Thursday, July 05, 2012

Transformers #7 - Long Road Home

Transformers #7

Co-written by Wes A and Karl V.

"Long road home"

"Burn, blasphemous machine, BURN!!!"

Another blast of hellfire hit Trailbreaker. He got his arm up to block the blast, but it still caused minor damage. Riding on his fire demon, Demogoblin flew in for another pass at the Autobot. Although the fight hadn't lasted very long, Trailbreaker's patience was wearing thin. He had a mission to get back to, and the fight wasn't helping.

"I don't know what your problem is little fellow, but I'm not going to let you hurt these innocent people." said Trailbreaker determinedly.

Down below, the Special Forces unit known as Code Blue was busy clearing the New York Street.

"All right people, get back! You don't want to get involved in this!" barked Code Blue's leader Captain Stone.

Trailbreaker was passing through when Demogoblin began a 'purging of sinners'. The Autobot may not originate from Earth, but he would not allow innocent people to be killed for one maniac's pleasure.

"You stink of a foul breed, machine. For that, you will burn." Demogoblin threw two pumpkin bombs at Trailbreaker, hitting him in the center of his chest. Trailbreaker staggered for a moment but didn't go down. Trailbreaker fired a laser blast from the gun barrel mounted on his right shoulder. He struck Demogoblin dead-on. The creature was knocked off his fire demon and down to the concrete street below. Demogoblin lay motionless for a moment, then staggered to his feet again. Trailbreaker was surprised that the creature could get up after a blast like that. Drunkenly, Demogoblin took a few steps toward Trailbreaker.

"I will......destroy...y-yyooooo-" With a thud, Demogoblin fell forward and hit the pavement face first. He was knocked out cold. Trailbreaker waited a moment to be sure that his opponent was down for good. He shook his head.

"What an odd little thing." he muttered. Trailbreaker heard sirens approaching. Several vehicles stopped a few feet away from the fallen Demogoblin. Half a dozen Vault guardsmen hopped out of a large storage vehicle. The armored men put some sort of metal restraining devices on the creature's arms. Stone and several of his people helped the Vault guardsmen gather Demogoblin.

"Put him inside. We'll let the eggheads back at the Vault deal with what he is." said Stone.

As the others put Demogoblin in a containment unit, Stone turned to Trailbreaker. He looked over the giant robot for a minute. Trailbreaker merely stood there with an unreadable expression.

"I guess we owe you our thanks for stopping that.....whatever he is." said Stone.

"No thanks are needed, just glad I was able to help." said Trailbreaker cheerily.

Although he tried to hide it, Stone had a confused look on his face. He had never seen a robot that smiled, or had a sunny attitude for that matter.

"Well, if that's all, I'll be on my way now." said Trailbreaker.

The large grey and white robot transformed into his camper van form and drove off. That left the confused Stone shaking his head.

"This town gets stranger every day." he muttered.

Trailbreaker had driven for about an hour out of town. He was approaching a wooded area outside of the New York area. He stopped in a clearing where a small red car and a small purple semi were parked.

"You're late, Trailbreaker." said the red car.

"Sorry Cliffjumper, I couldn't help it. I got sidetracked."

At once, all three vehicles transformed into Autobots. The car transformed into a red and grey Autobot that went up to Trailbreaker's chest. The purple and orange semi transformed into an Autobot that was a little shorter than the red and grey colored one.

"You didn't find any sign of the Matrix did ya?" asked the purple and grey Autobot hopefully.

"No Huffer, I didn't." said Trailbreaker with a sigh, "How about the two of you?"

"Nope, not a trace." said Cliffjumper.

"We combed the western part of this continent with no luck. We even ran a few scans into the ocean that borders the western coast area, but we didn't pick up on anything." said Huffer sadly.

"We've been out of communication range for a while, has anyone else found anything?" Cliffjumper asked Trailbreaker.

"I met up with Sideswipe a few days ago, he hasn't found anything yet. Brawn had a lead on Frenzy, but he lost it. As far as I know, nobody has found anything else."

Cliffjumper grunted with amusement. "Yeah, count on Brawn's stubbornness to lose something important."

Huffer couldn't help but smile. Brawn was so headstrong that he'd probably deny losing Frenzy for as long as he functioned. Trailbreaker filled Cliffjumper and Huffer in on the encounter Optimus and Ironhide had with the X-Men*(*see X-Men: MUTF #4-5).

"There are humans with THAT kind of power?" asked Huffer in shock.

"Uh-huh. And from what I've gathered, there are many of them on this planet. Some use their powers to help others, some use it for their own personal gain."

"Great, like Decepticons aren't enough trouble." muttered Cliffjumper.

After a few more swaps of reports, the three Autobots transformed and began their journey back to the Ark. They were driving for about half an hour when they got to some hilly area. Above their location, two jets were flying above. They looked like air force fighter jets, except they had Decepticon insignias on their wings.

"I'm don't see why we get all the slag assignments." complained the blue jet.

"As much as we don't like it, it's gotta be done. Soundwave said we need to find energy sources so we can make energon cubes. And until Megatron gets back, we don't make any big moves. You know that, Dirge." replied the crimson colored jet.

"I don't care Thrust, I'm sick of waiting around for Megatron to get his skidplate back to Nemesis. We should have been on our way to conquering this planet by now. But all we've done is--Wait a cycle! You picking up anything on your scanner?" asked Dirge intently.

Thrust did a short-range scan. He was surprised at what he found. "Autobots! Three of them, not very far from our course."

"That's right." said Dirge with haunting amusement in his voice. "Let's scrap 'em."

"But our orders sai-"

"To the pit with the orders! If we bring back the heads of three Autobots, we'll be in Megatron's favor. Beside, it's not like these three are Optimus Prime. How difficult could they be to defeat?"

Thrust considered the options for a moment. As much as he might have disliked it, Dirge actually made some sense. Besides, he was Decepticon, he was created for combat.

"I get dibs on the red one." said Thrust as he streaked toward the Autobots.

With a shout of excitement Dirge followed suite, and the two jets primed their weapons for combat.

"Hey guys, I think we have company!" alarmed Huffer.

The two jets streaked down at the Autobots, their weapons blazing. Gunfire erupted all around their location, a few striking the three vehicles.

"Decepticons! Quick, scatter!" ordered Trailbreaker.

The three Autobots all broke off in separate directions, hoping to draw the attackers away from each other. Thrust went after Cliffjumper while Dirge locked in on Trailbreaker. Dirge scored a minor hit to Trailbreaker's side.

Trailbreaker cursed his slowness. "If only I was built for speed." he muttered.

The large Autobot transformed into his robot form. He used his shoulder-mounted gun to lock in on the Decepticon Seeker and fired several shots. Dirge evaded the first two shots but was hit on the wing with the third. Dirge began to waver in mid-air.

"Slag! Guess I'll do this the old fashioned way."

Dirge flew down to ground and transformed. The Seeker aimed his arm-gun at Trailbreaker and fired off numerous shots.

"Die you piece of Autotrash!"

Trailbreaker's tough armor took most of the punishment, only leaving a few marks on his surface. Dirge was surprised at the lack of damage his blasts just did. This gave Trailbreaker enough time to open fire with his shoulder cannon. With one direct hit, the Seeker was thrown off balance and hit the ground hard.

"Not so cocky now, eh Decepticon?"

Trailbreaker kept his gun locked onto Dirge. But after a few minutes the Decepticon hadn't made a move. Cautiously, Trailbreaker walked over toward the unmoving body. Trailbreaker was just an arm's length away from Dirge.

"I don't care if you're damaged, get up." he said.

In a sudden blur, Dirge's left leg swept out and knocked Trailbreaker to the ground. Trailbreaker fired his gun but the blast struck nothing but air. Within a split-second, Dirge leapt on top of the large Autobot and began to viciously punch him in the faceplate.

"Is this better for you?" said Dirge with a cold smile.

As Dirge and Trailbreaker were struggling, Thrust continued to take shots at Cliffjumper. The small Autobot managed to evade the shots, but they were getting too close for comfort.

"Come on down here and fight me Decepticreep!" barked Cliffjumper.

"Unlike my partner, I prefer to avoid the 'hands on' method."

This time Thrust shot two blasts. Cliffjumper avoided one, but was struck in the side by the other. Cliffjumper was turned over on his side. Knowing he couldn't roll himself over in vehicle mode, he transformed. Cliffjumper saw that his side had moderate damage. No sooner had he got the idea to run, he saw Thrust standing before him with his gun barrel directly aimed at his

face. Unlike Trailbreaker, Thrust knew to say a good distance away.

"If you're gonna finish me, then do it. Don't talk my audio receivers off." growled Cliffjumper.

"I will," said Thrust nonchalantly, "I just wanted to savor this for a moment."

Thrust was about to fire when a purple, grey, and orange object flew through the air and knocked him to the ground. Huffer landed on top of the Decepticon Seeker and smashed his fist into the side of his head. Thrust knocked Huffer off of him.

"Slagging Autobot! You'll never leave this planet alive!"

Cliffjumper used this opportunity to whip out his gun and fire on Thrust. The crimson colored Seeker took several hits to the chest. Without taking any particular aim, Thrust shot off random blasts. The fierce barrage caused Cliffjumper and Huffer to seek cover in the nearby woods. Thrust knew that he took some good hits and wouldn't last long against two Autobots. He

turned to his right and saw Trailbreaker knocking Dirge off of him. The large Autobot was about to open fire on Dirge, but Thrust got a few shots in to knock Trailbreaker.

"Dirge, let's go!" he barked.

Dirge looked at Thrust as if he was spouting gibberish.

"But we can destroy them. I know we-"

"I said NOW!!" thundered Thrust.

Thrust transformed into his jet mode, as did a hesitant Dirge. Within seconds, the two Decepticon warriors were out of range. Down on the ground, the Autobots were assessing their own damage.

"You guys alright?" asked Huffer.

"Just a few scratches. Nothing a little bodywork can't fix." said Trailbreaker with a grin.

"I'll be fine." said Cliffjumper, who was covering his damaged side.

Trailbreaker nodded. "All right then, let's get back to the Ark. Prowl's probably expecting us."

With that, the three Autobots transformed into their vehicles and headed out. Unknown to them, a figure was watching from the woods. If it was possible for a cyborg, it would have smiled.

"Same old Autobots, even if in different world, yes?" it said to itself.

Thrust and Dirge touched down in the Nemesis's landing bay. It was not quiet trip between the two.

"I could've handled that clumsy oaf myself!" snapped Dirge, "Just because you're too slagging scared to handle two measly little-"

"Oh shut up! We were in a tight situation and you know it." said Thrust,

"Remember the last time you could've 'handled yourself' with an Autobot twice your size? Shockwave's repair droids spent nearly a week reattaching your arms."

Dirge gave his partner a dirty look as the landing bay door slid open. In the dark entryway was the form of Megatron's trusted lieutenant, Soundwave. Thrust was the first to address him.

"Soundwave, there you are. We had a run-in with a few Autobots and need repairs."

Soundwave merely stood in the doorway mutely.

"Hey, Soundwave! Are you here or in deep space?" snapped Dirge.

"Sorry fellers, the big guy ain't exactly in a sociable mood. Maybe ol' Mad Dog can help ya out?"

Dirge and Thrust turned around to see where the voice was coming from. Dirge's mouth dropped and Thrust's eyes widened.

"Frenzy?! Is that yo-"

In an instant, the two Decepticons were knocked offline. After another minute, their bodies' surfaces began to move like they had a life of their own.

Blaster was at a loss for any vocalization. The Lost Cybertronian just volunteered to retrieve the Cybertronium for the Decepticons. Surely, this was not his best day since arriving on the planet Earth through the Space Bridge. His friends had managed to escape the entire Decepticon population on Cybertron only to land smack in the middle of the Earth’s full compliment of the Autobot’s adversaries. The Decepticons agreed to not imprison the Autobots while the Lost Cybertronian retrieved the much-needed Cybertronium to revive the Decepticons to full operating capacity. Then, Blaster thought, The Lost Cybertronian will get a rude awakening to the truth about the war he has missed while in stasis on the planet Earth.

"I appreciate your assistance with our current predicament. I realize that I may not be an optimal performer when it comes to scenarios such as this. But, I would like to have you as second in command of my leadership function. At least, until we arrive at our original intended destination." The tall red robot with an apparent cannon mounted on his shoulder stated with a smile.

"It’s cool. But, we can’t back out of our end of the deal. And, maybe we should call him by his name."

Perceptor nodded. "Yes. Unfortunately, his nomenclature has two distinct variations in the human English language. The literal translation of his nom de plume is jet that lights the sky with fire."

"Well, you know this whole discussion could be pointless. He may want to be called by his Cybertronian name. All though, the humans can't really pronounce it correctly."

Perceptor allowed a slight smile, then decided to turn the topic of discussion. "Indeed, what do you propose we do when he arrives?"

"Well, I'd still say our primary objective is escaping. And, we'll have to see how much of a chance we have left to do so when he comes back."

As if by cue, a loud thunderous boom was heard overhead. Pereptor and Blaster gave an all knowning glance. But, the look was instantly replaced with one of perplexion. The Lost Cybertronian was rather early for retrieving a full shipment of Cybertronium.

"Perhaps our scanners are malfunctioning." Perceptor noted with pessimism.

Blaster shook his head. "No, he's carrying a light load. What that means is anyone guess."

The Lost Cybertronian transformed and carried the precious material in his hands. Blaster and Perceptor it was just enough for a few of the Decepticons to be fully functional.

"Do not worry. I do not intend for any harm to come to anyone here. But, I will not allow myself to go blindly into a situation in which I am not familiar. I will let them heal those that can transport the material they need, and I shall transport you to where ever you need to go. I doubt they will argue with me."

"Well, that settles that." Blaster sighed with a bit of relief. "Now, we just need to disable all the internal thermite bombs the Deceps put in us."

"After The Lost Cybertronian has delivered us to a desolate area, then I can proceed with the operations. Then, we can report to Optimus Prime. Let us make haste and inform the others."

"" Shockwave attempted to state in between various system glitches and circuits frying from the loss of Cybertronium.

"All though I stated that I would help you, I did not state the manner in which I would do so. I scanned the robots you so blantantly called the "enemy". They have internal thermite bombs hence my apparent hasty decision to appear to join your side. These very same bombs are in one of your armories I scanned from the air as I left your base. Truth be known, I have no idea who really started this war. However, it is obvious that you are now the aggressor. All though I fear the repurcussions, I will not allow any sentient being to die slowly in such a manner. I have just enough materials to heal a few of your soldiers. And, I shall deliver the others to a safe place of their desire."

The Lost Cybertronian dropped the materials in front of the large purple monocle eyed robot . He departed in the direction of the Autobots so they could leave before they had a fully functional Decepticon army leaping upon them. Shockwave knew he would not have the opportunity to destroy the Autobots. However, he knew it was also of no consequence. He grabbed the Cybertronium and proceeded to make internal system repairs. As he did so, he noticed a host of other Decepticons all waiting around him. They had a gold and black material swarming around them. He scanned the material and noted it was a sentient techno-organic virus.

"Though the others escape, you shall not." One stated.

"It is logical that you are not immune to the Cybertronium that I have reintroduced into my systems. It is also logical that you can not infect me to gain control of my primary functions."

"Who said that we were going to follow logic." Another menacingly raised his gun to Shockwave's head.

Shockwave quickly processed a means to escape his dilemma.

Spider-Man #2 - A Boatload of Consequences Pt 1 of 2

Spider-Man #2

Original Plot by Aldalin

"A Boatload of Consequences" Pt 1 of 2

Through the starry night, a lone black spider spun his web to avoid the eagle eye of his enemy. As he continued to swing deeper into the great abyss and heightening his chance of no return every foot he went into their lair. For upon seeing his intrusion, the vigilant green soldiers would lash out at their prey without hesitation. Then, with wide eyes he caught a glance of a huge structure protruding from the volcano. A determined rush flowed through him, like a child's first visit to a toy store; he wanted to find what great new sights waited inside. He neared closer as the ringing in his head warned him of the infrared sensors, roving patrols, and security cameras. As he took the final leap, he muttered an altered version of famous words. One small step for mankind, one big leap for Spider-Man. He entered through one of the main engine vents, and was at a loss for words. He had to fight the urge to search every nook and cranny; a veritable smorgasbord of new trinkets and gadgets lay in wait for his scientific curiosity. The huge scale of the ship made him truly feel as though he was the eight-legged visitor interrupting the giant's night. He sighed in both frustration and relaxation, in frustration those that piloted this mighty ship were not present, in relaxation for the fact he would not be squashed like a minor nuisance beneath the great giant's feet. He stopped for a moment at one spot in the giant craft; he hung upside down for a brief moment. An odd feeling rolled through him like a Mac truck, it was one of déjà vu. He didn't know why it clouded his mind, along with the sensation that something was missing. Then, another sensation overwhelmed him, and he flipped a few times to put some distance between him and possibly a new enemy.

"Well, you are not Brock, so you must be Parker."

Spider-Man turned to see a rather thin white cybernetic costumed man greet him.

"Excuse me?" He tried to act as though he didn't recognize his own name.

"Well, even though our symbiotes are his other's great ancestors, they can still communicate with one and another. Surprising that the same language is kept for over four million years."

Spider-Man sighed, as he had to deal with yet another symbiotic nut. "Brock is always trying to ruin my reputation. He always linked me to that idiot photographer."

The new symbiote smiled. "Very well. I believe the mandatory introductions are in order. Let's just skip the cliché hero villain brawl shall we? I'm pretty sure you have questions and I have the answers."

Although he was at a loss for words, Spider-Man's curiosity overwhelmed him. "Fine, what's the cost?"

"It's all off the record." He replied with a bit of sarcasm. "In this guise, I refer to myself as Archeville, Dr. Archeville."

"I get it.... like an arch villain." Spider-Man prepared himself for a double cross.

"Well, to those who only wish to interfere with my plans. You do not fall into that category yet." He smiled as he added emphasis to the last word.

Spider-Man made a quick hypothesis. "So, which designate are you? One, two, three, or four."

"I'm number three if you must know. My brother is the second, and as you know Brock was the fifth."

"Brother? I don't suppose either of you want to eat my brains." Spider-Man pointed to his head.

Archeville softly chuckled. "Many of the symbiote's weaknesses have been remedied. The requirement for a certain chemical and complete symbiotic bonding is resolved with one little creature."

Spider-Man watched as part of the costume extended and revealed a small slug-like creature.

"Yuck, I guess it's better to carry that thing around then wanting to eat brains all of the time."

Archeville snickered once more. "Or to have rotting teeth from eating too much chocolate."

"I don't get it. Why are you doing all of this?" Spider-Man asked to see if any signs of a double cross were present.

"Well, let's just say I know that we share the same distinct scientific curiosities. This is what brought me here, to the Ark." The symbiote descended down, as Spider-Man had no choice but to follow.


"A rather droll but obvious reference. It housed two factions of aliens; each one brandished an insignia upon them, much like a tattoo. Most likely, the first person who happened upon this place thought of the biblical reference, and well the rest is history."

"I see, two kinds of each creature...something like that. I don't suppose you're going to tell me what they were?"
"Precisely. And, I think you will find out what they are soon enough." Archeville quickly glanced from side to side.

"What is it?" Spider-Man wondered if his Spider-Sense was off kilter.

"I'm making sure my brother is not here. He would not enjoy your visit, if you catch my meaning." Archeville continued to walk as Spider-Man followed.

"And your brother is?" Spider-Man anxiously awaited a name.

"Well, since Apocalypse was taken by an ancient Egyptian mutant, my brother decided to use an equivalent word from the German language, Gotterdamerung. He loves to think himself as the absolute end to anyone who dared breach National Security. Rather trite but effective."

Spider-Man took a hopeful guess. "He really must be one of those blind patriotic soldier types."

"Brock managed to tell you a lot before you came. Either that, or I just fell for a setup on who he might be." Archeville smirked.

"The latter." Spider-Man admitted with gall.

"I suppose you are wondering why I appear metallic in nature, and not like a cloth costume?" Archeville changed his look to one like Spider-Man's. The appearance almost looked like a white version of Carnage.

" can change back. I like the Cybersymbiote look." Spider-Man tried to hide his uneasy feeling.

"Brock complained that I looked too much like Cletus as well. But, I didn't want my brother's knight in shining armor routine either. I guess it's better for the lesser of two evils." Archeville seemed to rearrange back into his armored appearance.

"Whoa, that's quite the change. I guess your brother is into the medieval thing."

Archeville shrugged. "Something like that, yes."

"So what is it that you want from me?" Spider-Man was getting impatient.

Archeville sighed. "To keep doing what you have been doing. You see once all of this finally gets out, then I can have my old job of back-engineering the alien's technology. That's why they dubbed it Xenotech. I've heard you already bumped into our little robot friends."

Spider-Man nodded with contempt. "Yeah, I'm really beginning to get annoyed by anything mechanical."

Archeville barely held in an outburst of laughter. "Just wait and see what's next. You're going to love it. My little Xenotech Sentinels pale in comparison for what is to come."

"Look, you've got the mad scientist routine down. Just tell me what you want so I can go." Spider-Man was being wary of any double cross.

"Oh, all right. I was the one that helped Brock with his plan. I used him as a scapegoat to get information released. There, happy?"

Spider-Man glared at the conniving symbiote. "Peachy. I guess I'm the extra incentive."

"Yes, I didn't plan on Jonah assigning you, but I am happy. My brother has had some dealings with reporters and photographers that weren't quite as nice."

Spider-Man tried to make sense of his rambling. "Look, I just came here to confirm this was real not some elaborate setup or hoax by someone like Mysterio. I've done that. Now it's time for me to leave."

Archeville watched Spider-Man start to depart from the ship. "How's Mary Jane's life insurance policy?"

Spider-Man stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face Archeville. "WHAT?"

"I've got your attention now, good. I must admit that I pulled the strings to get someone else a little bit brighter than Brock. And that person is you."

Spider-Man clenched his fists. "I've had someone already pull my strings once, I won't let it happen again."
"Oh yes, the whole Goblin-Clone debacle. My best friend's father is my worst enemy that made me think I was a clone. It sounds like a teenager's conversation after she watches Jerry Springer and the Discovery channel." Archeville explained with an uncaring attitude.

Spider-Man attempted to contain to growing rage from within. "How do you know so much?"

"Very good, it takes a strong man to ask me that instead of the pitiful remark of 'You wouldn't know how I felt unless you experienced it.'"

"You're right. My patience is wearing very thin. Now, answer my question." Spider-Man stepped closer as his voice grew as cold as dry ice.

"Come on. They've kept a secret about a ship sticking out from a volcano for over fifty years and you ask how they know so much? I guess at this point of time you expect me to not answer and whip out a cigarette and light it." Archeville knocked on Spider-Man's head with a fist.

Spider-Man gripped Archeville's arm tightly. "I don't care what happens to you, but I do have a responsibility to those who might get hurt besides Brock. I need to know if there is anyone else in immediate danger."

"There is only one other little woman who got away. A former prospective co-worker of mine, her name is Josie Beller. She was freed when Venom decided to jump ship. But no need to worry. She has company of the super heroic kind. Although, they are relatively new, pardon all the puns."

Spider-Man released his grip. "You are completely demented. If Mary Jane or this Josie Beller get hurt, I'm coming back to find you. And, I will find out what was in this ship without releasing any information. I'm no longer a party to anyone's twisted little games. Find another little puppet."

Archeville sarcastically applauded. "Nice speech and without the little index cards to help you."

"I'll be sure to send you a copy. Now, if you don't mind I'll be swinging out of here." Spider-Man departed from the Ark as Archeville smiled.

"Oh, you'll have no choice in the matter I'm afraid. Watch the Second step, it's a doozy." Archeville slipped into shadows of the great empty space ship.

Late the next afternoon....

Peter placed his telescopic lens on the camera and took a shot of an armed guard right next to sign that designated the base. He quickly put the camera back in the bag as his spider-sense warned him of an approaching white truck with two guards in it. He quickly darted out of sight as the truck passed by him. He left for his return flight home, anxious to feel the warmth of his wife once more. He sat silently in hopes that his spider-sense would not warn him of any followers, who would make Archeville's threat a true one. He slipped in unnoticed into his house as he developed the pictures with a somber attitude of one whom has just attended the funeral of a friend. He popped his head in the window to see Mary Jane talking to someone, but Parker felt Brock couldn't have recovered that quickly, even with his bond to the symbiote. Mary Jane must have called in some help after all as he recommended. Peter stared in awe at the man sitting in a chair across the room, Captain America. Parker shook his head for a moment to make sure what he had just experienced wasn't causing hallucinations. Parker would have to wait to find out the answer to his obvious question later. As it was getting rather late, he grabbed the finished photo and departed for the Bugle.

Peter walked in the door as he spied a solitary light emanating from Jonah's office.

"Count on old pickle puss to always work late. I'm glad no one else is here to see this." Parker commented beneath his breath.

He knocked on the door as a booming voice replied.

"Who is it?" The editor's exclamation almost rattled the windowpane on his office door.

Peter wondered whether or not to answer. "It's me sir. I have something for you."

"Come on in boy, I've been waiting for this."

Peter was greeted with a smoke filled room and the boss with a lit stogie in his chair.

"I'm glad you made it back in one piece. What do you have?" Mr. Jameson stood up and placed his arms on his desk as he lurched forward.

Peter began to hand over the picture as his Spider-Sense started to go berserk.

What the heck is going on? Peter looked around to see if he could spot anything wrong.

"Something wrong Parker?" Jonah's facial expression grew darker.

Peter shook as he handed over the picture, his Spider-Sense wailing away at him as he did. "No, I almost got caught back there, I guess I'm a little nervous about being followed."

I just hope Mary Jane is okay. I need to get out of here and find out what is causing this!

"Oh, it's not the military you should be worried about Parker." Jonah grabbed another picture from the desk.

Peter's Spider-Sense flailed one last time, then came to a dead stop as Jonah handed him the picture. It was a picture of him taking off his mask.

Peter's instinct of protecting his identity kicked in. "Oh, Brock has always hated my guts. This is a farce."

Jonah stoically stood still. "Nice try, but this one wasn't by Parker. I checked the type of paper used to develop it. It's one assigned for military use. It came along with the envelope of the picture of that ship in the volcano."

Parker shook his head. "Brock obviously worked for the government, or a branch of it. He must have gotten one of my pictures of Spider-Man and altered it."

Jonah grunted with contempt. "You think I am that ignorant. You want to know the truth on why I treated you so roughly. Because I always thought you had the web-slinging idiot on the take. Some of the angles of your shots couldn't be possible without his help. I got my title of Editor for a reason boy. The matter of the fact that Brock would go to great lengths to get something newsworthy and not want credit for it is beyond my comprehension. That's why I sent you Parker. You have just proven to me that one photo is real, why should I believe the other one is not?"

"Look, I admit I do have Spider-Man grab a few shots for me, but he charges way too much."

Oh good one Parker, think of another brilliant one.

Jonah shook his head. "Did I mention about one third of your shots are at those particular angles? It's over son. I know who and what you are. Spider-Man, a masked menace to society."

Please, don't let this be happening! Not now! OH GOD I BETTER RES...

Jonah continued. "Your silence confirms that fact."

Parker bowed his head in submission. "Fine, it's true. You're right. I'm Spider-Man. Make it the front page if you want."

Jonah grew a bit irate. "What I am about to say, will surprise me more than it will you. Right now, my job is the Editor. Part of that job is to prioritize the news. I can't let personal feelings get in the way. In weird sense of irony, you saved yourself from being revealed by getting this picture. You see, no one would care about the Identity of Spider-Man. Everyone cares about what has been happening, with all these mechanical constructs and armored soldiers running around. Everyone has the right to know it's coming from one source, the military base at that volcano."

Parker was still at a loss for words, even though a river of relief flowed through him.

Jonah took a glance at Parker's picture. "The point is this Sector 17 will sell more than revealing your sorry face to the entire world."

Parker managed only two words from his mouth. "My job?"

"This is the surprising part. Simple blackmail. I keep the truth locked up about you and you will get the exclusive shots I need to reveal this thing piece by piece. And, one more thing. Do you have those gadgets you spin those webs with?"

Peter nervously nodded. ""

"Good. Get them for me, now." Jonah barked as Parker quickly fetched a pair from his desk.

He came back and gave them to Jonah. "Why do you want these?"

Jonah pulled out his chair. "What do you think? Sit."

Oh no....not this...please spare me this...

"Now, how do these confounded things work? And don't mess with me or I'll make your life even more miserable.

Parker showed Johan which way to point the spinners. "That way and press here to release a cord."

Jonah shot the webbing with beginner's luck and tied Parker up. He then proceeded to kick the chair as it rolled across the floor. The chair hit a bump in the floor and dumped Peter on the ground with a thud. Jonah placed the spinners with a slam on the desk and departed with one last comment.

"After all this is over, you better retire to your cobwebs boy, or I will have my day." Jonah slammed the door to his office.

This just didn't happen. Please someone wake me up.

Even with his enhanced strength, Peter could not break free of his own well-tied webbing. He struggled to at least get upright as he heard the door open once more.

"Hello? Jonah?" Parker was wondering what was next.

A freckled face, rather attractive woman entered. "You're boss just zoomed by me in a fluster and said I was to have you as photographer. And, do you mind me asking what the heck just happened?"

"No time to explain just find a real sharp object. Oh, I'm Peter Parker, tied up photographer as Jonah said."

The woman smiled. "Irene Merryweather, I'm the new reporter assigned to the Sector 17 case." {Eic Note: *The events take place a little bit after Cable #2 of MU:TF}

"Pleased to meet your acquaintance. Now, if you don't mind..."

Please, don't let her go over to the desk....

"Oh yeah, sorry." Irene instantly went over and began looking through Jonah's desk for a pair of scissors. Her eyes caught the two pictures on the desk. She stared at one, then back at Parker and at the picture again.

OH Nooo.........

The door opened with a creak as Parker and Merryweather entered his house. The Patriotic soldier of legend stood up upon their arrival. Mary Jane quickly noticed the woman along side Peter.

"Who's this?" Mary Jane glowered at Peter.

"Irene Merryweather, a new reporter for the Bugle. She and Jonah just found out...everything."

Mary Jane sat right back down from the startling statement.

"Well, then it's safe to ask you in front of someone that knows your secret. I'll just ask that you keep it off the record Ms. Merryweather." He stepped forward as both Peter and Irene regarded him with awe.

Captain America gave Parker a stern look. "I'll keep it short and simple. I know you like to play it solo. But, considering the circumstances, we can't ignore all our options. We're reforming the team. Son, we want you to be part of the new Avengers."

Spider-Man #3 - A Boatload of Consequences Part 2

Spider-Man #3

"A Boatload of Consequences" Part 2

By Karl V.

Peter stood with his mouth open in shock and awe. He was trying to formulate what the man had said.

"Excuse me, I'm running late meeting up with a friend." Irene interrupted as she quickly slipped out the door.

Peter put his hand to his head. "I'm sorry, but I would only hinder the team. My Editor in Chief just found out my secret identity and is blackmailing me. There's too much trouble right there."

Captain America still stood like a statue. "Well, you are right. It is too much of a compromise to our mission. I hope you can find a way to remedy your situation. By the way, I also kept tabs on your friend upstairs. He's waiting for you."

"VENOM! I almost forgot!" Peter raced up the stairs to the bedroom where Brock was recovering.

Brock was lying comfortably on in the guestroom. "Took you long enough. I wasn't going to harm your precious wife. I mean, Captain America. I must really be a bur up your butt."

Eddie smiled, as Parker remained silent. "I rather like that fact."

Parker quickly got to the point. "Look, just tell what the heck is going on? Are you and Mysterio working together on this Ark thing? What's your connection with the two Cybersymbiotes."

"Oh, I don't deal with people who wear fishbowls for a living. And, I'm pretty sure you got an idea of what's going on. I will sever my connection with Archeville and Gotterdamerung on my own, thank you very much." Brock started to change into Venom.

"That's not what I meant about connections with those two. I meant, do you know who they are? As in, their real names." Peter was getting agitated with every second passing.

"Oh, that. You're a good reporter web head, figure it out for yourself." Venom said with great sarcasm.

Peter's face flushed in fury. "You've worn out your welcome. Get out."

Venom grinned with all his white razor sharp teeth showing. "If you insist."

Venom opened a window and slung out of Parker's bedroom on a line of webbing. Parker clenched his hand in a fist, exited the room and stomped heavily down the stairs. Mary Jane came out of the kitchen as she was surprised to see her husband there and Captain America gone. She quickly walked up to Parker and gave him a big hug as he returned it with equal passion. Mary Jane pushed off from the hug as her face grew dark and serious.

"What are we going to do about Jonah?" She asked as Peter sighed with dread.

"I hate to do it, but I have to ask Nate to wipe Jonah's mind. It's the only course of action I can think about."

Mary Jane nodded her head. "That's the guy who got a following because of his mutant powers, right?"

"Yeah, he can read people like a book. I'm just hoping he'll rip out a page for me." Peter grabbed a hold of Mary Jane's hand.

"And what about that reporter? The one that came in and left so quickly." Mary Jane gripped his hand tightly.

"She's okay. She said she had connections to a mutant, but didn't tell me whom. Hopefully, if Nate doesn't agree, she can find someone else who will." Peter reassured her more with a kiss.

"Come on, let's worry about what will happen later. I just need to get out as for a little bit. Care to join me?" Peter smiled at his wife lovingly.

"You got yourself a date Tiger." She wrapped her arm around his as they walked out the door.


"You weak pathetic fools. Why do I deal with such rabble? I came here to make things work, like a well-oiled machine that has no flaws. And what happens? Someone throws in a wooden shoe, and none of you can seem to take it out." She hissed as her appearance was mired in the shadows.

"Overseer, we did not expect designate Five's escape. I will personally see that he is silenced." The pitch-black robotic figure stated.

"Gotterdamerung, I do not want that idiot harmed. His reputation is questionable by his peers, and no one will believe him as long as he remains alive. However, an important aspect of our operation has been lost. We must replace Brock with another who is more willing for the task."

A bald headed rotund man grabbed a fist full of cordial cherries from the bowl. "Can I make a suggestion Overseer? I have connections to reporters."

"Designate four, you are the most pathetic cur out of all of them. I do not want to hear your suggestions. We need another Designate to help our operations, not another reporter. And please do not make a mess this time."

He coughed as the last cherry went down the wrong way. "Fine."

"This gross negligence will eventually compromise my identity, something which I do not want at this point of conjecture. See to it that no further information is compromised, until I deem it necessary. I do not want yet another force to deal with. There are two already at work against me, and the information leaked may make the mutants the third. I will have to come up with a contingency plan in order to distract them. Find the one who uncovered the name of our operation and gave it to his own. He should be easily talked into going against the mutants, since that is his primary programming. Gotterdamerung, I assign you to this task, as he is in hiding at the moment."

A raspy voice broke into the conversation. "I wouldn't trust my brother with this mission Overseer. His patriotism is too easy for him to be persuaded to the other side. I already implemented something that will bring the target from hiding. It's only a matter of time before the trap is sprung."

"Designate three you are late for the meeting. And what is this about a trap?" The Overseer's curiosity overwhelmed her impatience.

The tall thin man bowed apologetically. "Forgive me my liege, I had a few cobwebs to clean off the Ark. There was a problem with spiders. Anyway, I used the reprogrammed Prime Sentinel technology on a subject. She is currently aware of her situation unlike the rest of the sleepers. Although she has quite a brain and figured out a temporary measure..."

"Enough! I will abide my time until the female reveals herself. I give you the task of forcing her hand to implement the Sentinel programming. We need to see if we can reprogramming works within a certain percentile in order to convert the rest to our cause."

"But, the reporter Peter Parker has been informed by Designate Five of our operations and that the ship was inhabited. I was assigned to him, I should continue with my present course."

"Parker is no longer your concern. Tend to your new task." She ordered once more.

He sneered in wistful thought. Very well, I shall play the dragon for the Knights to slay. Since I gave Parker her name, he should show up soon. I just hope I'm not too late.

"As you command, the round table shall be rolled over Ms. Beller, until she is road kill or her suit gives out. Whichever comes first." He bowed and left the room.

"As for this Parker, his search will never reach fruition until all is revealed. Let him continue his mission as it will keep him from our operations." The Overseer departed as the others got up and left as well.

The Next Night.


Peter walked to the arranged meeting place as he noted it was a slight grease pit. He ordered a bagel burger from the blonde waitress, after hearing the only three options in the joint. He tapped his fingers impatiently as Irene came through the door. She sat down as a blonde waitress gave her a dirty look.

"Sarah, I'm sorry I thought tonight was your night off." She tried to explain to the woman, as Peter watched intently.

"I don't care what you do on your off time Irene. Is he with you?" Sarah coldly replied.

Irene shook her head. "No, he's not here. He went out on a mission, and came back. The next one might be his last."

Sarah just rolled her eyes and stomped off back into the kitchen area. Peter raised a curious brow.

"I take it your contact has been here before, and had more than coffee and a bagel burger?" Peter realized how bad the statement sounded after the fact.

Irene gave a blank stare. "Yes, it's a long story. So, why did you call me?"

"I need your help. If your contact knows a telepath, I need to ask a favor. A real big one." Peter lowered his head at the thought of asking the next question.

"Well, you're in bigger luck than you thought. My contact is a telepath, in fact I tell him often not to speak in my head. I have a bad feeling where you are going with this. " Irene suddenly realized Peter's intent.

His face flushed deep red. "I can't allow my boss to know my secret identity. He promised he would reveal it to the world once this entire Sector 17 business is out of the way. By the way, who is it that you know?"

"He's got a lot of names, but I use Cable or Nathan." Irene's face matched Peter's as the waitress came to their table at the mention of his name.

Peter continued after the waitress stomped off once more. "Cable, whoa the last time I saw him was...way too long ago. Does he still run around with that group of his, X-Force?" Peter began his line of questioning.

"Yes and no. It's kind of a rough situation right now. He's forming some preordained party, and his team doesn't know how quite to deal with it. " Irene noted with a shrug.

"Can you set something up with him? I'd like to make my case directly, if possible." Peter said while Sarah handed them a check.

"I'll see what I can do. But for now, I think we need to get cracking on Sector 17. Any ideas?" Irene paid the clerk while Parker put a tip on the table.

Parker opened the door for Irene. "Well, whatever alien race was on that ship was huge. I mean at least thirty feet tall by my estimates. The government would have a hard time covering something up that size."

"Yeah, I guess we need to start looking up all the technological aspects as well. I mean a team of soldiers with advanced weaponry, robots, all that has been happening has been around their technology." Irene told Parker as they continued to walk down the sidewalk.

"You can focus on that part, while I can focus on finding out who the Five are." Peter looked to Irene for a reply.

"Five, Twelve. What the heck is it with numbers lately?" Irene complained while Parker looked on with curiosity.

"Cable's team is referred to as the Twelve. It's suppose to be a collective of people made to stop Apocalypse, not the literal one. I don't what will happen to him once he does accomplish his mission." Irene tried to hide her feelings of concern for someone who saved her life.

Peter sighed for a moment. "There's another Nate I know that might be able to do it, but I gave him a whole lecture about not tampering with the minds of others. I could try, but I can't ask that of him. I'm probably about the only costumed person he trusts."

"Wait a minute. Are you talking about Nate Grey?" Irene was stopped walking in amazement.

Peter noticed her demeanor. "Yeah, why? Do you know him too?"

"Hello! You must have not seen Cable in a long time! Ever bother to notice any similarities?" Irene waved her hand in front of his face.

Peter thought for a moment. His face became contorted as he put the two images of the men in his head and compared them.

"He's got a clone running around too?" He responded in awe.

"Well, that was Stryfe, but he's dead. Nate Grey came from another dimension, as Cable told me."

Parker simply nodded, as Irene seemed surprised that he understood what she just said. Peter hit his head.

"Geez Nate told me this. I'm sorry I'm out of it, with all of this going on. Well at least I don't have another me coming back from another dimension, although I bumped into a futuristic version once." {That would be the Spider-man/Spider-Man 2099 special- KV}

"It doesn't matter, it gives me a headache just thinking about it. I'll contact Cable about your dilemma as soon as I can. But, I have to warn you, he has a policy about the use of his powers for other people unless it suits his purposes." Irene stated with the utmost tact.

"I know, I have myself between a rock and a hard place. At least I don't have to deal with clones anymore, although one was a good man."

"Clones?" Irene asked as Peter sighed and related the whole sorted scenario to her.


At an undisclosed Federal Medical Facility.

"Hey Joe, how are you today?" The nurse asked with extreme interest as she twirled long black hair.

"Fine Eliza. I haven't seen red for a long time." He winked at the woman as she smiled.

Joe Wade continued to do his rounds as he checked on the patients, all former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was glad that he could walk around and not remain cooped up in a cell. Although every time the news reported something on Spider-man, it made him break a sweat. He just hoped another costumed Spider-hero would never rear his ugly head.

Both turned to look to see the Doctor and some strange guests entering. The guests were covered head to toe in white clothing.

"I didn't do anything Doc. Did I?" Joe chuckled while the nurse giggled along with him.

The Doctor smirked. "Actually, these two men are here to see you Joe. They say that they have the technology to cure your condition."

"What? I can be cured finally! I already lost one love due to this thing..." Joe became giddy with excitement.

"Calm down. Allow these men to discuss their plan and all shall be fine. They guarantee they can make you whole once more."

Joe nodded in elation. "Come with me, there is a meeting room a couple doors down."

The two silently nodded in compliance as Joe escorted them to the room. The Doctor seemed to shake his head.

"Long day doctor?" The nurse asked as she noticed his odd behavior.

He put his hand to his head and wondered what gave him such a headache. "I guess so, I'm going to see if I can call it a day."

"Well, I hope you get the rest of the day off. Looks like you could use it." The nurse smiled and continued about her work, as the Doctor looked for some painkillers.

Joe smiled at the two odd doctors. "So, you can cure me of this Scarlet Fever I have? I mean once and for all."

He gazed intently at the two men. They seemed to converse beneath their breath for a moment then looked at Joe once more.

"Scarlet Fever?" One said in a questioning tone.

Joe simply laughed. "Yeah, the nickname I gave my little trick. Since I turn into a sick demented robotic like version of a certain web head that wasn't Spider-Man. Thank goodness he's long gone now, and I haven't converted to him in a long time. I'm sorry, I guess you were thinking the actual disease. But, please refrain from saying his full name, it might cause an actual switch. That's the only reason I've been cooped up here for so long."

"Of course, we have studied the technology used in your accidental creation. We can alter easily so that you can control the transformation." The other spoke with a raspy metallic voice.

"Well, I was hoping more for a complete cure. Although the real Spider-man {Or so Joe thinks. The whole lovely Ben Reilly/ Peter Parker scenario...KV} cleared Scarlet's name, he's not looked upon as a great superhero." Joe explained to the two, as they seemed a bit disappointed.

"Perhaps we can give a choice of a new body that does not resemble your current program. Another Spider type program, or something more to your liking. Would this interest you?"

Joe was perplexed, as they seemed to make the offer in unison this time.

"I guess, but I don't know much about the superhero business. Can I think it over?" Joe asked the Doctors.

They nodded. "Yes, we will await your decision for now. We shall return tomorrow for your answer."

Joe shook his head as they left the room. "I swear they sounded as though I had no choice. But, I guess they are right. I'll be glad when this is all over. I just don't want to see red anymore."

Spider-Man #4 - A Day at the Office

Spider-Man # 4

"A Day at the Office"

He swung the air as the wind whistled in his ears. The few hours that had passed were intensely frustrating, as he had no leads on The Five. All of his contacts either shook in fear or shut up, or said they knew nothing and walked away. He wondered what could frighten such a veritable group of snitches. His Spider-Sense went off as he had a collision with a hard surface. Spider-Man stood up in a daze as a towering shadow of a man was cast upon him. He looked up to see a figure covered in ebony armor with jutting shoulder attachments. An odd helmet adorned his head as a faceplate covered his mouth. A long black cape flowed down to his ankles but did not touch the ground. His eyes gleamed with an unnatural red glow as he gazed upon Spider-Man.

"Whoa, you like a bad refugee from a Japanese Anime." Spider-Man put some distance between them.

His voice practically boomed. "And you have room to comment with your spandex uniform?"

Spider-Man was caught off guard by the return quip. "You must be Archeville's brother. Gotta boomerang?"

"I am Gotterdamerung. My brother is of no concern at the moment, but you are. Your search for the others of the Five has gotten my attention. Depending on the situation, it may be a good or..." The costumed man clenched his fists. "...bad thing."

"Let me guess. You want me to run your own little agenda as well. Sorry, I already told your brother I wouldn't be his little marionette." Spider-Man began to leave as Gotterdamerung stopped him.

"It is more of both our agendas. You wish to reveal the Five, fine. Our time grows short anyway. All I want is for one of the Five to be found. He is a greedy worthless politician."

"Well, that narrows the field. What's in it for you?" Spider-Man lamented.

Gotterdamerung bowed his head for a moment. "All I ask is that you not seek the identity of the Overseer. She has trusted me with her most guarded secrets, including her true appearance. The politician does not deserve to be one of us, and right now, is the most severe threat to National Security."

Spider-Man was baffled. "Uh, I hate to say it, but don't you think National Security is basically out the window by now."

Gotterdamerung shook his head. "There is still much that the world at large does not know. If this man is discredited, his stories will seem nothing more than a bunch of lies to cover his own tail."

"I see. You want me to find proof of his misdeeds without linking him to the Five. What's in it for me?" Spider-Man was curious to find out.

"You have a lead story for your newspaper." Gotterdamerung curtly responded.

Spider-Man sighed. "Isn't there anyone who doesn't know my secret identity?"

"Your current troubles are your own. I wish to know your answer, now." Gotterdamerung glared at Spider-Man.

Spider-Man hesitated for a moment. "Fine, no Overseer. Just give me a name and I'll see what I can do."

"His name is Shawn Berger. Oh, and one more thing. Try to discover my true identity and I will respond in the fashion of many of your other adversaries." Gotterdamerung departed.

Spider-Man scratched his head. "Man, I just love these new set of villains lately. They just ask me to do something and don't even throw a punch. For now, I'll hold to our deal. But, that doesn't mean I can't get that dirty little rat to speak out. I have to use every resource at my command. That means I have to deal with something I've been trying to avoid. Ol' buzzhead and the fact that he knows my secret. I'm glad Mary Jane doesn't have days like this."

A couple knocks on the door were heard as Mary Jane walked over to answer it. She opened it to see a young man about in his early twenties, with brown hair with white streaks on the front bangs. Mary Jane smiled as she asked him to come in. He walked in and sat down while Mary Jane sat across from him.

"Nate, I'm sorry if you were busy with something, but this couldn't wait." Mary Jane sighed as she began to shake with nervousness.

He noticed her demeanor and her mind overlapped with several thoughts. "I know about Peter's recent troubles. His voice rang in my head when Jonah found out. He doesn't know, but I established a permanent psychic link with him. He's a true friend to me, the only one I trust in this world. And if someone threatens that friendship, then I will respond."

"I'm glad to hear that. But, I also wanted you to know that you’re my last option. Peter would never ask you to wipe Jonah's mind. But, I'm not Peter. I've already experienced so much from the villains who found out Peter's identity. I don't even want to fathom what will happen if Jonah actually releases that kind of information."

"You said I was the last option. Do you even have another one?" Another knock at the door interrupted the reply.

Mary Jane opened the door to reveal a man wearing dark sunglasses and carrying a Seeing Eye cane. He wore a formal suit and entered at Mary Jane's behest.

"Matt, please sit down. I'm glad you were able to come. I needed your legal expertise on this matter." The man sat next to Nate as he put out his hand.

"I'm Matt Murdock, lawyer and friend of the Parkers. I don't think I've had the pleasure of meeting your acquaintance."

"Nate Grey. I'm also a friend of Peter's. And Mary Jane's." The mutant shook Murdock's hand.

"Ah yes, the New York prophet in the papers. I remember reading the stories awhile back. Fortunately, the Bugle has a Braille edition." Murdock smiled at the man.

"Well, Matt I need to tell you it's okay with Nate. He knows Peter's secret as well. First, I want to see exactly what kind of figure I'm looking at if Jonah decides to go public with Spider-Man's identity." Mary Jane suggested to Matt.

"Well, considering the overwhelming amount of proof printed almost daily in The Bugle, I'd say you could almost own the entire company. Libel, emotional trauma and distress, the list could go on." Matt noted sympathetically.

"You intend to blackmail him." Nate seemed shocked by Mary Jane's first plan.

Mary Jane nodded. "I guess there is no other way of putting it."

"You're doing what is necessary to protect your husband. That's the other way of putting it." Matt consoled the woman.

Mary Jane seemed to look out the window as though Peter were hanging right outside it. "I just hope that my first plan works. I don't want us to suffer anymore than we already have."


"Well, looks who shaken out the cobwebs and greeted us with his presence." Jonah's greeting made Peter cringe.

"Hey Pete. Jonah told us that you were working on the Sector 17 case. I take it that you've had a couple of rough nights." Rob patted Peter on the shoulder.

"Yeah, you could say I've hit a couple of bumps along the road. Thanks for the concern." Peter smiled back at his friend then walked up to the editor.

Jonah puffed a large amount of cigar smoke in Peter's face. "Come in boy, tell me what you've found out so far."

Jonah opened the door as Peter entered. As soon as the door shut, Peter released his pent up anger.

"Look, keep the sly innuendoes to yourself. If anyone in this building found out, you would be personally responsible for his or her safety. Or do you not care about the people that work here?" Peter remarked with a deep chill in his voice.

"Well, that's not my problem, boy." Johan said with hatred filled whispering. "You decided to put on a mask, you have to pay for it."

"What I did was out of responsibility for my loved ones. If I went around revealing my identity, everyone surrounding me would be threatened." Parker's face flushed red with growing rage.

"It's the same risks that the boys in blue make every day and they do it without a face mask. They have respect and the law to back them up. You have nothing but your own personal gain for a sorry excuse to constantly break the law. You could have used your powers with a shield to back it up. Instead you make yourself one of these masked freaks, and that only invites more of them in. Boy, you've been responsible for every Vulture; Venom, Carnage, and every masked freak that has ventured into this town to prove themselves. I've told you this plenty of times with the mask on, and now I'm telling it straight to your face. You're going down for the choice you've made boy. And I will be the one to do it."

Peter stood there and took the words in and let them back out. However, this time there was no protection of the mask that he wore. No satisfaction of being able to leap away while Johan was bound to his chair. He would have to go back out and wear the face of a man who had only been lectured by his boss. A burden of a secret lost that weighed heavily as he went for the door.

Peter turned around for a moment. "I have an inside source that gave me some information about a politician. His name is Shawn Berger. The inside source told me that he has his hands in several funding projects for Sector 17, legally and illegally."

"Good work. Was that in or out of the webs?" Jonah puffed a huge ring of smoke in the air from his cigar.

"What does it matter to you?" Peter coughed when the second hand smoke hit his lungs.

Jonah only smirked in discontent. "It doesn't. Now, leave this office before I decide to call in the exterminator."

Peter glared at the man who let out another puff of smoke. He quickly turned around and opened the door.

"Oh, and one more thing boy." Jonah spoke loud enough for the others in the office to hear.

"Yes." Peter said coolly.

"Don't be crawling around too many places or you'll be liable to get squashed by one of these masked freaks hanging around." Jonah closed the door with the last statement.

Peter's longtime work friend noticed his demeanor. "Don't let him get to you Pete. He just wants the story of a lifetime, and he wants to get it anyway he can."

"Rob, you don't know the half of it." Peter snapped at him.

The older black gentleman seemed taken aback by Peter's cold comeback. "Sorry Pete. I didn't realize the old man had you on the ropes lately."

Peter regained his composure. "I'm sorry. It's everything that's happening lately. It's like every dirty little secret is about to come out from the woodwork."

"Yeah, there has to be government involvement in a setup like Sector 17. It's become the new Roswell of the coming millennium. Something like this I had to come out of retirement." Rob explained to Peter.

Peter nodded. "I know. Well, I'll be spending a lot of nights getting contacts and pictures where I can. Tell everyone I won't be around the office during the day anymore. But, leave the old man out of it. He works late anyway, and I'll hand in my assignments to him."

"You got it Pete. Tell Mary Jane that the misses says hi. Include me in that too." Rob winked and patted Peter on the shoulder.

"I will. Thanks Rob." Peter exited the office with a slight slam of the door.


Jonah finished working for the night as he put out his cigar. The door creaked as it opened up to reveal a rather ravishing redhead with an equally red flush face. It was one of rage and spite.

"How dare you treat my husband like that in front of his peers?" She snapped at Jonah.

"Mrs. Parker, your husband made a choice to be a vigilante instead of a cop or something else that didn't require the use of the mask. Now, he has to live with that choice." Jonah snuffed out his cigar.

Mary Jane clenched her hands in fury. "And so will I. There are only a few villains who know his secret identity and wish to keep him and me alive for their continual amusement when they torture us. There are others that once they find out, will have no problem killing the both of us. Do you really want to be an accessory to murder, Mr. Jameson?" Mary Jane silently hoped that one of her tactics would save her from using the last resort.

Jonah glared at the woman. "If you think I would feel guilty for either of your deaths, you're wrong. Those who conspire to keep masked freaks on the street are as guilty as the ones that wear the masks."

"Fine, Mr. Jameson. But, if you do decide to release the information concerning my husband, you will face the biggest lawsuit in the history of publication. All that amount of garbage you spilled about my husband will equal a treasure so great it will cost you your job." Mary Jane slammed her fist down on the desk.

"Are you attempting to blackmail me Mrs. Parker?" Jonah's stoic face gave no indication of changing his mind.

"No, I'm telling you I will not stand here and let you threaten what I hold most dear." Mary Jane said defiantly.

"Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news Mrs. Parker. If it costs me my job, and it gets one more masked freak off the streets. Then, that's exactly what I will do." Jonah began to walk towards the door to show Mary Jane out. He opened the door and waved his hand.

Mary Jane bowed her head, almost as though she nodded. "Fine, I'm sorry it has to be this way."

"Well, I'm not. Tell your husband he has better things to do then send his wife to threaten me." Jonah slammed the door behind her as he sat down and held his head in his hands.

Outside of the building Nate Grey, the mutant known as the X-Man, reached in Jonah's mind and pulled the mask over Peter's face once more. Mary Jane walked out to see the levitating young man float down next to her.

"I did what was needed. If it's any consolation, you would have convinced me to stay quiet." Nate placed his hand on her shoulder.

Mary Jane allowed a slight smirk. "Thank you. I just need to be alone for a moment."

Nate Gray nodded in understanding. "Okay, be careful."

Mary Jane had walked several blocks away before another shadowy apparition appeared.

"Peter, is that you?" She asked as it darted away.

"No my dear. I'm afraid not." The menacing voice sent chills down her spine.

"NATE! Can you hear me?" Mary Jane tried to yell in hopes that the mutant was still nearby.

"No time for other saviors you harlot. The Green Goblin has need for you, as a test subject." An evil laughter filled the night air as he whisked Mary Jane away to an unknown destination.

Spider-Man #5 - Those who Forget...

Spider-Man #5

"Those who forget..."

"What do you want with me?" Mary Jane kicked and squirmed as the Green Goblin flew to an unknown destination.

He cackled in sheer delight. "I've made your husband suffer for what he did to me and my boy, now it's your turn. I'm going to make you something that you never wanted to be, a hero."

"What? You are mad." Mary Jane kicked some more.

The Green Goblin dropped her and let her scream for a few seconds before grabbing her again. "Now, I hope you realize the futility of trying to break my grasp. Unless you really want to be splattered all over the sidewalk."

Mary Jane stopped squirming and decided on getting her questions answered. "What do you mean by making me a hero?"

"Simple, a rare powerful element is known to make mutants. And you my dear are my willing test subject for it. I've managed to acquire a small piece of it through a fellow associate of mine. One that owed me a rather large favor." The Green Goblin explained.

"You will have to kill me first before you make me a guinea pig." Mary Jane coldly stated.

"Oh, I have one bargain chip that I've been holding for quite awhile. I'm pretty sure she will guarantee your cooperation. It is worth giving it up, to see you suffer in an even more horrible manner." The Green Goblin pressed a button as he flew into a secret doorway.

"She? What are you talking about?" Mary Jane's mind ran through the gauntlet of friends and family.

"You'll see. First, you must test the Energon crystal I have. Then little May can be yours again." He dropped Mary Jane to the ground with a thud.

Mary Jane's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "She's not dead?"

A knock came at the door as Peter answered it. The young mutant seemed worn out from a fight.

"Nate, what happened to you?" Peter noticed a small trickle of blood running down Nate's nose.

Nate shook his head. "Cable decided to hit me with something about finishing his job if he failed. But, that doesn't matter right now. Pete, someone took Mary Jane. I think it was the Green Goblin."

"I'll go change." Peter raced upstairs to don his Spider-Man costume.

After a few moments, Spider-Man walked out the front door and shut it behind him.

"Don't waste your webbing. I can still pick up the maniac's thoughts. And, Mary Jane's..." Nate's eyes widened.

"Nate, what is it?" Spider-Man was silently hoping Mary Jane was not yet harmed.

Nate shook his head. "We need to get there fast. Hold on."

The mutant lifted Spider-Man easily with his telekinesis as they flew quickly in the direction that the Green Goblin went.

"You have my baby and she's alive." Mary Jane, with an insurmountable rage driving her, stood straight up and confronted the horrid man.

"Yes, I do. Now, all I require is the simple touch of this." The Green Goblin produced a spike like growing crystal.

Mary Jane hesitated. "First, the baby."

"Oh, very well harlot." The Green Goblin slipped into the shadows of his secret sanctum.

A few moments later, he carried a little blanket with a gurgling baby inside. He handed her over to Mary Jane. Instantly, Mary Jane's motherly instincts told her that this was little May. She tried not to think of this baby being yet another clone.

"Nothing else in the world could make me suffer more than what you made me believe. Now, is the real baby or yet another one of your so called clones." Mary Jane's doubt and anger made her speak her fears.

"No clones this time. Not for you, at least. One harlot and her errant prodigy running around is quite enough." The Green Goblin said chillingly.

"Stop calling me that and don't insult my child." Mary Jane stared a volley of daggers at the man.

The Green Goblin cackled again. "See how well you are already getting into the act. Now, as I said, it comes with a price."

"Yes." Mary Jane grabbed the crystal as the energies coursed through her veins. She yelled in agony as she fell to her knees.

"There now, that wasn't so bad. The effects should be immediate. All I require now is a blood sample to confirm that you are now a mutant." The Green Goblin produced a syringe in another hand.

Mary Jane placed the baby down on a nearby table. As Mary Jane winced in preparation of the sting of the needle, X-Man and Spider-Man kicked in the door.

"Let her go." Spider-Man slung over and landed in front of Mary Jane.

The Green Goblin grabbed his chest and yelled in agony. "ARRRRGHHHHHHH! What is happening to me?" The Green Goblin looked to see his hands covered in blood.

"What the heck is going on?" Spider-Man looked to Nate Grey.

He shook his head. "I don't know."

"Why are my healing powers negating? It's not fair. You are suppose to suffer not me!" The Green Goblin shouted as his costume became more soaked by the minute.

Spider-Man walked up to the man. "Osborn, you're bleeding to death! Control the Goblin now so we can get you to a hospital!"

"No! I don't want them to discover my secret! That Osborn and Goblin are the same! I would rather die." The Green Goblin's words got weaker by the moment.

"Peter, let him die."

Everyone turned to see Mary Jane with the fire of Hades burning in her eyes. She held Little May in her arms, apparently grabbing the child during the argument. The Goblin barely managed to walk over to the lady. The loss of his life fluid was beginning to grow more deadly by the moment.

"I knew it. I told everyone you were a harlot." The Green Goblin hacked.

Mary Jane smacked the man. "I told you not to call me that."

"MJ?" Spider-Man finally managed to get something out.

She turned with a wild streak in her eyes. "Peter, he's made you think you were a clone. He took our baby, made us think she was dead! I WANT THIS MAN TO DIE!"

She fell to her knees as she finally lost control. Spider-Man rushed to hold the sobbing woman. Nate Grey turned to the Goblin.

Nate's eyes glowed with intense psionic energies as he spoke. "I knew men like you in my world. Horrible wretches who thought they could manipulate anyone they pleased for their own perverse pleasure. Tell me one reason why I shouldn't finish the job myself."

"I've seen them both suffer now. My mission is accomplished. I can make them suffer in the next life." The Green Goblin tried to cackle, but only managed to cough up the crimson sands of time.

"I doubt that they will be going the same place you are. And, you know what, you failed miserably. They have the last laugh and get to see you suffer." Nate Grey coldly added.

The Green Goblin's face turned to a shocked one as the realization of truth about Nate's words hit his mind. "No, it's not fair. I don't want them to see me suffer. I never meant it to end like this."

"Too bad, old man. That's exactly the way it's going to go down." Nate Grey moved aside as The Green Goblin saw the reunited family.

"No...why...all my planning...for...nothing. I don't want to...suffer." The Green Goblin collapsed.

Even though a red lake formed around the body, Nate Grey scanned his mind. Spider-Man finally looked up to see The Goblin's body on the floor.

"Is it over? Is he?" Spider-Man asked.

Nate Grey nodded. "He's gone Peter. Nothing can bring him back."

Spider-Man was caught up in Mary Jane's anguish and torment as well as his own. "Finally."

After finally realizing what he just said, Spider-Man bowed his head in shame. Nate levitated over to his friend and consoled him.

"He put you through a lot. It's a normal reaction. Don't feel guilty about it."

Spider-Man clenched his fist. "It doesn't excuse it."

"Peter, I'm sorry." Mary Jane began to assert herself as well.

Spider-Man held her close. "Don't be Mary Jane. One of our demons has finally come to rest."

The pair with Little May in Mary Jane's hands departed as Nate Grey surveyed the body. Something else caught his eye as he noticed a glowing crystal in the room. It pulsed quicker and a high pitched buzz began to ring from it. He telekinetically picked up the shard and placed it next to the body. As Nate Grey departed the lab, it exploded into pieces. He quickly enveloped the three and him in a protective bubble of telekinetic energy. The shards bounced harmlessly off the shield as Spider-Man looked up to Nate Grey.

"The crystal became unstable. I didn't have time to retrieve the body before..."

Spider-Man nodded in interruption. "Take us home would you. I think we've had enough for tonight."


It had been a couple of days after Norman Osborn's death was announced, as well as his secret identity. Even though they had endured so much by the man, both Mary Jane and Peter were still unsettled by his last attempt to bring the Parker house down. This time the implied threat was Mary Jane becoming a mutant. Peter, being a brilliant scientific mind, offered to check Mary Jane's blood. Mary Jane nervously waited. It had been a couple hours since Peter took the blood sample. Finally, Peter came down the stairs with a long face.

"It has changed your genetic makeup. As far as I can tell, a dormant gene was activated. I don't know the effects yet." Peter explained to his wife.

She grabbed Peter and hugged him close. "Peter, I don't mean to be offensive. But, I want a second opinion. Someone who's an expert on this."

"Well, the only one I can trust and happens to be the foremost expert on the matter is Hank McCoy." Peter explained.

Mary Jane nodded. "Okay, give him a call after you finish something for me."

"What's that Hon?" Peter noticed her seriousness.

"Now, I want you to test her. I want to be sure she's not a..." Mary Jane looked at the small bundle of joy in her arms.

Peter bowed his head. "You got it MJ. I don't want that either."

Yet another couple of hours later, Peter walked down the stairs again. His face seemed a bit more tortured by something he had learned.

"Oh no, not that." Mary Jane began to cry.

Peter shook his head. "It's not. She has inherited a lot of her father's side though."

Mary Jane began to ball. "I rather know my baby is going to crawl walls then know she may melt."

Peter held her close. "Me too MJ. Me too."

"Well, I guess I have no choice but to hang up the webs. With great power comes responsibility, but not when it comes to a child. That responsibility takes precedence." Peter noted with emphasis.

Mary Jane bowed her head for a moment. "Tiger, I don't want you to hang them up just yet. I want you to do something for me. Bring down every villain that is out there. I do not want my child taken from me again."

He gulped in compliance. "Yes ma'am."

"And one more thing, Tiger. Your web slinging does not excuse you from changing diapers." Mary Jane noted with a smile.

Peter lightly kissed Mary Jane on the cheek. "Your wish is my command fair lady. The Spider-Man is going to take direct action from now on."

"Good. Can you go out and give me a moment with Little May?" Mary Jane's statement caught Peter off guard.

"Sure, I'll just go and make a patrol tonight. After all, today's the big bang." He winked at Mary Jane.

Mary Jane noted the calendar. "I guess it's not the end of the world after all."

"I'll see you later MJ." Peter gave a kiss as he went upstairs to change.

I guess she needs some time on her own to think. I don't blame her. Norman's last laugh may have made her a mutant. Spider-Man may just have to be her permanent protector.

Spider-Man swung out the window and started his routine patrol. A few hours had provided no big millennium surprises.

"It's been pretty quiet considering the circumstances. So much to do so little time." Spider-Man swung around a street alley.

Spider-Man noticed a bum was knocking on a blue jeep's window.

"There's a spider-sense waiting to happen." Spider-Man leapt right next to the man.

The bum turned around to see the costumed hero. "The thing told me to get away and called itself Gears. I've been trying to get him to talk. I guess he doesn't want to be friends."

Spider-Man couldn't help but laugh a little on the inside. "I wouldn't either with that breath of yours. Now, sit down before you really hurt yourself or get in trouble."

The bum stared at Spider-Man and shrugged. He sat back down in his makeshift home, a big cardboard box surrounded by debris. Spider-Man continued on as he swung out onto the street. His Spider-Sense suddenly shot off like a bolt of lightning.

"I knew it." He turned back around to see the Jeep leaping from it's spot as it sprouted legs.

"WHAT THE?" Spider-Man continued to watch as the Jeep transfigured into a full standing robot.

"Out of the way you pesky human, my leader's in trouble." The robot shoved the hanging Spider-Man aside. {See X-Men #4 for Details KV}

Spider-Man regained his balance. "Hey, why don't you drop off a cliff...or something. I've got to sit down."

Spider-Man sat next to a lamppost. He shuddered in mind numbing shock of what just occurred. The bum noticed and walked back over to him and offered his brown bag with the obvious intoxicating spirits inside.

"Do you want this?" He coughed the words.

Spider-Man shook his head. "No, I hope to wake up soon."

"Good, because my pink elephants are maximizing in size to robots." The bum poured out the drink on the sidewalk, and then he sat back down in his tiny makeshift home.

"Why robots? Why does it have to be transforming robots?" Spider-Man lamented outloud to the world.

After recollecting himself, Spider-Man managed to make his way back home.

"Happy New Year!" The bum shouted before going to an alcohol induced slumber.



Joe Wade had amassed a small enough fortune to settle in to his new apartment. It was run down and cheap, but it would suit his type of business. He closed the door behind him, and quickly thought of what to do next. There had already been one Spider-Man replacement and a spin-off. Joe thought something new was needed. His experience as a FBI agent would provide him with the necessary background to start his own Private Investigation Business. Joe smiled at that thought, as he could specialize in mutant investigations. The decision was made, and more important no need for a mask. All he needed was an office, and unfortunately what he had saved while in the FBI hospital was not enough. He looked up and was surprised to see one of his odd doctors there to greet him.

"Greetings, I came to see how you are faring after your cure." His voice still echoed like metal.

Joe nodded. "I'm doing fine, but I want to access my powers without being masked. Is that possible?"

"Yes, it is. In fact, we already planned for such a contingency." The Doctor replied.

Joe walked up next to the Doctor. "Well, how do I access them without changing into something?"

"It just requires thought. The nanotech has been programmed to respond to your direct mental commands."

Joe nodded once more. "Thanks. Did you come here to tell me about the other part of the bargain?"

The Doctor shifted for a moment. "No, not yet. We have just We are foreigners. We are seeking others who can help us at the moment."

"Oh? Is there a way I can help? Any particular type of people?" Joe seemed more than happy to help his strange benefactor.

"Yes, we wish to get to know those who are dubbed "heroes" and "villains". We don't wish for our procedures falling in the wrong hands." The Doctor explained.

"Well, you're in luck. I was thinking on opening a Private Investigation office, and was planning to specialize in mutant or superhuman cases. Problem is, I don't have enough to spare after getting this place."

"We can have funds transferred to you. All we care is that you carry out a task as soon as the time comes." The Doctor ominously repeated.

"Yeah, sure." Joe found himself unsure of his benefactor for the first time.

The Doctor turned around and left without another word.

Joe scratched his head. "I guess you'll call me. Hope my phone is connected by that time."

Spider-Man #6 - Fade to Black

Spider-Man #6

"Fade to Black"

Written By Karl V.

Peter Parker, the man known as Spider-Man, finished sewing his new black costume. To separate confusion between he and Venom, he made the spider emblem and the eye sockets a deep glowing red. Hopefully, this would symbolize his new way of fighting crime. No more waiting for the criminals to make their move, he would actively find them first.

Mary Jane entered with Little May in her arms. "Hey Tiger, it looks like you made yet another costume."

Peter looked up and smiled. "I just hope that I don't go through so many costumes that I match Little May's diaper run."

Mary Jane rocked the baby who was happily gurgling. "We have to explain Little May to everyone. Any ideas?"

Peter dreaded this moment ever since they had gotten Little May back. "Nate has said he will tell the newspapers about finding a baby in the Green Goblin's layer, and notes concerning a kidnapping. I doubt they will believe him since he's a..." Mary Jane winced at the impending word, "...mutant."

"Did you call Hank yet?" Mary Jane's face turned rather serious.

Peter nodded. "I guess the X-Men have been rather busy lately. The robots that have been running around in New York are apparently connected to Energon somehow. As for your situation, it's the first case scenario that Hank can study right away."

Mary Jane grew cold and glowered. "I know you're a scientist at heart Peter. But, don't ever talk about me like I'm one of your projects again."

Peter immediately stood up and gripped Mary Jane in a hug. "Hey, I love you more than you can ever know. I know you are not a thing to be poked and prodded. Besides, Hank's bedside manner will be a lot worse than mine will. And, well..."

Mary Jane noticed Peter's hesitation. "Continue."

"He's bringing Professor Xavier and Scott Summers. I think Scott is coming just to help make sure Hank doesn't treat you like a case study. And, Scott warned me about Professor Xavier. I think he may ask you to be part of the dream, as Scott put it."

"I haven't been a mutant for more than a day yet and someone wants me to join the X-Men! Just because my husband is a super-hero doesn't mean I want to join the fray!" Mary Jane began pouting and sobbing.

Peter held her as tight as he could, without squishing Little May. "I know honey. I'll be here to make sure Professor Xavier does not treat you like an instant recruit. Scott gave me that job. Besides,

Scott sees you as a threat to replace the most beautiful red head on the team."

Mary Jane managed a half smile. "You added that part."

"Guilty as charged." He kissed Mary Jane.

"So, who's your first test run on the new costume?" Mary Jane quickly changed the subject.

"The Rhino. He's been the quietest lately. I guess that will help me develop my detective skills. I might bring in Joe on this one."

"Can you trust this guy? I mean, you have had the old villain gone good to go bad again."

Peter shrugged his shoulders. "He wasn't a bad guy at all, just programmed by the female Doctor Octopus that way. I really need to catch up on Ben's personal and costumed life, when he wore my webs."

Mary Jane thought for a moment. "Why not let this Joe do it? I mean, he did ruin Ben's reputation as the Scarlet Spider. Let him get some closure and you won't have to deal with dredging up all that past."

"I deal with it everyday no matter what. But, you are right. This guy needs some type of closure, and finding more about what exactly Ben did will be the best way to do it."

Peter picked up the telephone then realized something. "I forgot. Joe doesn't have a phone yet."

Mary Jane followed Peter's gaze over at the new black costume. "You always find some excuse."

Peter noted that her tone was not sarcastic this time. "Hey, if you don't want to wear this at all, just say the word."

"No, we are not safe anymore. Peter, I need you to bring down anyone else who has a grudge against you. There is no other way. Just do it quickly, so you can be a father too." Mary Jane kissed Peter on the cheek.

"You got it hon. I'll do whatever I can, and I'll even ask for help." Peter winked at MJ who gave a smirk in response.

"By the way, where are those four copycats of yours, The Slingers?" Peter shook his head. "I haven't heard or seen them for months. I suppose they broke up the team already."

"Well, you still have the original four costumes. Maybe, it's time to look for replacements." Mary Jane rocked Little May to sleep.

Peter looked as though a light had been turned on over his head. "Hey, you've given me a great idea for Joe! He wanted a costumed identity, so I guess one of the costumes would work great!"

"Glad to help, Tiger. I'm going to put Little May to bed." Mary Jane prepared to leave as Peter grabbed her arm.

"Hold on you." Peter kissed Little May on the forehead, and then kissed Mary Jane. "I love you."

"I love you too Peter." Mary Jane turned around and walked down the hall.

Peter donned his new costume, then opened the window. Spider-Man slung a web to a nearby light pole, and disappeared into the darkness of the night.


Joe picked up the phone as though it was some just newly invented device. Although he had rare occasions to use the phone in the Federal hospital, he still could not get used to the fact that all he had to do was pick it up to get a dial tone. The red taped procedure for even making one phone call was horrid enough. First, he had to fill out a type of permission form, and detail what the call would be about. He found it quite redundant since they tapped the lines. That form would then have to go to the doctor in charge of the case. After approval from the doctor, the head of the department had to also approve of the call. Finally, the head of the whole complex had to approve of the call. By the time the whole procedure was done, pressing nine to get to the outside line seemed like a blessing. Joe simply hung and clicked the phone a few times, just to get used to the notion he no longer needed anyone else's permission. The only number he had was of a freelance photographer, Peter Parker. Spider-Man had given that number as a main contact. Joe started to dial the number, naturally pressing the nine first. Joe slightly hesitated, and shook his head. He clicked on the receiver for a moment, then released it. He tried again and made sure not to hit the nine again. Then, came a tap at the window. Joe looked up to see a black costumed Spider-Man hanging upside down. A bit taken aback by the new malevolent appearance, Joe cautiously proceeded to the window. He opened it slowly and only half way.

"Hey, don't let the new duds spook you. It's still me." Spider-Man happily chimed.

Joe nodded and opened the window all the way. "Come on in. I was about to call your friend."

Spider-Man swung into the apartment. "Well, I wouldn't really call him a friend, more like a major nuisance that seems to know everywhere I go."

Joe nodded. "I suppose that you had a reason for coming here."

"I have an idea for a costume, but you need to earn your trust first. The Scarlet Spider came in as a replacement for me after you had unintentionally ruined his reputation. I need you to find out everything you can about the enemies he faced. Some may have been quite different from the normal ones I always play tag with."

Joe pondered for a moment. "I think I owe it to him to do that much. By the way, do you know where I could find him and directly apologize?"

Spider-Man bowed his head for a moment. "He...died. It was a rare genetic disease."

"I'm sorry to hear it. Well, I'll do what is necessary on the side to find out everything I can. And whatever garb you have for me, I'll be more than happy to wear." Joe extended his hand.

Spider-Man shook it. "Hey, don't sweat it. I appreciate everything you can find."

Spider-Man turned around and Joe noticed that red Spider legs all crossed in the back and intersected, and with the natural curves of his back formed a hour glass shape.

Joe easily assessed Spider-Man's intent. "Are you planning to bring everyone down?"

"Yeah, and that's why I need that gap covered. Certain circumstances have deemed it necessary to get all those villains with a grudge out of the way. "

Joe smirked. "So you can have a real life outside of the costume."

Spider-Man laughed. "If you can call it that. Well, I'm out of here for now. Good luck."

"You too. I'll do my best." Joe watched Spider-Man depart from his apartment.

Joe started at the nearest local library. He examined every article of what he dubbed the "replacement spider". He was also severely tempted to read tales of him as the metallic Scarlet Spider. Joe had been assured his identity wasn't revealed outside of the witnesses involved, but then again there were a lot of witnesses that day. So much to atone for, he thought to himself. He began writing down the list of the unusual suspects. He also noticed that a lot of appearances that had happened around a little café called the Daily Grind. Joe could probably even discover this guy's secret identity if he were good enough. And, maybe even figure out Spider-Man's identity as well. Joe shook his head. There was no need for that yet. Besides, there was an issue of trust involved. After finishing his list of bad guys, Joe proceeded to Daily Grind.


"I swear those robots are faker than a child's toy. It must be some kin' of mutie agenda." One man lamented to the red-haired woman next to him.

She turned and gave a slight smile. "Well, it's always something."

"Angelica, don't give that boy the time o' day. He just don't know how to judge a book underneath the cover." The African-American woman wiped a spot off the counter.

The man grunted. "What do you know about it?"

"Just take a look boy. I was always judged for something I couldn't help. Now, are you going to order something or just take up space?"

He got up from the stool and headed for the door. "I ain't gonna eat at no restaurant that caters to muties."

The woman known as Angelica shrugged her shoulders. "Well, I didn't know you extended your services to catering."

The manager laughed. "You always have a bright attitude Angelica. It kind of reminds me of that Reilly. That poor boy was killed by some costumed freak."

"I didn't need to hear that." Angelica looked down.

"Oh Hon, I'm sorry. I always seem to go off tangent. What's with that face? Something else got you down today?"

Angelica nodded. "It's been six months since Vance and I broke up. We had everything together. Then, it all fell apart."

"Don't fret Hon, with such a pretty face, you can go anywhere you want." She winked at Angelica.

Angelica wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Thanks, I appreciate it."

The manager smiled. "No problem telling the truth hon. I need to go take inventory. I'll be right back."

Angelica proceeded to think about events. Captain America sought a need to reform the team, and thought that it would be better for Vance and Angelica to reform the New Warriors. Vance immediately agreed to the Captain's request. Although Vance was successful, he started to blame himself for not being good enough to stay on the Avengers. Angelica found herself convincing her former fiancé that this was not the case. Captain America believed there was something big going down around the sudden technological boom, and the world could use as many superhero teams as it could get. The Captain was right, but for some odd reason Vance saw everything in the negative. It began to severely effect their relationship to the breaking point. And, ultimately, Angelica felt she could no longer coddle his affections. She broke the engagement off as he wallowed further into misery. Vance eventually left the leadership of the New Warriors to the Night Thrasher, and finally left the team. It had been six months since she last heard from Vance or the team. Angelica was an inactive member, since the strain on her relationship was not causing her to concentrate. Angelica happened upon the Daily Grind by accident, when a Taxi had gotten a flat by the restaurant. The manager was so nice and had an open ear, so she regularly started to eat at the Grind for Dinner. For Angelica, it was not for the food but more for the friend she had made. The manager didn't mind, as Angelica was willing to listen to the manager's rants and raves as well. She sat and stare into her mug of coffee with only one thing on her mind: her former fiancé. However, that was about to change as a man walked through the doors of the Daily Grind. Always intently interested in anyone to call friend, Angelica turned around and looked to see who entered. She almost dropped her cup when she saw his face. The last time she saw the face was when the New Warriors fought the fake Scarlet Spider. This man was the metallic monstrosity that ruined the true Scarlet's reputation.

"YOU!" Her yell brought attention to everyone in the café.

The man stood with his mouth open, unsure of what to say. "I...I'm sorry."

Angelica switched to the defensive. "For your sake, I hope your not here to cause trouble."

"No, I'm not. I came here to get information on the replacement spider. I guess I came to the right place." The man sat a couple of chairs down from Angelica.

Angelica was still a bit nervous. "The replacement spider?"

"He was the Scarlet Spider. His decision to wear Spider-Man's gear was forced because of me. I had no choice." The man ordered a cup of Java.

Angelica started to remember the fight with the fake Scarlet and the New Warriors. She did have a feeling the new Spider-Man was the real Scarlet, but that was never confirmed until now.

"I remember now. Some woman convinced you to fight it back. I guess you got it all under control now." Angelica relaxed a little more.

He nodded. "She left. She didn't have the patience she thought she had."

The words hit Angelica like a ton of bricks. "I can...relate."

He politely smiled. "I'm Joe Wade. As crazy as this may sound, the real Spider-Man has hired me to investigate all of the replacement spider's enemies. He doesn't want to be caught off guard with some villain he doesn't know."

Angelica raised an eyebrow. "Well, Mr. Wade if that is the truth, tell me what happened to the real Scarlet Spider."

"Spider-Man said he died of some genetic disease." Joe muttered the words.

Angelica was slightly caught off guard by this news. A part of her was attracted to the mysterious man, but her commitment to Vance quashed any mere thought of acting on that feeling. She frowned and started to cry again. Joe was slightly agitated by her sobbing. He was not sure whether to console her or not. He was startled to see the manager rush out and offer her shoulder.

"It's okay hon." She turned to Joe. "She just broke up with her man. She's still trying to get over it."

Angelica glared at the manager for releasing such private information right away. "Hey Shirley, don't spill the beans."

"Actually, now that you mentioned it; half of the Colombian supply spilt to the floor."

Joe and Angelica laughed. Shirley smiled at the two of them and then went back to the supply room to clean up her supposed mess.

"I see why you like this place so much." Joe took a sip of his coffee.

Angelica beamed. "Yeah, it's a nice little getaway."

"I don't mean to bring up bad memories, but could you tell me everything you know about Scarlet Spider?"

Joe's statement made Angelica think for a moment. "Well, I guess. It would get my mind off things."


With no luck on the Rhino situation, Spider-Man decided to raid the Bugle. Fortunately, Jonah wasn't present for some odd reason. Spider-Man decided it was best go in as Parker. A quick change to his civilian attire and Peter Parker entered the Bugle's building. The room was buzzing with typewriters and various conversations. Most of them were concerning the politician Shawn Berger. Peter remembered giving the tip from the one symbiote known as... gotta boomerang. Peter smirked at the nickname. He went down to the computer room and searched the database for any recent whereabouts of the Rhino. There were a few incidents concerning a rash of smashed up computer equipment that matched the Rhino's pattern of destruction. Peter remembered something and smacked his head. Quickly, he typed in a name: Josie Beller. The screen came up with a few articles about her inventions and little else. Peter shook his head. He had almost completely forgotten about this woman. For some odd reason, he trusted Archeville's word. Archeville had said something rather peculiar, and emphasized it. He said something about a new group of mutants protecting Beller. Peter thought for a moment and then hit his head a couple of times on the desk for being so dense.

"What's my next gig?" The Rhino asked the rather bald headed figure on a visual interface.

He was eating something unrecognizable to the Rhino. "You've done good. The Overseer did have doubts ever since setting you free. And, we now want full payment for Now, there's a source that leaked and named me to the Daily Bugle. I want you to destroy all evidence they have gathered, no matter the circumstances."

"Do I ever get to meet this Overseer or what? I would like to know who's behind all this." The Rhino's tone was sincerely curious.

The man shook his head. "No, that's quite impossible. By the way, my name is Shawn Berger. And, remember any information on me is to be destroyed no matter what."

"Gotcha. Spider-Man usually haunts the Bugle though. I guess he likes that Parker freak taking his picture."

Berger laughed as crumbs fell out of his mouth. "I can't believe how incredibly dense some of you are. It's like adding two plus two and you don't know the answer."

The Rhino hit the screen in rage. "You're the one who hired me."

"I did, didn't I? Well, not that it matters. We can offer you some Xenotech gear, usually only trusted to our Onex Guard. That way, you can humiliate the Spider-Man back for a change."

"I don't need no armor to help me defeat Spider-Man."

Berger shook his head. "And, how many times did you say that and ended up in the Vault?"

The Rhino didn't hit the console this time. "I ain't going back to that hole. I'll do whatever it takes to stay out of there."

"Good, I'll have one of the Onex deliver the goods. I must attend to other matters. Berger out."

"Well forget the bull, here comes the Rhino."


Spider-Man swung by the Warriors usual haunts to no avail. "This is like trying to find a needle in a haystack."

His spider-sense shot off like a rocket, and he quickly dodged...a howling wind. It shot off again and he dodged another gust. Although Spider-Man was finding this rather odd, he recognized the gusts. They were fists flying in the air. Yet another swung by, and Spider-Man dodged that one as well. Whoever the invisible person was, he or she was persistent. The volley of breezes intensified. Spider-Man knew that even the Invisible Woman couldn't keep this speed. Spider-Man began dodging left and right, flipping and turning. His mind was trying to grasp exactly what power the attacker had. Before Spider-Man neared exhaustion, a woman appeared before his eyes. A fair young woman of obvious Indian heritage was wheezing in an attempt to catch her breath. Before Spider-Man could give her the third degree, his Spider-sense tingled once more. He leaped up and dodged an incoming man who had round orbs of kinetic energy surrounding him. Unfortunately, he realized too late that he was heading for the woman.

"Speedball, not again!" The woman yelled out.

"Sorry Timeslip!" He bellowed as the clashed into each other.

Spider-Man shook his head. "Haven't you learned to control those crazy things yet?"

"Hey, that's my line...sort of." Speedball was helping Timeslip back up.

Spider-Man flipped again, as another blur of black whizzed by him. It was the infamous clubs of the Night Thrasher.

"Sorry, but I've had enough time to hear about that fake Scarlet Spider that reigned on their parade. Now, we don't want another blatant copy running around. Besides, which one are you, the Black Tarantula?"

Spider-Man wasn't too happy about the use of the words blatant copy. His voice was resounding in that fact. "Scarlet was set up, and I'm the real deal. I did wear black once before, Thrash. Of course, that was way before you even wore diapers in the hero biz, so I doubt you remember."

"Oh, a bit touchy are we Spider? The real deal usually comes up with a joke as a rebuttal."

Spider-Man, never one to take advantage of an opening, swung a line of web around a light pole right above Night Thrasher. Night Thrasher turned around and rose his fist.

"Leaving so...soon?"

Before Night Thrasher could finish, Spider-Man had used kinetic force to reel himself around in a complete circle. He swung his legs right at one particular target on Night Thrasher. Night Thrasher was thrown face first to the ground, as Spider-Man landed next to him.

"How's that for a re BUTT al?" Spider-Man offered his hand to Night Thrasher.

Night Thrasher took it and dusted off his uniform. "That arrogant voice, the bad joke. My butt getting literally kicked. Only you could pull that off. What is with the new threads?"

Spider-Man eased up a little bit. "I...have other priorities. I intend to bring everyone down that has a grudge."

"Jesus, man. Knowing your reputation, that's a heck of a lot of bad guys. Well, if you wanted the psychological factor, the suit works well."

Spider-Man looked around for any other New Warriors. "Thanks. Is this it Thrash? It's not much of a reformation. And, I was looking for someone new, to the Warriors that is."

"Ouch. Well Justice was having some...difficulties. And, needless to say, Firestar is out of the picture because of the same...difficulties. Needless to say, we're a bit short. And, yes we do have someone new, but she has...priorities as well." Night Thrasher shrugged his shoulders.

"Is her name Josie Beller?"

Spider-Man's question was answered with a shake of everyone's head.

"I don't think we have such a technical expert in our squad, Spider." Thrash said.

"You have heard her name?"

Thrash nodded. "Yes, but she's not with us. The new recruit's name is Poison. Although, we may make up a new one for her."

"Poison, now that's one I haven't heard in ages. Her boy must have grown up a little more for her to go play hero."

Night Thrasher scratched his head. "Well, since you know her already. Anyway, what's with Josie Beller?"

"Some new symbiote guy said she was with a new team of mutants. I know that the New Mutants reformed to the X-Force. So, I took my next best guess."

"Was that Hybrid? He left to go..." Speedball instantly shut up as Night Thrasher silenced him.

"What was this symbiote's name?" Night Thrasher asked before Spider-Man had to chance to ask about Hybrid.

"Archeville. And, I met his brother, Gotter..bomerang."

Night Thrasher laughed. "It's Gotterdamerung. It's German for the Apocalypse. Twilight of the Gods."

"Well, I take it you either met them or heard of them. Archeville told me Beller escaped with Venom out of Sector 17. And, that she..."

"Joined a new group of mutants, as you told us." Timeslip interceded.

Spider-Man beamed at the young mutant. "Yes, precisely."

"Sorry, we haven't kept tabs on any new mutant groups lately, unless we

fought them." Night Thrasher reported.

"Hey, there was an odd report in the paper. It was about some New York executive hiring a bunch of bodyguards. It was in the editorial in the Bugle though." Speedball was smiling ear to ear.

"Well, it's a start. Do you have a copy?" I have to remember to actually read the editorials next time too, Spider-Man thought quietly to himself.

Speedball nodded and produced the article from one of his inner pockets in his costume.

"You keep stuff like that around?" Thrash silently hoped there wasn't a ton of other stuff hidden in that costume.

"It caught my eye for some reason. I thought it might come in handy for later."

"Odd...It says here about how this Blackrock spent a boatload on a new group of bodyguards...apparently mutants. And, he has some weird thing for the medieval ages."

"His new knights in shining armor, I suppose." Thrash stated out loud.

Spider-Man looked at Thrash. "Hey, I think you tripped onto something there. The team probably has some corny medieval theme to it."

"New Knights, The that reminds me too much of the Big Wheel...." Spider-Man continued to ramble out loud.

"The big wheel?" Timeslip's eyes widened in reference to the name.

Spider-Man looked back up. "Oh forget it. I need to go back to the Bugle and see if I can find any more references to this Blackrock character. Say, you wouldn't happen to know where the Rhino is, would you?"

"No, sorry. We've been out scouting for any of the Onex Guard." Thrash reported.

Spider-Man scratched his head. "The Onex Guard?"

"They're some military faction. Apparently, they are some how related to Sector 17. They have some armor designs that even I haven't heard of yet."

Holy smokes, that means Archeville was telling the truth! They did back engineer a lot of the robot's technology! Those new Sentinels must have been part of the back engineering as well! Thank goodness I have yet to meet a back-engineered Spider-Slayer!

"Well, Spider-Man it's been fun. But, time is wasting." Thrash interrupted Spider-Man's train of thought.

"I can fix that." Timeslip winked at Thrash.

"Funny, everyone's a comedian. Seriously, we need to find out where these guys are getting their gear. And, the only way to do so is to catch one."

Spider-Man's sense alerted him to something nearby. "Well, I think we may have a winner. Let's go."

Night Thrasher looked at Spider-Man. "Since when did you become team leader?"

"I...uh...Were you a former Avenger?" Spider-Man beamed at the quickness of that one.

Thrash looked at the other two, who just gave a "it's up to you" look.

"I guess not. For your sake, I hope this isn't a wild goose chase."

"I think not." Spider-Man followed the trail his Spider-sense was laying out for him. As the supposed danger grew nearer, it beckoned louder in his head. The New Warriors were close behind and travelling through their own unique methods. Soon the four came upon a singular flying man, who was evidently carrying something just by his slow movement.

"It looks like we hit pay dirt. I recognize the gear from our last tussle." Night Thrasher announced.

Evidently, the suit was rigged for sensitive hearing. The soldier turned to see four costumed superheroes closely on his trail. "Great, Berger didn't pay me enough for this. Screw this Rhino guy, I'm dumping this load and high tailing it out of here." The Onex Guard dropped his cargo as it crashed to the ground; he hit his boosters in his jetpack and disappeared into the night sky.

"Well, that was easy." Spider-Man lamented.

"They're more courageous in groups." Timeslip appeared right next to Spider-Man.

The four came upon the carton. And, they began to look it over for any signs of tampering.

The good old Spider-sense isn't going off, so it isn't a bomb. "Let's open it up and find out what's inside."

"You superhero types can never leave well enough alone can ya?" A deep voice shot off from the shadows.

Spider-Man instantly recognized it. "Well, well. It looks like the horn head has decided to come out and play."

"That package was meant for me webs. Now, hand it over before I give ya the hurting of a lifetime." The Rhino came out into the light.

"Sorry, but we need that gear to get a clue on the Onex Guard." Night Thrasher ordered to other two New Warriors to come up by his side with a mere wave of his hand.

"Yeah, we're the New Warriors. And, you going back to the petting zoo." Speedball's introduction made everyone pause.

"That's funny kid. I ain't laughed so hard in ages. So, the little Spider needs help now does he?"

"I'm here for you Rhino. The Warriors are here for the gear. And, so are you. Guess whose going to have the gear?"

"Oh, you think a little costume change is goin' to scare little ol' me?" The Rhino began to lower his head, an indication he was about to charge.

Spider-Man took a defensive stance. "Yes, it will. Your time is up Rhino. I'm here to make sure of that."

The Rhino charged at full speed as Spider-Man easily evaded him. However, Spider-Man realized a little too late that he was not the intended target. The Rhino smashed the crate open and grabbed all of the gear that was stored in it. He fitted a pair of gauntlets and a serrated horn extension to his suit.

"Oh yea, you goin' to make sure of nothing. Now, I have some targets to test the new improved Rhino."

"What's the saying? Never mind here's mine: Same name, different packaging,

still a loser." Spider-Man swung in hard and smashed the Rhino up against a nearby garbage container.

The Rhino got up and pointed the gauntlets at Spider-Man. A web shot out from one, as Spider-Man got entangled in its threads.

"That's it! Now you're stealing my tools of the trade!" Spider-Man got out of the net and tossed it aside.

The Rhino pointed the gauntlets at Spider-Man once more, only to find them gone. "What the?"

Timeslip, with the gauntlets in her hands, appeared before the Rhino.

"Lose something?"

"Lousy dame, I'm going to pigstick ya." The Rhino lowered his head as it brought the blade attached to his horn down. Timeslip helplessly watched as she saw a thin guillotine of death descend her way. Fortunately, Night Thrasher dove in to save the day as the blade only sliced the air. Speedball began to ricochet off anything in the near vicinity. He decided he gained enough momentum and headed for the Rhino's other side. The Rhino lost his balance as the blade hit the cement. The instrument was so sharp, that it dug into the cement. The Rhino pulled as hard as he could; the result was pulling the extension off his horn. The Rhino was flung back again, the force of his own tug being too much. He landed on the spot where Speedball had hit him before.

"You see, Spidey. I can learn from you." Speedball gave a thumb's up.

Spider-Man didn't respond. "Enough games."

Spider-Man went up to the Rhino. The Rhino sensed something very foreboding about Spider-Man's demeanor. Also, the Rhino didn't want a complete humiliation on his record.

"I give up." The Rhino grinned when he saw Spider-Man's disappointment.

Spider-Man shook his head. "I know you too well. Get up."

The Rhino was at a loss. He did as was told and stood up. He tried

to be as taunting as possible. "What you going to do webs?"

Spider-Man clocked the Rhino with a right hook. The Rhino's jaw opened, producing a couple of broken teeth. The Rhino slumped to the ground with a thud.

"That." Spider-Man walked up to the comatose body.

The New Warriors looked at each and then at Spider-Man. Spider-Man returned their gaze.

"I meant what I said. And besides, I didn't hit him when he was down."

Night Thrasher's stoic face said enough. "But, you told him to get back up so you could clock him cold."

"He was stupid enough to reply, so yeah."

The Night Thrasher simply nodded in compliance, as not to infuriate Spider-Man. "Fine, we'll provide mop up duty. And, thanks."

"No doubt the authorities won't receive the Onex Guard gear meant for the Rhino?" Spider-Man winked.

"Something like that...yeah." Night Thrasher extended a hand out for Spider-Man to shake.

Spider-Man firmly grasped Thrash's hand. "Say, since your roster is a bit low, would you mind another inactive member? I may upgrade later."

Night Thrasher looked at Speedball and Timeslip. They quickly nodded their approval. Thrash turned to Spider-Man.

"Alright, I guess a former Avenger should be enough of a credential to join the crew." Thrash gave a wink back.

"Thanks, I'll swing by later!" Spider-Man swung out of their site.

The Night Thrasher shook his head. "I hope that man doesn't get too used to the new direct style. We may just have to keep an eye on him so he doesn't step over the line. I guess the best way is as part of the team."

"He's Spider-Man! He won't step over any line! He'll just make you step over it because he put a banana peel on there...." Speedball patted Thrash on the shoulder.

Thrash heavily sighed. "He's a just a joker, not a practical one. I just hope your right kid."

"I'm no kid! And, shouldn't we call someone before he wakes up?" Speedball pointed to the Rhino.

"It's already been done." Timeslip grinned at Speedball.

The New Warriors left as soon as the SHIELD agents came. And, the Rhino, who was still knocked out from Spider-Man's right hook, was put into the specialized patty wagon.

"Stupid idiot, I shouldn't even bother. But, there's more important things at stake." The mysterious figure leapt off the roof of the building and onto the roof of the SHIELD's armored prison car.