#5: The Deadliest Game, Part 5 May 12, 2019 13:42:43 GMT -5
Post by HoM on May 12, 2019 13:42:43 GMT -5
Issue #5: “The Deadliest Game, Part 5: Spiders, Tarantulas, and Scorpions, Oh My!”
Written by Brian Burchette
Cover by Roy Flinchum
Edited by Charles HoM
Space… the final frontier… before it runs out and my body goes splat all across the pavement. Spider-Man thought to himself as he felt the wind knocking him around. He was not having a good day. His body was going numb; his extremities were becoming more and more difficult to move. The villain called Tarantula had poisoned him and beat the snot out of him… oh yea, and had poisoned him. If that wasn't enough to make for a bad day, he had then knocked Peter off of the top of the Empire State Building.
Blacked out for a second, he thought to himself. Not much time left. Have to move my arm, just a little. Hope this works
Even though his arms were at his side, nearly paralyzed from the venom that flowed through his veins, he still fired his webbing, forcing his two middle fingers down onto the palm of his hand so he could trigger his web-shooter.
The webbing shot out and hit the side of the building. Peter braced himself as best he could as his body was jolted from the sudden stop, then he swung sideways, closing his eyes as he crashed through one of the office windows of the cities largest building.
He fell to the floor amidst the shattered glass, his costume torn in several spots. People in the office had screamed at the sudden disruption and were running around in a panic. One young woman walked over to where he lay paralyzed from the poison. She wore a mini skirt and a tight blouse and she gazed down upon him with genuine concern in her face.
Peter looked up at her, noting that the woman in the mini skirt, standing above him, was wearing Johnny Storm underwear. That should have been entertaining for him, but he was too busy falling back into unconsciousness.
Professor Gerald Allan was ushered unceremoniously into a rather large laboratory, many of his own personal items lying neatly on the work tables. The man with no face shoved him into the room, then turned to leave without an explanation.
“Wait!” Allan shouted. “Where's my daughter? What have you done with her? What do you want from me?”
“My business associate and I want you to do what you do best,” The Chameleon replied with a rather heavy Russian accent. “We want you to create for us.”
“Create… what?” He asked with trepidation.
“You created the Rhino, and now we want you to make another creature. Our financer has come up with a design for a suit that we know you are capable of making, and we have a subject to test it on. If you are able to do this in forty-eight hours, you and your daughter will be free to go. If not… she will be in terrible danger.”
“Forty-eight hours? I'm not sure I can. Please… please give me more time.”
“Forty-eight hours, Doctor.” Chameleon stated flatly.
Summoning an inner strength he didn't even know he had, Professor Allen folded his arms. “And if I don't? If you kill her, there is no way I will precede. You might as well kill me as well, at that point.”
The Chameleon laughed. “Oh no, you have us all wrong, Doctor. You have my word that we will not murder her. We are not, after all, animals. However, when we get through with her, she will wish she was dead. Such a beautiful face, she has. What a shame if it were scarred beyond repair.” The villain took note that Professor Allen's face had turned pale. “Does your daughter enjoying painting… or perhaps writing? Wouldn't it be tragic if she no longer had any fingers to do either? You see, Doctor Allen, if we killed her, you may have to live with that fact, but you would still have the memories of her beauty and kindness; however, let her live and strip that away, and that is something you would have to look at for the rest of your life. Now get busy.” He said nothing more as he walked out the door.
Professor Allen walked into the room and looked around; there was an attached room that had a large window connecting the two. He gazed through it, shocked to see an unconscious man lying flat on a surgical table. His test subject, he presumed.
He wiped his eyes, Oh God, what have I done?
The blackness was fading around him, and when he came to, he found himself lying on a couch in someone's office. Spider-Man looked around to find the occupant of the room was sitting in her chair, staring at him with a look of total fascination.
“How… how long was I out?” He asked as he tried to sit up, the poison in his body causing his stomach to roll over.
“About half an hour,” the young but dour little woman said.
“Too long,” he murmured as he dropped his head into his hands. “Whatever Tarantula poisoned me with, I don't think it was meant to kill me, or I'd be dead now.”
“I dragged you in here before anyone else saw you,” the young woman with glasses so thick it made her eyes several times larger then they were, said.
“That's nice of you.” He replied awkwardly.
Standing up gingerly, he began to sway as the remaining poison played havoc with his system. His stomach once again rolled over, and he motioned quickly to the garbage pail by her desk. “Are you using that?”
“Oh no,” She said very kindly, “Please, be my guest.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled as he dropped to his knees, lifted the front of his mask to his nose, then proceeded to wretch into the basket.
“Superheroes are a pastime of mine.” The young lady said, paying no attention to what was happening at her feet. “I've been a big fan of the Fantastic Four for some time now.”
“I bet Johnny Storm is your favorite.”
“Why yes, how did you know!” She exclaimed with a squeal of delight.
Spider-Man wretched into the can again.
“Who was that guy you were fighting?”
“Another costumed weirdo who was trying to kidnap a…” He stopped suddenly, remembering Professor Allen and what had started the whole thing. “I've got to get out of here.” He said, trying to stand up again.
“I'm not sure you're ready to go swinging through the city yet,” She stated.
“Have to, but thanks for the concern.” He was standing there, embracing the waste basket to his chest, just in case; however, the sickness seemed to be ebbing a bit.
“The Daily Bugle is right about you, you know. You are a real hero!”
“Umm, thanks?” He was a bit embarrassed now, especially since she had begun to stare at him like a bug under a microscope. “I really have to be going… people to save and all that. Thanks for rescuing me and everything. I, uhhh…” He was at a loss for words as he sheepishly looked around for somewhere to put the basket.
“Oh, don't worry about that,” She exclaimed excitedly. “I'll take care of it!”
He set it down, thanked her again, opened the office window, took a deep breath, and jumped back into the concrete jungle.
She watched him go, her eyes seeming to bulge from behind the glasses. After he had rounded the corner, disappearing in a flurry of webbing, she turned and gazed at the used trash can.
“eBay, here I come.”
Mary Jane Watson had barely kept up with the kidnapper and Dr. Allan, having had to grab a taxi and actually utter the phrase, “Follow that car.” The disturbing part of that, however, was that the taxi driver's reply had been a simple. “Not again.”
She had followed them to a warehouse that stood overlooking the Hudson River. It was rather large and showed little sign of dilapidation. Paying the cab driver, she made her way cautiously to the side of the building, trying desperately to peer into the windows, only they had all been painted black.
Who was that guy that had grabbed Gwen's friend? Some kind of shape shifter, obviously, since he had first appeared as Liz Allen, herself. Was he a mutant? What did he want with the Professor? She suddenly realized that this was the second weirdo who had gone after him, remembering The Rhino's appearance at Gwen's Senior Prom.
Her heart was racing, but she had to admit that she was getting a real thrill out of her little adventure. She was not, however, stupid, and it was time to call in the Calvary.
She grabbed her cell phone, hitting the nine and the one, when the side door suddenly opened. She shut her phone, jamming it back in her pocket as she stood behind the door, holding her breath.
As it began to shut, she saw two men dressed in nothing more than jeans and t-shirts, heading towards the parking lot. She moved quickly, slipping her tall slender body into the entrance before the door shut all the way. The large area was completely empty, and a haze of dust filled the air. The floor, she noted, had a thin layer of dust on it, but not as much as you would expect from a warehouse that appeared to be vacant. She took another look at the floor and saw the footprints of the two men that had just left.
Giving another quick sweep of the area, she followed the path that had just been created and soon found herself on the other side of the building, where she found that the footprints had just stopped - right in the middle of the floor.
Pursing her lips, she once again grabbed her cell phone, but before she could program the number in, it was knocked out of her hand. She turned, startled, to find herself staring down the man with no face.
“What is such a pretty young lady like you, doing in such a smelly old place like this?”
“Slumming…?” It came out more of a weak question than the flippant remark she had hoped for.
She thought she detected a bit of a smile, then she was struck from behind and darkness enveloped her.
Peter Parker walked through the door of his home, that he shared with his Aunt May, to find her standing there, waiting for him.
“Just where have you been?”
“School.” He said shortly.
“Oh really; how odd, since your school was closed today due to a break in. Would you like to try again?”
Not really, he thought to himself. Instead he sighed, “I went into Manhattan to do a little shopping around.”
May Parker's eye arched as she folded her arms, “For…?”
“Gwen Stacey's birthday is coming up soon; I wanted to get her something nice.”
He didn't know what shocked him more: the fact that the lie rolled off his tongue so easily, or that his first thought was Gwen's eighteenth birthday being only days away. Both made him more than a little uncomfortable.
The lie, however, did seem to do the trick and Aunt May's body language showed that she was relaxing at the explanation. “I think that's very sweet of you, Peter, but you should have called me - I was worried sick.”
“I'm sorry Aunt May. I wasn't thinking.”
“But you were thinking about Gwen Stacey.”
Was that a question, or a comment? Peter couldn't tell by the tone of her voice, but the small curl of a smile at the corner of her mouth made him even more uncomfortable.
“I'm really tired, Aunt May. I think I'm going to go to bed early.”
“Just promise me you'll call me next time?”
He smiled at her. “I will, I promise.”
He bounded up the stairs and into his room, closing the door behind him with a sigh of relief. It had been a long day, and first thing in the morning he was going back over to Professor Allan's to find out exactly what was going on. He also reminded himself to get a gift for Gwen's birthday. He blushed at that thought.
Making sure the door was locked, he filled his web-shooters, as he did every night, then fell onto his bed and a deep sleep.
“Are you ready?” The Chameleon asked as he hooked the man named Mac Gargan up to the same machine that only a few days earlier, Aleksie Sytsevitch had been in. He had been changed into a creature that the news had dubbed, The Rhino.
Mac Gargan was dressed in a green costume of some sort, strapped down in the large tube. He was just coming to when he heard the question being asked.
“I can't promise that this is going to work?” The voice of Gerald Allan said.
“Hey! What the hell is going on here?” Gargan screamed as he struggled with his straps.
“Are you guys connected with Roxxon Oil? Was I getting to close to something?”
The Chameleon smiled, “Something… yes. Throw the switch, Professor.”
Reluctantly, he did just that, and the same procedure that had transformed Sytsevitch into The Rhino, began again. Needles pierced Gargan's flesh and injected the chemicals, although a different combination. Also, this time, as Gargan's body began to grow thicker, his muscles building, the green suit, itself, sparked, as if coming to life. Mac screamed out in pain.
In the shadows, the figure of a man watched with growing interest. When the procedure was done, he ordered Allan and The Chameleon to pull him out of the chamber. They did so, and when the tube opened, Mac Gargan stumbled out, his green suit revealing a large tail at the end of it. The man smiled at the resemblance to the creature he had been hoping it would look like; he was pleased that it was.
“You work for me, now, Mr. Gargan,” the mysterious man said with a slight Russian accent.
“Who… who the hell are you? What did you do to me?”
“I go by many names, but for now, you can call me Michael Brady. It is the one that I chose while working for The Roxxon Corporation. What I did to you, with the help of my newest colleague, was turn you into something extremely powerful. You are a weapon that will have a double purpose for me. But before we get to my entertainment, I have a job for you, to test your new found powers.”
“I don't know who you are, pal, but there's no way I'm working for some commie!”
“You are an idiot. We do not live in the twentieth century anymore, and you will work for me… and I will tell you why…”
The sound of the phone ringing at seven on a Saturday morning had startled Peter. It rarely rang that early, and something in the pit of his stomach told him it wasn't good news.
May always went to the market early on Saturday's so he knew he was home alone. He picked up his extension, barely getting hello out, when the voice of his best friend came through the receiver, Harry's voice in a panic.
“Peter, I know I woke you, but there's some serious stuff going down man, and I need your help.”
“What” He asked, still trying to shake the cobwebs from his brain.
“Gwen called me; Liz Allan's reported her father missing. Not only that, but her and Mary Jane Watson saw him get kidnapped and M.J. went after them - now she's missing too.”
“What! When?” Peter asked, bolting up from his bed.
“Sometime yesterday; Gwen is spastic dude. I'm going to go over there now. I thought we'd go over to Liz's and make sure she's doing alright. You in?”
Peter began to curse himself. He should have went right over to Professor Allan's yesterday, like he had intended, but he had felt so wiped out… effects of Tarantula's poison, he assumed. He figured he would rest and start again first thing in the morning. Now it was too late.
“Peter? Hey Pete, buddy, you still there?”
“Uh, yeah, I'm here. That's a lot of info to take in. I'll meet you over at Liz's in a couple of hours. There are some things I gotta do first.”
“Okay, see you over there.”
“Where did Gwen see Professor Allen get kidnapped at?”
“North side of the park, near the Dana Discovery Center… why?”
“Just wondered. See ya in a few bro.”
The phone went dead and Peter was out of bed, dressed, and out the door in less then ten minutes. He had to get uptown, check out the area, maybe find a clue. It was a long shot, but it was all he had to go on.
Hopping from one car roof to the next, he traveled the quickest way possible, until he could get into Manhattan and let his webbing take over. He made it to the north side of Central Park and was about to swing down, check out the area, when he heard the explosion coming from just a few blocks away.
He could also hear the screams of panicked people. He froze, not sure what to do, when his Uncle's voice once again echoed that phrase into his head.
With a determined chin, he took off towards the explosion, swinging at top speed.
He found the smoke and chaos at what appeared to be an old chemical factory. The sign read that it was a subsidiary of The Roxxon Corporation. He scanned the area for any signs of casualties, but it appeared that there were none. Figuring that the fire department could handle any kind of fire, he went to leave, when the side of the building exploded outward and a large man in a green costume came barreling out; he was holding some sort of small metal container.
“Well so much for that.” Peter sighed as he hurled himself into the man.
He struck him square in the chest, “Hello there, hate to just strike and run like this, but I'm actually in the middle of the something and I really don't have time for a proper introduction.”
The blow flung the man into the street where traffic halted. He shook it off and stood up, his tail coming up from behind him. “I've read about you in the paper, you're that Spider guy.”
“Man… Spider-Man. And you are?”
“You can call me, The Scorpion,” He growled as the tail of his costume fired some kind of blast.
His early warning system gave him just enough time to do a back flip, avoiding the blast and landing on the side of a building. “Wish I could say it was nice to meet you, but I'm not really fond of guys who destroy property, steal, and try to kill me. It just doesn't scream B.F.F.”
“Leave me alone and you won't get hurt.” Scorpion said as he made a mad dash towards the upper west side.
Spider-Man fired his web-shooter and caught the Scorpion's tail, yanking him back with all his strength. The foe went flying through the air and landed on his back. He lost his grip on the package and it flew up in the air.
Making a huge leap, Peter grabbed it in mid-air, flipping his body sideways as to land close enough to his new found enemy so that he could strike him. His spider-sense warned him a little too late that the tail was coming around, tripping him and releasing the package from his hand.
The Scorpion caught the package with one hand, while striking Peter with his other, sending him high into the air and through a nearby window. He landed hard on a wood floor. Two older women screamed as they jumped up from their kitchen table.
“Morning ladies, don't mind me. Sorry about the damage. Coffee smells great, wish I had time to sit a spell and gossip with you, but duty calls.”
He leapt back out the window to find that the man called Scorpion was gone. He took to the roofs and caught a glimpse of the green tail as it headed east, back towards mid-town.
Spider-Man fired his webbing and followed, rapidly gaining on him.
“Oh Mr. Scorpion,” He cried out in a sing song voice. “You weren't really going to leave without saying goodbye, were you?”
“Just leave me alone,” The Scorpion screamed as he landed on the roof of the Dakota's, his tail lashing back and firing several blasts, never loosing his footing as he did so.
Spider-Man swung hard to the right and then the left, staying on the defensive as he continued the chase.
They had past Columbus Circle and were heading into Hell's Kitchen when Peter caught a glimpse from down below. Another battle was going on, he couldn't see one of the parties, but he recognized the other one by the description in the Daily Bugle. Had he really just swung over a battle that involved the mysterious Daredevil?
“Geez, this city is becoming crowded with us spandex types,” he muttered to himself as he took a quick look back.
Before he could turn back around, he was struck hard in the face. Peter lost his balance and fell onto a rooftop with a thud. He rolled to his right, sensing the blow that was about to come, and barely missed getting his head crushed in by a black boot.
He looked up to see Tarantula swinging his other leg around, coming in for another attack.
Peter pushed himself up off the roof and into the air. “Not you again! Isn't there anyone normal in this city, anymore? Well… relatively speaking, of course.”
“I want to eliminate you very badly,” the villain said in his Spanish accent, “But plans have changed. Our boss has decided that you are invited to attend his game.”
“Really,” Peter said as he fired webbing that was easily dodged. “Please inform your employer that I won't be able to attend, I'm in the middle of chasing some tail. Sorry, was that comment a bit to PG-13?”
Spidey landed on a different roof, looking for a way to swing around and get behind Tarantula when he felt the blast hit him squarely in the back.
“Careful what you ask for, punk,” The Scorpion said as he fired a second blast from tail.
This time, Spider-Man was aware, jumping out of the way just in time. His danger sense, however, went off like a five alarm fire and he twisted his body in mid-air, his fist swinging around as he and Tarantula met above the rooftops.
Peter's blow struck Tarantula square in the jaw, but not before his foe's boot shot out and the pointed end once again jabbed him in his side. Peter instantly felt the flood of poison go through his body.
“Aww come on! Not again!” He cried.
As the world began to turn he at least had the satisfaction of knowing he had delivered one good blow to the irritating spider wannabe. Then, as before, the world went dark…
When he woke up, he found himself chained up against a wall. His head was once again aching and he could still feel the remains of the poison running through his body. He fought hard not to toss his cookies; especially since there was no way to remove his mask, and that was an experience he really didn't want to have.
“Ah, our final guest is awake, Sir.” The Chameleon said as he came into view.
Spider-Man focused his vision to find that in some kind of stasis tube to the right was Scorpion, and to his left was The Rhino. Standing in front of him was not only Chameleon, but Tarantula as well.
“Well, well, the gangs all here,” He muttered, not really feeling as strong as he hoped he sounded.
“More than you realize, Spider-Man,” came the Russian voice from the shadows.
More lights came on in the opposite corner of the room and he was looking at two a man, a woman, and a young lady. He recognized two out of three.
“Allow me to introduce the rest of our guests. This is Professor Gerald Allen, who you've had the opportunity of trying to save once before. The frightened lady here is Ginger Gagan, the wife of my creation, The Scorpion, and the young lady is named Mary Jane Watson. She wandered into this situation, and I didn't have the heart to turn her away.”
“Are you kidding me?” Spider-Man asked, in spite of himself. “The Professor, Ginger, and Mary Jane?”
“I do not get the reference,” the shadowed man said in annoyance.
“Don't worry about it, Skipper, you won't be awake long enough for me to explain it.” Spidey said as he suddenly pulled hard on his chains. The electric current that shot through his body caused him to scream out in pain.
“Please don't injure yourself before the game begins. I would like you in peek condition when the hunting begins.”
“Hunting?” Peter asked in confusion. “What do you mean, hunting?'
The man stepped out of the shadows, a striking figure, pitch black hair slicked back, a mustache and goatee that matched. His upper body was extremely well developed, and he wore a fur lined vest with nothing underneath it.
“I am a hunter, Spider-Man, a very wealthy one, at that. I have spent my entire life training and honing my body to hunt and defeat every known species of animal known to man. In fact, I've even hunted men, themselves. But I bore quite easily, you see. So I helped Professor Allan here by funding his project that he thought would help create meta-humans that could help your government in times of crisis. He did a wonderful job, albeit with a few side effects. However, he didn't realize that he was not being government funded, but personally funded by me, for my amusement. The fact that you wandered into the situation was pure luck on my part. Now I'll get to hunt not only a giant human Rhino and Scorpion, but a spider as well.”
“What makes you think I'm going to play in your sick little game?” Peter asked, already knowing the answer.
“Don't be obtuse. If you don't, these three will die. But don't worry, you have my word. No matter which one of the four of us is left standing, these three will be released unharmed, as long as you play the game and abide by the rules.”
“And I can trust you because you've mutated two poor shmucks, kidnapped a bunch of innocent people, and have me chained to the wall? Yeah, that really screams: 'man of his word'.”
The dark haired man's eyes flared in anger. “How dare you! My word is gold! I am a gentleman who is bound by his word. In the end, that is all a real man has. You are warned, Spider-man, never question the word of Kraven the Hunter!"
NEXT TIME, THE FIRST HUNT BEGINS
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