New York City, NY --- The Daily Bugle Building
The Daily Bugle had never been a paper of particular repute. In Ben’s words they were mostly two-bits, preying upon the stories and hardships of the working person to string together a rag just barely strong enough to get pity purchases. A paper that would never rise out of the shadow of the New York Times, or even The Daily Planet over in Metropolis. There were no Pulitzers out of The Daily Bugle. Yet still, the Bugle’s investors gave it enough strength to have its own building, a blazing pillar of neon red against the black of the night, proclaiming a half-hearted message of ‘freedom of the press’, or something like that. It was a towering monolith to slipshod reporters everywhere, and unfortunately, it was the one place Peter Parker had to be tonight.
He crawled along the brickwork, fingers tracing the inlays and channels of it was he went, trying to make sure he was on the right floor. With his luck, he’d wind up smack-dab in the middle of the security office. He crept up the side, checking each window for signs of a floor number inside as he passed.
”Finally! Half worried I was gonna run out of floors.” Peter mumbled to himself as he stuck his fingers to the plate glass. He could feel it in all its detail through the fabric of the suit, every minute imperfection in the surface of its construction. It felt raw and uneven to the touch, and improperly seated in its housing, by the way it jiggled underneath his fingertips. One push and the window crashed silently into the thickly carpeted editorial office.
Peter flipped off the windowsill and onto one of the plaster pillars supporting the few floors above this one. It was an ocean of cubicles stacked high with keyboards and reams of paper, spilling over with pencils and multicolor sticky notes. There was one light source in the far corner; a corona of blue monitor screens and ancient mounted Tube TVs playing a half dozen twenty four hour news channels. Peter dropped from the pillar and began snaking between labyrinthine cubicles. Editor’s office. A fine place to start.
The office was separated from the rest by a thin wall of wood-framed glass, and all was silent but for the steady din of sleepless newscasters. Can’t turn these off when no one’s here? Save the planet, man. The door was frosted glass announcing the editor of this department, “Jameson, J. Jonah; Local News”. Peter tried the handle and popped the lock as he twisted, forcing the door across the carpet.
“Anyone home? The Spider-Scouts brought thin mints.” Spider-Man said. There was a flash of movement in his retinas and he was on the wall, scuffing the craquelure wallpaper and aiming both hands at the slowly turning swivel chair that sat before a network of interconnected monitors. No Spider-Sense again? Thing really must be bugging out on me…
“I hope you have cash in that kooky costume of yours, those locks aren’t cheap.” The man that turned to face him had salt and pepper hair that stood up like a paintbrush, and thick bushy eyebrows that gave shelter to two eyes that shone like burning coals in their darkness. He had a thick block of a mustache, and one hand on his wireless mouse, with the other on the meanest cigar Peter had even scene, unlit, with its end chewed to hell and back.
“Woah, picklepuss! Why are you here? They won’t let you shave that dead rat off your face without a hundred hours’ overtime?” Peter’s shoulders slumped and grinned beneath his mask. At least he doesn’t keep a gun in that desk. “Spider-Man assaults working stiff.” Great way to get my name out there.
“You’ve got thirty seconds to tell me why I shouldn’t call the police.” The reporter rolled his eyes and turned back to his monitors. He jammed his cigar between his teeth, stabbing at the gel caps of his keyboard. Peter tapped his palm and a glut of webbing stuck Jameson’s hand to his keyboard.
“Christ, the nerve of you to--” Jameson’s response was cut short as another glob nailed his other hand to his desk.
“Shh, Spider-Man talking now.” Peter dropped to the floor and his suit receded across his leg, revealing the battered copy of The Daily Bugle pressed to his thigh. He threw it onto Jameson’s desk. “Old man gets shot and left for dead. Bugle are the only ones to report on it. What do you know?”
”You think I remember every story that passes across my goddamn desk?” Jameson spit the cigar out in a cloud of spittle. It bounced across his desk. Peter shook his head.
“It is your byline, Triple J, and I don’t think you’re at the age for dementia just yet.” Peter dropped to the floor and knelt beside a neglected file cabinet, buckling under the weight of the dozens of folders stacked atop it. Peter sorted through them, tossing them into the trash as he went.
“So? You think I’m gonna help some webhead punk like you that muscles his way into my office?” Jameson grunted. He strained against the webbing, his feet dragged on the cheap carpet as he tried to gain leverage.
“Well, I was just gonna search your office, but why go without your pithy commentary?” Peter said. He turned from the folders and zipped to the ceiling, considering Jameson as he sat upside down. The man’s neck veins bulged as he fought the webbing, struggling with every ounce of his muscle. “The faster you tell me what you’ve got, the sooner you can see your whole paintbrush-head family.”
“Murder rates are up fifty percent this year, and I have more assholes like you flying around this city every goddamn day -- I don’t even know who the hell you are. You expect me to remember how some no name took a bullet?”
Peter’s hand cracked against Jameson’s desk and the corner splintered into a shower of sawdust. “Say that again. One more time.” Peter felt a tickle across the back of his mind, ice brushing his head. Is that…? No. No way.
“I’m not afraid of you. You go viral swinging around for five minutes and suddenly you --” Peter focused as Jameson droned and the sensation grew in his skull, spreading across his senses, at once unifying and dividing them. Hairs prickled on the back of his neck. Spider-Sense. His eyes flashed out the window, scarcely detectable from this height, but Peter saw the pulse of red and blue.
“What did you do?” In an instant Peter was on Jameson’s desk, scattering a hurricane of documents. Jameson howled, rocking back as far as he could in his seat.
“You really thought I didn’t already call the cops? Amateur. NYPD’s shitting themselves over the chance to grab a freak like --” Jameson was silenced with a burst of webs before he could finish and Peter closed his eyes, reaching out with his sense. The tendril fibers of his suit tuned and resonated, searching for a way out. Thump of jackboots up stairwell, safeties being released outside, rustle of equipment behind cubicle walls… Perfect, they already rolled out SWAT.
Peter opened his eyes and saw the PA microphone astride Jameson’s desk. His eyes flitted across the room, back to the file cabinet. “I really hope you don’t need that for anything.”
“Hold position…” Voices crackled over NYPD closed comm channels as SWAT officers tightened their grips on their rifles. Over response for a B&E, sure, but the promise of a bag and tag of a live mutant or meta-freak? The bureaucrats wanted a win, and by God would the NYPD deliver. Armor rustled as the officers shifted, double checking armor and munitions. They were sheltered behind and beneath desks, automatic rifles poking out from cubicles tracked the figure that bobbed and weaved inside the editorial office. Another squad would be up the stairs in moments, and then they could --
Four speakers situated at the corners of The Daily Bugle’s 42nd floor began to thump, in steady time with a drumbeat.
“What the hell is --?” The plate glass of J. Jonah Jameson’s office exploded behind the force of an steel filing cabinet, launched through the glass and exploding into fine metal shrapnel across the pillars strewn about the office.
“Contact! Contact!” Rifles chugged through their magazines as a black and white specter emerged from the shadows of Jameson’s office, swinging through the air on white strands of webbing. Spider-Man landed like a bomb, sending chipboard particles flying in the air as he grabbed an NYPD officer by the collar, hauling him up and webbing him to the ceiling.
The unit was already in chaos between themselves, diving between cubicles and ducking under each other’s gunfire. Peter pulled a monitor off of its housing and flung it like a frisbee, it exploded across the chest of the nearest officer and he was gone again in the shadows, barely revealed by orange bursts of gunfire.
“Guys, I swear this song was supposed to be White Wedding! I promise!” Peter’s voice was almost lost to the report of the gunfire and the thump of the beat, bullets trying to find him amid the office space and whizzing off into random directions.
“Where is he?” A stapler detonated into a million pieces against a riot helmet and another officer fell, slumped against a pillar.
“I can’t see shit!” Peter was a tornado through the newsroom, slinging tight packages of OfficeMax goods and laying high tensile weblines, clotheslining cops as they ran in the madness.
“Hold this.” Peter launched an officer from the skyscraper with a shove, the man dropped three stories before catching on a hair thin strand of webbing, but Peter was already gone, webbing another SWAT officers hands together and bowling over another pair with his body.
“Hey! Backup is cheating!” A steel door flung upon as more officers piled into the destroyed office, trampling over paperwork and the dropped forms of their friends as they hit cover and thumbed their safeties. Peter flicked his wrists and the stairwell slammed shut with a gout of webs, smashing back a half squadron of SWAT goons.
Peter was in the air again, webbing cops to printers and walls as he ducked and dived through the gunfire, weaving between the bullets as if they weren’t there at all.
“I’d love to stay boys, but I’ve gotta run. Early Spider catches the worm!” Peter slid beneath a cubicle and pounced up and over one of the last officers, thrusting into a front flip off of his shoulders and through the plate glass of the Bugle’s window, into the cool New York air.
The bursts of shots died in the background as Peter swang, webline to webline, faster and faster, further and further.
No leads? Check.
Hatred of the news? Check.
Property damage? Check.
Assaulting the cops? Check.
This superhero thing is working out great…