BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Anya and Lynn sat across from each other as Lucas sat on the floor with his niece Angela. The latter two were playing a card game together. Lynn was trying to hide back laughter watching Lucas. It made her happy to see what a caring uncle he was.

“Do you have any fives?” Lucas asked of Angela.

Lynn giggled. “It’s good to see my kid will have good male influence in their life, since Mike won’t have anything to do with it.”

“I’m sorry this is happening with Mike,” said Anya. “I expected more from him. I wonder what’s gotten to him.”

“You said he doesn’t know yours and Lucas’s secret?” questioned Lynn. “How did you figure out his?”

“Lucas merely put two and two together,” replied Anya. “He and Mike were trained together by the Ant Council. Isn’t wasn’t hard to figure out. Not to mention that Mike has a tendency to be sloppy.”

“Hmm…” Lynn briefly pondered to herself. “I wonder what he’s doing now.”


AGONY IN THE ANTHILL
Part II: Family Feud
Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


MADRID, SPAIN

Hormiga and his teammates, Black Ant and Ladybug, appeared out of nowhere. They all looked up to stare at a massive red sphere made of glass. Black Ant turned to see what else was around them. He saw that they were in a cathedral that was heavily guarded by men and women who were armored like knights with the symbol of the ant on them. The team themselves had shrunken down before arriving so they could enter unnoticed.

“So I’m guessing exitting isn’t going to be as easy as entering was?” asked Black Ant. “What’s the plan to get the Arakis Orb out of here?”

“What do you think?” Ladybug answered with a snide remark.

“We’re fighting our way out of here,” said Hormiga. “Don’t fear Andy we can do this. When we return to normal size you grab the sphere. Arianna and I will engage these guards.”

Black Ant nodded. They regrew to their normal sizes surprising the knights. Black Ant grabbed the sphere as the knights moved in on them. A polearm was thrusted toward Hormiga which he grabbed and snapped with ease. He then called upon his red exoskeleton to armor himself. This made his punch to a steel helmet more effective. Ladybug dodged a weapon and kicked it’s holder back. A male and female knight advanced on her which prompted her to stick her arms out with her fingers closed and pointing at them. A small energy burst shot out at stopping them in their tracks.

“It worked,” smiled Ladybug. “You’re under the control of my love bite. Now do me a favor and take care of the rest. I don’t feel like getting my hands dirty.”

The knights had become entranced by Ladybug’s powers. They turned and began fighting against their own people for her. Black Ant kept back very nervous about getting into a fight. Hormiga knocked a knight back toward his brother making him nearly jump out of his boots. Another flew back making Black Ant jump again this time making him lose his grasp on the orb. He juggled it until he finally had it firmly in his hands.

“Keep it together over there!” exclaimed Hormiga. “You’re a mage! Use your magic to defend yourself.”

A knight came to attack the Black Ant. Having always been afraid of confrontation he did what he could only do, defend himself. A mystical circle appeared above his palm. As the knight struck with his weapon he would be blocked by a shield of light. He continued to slash at the shield until he was tackled by Hormiga.

“Brother, one of these days you’re gonna have to grow a pair.” Hormiga was bit annoyed with him. “Come there’s only a few left. We’ll be out of here in seconds.”

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Anya and Lynn were still talking while Lucas was reshuffling their playing cards. Veronica joined everyone by sitting next to Lynn. She looked over to her daughter and smiled seeing how happy she was playing with her uncle.

“She’s a sweetheart,” said Lynn. “In the short time I’ve known Lucas I haven’t seen that many people get along with him that well. Even other family members struggled with accepting him.”

“I don’t know what it is about my girl,” Veronica started. “But it’s almost as if she puts his soul at ease. I remember one time when he went on a rampage in his hunter form. It was her that calmed him down. I think she has some power to sever the link between him and the hunter.”

“Really?” Anya was curious. “No one that I know of has been able to snap someone out of the control of a hunter without having to cut off their oxygen flow.”

“I’m glad to see that he’s doing so much better than the last time I saw him,” said Veronica. “I didn’t think he would finish high school after all the fights he would get in. Now he’s heading off to college. What are your plans anyway?”

“We’re all going to Empire State University together,” answered Anya. “We are planning to share an apartment in Manhattan together. I was actually going to ask if Lynn wanted to join us.”

“Move to Manhattan, really?” Lynn was intrigued by the idea. “I guess it would be weird staying here while you guys are out there. Don’t worry I plan to get a job and I’ll help pay for things. Now that I think of that. How do you guys make money?”

“I do missions for the Spider Society and Lucas does them for the Ant Council,” Anya informed them. “Even though the Spider Society has disappeared their app to apply for help still functions. I guess you could say I’m a hero for hire.”

Lynn found the concept interesting. “How does that work? How do people even know about this Spider Society?”

Before Anya could give her answer, Lucas’s mother walked into the room looking a bit saddened about something. Everyone looked at her concerned. Erika turned to Anya and reluctantly said what she knew she didn’t want to hear.

“Anya, sweetie…” Erika was a bit choked up. “It’s your father. The hospital just called. He passed away.”

Anya’s heart sunk. She had been fighting back her emotions lately after what she almost did when her anger got the best of her. She nearly killed someone trying to figure out who shot her father. Lucas got up and embraced Anya as she cried out for her father. She ripped herself from his arms and ran off. As he tried to go after her Veronica stopped him.

“Let her be alone for a moment,” she suggested. “When she’s ready she’ll come looking for you. Trust me I know how she feels.”

Lucas knew she was right, but couldn’t help but worry.

THE ANTHILL

The parents of Hormiga and Black Ant, Javier and Marcela, were locked in a room that looked out to the rest of the complex. Javier peered out the glass walls watching his people who were now under the control of someone else. They knew exactly who it was. The Cult of the Tarantula. They weren’t entirely sure why they were controlling them. They did know the last time they made an appearance was against their nephew, niece, and Araña.

“The Tarantulas,” said Marcela. “Didn’t they crumble apart ages ago?”

“The original faction did but the group reformed under new leadership,” explained Javier. “As I can recall our sources say that the two leaders are the children of my sister’s ex-husband.”

“They’re Lucas and Jessica’s half-siblings?” Marcela felt a sense of disgust. “And they attacked their own flesh and blood? This worries me Javy.”

He sighed. “Me as well. It doesn’t surprise me however. Anything connected to Anthony Garcia, that foolish leader of the Wasp, is worth keeping a watchful eye on. But speaking of Wasps. We may need to rely on our niece and nephew if we wish to regain control here.”

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – FORT GREENE PARK

Anya walked down the stairs that lead down a long path. Whenever she was down Anya would come to this park. This is where her life as Araña first started. She didn’t go to the hospital to see her father’s body. She didn’t think she could handle that sight again. It’s been more than ten years since her mother passed and she still can’t get the image out her head. Her mother being carted away with a white sheet over her from their burned down home in Mexico. She tried to fight back the tears that followed thinking of it.

She stopped for a moment. Something in her opinion didn’t seem quite right. Usually there would be people walking the same path she was on. She couldn’t remember a time where she was able to walk it alone. This made her look around to the rest of the park. There was no one. As far as Anya could tell she was the only one in the park.

“How sad…” a sarcastic sounding voice startled Anya who thought she was alone.

Anya turned to see Nina standing behind her. Seeing the person she considered a traitor instantly set her into a rage. Her tears ended as her eyes began flashing blue. Her body than began being covered piece by piece by her blue exoskeleton that started from the blue spider tattoo on her upper right arm. Nina smirked as she slightly unzipped her black leather top that revealed a black tarantula tattoo between her cleavage.

“You’re not the only one with the mark of a hunter,” she said as she to was covered by her black exoskeleton.

Both hunters pounced at one another. Their fists collided. The impact of their punches sent each other flying back. Nina gracefully fell back landing on both feet, while Anya crashed and violently rolled on the ground.

“So weak,” laughed Nina.

Anya picked herself up and glared at Nina. “What do you want this time? If you’re after Lucas again you might as well give up because I won’t let you near him.”

“Heh, no Spider Princess.” Nina’s armored fingers grew into razor sharp talons. “I have no interest in my half-brother. It is you I am after.”

GARCIA HOUSEHOLD

Jessica walked into the living room where everyone else was talking to Lucas. They were trying to reassure him things would be okay with Anya in time. Jessica was spending time with Rome so she hadn’t heard the news. She was confused about what was going on.

“Why is everyone gathered around like this?” she asked. “Did I miss a family meeting? Actually I don’t think we’ve ever had a family meeting.”

“Figures you wouldn’t know what’s happening with you spending time with ‘Mr. Popular’,” Veronica playfully teased Jessica who became annoyed with her cousin. “What? That’s what I understand from what people tell me.”

Erika put her hand up to stop Veronica. “I don’t think now’s the time for that. Jess, we just got word that Anya’s father passed away and we’re trying to convince Lucas that it might be best for him to give her some space for the time being.”

“Look I got it.” Lucas stood up a bit frustrated. “I need to go do something to get my mind off this. I’m gonna go see if I can pick a fight with somebody.”

He stormed out and Jessica followed hoping to ask him something.

FORT GREENE PARK

A webline shot out at Nina, which she caught while laughing. She was getting a kick out of fighting her former pupil. She pulled the webbing making Anya move a couple feet forward before letting go. Anya hadn’t changed into her costume. She didn’t have the time nor did it really matter. There was no one else in the park.

“What did you do with the people visiting this park?” she asked. “Knowing you, you probably used those creepy tarantulas of yours to turn them into your henchmen like you did the last time.”

“You have nothing to worry about,” claimed Nina. “I simply used my magic to compel the people traversing the area to vacate so we could have this special alone time we’re having right now.”

“Tsk.” Anya gritted her teeth. “You should know I’m not having the best of days. It might be wise to leave me alone.”

Nina laughed some more. “But this is the perfect time for us to meet again! I know of your father’s passing. So sad. So sad. At least he’ll be joining that lovely mother of yours, won’t he?”

Anya was infuriated. She shot webbing from her sides that caught onto stones that were used for decoration around trees. She tugged the webbing and swung the stones at Nina. The stones were shattered as Nina swiped them with her razor sharp talons. Anya then swooped in sending a number of punches that Nina blocked with her forearms. Nina found an opening and struck with an elbow to side of Anya’s head.

Anya staggered back a bit. Despite being armored she still got her bell rung. It would seem Nina’s armor was on par with Anya’s or possibly even stronger. Anya recollected herself and jumped hoping to land a dropkick. A number of new appendages grew from the back of Nina’s armor which she used to slap Anya away like she was nothing.

“Keep trying, girl,” said Nina. “But you should know a spider is nothing in comparison to a tarantula.”

NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY

Lucas and Jessica sat together on the train. They were listening to music via a cellphone and were sharing headphones. Jessica looked at her brother and smiled. It had been quite sometime since they had done something together where it was just the two of them. Jessica remembered how close they were before their significant others entered their lives.

“Thanks for coming out with me,” she said. “Rome is gonna be really busy the rest of the day so I appreciate you coming in his place. I know you probably want to be with Anya.”

“It’s no problem,” he responded. “Everyone’s right. She needs her space. Not to say I wouldn’t have done this either way.”

Jessica snickered, “It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you’re here. I’ve been putting this off because I just don’t feel comfortable going to WebCorps alone. I left some important belongings there while training with Miguel. With him, Ted, and everyone else gone missing I just don’t want to walk in there and come across the person responsible for the Spider Society’s disappearance.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine what happened to them.” Lucas lifted his phone looking at the unanswered calls. “I tried Miguel. I tried to call Ted and you know how much his constant yapping drives me nuts. I even tried to call Emi thinking maybe they went to go find her in Japan, but she hasn’t been answering mine or Anya’s calls.”

WEBCORPS

Lucas and Jessica walked through the office area of WebCorps, which was all just for show. Jessica felt uneasy with how quiet it was. Lucas was looking around the desks in hopes of finding anything unusual. He came across a cup of coffee that had not been drank. There was no telling how old the coffee was. Suddenly the cup cracked, shocking him.

“What’s wrong?” asked Jessica.

Lucas stepped back. “A bad omen.”

Jessica shrugged it off and headed for the room that had her belongings. She grabbed her bag and checked its contents. Satisfied with what she found she left the room. Her brother was looking through his phone seeing if anything had happened. When she approached him a sound caught both of their attention. They looked toward their exit to find an unusually large trail of ants leaving the office. They looked at each other and followed the trail to a stairwell.

“What could this be about?” Jessica wondered.

Together they climbed the stairs following the trail of ants all the way to the roof. They weren’t sure what they would find but took a step outside. The trail ended. What it lead them too were two people who didn’t appear to actually be there. The twins could see through them.

“Uncle Javi, Aunt Marcela?” They spoke at the same time.

“Sí niños,” said Javier. “We appear before you because we must warn you of impending doom.”

“Impending doom?” asked Jessica. “It has to do with the Ant Council doesn’t it?”

“You would be correct.” Marcela lowered her head. “I guess you’ve had a run in with your cousins?”

Javier looked toward Lucas. “For centuries, your mother was the protector of our people. She was our hunter who operated without a mage. Upon your birth she unknowingly passed her hunter powers to you Lucas. And she passed her magical abilities to you Jessica. So you inherited her powers but not only that her place in the Ant Council.”

“For centuries?” questioned Lucas. “Are you all really that old? And why now of all times do you seek us out to fulfill duties we never knew were passed down to us?”

“The two of us, your parents and Anya’s mother were given immortality accidentally during one of the Insect Wars. To answer your second question, it was because of your connection to the Wasp Hunter,” explained Marcela. “It is more dominant than that of your Ant Hunter. That is why when you change into your alter-egos the wasp symbol appears on your costumes instead of the ant.”

“We knew the rest of the council would find it hard to follow protectors who were connected to the wasp,” Javier continued the explanation. “So we had our son take up the mantle of Hormiga to let you discover your own path. But now someone has turned your cousins and the rest of the council against us and soon you.”

“Who?” Jessica then remembered their altercation with the Ant Council the day before.

Javier closed his eyes. “The Tarantulas.”

The twins were taken off guard. They weren’t expecting to hear the name of the first enemies they fought alongside Araña against. Both of their bodies became engulfed in flames, eventually fading away to reveal their costumes.

“I suggest not coming alone,” stated Javier. “You have a team known as the New Slingers, am I right? Call for their assistance. You will need all the help you can get. When you enter the Anthill the entire council will be against you and we will not be able to help.”

“I better call Anya,” said Lucas.

Jessica pulled out her cellphone. “I don’t know if Rome can break away from what he’s doing but I’ll give it a shot.”

FORT GREENE PARK

Anya stood across from Nina trying to catch her breath. Her eyes shifted left to right, trying to find something that could help her without tipping off Nina. With her fingers elongated, Nina popped her knuckles while letting out a bit of villainous cackle.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for but it won’t help you,” said Nina.

Just then something large landed behind Anya, startling her. She turned back to see Nina’s brother Marcos who transformed into a hulked out humanoid tarantula. With one swing from one of his many arms he sent Anya flying. She crashed into the stairs and got up writhing in pain.

“You’re taking too long,” said Marcos to Nina. “I told you not to take any chances.”

“What are you worrying about?” questioned Nina slightly amused by her brother being annoyed. “I set this all up just for this moment. With the Ant Council under our control our dear younger brother and sister will be too distracted to come save this pathetic excuse of a hunter.”

“Remember what I said about taking them lightly? Do not underestimate your opponent. Just think of the last time. You thought our brother was dead when you stole the Wasp Hunter from him but he was able to come back. Now let’s go collect the girl and get out of here. This is merely phase one of your plan. Don’t forget that. There’s more to do.”

The two siblings went after Anya who tried to fight back. A webline shot at Marcos but was caught allowing him to reel her in. He used his extra arms to hold her tight. She tried to muscle her way out of his grasp but he was too strong. The Tarantulas considered her captured and headed up the stairs where they saw the towering structure known as the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument. Anya popped her stinger and struck Marcos with its electrical current. It stung him but it wasn’t enough to stop him in his tracks. He with one arm swung Anya around by her arm and then hurled her into the monument knocking her unconscious.

“Annoying little twerp isn’t she?” Marcos demorphed from his tarantula form back to his human appearance wearing similar costume to Nina. “She should be easier to deal with now. Let’s go sister.”

THE ANTHILL

Avispa landed on the building’s roof and instantly began surveying his surroundings. He then looked at his entry way to the Ant Council’s headquarters. He knew as soon as he opened that door he was going to be fighting his own family. He closed his eyes wishing it wouldn’t have to come to this. He also was thinking about Anya who he was unable to get ahold of. There was a flash of light behind him. It would fade away to reveal Estrella standing behind him with both hands pressed against is back. Behind her stood the Goblin and the Crimson Spider.

“I was able to get us back up,” said Estrella looking around. “Where’s Anya?”

Avispa sighed. “We’re gonna have to do this without her. Guys I appreciate you aiding us. Who we’re going up against might be tough. Not just based on their strength but who they are. They’re my family and Hormiga is part of our team.”

“It’s not a problem,” said the Goblin. “You helped my family and now it’s time to help yours. Jess said they’re being controlled by these people known as the Cult of the Tarantula? Well, it’s time to knock them to their senses.”

“I just have nothing better to do…” The Crimson Spider appeared to be moping. “Oh, my god who am I kidding? I don’t want to be here! I hate getting caught up in this Insect Kingdom crap! She made me come! She’s just as scary as you dude!”

“Why did you bring him?” asked Avispa of Estrella. “He’s such a drag.”

“We’re short handed right now,” she replied. “This isn’t the time to pick and choose our allies.”

The team entered the building. They didn’t appear to have the element of surprise. The lower ranking soldiers of the Ant Council were waiting in the stairwell. They readied their weapons just before Avispa pounced. He kicked the first soldier away and blocked second’s weapon with his forearm. The soldier became nervous when he realized he couldn’t over power Avispa. He would be kicked aside with ease crashing into a wall.

Estrella stepped in front of her brother and clapped her hands together. Two mystical circles appeared on her palms which she pointed downstairs. A gust of wind rushed downward knocking everyone in her way back.

“Are we really fighting down a flight of stairs?” asked the Goblin.

He walked down the first cleared set of stairs and took his turn at engaging the ant soldiers. He pulled an orange sphere from a satchel that hung at his side. He tossed it. When it opened steel cables popped out and entangled all below him. One of the soldiers had someone knock on the back of their helmet. They turned to see the Crimson Spider who shot webbing in their eyes.

“Who chose your costumes?” The Crimson Spider stroked his chin. “They look hideous.”

The Crimson Spider used webbing to pull two soldiers together and then webbed them together. Avispa struck one with palm strikes. The force was enough to push him back. Estrella then dove into him with a flying double knees strike. Together they went crashing into a group of them.

Estrella was back on her feet quickly. She grabbed a female member of the ant soldiers and pulled off her helmet. On the back of her neck she found a black tarantula tattoo. Estrella examined the marking to get a feel for it’s magic.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to remove these,” she said. “We were only able to remove them the last time because we beat the Tarantulas.”

The Goblin’s retractable forearm blades caught a weapon and with the strength of his arm broke it. “Then let’s go find them and put an end to this. No one should be forced to work for anyone.”

“Easier said than done.” Avispa pulled someone off his sister and punched them. “Until we find them we’re gonna have to deal with these guys. We might need to tone it done a bit, we don’t want to hurt them.”

Two soldiers fell over and landed hard after being drop kicked by the Crimson Spider, who then looked up to see an irritated Avispa. He shrugged his shoulders.

“What they were asking for it?” he claimed.

His spider sense began warning him of nearby danger. He turned slightly while in a crouching position and saw more soldiers only they appeared more armored than the last group.

“And we’re gonna go easy on them?” The Crimson Spider was unmotivated with the idea.

CANADA

Outside a complex that appeared abandoned a black gateway opened. Out stepped Nina and Marcos, the latter with Anya over his shoulder. They took a couple steps in the snow before approaching a sign that Marcos read to himself. It said ‘Private Property The Ararat Corporation’. Marcos just looked at his sister.

“What is this place?” he asked. “Don’t tell me this is where you’ve been keeping the creature.”

“Yes, it’s abandoned and not someplace I would be caught dead spending my valuable time.” Nina swung the large gate open and gestured for her brother to head in. “But it’s the best place to keep it for our little friend here.”

THE ANTHILL

Avispa darted forward. With one wave of his arm he threw a kunai that knocked a weapon away from a tarantula controlled ant soldier. A webline shot out that Avispa caught, surprising the Crimson Spider. Avispa pulled hard and whipped the webbing at the soldiers with the Crimson Spider being pulled along with it. He collided with them knocking over the entire group.

“Ow, dude that hurt!” he yelled in pain.

Avispa put a hand to his head. “You are the whiniest spider ever.”

Estrella and the Goblin joined them as they’re approached by Hormiga and his team. The Crimson Spider flipped backward and landed behind Avispa where he would peek out to look at the controlled heroes.

“I hope you feel welcomed,” said Hormiga as he looked at the sorry state his soldiers were looking. “I was going to personally send out an invitation for you to join our annual fighting tournament but it seems you saved me the trouble.”

“The annual tournament, really?” questioned Avispa. “I’ve participated in your annual tournament and never experienced a greeting like this.”

“You’ve come to our tournaments before?” Hormiga was confused. “I don’t recall seeing a man wearing orange leather armor in our past events.”

“Well, I know it’s near impossible for you to put two and two together,” remarked Avispa. “But maybe if I show you…”

“Hold it!” demanded Hormiga. “I have no desire to know your true identity. Come we’ve been preparing for your arrival.”

“How about no?” Avispa cracked his knuckles. “Let’s just settle this now.”

The rest of the New Slingers waited to see what Hormiga would do. He just simply laughed.

“Oh, we’ll settle this don’t you worry,” assured Hormiga. “Come.”

Moments later, Avispa stood on a large padded sparring mat. The Ant Council was very serious about it’s combat training. It was here where Avispa was taught to fight alongside Hormiga. Every year they would hold this tournament to show who was their best. Avispa didn’t believe this tournament would play the same as past ones. Across from him stood Black Ant. He could tell that his younger cousin was nervous. He knew that his cousin spooked easily. All it would take was him inching forward and he would jump out of his boots.

“You alright over there?” Avispa smirked. “You’re looking a little shaky there.”

Black Ant gritted his teeth which is all could be seen with his helmet on. “I’m fine. Why don’t you worry about you and I’ll worry about me? Okay?”

“I’d worry if I were you.”

Goblin looked to Estrella. “Your brother’s getting a little cocky. Maybe he should watch what he says before it comes back to bite him.”

“This Black Ant character is my cousin Andy,” Estrella started to explain. “The biggest wuss I know. Lucas is merely trying to get into his head which isn’t hard to do.”

Avispa insisted that Black Ant make the first move and waited for him to do so. Black Ant decided his best course of action was to summon some help to fight for him. He began chanting a spell that would be followed by him slamming his palms on the ground. A number of mystical circles appeared in front of him. From them a group of humanoid ants appeared. Avispa recognized them immediately as his sister had used this magic before. They were ant drones, summoned from the realm where the hunters called home.

“Hmm?” The leader of the humanoid ants known as the Fire Ants was curious about what was going on. “We’re summoned against you?”

“You’re gonna do as I say!” commanded Black Ant. “Take the wasp down!”

“What?!” exclaimed the Fire Ants’ leader. “I can’t believe we’re being turned against you.”

“I know you have no choice.” Avispa popped open one of the pouches on his belt. “Do what you must. I’ll defend myself from your attacks.”

“Stop talking and get to it!” Black Ant appeared irritated.

Avispa pulled his retractable staff from the pouch. It popped and extended to full length. The Fire Ants charged forward as did Avispa. He spun the staff over his head and began twisting his body. The ends of the staff smacked the Fire Ants around. The Ants all arced their backs as they sucked in air and then leaned forward to shot fire the size of bullets at Avispa. He flipped back with the staff behind him and put up his left hand in front of him. The fire just bounced off his hand.

“Fools, he’s immune to fire attacks!” yelled Black Ant.

The leader of the Fire Ants looked back. “What do you want from us? That’s our primary attack.”

Avispa launched his own fire attack. The Fire Ants were blasted away. Black Ant panicked and called up a shield made up of magical energies. The fire hit the shield and rushed in directions away from Black Ant who struggled to keep it up. He closed his eyes to focus on holding the shield. They reopened when he heard a whistling sound come in his direction. Within a second a fist came out of nowhere and slammed into the side of Black Ant’s helmet. He fell backward as the side of his helmet broke off.

“The only fool here is you,” explained Avispa. “Thinking you could beat me without facing me head on. Letting someone else fight for you.”

“Enough!” called Hormiga.

Two members of the Ant Council came along and picked Black Ant off the ground. Ladybug held a hand over her mouth to hide a smirk. Avispa walked off and rejoined his sister.

“Why would he send his brother out like that?” asked Avispa. “Andy’s afraid of fighting. He didn’t even touch me.”

Estrella watched as Hormiga and Ladybug discussed something. “It’s the Tarantulas control over them. They’re not the same people we know.”

“That could have gone better,” stated Ladybug. “Why do you even use him for stuff like this?”

“I know Andy isn’t perficient in combat.” He looked to his brother. “I didn’t expect anything more than the performance we got. He did accomplish what I wanted though. I wanted to see how the wasp would handle himself. Next match!”

Moments go by until Estrella is standing in the sparring area. She was standing before a tall hulking man who she had to look up at to see what he looked like.

“Hmm, I’ve fought bigger.” Estrella thought of the time she briefly fought Mettle of the Young Allies.

This hulking man would be joined by Ladybug. This made the Goblin to step in, he wasn’t going to let someone put his girlfriend in an uneven matchup. The tournament would continue on with Ladybug’s tag team prevailing over Estrella and Goblin. The Crimson Spider even got into a match but lost. He landed backwards on his rear end in front of Estrella and the Goblin. He scratched his head wondering what just happened. The look that Estrella and the Goblin shared told that they knew exactly what happened in his match and there’s as well. The Ants weren’t fighting fair.

No one said anything. To Hormiga all that mattered was facing Avispa. The rest of the New Slingers were of no interest to him. It was just about time for them to face off. Hormiga discussed something with his team while Estrella told her brother to be careful. Avispa nodded just before walking over to the mat. He looked off in the distance where he saw his aunt and uncle being held prisoner. Hormiga finally stood before his cousin ready to settle their feud.

“So Wasp, are you ready to finish this?” he asked. “Our meeting here was destiny. This will mark the beginning of the end for the Insect Kingdom. The madness will finally end. No more will anyone be hurt by these evil groups.”

Avispa had no words. He was confused by his cousin’s agenda. He was under the impression that the Tarantulas, his half-siblings, wanted to rule the world using the power of the Insect Kingdom. He was starting to wonder where exactly the Ant Council fit into the Tarantulas’ plans and speaking of his half-siblings where exactly were they. It felt weird that they haven’t made their presence known.

Hormiga had long since given his cousin the signal to go first. It was actually starting to irritate him that he was lost in thought. So he took it upon himself to begin the match. He charged in and landed a European uppercut, his forearm struck his cousin underneath his chin. Avispa staggered back a bit. He rubbed his chin just before he ran forward and hit hormiga with a lariat.

Hormiga had fallen and gotten back up quickly. He grabbed the back of his cousin’s head at the same time Avispa grabbed him there. Then they began to pummel each other almost in a cartoonish manner, at least that’s what the spectators thought of what they were watching. Hormiga managed to break one of his opponents goggle lenses but it didn’t really seem to phase him. Avispa left dents in his cousin’s helmet of course it still protected him.

“I know something dirty is about to happen.” Estrella was worried about her brother. “We need to stay focused.”

CANADA

Marcos carried Anya’s still unconscious body deeper into the complex where Nina had something stored away just for this moment. Nina motioned toward a box that had a computer panel at its side. It was violently shaking.

“So this is the creature?” asked Marcos. “Am I supposed to be impressed with it being held in this tiny box?”

“Oh, zip it you’ll see,” Nina was irked by her brother’s lack of faith in her.

She pointed to where she wanted him to place Anya’s body. Once down she opened the box and walked away with her brother. As she laid there unconscious, a black slimy substance inched its way toward her body. It took hold of her shoulder and pulled itself to cover her body. As it completely covered her chest her eyes opened not of her own will. They then began to glow a bright blue which meant the hunter was trying to take over.

“Now brother sit back and enjoy the show.” Nina smiled.

THE ANTHILL

Avispa held his chest. It felt as if someone stabbed him in the heart. He knew something was wrong with Anya. All he wanted to do was go and find her but he was stuck here facing his cousin in a pointless martial arts tournament that meant nothing.

“Now!” called Hormiga.

From Estrella’s point of view it appeared that her brother was being punched several times at the sides of his head. He was being pushed back losing his footing. Than Black Ant and Ladybug appeared having increased their stature from a miniature state. They grabbed hold of Avispa and held him down while Hormiga pulled out the Arakis Orb.

The rest of the New Slingers tried to interfere but were attacked by other members of the Ant Council. Hormiga began to chant which made the red orb light up. He stood before his cousin who was now on his knees. Javier and Marcela looked on concerned.

Hormiga lifted the orb above Avispa’s head. His Ant tattoo on his left arm and Wasp tattoo on his upper back lit up. Unrecognizable symbols made of light came down from the orb and circled around his tattoos. The symbols then became one with his flesh making him feel a burning sensation. He yelled in pain much to the delight of Hormiga.

“These markings will seal away your hunters,” explained Hormiga. “You won’t be able to use them anymore.”

He motioned for his team to let go of him. Avispa grabbed hold of himself and continued yelling in pain. Out of anger he ripped off his own goggles and threw them at his cousin’s feet, shocking Hormiga.

“You want me to be a sacrifice for some righteous crusade you want to start?!” shouted Avispa. “At least be man enough to look me in the eyes. Heh! What do you think cuz? All this time it was me who was your heated rival. Someone who didn’t even want to be your rival. But you were too stupid to put the pieces together.”

“Lucas, how?” He took off his damaged helmet.

“You know, my mother’s an Ant and my father’s a Wasp,” answered Avispa. “It’s what caused so many people to hate me, not that you cared. So are we going to end this or not? Because I don’t need my hunters to fight you.”

He ripped himself from their hold only to be kicked down by Ladybug. She together with Black Ant began to kick him while he was down.

CANADA

Anya’s body began to shake on the table she was laid down on. There was a battle going on inside her. Her whole body was now covered in the black substance. Streaks of blue light would break through the ooze but would ultimately be overtaken. It would all end as the blue light was cast out. The light floated above Anya’s body before dashing off and out of the complex.

THE ANTHILL

Hormiga stood still as he watched his team beatdown Avispa. Estrella saw her brother on the ground and tried to come aid him but was jumped by other Ant Council members. The Goblin tried throwing one of his spheres but it was intercepted by a swarm of ants that Hormiga summoned.

“No they will not interfere,” he said. “This is for your own good Lucas. When we’re done you’ll want nothing to do with this anymore.”

While the mugging continued the blue light that left Anya back in Canada phased through the ceiling and shot toward Avispa. He picked his head off the mat not sure what he was feeling. One thing he did know was that his body was beginning to move on its own. A blue stinger popped from below his palm and slashed outward hitting Ladybug. Her whole body became numb having been zapped by the electrical current that ran through the Spider Hunter’s stinger. The tarantula mark on the back of her neck faded. Avispa’s body sprung up and grabbed Black Ant by the throat lifting him off the ground.

“What is this?” Hormiga felt unsettled as he watched his cousin jab his stinger into Black Ant, also causing his tarantula mark to fade. “Where has this new found power of yours come from?”

“So you’re the new hunter of the Ant?” questioned the Spider Hunter having fully taken control of Avispa’s body. “How sad. You allow yourself to be the Tarantula’s puppet. But do not fear I can free you of this foul magic. Just stay still. The quicker we do this the better. We must help Anya.”

Hormiga was not interested in letting the Spider Hunter do as it said. He armored himself in his red exoskeleton which led the Hunter to armor Avispa in Araña’s blue exoskeleton. Hormiga kicked forward sending the Hunter back. It kept its balance when it bumped into a number of other people. Estrella took this opportunity to tap her brother’s back to draw out a stream of blue energy. She recited a spell as she weaved her free hand.

Her hand became charged with the same electrical current as the Hunter’s stinger. She began striking the other Ant Council members under Tarantula control. Like Ladybug and Black Ant their tarantula marks faded. The Goblin noticed. This inspired him to charge up his gloves. The current in his gloves worked just as well to fry the tarantulas that hid in their necks.

Hormiga and the Hunter exchanged blows. The former spun to hit with a back fist that was caught by a forearm. The Hunter swept Hormiga’s legs and thrust its stinger downward. The stinger was met with Hormiga’s stinger. He pushed himself off the ground and they slashed their stingers back and forth. The Hunter mistimed a counter and ended up flipping backwards with its hand pressing on the ground to help get out of the way. Hormiga attempted to strike with his stinger while the Hunter was still flipping. It spun Avispa’s body at an angle to dodge and then kicked Hormiga aside.

Hormiga knew he wasn’t going to be able to keep this up with a hunter. He tried to call upon his own but wasn’t able to. He was nearly out of breath, which helped him decide that his next move should be his final. He flicked his stinger out and darted forward. The Hunter did as well. The two collided. Since this wasn’t its physical body the Hunter didn’t feel any pain but was unable to move Avispa’s body. Hormiga smiled thinking he had won. His adrenaline was pumping. He didn’t even notice that the Hunter’s stinger had went clean through him.

“I’m sorry but this is for your own good,” said the Hunter before discharging electricity throughout Hormiga’s body.

“Ahh!” he yelled with his mark finally fading away.

Hormiga dropped to his knees while the Hunter retracted its stinger. Estrella looked around at all the people lying around trying to recover. The Goblin walked over to a pillar where the Crimson Spider had webbed down a number of people and used his electrified gloves to free them. The blue exoskeleton began removing itself eventually revealing Avispa’s costume had changed. It was the same suit but the orange color was gone in his chest and torso areas having turned white. The black wasp insignia that was once on his chest changed to a red spider.

“His costume looks similar to Araña’s,” said Estrella. “What happened? How was the Spider Hunter controlling his body?”

“The Spider Hunter says everyone has been freed.” Avispa regained control of himself. “Someone let out the captives in the room over there.”

Hormiga looked up. “Lucas?”

The Crimson Spider leaped over and let out the captives. Javier and Marcela entered the room checking in on everyone. Marcela helped up someone and leaned them against a wall. Javier walked over to his son and nephew as the New Slingers joined Avispa.

“Mike, pick yourself up,” said Javier. “Now you finally know the truth. The rivalry ends here. We must now work to better ourselves so that this doesn’t happen again. I want to thank the four of you for coming to our aid. If you ever need anything we’ll be here if you need us.”

“I’m just glad everyone is okay,” said Avispa. “Now you can handle everything else from here right? Anya is in need of our help.”

CANADA

Anya slid off the table she had been placed on and got to her feet. She was concealed by shadows making it hard for Nina and Marcos to tell what they were looking at. Marcos was preparing to have to defend himself if need be.

“Araña, what do you have to say?” asked Nina.

“Araña no longer exists,” she claimed stepping out of the shadows to reveal she was now wearing a full body black costume with a white spider on her chest. “Only Mania remains.”

NEXT: Lack of Willpower!