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Current Because asking the mods "gib power" is a much better bid than demonstrating a groundswell of supporters, right? #Wraith4Mod2K19
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WRAITH, WRAITH, HE'S OUR MAN, IF HE CAN'T DO IT, NO ONE CAN!
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That last status was literally the most mind boggling thing I've ever read. Bravo!
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With Spider-Man back on the scene after an unfortunately long hiatus, I'd like to note that given the content of this post, pretty much anyone is free to dispense teams of 'Enforcers' against their respective heroes if they'd like. Cheers!


Issue 12




New York City, NY --- New York Public Library




Ben had always tried to instill in his boy the value of his local library -- trust your librarian, and that. Houses of knowledge freely available to every American, overflowing with whatever resources you might need, texts and newspapers and computers galore. But this was The Enforcers. Peter doubted how much he could find about them with the Dewey Decimal System, but he needed to get out of the house.

His arm was out of the sling by now but he was careful to support himself on his other arm as he placed himself in the hard oaken seat before a computer that was probably a few generations behind on hardware. Peter scooted forward and began punching in his card information to the blue readout, fingers flying across the keys. They’d be good to fly, soon, Peter thought, to hold onto the line and feel the wind ripple his costume. But for now, there was this.

The NYPL’s walls were lacquered wooden bookshelves as far as the eye could see, giving way to smooth stonework and a dark coffered ceiling that looked almost like the night sky from where Pete sat, but he was more immediately concerned with the Chrome tab booting on the warhorse of a computer. Peter looked at his fingers as the loading dial circled for the umpteenth time.

Concentrate… The arm of his sweatshirt was pulled all the way forward, and his costume swirled into place around his muscles, spiraling up his arm. He squeezed and it pushed up and past his sleeve and wound around his hand. His eyes went up for an instant, scanning the faces around him. The other library-goers were absorbed, slack-jawed at screens or with noses buried in books. He looked back. His spider-glove had formed around his hand. He squinted.

Concentrate harder… Parts of the fabric receded, molding around his hand. At the back of his hand it opened, and it began sprouting metallic studs at his knuckles. Fingerless gloves. A little tasteless, but a good test of what the suit could do.

Great! Now all I gotta do is do that all over and… And then what, Parker? Dress up as Megawatt? “Hey guys, it’s me, new and improved, and with spider powers! You all buy that, right?”

Peter rested his chin in his hands and scanned the screen as the Google logo flashed before him. He bit his thumb and pecked at the keyboard with his other hand.

THE ENFORCERS. Peter typed. It was a start, at least. The page flashed and a slew of results zipped to the bottom of the screen. They were about what Peter expected. An IMDB link to a documentary Ben would probably like, stuff for the Osborn Arcade Expo, and a book series which made Peter blush. He clicked through the pages, one at a time, all for more of the same. Piles of news articles and books, until--

BewareTheBat.com? The light of the blue link shone in Peter’s eyes. “RARE VIDEO FOOTAGE -- BAT VS. ENFORCERS, WATCH NOW”. The readout said it was a few years old. Peter clicked through and was assaulted by all the garish offenses of early 2000s web design, a JPEG of a terrible font announcing the website as “BEWARE THE BAT -- The Internet’s #1 Batman Fanzine”, with a crudely rendered 3d bat logo making slow rotations in the upper right corner.

Peter scrolled. The video link had broken, but the original poster had something to say about it:
jsn_84
>BATMAN VS. ENFORCERS clip guys!!! yeah u heard me. the ONLY circulated clip of basty in action! tends 2 get taken down WHEREVER it goes up, watch qwik! ttyl, njoy

Great, my best lead is a non-existent clip on a fanzine. Loving life. Peter scanned the rest of the comments.

batfan8675309
>WOAH DUDE! Been looking E V E R Y W H E R E 4 this bad boy, DLing now!!!

BMansWackyQuest
>ugggghhhhh video qualityyyyyy

laughapalooza42
>lol who ARE these fuggin clowns, never heard of em
>give us THE JOKER

EdwardNygmaIsMyDad
>broken link

sp00kys4arcy$c4recrows
>@laughapalooza42 They r just smoe low lvl mooks i thnk

BatScholar
>@laughapalooza @sp00kys4arcy$c4recrows Actually according to my research, The Enforcers were a team of mercenaries who were actually quite successful before Batman got them: Daniel ‘Fancy Dan’ Brito, Ronald ‘Ox’ Bloch, and Jackson ‘Montana’ Brice. The Gotham Times coverage at the time credits the defeat to then Commissioner, but then this security footage started circulating!

laughapalooza42
>@BatScholar lol nerd

JonyG1989
>WHERE IS THE VIDEOOOOOO

tickitytockity
>@BatScholar where are they now? Arkham?

BatScholar
>@JonyG1989 This particular clip tends to appear and then disappear just as quickly across the net. We tend to think it’s Batman taking it down himself, avoiding publicity. If that’s the case, it’s a wonder this site is still afloat…
>@tickitytockity Actually, they would’ve been sent to Blackgate, but they’re out by now. As far as I can glean, rumor has it that they went legit, or as legit as rogues do. Apparently they’re behind Enforcers Inc., a ‘security’ company to provide teams like theirs used to be to enterprising supervillain types. A solid idea, but I’d be surprised if The Bat or someone hasn’t cracked down by now.

Enforcers Incorporated? Great, Spider-Man vs. Corporate America… Well, at least its not Amazon. Peter flicked the screen to a different tab and searched for it. It was the first result -- their website was plain, a slate grey and steel look that was at the very least created by a competent graphic designer. Not exactly screaming supervillain pow-wow right on the front page. Peter moved through the menus and sub-menus: Contracting, Services, Employment, Contact Us… Then, under About Us: Our Founders. Peter clicked.

There header changed to a cropped photo of three men, all in striped business suits. One was huge, muscles swelling out of his suit coat. He was almost as big as Kangaroo. The other two stood in front to either side of him -- both were slighter, and one had darker skin. The other seemed insistent on wearing a cowboy hat, with a toothpick hanging out of his mouth. Peter scrolled. There were three names listed on the page, and paragraphs of description for each.

JACKSON BRICE
DANIEL BRITO
RONALD BLOCH

It was looking like BatScholar was right about at least one thing. But maybe he had a bone to pick with the security company. Peter pressed new tab and drummed his fingers on the keyboard.

Search By Video.
“Enforcers + Batman”. 20,000 results. Peter scrolled. He frowned.
“Enforcers + Batman + fight”. 50 results. Peter clicked through each page. Most were YouTube news reports, dredging up old stories with each wave of BatMania that deigned to sweep the nation.

If the video keeps getting deleted… Peter gnawed harder into his thumb. He had one more solid guess up his sleeve.

“BatScholar + Enforcers”. 47 results. BatScholar was prolific. Most were posts on other fanblogs through the years, but he came across something on the third page -- BatScholar.net, The Internet’s One And Only One Man Batman Academy.

The page was newer, with embedded video, and BatScholar’s commentary beneath. It wasn’t anything Peter hadn’t already gleaned from the other sites, but there were links to mirrors beneath the video. The fourth, “b4tm4n v 3n4crz” that gave him results.

VHS artifacting ripples across the screen. Through the grain, we’re seeing the warehouse, forms of men shifting underneath the rafter beams, dragging crates behind them. The video shudders and the perspective shifts, spliced to a different camera. There are three trucks, grimy in the viewframe. One man stands over them, arms crossed and bulging like steel support wire. For an instant, there is a figure that flashes behind and above him, in the rafters beyond. It is a ghost. A glitch in the cameras.

The perspective shifts again. Another camera, a higher angle. A man in a cowboy hat waves on the half dozen workers. Another, in combat gear, leans against a steel support beam. There is a flash before the camera’s angle, the rustle of passing fabric catching on substandard audio equipment. The video winks out.

The camera above the rafters. There is something there, watching, waiting. Inhuman and bulbous, swelling like the black of the midnight ocean. Fabric rolling like a thundercloud. It is gone as fast as it appeared, secreted away among the steelwork. Hanging bays of fluorescent lights flicker. Below, there is one less workman. The Cowboy stirs.

New angle. Cowboy pulls the lariat from his hip, and whips his head from side to side. His lips flap worlessly. Superimposed subtitles flash: “WHERE IS [UNINTELLIGIBLE]?” Combat Armor pushes off from his post, obscuring the camera.

A steel ping-pong ball connects with the ground almost faster than the editor can change angles. It explodes and smoke rushes from in in a wave, instant dust storm. The camera twitches, rapidly, changing perspectives. Goons break from the smog, faces twisted, before gloved hands arced with spines emerge to drag them back, mouths silently screaming.

Big Man makes an audible ’WHUMP’ into the nearest camera’s receivers as he drops into the smog, flinging himself from the truck. The smog is beginning to clear. The workers are scattered, some hog tied and left to lie on the ground, others hung from the rafters at odd angles, legs and arms splayed out. Others still are wound to boxes with steel cable, necks limp. Big Man, Cowboy, and Combat Armor stand in loose formation, back to back, eyeing every angle. Combat Armor reaches behind his back. Cowboy’s grip tightens. Big Man cracks his knuckles.

Camera shift. The men stand before the trucks. Something silver and yellow passes through the fuzz of the VHS format and slams into the ground. The camera’s audio whines, trying to keep up with some noise, but it squeaks and fails, sputtering artifacts into the recording. Sonic grenade. Something dark and massive slams into freight trucks from above, crumpling the hood before a black wash of fabric falls over it, obscuring. The figure draws to its full height, impossibly tall from his angle, steeped in liquid darkness, covering everything but a symbol on its chest. A Bat.

Combat Armor claps his hands over his ears and runs, barreling over crates and jamming fingers into his ears. Cowboy is more pragmatic, he yells and twirls his lariat, snaking it around the grenade. But he is not fast enough to save his friend. Batman launches forward and is punching the Big Man before he can react. His fists land like machinegun fire -- “thuda-thuda-thuda-thuda-thuda--” Batman sweeps away before the big guy can so much as raise his arm, and drives an elbow into his solar plexus. He wheezes and pitches forward as the Cowboy yanks the grenade, throwing it to the far off reaches of the warehouse. Batman swings back with a foot to Big Man’s inner knee and he topples, crashing into the ground.

The Bat is gone, off camera before Cowboy can get eyes on him. His chest is heaving. He holds his lariat above his head. You can see the sweat beading on his forehead. Something drops from above, a rope twists around Cowboy’s body and he pulls at it, desperate. His feet leave the ground, but a knife arcs from somewhere beyond the edge of the screen and the ropes gives. Cowboy hits the dirt.

A new angle now and Combat Armor has readied another knife. Staring offscreen. Lips move. “I SEE YOU, BAT!” The subtitles read. He doesn’t. A metal shuriken swings in from off-camera, stabbing into the back of Combat Armor’s hand.

“AIIIEEEEE!” The subtitles read. Combat Armor clutches his hand and Batman moves in from behind, grabbing him around the waist and launching beyond the camera’s view, seeming to take off to the sky.

It changes again and there is a mass of black fabric, stringing Combat Armor to the rafters, lowering the rope down, meter by meter. Cowboy is moving again on the ground. He’s lost his hat, and his head snaps to every noise like a small dog.

New perspective. Batman drops, sending sawdust into the air as he lands. Cowboy recoils. Sees Combat Armor swinging from the rafters.

“YOU MOTHER******!” The subtitles read. The whip cracks forward and Batman sidesteps, driving in for the finishing blow. He is not fast enough. The tip of the whip circles back around and lashes over his chest. Batman drips backward. Gloved hands touch at the wound and Cowboy cracks a grin. He moves for another strike, but now Batman is ready. The whip snaps and Batman raises his fist to intercept. The line contorts and is caught on his glove, wound between the spines. Cowboy pulls, desperate, but Batman pulls in, abusing the leverage. Cowboy stumbles forward and Batman brings his knee up to meet the combatant. The cowboy crumples.

Batman unwinds the lariat from his hand in slow, practiced circles. He tenses for a moment and turns. Microfilament lenses lock onto the camera lens. A batarang flashes and the feed dies. The angles shifts once more, but it is too late. There is already more smoke. The Bat is gone, with nothing but the bodies of Enforcers in his wake.


The screen refreshed as soon as the video ended. “SORRY, THIS FILE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE.”

That was Enforcers Inc. alright, if the cowpoke was anything to go by… Peter clicked away from the tab. I wonder if I should do Spider Gadgets? That grenade thing was cool… I could do, what? Impact webbing? Web grenades? Maybe something less obstinately web-themed?

“Peter Parker?” It was a voice Peter had mostly heard conjuring retorts for Flash’s jokes, or melting into the choir of cheerleaders chanting at games and Spirit Rallies.

“Liz Allan?” Peter responded in kind, bringing his elbows in from the computer. It was her; straight dark hair that went past her shoulders and a smile that made Flash Thompson lose whatever few brain cells he was still holding onto.

“Surprised to see me?” She pulled out the chair next to Peter and thumbed the power, inspecting her nails while it booted.

“Well, I mean, I don’t think you’ve talked to me in…” Peter considered, “... Ever.”

Liz shrugged.

“When I saw the one glove wonder I couldn’t resist.”

Cripes. Peter hadn’t retracted the substance of his costume, and the fingerless glove was still locked around his hand. He offered a smile and puffed out his chest.

“I saw it in the closet and realized I just couldn’t leave home without it.” He winked with altogether too many face muscles.

Liz rolled her eyes. She tapped at the keyboard.

“What brings you to the PL? Wouldn’t you rather work at your super-science lab or whatever?” She asked.

“When I ran my English paper through the centrifuge it came out all chewed up, so I figured I’d try here next.” Peter offered, trying to navigate to a web page that didn’t expose his tight-wearing escapades.

“Better than trying to write a paper when Flash is gunning it with the top down.” Liz replied. She had pulled up a few tabs -- one was the Daily Bugle, with a grainy shot of Peter’s mask, bug eyes looking directly back into the camera while he heaved a cop over one shoulder. The others were assorted google tabs and fansites, steeped in black and spider logos.

I have fansites? Sweet!

“Spider-Man paper?” Peter asked. He scratched at his glove idly, and the white glow of his own computer started to fade to screensaver.

“We have to write about a current event for Journo, anything related to the attack. Figured I’d suss out what our neighborhood wallcrawler was up to then.”

“Where are you at on the web head?”

Web head, that’s a new one. Groovy. I figure he’s just trying to help, yknow? He hasn’t done us any worse than Wonder Woman -- but Flash is head over heels with him.”

Flash Thompson. Head over heels. With me. I think I’m gonna faint. Peter felt a twinge of nausea at the base of his stomach.

Flash? Really?”

“Mhm. That guy’s just a big teddy bear. If he’d stop being an asshole for five minutes.”

“How do you put up with him?”

Liz looked at him then. She pushed her hair back and air rushed out of her nostrils. She turned back to her computer.

“I ask myself that one a lot, Parker. Sometimes you just sorta… End up with people. Like that Osborn kid and Mary Jane.”

“Ouch.” Peter scratched at his chest, over his heart.

“But maybe every now and then you need to... What’s that Static guy always saying…? Put a shock in your system?” She didn’t sound convinced.

Peter thought about the feeling of Megawatt’s electricity arcing through him, scorching his veins. He could still taste the metal in his mouth. Like when he and Harry stuck batteries on their tongues. Peter curled his gloved hand into a fist. The fabric felt good against his fingertips.

“Sometimes the shock hurts… But I guess sometimes it has to.”

She smiled for just a second, eye crinkling and then suddenly opening wider than they had before. Like something just clicked. “Maybe it does, Parker. Maybe it does.”

Peter’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He moved to check it.

Incoming Message from: PARKER, BEN

Where are you Peter? Should be getting rest & May says you are not in your room. Work again 2day? XOXO, Ben


Peter grimaced. It was looking like he’d need to spend another few hours at home for the Parker Pity Hour. And if he had to hear ben bitch about Spider-Man’s behavior one more time… Peter steadied himself. He cleared his throat.

“Well this has been, um,” Peter searched for the words, a time certainly, but it looks like I need to bounce.”

“Hey, Peter. Before you go: have you been to any of the football games this year?”

Peter gave a shallow laugh as he stood. “I see Flash rattling people’s brain cases enough on my own time.”

Liz chuckled softly. Peter liked it, he decided. “Mhm. You should come. Sometime.”

Peter fiddled with the strap of his bag.

“Maybe… Maybe I will.”


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...)
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