REALM OF THE SPIDER

Lucas and the Spider Hunter stood face to face. This meeting was never meant to take place. The Spider Hunter was bound to Anya but now found itself using Lucas as its host. The blue spider tattoo that once was on Anya’s upper right arm was now on Lucas’s. He had his own markings before this happened. On the opposite arm in a similar position was his red ant tattoo and the area above his shoulder blades was an orange wasp tattoo, both were surrounded by mystical symbols meant to seal these tattoos.

“I know how you feel about the hunters child,” the Spider Hunter said. “But there was no helping it. I had to bond with you to help Anya. Unfortunately, the Tarantulas left with her before we could do anything. I thought if anything I would be able to track her, but her whereabouts allude me. That alien must be able to prevent my ability to sense her.”

“An alien?” asked Lucas. “What is this thing that cast you out of Anya?”

“It was a Klyntar,” the Hunter explained. “I think the one you know as Spider-Man called them Symbiotes. Although they are benevolent, some have a tendency to become vicious and wild. While I struggled with the creature I saw its thoughts. It was cloned from the vile being known as Venom. It was used by a number of hosts before being recaptured by the Ararat Corporation which abandoned it to be later found by the Cult of the Tarantula. I am sorry to say this but it might be some time before we find them. Until that time comes you must fulfill the role of Anya and her mother before. You must now be Araña.”


LACK OF WILLPOWER

Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


 

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY – BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
EIGHT MONTHS LATE

Lucas stood before a gravestone. Upon it read ‘Gilberto Corazon, April 5 1967 – August 22 2017, Beloved Father’. Anya’s father passed away just before the Cult of the Tarantula set its plans in motion. There was quite a turnout. Tons of friends came to pay their respects, including all of the Garcia-Gonzalez family and Gilberto’s co-workers from the New York Herald. Lucas remembered standing at Gilberto’s grave just before they lowered the casket. He was urged by the Spider Hunter at the time to look near the gravestone. There he saw the spirit of Gilberto’s wife and Anya’s mother Sofia, whom he assumed was here to guide her husband into the afterlife

Eight months have passed since Lucas last saw Anya. He had no idea where she was or if she was even still alive having been taken by the Tarantulas. He came to visit Gilberto’s grave now and again to clean the gravestone with a tiny bit of hope that he would find his love visiting her father’s grave. Lynn approached Lucas after giving him a moment with his own thoughts. Time had also passed since she learned that she was pregnant. She only had about a month left before her baby would be born.

“Lucas, I hate that you keep doing this to yourself.” She stood next to him holding her belly. “I know you love her. I love her. But it’s just like Jessica says, if she was unable to show up for her father’s funeral what chance is there you’ll even find her here? I’m starting to think she’s also right about you moving on.”

“I don’t need you telling me this too.” He put his hands up and backed away.

“No stop,” she pleaded with him. “Please I can’t move as fast as you can right now. Look at me. I love you too. You’re like the big brother I’ve never had. You’ve taken care of me these past few months and you’re the uncle of my son. With my ex-boyfriend not in the picture, you stepping in and doing everything he should be doing means the world to me. It hurts me to see you like this.”

Lucas wiped away a tear she shed. He could see in her eyes how distraught she was. He didn’t know that he meant that much to her. He embraced her, wrapping his arms around her the best he could.

“Don’t stress,” he said. “I don’t want anything to happen to you or the baby. It might be best if we clear our minds of this for the rest of the day. Let’s go my mom is expecting us.”

“Great, it’s been a little while since I last saw her,” Lynn smiled just before they turned to head to their car. “Oh, by the way I meant to tell you I took your suggestion into deep consideration. I think I’m gonna go with the name. I’m going to name the baby Nicolas.”

Lucas opened the passenger’s side door and helped Lynn into her seat. As he walked around the front of the car a figure popped out from behind a tree to watch him get into the car. It was the symbiote controlled Anya, looking very much like a miniature female Venom. The symbiote, usually taking a similar shape to Spider-Man’s costume, couldn’t handle the shape of Anya’s wild hair so it left it.

“He looks for us,” said the symbiote speaking to Anya. “He’s as stubborn as you say.”

Mania, as the combo of Anya and symbiote were known, watched as the car drove off. She then approached her father’s grave and looked upon it before firing a strand of webbing upward.

THWIP!

She tugged it and swung off to go about some business.

LATER

Mania landed on a roof where she would meet the leaders of the Cult of the Tarantula. Coincidentally the Mania suit matched the costumes of both Nina and Marcos. Mania stood at attention like an obedient dog. Anya didn’t necessarily follow the Tarantulas. She was being controlled by the symbiote which pledged its allegiance to Nina.

“Did you enjoy your stroll around the city?” asked Nina. “It must be nice for Anya to be back home after our adventures in Europe and Central America.”

“It made her day,” replied Mania. “I could feel her heart racing when she saw her former Wasp boyfriend.”

“So it’s true,” smiled Nina. “Our brother has become the new Araña. We should have captured the Spider Hunter before it left the complex back in Canada.”

“We would have never caught it.” Marcos kept his focus on Mania. “The Spider Hunter’s determination was too strong that day.”

“Much has changed since we left,” Nina said. “More heroes have appeared. One looked like Spider-Man but instead of the red and blue he had a black costume with red webbing patterns. I also hear there’s a new female goblin terrorizing the streets. I bet Anya would have loved to stop her. But we’re not here to discuss supervillains. We accomplished our goals outside the country. Now it’s time to focus on the ones we have here. I have a few things I want you to do.”

GARCIA HOUSEHOLD

Lucas opened the door for Lynn and followed her inside. Once inside Lucas was sneaked up on by his niece, Angela, which he was aware of but let her think she was getting the jump on him. He acted like he was scared while she laughed. Lynn snickered before noticing Veronica was in the room. It was very visible that she was in immense pain.

“Veronica, what happened?” questioned Lynn as Lucas and Angela stopped playing to see what was going on.

“My arms hurt so freaking bad.” She was in so much pain that she was almost in tears.

Lucas saw that she dropped all her belongings. “Not again. Where’s Jessica?”

Lucas quickly moved upstairs to look for his sister. Angela sat on the couch next to her mother worried. Lynn examined Veronica’s arms from a distance and couldn’t tell what was wrong with them.

“Just before I had Angela I was in a horrible accident,” explained Veronica. “There was a car pile up here in Brooklyn that left my arms paralyzed. The doctor that Aunt Erika took me to said I would never regain the use of them.”

“But I’ve seen you moving your arms many times over the past eight months I’ve known you,” Lynn was confused.

“It’s magic.” That was the short and simple answer. “Jessica’s magic to be more precise. Help me take my shirt off. She’ll need access to the seal on my back.”

Lynn did her best to help Veronica without hurting her. Veronica turned slightly so Lynn could look at the markings on her back. Lynn saw some strange symbols between her shoulder blades. Lucas returned with Jessica right behind him. Jessica appeared to be not too happy. She was dissatisfied with her spell that couldn’t permanently help her cousin. Lucas grabbed a chair from the dining room table that Jessica guided Veronica to. She had Veronica sit sideways so that she could see her back.

“Lucas, you know what you have to do,” said Jessica as Lucas summoned a kunai that appeared out of thin air due to another seal his sister had tattooed on his palm.

Lucas cut his index finger with the blade and smeared his blood on Veronica’s back. Lynn’s eyes widened at the sight. He than webbed his finger to stop the bleeding. Seeing the webbing come out from below his palm grossed Lynn out. Jessica clapped her hands together and recited a short incantation that was followed by her hands pressing into Veronica’s back.

Both Lynn and Angela were amazed by the different colors of light energy that began swirling around the room. The energy then shot toward Jessica’s hands. Her hands guided the energy into Veronica’s back. The light traveled up to her shoulders and down her arms all the way to her fingertips. When the light faded Veronica’s arms twitched. She finally moved her arms feeling no pain. Lucas picked up a magazine from the pile of Veronica’s belongings. The subject of the magazine appeared to be marine biology.

“I see you’re still into sea creatures,” Lucas seemed amused. “I bet you wish you were like an octopus with eight arms. Then you wouldn’t have this problem.”

“That’s not funny, Lucas,” Jessica shook her head.

Lucas nodded, “You’re right. Octopus’s don’t tend to get along with spiders all too well.”

The doorbell rang. Jessica went to answer the door. Lucas threw Veronica her shirt which she put back on. Two female teenagers entered the house and received a hug from Jessica. Lucas took a look at both of them and remembered he had met one of them. Anya introduced him to her friends over a year ago, before the events involving the Sisterhood of the Wasp. There was one who couldn’t handle being around Lucas because of the overwhelming energy his power produced. Her name was Rocky Flint. He remembered her with an afro but she had since straightened her black hair. The young woman hugged Lynn and Veronica then looked up to see Lucas. She was curious. He felt different since the last time she had seen him.

“Lucas, you remember Rocky Flint right and this is Sophia Sanduval.” Jessica leaned over to her brother to whisper. “Apparently she can talk to animals.”

“So Lucas how are things going?” asked Rocky with smile on her face.

He felt a little uneasy. “Okay, I guess.”

Jessica looked at her brother knowing what he was thinking. He missed Anya and didn’t feel comfortable around other women who flirted with him. She really wanted her brother to move on. Eight months ago she watched a video with Lucas sent from Anya’s phone. Anya told Lucas she was leaving to protect him. She believed that there was something wrong with her that made her loved ones die. She broke up with him and told him goodbye. This of course was sent before being attacked by the Cult.

Almost a year has passed since then. Jessica understood how much he loved her. It broke her heart to see her beloved brother hurting so much. That’s why as Lynn said Jessica had been trying to convince him to move on. Lucas turned and exited the house. Jessica sighed before inviting her friends into the kitchen.

“Jess, is it weird that I want to ask your brother out?” asked Rocky.

“I have a feeling he’s not over Anya yet,” said Sophia. “It’s really a shame what happened with her. Have you guys ever figured out where she went?”

“All I know is she left town,” replied Jessica. “Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if you did something with him. The problem is getting him to do it. I couldn’t even imagine what Anya’s doing right now.”

LOCAL MOVIE THEATRE

Rome and his younger sister Caitlyn stood outside a Brooklyn movie theatre looking at a poster that was a close up of Spider-Man’s mask. It read ‘Starring Riley Alexander: Spider-Man the movie. Coming Soon.’

“Who the hell is Riley Alexander?” asked Rome.

“I don’t know,” said Caitlyn. “I’m actually more surprised they’re doing a Spider-Man movie.”

Across the street, Mania dropped on a building’s ledge about midway up. She watched as Rome and Caitlyn walked into the theatre together. She shot a line of webbing to her right and swung off. Inside the theater Caitlyn bent down to pick something up. Her shirt pulled down enough for her brother to see a yellow mark under her neck.

“What do you have on your back?” he asked pulling back her collar to see a yellow tattoo depicting a number of bees. “Does mom and dad know you have this? Minors can’t even get tattoos in New York with parental consent.”

“I’ve always had this tattoo,” replied Caitlyn putting a hand over it. “Usually if I concentrate hard enough I can make it disappear and revert back to my normal skin color, but for some reason it won’t go away. I don’t know why it’s showing up right now. Your friends Anya and Lucas have similar tattoos. I’ve at least seen Anya make hers disappear.”

“But those tattoos are mystical markings that bond them to demons.” Rome thought about the different markings he has seen in his short time as the Goblin. “You don’t turn into some bee demon do you?”

They walked together over to the concession stand where Rome would buy both their tickets and snacks for the movie they were going to watch. They walked off in search of the theatre they were supposed to enter. Anya entered concealing her identity in a black hoodie. The symbiote transformed her costume into normal clothes with hopes they could pass without startling anyone. Once in the theatre, the two siblings found a seat in the middle while Anya sat in the back.

“This one won’t be done easily,” she whispered to herself.

Although this was Anya, the symbiote was still in the driver’s seat. She continued to watch as Caitlyn pointed out something and laughed. A few seats down she would overhear a couple talking about something being reported over social media.

“Apparently, there’s a Spider-Man copycat robbing banks in Manhattan,” said one of them. “You know I remember the days when there was only one spider character swing around the city. Now I can’t keep up with them.”

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Mania travelled from Brooklyn to Manhattan having become interested in the spider thief. After some investigating she found out what bank had been recently robbed. She then proceeded to that bank to get some more information. She sneaked inside from above and kept to the shadows to take a moment to account for everyone in the building.

She landed on a table and began firing webbing at employees, security, and account holders. A security guard pulled out a gun but was webbed down to a statue before he could do anything. The security guard looked at Mania and was disturbed by her appearance. Mania looked around to make sure that she hadn’t missed anybody.

“You!” she growled at the security guard.

The security guard tried to free himself. But like most webbing it was too hard to break out of. Now satisfied with where everyone was at she headed over to the security room to watch the recording of the robbery. After some searching she found what she was looking for. A curious look grew on her symbiote face. Having found what she was looking for she left the room and went for the exit.

“Oh, don’t worry the webbing should dissolve in about two hours,” she claimed. “Maybe.”

LUCAS’S APARTMENT

Lucas moved to Manhattan so he could attend Empire State University. He had originally planned to move out here with Anya who invited Lynn to live with them. But he ended up moving in just with the latter. Jessica told Lucas she would bring Lynn home, so he left and stopped by the apartment.

He flicked on the television. All he wanted was to see if anything interesting came up in the news. And he indeed found something interesting. A news report about the spider robberies was brought up.

“Earlier today a string of robberies by a Spider-Man-esque character has been reported taking place in Lower Manhattan,” said the reporter. “Authorities are seeking any information that can be provided to help put an end to these robberies.”

“Surely it’s not who I think it is,” Lucas said to himself. “They wouldn’t reduce themselves to petty theft.”

His clothes changed magically to his costume which was essentially his Avispa costume only altered to have the color scheme and insignia of Araña’s costume. His orange scarf was now a white hood. He walked over to a window and climbed out.

MOMENTS LATER…

The new Araña swung through the city not fully sure where to go. He dropped on a building and looked down to see all around the general area. A cool breeze blew by rustling through his hood. It was then when he felt it. That familiar feeling.

“Anya?” He could sense her nearby.

He stood up, turned to the right, and began running in the direction he felt her presence. Reaching the end of the building he dived with arms extended out like wings. After dropping a couple stories he pointed an arm out to fire a strand of webbing to swing through the skyline. His senses were always really good before he gained Anya’s old powers and now with a Spider Sense it was amplified. Despite this he couldn’t sense one thing. Behind him swung Mania, trying to keep her distance. It would seem Mania could evade his Spider Sense.

Araña saw something down on the street level. He saw the Spider who was robbing banks. He was expecting to see a venomized Anya but found what he suspected to be a male clone of her in the guise of the Crimson Spider. He swung down which the Crimson Spider saw instantly becoming startled.

The Crimson Spider flipped over the side of a motionless vehicle just as Araña swiped an arm to try and stop him. Araña slid over the hood of the car as the Crimson Spider bounced off the trunk of another. The driver freaked out from all the banging on her car and then saw Araña who had just leapt onto her vehicle and ran over it to stand on her hood to fire balls of webbing upward.

“Hey, are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” yelled the driver.

Araña briefly looked at the driver and then swung off after the Crimson Spider. While in the air they would fire webbing at each other. The Crimson Spider managed to get a close shot, although it missed it made Araña drop down. A fire truck’s roof is where he would land and get into a crouching position. He hitched a ride and just stayed put as he watched the Crimson Spider try to swing away.

“Tsk…” Araña was annoyed.

He continued on with his ride watching where the Crimson Spider was heading. Looking around his instincts told him which building he might go to. He then jumped off the fire truck and swung upward. At one point he was running alongside a building as his webbing guided him in the direction he wanted. Once there he flew into the Crimson Spider with a forearm and tackled him through a window.

The two rolled hard in the vacant building. Araña rolled to his feet while the Crimson Spider was laid out. A couple seconds went by as Araña waited for the Crimson Spider to stand up. He could have just webbed down the supposed clone and been done with it, but after what happened with the Ant Council he had to take a chance to knock some sense into him.

“Care to explain yourself, idiot?” questioned Araña. “I’ve been patient with you. Waiting for you to come clean about your origins. Anya never got the chance to find out for herself. And I agreed to do as my sister suggested in letting you come to me instead of me having to beat it out of you. But now you’ve done it. Robbing banks? You damn fool.”

“Damn it, that hurt!” cried the Crimson Spider. “It doesn’t matter who you are, Avispa or Araña. You’re just as cruel as ever. You think I like robbing banks?! I can’t help it.”

“And why the hell not?!” Araña growled while clenching his fists.

The Crimson Spider lowered his head. “I can’t control myself. Someone else is controlling my body.”

Araña was confused. While he wondered who was controlling him, Mania appeared within the shadows and crawled around to get a good place to watch the action. Just then a man walked into the room behind the Crimson Spider.

“Well, well isn’t this something?” said the man. “I remember that costume. Only at the time it was worn by a young woman who had strong accusations against me.”

“Waspling,” the Spider Hunter called to Araña. “I remember this man. Anya once called him Felix Jade.”

A COUPLE YEARS AGO…

Anya threw her bola, a spider-shaped grappling hook, at the man known as Felix Jade. She had earlier in the night confronted Jade about killing her mother. Little did she know, Jade had mind-controlling powers that he used on her to make his personal slave. Thanks to the spirit of her mother she had been freed and was now dealing with Jade.

“You killed my mother!” she yelled while kicking him into the car he had forced her to drive.

“Let me out!” demanded Jade. “Do you know what I’m going to… We both know you’re not going to do this! Little superhero girl isn’t going to kill a helpless man. Don’t want that on the conscience.”

Anya gritted her teeth. Then she put the car in drive and jammed down the gas pedal driving him off a cliff into the Atlantic Ocean. She could hear him scream at the top of his lungs.

“My conscience feels pretty okay.” She pulled off her goggles and dropped them.

“Anya! Where’s *pant* Where’s Jade?” Her then rival Amun appeared having ran at high speeds to get here.

She looked away. “In the car.”

“He didn’t kill her,” said Amun.

Anya was caught off guard. The two went back and forth with Amun questioning her facts. She would realize she made a terrible mistake and began to shed tears. Suddenly, her mage Miguel appear levitating above them.

“Araña… What have you done?” he asked.

“I…” she couldn’t answer as she turned and quickly dived into the ocean to try and get to the car.

Amun also dove in. When they reached the car they found that Anya’s bola had been unraveled and Jade was gone. When they rose to the surface Amun swam away after giving her a look of disgust. She looked up to see Miguel unhappy with her.

PRESENT

Araña looked at the man having been shown a vision of what transpired. He already knew, having been told by Anya herself.

“Hmph.” He looked on. “So you’re him, huh? Yeah, I’m wearing a similar costume to the original Araña. It comes with the magic. You should know I’m not the same as her though. Had I tried to kill you, you’d be dead.”

“Charming,” laughed Jade. “You may have your differences but one thing will always be the same.”

Jade snapped his fingers. Confident he had Araña under his control he stepped forward and inspected his new mind-controlled slave. Only he wasn’t really mind-controlled. Araña roughly grabbed Jade by the wrist and yanked him toward him.

“Sorry, only two things have been able to control me.” He tightened his grip. “And they’re sealed away. So this is where you realize you’re in trouble and end this… whatever this is.”

“Spider stop him!” commanded Jade.

The Crimson Spider had webbed his hands in the form of boxing gloves. He swooped in and decked Araña. Mania continued to watch from the shadows as Araña picked himself off the ground. She looked at Jade with a smug look growing on his pointy nosed face.

“Snap out of it!” called Araña.

He flipped backwards as the Crimson Spider tried to hit him again with his webbing gloves. Araña snuck in a ball of impact webbing that nailed the Crimson Spider in his forehead making his neck jerk back. The fight continued on with lots of flipping and web-shooting. The Crimson Spider was basically outmatched in hand-to-hand combat against Araña so he had to get creative in his attacks. He made a giant ball of webbing and attached a long strand to make what resembled a medieval flail.

Araña shook his head a bit annoyed. “Really dude?”

The Crimson Spider swung the webbing flail which Araña dodged. Araña then webbed together himself a shield which the flail hit and stuck to. The Crimson Spider tried to pull to flail back but struggled. The webbed weapons dropped to the ground followed by a flying knee from Araña that hit. With the Crimson Spider stunned, Araña shot a web-line at Jade.

“Get over here!” He reeled in Jade into a chokehold. “Break your hold over him. Now!”

While he focused on Jade the Crimson Spider walked up from behind and tried to use webbing to strangle him which he managed to get a hand up to block in time. Araña struggled. He let go of Jade but kicked him away hard.

“If you… really are a… clone of hers…” Araña tried to speak. “You won’t do this.”

There was no getting through. Jade scrambled to get back to his feet. He smiled at the sight of a struggling Araña. The smile was wiped away though when he saw a strange light appear behind the two battling spiders. It wasn’t clear what it was but he suspected it wasn’t anything that would be in his favor. The light cleared revealing a woman wrapped in bright pink cloth straps that formed a flowing dress.

“Let go child,” she requested placing a hand upon the top of the Crimson Spider’s head. “Your sister freed herself of his power and you can do so as well.”

Jade realized who this was and decided it was best to make a run for it. This woman was in fact Sofia Corazon, the mother of Anya and at times protector of Lucas. She pulled off the Crimson Spider’s mask all while looking back to where Mania was hiding.

“There’s nothing I can do about her right now, but you,” she said as the Crimson Spider dropped Araña. “I can set you straight. Turn and face me.”

The Crimson Spider did as she asked. Sofia examined his costume looking for something in particular. Her search brought her to his belt buckle which appeared to have a few buttons on it. Not sure which to press she saw fit to just break it. Once done his skin complexion changed to a similar tan tone as Sofia’s and his blond hair turned brown.

“In the times I’ve watched over Anya and Lucas I heard you call yourself Alex Hughes,” she recalled. “That’s not exactly the right name for you am I correct?”

“It’s what was given to me by the Jackal,” he answered. “Before I broke out of his lab and went out on my own. I wanted to say something but I didn’t know how everyone would handle it. Especially, Anya and her father.”

“Your father,” insisted Sofia. “Gil and I may not have had a hand in your creation, but you are my son nonetheless. Alejandro Corazon.”

“Hmm?” the Crimson Spider was confused.

“That is your name, you understand?” she asked. “I’ve always viewed a name as a gift a parent passes down to their children. Yours is Alejandro Corazon. I hope you like it.”

As a tear left his eye, he went in to hug her. Sofia embraced him like a mother would and looked over to Araña recollecting himself. She turned the Crimson Spider to face him.

“You two are brothers now,” she said looking back in Mania’s direction. “Lucas is destined to be with your sister Anya after all. If you need further proof come with me.”

“What’s here that can prove that?” asked Araña. “I thought this was the building Rescue Incorporated was renovating to move their business out of Rescue Inc. Tower.”

“Ever since Gilberto joined me on the other side I’ve been storing up power for this particular moment so that I may appear long enough to help this child,” she explained.

Araña was confused. She just helped the Crimson Spider. They walked together into another area of the building which was filled with stuff Felix Jade had made the Crimson Spider steal. Sofia walked over to something large that was covered in a sheet.

“Your friends are experiencing many delays in this building’s restoration,” she continued. “It was the perfect place for Jade to hide and rebuild his organization. The security stayed away thanks to his mental powers. And what’s locked away in this cage was meant to help build him an army.”

“Cage?” questioned Araña. “What’s in the cage?”

Sofia pulled the sheet away to reveal a large cage with a young girl no older than ten trapped inside. She was startled. Out of fear from looking at Araña and the Crimson Spider she crawled to the back of the cage.

“Your friend Felicity Hardy didn’t say anything about this young lady who she lost while traveling eighteen years in the past.” Sofia put a hand through the cage and placed it on her shoulder which calmed her. “My dear grandchild. Lucas this girl is your daughter.”

NEXT: What Happened to Ted Mankowski!