MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Two men rode up an elevator not saying a word to one another. It was quiet, all except for the elevator music. There was a pinging sound indicating that they had reached their desired floor.

“Let’s do this,” said one of them as he pulled a ski-mask over his head.

The elevator doors opened and they proceeded down a hallway. There were cameras above them as they passed which they took out with a single shot each from their handguns. Both men also carried on them a silver canister that they held with one hand. Upon entering the main room that was filled with money and drugs they began pouring the contents of the canisters all over. It was gasoline. When they were done one man threw away his canister and pulled out a lighter that lit up when he flipped it open.

“We did what we were told,” said the man with the lighter. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

He dropped it and instantly the countertop covered in money set on fire. They both made a run for it but before they could get to the elevator something shot passed them knocking over the one who started the fire. The other man spun around confused at what he saw.

“What was that?!” He began to panic. “Something blurry shot passed us.”

The blur appeared again and rushed the other man. As he picked himself off the ground he saw something appear in front of him out of nowhere. What he saw was a young man dressed in a black Egyptian-style costume. He was almost dressed up like a pharaoh of ancient Egypt. This was the trained assassin Amun, a former enemy of Araña.

“Where is the Kingpin?” asked Amun.

“What, as if we’d tell you.” The first man got up while holding his side. “You must be really crazy if you’re trying to confront him yourself.”

“I’ve dealt with worse,” replied Amun. “I don’t think some fat ass crime lord will cause me any trouble.”

Both men went to make their move. Before they could reach him Amun disappeared in a flash. Amun could run at speeds around one hundred and sixty miles an hour. They couldn’t even blink before being knocked out. With his usual scowl on his face, Amun searched the men for anything that could give him information about the Kingpin. He came up short however. He got up and left, leaving the two men unconscious with a fire burning behind them.

It looked as if it would be over for them but luckily the windows of the room blew out and in came Estrella thrown by her mother with the wave of her hand the flames spun toward her. Her mother flew in next and did the same, trying to control the fire. The flames reduced in size and the remainder sat in their hands. By closing their hands the fire was completely extinguished.

“Good thing we came along when we did,” said Erika.

Estrella walked over to the men. “These guys are wearing ski-masks. So they started this fire? I guess it went wrong on their behalf.”

“I think I hear sirens,” mentioned her mother as she looked out a window. “We better get out of here and leave this mess to the authorities.”

“We still haven’t found Anya. With things like this happening I hope she’s all right.”

Speaking of Anya, she was in another part of Manhattan sitting on a roof beside a random gargoyle. Her goggles rested a top her forehead. Tears ran down her cheeks as she quietly wept to herself. Earlier in the night she learned that her father was in intensive care after being shot by some gang member. The anger she felt over took her and irrationally she went out by herself and attacked the first gangsters she could find. She would learn however that the one responsible was the Goblin, someone who was supposed to be her friend.

“Why do I do this?” she asked herself. “I’m a terrible person. What superhero tries to throw criminals over train tracks?”

“Help . . . me . . .” a low voice called.

“What?” Anya looked up and then all around. “Where did that come from?”

I sensed the plea,” replied the voice of the Spider Hunter. “It’s coming from nearby.

“You sensed it, really?”

Anya tugged her goggles down and with a THWIP glided down to answer the call for help. She would find the source, that of a teenage girl who sat against a building down on the sidewalk. Anya noticed that she was holding her mid-section.

“There were . . . two guys . . .” she muttered. “They shot me.”

“Oh, god,” Anya put a hand to her mid-section. “What’s your name?”

Felicity . . . just Felicity.” She closed her eyes from the pain. “I think it would be best if you didn’t know my last name.”

“Well, Felicity, I’m gonna get you to a hospital as fast as I can.”

No,” She freaked out and started moving.

“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Anya tried to stop her from moving. “It’s not that serious, relax. You’ve been shot. You need to go to a hospital.”

“I can’t go to a hospital,” Felicity claimed. “I don’t know what affects it could have on . . .”

“¿Ta, loca qüey?” Anya put a hand to her head uncertain of what to do. “So what exactly do you propose I do?”

“You must trust me when I say I can’t go to a hospital,” she claimed. “I know you. Anya Corazon. You have other means to help me out with this.”

“How?” Anya shook her head. “There’s no time for this. Let’s go!”

Anya picked Felicity up and placed her over her shoulder. Felicity’s waist-length blond hair got in Anya’s face which she had to brush away. She shot a web-line and swung off to get help. They got some distance and the luckily ran into Estrella and her mother.

“Thank god, I need some help,” said Anya. “This girl’s been shot and refuses to go to a hospital.”

“Oh, dear,” a concerned Erika inspected the girl. “Young lady with such a bad wound you should really go to a hospital. Estrella do you know any healing magic?”

“Some, but nothing that can help her,” replied Estrella.

Confused, Anya looked at the costumed Erika. She knew of her connection to the Ant Council, but never saw this outfit she was wearing before. The red and white top was long and went under her white belt sort of looking like a skirt over her red leggings. She also had a long white scarf around her neck which she wore in similar fashion to her son who used them as wings of sorts.

“I know you as well . . . Jessica and Erika Garcia,” said Felicity.

“What?” Estrella was shocked. “Who is this girl?”

“Is that really important right now?” questioned Anya. “Come on let’s go home. She clearly knows who we are so what is it gonna hurt. Once we help her out we can get to the bottom of this. Any suggestions on how we’re gonna help her out anyway?”

“I’ll try to call my brother,” Erika said as she took Felicity and flew off with Anya web-swinging behind with Jessica in hand. “We haven’t talked in a while so it might be a pointless attempt.”


EMPIRE STATE
Part III: El Corazón Roto
Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Lucas sat at the kitchen table with a kunai in one hand while he tried to dig a bullet out of his other arm. He had been shot earlier in the night when he was ambushed by the Crime-Master and his men. Rome and Alex, Goblin and the Crimson Spider respectively, were with him. It was thanks to Rome that the bullet in the arm was all that happened to Lucas. Despite this, Lucas still didn’t trust the guy that his sister so easily defended.

He looked at Alex who was looking away trying not to throw up from the sight of Lucas digging in his arm. Lucas didn’t trust him either. There was just something about him that didn’t feel right. Lucas finally got the bullet out and held it between his fingers. He then threw the kunai at the kitchen table dangerously close to Alex. He jumped out of his seat in a panic.

“What the hell man?!” yelled Alex.

Lucas shot up as blood ran down his arm and slammed his fist on the table, “What is your deal?! Why can I sense her off you?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alex became defensive. “You’re @#$%^&* crazy! I should have never come with you.”

“I received training from both the Sisterhood of the Wasp and the Ant Council.” Lucas pushed a chair out of his way to grab Alex by the shirt. “The one thing they both taught me was how to sense everything around me. That includes people. And the one person I can sense above anyone else is Anya. Why the hell every time I’m near you do I sense her?!”

“Lucas, turn down man.” Rome finally spoke up. “I don’t know what you’re getting at. What do you mean you sense Anya off of him?”

“I’ve been around Anya long enough to know how she handles herself,” explained Lucas. “You walk the same, make the same sounds when you move and it’s not just because you’re both spiders.”

“Okay, you’re really acting crazy.” Rome tried to reason with him.

“Screw you!” yelled Lucas while motioning his arms to Rome. “Do you think I give a damn what you think? You, who’s @#$%^&* with my sister’s head? I should have never relied on you to get back here. Even if that meant I’d have to drag my ass back here.”

“You’re being irrational.” Rome put his hands to Lucas trying to calm him down. “Settle down, you know what happens to you when you get mad. That thing takes over you. The demon known as a Hunter. I know all about it. Anya has one too.”

“Man, don’t talk to me like you’re nothing.” Lucas pushed Rome’s arms away. “You can never trust a goblin.”

“That’s kind of rule number in the Spidey handbook,” joked Alex.

“Man, @#$% you!” Lucas cleared a path out of his kitchen. “Get the hell out of my house.”

Erika walked into the kitchen after hearing shouting. “Umm, what’s going on in here? What’s with all the cussing? Lucas, you’re hurt!”

“It’s nothing,” he replied. “It’s already starting to feel better. It will be completely gone in a few days.”

Anya walked into the kitchen. She put her right hand over her mouth shocked to see Lucas bleeding. She instantly began tearing up again. When Lucas saw her begin to cry he calmed down and went to her.

“It’s not just nothing Lucas,” said his mother. “It’s dangerous out there and people are getting hurt. A girl’s life is on the line, as is Anya’s father. He’s in critical condition. This may be a minor wound but you could have been killed.”

“I’m sorry.” He apologized to his mother and then looked at Anya. “I’m sorry I didn’t know about your dad.”

Anya’s head dropped into his chest, crying while hugging him. He wrapped his arms around her and held her.

Later in Lucas’s room, it was dark. All that could be seen was the form of Anya sitting up on Lucas’s bed. He was lying in the bed with his head in her lap. He slept as she quietly wept to herself. Anya has been through many things as she took up her secret life as Araña but this past day was too much for her. Her father laid in intensive care back at the hospital. The thought of losing another parent made her so angry to the point she let it blind her judgment. To make matters worse when she finally returned home she found Lucas had been shot.

“¿Por qué lloras?” Lucas asked in Spanish as he placed a hand on her cheek.

“Lucas, I did something terrible,” she cried. “I attacked two street thugs out of anger. I was gonna throw them on the train tracks without a second thought. I’m a horrible person.”

“Don’t you for a second . . .,” he tried to get up to be face-to-face with her.

“No, don’t get up!” She made him lay back down. “You were shot. You lost a lot of blood. You are the most reckless person I know. You gotta regain your strength.”

“Anya, cálmese.” He lied back down. “I’m not gonna hurt myself. Stop with all this talk. Your dad wouldn’t want to see you like this. You’re not a horrible person. You’re the one person who I would follow to the ends of the earth. Now listen, I’m already starting to feel better. I guess the benefit of being possessed by two hunters is finally showing itself. Tomorrow we’re gonna go to the hospital and visit your dad, than after we’re gonna figure out what to do about this gang war. No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ about it.”

“Hmm, when did you become the talkative type?” she smiled. “And the way you were telling those guys what’s what. What’s changed?”

“I don’t know,” he closed his eyes. “I guess it all just became too much and I blew a fuse or something.”

In the next room over, Jessica tended to the young woman named Felicity that lied in her bed. Hours had passed since Anya had found her. Erika tried to call her brother, Lucas and Jessica’s uncle, for help but was unable to get ahold of him.

“No luck with you uncle,” Erika sighed. “He can be so hardheaded at times. We’re going to have to figure this out on our own. What have you figured out about this girl?”

“She refused to tell Anya her last name but her identification was in her bag,” answered Jessica. “Her name is Felicity Hardy. Her birthdate is nine months from now and the expiration date is twenty years into the future. So does this mean this girl is from the future? There is just way too much craziness going on today.”

“Just keep an eye on her, we’ll figure out her backstory when we can.” Erika turned to leave the room. “Maybe I can get a hold of Mike and see if he can talk some sense into his father.”

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

The Kingpin sat in the back of his limo which was parked somewhere where it wouldn’t draw too much attention. He smoked a cigar and read a newspaper as he waited for the people he was meeting with. A door opened and in came three men. They were the Enforcers. The Kingpin lowered his paper and saw his hired guns.

“Where are the other two?” asked Kingpin.

“Harrison and Marston are handling some business,” relied Dan. “The hackers have been hard at work looking into what you wanted. They found this.”

Fancy Dan handed a folder over to the Kingpin. He opened it. The first thing that stuck out was a picture of Araña. Then there was a page that was a printout off of Twitter with more images of Araña, under her main picture was her codename and account @aranachica. The next page had her personal information that was meant to be secret, her true identity and where she lived. The Kingpin’s people were able to dig up that information with their hacking skills.

“Anya Corazon,” said the Kingpin. “And she lives in Brooklyn. It was rather foolish of this child to use this identity on a popular form of social media with as many enemies as she has. Luckily for her, she’s not my target. Look into this for me. I want her and her little friends brought to me.”

“Do you really think she’ll even listen to guys like us?” asked Ox. “She already knows who we are.”

“Shut it, Ox!” demanded Montana.

“No, no, he’s right,” smiled the Kingpin. “People like Miss Corazon here need more incentive then a couple street thugs. I have someone in mind to bring her to me. In the meantime, we’ve got another problem I would like you to look into.”

BELLEVUE HOSPITAL CENTER

Anya stood at her father’s bed side while Lucas stood behind her holding her in his arms. Her eyes were red from all the crying she had done along with the lack of sleep. It had gotten to the point that she could no longer shed anymore tears. She closed her eyes for a moment.

“Lucas, what was Rome doing at your house last night?” she asked reopening her eyes.

“He just happened to show up when I was ganged up on by the Crime-Master,” he responded. “When I was shot he made sure I got home. I don’t know what his game is but I don’t trust him for a second.”

“It was him.”

Lucas was confused by the statement, “What do you mean ‘it was him’?”

“He did this to pop,” Anya followed up. “He shot pop. The two cops who stopped me from hurting those guys on the subway told me. I’ve known Rome a long time. You think you know someone. It makes it hard to trust people. I’m sorry Lucas. Jessica really likes him and wants to believe in him but I can’t let him continue on with this. We have to put an end to it.”

“Jessica’s feelings won’t stop me from fighting the Goblin,” he claimed. “Whether his family is in trouble or not, you can’t just go around hurting people. There’s always another way.”

“Maybe we should look into his family.” Anya turned to face him. “I know them. I haven’t seen them in a while. His mother Brittney is really nice and his father David was always buried in his work. Then there was his older brother David Jr. who was going to medical school and his younger sister Caitlyn who was a sophomore at Milton Summers High before we graduated.”

“It’s a start,” said Lucas.

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – SIERRA HOUSEHOLD

Anya and Lucas together returned to Brooklyn and first thing went to the home of the Sierra family. Anya walked up the front stoop and knocked on the door while Lucas stood on the sidewalk looking around. Something didn’t feel right to him. He turned around when Anya made a strange sound. She had grabbed the doorknob and found that it was unlocked. She looked at him confirming his feelings that something wasn’t right.

“Let’s look around,” she said.

They enter the house. It was eerily quiet. The first thing Anya noticed was that the coffee table had collapsed in the living room and there were a few other things out of place indicating that a fight may have taken place. Lucas walked down the hallway leading into the kitchen. Pictures of the Sierra kids were shattered.

“Something did happen to his family,” Lucas called out to Anya. “Jessica said he was aligned with the Jackal? Did Rome become the Goblin and do something to make the Jackal do this? Or is there another connection we’re missing? I’m gonna go look around upstairs.”

Anya walked into the kitchen next. There appeared to be a struggle in this room as well. She was sorry to see this and upset that Rome let it get to this. She felt very conflicted over her feelings for the person she considered a friend. She heard Lucas calling her. Quickly she got out of the kitchen and headed upstairs. She looked into a few rooms before finding Lucas in what appeared to be the study of Rome’s father. He was standing at a desk that was covered in paperwork.

“What is it?” she asked.

“This is his father’s papers,” he replied. “Anya he has a number of projects that involve superhuman experiments. One of them is about a goblin serum. An attempt at making a better goblin serum than the one that created the Green Goblin. He’s responsible for his son being the Goblin.”

“Unbelievable . . .” said a shocked Anya before the buzzing sensation started in her head.

Lucas instinctually flipped backwards as Anya jumped and clung to the ceiling. Through the study window flew in a woman dressed in a black and purple armor that Anya instantly recognized.

“The Beetle!” she yelled.

“Ahh, you know who I am,” the Beetle started with a sarcastic tone. “Do I have a fan?”

“Beetle, really?” asked Lucas. “It never ends with the insect themes. Who’s gonna show up next, the Bee?”

“No I think the bee themed guy is called Swarm,” Anya continued a pointless conversation as the Beetle flew about making the unmasked heroes dodge.

“The Kingpin seeks your audience,” said the newest person to use the identity of the Beetle. “I’ve come to bring you to him.”

“Fat chance!” exclaimed Lucas.

“Was that a pun?” asked Anya.

“Anya Corazon better known as Araña,” started the Beetle. “It would be in your best interests to comply with the Kingpin’s wishes and demands.”

Lucas looked at Anya wondering how the Beetle knew exactly where to find her. Whatever the reason was he knew he had no choice but to change into costume. Like usual his elemental power of fire engulfed his body and when they faded away revealed his Avispa costume. He flew into the Beetle taking them both outside so that Anya could have an opportunity to change into her own costume.

“I’m not surprised,” the Beetle said to Avispa. “Araña is frequently seen around other heroes. Someone close to her was bound to be one of them. Now let’s see which species is better. Beetle versus wasp.”

“You look like a sorry excuse for a beetle.” Avispa slung his right arm out to his side which his wasp stinger popped out of. “You have nothing to stop a sting from a wasp!”

Avispa flew forward, stinger extended at the Beetle. She caught the stinger. From behind her mask she smiled thinking how weak Avispa was. It was then Avispa’s wasp stinger ignited with the power he inherited from the Ant Council. The bright flames blinded her but the armor protected her from any damage.

“Did I mention I was an ant as well?” asked Avispa. “You don’t stand a chance!”

The Beetle held tight on to his stinger and used it to throw him away. While he flew back she clapped her hands together to help build a static charge in her gloves. When she pointed a hand at him she was able to fire an electrical burst at him. Avispa took evasive action, dodging each attack. Just as the Beetle was really getting into what she was doing, webbing shot into her mask making it hard to see.

“Don’t we have enough people playing around with electricity?” Araña clung to the roof of the Sierra house. “First Electro, then there was Aftershock. I’ve seen various Goblins use it. How about some originality?”

Beetle ripped the webbing from her mask and turned her attention to Araña. She shot another burst of electricity at her. Araña flipped off the roof and shot a web-line to swing across the way. She touched a light post and quickly pounced upward at the Beetle. With a balled up fist she punched the Beetle at the side of her helmet. It was strong enough to make her lose control of her flight. She spun around wildly before landing to regain control.

“It was fun playing around but I must bring you to the Kingpin,” said the Beetle. “When I said earlier that it was in your best interests I wasn’t lying.”

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Jessica tended to the girl they picked up when searching for Anya. She changed her bloody bandages while taking time to reflect on the past day. Before they left for the hospital she tried to apologize to Lucas but he shrugged her off. All she wanted was to make up with her brother. Then there was Rome. She saw him in the kitchen when her mother broke up the argument Lucas was having with him. Erika made both Rome and Alex leave before she could get a chance to talk to him.

“Jessica, sweetie, are you all right?” asked her mother as she walked into the room. “You haven’t said a single word all day. You’ve just stayed cooped up in your room. What’s troubling you?”

“Umm . . .” Jessica sighed. “Well, where do I begin? I guess first there’s this guy that I met through Anya who is being forced to do terrible things for the sake of his family. Rome, the guy with the braided hair that Lucas was arguing with last night, his family is being held captive by a bad guy called the Jackal and if he doesn’t do what he asks the Jackal will kill his family. Lucas thinks I’m being foolish for believing in him. I believe he’s genuinely in a bind and needs help. He saved Elena from falling to her death. I got into an argument with Lucas over this and I said something I shouldn’t have and now he’s mad at me.”

“Do you like this guy?” Jessica was surprised by this first question from her mother and instantly blushed.

“What?!” She covered her cheeks to hide the fact that she was blushing. “Why would you immediately go to that? That’s such a mother thing to do.”

“That’s not a no,” Erika smiled. “There’s nothing wrong with having feelings for someone. This is really the first time I’ve even heard you talk about a boy. Jessica as your mother you know I want you to take precaution and be safe. But at the end of the day only one person can decide for you what is right. That person is you. If you truly believe in your heart that he is trustworthy and in need of a helping hand then you have the power to make that decision. And as far as your brother goes, I know he loves you. Whatever you said to him I’m sure he’ll get over it.”

“But I called him an annoyance . . .” she began to tear up. “That all the problems he had over his life were an annoyance. What kind of sister does that to their brother?”

“Baby, trust me Lucas will get over it,” her mother reassured. “That was a little harsh, but he has grown a lot lately. Over the last year he’s went from someone who distrusts everyone and keeps to himself to someone actually has friends and a girlfriend. I know a lot of the thanks go to Anya but you stood by his side from the start and that means more than a petty argument.”

Jessica looked down uncertain of herself. Erika placed her hands on her daughter’s shoulders and smiled at her. Jessica took a deep breath and quickly thought of what she must do. She stood up and took a couple steps before turning to her mother.

“Thanks, mom,” she said. “What about Felicity?”

“I’ll tend to her,” Erika replied. “I tried both of your cousins, but Mike and Andy didn’t answer. Something is telling me that the Ant Council is experiencing some kind of problem. I don’t know. It seems Mike is just as hardheaded as his father. I didn’t know he took up my old codename Hormiga and became their hunter.”

“Mike?” Jessica was mildly surprised. “How did you learn this?”

“Lucas asked me why Mike was in competition with him.”

“All right,” started Jessica. “I’m gonna do some investigating and do my best to help everyone.”

“You be safe.” Erika watched her daughter run off. “Now if only I could figure out what do about this girl.”

It was then a light flashed behind Erika catching her off guard. She looked behind her to see someone unexpected.

“Sofia?” The spirit of Anya’s deceased mother appeared to her old friend. “What Lucas said was true. He did see you.”

“Her injuries although bad weren’t life threatening,” said Sofia. “I healed her with the little bit of power I still have. I wish I could help Gilberto but it’s out of my hands. It will be up to Anya to save her father and I feel this girl may be of help. Also, you’re right to feel something is wrong with the Ant Council. Someone wishes to hurt your family so you must take action to protect them. And since Anya is part of your family now I hope you will protect her for me as well.”

“Do you even have to ask?” smiled Erika.

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – THE KINGPIN’S PENTHOUSE

Araña and Avispa stood before the Kingpin after they had followed the Beetle. He had asked for the Beetle to leave so that the three of them could talk. The superhero couple looked at the imposing figure of Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of a coalition of East Coast criminal organizations. He in turn looked back at the two heroes.

“Before we get started,” began the Kingpin. “Let’s get the fat jokes out of the way. I know you spider-types.”

“Your body is comprised entirely of enormous muscles,” responded Avispa. “Who’s gonna make fat jokes?”

“You’ve gotta be kidding,” whispered Araña.

“Shh,” Avispa tried to tell Araña to stop talking. “Don’t tell me you’ve been reading that ‘Spidey Handbook’ again. Maybe I should talk to him. You’ll just get us in trouble.”

“Come on, you’ve never been one to back away from a fight,” countered Araña. “What would make this any different?”

In the time the two heroes discussed how to handle the matter of talking with the Kingpin, he himself had walked in front of his desk. The massive size of him made Araña a tiny bit nervous but wouldn’t let it scare her.

“I sent flowers to your father’s hospital room,” claimed the Kingpin. “Did you not receive them? It’s quite a shame what happened to him. I actually enjoy the articles he writes for the New York Herald.”

Back in Gilberto’s hospital room on a table next to his bed there is a vase with flowers and a card that says ‘To Anya Corazon’. Araña thought back and remembered she did see the flowers but never checked them. The fact that a known criminal was near her father made her furious.

“All right stop beating around the bush!” exclaimed Araña. “It’s been made very clear that you people know my identity. What do you want?”

“It’s quite simple Miss Corazon,” the Kingpin smugly replied. “I would like to offer you a partnership. You see we have a common enemy in the Jackal. Help me bring him down with anyone loyal to him and let’s say I bring in the best doctors there is to help save your father.”

“That’s dirty bringing my father into this.” Araña clenched her fists. “I don’t think I could ever stomach the idea of working for some mob boss so that my father would live. The Goblin does that very thing and its wrong!”

“The Goblin?” smiled Kingpin. “Another of the Jackal’s lackeys. I hear he’s responsible for what happened to you father. I can get him for you.”

“That’s enough!” yelled Avispa who stepped in front of Araña. “The Goblin! The Jackal! We’ll deal with them both but on our own terms. I don’t know how you learned of her identity but don’t think for a second you can use her friends and family against her I won’t allow it!”

“Boy, you don’t know who you threaten.” The Kingpin stood unfazed by Avispa’s movement toward him. “Besides, Lucas Garcia, you’re the only one here who has a family to worry about. So think well about your next action.”

“Stop!” Araña grabbed Avispa. “Look I don’t want you to help my father. Thanks for the offer but I don’t think I’d be able to look him in the eye again. If you really want to put an end to this crime war then we can talk. No killing. No more crime. It all ends. We’ll put a stop to the Jackal and his crew our own way and make sure they rot behind bars. Leave Lucas’s family out of this or I’ll have the Spider Society up here in no time.”

“You have nothing to worry about.” The Kingpin genuinely promised. “Your family and identities are safe. But let’s be honest you haven’t been able to contact this Spider Society of yours for some time now.”

Araña was surprised about how much the Kingpin knew. It was true that she hadn’t been able to contact anyone from the Spider Society. Her mage Miguel Legar wasn’t answering, nor was their hacker/computer specialist Ted Mankowski. And then there was Emi Kitane, also known as Armory, who has yet to return from Japan and wasn’t answering any phone calls. Avispa experienced this very problem when Araña was kidnapped by the Bastards of Evil and he broke into WebCorps to find it abandoned. The Kingpin reassured them he would keep his word about staying away from their loved ones. The two heroes then flew out the penthouse to find a lead that would bring them to the Goblin or Jackal.

MEANWHILE…

Estrella stood in front of the Crimson Spider who she somehow found web-swinging through the city. He cautiously stayed back knowing she was the sister of Avispa.

“He scared you that much, really?” asked Estrella annoyed by the fact he was backing up. “You know in our little five-man band of the New Slingers you would be the chick.”

“What?!” the Crimson Spider was confused.

“You know a five-man band,” explained Estrella. “Avispa is the leader, Hormiga is the leaders opposite or foil, I’m the smart one, Armory is the muscle, and you’re the chick. It’s that simple. I’m not saying you’re girly. You’re just the one who would try to talk things out while everyone else around you would run into action.”

“You’ve thought this out,” said the Crimson Spider. “Who would the Goblin be? The sixth ranger? The misguided individual who ends up joining the heroes? You think he can be redeemed? I trust him as much as I trust that kunai throwing brother of yours. I don’t know why you need me. Wouldn’t one of the other bugs be a better choice?”

“See you’re so the chick,” smirked Estrella. “Look its simple. There are people in danger. If we can save Rome’s family then we can stop him from doing something stupid. I can’t go to my brother or Anya about this and Hormiga is who knows where. I need some extra eyes to help me find where they’re being held.”

“And you came to a spider for some extra eyes?” Crimson Spider followed with a sigh. “Nice.”

“Will you just help me already?” questioned Estrella.

“Fine. For the record you should know I hate your brother.”

NEW YORK HARBOR

Out on the docks, the Enforcers were sent by the Kingpin to oversee an illegal shipment that arrived by ship overnight. They were told that someone other than the heroes was interfering with the Kingpin’s plans. His first thought was that it was someone working for the Jackal. Fancy Dan finished smoking a cigarette, dropping it and then stomping it out.

“Get back to work,” he ordered some of the Kingpin’s workers. “To think we’ve been lowered to this.”

“Hate your job?” asked a voice out of nowhere. “Sorry to hear that. Maybe you can help me out by getting back at your boss and telling me where he is.”

“Who’s there?” asked Montana while pulling out his lasso. “If you want the Kingpin than we can take you to him. In a body bag!”

The five members of the Enforcers had no idea where the voice was coming from. Ox looked to his left and was met by a blur that sped passed him knocking him back. The other Enforcers turned to look behind them to see Amun stop with two ankh-shaped daggers. Fancy Dan and Montana looked at each other for a second confused on who this guy was. They then went to make their move. Amun threw the daggers. One pierced through Dan’s gun while the other bounced off of Harrison’s hammer-like gauntlets. Montana tried to tie up Amun, but he was too fast to catch. Amun stopped long enough for Snake Marston, a contortionist, to grab him. Marston wrapped himself around Amun in a strange manner to hold him in place, but with how Amun was able to move his body at great speeds he was able to break free with ease. Amun stopped again giving Ox a chance to pounce at him. Amun simply sidestepped him quickly making the large man crash into some crates.

“So want to tell me where the Kingpin is now?” Amun stood with his arms crossed. “Or should I just knock you guys around until I get an answer? Hmm, the hard way it is.”

Amun started running around knocking the Enforcers around. They were unable to keep up with him. He was too fast. Ox swung a fist only hitting air. Dan pulled out another gun and missed every shot. The others didn’t fare any better, eventually they were all on the ground. Amun was the last man standing. Despite over powering them he was still unable to get the answers he sought. He was hired to assassinate the Kingpin but so far wasn’t finding any leads to him.

MEANWHILE…

The Goblin was in a vacated building he had been operating out of. He was working on some weapons that he stored in his glider. On the table next to him were an array of bombs, razor bats, and other gadgets. As he worked he thought back to his argument with Lucas. He couldn’t blame him for being as mad as he was. His own family was in trouble and now he was mixing Lucas’s sister into it. He closed his eyes and thought hard what he should do to fix things. It was then he heard the sound of someone opening a door. He jumped up and grabbed his ionic sword to defend himself.

First stepped in the Crime-Master who was followed by the Jackal. “I told you he’d be here.”

“Boy, it seems you’ve been causing more than the Kingpin problems,” said the Jackal. “Might I remind you who you work for? It is I who controls the fate of your family. I said as long as you do as I say they live. But no you went and attacked my people.”

“I can’t do this no more!” yelled the Goblin ready to strike.

“Be smart kid,” suggested Crime-Master.

The Jackal walked in front of the Crime-Master with his arms crossed behind his back. He walked around to examine the Goblin’s setup intrigued by how he was able to keep himself supplied with weaponry despite having no one backing him.

“This is your last chance,” said the Jackal. “And I’m feeling generous on this one. Do what I want and I’ll let your family go. I’ll never bother you or them again. All you have to do is kill Avispa and bring me Araña. Do you think you can do that?”