnny's venom-scarred face recieved by far the most attention, followed by Ben's blast-marked chest -- though he revealed that most of those holes had been made by Oldskool over a week before, not the natives.

Overall, the Four weren't in a talkative mood; they gave the minimal responses when questioned. This frustrated the Watchdogs, who warned them that Hikaru demanded an explanation.

Reed occasionally glanced around at his teammates, but the distrustful glares they gave when they looked back troubled him. He'd assumed they'd recognized from the start that his sudden rebellion at the HQ had been a ruse, but apparently they hadn't. It made him wonder if the original Reed Richards had experienced this much difficulty maintaining his teammates' trust.

"Richards," the SIEGE squad leader spoke, snapping him out of his reverie. "The holo-teleconference from Hikaru-Sama will have to be delayed. A Zonestorm's brewing, and it's causing interference."

Reed looked up at the soldier, frowning. Yes, a storm was definitely brewing in more ways than one. "That's fine," he relied after giving the matter some thought. "I'd rather speak to him face-to-face."

"Face to face...?"

All eyes were on Reed. "You heard me. I want to look the man in the eye. He has much more to answer for than we do."

NEXT ISSUE: "Homegate"

So how 'bout that second issue, folks? Of course, another issue means another letters column.

No long letters from Rena this time around, just a few quick hits on the guestbook-type-thing I've provided at the end of #1v2. Now if I can just figure out how to get it to do a fresh page for each issue instead of the same guestbook, I'd really be in business....

Anyway, first up is someone with a very familiar moniker....


--Fred J. Dukes, via guestbook

Thanks, Fred! I'm glad you enjoyed -- wait, Fred J. Dukes? As in Blob from the Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants? Wow, it's such an honor to meet you! I'm a huge fan! Would you like a sandwich?

Next up is a fellow fanfiction writer:

Nice intro from Reed's journal...not many seem to remember that Reed had a life before the FF. Interesting pace you've set up for this intro. Are the FF corporate shills in this series or something else entirely? Nice start. Can't wait to see the rest of #1!

Mike Hintze, via guestbook

Thanks Mike! I've definitely liked using Reed's journal to look at various aspects of life, and various eras thereof. Look for more such peeks in issues to come. And folks, check out Mike's fanfiction site.

Next up is a longtime 2099 fan:

Starting off good. Nice way to get people hooked. Only one complaint, though; I understood Reed's personal journal. Wouldn't Reed have written stuff that only he, and maybe Sue, would actually be able to understand?

-- Patrick Miteff, via guestbook

Y'know, this is the first time someone's commented that something I've written was too understandable, though I do see your point. I try to make things as clear as I can in stories, but yeah, I guess Reed's journals would naturally be over peoples' heads, because he's his only audience. Still, an unedited Reed Richards journal would probably not be the most penetrable way to hook people on a story, so if it helps, assume the journal entries are sent through a Richards-to-Layman translator before being used as issue openers. Thanks for writing!

--David Ellis,

November 18th, 2005

NEXT ISSUE: The Fantastic Four of 2099 make their long-awaited first appearance on Earth.
But what new roadblocks will they hit in their ongoing negotiations with Hikaru and Stark-Fujikawa, and what new allies will they make?
Most importantly, will they be able to behave themselves? Okay, the answer to that at least is simple: "Yeah, right."