MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

New Yorkers in the area looked up to see two people fighting alongside the buildings above. It wasn’t too odd to see something like this nowadays but usually it was Spider-Man you would see fighting like this. In fact it was Araña and Spidercide, both of whom have their connections to the web-slinger. They clung to the side of buildings as their fast-paced brawl continued through the city. A punch Spidercide threw knocked Araña off the building. She shot a strand of webbing to recover and find a new place to cling to.

“Good recover, little girl,” said Spidercide. “You should take this chance to run away. There is no way you can beat me.”

She looked over to him. All she could think of was how he might be right. This would be the biggest challenge she’d ever faced and it didn’t help that this guy already defeated not only Hormiga, but Avispa as well. Avispa was hurt so badly and she couldn’t help but think of him.

“By the way, how’s your little boyfriend?” he asked. “I bet he’s not doing too well right?”

Araña was irritated by this question. When she left Lucas, he was unconscious in the Young Allies’ medical lab. She knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to rile her up, to get her to let her anger cloud her judgment. She was already mad about the whole situation but with an opponent like this she needed to keep her cool.


HOMICIDAL
Part III: Wall-Crawlers Bash
Written by:
JUSTIN SANTOS


RESCUE INC. TOWER

Lucas stood beside the bed he once laid in. He held a hand up, open and in front of him. He signaled for the Young Allies, who waited outside the lab to come and fight him. The American Panther stood before him with the rest of the team behind him. He was surprised to see Lucas up after taking such a brutal beating and couldn’t understand why he was being so hasty to get back in the fight against Spidercide.

“Don’t be so foolish,” said the American Panther. “In your state, you would be no match for this Spidercide character, let alone us. Use your head.”

“I don’t care what you think,” Lucas replied. “I have to get back out there and help Araña. If you’re such a great team of heroes, how could you let her go out on her own? Are we still experiencing some prejudice from your leader?”

“For your information, Araña told us to stay behind to protect you,” Rescue jumped in. “It was her decision. So you can take back what you said.”

“Hmph, like I care what he thinks of me.” Nomad walked away. “Let him go out there and get himself killed. It’s not our responsibility to hold him back.”

“Lucas, stop this.” His sister came and grabbed the hand he held ready to fight. “I’m sorry, everyone. But you have to understand where he’s coming from. He may not being using his head, but he’s following his heart. That girl means everything to him.”

“That’s why I have to go,” he said.

Jessica put a hand on his chest, “There’s no way that’s happening. I mean, you just winced in pain from me lightly placing my hand on your wound. I’m sorry, Lucas, but I won’t let you leave. If I have to force you to stay, I will. Anya has put her trust in us to make sure you’re safe, and we won’t let her down.”

Lucas removed his hand from his sister’s grasp and turned away from her.

“Miguel is on his way to help her,” Jessica tried to reassure her brother. “And if it would make you feel better, I could call our new team into action.”

“New team?” asked the American Panther a bit intrigued.

“A secret group formed at the end of the Wasp Dominion,” answered Jessica. “The New Slingers, a group that works alongside Araña but doesn’t trust the Spider Society. Every time I’ve been with Araña, the Spider Society has been surprisingly absent. I trust Miguel, Ted, and Emi, but the rest just don’t sit right with me. I need to make a few calls.”

“Come this way.” The Panther led her out of the room.

Lucas watched his sister leave. He angrily clenched his chest. He closed his eyes and thought of Anya. Mettle stood in the room and just looked at him. Hazmat peeked from behind Mettle’s massive frame.

OUT IN THE CITY

A strand of webbing shot at Araña. She flipped back to dodge it. She was becoming a bit annoyed. Every move she made ended in no result. What was worse she was starting to get tired. Of course he didn’t seem a bit tired. He had just fought Avispa and Hormiga earlier. The fight with Hormiga led right into the current brawl they were having but he didn’t seem fazed at all.

“Damn it,” she muttered.

Spidercide pounced from a nearby building with great force allowing him to nearly strike Araña. She jumped back before he could do anything. A clear shot opened up and she began firing impact webbing at him. He simply swatted the balls of webbing away with his massive forearms. With the barrage over he moved forward and knocked her off the side of the building.

“Ahh!” she yelled as she hit the street.

Her head began tingling. That familiar sense of danger guided her head to see a car coming her way. She fired off some more webbing at a car going the other direction. It dragged her along. She slid a little before reaching an overpass that she shot a web-line at. She hung in the air for a moment before Spidercide came out of nowhere and slammed into her. They both fell and landed on the top of a bus. Araña looked up to see the never ending smirk of Spidercide.

“What is the point of all this?” she said while throwing a punch that he caught. “What is so important that you have to do this to us?”

Spidercide squeezed her fist while he replied, “I’m not necessarily after you or even your boyfriend. There is someone more important than you, someone who may possibly change the future. Don’t your people tell you anything? Did they not tell you about the prophecy? In the future, a single person will settle the dispute between your warring factions. I really have no interest in what you insect people are doing. I find it quite boring. But the boss feels the need to have his hands in everything that’s happening. It’s hard to control the world when it’s being destroyed by a bug-worshiping cult. In order to control the Insect Kingdom, my boss must control its savior and the key to that is getting to that girl.”

“Girl?” Araña had to think back to her best friend, Lynn, who was being chased by Spidercide. “The one you were chasing earlier?”

“Yup, you got it!” Spidercide cheerfully replied. “The mother of your savior. Man, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on. You won’t believe my boss was planning on unleashing a swarm of bedbugs that would have given every New Yorker spider powers. Wouldn’t that have been crazy? But then your Tarantula buddies came along and then the Wasps, plans had to be changed.”

“I don’t understand,” Araña thought to herself. “Lynn is supposed to be the mother of some savior of the Insect Kingdom? But she has no connection to these groups. As far as I know. How does he know all this? Just who is he working for?”

“You seemed lost,” he stopped her train of thought. “Let’s take a break and get back to the fight.”

He kicked her in the stomach making her fly back. She managed to stay on the bus landing face down with her head down far enough to see the bus driver. The driver didn’t notice her. She looked back. She didn’t know what to do. She knew she had to stop him or he would go after Lynn again but he was too strong.

“There’s nothing left you can do,” said Spidercide. “You might as well give up.”

All of a sudden the bus stopped short. They didn’t go flying thanks to their ability to cling to the bus. Araña looked behind her to see Miguel standing in front of the bus.

“Araña, behind me now!” he commanded.

She flipped back and landed behind Miguel. He clapped his hands together and then slowly pulled them apart, a blue energy sphere forming between his palms. With the flick of the wrist he shot the fully-formed sphere at Spidercide. Just inches before it could hit, Spidercide’s partner, Misterioso, appeared in a flash. He created a shield that deflected the attack.

“You seem to be in a little trouble,” replied Misterioso.

“Hmm, I could have handled it,” Spidercide smirked. “But since you’re here maybe you could keep that magician off me while I play with my little Spider-Girl.”

“That’s really starting to annoy me,” said Araña.

Miguel looked up at the two on the bus, “He’s just trying to get under your skin. So what do you know about them so far?”

“The big one is a lunatic,” she answered. “Says he’s a clone of a clone of Spider-Man. And the other guy I don’t know anything about, but he was the one who created that barrier around Lucas. The one you noticed earlier. They’re gonna try and divide us. That was the whole purpose of attacking Lucas first.”

Traffic was at a complete halt. The drivers and passengers became spectators as Spidercide dove at Araña. She reacted by falling back with arms hitting the pavement. Pressing her hands on the ground, she sent her legs up and kicked both her feet into his gut. She then used her legs to throw him into a nearby bench. Next, the ethereal looking Misterioso jumped off the bus shooting off a spell at Miguel. Miguel pulled out a feather from his trench coat, an item he used to cast some of his spells. He used the tip of the feather to write a symbol in the air in blue light. When done, the symbol fired at Misterioso, which he dodged. It hit the bus instead. The bus was wrapped in numerous straps of cloth as a result. Miguel continued this a couple times. “I don’t know what these glyphs are you’re writing but let it be known no other mage has bested me in my time,” claimed Misterioso.

MEANWHILE AT RESCUE INC. TOWER

Lucas was out on one of the balconies, meditating. Mettle and Hazmat were standing behind him. They just looked at each other. They were confused at what he was doing.

“I don’t get him,” said Hazmat. “He’s hurt badly. He should be resting in bed. You know you don’t have to act tough?”

“I think he’s ignoring you.” Mettle laughed.

“I’m trying to meditate,” Lucas angrily said. “You do know what meditating is right?”

“You know you’re not gonna make any friends here with an attitude like that,” claimed Mettle.

“Hmph, friends, what a joke,” said Lucas. “I know nobody wants to be friends with me. Anya and Jessica are the only ones who can stand to be around me.”

“What are you talking about?” asked Mettle.

“It’s my powers,” replied Lucas. “They drive people away. I was trying to meditate to clear my mind. What just happened kind of sent me over the edge. I’m sick of people.”

“Dude, you need to chill out. Look at me. Do you think I have it any easier? But I don’t let my appearance get me down. You have to stop caring what other people think. I don’t care if they don’t like me, I like me and that’s all that matters.”

Lucas opened his eyes. Could it really be that simple? All the hardships he faced. All the hatred. All the loneliness. Could life be better for him if he stopped caring about what other people thought? He turned his body so that his legs now could reach the balcony floor. He stood up and looked at the two Young Allies. Mettle was a very odd looking individual. The common belief was that Mettle was the son of the Red Skull. The resemblance was more than uncanny. The difference, of course, was Mettle’s red iridium skin. Hazmat was another teen superhero whose powers were more of a hindrance than a gift. The three of them could understand one another more than anyone.

“My sister tells me you’re the one who saved me.” Lucas held his hand out for a handshake. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it, brother, but I don’t shake, I do it the cool way,” Mettle said as he bumped fists with Lucas.

“So do you do it the cool way, too?” Lucas asked Hazmat with a fist held out to her.

She shrugged it off and coldly turned away from him. He was left hanging. He in turn shrugged his shoulders and turned his attention back to Mettle. As the two new friends talked, Hazmat looked back at Lucas. This wasn’t their first interaction. They fought one another during the Wasp Dominion. Since then, she had become entranced by him due to his immunity to her powers. She was never good at talking with people. It actually took her quite a while to get used to others. It bothered her that she couldn’t just try and be friends with him, but it would go against her nature to do so.

“Your sister left, dressed in her costume,” Mettle told Lucas. “She said something about contacting the rest of your team and she was gonna meet them and go help Araña.”

“Good.” Lucas looked out on the city. “I think she’ll need all the help she can get.”

“You must really love that girl.” Mettle smiled. “Have you two…you know?”

“Are you really trying to ask that?” asked an annoyed Hazmat. “Men.”

Lucas and Mettle watched as she stormed off.

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Lucas and Jessica’s mother walked down the sidewalk from her house to Anya’s. She walked up the steps and knocked at the front door. Gilberto answered the door.

“Erika?” He was surprised to see her.

“Sorry Gil, but I seem to be doing this a lot,” she started. “Have you seen Lucas or Jessica? Are they with Anya?”

“No, I haven’t,” he replied. “Anya’s actually at work. She told me she’d be staying a little late at WebCorps. When was the last time you saw them?”

“Before they went to school. Jessica told me she just got an internship at the same place Anya works. And Lucas, I know how in love he is with Anya. I figured he’d be with her.”

“Well, they’re not here,” he said. “Look, why don’t you come in and we’ll try and find them. We have something we need to discuss anyway.”

“If it’s about yesterday, you should just let it go,” Gilberto’s girlfriend Elaine joined in. “It was harmless. Hi, I’m Elaine.”

“Umm, Erika.” Erika shook Elaine’s hand as she looked at Gil. “Gil never mentioned you before. But Lucas and Jessica are my children.”

“As I figured,” said Elaine as she gestured for Erika to come in. “You have to excuse Gil, he’s a little upset because he found Lucas and Anya in her bed together.”

“I see,” said Erika. “I guess it was only a matter of time.”

“I think you’re taking this too lightly,” claimed Gil.

“No, I just understand where they are in their lives. They’re not children anymore. They’re young adults. This is something we should have actually dealt with a lot earlier, but knowing how life has been for Lucas, I never thought I’d see the day. Gil, we can’t just go and tell them, ‘no, you can’t have sex’, they’ll just do it anyway. This fall they’ll be going off to college and living on their own. They’re gonna have to start making their own decisions and we need to be supportive of them.”

“My little girl just grew up so fast,” said Gil.

“She’s not you’re little girl anymore,” Elaine corrected him. “She’s a woman capable of making her own decisions.”

“Okay, let’s just try and find out where the kids are.” Gil decided to change the subject.

“I’m sure they’re fine. Maybe they just aren’t aware of what time it is.”

Araña flipped backward and landed in a kneeling position as Spidercide came after her.

“I really don’t know why they carry those ‘smart’ phones on them if they don’t use them.”

Lucas was with the Young Allies. Monica examined his chest to see if it was still bleeding. To her surprise it appeared that the claw marks were already starting to heal. They were still bad but getting better.

“Maybe we need to have a talk with them about responsibility.”

Jessica was dressed as Estrella. She stood next to Armory and the Crimson Spider. A short distance away stood Hormiga as he placed a new helmet on his head.

“Well, Anya’s not at work, so they could be with her.”

“I hope,” said Erika.

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

The fight roared on. Projectiles flew passed Miguel. He in turn sent his own projectile attacks at Misterioso. The two mages were not only both skilled in the mystic arts but very athletic. They dodged each other’s attacks with ease. Araña did her best to not get struck by Spidercide’s hands that he could morph into a variety of weapons. His right hand took the form of an axe, while his left was a mace. Araña had tried to formulate a plan but nothing she could think of would work. “Are you starting to see it?” asked Spidercide. “That there’s no way out of this.”

“Just shut up!” Araña yelled as she dropkicked him in the head.

Spidercide hit the ground laughing. He didn’t feel a thing. While on the ground his body began to stretch. The expanded pieces split from his body and formed a new being, a dupe of Spidercide. The two Spidercides stood up together, one in front and one in back of Araña. Miguel caught a glimpse of this and turned his attention to his partner.

“My spell shall bond you in place!” exclaimed Misterioso.

Misterioso slapped Miguel on the back. A black symbol appeared centered on his back. He found that he was completely paralyzed, stuck as he stood in place. Misterioso walked passed him with a clear smile on his face despite the aura that concealed his identity. He walked a couple feet more before getting into a crouching position. He slammed the palms of his hands on the pavement before mumbling some incantation.

“Sanctuary, take shape!” he commanded. “Now mage, watch as your precious little spider is killed before your eyes. You’re helpless, there’s nothing you can do!”

As he rambled, the dome-like barrier took shape around Araña. This similar maneuver was used in the fight against Avispa and he didn’t fare well against it. She was trapped. She was locked in the barrier with not just Spidercide, but a clone of himself.

“Finally, all alone,” said Spidercide. “We have the place all to ourselves.”

Araña looked nervously to her back where she saw the Spidercide clone. She knew no good could come of this. The original was enough trouble as it was. As a bead of sweat ran down her cheek, she sprang into action. She landed a backflip-kick to the clone’s skull and then rolled aside. She slid back on all fours as her two attackers came at her. While they approached, she pulled up and arched her back in a crouching position with both her arms extended out. Webbing fired from her wrist and nailed both Spidercides in the chest. She pulled as hard as she could. They flew her way. She bounced and landed her feet in one’s ribcage using that motion she propelled into the other. She landed and examined them from a distance. She was breathing heavily.

“Ha, ha, ha!” both Spidercides laughed.

Both the original and the clone began to repeat the cloning process used before the barrier’s creation. Two more clones split off, brining Araña’s total of opponents to four. She held her chest as a panic attack settled in. Outnumbered, outgunned, there was nothing left for her to do. She fell to her knees while she still clenched her chest.

“Child!”

A voice echoed in her head but she was too far gone to acknowledge it. Miguel looked on in fear. He was unable to do anything. He couldn’t even speak to use a spell. Misterioso appeared to being enjoying what he saw as he stood directly outside the barrier with his back to Miguel. He was very sure of his abilities as a mage that he would never expect Miguel to break free, of course he couldn’t. But he didn’t expect what would happen next. He heard some rustling behind him. There they stood. Hormiga, Armory, the Crimson Spider and Estrella, the members of the New Slingers.

“And what is this?” asked Misterioso. “More spectators? You’re a little late but the show is still going on. Let’s see what we got here. An ant, a couple spiders and a wasp. Quite the bug problem we have here.”

“What’s happening to Araña in there?” asked Armory. “Why is she holding her chest like that?”

“I think she’s having a panic attack,” claimed Misterioso as he pointed at one of the glowing eyes on his neck piece. “She’s thinking about how she failed everyone. I can see it with my special eyes. She’s thinking of her parents, her father and dead mommy. They’re drifting away from her. Uhh and now she’s thinking of her boyfriend. Someone she loves beyond imagination and so desperately wants to save. So heart-wrenching.”

“Get that smug look off your face!” demanded Estrella. “Yeah I can see it behind that ghostly aura, which is nothing but cheap parlor tricks, mind you. I’d give you a chance to break your barrier around her, but I’m not in a good mood right now. You hurt my brother and you’re doing the same to someone else dear to me. I can’t forgive it!”

“Oh, as if you could do anything to stop me.” His continued smugness irritated Estrella.

“Slingers, let’s take care of him already,” requested Estrella.

Estrella threw the first punch which he ducked back to avoid. Hormiga attempted to sweep him off his feet. He slid in with a kick to the ankles. Misterioso jumped back while he twisted his body at an angle to catch a flying punch from the Crimson Spider. Misterioso grabbed the Crimson Spider’s wrist and threw him into Estrella. As Hormiga turned he was kicked in the head by Misterioso. Armory pressed her hands on a car next to her and absorbed its matter. Now armored she withdrew a weapon from the palm of her hand. She speared the weapon right through Misterioso’s ethereal face going all the way through. There was nothing there to hit. He grabbed hold of the weapon and snapped it in half. His strength was surprising to Armory, which he picked off the ground and threw into the car she absorbed.

“What else you got?” asked Misterioso. “You know, I bet that male wasp would have put up more of a challenge for me, but what can you do? He’s probably already dead.”

“He’s not dead!” yelled Estrella. “My brother’s heart is too strong to fall to the likes of you and that freak. Do you hear that Anya! He’s all right and he was so eager to come out here and protect you! You have to get back up! If not for you do it for him!”

“It’s all so sweet but it doesn’t look like you’re getting through to her,” he followed with a laugh.

“The sound of his voice is pissing me off,” Hormiga finally spoke. “You clowns think you can just mess with people’s lives like this and not have to pay for it? You think that you’re all so powerful that you can’t be defeated! My power will defeat you! And make you think twice about attacking innocent people!”

Hormiga’s rage built up. In similar fashion to Avispa’s outbursts into Wasp Hunter form, Hormiga’s eyes began to glow red. This followed with the armoring of his body in a red exoskeleton, the form of the Ant Hunter.

“Rahh!” the demonic voice of the Ant Hunter growled at Misterioso.

“Whoa, dude.” The Crimson Spider was shocked at what was happening. “That’s freaky. It’s like Avispa. Is he gonna go on a rampage?”

The Crimson Spider’s attention changed to Miguel who stood right next to him still paralyzed. He waved his hand in front of Miguel’s eyes. He saw movement in them.

“Hey, this long-haired hippie is still alive,” he replied. “What should we do about him?”

“Defend him!” Armory told him.

The fight moved on. Hormiga pounced at Misterioso. A hand shot up from Misterioso that hit Hormiga in the chest. He tried to use the same binding spell that he used on Miguel. A black symbol appeared on Hormiga’s chest. He stretched his body using all his strength he broke free from the spell and decked Misterioso with a right cross surprisingly as all attempts to hit his head failed.

“His armor is immune to his magic,” stated Estrella.

As Hormiga slammed his forearm into Misterioso’s chest, Armory came at him from one side while Estrella came from another. Armory sent a metal fist to Misterioso’s right while Estrella struck with a kunai at his left. He caught both the attacks while being pushed back by Hormiga. He threw both women a distance away. Armory crashed into some trash cans while Estrella just hit the street. Misterioso took a second to cast a spell that summoned forth water, the one weakness of a hunter. The water engulfed his hands and then rushed at Hormiga surrounding him fully. He quickly began to suffocate.

THWIP!

Webbing from the Crimson Spider hit Misterioso in the chest. Crimson Spider pulled it making Misterioso lose his hold on Hormiga. Hormiga fell back behind Miguel still armored but he gasped for air. Inside the barrier Spidercide and his clones were now facing Araña at all directions. Despite the current situation and the open opportunity to strike, he held back.

“Even with backup, it’s hopeless,” said Spidercide. “Watch as all your friends die. I’ll let you enjoy your last moments as the fight outside ends.”

Estrella tried to pick herself up but found it difficult as she landed on her arm awkwardly. Armory’s body moved around concealed by the trash. The Crimson Spider was standing cautiously over Hormiga as the hunter tried to regain its composure.

“Didn’t you say his armor is immune to his magic?” asked the Crimson Spider as an idea popped into his head. “All right big guy time to get up.”

The Crimson Spider watched as Hormiga stood back up. He tried to reason with him but found him to be irrational. His only chance to use his idea would require him to bait him on.

“You know red only works for so many people,” the Crimson Spider said as he fired impact webbing at Hormiga. “And you’re not one of those people. You know orange is a cool color. Just like what Avispa wears. You know the wasp?”

“I’m tired of wasps and spiders!” exclaimed the hunter. “I’ll finish you all!”

The Crimson Spider’s taunting sent Hormiga into a rage. He lunged forward. Jumping overhead, the Crimson Spider kicked Hormiga in the upper back sending him crashing into Miguel. Miguel fell to the ground but was freed from the spell as his legs and arms moved.

“What?” questioned a surprised Misterioso. “How did you break him out?”

“You see, I have a few tricks up my sleeve,” replied the Crimson Spider. “All right, mage, I hope you have a few of your own.”

“I do,” claimed Miguel. “Estrella, I’ll handle this. I need you to get over to that barrier and try to reason with Araña. Snap her out of that panic attack!”

Estrella got up with her one good arm and proceeded to the barrier. Misterioso turned to stop her but was stopped himself by a web-line from the Crimson Spider. He waved his index finger to tell Misterioso that it wasn’t a good idea. Estrella staggered a bit but finally reached the barrier.

“Araña, listen to me!” she yelled while holding her broken arm. “You can’t give up. Every person has a weakness. It’s one of the many things Lucas taught me. He cares a great deal about you that is why he would go to such lengths to protect you. But you have the power to protect yourself. You relied too much on the Spider Society and too much on Lucas. It’s time for you to stand on your own two feet and fight for yourself.”

“You’re embarrassing yourself,” said Misterioso. “You should face the facts. She’s given up, something you all should do. There’s nothing you can do to stop…hey!”

Miguel had clasped his hands together. The spell he then cast created giant strands of webbing that popped out of the ground. Misterioso was wrapped in this webbing. He tried to break free but the webbing was too strong. Armory stepped next to Miguel.

“Drop the barrier!” demanded Miguel.

Misterioso laughed. “Never gonna happen. You’ll have to kill me.”

“That can be arranged.” Armory withdrew a sword from her body.

She charged forward and pierced right through his midsection. As he screamed in pain, Armory watched the barrier. It still didn’t break. She looked to confirm that she wounded the mage. Blood dripped down her sword showing that she wounded him pretty badly. Despite this, the barrier still remained. Estrella pleaded with Araña, but still, there was no response. Araña sat on her knees, completely unresponsive to the world around her.

REALM OF THE SPIDER

Araña was also here, sitting in the same position amongst the desert terrain of the Spider Hunter’s home. Behind her stood the Spider Hunter herself, chained to the ground which represented her being bound to Araña. The Hunter had been pleading with Araña to get up and fight. She was unsuccessful. Unlike the hunters bound to Avispa or even Hormiga, this one truly cared about her host.

“You know, child, I was the same hunter bound to your mother,” said the Hunter. “She endured much in her time. You probably don’t know this, but she was born in the eleventh century, during the founding of the Insect Kingdom. She had to deal with the betrayal of the Sisterhood of the Wasp. She even fought in the first and second Insect Wars. It was she who sealed away the five kingdoms in Puerto Rico. Compared to what she had faced, this should be easy for you…”

The Spider Hunter stopped when she sensed a presence, one that she never imagined would arrive in her domain. A short distance away stood Lucas and behind him, locked in cages, were the Wasp and Ant Hunters that were bound to him.

“You!” She was surprised to say the least. “How did you enter my realm? First the mage and now the hunter, you shouldn’t be able to come here.”

“Interesting, I’ve never spoken to the Spider Hunter before,” replied Lucas as he peered back at his hunters. “You’re different from the ones inside me. I would like to learn why, but that is not why I’m here. I’m meditating at the Young Allies’ tower, Anya. Just so I can speak to you. The New Slingers have stopped Misterioso, now it’s just up to you to stop Spidercide. You need to snap out of this. You’re strong. I believe it! You take after your mother and just like the Spider Hunter said, this should be nothing to you. I know he’s strong, but if you believe in yourself like I believe in you, you can do anything. Now stand up on your two feet. What would Spider-Man think if he saw you like this?”

Lucas was able to get her attention. As he finished his speech a memory popped into her head. In the memory, she stood next to Spider-Man.

“My friends and family could die because someone knows who I really am,” said Araña with her goggles up, looking at Spider-Man. “So I resigned and renounced my destiny to save them. That’s what you’d do, right?” “Once upon a time, maybe,” Spider-Man clenched his fist. “But in the end, I realized it’s important to keep fighting, even when my family was in great danger. Because with this power must also come great responsibility.” Araña looked off into sky.

“Anya,” said Spider-Man. “Anya…” She finally snapped out of it and saw Lucas shaking her shoulders. “Anya, stand up and fight!”

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Anya’s eyes opened. Their usual brown hue was now a bright blue. She stood up, clenched her fists and cocked her arms back to her sides. Everyone on the outside was surprised to see her come up after being so unresponsive.

“Huh?” Estrella put her hands on the barrier. “What snapped her out of it? Anya, come on you can take this loser down!”

“Ha, so cute,” said Spidercide.

Spidercide was then surprised by a whistling sound that came from Araña. Blue energy began to swirl around her feet. Her blue exoskeleton took shape. It covered her entire body and made her large goggles look like giant spider eyes. Spidercide had witnessed this transformation twice before and still found Araña’s amazing.

“Now that is a fearsome spider,” said Spidercide. “Not that it means anything. I’ve fought Spider-Man. I’ve fought Venom. Compared to them, you are nothing but a scrawny runt wearing fancy armor. A sexy, scrawny runt, but you get the point.”

“Shut up, pervert.” Araña popped her stinger from below her palm. “Let’s make this quick. I have better things I could be doing right now.”

The fight picked back up. The four Spidercides all attacked at once. Araña jumped over the one in front of her and kicked him in the back. As he turned, she struck with her stinger. She slashed across his chest. Another one came at her and she threw a punch right at his jaw. Outside, the New Slingers watched as Araña’s newfound courage helped her spring back and forth between each Spidercide. It was such a fast paced brawl that they could barely keep track of what was happening.

“That girl has some serious flexibility,” said Estrella.

“Damn, Avispa is lucky,” laughed the Crimson Spider before being decked by Armory. “Oww, what the hell did you do that for?!”

“Say one more word and you’ll get worse then that!” she yelled.

One of the clones let off an evil grin. He stretched his right arm out and wrapped it around Araña. He then recalled his arm bringing her with it. While she approached her stinger shot out an electric discharge and when directly in front of him she rammed her stinger into his abdomen electrocuting him. She pulled back. The clone was fried. His body began to turn to dust and crumbled apart. But as soon as he faded another clone took his place.

“Damn it,” she muttered.

“Anya, you need to get the original!” explained Estrella. “It’s the only way.”

Araña understood. It seemed simple but the problem was that there were four Spidercides and she lost the original through all the fighting.

“What do I do?” she thought to herself. “The original got mixed with the dupes. All the moving around made me lose him. There has got to be a way to pinpoint him.”

“Have you still not figured it out?” asked the Spider Hunter. “While in hunter mode you can see energy radiating from other beings. Your world has a number of unusual people, superhumans, mutants, mystical beings. Every last one of them emits some form of energy. This one in particular emits radiation. Spider-Man got his powers from a radioactive spider bite and this villain is a clone of him.”

The four Spidercides stood in front of Araña. She looked at them all with her enhanced eyesight thanks to the power of the hunter. Looking hard enough she noticed tiny streams of radiation coming off the second Spidercide starting from the left. The others didn’t show anything. She kept her eye on the original as she sprung forward. They all moved with the clones trying to defend the original. Two came at once and Araña spun her body to perform a butterfly kick. This allowed her to land two kicks, one for each clone. She knocked them both aside. The third clone came next, she simply leaped up and bounced off his shoulders toward the original. With one swipe she stung the original Spidercide sending electric currents through his body.

“Ahh!” he yelled.

The currents shot out of him. The clones were destroyed in an instant and the barrier shattered to pieces falling to the ground like pieces of glass before they faded to nothingness. Araña jumped back a bit as Spidercide huddled over on the ground. Estrella quickly walked over to check on her.

“Are you all right?” she asked. “You really scared me in there.”

“I’m fine,” Araña replied.

Miguel approached next. “You did good, Araña. You overcame your fear. Let the Spider Society deal with these two. It’s been a rough night for everyone maybe you should take the rest of the night off.”

“Sounds like an idea.” Araña took a deep breath. “I’m going back to the Young Allies’ tower. Thanks all of you.”

“Anya, let’s go see Lucas,” said Estrella.

Araña nodded. The two friends bid farewell to the other heroes and took their leave. The Crimson Spider walked over to Hormiga who had since powered down from his hunter mode. The Crimson Spider helped him up.

“Damn, you just freaked out and went nuts,” stated the Crimson Spider. “At one point I thought you were gonna really attack me.”

“I probably would have,” claimed Hormiga. “You were probably being annoying as usual.”

Hormiga walked off leaving a confused Crimson Spider behind.

THE NEXT DAY
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – GARCIA HOUSEHOLD

Lucas laid back in his bed with his shirt off. Across his chest were claws marks inflicted on him by Spidercide. Anya was tending to him. She cleaned his wounds and then reached for some bandages that were placed at her side. She unraveled them and just as she was gonna begin Lucas’s mother walked into the room.

“Hi, you two,” said Erika as she walked in. “Lucas, is your chest starting to heal?”

“It looks better than it has been,” answered Lucas.

Erika sat in Lucas’s desk chair. “Look I need to have a talk with you two. It’s actually concerning a couple topics. First we really need to discuss the cause of these wounds.”

“Umm, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” explained Anya. “You know how this city is. We should just be happy that he’s doing all right.”

“Yeah, I’m really happy that he’s unharmed. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I know what you two have been up to. Always disappearing and coming home late. I used to be mixed up in the same stuff. I was once a hunter of the Ant Council.”

“What?” asked Anya and Lucas together.

“I was born to the group,” she responded. “So I know more than you think. I left New York just before Elena was born to keep you kids out of this but it seems I failed to do so. And Anya, even without your mother, you still managed to get tangled in the web of the Spider Society. What you guys are getting yourself into is dangerous.”

“I know it is, but someone has to do it,” said Araña. “All the groups are back at full strength, we can’t just let them hurt innocent people.”

“But what about your father?” asked Erika. “What if your enemies find out who you are and then come after him?”

Anya wrapped the bandages around Lucas. “Then I’ll just have to be more careful. I was given great power and with great power comes great responsibility.”

“And I thought only Spidey preached,” Lucas laughed.

“Okay, I can see you’re serious about this,” said Erika. “We should talk more about this, but I think you should rest up a bit. Before I go though, we still have the matter of discussing what happened a couple days ago. Concerning you two in bed together.”

“Oh God, let’s not go there,” said Lucas.

“This is important. This is the first time you’ve had a girlfriend and we should…”

“Mom, stop!” exclaimed Lucas. “I rather go fight Spidercide again!”

MILTON SUMMERS HIGH SCHOOL

Outside the school, Mike met up with Lynn. They smiled at each other and held hands, together they walked into school.

“So what do you feel like doing tonight?” asked Mike.

“Want to rent a movie from Redbox and kick back with some popcorn?” replied Lynn.

“Sounds good to me.”

WEBCORPS – MANHATTAN, NEW YORK

Araña, Avispa, Estrella, Armory, and Miguel were all gathered in Ted’s office. Ted was fiddling around with a pendant with an eye symbol on it. It belonged to Misterioso. Araña and Avispa looked at the pendant with caution. Ted looked up at them a bit confused.

“Come on, it’s not like it’s gonna do anything,” laughed Ted. “You guys really got yourselves into something crazy. And this pendant I can’t even begin to understand it. Just imagine what secrets it holds.”

“Ted, it might be best if you don’t play around with things you don’t understand,” suggested Miguel.

“So what was the deal with those guys?” asked Estrella. “Didn’t you say something about one of them mentioning a boss? Any ideas who that could be?”

“Not a clue,” answered Araña.

“I’ve looked into some things.” Miguel took over. “There’s no information on Misterioso, but Spidercide. He really is a clone of Spider-Man. He was created by a mad scientist named Miles Warren who took on the identity of the Jackal. Supposedly he’s dead, but you never know with these people.”

“Guys, I hate to change the discussion but I need tell you that I’ll be gone for a little while,” Armory cut in. “My brother passed away and I need to return home to Japan. I don’t know when I’ll be back but I need you to promise me you won’t get yourselves into trouble while I’m gone.”

“Oh, Emi, I’m sorry to hear about your brother.” Estrella went in to hug Armory. “And you have nothing to worry about. I’ll keep my eyes on Anya and Lucas. They are the biggest troublemakers I know.”

“Hey!” said Araña.

“If you need anything just let us know,” said Avispa.

“I will.” Armory turned and waved. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“We’re down our weapons expert,” replied Ted. “Looks like I’ll be doing double duty. I’ll see if I can find anything recent on the Jackal.”

“In the meantime I think it would be best if you three focus on your studies and training,” Miguel said to the three young heroes. “You have finals coming up and with what happened in our last encounter, I think a little combat practice is needed.”

NEXT: Cracks in Mister Perfect!