BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – CORAZON HOUSEHOLD
Lucas walked inside Anya’s house. She had told him to come over and that she would leave the door open for him. He found it to be unusually quiet. Whenever Anya had told Lucas to come over she was usually downstairs waiting for him. He headed upstairs to her bedroom. He knocked on the door and got no answer.
“Anya?” he asked only to get no response. “Are you even home?”
He had no idea why he asked that. The two soon-to-be high school graduates had been dating for a couple months. During this time Lucas had not been in Anya’s room once and didn’t know if it would be right to walk in on her. He made a decision to just go in. There he would find Anya sleeping at her desk.
“Not surprised,” he sighed. “You’ve been tiring yourself out lately. I guess managing school work while living a second life is finally catching up you. And me…I’m talking to my girlfriend who passed out into her textbooks.”
“Wha…!” she quickly popped her head up with a piece of paper stuck to her face. “Lucas? What are you doing in my room?”
“Umm, you have something sticking on your face.” He pointed to it. “You told me to come over.”
“Is it that time already?” She sprung up from her chair quickly. “Oh, my god I can’t believe I fell asleep while doing my homework.”
Anya shifted through her papers to try and figure out what she was doing. Now frustrated, she grabbed her forehead and closed her eyes. Lucas walked over to her and put his hands on her shoulders. Anya removed her hand from her forehead and leaned her head on one of his hands.
“Hmm…” he just let her stay like that for a minute.
“You’re always so warm,” she said with her eyes shut. “I guess it’s just the benefit of your powers. I could just sit like this forever without a care in the world.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t have forever,” he broke up the dream. “I know you have a lot of homework to do but I think you need to get some rest. You’re doing too much. You’re running yourself ragged.”
“You think so?” She turned her seat to face him with a smile on her face. “How sweet you’re worrying about me. Well, if you think I need some rest, the only way you’re gonna get me to do that is by resting with me.”
“What are you thinking about?” she laughed. “You pervy little doofus.”
“What I just…” he tried to explain himself.
“Relax,” she continued laughing. “I was just joking. No need to get all nervous when you’re around me. You’re my boyfriend you should feel comfortable lying next to me and I do mean with our clothes on. I don’t know what you were thinking about.”
Anya pulled him into her bed. She rested her head on his chest.
“So warm,” she muttered before drifting asleep.
He looked down at her curiously. “Hope you enjoy your rest.”
Part I: Divide and Conquer
A cool breeze blew through the night sky. On one of the many rooftops in the city a man in black cloak stood with his strange white ethereal misty head in which his face is indistinguishable but hidden blowing along with the wind. The only other thing visible from his cloak was the large amulet around his neck depicting three eyeballs.
“So you’re the guy the boss wants to join the gang, huh?” the man asked. “Is there any particular reason why you look like a Spider-Man on steroids?”
“Funny,” laughed the second man on the roof. “The reason I look like Spider-Man is because I am him. Or better yet a clone of him. You can call me Spidercide. And you would be?”
“The boss has dubbed me Misterioso,” replied the ethereal like man. “I don’t know if he was trying to be cute or if he was genuinely serious when coming to that decision. Whatever the case it’s time for tryouts. The boss has someone in mind for you to fight.”
“Oh?” Spidercide became curious. “And who would this poor sap be?”
“He calls himself Avispa.”
Anya and Lucas were still in bed together and now Lucas had fallen asleep himself. This is probably the most peaceful Lucas had ever slept before. The demonic powers of the ant and wasp hunters for the first time were calm. The only reason for this would be Anya, the only person capable of bringing him peace. While the couple slept Anya’s father opened the door and popped his head in.
“Hmm…” he quietly looked on.
“Oh, come on Gil they’re fine,” said Elaine, his girlfriend. “They’re just two kids in love. And I’m sure they’re not doing anything they’re not supposed to be doing. Plus that boy cares a great deal about her. I’m sure he will keep them out of trouble.”
“It’s not him I’m worried about.” Gil shook his head as he walked down the hall with Elaine. “I love my little girl to death, but that girl never thinks things out before she does them.*”
*Something proven in Black Cat #6—Justin.
“Come on just let it be,” she insisted he forget it. “Let’s pop some popcorn and cozy up next to each other on the couch and watch a movie.”
Gilberto agreed with her and they headed downstairs. In Anya’s room Lucas stirred in bed which woke Anya up.
“What is it?” she asked him.
“Did you hear that?”
“No, now go back to sleep.” She closed her eyes again. “After our little nap will you help me with my homework? This stuff is such a pain.”
“Fine with me I already finished mine,” he replied.
“What?! When?” she popped up to her knees before she calmed down and lay back down. “How did you finish already?”
“I finished it in class,” he answered. “I like just getting it out of the way. And if you weren’t wearing yourself thin you’d have no problem with it either.”
“God, I don’t know what to do,” she continued to talk with her eyes closed. “There’s so much to do. Gotta do school work, help Lynn get ready for her date with your cousin, work with the Spider Society, work with the Young Allies, and all that barely leaves me any time to spend with you and I’m spending it sleeping.”
“It’s okay babe.” He affectionately wrapped an arm around her. “Spending our time together like this is just fine. Now get some rest and then I’ll help you with your homework.”
THE NEXT DAY – MILTON SUMMERS HIGH SCHOOL
The following day Lucas waited outside his school. He was looking for Anya through the crowd of students heading home for the day. Usually they would walk home together but today she was running late. After a couple minutes he finally spotted her walking out of the building with her friend Lynn Johnson. The two friends approached him.
“Lucas, you’re still waiting for me?” she appeared a bit confused. “I told you that I promised Lynn I was gonna help her tonight right?”
“Not really,” he replied. “I mean you mentioned something last night but you didn’t give me any details. You were falling asleep when you were telling me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she blushed when Lynn looked at her curiously. “Well whatever the case is I’m going to hang out with Lynn and help her get ready for her date with Mike. He did mention that to you didn’t he?”
“Not a word,” he answered.
“Lucas, you don’t mind me borrowing your girl for a little while do you?” Lynn laughed. “That is unless you want to come with?”
“Ahh, no that’s okay. I probably don’t want to know what you guys talk about when it comes to guys. I’ll just head home and figure out what to do with myself.”
“Baby, I’m sure you can find something to do.” Anya grabbed him by the arm and kissed him on the cheek.
Lucas returned home. Once in the living room he tossed his backpack on the sofa and headed into the kitchen to grab a quick drink. As he gulped it down his sister entered the room. She neatly placed her belongings on the kitchen table.
“You know mom hates it when you throw your stuff around like that,” she claimed.
“I’ll get it in a minute,” he replied. “It’s not like I made a mess or anything. So what are you up to? You want to do something?”
“Sorry brother, but I have a ton of things I need to do.” She got herself a drink as well and gulped it down just like her brother and then picked her stuff up. “Not everyone gets their school work done in class like you do, but then again I have tougher courses then you so… And not to mention all the stuff I’m supposed to be practicing on now that Miguel agreed to take me on as his apprentice.”
“What, really?” he was a bit surprised. “I guess you’ll enjoy that. Don’t know what I’m gonna do with myself.”
“Why don’t you see what some of those friends Anya introduced you to, are up to?” she asked. “It couldn’t hurt. She told me you and Rome seemed to get along at least.”
Lucas thought back to what had happened when he met the friend of his girlfriend named Jerome Sierra. When he shook hands with the young man nicknamed Rome he was brought into his subconscious where he was forced to listen to the demonic being that dwelled within him. An orange mist spewed out of the cage as the Wasp Hunter talked to him.
“Ha, the thought of you making friends makes me want to laugh,” called a sinister voice he knew all too well. “The little wasp/ant half-breed seeks to no longer be alone. But you will always be alone, so long as my power is bonded to you.”
“Wasp Hunter!” exclaimed Lucas. “Get out of my head! I’m sick of you! I’m sick of insects and arachnids. It’s time I take charge of my life and that means this power struggle we’ve been having is over.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Don’t tell me you don’t sense it,” started the Wasp Hunter. “The one you’re shaking hands with, the power that radiates from him. It’s almost as powerful as mine. Do you want to see what he is?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“See for yourself,” a cloud of the Wasp Hunter’s energy swirled in front of the cage and took a rectangular shape. “See what evil power dwells within the precious friend of the Spider Hunter?”
An image appeared on the rectangular cloud. It was Lucas. He was in his Avispa costume with his goggles blown out. He ripped them off his head to get a better view of his enemy. In front of him on a glider was a man wearing a dark costume with green features. The suit itself seemed streamlined, possibly to help maneuver while on the glider. To cover his face he seemed to use some sort of faceplate consisting of a pair of green goggles and a green mouthpiece. His whole head wasn’t covered leaving his hair visible, which was neatly braided. In one hand he held a pumpkin bomb and in the other an unmasked and unconscious Araña.
“The true enemy to a spider is not a wasp, but a goblin,” the Wasp Hunter claimed. “You see it yourself, he will be the downfall of your Araña.”
“This is your trickery,” Lucas said. “Get out of my head!”
Lucas wondered what it was about Rome that made the hunter show him this. Was the evil creature just playing with him? Or was there really more to Jerome Sierra?
Jessica put her hands on Lucas’s shoulders. “Lucas, you have to try. No more of this staying locked in the house waiting on me or Anya to get you. You wanted to take charge of your life now is the time to start doing it. Look I have to go. Please for me, try and get out there and make friends.”
Jessica kissed her brother goodbye and left the kitchen. Lucas simply lowered his head and thought to himself.
HOME OF LYNN JOHNSON
Anya was now with Lynn. Lynn sat in front of a mirror in her room while Anya stood behind her brushing her friend’s purple hair. Anya sighed at the sight of her hair.
“Seriously, do you even care about your hair?” Anya asked a bit disturbed about the bright purple. “You know this damages your hair right? And you’re like a different color each week. I don’t know if you’re trying to be different or something but seriously. This is just bad.”
“Come on how does hair dye damage your hair?” she asked back. “You’re kidding me right?”
“Lynn, frequently dyeing can often make hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage,” Anya schooled her friend in hair care. “It can make your hair thinner and it’s just unhealthy for it.”
“Doesn’t your mom ever teach you this stuff?”
“So do you think Lucas is all right?” asked Lynn. “He did look a little upset when he walked off. He’s finding it hard to make friends. I feel so sorry for him.”
“He’s a big boy,” Anya replied while trying to fix up Lynn’s hair. “He’ll be okay, now let’s finish up. Mike should be here any moment.”
“Okay, and while you’re at it tell me the story about what happened last night with you and Lucas.”
“Umm…” Anya just looked on through the mirror.
WEBCORPS – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
Anya saw Lynn off as Mike came to pick her up. Afterwards, she arrived at the secret headquarters of the Spider Society. Ever since her and her friends defeated the Sisterhood of the Wasp the group has been on the lookout for their presence. She knew better now than to believe that the Sisterhood to be finished. She was checking in and found that Miguel wasn’t around.
“Yeah, he left with his new apprentice,” said the Spider Society’s hacker and tech specialist Ted Mankowski. “Not too long ago. You just missed him. But from what I hear nothing is going down today, so you have nothing to worry about. Isn’t that right Emi?”
“Are you still talking?” she growled at him.
“You’ll have to excuse her, she’s being extra gloomy today,” claimed Ted. “Maybe she just realized she doesn’t have a love life like I do or she’s just on the rag again.”
Emi quickly turned back from where she was heading and angrily grabbed him by the collar, “I’m tired of you and your jokes! As if anyone could love a pathetic loser like you who can’t even leave the building without getting shot at.”
“Emi!” Anya broke Ted free from her grasp. “What’s gotten into you?”
Before she could answer Ted ran into his office and slammed the door behind him. Emi clenched her fists tightly and then headed for her own office, but Anya stopped her.
“Seriously, what’s going on?” asked Anya.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” She continued to walk.
“Well, I’ll make you talk about it,” Anya began to threaten. “And you know I’m more then capable at doing it.”
“Look it’s a family matter,” replied Emi. “It’s personal.”
“After all we’ve been through with Lucas you should know better than to let your anger get the better of you,” Anya lectured. “Sure what Ted said was kind of a douche thing to say but you shouldn’t be acting like this. Now we’re good friends, we have been for years. If you can’t talk to me than I don’t know what else to say.”
“It’s my brother, okay!” Emi said while shedding a pair of tears. “He…he was killed last night. My brother the only one who would help me when…”
“I don’t like talking about this to anyone.”
Emi quietly walked away with Anya following right behind her. Together they stepped into her office that was filled with all types of weapons. Anya looked at her friend to fully explain herself. Emi was reluctant but she knew that Anya would never give up.
“He would help me after…after my father would hit me,” she muttered.
Anya was shocked. “I had no idea. I mean you never said anything about your family. That’s horrible. Why would he do such a thing?”
“He believed that I wasn’t his daughter,” she explained. “That my mother had cheated on him. I don’t know why he hated me, but when I turned sixteen the Spider Society arrived at our doorstep to check on the temple we were tasked in protecting and I left with them. I haven’t gone back home since. Now my mom wants me to come home for my brother’s funeral. I’ve just been thinking about the bad times from my childhood. I’m dreading the idea of going home.”
“You have to,” said Anya. “You have to honor your brother’s memory. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Trust me. Come on maybe we should get out of here. Some fresh air can do you some good.”
OUT ON THE ROAD
A car turned the corner as it peeled out. The passengers of the vehicle were all wearing black ski masks. One of them looked in the side mirror anxiously looking for who they were on the run from. He finally caught a glimpse of what was above them swinging in the night sky.
“Oh, shit!” he exclaimed. “I told you this was a bad idea. There’s too many of these freaks running around the city and now we got one on our tail.”
“Relax will ya?!” the driver yelled at him. “We’ll lose her don’t you worry.”
“She’s catching up to us!”
“Shoot her damn it!”
The crooks in the back seat pulled out their guns and started firing up at the web-slinging Araña. Her web-line sent her up allowing her to flip and out of the way off the bullets being fired at her. She straightened herself in the air and spotted a large truck. With a little THWIP she landed on the trailer which was then fired upon again. She ran forward as sparks shot up from the bullets colliding with the trailer. At the end of the trailer she jumped to the side and clung to it. Araña’s targets looked all over for her not expecting her to creep out from underneath the truck. With some impact webbing she disarmed the men.
“This is where you realize there’s no escape and give up!” she yelled to them from the side of the trailer.
“No way lady!” said the man in the passenger’s seat.
Araña sighed, “It’s always gotta be the hard way. If that’s how you want it!”
She leapt from the trailer and landed on the roof of the car. She immediately went for the driver and grabbed the steering wheel. He fought back hitting her sole arm that was in the car. The man in the passenger’s seat pulled out a pistol and fired at her nearly hitting the driver.
“Hey, man what the hell!?” The driver angrily slammed his fist down on the shooter’s chest like a hammer. “You’re gonna get us all killed.”
“Watch it!” screamed one of the men in the back.
Out on the road ahead of them stood a woman that if it weren’t for the metal covering her body she’d be half-naked. This was Armory. Her costume was basically a pair of low-cut black shorts, a strip of black cloth that crossed over her chest, black gloves, and an open brown sleeveless fur coat with the symbol of the Spider Society on the back of it. She cocked back her right arm and when the car approached close enough she slammed her fist into the hood of the car stopping it in its tracks.
“You know speeding is against the law right?” she asked a bit unenthusiastically. “Araña you were wrong. Stopping a bunch of hoods didn’t make me feel any better.”
“Hmm, well it was worth a shot,” she said as she sent a fist to an escaping crook without looking, knocking him out. “Something didn’t feel right about that punch.”
The two heroines looked at their defeated crooks. What was left of their four bodies was the lifeless metallic shell of machines. The four people they had chased weren’t even real.
“Robots?” asked Araña. “What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know.” Emi picked up one of the robots. “Maybe we should take them back to WebCorps to see if we can get to the bottom of this.”
Anya and Emi returned to WebCorps with the robotic criminals to examine them. Ted was in the room with them tinkering away. He seemed to be having way too much fun. Anya and Emi looked at each other as Ted slung a chunk of metal overhead. He looked up and scratched his head.
“Hmm, I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve seen some sophisticated androids over the years. Things like Ultron, Jocasta, and the Vision but these things are nothing in comparison. They have image inducers built in them to make them look human but I think they would have to be controlled by someone at least within the city limits.”
“Is there any way we can pinpoint them?” asked Anya. “We can’t have a criminal out there letting these machines doing his dirty work for him.”
“Unfortunately, I can’t get a fix on a location,” he replied. “Sorry Anya.”
“Just great,” said Emi. “So that leaves us with nothing. I was really hoping to get my hands on somebody.”
“You’re looking for a fight are you?” asked a voice out of nowhere, it seemed to be coming from the robots. “Well if you hurry you might catch one. Come to Central Park and 81st if you want to see a show.”
“Central Park and 81st?” questioned Ted. “Isn’t that the Museum of Natural History?”
“You had to ask?” Emi replied with a bit of a smart tone. “Some New Yorker you turned out to be.”
“I haven’t left WebCorps in years,” he responded to her comment. “What do you expect? So should we get the others involved with this? These things seemed to be meant for you personally to fight.”
“No, we won’t need anyone else for this,” Anya answered. “Emi and I will look into this fight and put a stop to it before someone gets hurt.”
OUTSIDE THE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Araña landed next to Armory. She looked around to see if she could spot this fight that was mentioned. There wasn’t really anything happening. That is until she saw an orange flash. She went to get a better look at what she saw, a couple steps forward and she walked into an invisible wall. Armory watched as energy shot across from where Araña had touched down through the rest of what appeared to be a barrier.
“Anya, isn’t that Lucas?” Armory asked.
“It is!” she said while punching the barrier. “What is he doing behind this barrier? How is he mixed in this?”
As soon as she stopped the clone of Spider-Man known as Spidercide appeared. The muscular man in red and blue spandex had a creepy smile on his face. Avispa was holding his sword ready to unsheathe it for when the freakish Spidercide would attack. The young hero’s eyes were glowing bright orange like they usually did when he was mad.
“Oh, no his eyes are glowing orange,” a figure from outside the barrier behind Spidercide laughed jokingly. “So scary! How will we ever defeat a guy whose eyes do that?”
“Did you really have to come out here?” Misterioso, the one responsible for the barrier asked of the man. “I told you I would take care of this.”
“Now, now,” said the man. “How could I miss this? This should be entertaining. And look I’m not the only getting ready to enjoy the show.”
Misterioso looked to the opposite side of the barrier to see Araña and Armory trying to break in.
“They’ll never get in here,” claimed Misterioso. “Not through my barrier. This spell makes the area a sanctuary which means no magic can be used to help the wasp boy.”
“Avispa!” yelled Araña. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He pulled his sword.
Spidercide chuckled menacingly, “Heh, not for long kid. You have no idea who you’re dealing with. I’m a clone of Spider-Man. Actually that’s not entirely accurate. I’m more like a clone of a clone. And you know what happens when you clone a clone right? My body and mind have been warped so much that I’m even more of a lunatic then the original Spidercide. And you want to know something funny? With all the times I’ve been cloned I’ve learned how to do it all by myself!”
Avispa watched as Spidercide’s body began to stretch in ways that made him sick. Spidercide’s elastic body allowed him to stretch without feeling any pain. The pieces that grew split from his body and took Spidercide’s shape. Soon there was a whole army of them all circling around Avispa.
“Now the show can get started!” exclaimed one of the many Spidercides.
Another commented, “Let’s get him and show him that orange is not the best color for a superhero!”
“Lucas, get away!” Araña exclaimed.
“He won’t get far,” said another Spidercide.
“I’m gonna web him down.”
“Then I’m gonna kick his ass.”
“This is looking interesting,” said Misterioso. “There’s no way in and no way out of the barrier. He doesn’t stand a chance.”
To be continued…