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9 mos ago
Current Because asking the mods "gib power" is a much better bid than demonstrating a groundswell of supporters, right? #Wraith4Mod2K19
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9 mos ago
WRAITH, WRAITH, HE'S OUR MAN, IF HE CAN'T DO IT, NO ONE CAN!
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9 mos ago
@KingOfTheSkies but could you fix it with Flex Tape? I say nay-nay
9 mos ago
That last status was literally the most mind boggling thing I've ever read. Bravo!
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Issue 11




New York City, NY --- Empire State University




Peter didn’t know that his bones could ache. He figured it was mostly reserved for muscles stretched to their limits, pulled during whatever flips or acrobatic hijinks he got up to during his nightly spider crawls.

Or from pulling down an X-Man’s car… He still felt pangs of pain from that one, now and again, but it was mostly overshadowed by the way his ribs still made a tiny crunching noise with every sway of his body as he walked towards Doctor Connors’ lab.

“...and christ, Peter, you’re lucky to be walking at all!” Gwen was in step with him, strawberry blonde hair tucked back behind her black hairband. He found himself trying to meet her eyes, only for the sunshine’s flash in his vision to punish him with waves of nausea.

At this rate I’m happy I walked away with my life.

“Well, y’know. Bed rest is a wonder drug.” Peter said. He stumbled and tried to reach out to catch himself, but his arm caught in it’s nylon sling and he pitched forward. Then he felt Gwen’s hand grab his opposite elbow. She pulled him back, gently, righting him on the pavement. His cheeks burned. He swallowed.

“Uh, thanks.” Peter pulled his arm back into himself, reaching over his own chest to adjust the strap of his bag.

“Don’t mention it, Pete.” Gwen sighed. She tucked an escaped strand of hair behind her ear and began to fish for her lab keycard in her jacket pocket.

The lab hadn’t suffered much during the MSF’s attacks -- the Connors were bolted in their apartment in Queens, and the place was locked down like a fortress when they weren’t in. When Michael Morbius wasn’t making after hours visits, anyways. That still rubbed Peter the wrong way. At least Morbius had his run in with Spider-Man to think about, instead of whatever he was sniffing out over--

“Have you been here? Since, yknow?” Gwen’s voice broke his concentration.

“You know I haven’t been coming to the lab, Gwen.” Peter offered his arm, and the fabric of the strap brushed against his neck. Gwen frowned.

“I mean the campus, Pete.” Her voice was soft. She fiddled with the door, and she rotated her ID too many times, trying to make the keycard fit into the slot. Her hands were shaking.

Peter remembered the carnage he saw on the streets, the infected civilians tearing each other apart. They would’ve turned each other into mincemeat if he hadn’t stepped in. But he saw it from a bug’s eye view, a Spider skittering in and webbing all the problems away. Tie people down, make them stop. He hadn’t seen it like they would have, friends and neighbors ripping each other’s throats out with bare teeth.

At least he’d been there, to stop them. All up and down the road from the Queens-Midtown tunnel. But he hadn’t been here. He looked at the campus green, squinting against the light refracted off the morning dew. He thought about what he’d seen on the news, how you couldn’t see much of the grass beneath a coating of red. Like the outline of May’s eyes when he dragged himself through the door.

“No. No I haven’t.” Peter said. Gwen’s keycard found its way into the slot. A green readout flashed and plexiglass doors receded, opening to the lab.

Every time Peter had to take a leave, some part of him assumed the lab would change on his return. Science stops for no one, that sort of thing. But the lizards still hid in their cages, snaking between miniature plant shoots and resting their bodies in warm pools of water. Watching. Waiting. The greenery still hung in its pots, like the gardens of babylon. No, this time the only difference was that Michael Morbius had his shirt off.

Mrs. Connors was towards the back, fitting a glass slide into a microscope, while the Doctor himself had Morbius sat up on the central table, with his button up shirt sitting off somewhere in the distant reaches of the lab. Still, if Peter hadn’t looked twice, he would’ve thought Morbius was wearing a vest. Something inky and black was wound around Morbius’ chest. It was a band as thick as the tac armor Peter had seen on the Enforcers, but throbbing with every beat of Morbius’ heart. The substance was traced with lines like steel cords, their color distorting and shifting through the spectrum of black as liquid shifted through it. At its edges, it was rooted into Morbius, black tentacles spliced with skin and plunging the depths of his chest cavity. It’s thickest point was the center of Morbius’ chest -- right where Peter had tagged him with the suit.

Peter thought about the word OsCorp scientists had used to describe the suit before its breakout. Symbiote.

Gwen tapped Peter’s arm and stepped away, heading towards the rack of labcoats. Peter stepped forward. Doctor Connors flipped through his charts, holding a tablet against his chest and sliding through it with his thumb.

“We can do more for you than the hospitals can, Michael, but… Well, the prognosis isn’t exactly positive.” Connors said. Morbius ground his teeth.

“The children have arrived, Doktor.” Morbius snapped. He pushed himself off the table and Doctor Connors lurched backwards, out of his way. Morbius swiped a towel from the workbench and draped it over across his shoulders like a fine silk. He moved away without a word, evidently content to sulk in the corner.

“Mr. Parker! Great to see you.” Doctor Connors placed his tablet on the table and smoothed the folds out of his labcoat. Peter still saw the screen lying against the table, readouts and bright red exclamation points surrounding a 3D image of a black mass of tissue.

“How do you put up with him, Doc? He just--” Peter began. His eyes followed the Vlatavan scientist, struggling into his labcoat from across the way, wedging the buttons closed over the mass of black symbiote sealing his chest.

“He’s having a rough time. We all our, in our own ways. How are you feeling?” Doc’s hand was on Peter’s shoulder. Something in his muscles tightened and he pulled away. He rubbed at it with his free hand.

“Better, mostly. Docs say another few weeks in this thing.” Peter lied. A few days was more likely, it seemed like the suit had a way of helping him bounce back. Doctor Connors looked at him from over the rims of his glasses.

“Peter. I mean how’re you, y’know,” he made a vague gesture with his hands,feeling?”

Aside from getting crippled by Mo, Larry, and Curly? Peachy, Doc, just peachy. The Enforcers were probably laughing their way to the bank with a fat paycheck by now, all for squashing the spider. And here he was, almost a month later, still nursing the same damn hits.

“Fine, I guess.” Peter mumbled. He started to turn towards the labcoats.

“Son, you don’t just… You don’t just see something like that with your own eyes and, and…” Connors said, searching for the words.

Son, you don’t just -- what don’t I, Connors? Do you wanna go a round with Megawatt and his merry minstrels?

“What are our goals today, Doctor Connors? Further assessment of formulae bonding agents?” Gwen appeared to rescue him, with Peter’s labcoat draped across her arm.

“Uh, yes, Ms. Stacy. There’s a crate of testing materials over by Martha’s station.” Connors offered.

“We’ll get right to it! C’mon, Parker.” Gwen hooked her arm through Peter’s and dragged him across the linoleum, parking him at his station. “D’ya need help with your coat?”

“I’ll figure it out,” Peter grumbled. He accepted the smock and threw it over his back, now attempting to jam his good arm into an appropriate hole.

“Doctor Connors is right, you know.” Gwen had already placed a test slide in her microscope, and set to calibrating the focus, twisting each knob.

“What, about Morbius?” Peter finally pushed his arm through and began fumbling for his own slide, groping about the hard surface of the table. But his eyes tracked Morbius, snaking between the tables towards Doctor Connors.

“About you. You sneak out of the house the night of the worst terrorist attack in the world, and you’re just… Good? Gwen shook her head. “I don’t believe it for a minute.”

“I’m fine, Gwen.” Peter said. He had already stopped grabbing for the slide and watched as Morbius and Connors talked in hushed tones. Connors hand was open and his shoulders were up, shrugging. Morbius’ shoulders were like low points, stabbing out of the top of his labcoat.

“Even Flash is worried about you, Pete.” Gwen said. Peter recoiled. He turned to face her.

Flash? Now that I don’t believe. That meathead has never--” He started.

“He was also asking about you after what happened to Ben. You’ve been through a lot. You’re allowed to… To hurt.” Gwen cut him off. She reached for him but he stepped aside. He stepped past her and around boxes of equipment, making for Martha Connors’ workstation.

“Can we drop it, please? I’m going to get the materials.” Peter turned. Then, there was a crash across the lab, shattered glass and twisted metal bouncing across linoleum tiling.

“I need better, Connors!” Morbius roared. The Vlatavan towered over the Doctor, and the first several buttons on his labcoat had burst, revealing the black mass that swelled with every breath he took. The twisted remains of a microscope swept off the table lay at his feet.

“I need you to calm down, Michael--” Connors pinwheeled backwards, nearly tripping himself on the hem of his labcoat.

Calm down? Morbius spat. He stabbed his finger into his chest. “This thing is killing me!”

“Michael, Michael--” Connors made eyes backwards and Pete and Gwen, trying to keep his body between Morbius and the children, “the organism is affecting your amygdala. I need you to take deep breaths.”

Morbius sucked in a breath. Every muscle in his face was shaking, and his pale features had flushed fire truck red. “You will find an antidote, Connors.” The more Michael talked the further his accent crept into his voice, his finger jammed harder and harder into Connors’ chest.

“We will Michael. I promise you.” Connors put his hand around the other scientist’s and met his eyes. “We will.”

Michael stared back at him for a long time. He wrenched his hand back and set to unbuttoning his lab coat as he made for the door. “A promise isn’t good enough.”

The door dinged cherrily as they slid open and Morbius stormed out. Martha Connors rushed to her husband's side, sweeping him into her arms.

“Sweetheart, are you --?” Doctor Connors waved her off.

“I’m fine dear, I’m fine.” Connors said. He straightened his coat and ran his hand through his hair. “Kids, I’m sorry you had to see that.”

It was only then Peter realized he’d been up on the balls of his feet, muscles tightening even as his ribs protested. His suit had already snuck its way up past his legs, beneath his jeans, and was already winding together around his torso. He rocked backwards against a lab table and it receded, rushing back down his body.

“It happens, Doctor Connors. Like you said. It’s a tough time.” Gwen was the first to speak.

“I… Yes, I… I suppose so.” Connors scratched the back of his head. “Kids I, um, want to thank you for coming out, but you can take off, if you’d like. I think Martha and I are going to cool down for a little while.”

“It’s fine, Doctor. Science stops for no one. Peter and I can wrap this up and we’ll get out of your hair.” Gwen offered. Peter nodded and shifted his eyes to the ground. He went for the box.

“I appreciate it, Gwen.” Connors nodded to them. “Thank you.”

***


By the end of it, Peter and Gwen had the process down like clockwork, rotating each slide in and out and scribbling notes about bonding agent efficacy, effects on the tested stem cells and resultant implications for formula stability. It was a grind but with each slide was progress, a little closer to cracking the code. It meant something.

Unlike that fight with the Enforcers. The loss burned in Peter’s mind, bubbling up with every pang of pain from his body. There had to be some way to beat them. They had mentioned they were a squad of Enforcers, right? Were they from some other organization? At the very least they were in Tombstone’s pocket. And then on top, on account of them he had to pretend he had some troubled home life that lead him to sneaking out and getting beaten on the streets. Fun fun fun. As if Ben wasn’t on his ass enough already. And now Gwen was looking over at him every five minutes like she kept seeing a new sick puppy.

“So. How’s it going for you?” Peter broke their silence.

Gwen shrugged. “The protein-chain solutions seem the most effective so far, ” She began.

“No, I mean,” Peter sighed. “This has gotta be the fifth time someone has said something like this today, but how are… Well, you?”

Gwen looked back at him. Her bangs framed her eyes. “To be honest? Not stellar. Dad’s been on the warpath lately. With what Captain America did, and Spider-Man out there somewhere? He’s not, um. Handling it super great.”

Peter cracked a grin. “Then he’s gonna flip when he hears the Spider-Man song you guys have been working on.”

“God, no,” Gwen said. She looked down and began jotting in another row of notes. “We dropped that last month.”

Peter nearly dropped his next slide. “You what?”

“I mean, he attacked a Hospital.” Gwen said.

Everybody reads the Daily friggin’ Bugle…

“Uh, yeah. True.” Peter pressed his eye into the microscope, seeing proteins list into each other, one at a time.

Maybe once I find a way to flush the Enforcers out I can find the time to bump up my street cred…

“You almost ready to head out?” Gwen asked.

“Last one.” Peter reported. Gwen had already started breaking down her station, packing away slides and research notes into marked file folders.

“Hey, Pete?” Gwen said.

“Hey, yeah?” Peter responded. He pulled the last slide off of his observation deck.

“I know you’re trying to be tough guy about, well, everything. But, really honestly, if you ever want to talk. I’m here. Okay?” Gwen squeezed his shoulder.

Peter turned up his eyes to meet hers. Brilliant and baby blue and piercing. Like she could see into his soul. He looked back down. “Thanks, Gwen. Really.”

She squeezed again and left his side to hang up her lab coat. Peter pushed back from his station and rolled his shoulder, judging the feeling in his arm.

Still another day or two until I can hold a webline, but… I’m coming for you, Enforcers. I’m coming.


Issue 10




New York City, NY --- Thompson Memorial Hospital




Mid-Crisis.

“Guh-buh--...” Nonsense-words spilled out over Peter’s cracked lips like the blood that leaked from his mouth as he wrenched himself over the rooftop gravel, little stones grinding into his chest and spiking pain up through his ribcage. His Spider-Sense didn’t matter anymore, it was a constant background, crackling TV Static over the violence and the twisting slurry of his costume over his skin, the black tainted red with his blood.

How did this happen?

Hairs jolted up on the back of his neck -- the air behind him was crackling, ionizing faster than Peter could think. His muscles moved on their own, throwing him up into the air and crashing down to the side and flopping like a dying animal as a brilliant bolt of lightning obliterated the rooftop, sending plumes of gravel into the sky. Peter flipped onto his back and his fingers flashed spasmodically into his palms, sending out arcs of webbing blindly. He had to hit something, anything.

There was a force on the other end and he was in the air, over the lip of the roof, nothing between him and the ruinous concrete but a drop. His muscles screamed and his grip tightened around the line, refusing to release. His costume gelled together, black cells trying to weave an impact barrier as he was yanked back and jerked to the ground. His face hit first and his nose exploded into blood and phlegm.

“Urgh-!” He had barely hit the ground before he wrenched his torso around and tucked his shoulder, moving below the vibrating speed of a passing fist.

“C’mon, Spydah-Man.” An Austrlian accent cooed. Peter could scarcely hear it over the wardrum of his own heart in his ears. “Give us a fight, now.”

“The Spider’s all tuckered out, Frank.” Peter hardly registered the shifting of gravel before there was a gloved hand around his neck, lifting him into the air. The costume railed as it could, weakly, tiny tendrils sluicing themselves from the membrane of the costume and slapping against the glove weakly.

“This way, Sanders.” A third said, somewhere beyond the haze of Peter’s vision. “I wanna see him fucking joke when his heart stops.”

***


Earlier.

The background buzz of electronic drones had subsided in this part of the city -- the horde that swept to Madison Square Garden had left the Upper East Side deserted, a sky free from bugs and streets free from deranged civilians, spare the stragglers that dragged shattered legs behind them, enroute to join their fellows.

Spider-Man swung high, switching off of each web at the low point of its arc, prioritizing speed. The X-Men had parked their battle wagon some miles away -- miles that didn’t pass quick when hauling a blue fuzzball. He hooked a right turn and skipped over a rooftop like a stone across water -- his hand came out and another web snapped to the skyline, he felt the suit with him then, making microscopic adjustments to the cadence of his swing, ensuring he’d hit on target.

It’d be moments before the Four Freedoms came into view -- if the newly topless Empire State, and the streaking trails of flying metahumans were to be believed, it was the place to be. Maybe if Peter got there fast enough, he could get in a few licks on the chrome-domed dude, and -- Blue Beetle’s earpiece snapped to life in his ear, back in comms range.

”Hey, kid! Things are getting wrapped up here -- I’m about to check on our friend in the Bug, but it’s looking like we have a man down at Staten Island. Think you could swing by?” Peter heard The Blue Beetle’s voice in the background, having failed to deactivate his own mic. Swing. Bwahaha!”

Rescue duty? Again? Peter’s muscles jerked as he overextended on his web. He released and slung another, leaning into it with his shoulder. He stuck himself to the nearest skyscraper and steadied. Wall-crawling boo-boo patrol, at your service

”I got it, B.B. … Save some cake for me.” Spider-Man tapped his comms device and shot forward into the sky. He felt his suit worm into his muscles and he fired another webline, hanging a turn down the island.

Oh, what am I complaining about? I could show up at the Four Freedoms anyway, have Captain America and that weird arrow dude tell me I did a great job running away in the first place. He adjusted his angle at the subtle indention of the black fabric, instinct guiding his hand, and he crested over the next building, bringing the next row of concrete towers into view.

One stood out -- The Thompson Memorial Hospital. He hadn’t realized he was passing so close. The fibers of his suit quivered, on edge. Like a spider raising its forelegs in warning.

He held onto his web for a moment longer and released at the tip of its swing, launching up above the sweeping cityscape. The Hospital’s lights winked dimly in the encroaching night sky, warding the darkness. The helicopter pad atop it sat unused -- they were probably more concerned with keeping the building shut and the bugs out than accepting helivac patients. Tombstone’s people could be with them now, sequestered from the ICU to the labs, hiding needles of heroin amid crates of narcan, away from the Hell that dwelled outside. Dennis Carradine could prowl the halls, swiping his mop from one side to the other.

He’d probably already forgotten about the man he’d shot.

Spider-Man refused to forget.

The next web brought him low and he let go, loping between rooftops and springing towards the Hospital. He was a hunting dog, and blood was in the air. His legs pumped and he was in the sky again, one last webline before -- goosebumps rippled across his skin, and the fabric of his suit stuck fast to him, sealing his pores and insulating his body.

Spider-Sense? What the hell is--?

His muscles had started to spasm before the feeling of burning got to his brain. There was shock up and down his body as his fingers opened involuntarily and he plummeted, arms pinwheeling and legs splayed. A smell like chlorine jumped up his nostrils and he hit the gravel of the Hospital’s rooftop hard, pain lancing up his back.

“Aw, that was so not crash.” Spider-Man grunted. Spider-Sense flared and he rolled into it, bouncing off the rooftop as another arc of lightning crackled past. He swiveled in the air, white lenses turning to meet his attacker. He was six foot at least, wrapped in black tac gear -- it was a little like what the MSF’s tower mercs had been wearing, but higher end. This one had a yellow belt wrapped around his waist, it was about as thick as Peter’s biology textbook. Electricity crackled across his body, sparking from the belt to nodes around his joints, joining together into a glowing ball in his hands.

“Cut it out dude, you're gonna ruin your electric bill.” Peter moved to fire a webline, but there was a black blur and something rammed into him, flinging him down the rooftop. He adjusted in mid-air and landed on his haunches, hands forward and ready to fire. There was a second player on the rooftop, in the same gear as the first, but his chest was sheathed in a red and blue polymer plate. Shielded red goggles hid his eyes.

“Couldn’t wait five minutes for my coffee break, webs?” He said, rolling his shoulder.

“You’re right red, take a load off! I’ll deal with Sparky here first,” Spider-Man said. He fired a salvo of webs at the new opponent and sprang to the side. Bounding off one hand, he flipped onto the rusted steel of the Hospital’s AC unit as webs sealed the new player’s hands in white gunk.

“Think he’s all you gotta worry about, Spydah?” A voice tinged with an austrailian accent rose from the rooftop around him, and with a resonating clang the AC unit lurched, metal screaming as bolts burst and the unit was tossed into the air. Peter’s muscles sprang in a tenth of a second and he jumped, spinning backwards in the air. A dent the size of Peter’s whole body marred the side of it. Suddenly, there was a hand as big as a baseball mitt around his ankle and he smashed into the ground. He pulled forward before the pain had time to reach his nerves, away from the new combatant’s steel corded grip. There were spiderweb cracks along one of his eyes lenses -- the suit liquified it, trying to repair the damage. He squinted, one eye closed.

“Aw,” Peter coughed, “all three of the Musketeers? You shouldn’t have…” Bones in his knees clicked and ground as he staggered to his feet. His shoulder blades stood out like razors and he hunched. You could count each bone of his spinal cord, bulging from his back, each bundle of neurons frazzled yet pounding with electric potential. Peter chanced a glance backwards, eyes darting faster than most men could perceive.

Number three made Captain America look like a schoolboy. He’d forgone the armor of his fellows in favor a stretched black long sleeve. The plates of his muscles were like armor in and of themselves. He cracked his knuckles and the sound reverberated across the rooftop. Like gunshots.

“Take it as a compliment.” The red one said. His hands began to shake. Faster. “Whole squad of Enforcers just to crush one little bug.” In moments, his hands were a blur, shaking the webbing that held them apart, vibrating through.

“Surprise parties are always nice. Can’t say I’m a big fan of the guests.” Peter said. The suit fluttered. Gravel shifted behind him. Movement. He swallowed.

“How’d you goons know I’d be here, anyway?” Peter’s eyes tracked Red, his movements, the shifting in the soles of his feet. He watched the arcs of electricity sparking around the hands of the man in yellow, crackling with death.

Red laughed. “Things you stole only lead one way, dipshit. Tomb--” Yellow’s face scrunched up.

“Shut the fuck up Sanders. Move, now. Yellow snapped. There was a low hum of power, lightning given form. Yellow’s nodes sparked. Peter’s muscles coiled. Red looked back. The big man stepped.

“Hold him still, Oliver. Don’t get squeamish when he starts to fry.” Yellow said. The air was still. Peaceful, almost. The currents were gone, like the air channel was preparing to conduct motes of lightning, jumping from one atom to another. Gravel shifted behind Peter.

Spider-Man exploded to the side and a gigajoule of electricity sparked past him and into the washboard chest of the big man. He gargled out a scream and Peter flung himself into the air on his own power, dispensing bursts of web fluid down on his opponents. His brain weaved a web between them, a map of attacks, movements.

“Watch your aim, Shocker!” Spider-Man called. He dodged between arcs of lightning, trying to keep red suit down while the big guy recovered from his surprise defibrillation. He could dodge the shots, as long as it was the only thing he had to worry about. “Wait, wait, my bad, isn’t that taken? Sparkplug?” Peter flipped away from another shot. Yellow grunted.

“Sanders, get moving!” He turned away from Spider-Man and pointed two fingers at the man in red. A bolt arced between the two men, frying bundles of webbing on contact. Red goggles locked onto Peter’s lenses.

Uh-oh.

Peter’s muscles hardly had time to coil and spring before Red was upon him, an unrelenting whirling dervish of fists and kicks and blows delivered so quickly that each strike blended into the next. Peter twisted away from the strikes and zipped away on a webline, higher into the air, narrowly avoiding another megajoule of electric death.

Peter contorted his body in the air, staying aloft on weblines strung between the surrounding skyscrapers, weaving a very literal web. The red speedster darted from point to point on the ground, ready to obliterate him if he ever touched the ground… Or if sparky got in a lucky shot and brought him down.

“Woah, guys, one supervillain at a time!” Peter shouted. He sprung from an elastic strand and fired between the maze of his webwork, dotting the ground with globules of webfluid. “Come on, Speed Demon, slow your roll.” Another arc of lightning whisked past his head as he spoke. He flipped backward and scurried along his webs.

“See Lightning Lad, there’s a good name -- Speed Demon. We’ll get t-shirts printed, and --” Spider-Man began, but the man in yellow cut him off.

“Sanders, wake Oliver. I’ll deal with the webhead.” He commanded. Speed Demon changed his trajectory in an instant, weaving between blasted heaps of gravel and nodes of web to the big man, who was slowly working to regain his footing.

“Hey! Three players is already more than enough.” Spider-Man complained. There were more arcs of lightning by the second, blasting through the openings in his labyrinthine web, like a cage of lightning between him and the other two villains.

Peter’s eyes flickered over the rooftop as he danced over the web. There had to be something to give him an edge. He eyed the crumpled remains of the AC unit, lying in scattered pieces among the gravel.

Galvanized steel… Aluminum… It should attract. Webs lanced from Peter’s wrists and Yellow jumped to the side, instinctively, but Spider-Man wasn’t aiming for him. Pieces of metal were spirited away, strung up and into the great lattice hanging above the hospital. He was like an orb-weaver, swinging above and below his creation and applying the metal, gluing them to stress points as lightning tried and failed to strike him. The bolts twisted in the air as they were fired, unsure of their target -- looking for the easiest path, the most conductive surface. The remains of the HVAC began to thrum with power, vibrating with endless joules of electricity as Yellow tried and failed to hit, blasts arcing off into shards of fans and metal chassis -- irresistibly attracted to the path of least resistance.

“Wallcrawler!” Yellow screamed. A tremendous bolt launched from his hands, rocketing towards the white spider emblazoned on Peter’s chest. The bolt faltered and changed course, splitting into little streaks of lightning and dissipating into parts of the HVAC.

“Megawatt!” Peter called back. “Hey, another good one! I’m two for two!”

“The streak ends here, underoos.” Speed Demon shouted. The big man was up again, sporting a blackened mark on his chest. It was red and angry beneath the char.

Okay, not… Favorable. At least they can’t hit me up... The big man crouched, low, and the rebar supporting the rooftop screeched as he launched himself, soaring up and beyond Peter’s web and into the sky. His frame was big enough that he seemed to blot out the sun, the black silhouette of death. He hung in the air for a moment, priming his legs for another shot on landing.

“...Here.” Peter finished aloud.

“You guys have a Kangaroo!? PETA’s gonna be pissed!” Peter talked as he worked, firing two weblines to either side of tugging back on them, bracing for launch. A good slingshot kick should knock him clean away from the roof, and --

Lightning shot up, the perfect angle to sever one webline and have the other pulled out of Peter’s hands, unbalanced. He tipped backwards, down below the swoop of his web and a hand came up, to pull him to safety, but it was too late.

Speed Demon descended on him in a moment, sweeping in with the force of an F1 racer. He jumped and pulled Peter the rest of the way to the ground, crashing into gravel at impossible velocity. Pieces of it flicked up like bullets, tearing through his costume and leaving bleeding rents in his skin.

Peter didn’t have time to think before Speed Demon went to work. There were fists and knuckles and crunches and blood from every angle, sprays of red and the combined squelch of meat as Speed Demon worked him like a tenderizer. He felt a rib crack in his chest. Two. He couldn’t see anything through the flurry but the descending form of Kangaroo, obliterating the hanging web with the force of his body, pulling it all down at once -- the stretch and crack and squeal of concrete connection points begin ripped apart.

Fists turned his head into a blender for his own brain, crashing from one side of his skull to the other. His chin was like a speed bag, knocked forth and back by the flurry of blows. Hairline fractures erupted all at once across his chin and his jaw, blood began flowing into his mouth.

Run. It was all he could think. Darkness closed at the edges of his vision.

Run. He needed a way out. He lashed out at once, with everything he had, muscles splayed out in blows easily dodged, leaving holes in the roof’s cement. Knuckles pulverized his muscles for every attempted strike, punishing him for his insolence.

Run. His brain drew inward like a wounded animal, a spider with its legs ripped off by a cruel child, searching for any survival instinct against impossible odds. His suit bubbled and festered, black tendrils drawing themselves outward from muscles and sinew and bone, preparing beneath the surface. They speared out together, all at once, a network of spines and thorns and bristles and spikes, warding off any attacker. Fists too fast to react crashed in anyway, drawing lines of blood and shards of finger bone. Speed Demon yowled and danced backwards, shaking his knuckles out.

“What the fuck was that?” He shouted.

Run. The spines withdrew and Peter flopped onto his stomach, crawling along the rooftop, vying for escape. Run, c’mon, run, c’mon…

***

Now

Peter’s hands pulled as they could against the hand around his throat, pockmarked with injury and blood dripping down the black fabric. Lightning crackled in the distance, and huge muscles closed in to turn his remains to powder.

Have to… Run. He shifted his wrists upward, adjusting the angle, and let loose with what webbing he had, spewing into Speed Demon’s face, filling his eyes and nose and mouth.

“Gobdbdamnbitb!” Speed Demon choked out, stumbling away, pulling at the substance choking his airways and filling his eyes. Peter lurched forward and the edges of lightning streaked across his back, incinerating a line of his costume and blasting his skin. He stifled a scream and took one last step. Foot over the ledge, up, and out.

He was in the sky again, finally away. Webs launched from his wrist and snapped to a skyscraper. A few more swings and the ‘Enforcers’ would be in the dust, Megawatt and Speed Demon and --

Kangaroo leapt from the rooftop, across the gutter of open air between the buildings. He slammed his shoulder into the connection point of the webbing and shattered the building’s facade, breaking through and sending shards of stainless steel and granite wall to the streets below. Peter’s lifeline snapped, connection point destroyed, and he plummeted, pinwheeling, trying to get his hands in front of him.

He focused, like he had before, at the police station. Uncertain phantom hands merged in his vision, steady coalescing into one.

C’mon, c’mon… He aimed. The skyscrapers were passing so quickly now, endless stonework of walls speeding by.

Now-- It was too late. Metal and plastic groaned as a teenager destroyed an industrial garbage bin with his body, sending chunks of green metal and heaping piles of trash into the street.

He lay there, for a moment, waiting for his brain to stop pinballing around the inside of his skull. The moon shone down, framed by buildings on either side, silver light painting piles of garbage and twisted metal in sharp relief.

Every bone in his body cried as he rolled himself from the crumpled bin, hitting the concrete with a wet smack. He gurgled as he rose, supporting himself with the wall. He couldn’t decide if he was supposed to swallow the blood to spit it out. He thought he felt a tooth floating around in it, by now stained red with his suffering.

He let the blood dribble from his mouth, around the edges of his lips and down through torn holes in his costume. He looked up. No one was coming for him. Maybe this was enough. Maybe the Enforcers though he’d learned his lesson… Whoever they were.

He set his eyes front, and nearly cried as his neck protested the movement, reaching out into his chest with icy fingers of pain.

It would be a long walk home.
<Snipped quote by Lord Wraith>

My time has almost come.


Just wanted to pop my head in and say that I can entertain a Silk concept, @NinaDivine! PM me what you're thinking and we can work something out.

Also wanted to say that things have finally started to clear up for me and its full steam ahead on posts! Looking to have a Spidey post for tomorrow, and hopefully a debut for Vig n' Clark shortly after that.
<Snipped quote by DocTachyon>

This is a bizarre concept but hey, accepted!


And without a sample. I'm a goddamn legend.

(The sample which I will still be making... Eventually...)


Issue 9.2




New York City, NY --- Manhattan




Peter had heard of the Blue Beetle before, but he had always seemed like more of a hobbyist than anything -- a few stories here and there, nothing major. Not that it was much more than a hobby for Peter, anyway, but that the man decided to stick around for Supervillain Happy Hour said something about his character. Whether it said he was suicidal or heroic Peter wasn’t entirely sure, but it was better riding high in space-age tech than it was swinging through grungy streets and fighting the worst kind of flash mob this side of Star City.

The Bug’s interior was like the Jetsons had met the modern age -- futuristic technology called down to Earth by curved plates of blue metal and screens embedded in every surface. It was mad science and careful precision all in one; tremendous shining scanners and stealth shielding controllers paired with exposed sores overflowing with wires of every color, giving insight into the guts of the machine. Lightning in a bottle.

It was everything every tech company on the planet wanted: next gen stealth tech, unbelievable speed, and Peter had a feeling that the onboard systems would give anything Luthor or Wayne/Sionis was putting out a run for their money. He knew that Norman would burn down the city for it if he had the chance, Lord knows OsCorp couldn’t put it together themselves. That left Kord, but Ted probably had better things to do than cramming his dad-bod into a Blue Beetle suit.

Pfft, Ted, first name basis. I’ll just invite him down for some Smash Bros and pizza. On the other hand, he was more familiar with Kord than the clown in the blue jumpsuit. He was a whirlwind through the cockpit, pressing at buttons and pulling levers as the giant bug whirred over Manhattan, bound for Herald Square. His gun jingled at his hip, rustling against the fabric of his jumpsuit. It was all smooth, a hard metal chassis over some mechanism Peter could not describe. Something about it made his skin crawl, he felt the suit bunching up at the back of his neck.

He rubbed at it and went to the port window and gazed out over the city through the yellowed glass. More fires and pillars of smoke reached out from the city like black tentacles dragging at the sky. He put a hand against the glass. He felt the steady hum of the engine as The Bug swooped low. Quiet screams reverberated through the metal, from somewhere in the lost city below. Peter looked back to the Blue Beetle, tapping away at his machines.

Some average joe in a beetle costume, here against all odds to fly the Bug-mobile into battle with gods and monsters whirling around like a metahuman themed edition of celebrity jeopardy. Maybe he was after fame, glory. Perhaps it was the adrenaline. Maybe this whole thing was to make one hell of a sales pitch for his wonder car. Could be personal tragedy, too, that always motivated the heroic types. The question nagged at Peter, a gnat swirling over his vision and blazing past his ears. They burned underneath his mask.

He thought about May and Ben and everyone back in Queens. They would be rejoicing in a bug free section of the city while Peter was playing mop up with the insect squad. He wondered if May had wound her way up to his room yet and discovered he wasn’t there, window ajar during the worst crisis the city had seen in decades.

He imagined her nagging and screaming over the phone, dropping Anna Watson’s name twelve times as she was given to do when she got stressed -- but the sound would be lost to the hordes roaming the streets like packs of hyenas, and the fleshy thud of fists into stomachs and bones cracking like firecrackers.

Like tenderizing meat. The thought welled up in Peter and laid back down on him like a weight on his chest. He stepped out of the Blue Beetle’s view and rolled his mask up over his nose; it was hard to breathe. Maybe some smoke was getting through the Bug’s filters.

Ben would be sitting at home now, watching that same smoke rise into the air through the same tube TV he’d had for years and had refused to get rid of. He’d be scratching at the little round scar and lines of stitches on his abdomen as Peter had seen him do when he did his crossword puzzles. The same scar from the tiny little brass bullet, now in a plastic evidence bag webbed inside the fireplace for safekeeping. The same bullet from one of Tombstone’s people.

Whoever he was, he probably didn’t have anything to do with this. At the moment he was likely ducking under alleyways and sewers and all the places people like him tried to hide from hell like this. He was almost certainly at his most vulnerable now, stretched thin trying to protect criminal assets when half his goons suddenly decided they liked murder more than dope.

Who am I kidding? I couldn’t find him even if I wanted to. He could be anyone. Peter’s mask began to leak down his face, sealing and binding itself back together into black silk as it passed his exposed lips. Until he hit the Thompson Memorial and looked for answers, all he could do was sit on his hands and wait. There was always the chance he wouldn’t find anything there, anyway -- it was already public that he’d hit the Police Station, and Tomby would’ve deduced what files he’d stolen and gotten his man out. Just like that, to the wind.

Spider-Man.. He was more like an insect, skittering around in a glass jar he couldn’t see. He turned on his heel and stalked back towards the window. He pressed his fingers against the glass. It vibrated in time with the engine, silent, but thrumming with power.

He imagined Flash Thompson, running scared through the streets and holding his red letterman tight to his body, with a hand clamped over his neck. Like it’d protect him from the bugs. He thought about all the times Flash had tripped him, taken his lunch money, thrown him down the halls and pumped his muscles like he was a goddamn god. Peter saw a slobbering group of muscle heads, bounding through the streets towards something he couldn’t see. He felt the liquid and sinew reinforcing his muscles, laced between the myofibril, his biceps were taut, bulging with impossible strength.

The Bug surged forward and Spider-Man spotted him, someone blue-and-yellow bounding over pavement and flinging himself over cars, with what looked like a little girl wrapped in his arms and the squadron of civilians snapping at his heels. A spiked tail trailed behind him, snapping in the wind. There was Peter’s X-Man.

And there’s something I can do about it.

“Pop the hatch B.B., I’m seeing bold and brash, twelve o’ clock!”

"Back moondoor," the Blue Beetle gestured to a closed trapdoor at the rear of the vehicle, "Opening in 3, 2, 1..." He hit a button on the console which briefly opened the door, and then quickly closed it again behind Spider-Man.

Spider-Man launched out of the hatch and twisted in the air. His first webline tagged The Bug’s bottom and his momentum carried him up The Bug’s bow and over again to the aft. The webline bounced against the stealth plating and it fizzled, adjusting to the change in scenery. He tapped his opposite wrist and a glob of webbing crumpled a car’s canopy a dozen yards in front of the X-Man with a resounding “THWANG”.

“Yo! Blue Man Group! Now or never!” He shot a long, trailing line down to the other hero and pulled himself up, wrapping the other line tightly around his fist.

If I dislocate another shoulder, I’m gonna kill somebody.
Following the example of my peers, I figured I'd let y'all in on what I've been cooking up for a second character. I decided to ditch The Variety Hour for now, since the set-up for this one is too perfect. Sample is forthcoming.

<Snipped quote by Nightrunner>

Character motivations, man. I don't need to know yours.


I was confused about that, actually, because many of the motivation sections on accepted CSes (including mine and yours) were mainly about our motivations and goals for the story, as well as our influences. Which is it?
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