New York City, NY --- Manhattan
“When the truth is found / To be lies / And all the joy / Within you dies…”
Peter’s Spider-Sense didn’t feel the same as he launched himself from the Queens-Midtown tunnel. There was no stabbing behind his eyes, no irresistible pull on all of his senses. It was a film over his perception, a creeping sense and a chill over his body. It felt like seeing Ben in the hospital, no pain, just dread in every fiber of him. “Don’t you want somebody to love? Don’t you need somebody to love?”
His headphones bumped in his ears as he swang, yanking himself through the air and banking turns around the sheer faces of buildings. By now the bugs had breached Midtown and swelled into Grand Central like a typhoon, sweeping tourists into the sickness. Already the violence had leaped into the streets of Murray Hill, cracks and snaps and snarling screams erupted from the streets below. Lines of smoke were smeared into the sky, like a decidedly macabre Bob Ross painting.“Wouldn’t you love somebody to love? You better find somebody to love, love…”
Peter fell lower from his swing and slammed into the side of a building, running down the surface of it and making shrill squeaks across the glass. He shoved off from it and hit the pavement at a sprint. This street was clear, but the buildings around him framed the picture of 5th Avenue’s chaos.
A horde of tourists and locals clashed in the road in a flurry of fists and feet and teeth. It sounded like a butcher shop, knuckles crashing into the soft tissue, and the stench of blood hung in the air like a thick fog bleeding off into the side alleys. One man dragged another behind him by what was left of his hairline, holding a cracked baseball bat in the other hand. The man in his grip gnashed his teeth and thrashed, broken legs splayed underneath him spasticity. Peter thought he saw ragged bone moving underneath the folds of his flesh, making tears and scarring the muscle inside. The first man dropped the second and brought his bat over his head, readying for a final grand slam.
A globule of webbing tagged the bat and it shot from the guy’s hand and bounced across the concrete. The sound echoed through the alley and his head snapped forward, looking for the unseen assailant.“There's your problem, you gotta choke up more on the bat!”
Spider-Man bounded forward and launched a packet of webbing into the man’s chest. He took it with a grunt and charged forward like a deranged animal, forgetting about his former target. His whole body twisted and spun as he ran, slobbering for a shot at Peter.
Peter aimed low and tapped his palms without missing a beat. Webbing stuck fast around the civilian's right leg and he dropped forward like a sack of bricks, his nose made a sickening crunch against the pavement. Peter sidestepped the man and glued his torso to the ground with a blob of webs in the same motion.
The man with broken legs was still coming, dragging his weight across the pavement with his bare hands. His fingertips were bloody and raw from the effort but he kept coming anyway, making swipes at the black leg of Peter’s costume as he drew close.“Take five, man... and buy some leg braces.”
Peter fired a web across his back to fasten the man to the ground and then threw himself out into the main body of the brawl, which had already begun to twist into the alley.
Peter was a whirling dervish through the crowd. He pulled one man into another and webbed them together before using them to push over a behemoth of a man who had squeezed his bulging muscles into a ‘I LOVE NY’ tank top that was a size too small and stained with blood. Webs came out in sheets from his wrists, plastering people to each other and into the ground, tying up their limbs so they could do nothing but gnash their teeth.“If you’d all form an orderly line, please!”
Peter absorbed a shoulder check from a pasty office clerk and hurled the man over his shoulder, knocking over another row of combatants like bowling pins. He lashed out with his fist and felt something break against it, when he felt a buzz against his leg that probably wasn’t the ankle biting toddler trying to pull out his tibia.
“Incoming call from EYE-EMOTICON EYE-EMOTICON.
” A robotic voice dinned in his ear. He picked the toddler up by the scruff of his neck and launched him across the street.“Accept!”
Peter yelled into the mic on his headphones. He webbed a net for the toddler on the other side of the road as the little boy came screaming down from the sky.“This is TGI Spidey’s, may I take your order?”
It was as much a response to Scott as it was a call to the legions of drooling tourists around him, screaming for his blood.
“We’re almost at Central Park, how you holding up?” Static crackled in the other teen hero’s response while Peter felt a collarbone give way under his kick. The crowd was thinning now, mostly tourists and big guys that survived the initial melee.“I’m -- Hey! We’re not holding a kegger down here!”
Peter danced backward as a muscled arm lanced from the crowd, slinging a forty of vodka like a club. A web pulled the drink from the man’s hand and the glass exploded across the ground. Instantly Peter was on top of him, slamming a knee into his solar plexus.“Sorry, sorry. I’m near Murray Hill, seeing what’s to see from the Empire State. There’s a lot of party guests out here,”
Peter fired a web from either hand, hitting on gaudy superhero logos emblazoned on two people’s shirts, “I don’t think I brought enough *hng* goodie bags for everyone.”
Peter tugged on the lines and they collapsed onto the concrete.
“Alright, we’ll swing down that way to help you out! Just hold on, we’ll be there in fifteen, alright?”Swinging’s my thing, Polyphemus.
Peter shoved one of the last combatants to the ground and pinned her there with a web. The street was mostly deserted now, by Peter’s measure -- but there’d be more, soon. If there weren’t any left to stream out of Grand Central, Penn Station was just around the corner.“Meet you by Herald Square. Til’ then I got a date with the tourist patrol.”
The suit squeezed around Peter’s torso and pressed the ‘end call’ button on his headphones, and the song began its din in his ears once more.“When the garden flowers / Baby, are dead, yes…”
Peter jumped into the sky and web poured from his hands and twisted itself into a line. He swung forward and shifted his grip on the line, releasing, and he landed against glass and concrete launching off and upwards into the sky. The Empire State Building. He started the crawl up the side of it and settled into a run, dashing across long panes of glass and steady stretches of rebar and concrete supporting the building’s height.
The city expanded before him as he climbed. The block gave way to the neighborhood and then to the borough at large, a concrete jungle of architecture and art spanning out to beyond the horizon. It was form and function and style married in a mish-mash of decades and styles nestled together on one isle, one city, one voice. One New York. And it was on fire.
Pillars of smoke stood out from the skyline like the black towers spreading mechanical bugs through every major roadway. From this height, the people were ants, dueling on the rooftops and having mass warfare in the streets. Blue and red police lights were drowned in flashes of gunfire and explosions blossoming from every corner. Peter slipped and stumbled ahead on the face of the glass. He looked down and righted himself, but when he looked back -- What? That wasn’t there before.
It was some kind of aircraft, ugly and bulbous and blue, with spindly legs hanging off of it from either side. It looked a little like the spider symbol on his back, but blown up to incredible proportions. Engines hummed steadily beneath its chassis. Giant yellow eyes stared into the city beyond, undoubtedly hiding whoever was inside the cockpit.
Peter attached a webline to the Empire State and flipped backwards, rocketing down twenty feet in the blink of an eye. The ship disappeared as fast as it had come into his vision, as if it was simply plucked out of reality.What? That can’t be right…
He stared at the spot for a moment, looking for some kind of shimmer in the light, a failure to maintain the illusion. Peter frowned and ran back upwards, as the bug once again came into view.Ah, bottom facing stealth plating. That’s some kinda advanced…
Peter coiled the muscles in his body and leaped off from the building, making a lump for the aircraft. He fell in the open air as the craft went invisible again and he fired upwards. The line connected with something that wasn’t there and he brought himself around with his momentum, landing on top of it. The metal gave a dull clang as he landed. Shit, that’s some kind of armor.
He rapped his knuckles on the top.“I really hope you’re on my team, dude.”
Peter searched for any divots in the plating, signs of an entry hatch. “If not, you’d better leave the keys in the ignition for me.”