"Golden Endeavors" Part of the Phalanx Ascension
Written by Karl Volmer
"It has been several months since Spider-Man has gone a complete spree of capturing many of his escaped enemies, all of which have been returned to the Vault, a high security prison facility specializing in unique paranormal criminal cases. Spider-Man has gone to extensive lengths in order to capture his assorted villain’s galleries. One report has that he paired up with an apparent sorceress just to capture Mysterio. No matter what his reasons, Spider-Man’s new mission has everyone asking the same questions. Has Spider-Man finally buckled under the pressures of being a superhero? Or is this an attempt at freedom to pursue the volley of all new sightings of transforming robots in and around the New York area? Or, perhaps there may be an unknown personal reason for all of this. Tell us what you think America."
"Perhaps it’s all three." Peter lamented as he turned off the television.
Mary Jane chased after the precocious little May, who had recently discovered the inherent fun of walking around. "You’re doing great Tiger, don’t let it get to you."
Peter allowed a half smile. "MJ, I should have done this a long time ago. I was always afraid about the use of my powers, and now I realize that fear needs to be controlled."
"Well, it’s better than knowing nothing at all." MJ frowned at the thought.
Peter sighed for a moment. "While I’ve been rounding up every little nook and cranny in my life and Ben’s, I thought we could round up yours as well. I think we can discover what your power is, but we can do it in a controlled environment."
"Peter, I’m just not ready to be even poke and prodded. I’ve been placing all my concentration on Little May. I don’t have anything left after that."
"I know MJ. You are a great mom, and I appreciate everything you’ve done to let me do what’s needed. But, I think we need to really find out exactly what activating the x-factor gene means for us." Peter looked at MJ and then Little May.
MJ nodded her head. "I know Peter. I’m just not ready yet."
Peter walked over and hugged his beautiful red headed wife. "Hey, I do have some free time now that almost everyone is in the Vault."
"Almost everyone?" MJ’s demeanor grew serious.
"Venom has managed to do a real good job of hiding himself. It’s not like Eddie and the other to be totally obscure to this degree."
"Peter, do what you can. I don’t want anything left to chance. Venom knows who we are, and he has a repeated history of going back on his self serving beliefs about being a hero."
"I know that all too well MJ. I’ll make sure he’s brought in for good. Maybe I’ll ask Joe and see what he has."
The great myriad of gold and black permeated the walls of the room, as a group of humanoid beings seem to stretch out from the walls themselves.
"This designate Spider-Man has a past association with our host. Perhaps we should invoke him into our collective."
"No, that would alert others to our presence here. Our other shall alleviate any worries about Spider-Man’s involvement in our endeavors. The Praetor has been chosen and soon we shall have complete control over the Cybertronians. However, we can not ignore the threat which this human’s abilities present to our plans."
"We should send his counterpart as a diversion. His consciousness seems troublesome at best. His mind is conditioned for symbiosis with this creature." Another Phalanx cohort produced the black liquid like life form in its restrictive container.
"Agreed, our troublesome host will provide an ample distraction while we have our other operative complete the second phase of our plan."
"Assimilation of secondary and less known hosts has proceeded without any further ramifications. Perhaps we should bolster the ranks with the other three that we’ve assimilated. The troublesome one has had nothing but a volley of losses to Spider-Man."
"Produce the others, and present them as joining this Venom. The fourth one of this mutant collective is still attempting to assimilate the highly advanced robot into our ranks."
"As you wish, but what do we do with the symbiotic creature?"
"Free it. If the host does not accomplish the mission, it will provide a back up to our plans. It will attempt to find a new host will distract Spider-Man as well."
Spider-Man’s well had run dry with the leads he had on Venom. He was right in telling Mary Jane that there would be one other alternative, Joe Wade. As Spider-Man swung by the office building, he smiled as Joe had left the window always open for his most prized guest.
"Joe, you’ve been doing great. You’ve really made an impact with your agency." Spider-Man leaped into the Detective’s office. "I’m proud to consider you a friend."
The Detective became beet red with embarrassment. "Well, I suppose that is good news. I’m still afraid I have reached a dead end with one case though. And, he’s my highest paying client yet."
"Hey, I suppose I could help you if you can help me." Spider-Man said with a wink.
"I had a feeling you were about to say that. This client wanted me to investigate the Hellfire Club."
Spider-Man tried to sugarcoat his words for his friend. "That’s some heavy stuff for someone just out of the gate, no offense."
"You did say something about help." Joe countered.
Spider-Man sighed for a moment. "Yeah, I did. What exactly is it all about?"
"My client wanted to find out exactly why the Hellfire Club went to the trouble of setting up a reporter as his sidekick, in a manner of speaking. The funny thing is, she has no connection to the Hellfire Club at all. Even as horrid as the setup, I basically reestablished her innocence."
Spider-man flinched at the familiar story. "I think I know who exactly you are talking about. It’s obvious that the Hellfire Club wants someone that they can trust. And, it’s certainly not going to be one of their regular members."
"I’ve established that much. But, there’s has to be something more to it. She seemed a bit too blessed with her escape from their forces."
"To be honest Joe, I literally meant I know who you are talking about. Irene Merryweather is an involuntary plant to find out information from Cable’s future. It’s no doubt that the Hellfire Club wants to use that information to their own ends. It’s not really a question of why they want her to get the information. It’s a question of how they are getting the information from her since she’s not volunteering it anytime soon."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa...that guy was from the future?"
"Welcome to the hero business." Spider-man lightly smiled beneath his mask.
Joe pondered for a moment. "Thanks, I guess I should do research on Cable rather than Irene. But, that would cause the...oh...stupid..."
Spider-man surmised what Joe had. "Hence why Hellfire Club went to the exorbitant lengths to get an insider that wasn’t part of their little deal."
"They would probably offer her a spot in there later on...probably just to be rejected by her and have Cable open up even more. Man, I’ll need a new day job if this keeps up."
"I wouldn’t be too pessimistic, like I said you’re doing a great job. Speaking of the hero business, what about our arrangement?"
"I gave it some thought. I’d like to make up for the trouble I caused, but as I got more cases I realized I didn’t need a costume to do it after all. In fact, I’m thinking of expanding and hiring some more hands."
Spider-Man seemed a bit unsteady about the news. "That’s great, but what will New York do without a web slinger?"
"I’m sure that it will do without one, since you’ve managed to capture all your enemies."
"Except one." Spider-Man stated in a monotone fashion. "Venom."
"Okay, I’ll tell you what. I’ll find Venom since you’ve given me a start on my case."
"Start?" Spider-Man sounded surprised.
"Yes, you mentioned exactly how the Hellfire Club gets their information from Irene. I’m sure she’s not doing it voluntarily as well; otherwise Cable would pick up on it by now."
"They have plenty of mutants in the Hellfire Club. All they need is a good mind reader to get all the information they want. I suppose they wait for Cable to go on some excursion, otherwise he’d detect someone trying to tap her mind." Spider-man explained to Joe.
"Okay, we’ll switch. I’ll attempt to find Venom, and you go to Cable with the news."
"Fine, I could use a break anyway. Good luck." Spider-Man swung back out the open window, as Joe began his new investigation.
"Next time Spidey, why don’t you manage to tell him that you don’t have the faintest inkling of where Cable is hiding?" Spider-man sighed since the new search was a fruitless as the one for Venom.
Well, if you didn’t attempt to ring in my head through Grey’s connection. A voice boomed in Spider-man’s head.
"Hey, where are you?"
Rather busy right now, with X-Force.
Fine, be that way. Spider-man finally managed to retort back without speaking out loud. Irene is a plant for the Hellfire Club, they’re managing to get information through her about you.
There was a silent pause. I know, I just wanted someone else to verify my suspicions.
Well if you’re so smart how come you’re allowing it to happen? Spider-man quipped.
I believe it’s called misinformation.
"Oh, yeah. Right. Joe sends his regards."
Tell him good job. And, if he wants he can have a position on my team. I’ve been keeping tabs on his other exploits.
"Whoa, I never got offered."
Consider yourself a temporary member just like the Avengers.
"Cool!" Spider-Man actually thought about what Cable just said. "Hey, that wasn’t fair."
Watch your back.
No sooner than Cable made the ominous statement, Spider-Man’s sense alerted him to the presence of others.
"Hello, Spider-Man. I believe you were looking for friends, new friends. I believe I found them." Venom replied as three other mutants were with him.
I believe I’m cashing in my temporary card right now.
Sorry, won’t get there...but there’s a few others to help you out. Watch out for that SHIELD agent, all though I still don’t know how he managed to heal himself after the inferno he endured. Joe’s coming there too...and something else...
"SHIELD agent, my spider sense should have picked up a SHIELD agent. And, what’s something else?" Spider-Man looked up to see the alien symbiote roughly form a humanoid shape as it landed next to him.
"Wait a minute, if you’re here. How is Eddie still Venom?"
"Protocol breach, kikt. The Subject is aware of our deception. Begin assimilation." The four figures turned black and gold in front of Spider-Man’s eyes.
"Oh no, I’m not becoming Locutus." With a defiant twip, Spider-Man reeled himself up his line. The increased drag of the Phalanx slowed the four assimilated fiends.
As Spider-man got to a good distance, he stopped for a short second with the symbiote coming up from behind.
"I hate to say this, but you can merge with me for now."
The symbiote shook it’s head in disagreement, and produced a tendril, which showed the slug like creature.
"So, you’re no longer chemically dependant either. Fine, but can you lose my motif?"
The symbiote seemed a bit depressed at the news, but then changed to a semi humanoid shape of Scarlet Spider.
"That’s not funny, and I meant totally lose it."
"Well, it was a good thought." Spider-Man recognized the voice behind some weird amalgamation of all the Slinger costumes on one person. "Better than mine."
"J...Uh...what should I call you?"
"Names are unimportant right now." The costumed persona of Joe Wade responded with hesitation.
"I agree." Another rather tall man with black hair seemed to pop out of nowhere. "I’ll help you take care of your problem, then I’m taking you both in custody"
"Why the hell didn’t you..."
"Set off your Spider-sense? Ancient Tibetan secret."
Spider-Man was boggled by the statement, but couldn’t let the error slip. "Isn’t that Chinese?"
"Trust me, it’s Tibetan. And, you can refer to me as Agent 18. I also brought my personal assistant."
A robotic figure stomped right next to Agent 18, then turned to the heroes.
"I recognize a former LOK prototype anywhere. Does that one transform too?" Spider-man got a dark stoic response as an answer.
"Assimilation into our collective is inevitable." Venom and his other Phalanx cohorts stated as they interrupted any further thoughts.
"You know I actually prefer Eat your brains to that. Sad really. Shall we?" "We shall not. You will be assimilated." Spider-man looked as the costumed Joe Wade produced long blank and gold tendrils that encased Agent 18 and the LOK prototype. As the symbiote watched and knew it must do something it dreaded. It immediately cast itself upon Spider-Man, and changed back to his old standard blue and red costume.
"Hey, I was wearing black you know. But, considering these guys fashion sense I guess it’s for the best." Spider-Man dodged a volley of tendrils that the group cast out toward him.
"What is wrong with these guys anyway?" Spider-man attempted to devise several thoughts as the symbiote interrupted them.
The symbiote gave its thoughts on the history of the Phalanx and it’s races encounter with them, as Spider-Man attempted to try to keep up with the story.
"Okay, that’s nice. But, what about humans?" Spider-Man still managed to evade more tendrils, as the symbiote didn’t respond.
The symbiote stopped Spider-Man’s body and uncovered itself almost all the way as it left a few tendrils attached.
"Hey, what the?" Spider-Man shouted as he bombarded with Phalanx tendrils.
Through the link the symbiote created, it relayed all the important information about the Phalanx and their purpose on Earth.
"Disconnect! The other is preventing full assimilation while the human host learns of our plans."
"Way to state the obvious, question is how to do I get out of this mess." As soon as Spider-Man said something, there was a wind click and whir of gears.
The Phalanx retracted from Spider-Man. Spider-Man looked at his would be savior.
"Well, what are you waiting for human, an invitation?"
Spider-man recognized the rather lumbering red robot from a previous encounter. "Yes, I was. Now, do you mind explaining why these guys don’t like you besides that ego?"
"We have a special metallic alloy that doesn’t mix with their kind. We’ve dealt with them once before on a few occasions."
"Great, anyway I can examine a piece of that alloy? I can probably find a way to replicate the properties that make it disagreeable to the Phalanx."
The robot thought for a moment. "Let’s go before I change my mind."
"Uh, I don’t have a ride, and I think used up my mode of transportation."
The robot gave out the equivalent of a sigh. "Come on."
As Spider-man climbed into the robot after it transformed into his vehicle mode. Spider-man looked at the angered faces of the Phalanx minions. "Are you absolutely sure it’s not your ego?"
"Kikt, the altered human has learned of our directives and one of our weaknesses. He has the aide of a Cybertronian." The assimilated Venom reported.
"It is no matter. The presence of the repaired Cybertronian indicates they are replenishing their resources against us." The Phalanx induced Joe Wade stated. "We must regroup and assist the Praetor."