Written By Karl V.
"I'm afraid the tests are conclusive. Your wife has been a latent mutant, and Energon provided the key to the proverbial Pandora's box."
"Latent mutant? How can that go undetected?" Peter queried.
Hank McCoy shrugged. "It would only be detectable to those knowledgeable enough to look for it. But, Energon can not add the extra DNA. It has to be present in the first place."
"So, the light switch is on. Is there any way to tell if it's permanent?" Peter asked next, although hesitantly.
"It's a matter of what her power is, if anything at all." Scott replied. "She could end up with something that is constantly on all the time, or something she can control."
"Great, this is not what we needed." Oh man, and we thought we had to worry about the baby because of me! It's hard to tell anything in such an early stage, but now that she's older...
"Indeed, it is a hard time. And, you have friends among you."
Peter was getting ready for the obligatory offer for Mary Jane to live in Xavier's mansion. "Thanks, I appreciate it. As you know, she won't take any offers to go to the mansion. Whether it's there to be in spandex or not, no offense."
"None taken, especially since I have a natural covering." Hank winked at Peter, and poked at Scott.
Scott sighed. "Just take our advice. Mutant powers usually first manifest during an high emotional state of mind. Just make sure you help her out with the baby as much as possible."
"My job almost doesn't allow for time. I mean, I have to be out to get a picture for a story at a moment's notice." Peter explained as he paced the floor.
Charles rolled his wheelchair a bit up to Peter. "Then, I suggest a new job which will allow time. It is possible that the baby may have a natural defense to her mother's powers, but that may not be the case."
A new job would mean no Spider-Man for sure, and I can't allow that to happen unless I know there's someone good enough to take place. Joe's not ready, the Slingers quit, and well.. I wish old Ben was still around.
"Please Professor, obviously Peter has much to think about. You can inform your wife of the bad news, and further testing will have to be done to see if her mutant powers can be "turned off". However, I must warn you. Most endeavors have turned out to be rather unfruitful." McCoy solemnly patted Peter on the shoulder.
Scott was obviously lost in all the scientific discussion a long time ago and glad to hear something he understood. Peter Parker's wife was indeed a mutant, a latent one at that. Where Energon's long presence on Earth caused mutant genes, some weren't active. Now, they knew any latent mutant that came in contact with Energon could have that gene activated. Scott's thoughts became lost as is strong psychic link with Jean seemed to warn him of something wrong.
"Scott, what is it?" Charles noticed the man's demeanor, and tried a mind probe of all his X-Men.
Scott shook his head. "I don't know. For one moment, it seemed as the Jean was in trouble. Then..."
Charles and Scott both had the same straight faced expression on their face's. Hank knew this face all too well. The X-Men were in serious danger, and it was time to make a quick departure.
"I do believe we have other friends in need of assistance, judging by the extreme contortions on the facial muscles of my comrades here." Hank walked over to the Professor and Scott.
The Professor nodded in agreement. "Yes, I am sorry that we can not discuss this further."
"Fine." Peter remarked. "It's better that we had some time alone to talk things out anyway."
"Agreed." Scott nervously tapped a foot on the floor. "Professor, we should get going."
As the trio departed from the lab, Peter was lost in thought. The baby could end up having a combination of his powers and being a mutant as well. Not to mention Mary Jane's mutant power could alter her appearance, and create a truly horrid environment for all involved. Peter's Spider-Sense interrupted his thoughts.
"Excuse me." A rather slender Asian woman entered, "Do you have permission to be here?"
He frowned, the recent news and the thought of being hassled making his voice bitter. "Yes, I called ahead. I'm Peter Parker. And, I might ask the same of you."
She instantly recognized the name as one on the list for lab work tonight. "I'm sorry, I'm the Doctor on duty. There's been a recent rash of theft lately."
Peter put his game face on, and cursed himself for being so blunt to the poor gal. She had as much troubles on her mind as he did. "I'm sorry. It's just that..."
The Doctor shook her head. "Don't worry. We have many former students who do blood tests for the Legacy Virus. Even though it's been all mutants, you never know if it's going to alter and start to effect regular humans."
Peter gave the woman such a hollow and frightened scare that she almost panicked. Peter snapped out of it. "Look, it's all clear. No Legacy Virus. I need to clean my things up here, and I'll be one less worry."
The woman had obviously hit upon something that he wanted to keep to himself. But, she could tell that he needed to vent on someone. "Look, there's no else in the building. And, personally, I'm a Doctor Doctor. I don't like the idea of playing security guard."
"I appreciate the effort. But, a real good friend of mine may be a mutant. And, I don't know if the effects of a certain type of radiation will cause it to be temporary or not. If you don't mind, I need to be alone right now." Peter turned away and started wiping the test tubes clean.
She started to reach for his shoulder, but thought it would be wise not to do so. "I'm Doctor Jones. If you need me, just let me know."
Peter made sure the Doctor knew when he left, so he could escort her to her car. It was the least he could do after treating her so badly.
"I hate this." He hissed to his symbiote other. "We hide while innocents suffer because of the Five. Well, four now since we quit."
The symbiote didn't respond this time. Eddie Brock was at a loss. Due to an alien slug being merged with his other, the symbiote's co-dependency was diminishing. And, Eddie's was not. He dared to think that maybe he should be rid of the slug. The symbiote started to peel away from Eddie.
"Look, I'm human. I can't help that kind of thought. I know that little...thing keeps us from wanting to eat brains and becoming a crazed maniac. But, I suggest we split up. You can go on your own now, and I need to go to old windbag Jameson. I'm pretty sure he'll want an exclusive from someone on the inside. I'll get payback for his firing me by having him make me headline news. Then, I'll eat his brains later."
The symbiote swarmed for a moment, then Eddie chuckled. "Yeah, old habits die hard. I guess I better bring some milk duds just in case."
The symbiote completely broke from Eddie as they parted ways. Eddie climbed down a fire ladder from the building's rooftop. As Eddie hopped down from the last rung, he was met with some thugs with black trench coats and fedoras. They lowered their heads in attempt to hide their faces, and wore several gold chains on their chest to provide even more distraction.
"Check Mr. Adonis. Yo man, the stair master is at the gym. You don't need to be using our turf." The thug's voice sounded strained, as though the words were forced out of his mouth.
Eddie Brock was wishing that he had separated from his other in a much better section of town, but he did relish an opportunity to test himself without the symbiote. "Oh, and I suppose there's a problem?"
"There is not. Your symbiotic form prevented us from using you for our purposes. Now, you have simply made it easier to join the collective." The thug announced as he lifted his face to reveal it as some other than human.
Eddie was unsure of what was going on, but he knew this was not good. "Sorry, I have a commitment with my other. It will come back soon enough."
The thug snapped his golden fingers. "I think not."
Three more gold and black forms came by with the symbiotic other encased in some type of protective bubble it could not penetrate.
"Now, it is time to join the Phalanx Eddie Brock." The thug explained as it lost the fedora and coat and revealed a humanoid form covered in black and gold.
"Alright, you can knock of the X-Files crap, and give me back my other before I have to hurt you." Eddie lunged for the protective bubble as his symbiote attempted to reach him as well.
"Fool, your assimilation into our ranks is necessary. You will provide a back up plan to our current actions. Should our other envoy fail, we will need a direct approach." The thug extended it's arm to cover Eddie Brock.
Eddie stood dazed. "I live to serve the Collective. What is your desire?"
"For now, you must keep appearances. Continue on your host's mission as though nothing happened. We shall contact you when necessary." The thug and its three "associates" took the other, as Brock shifted the techno-organics to look like Venom, with the exception of his Spider emblem now being gold.
"We shall obey! And suck the brains of all that oppose, and do not join the Collective!" Venom produced a web line of techno organic waste matter, as he swung into the heart of New York City.
"Kaine, you pushed me the last time." Lonnie announced, as he poked a figure at the chest of the clone.
Kaine sneered, as he regarded the man also known as Tombstone. "Hold your tongue before I make you into a namesake."
"I got word on you, clone boy." Tombstone growled. "It's too bad that mug is so ugly, I don't know who Spider-Man is."
Kaine tried to hide the surprise in his face. "You have just guaranteed your death."
"Bring it on." Tombstone knocked on Kaine's prison bars.
Kaine could easily bend the bars to reach the arrogant fool, but his promise to stay still held Kaine's killer instinct at bay. "I will not be tempted by the likes of one so low. If you even attempt such a gesture, you will surely bear my Mark as a testament to your final failure."
"I'm guessing the life behind these bars has made you slow. And, I've had time to prepare. I'll see you real soon Kaine."
Kaine grabbed a strong hold of the bars as Tombstone left. "You are a fool to warn me. Your death will be mourned by no one."
Joe leaned on a nearby light pole wondered silently how to handle this. The story with the eye witnesses checked out and Irene Merryweather was saved by Cable. Still, his honed instincts of a federal detective kicked into gear. Someone wanted the reporter to fall into Cable's midst, and it was this so called Inner Circle of the Hellfire club. It was way too easy of a setup, especially to go to the trouble of killing everyone in an office building. The lone survivor falling right into Cable's arms, who was apparently on the trail of a highly resourceful cadre. A cadre that had vested interest in the soldier from the future, and the best way to get accurate glimpses was by an excellent reporter. Irene was indeed innocent, but there was the matter of the Inner Circle.
Joe quickly decided that there was a need of a costume. If he was to go in with his face, the Inner Circle could find him and kill him that much quicker. Spider-Man had mentioned something that he had in reserve. And Joe didn't exactly want to become a Scarlet Spider again, in fear that the female Doctor Octopus' programming might reassert itself despite reassurances from his strange benefactors. He decided the next best step was to go find Spider-Man. Although, he was distracted when a manhole came flying up from the street. Joe squinted to make sure his vision was correct as he saw a pair of skinny arms with several bone protrusions come up from the manhole. As the arms heisted up the rest of the body, Joe saw the mutant's back toward him. Joe looked around for any other eye witnesses and found no one within visual range. He took the opportunity to change his appearance, one that he really dreaded to use. But, he felt he owed it to the man that helped save his life.
"Hey Toots!" Joe sheepishly tried to sound like Spider-man as much as possible. "Fancy meeting you here."
The mutant turned around and quickly gave a sneer with her face. "Of all the manholes, I had to find you. I suppose you are going to shovel more of that responsibility garbage in my face."
"No, I had to take my other costume to the cleaners because of that." Joe tried to play up Spider-Man's attitude as much as possible.
"Look bug boy, I'm sort of glad I found you. You are the only one that I really don't want to kill right now. There's something weird going on in this place, and even the pretties are coming into the Morlock tunnels. You should look into what's going on, or else I start sending them back up in body bags."
Joe wasn't sure what to say next. But, he had an idea. "Don't be such a bonehead. But, you're right. Something stinks around here, and it's not the smell coming out of the manhole."
"You are playing way too much on the jokes, imitator. Just tell the real deal what I said. I'm sure if you have that get up, he must be your friend. And, by the way the name is Marrow." The Morlock disappeared into the depths of the sewers.
Joe shrugged his shoulders, as he reverted back to normal. "I guess I have something else to tell him as well."
Mary Jane gently rocked the baby in her arms as she sung a lullaby to soothe Little May. The small infant slightly listed, rocking her head back and forth as her mouth twitched in a sucking motion.
"Dreaming of a binky. You are so precious. But, you have to get used to Mommy not being here as much." Mary Jane lightly kissed her forehead.
As Mary Jane walked up the stairs, she took each step cautiously enough not to wake Little May. As she practically tip toed to the nursery, as she laid the baby in her crib. Mary Jane sneaked back out of the room, slightly closing the door. As Mary Jane made her way back down the stairs, she saw the door open. When she saw Peter's worn face, she knew instantly the news he was bearing was not good.
"Peter?" Her voice was so strained with tension that his name came out as more of a squeal of anguish.
He did not say a word, but merely allowed tears to start to flow. Mary Jane's lips quivered as her husband's emotions overwhelmed her.
"Oh Tiger, what do I do now?" She balled in his shoulder.
Peter could only hold Mary Jane tight to his body. "I don't know sweetheart. But, we'll work this out together."
"Tiger, the modeling agency called. They gave me the extra time off for the baby, but they want me back or else they think I might lose my momentum. We can't stand to lose my job, not now."
Peter knew what this meant, as he would only have to play hero part time. "Okay hon. With Baby comes great responsibility. I have an idea for another replacement, but I have to help him work out the kinks."
"Oh Peter," Mary Jane gave a big smile as she wiped her tears, "I'm glad. It's about time I got my husband back. And, Little May needs to see her father too."
Peter continued to console Mary Jane, slightly thankful she took her mind off the mutant subject. "I'll always be here for you Mary Jane, and if I'm not the Fantastic Four will make sure our family stays safe."
Mary Jane stared at Peter. "You did...that for me?"
"And Little May too. But, I'll have my partner in crime with me when I take down all the bad guys. I want to ensure our safety like you said. I don't want any other psycho getting the same idea Osborn did."
Mary Jane hugged Peter tightly. "May is sleeping now. I don't suppose we can just curl up on the couch together."
"Anything for you, MJ. Anything for you."
She leaned forward onto her hands, and just wondered what to do next. After relinquishing the title to the true Doctor Octopus after his miraculous revival, Carol was at a lost. The "replacement" Spider-Man was gone as well as her foolish father. There wasn't much revenge to be had, and no real reason for her to go back into the scene as a villain again. She grunted in anguish, as she wanted the prestige, power, and recognition that came with what she once had. Not only that, she wanted the acceptance of Otto since she saw him as a mentor. Carol quickly walked to a closet and pressed a button. A hydraulic hiss was heard as a small sliding door raised up into the recesses of the wall. Lying on the floor was the familiar four armed contraption that made her the female Doctor Octopus.
"It's time I stopped being quiet. There's still a chance for me to shine. But, I have to think of a different name." Carol beamed as she grabbed one of the tentacles and dragged the suit back out. She paused for a moment staring at the four arms. A wide smile came across her face, as an idea crossed her mind.