San Francisco

The Green Goblin stood alone. The Brotherhood of Scrier, the servants of the Goblin’s master, lay unconscious at his feet. Standing before him was the man responsible for the Scrier’s defeat; a man called Sinister. The creature that was once Nathaniel Essex regarded the Goblin with great interest; he had come here to retrieve Ben Reilly, to study him. Sinister’s reasons were always simple; he was a scientist, and as such, experimented with humans and mutants alike, becoming the foremost expert in the field of genetic mutation that had ever lived.

However, he never shared his findings. His goal was to carefully manipulate human evolution in an attempt to create more powerful beings. Originally, his purpose was to create a weapon; a living breathing mutant of untapped potential, to use against his former master, En Sabah Nur, the warlord named Apocalypse. However, Apocalypse is now dead, or at least incapacitated enough that he can’t cause any problems.

So why the sudden interest in Ben Reilly? Well, Reilly is a nothing more than a genetic construct, a clone of Peter Parker; the costumed adventurer called Spider-man. The cloning process that created Reilly was designed by Sinister himself, and he specifically designed it to fail. Having a stable clone running around was a surprise, for Sinister prided himself on his work, and Ben Reilly was a ever present reminder that even a scientist of Essex’s calibre could make mistakes. For the past two years, Sinister was satisfied that Reilly was dead, killed in a battle until a week ago, when Essex had followed Gambit while he was on a job, and encountered the Green Goblin, the costumed identity that Reilly is now using.

Sinister broke the tense silence as he took a step towards the Goblin, “Do not be alarmed; I merely wish that you accompany me from this place.” He smiled, betraying no emotion; “I have some business to discuss with your employer. I trust you will be present?”

The Goblin’s only response was to attack. He reached into the pouch slung over his shoulder and retrieved a handful of bat blades. The metal shards flew through the air and hit Sinister with deadly accuracy. The Goblin did not pause, unleashing three explosive pumpkin bombs at his opponent, the first created a cloud of dense gas to blind Sinister, the second and third exploded, driving the scientist back several steps. The Goblin stood silently, waiting for the smoke and gas to clear, confident that his adversary had been defeated.

The Goblin was shocked to discover that Sinister was unscathed, standing there unconcerned, studying the blades the Goblin had used against him. The Goblin’s danger sense began to tingle once again as Sinister sighed and raised his left hand. A faint corona of energy began to form around the closed fist, resolving into a ball of blue light. Sinister spoke softly, “I tire of this…” and launched the energy blast directly at the Goblin.

It was Sinister’s turn to be shocked as the Goblin easily avoided the blast, leaping straight up into the air and landing lightly where he had stood moments before. Sinister dropped the bat blades and focused his abilities against his opponent. He released blast after blast of energy. The Goblin, using his lightning fast reflexes in conjunction to his danger sense, leapt and twisted, dodging the barrage of energy Sinister had unleashed.

The Goblin threw himself into a high double somersault, landing directly behind Sinister. As Essex turned quickly, the Goblin caught him across the jaw with a devastating right hook. Sinister felt the blow, and in anger retaliated by catching the Goblin with a backhanded sweep. The Goblin fell to the ground and Sinister pressed the advantage, crouching down and placing his right hand on the crown of the Goblin’s head. Sparkling blue energy flowed from Sinister, bathing his opponent in a soft glow that rendered the Goblin unconscious.

Sinister became aware of a coppery taste in his mouth. Curious, he touched the side of his mouth, where the Goblin had punched him. A few drops of dark red blood stained the tip of his glove, and he realised that for the first time in half a century, he was actually bleeding. Impossible, he thought, this genetic aberration has succeeded in drawing blood. Wiping the small trace of blood from the corner of his mouth, he crouched beside the prone body of the Green Goblin. Removing the mask, he saw the features of a young man with long wavy brown hair. Sinister felt an overwhelming compulsion to kill the clone, end its life and destroy its existence, but instead he hesitated, how is it even possible that a clone of an enhanced human is capable of hurting me?

Sinister’s scientific curiosity got the better of him, I never intended to kill Reilly, at least not yet. He stood up and picked the unconscious man off the floor. He slung the body over his shoulder and activated a small device that was attached to his wrist. Immediately, the command centre faded from view as Sinister teleported to his laboratory deep below the Sahara plains.

Stepping out of the transmaterialisation pad, he dropped the Goblin unceremoniously on the cold metal floor. He accessed his computer system with one word and set about configuring a stasis tube to contain Ben Reilly. About ten minutes later, Reilly had been stripped of his Green Goblin apparel, which now lay in a specially sealed container, to be studied later. Reilly floated in an upright tube, his body fully submerged in a viscous green liquid. He wore form fitting black shorts and a facemask that allowed him to breathe within the suspension fluid.

Sinister stood in front of the chamber, his attention fixed on a miniaturised 3-dimensional hologram of Reilly’s body. Sinister hummed softly under his breath as he cast his gaze to a flat screen monitor that stood beside him. As I suspected, Sinister thought grimly, Reilly has been subjected to a combination of psychotropic and hallucinogenic drugs, simple chemical conditioning, which makes perfect sense, considering that Osborn’s passion is pharmacy. Sinister studied the information that flowed across the screen, a thoughtful expression colouring his features as he stroked his beard with his long pale fingers. This is curious though; the level of chemical contaminant appears to be dropping rather significantly. Sinister turned to the hologram, and touched a few keys, running a scan, searching for a particular chemical marker. The console beeped once, confirming that the scan was complete, Sinister called up the results and was more than satisfied.

“Ah yes, there it is.” Sinister spoke aloud, although no one was present to hear him, “Our dear Mr. Reilly has managed to acquire a healing factor, perhaps not as exotic or sophisticated as Logan or Creed’s, but adequate nonetheless.”

Sinister looked up at the young man that floated before him, his mind filled with a certain sense of admiration. Ben Reilly, you are quite the conundrum, he thought with a wry smile, a clone of an enhanced human, with abilities far beyond anything that should be possible, for someone who is not even a mutant. How I will relish unravelling this little mystery. Sinister returned his attention to the consoles that surrounded Reilly’s form, and continued his testing.

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