MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
A pair of purely white eyes appeared in the shadows of a back alleyway. These were the white eyes of the Mania symbiote who stepped out. There was no one else back here with her. She walked to a door all while keeping an eye out. Once there she opened the door and walked into a bar that seemed to be for costumed people.
“Nothing but a room full of clowns,” said Mania as she approached the bar looking for the bartender. “Who’s working the bar?”
Mania didn’t get an answer right away. She looked around the room to see everyone’s attention was on her. These costumed people were all villains. She was able to pick a few out of the crowd that she knew but the majority she was unfamiliar with.
“We don’t welcome Spiders here!” said a man dressed up in a kangaroo-themed costume.
Another one who turned his arms to water stood up. “I hate Spiders!”
“Call me a spider again and see where it gets you!” exclaimed Mania.
“Whoa, whoa,” called someone from the entrance. “There are no Spiders here. We represent the Cult of the Tarantula. We are firmly against anything to do with spiders.”
The wizard known as Misterioso walked in and approached Mania. Behind him followed the maniac known as Spidercide.
“Well, my name is Spidercide,” he added to the conversation. “I thought of a name change but ‘Tarantulacide’ just doesn’t pop like I want it.”
“Well, if it isn’t the Mysterio rip off and the deranged Spider-Man clone.” Mania seemed unamused by their appearance. “Did you follow me here?”
“Boss lady said she wanted us to back you,” replied Spidercide.
“Weren’t you working for the Jackal?” asked Mania. “Never mind. I don’t really care. I’m not interested in your help.”
“If you want to find Menace you’ll need our help,” claimed Misterioso. “You won’t find what you seek here.”
“And you know where to look?” questioned Mania.
“Come.” Misterioso motioned for Mania to follow them outside the bar.
LUCAS AND LYNN’S APARTMENT
Rocky and Lynn sat next to each other. It was the morning after Lucas was brought home after being horribly wounded by the newest goblin known as Menace. Elizabeth sat in a recliner with her hands folded in her lap.
“She’s been in there for awhile,” said Rocky. “Should we check on her?”
Lynn shook her head. “Jessica knows what she’s doing. She doesn’t need our help. Although, I wish there was something I could do to help.”
“There is something you can do.” Jessica entered the room. “I could actually use all your help. If you want to help Lucas, come with me.”
Jessica headed back toward Lucas’s bedroom and lightly waved her right hand for them to follow her. They entered the room to see Jessica sit at the head of his bed. She crossed her legs while holding him up so she could place his head in her lap. She then pointed her left hand at three chairs she setup for them to sit.
“What we’re about to do I’ve only done with Lucas and Anya,” said Jessica. “We’re going to the Realm of the Hunters. I’ve studied up on the realm and it’s said that only the hosts of the Hunters and skilled magicians are able to handle its hostility, but I think my magic will be strong enough to protect Lynn and Rocky. Elizabeth, I have a hunch that your connection to your mother and father will be enough to protect you.”
“What exactly are we doing?” asked Rocky. “I’m not too familiar with all this stuff.”
“We’re going to piece Lucas back together,” replied Jessica. “If you don’t want to take part in this I’ll understand. Leave this room while you have the chance.”
“If I can really help.” Rocky sat down. “Then there’s no way I can turn away.”
Lynn sat down next. “You already know I will do anything for him.”
“Okay.” Jessica brought her fingers together to make a diamond shape with her hands. “So sit still, close yours eyes, and clear your mind. This will be unlike anything you’ve seen before, so prepare yourselves.”
Jessica began chanting an incantation. Lynn and Rocky had no idea what she was saying while Elizabeth was used to casting spells in Spanish couldn’t make out what her aunt was saying. She stopped speaking and for a moment it was quiet. But then they all started feeling as if they were being pulled from their bodies.
REALM OF THE SPIDER HUNTER
Lynn, Rocky, and Elizabeth all opened their eyes to find themselves standing in a desolate landscape. They all saw Jessica carelessly walking over to the Spider Hunter, which concerned Lynn and Rocky who weren’t familiar with the demonic being.
“Don’t worry, not all demons are bad,” claimed Jessica. “Well, Lucas’s Wasp Hunter is purely evil. The Ant Hunter is really neither, he just likes being left alone. But the Spider Hunter. Before bonding to Lucas, she worked side by side with Anya and even her mother Sofia to work toward bringing peace to Spain, the Spanish colonies, and now our country.”
“So these three are the ones you talked about?” asked the Spider Hunter. “The time-displaced Waspling, the mother of the prophesied child, and the one who involves herself in things she shouldn’t?”
“Umm, speaking of prophesied children,” said Lynn pointing down to her torso. “What happened to my baby? I’m not pregnant anymore.”
“This is not only the Hunter’s realm but also Lucas’s consciousness,” explained Jessica. “You’re not physically here. The baby is safely back in your body.”
Rocky looked up and was confused by what she saw. “What is with all the Lucases?”
Lynn and Elizabeth looked up to see not one but seven bodies that floated above, all of whom resembled Lucas only in different colors. Each one was a solid color, that being: blue, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, and black. The seven colors of the Insect Kingdom.
“Lucas’s soul has been fragmented,” explained Jessica. “Each one of his pieces represent a part of the Insect Kingdom. The blue of the Spiders represents heart which is funny because that’s what Anya’s last name means. The orange of the Wasps represents sorrow. I won’t go into each one. When his Wasp and Ant Hunters were sealed away it weakened his soul. It was so bad that Anya’s words were able to shatter it. If we don’t fix this Lucas will die.”
“Daddy, never told me about this,” said Elizabeth. “This must not have happened until I was sent here. I caused this.”
“No, don’t think like that.” Jessica put a stop to her negative thoughts. “None of this is your fault. Put these thoughts out of your head. We must all work together to help your father. I was unable to piece him back together with my magic. It would seem one of his memories is preventing me from doing so. A memory that was sealed away from him. If you look over here you’ll see these spherical clouds. They are all his memories.”
The group look over to see hundreds, possibly thousands of these memory clouds. The sheer amount of them left them speechless.
“There’s one memory that’s locked away but I can’t find it amongst all these.” Jessica continued. “It’s almost like looking for a needle in a haystack. We’ll split up and look for anything out of the ordinary. Any questions?”
“How will we know if something isn’t what it should be?” asked Lynn.
“Unfortunately, I don’t really have an answer for that,” Jessica responded. “Just look over each memory and if something seems off to you come get me.”
The group split up and began searching. Lynn passed by different memories that featured Lucas with Anya. There were some cute moments that made her smile. Then there was one that caught her eye. She saw Lucas in his Araña costume as he stood before Mike. She walked over and leaned down to listen in. The cloud would catch her off guard by enveloping her.
“That’s the best answer you can give me?!” yelled Lucas.
Lynn was surprised to find she could enter the memory. Not only that she was standing right next to them. It didn’t appear that they could see her.
“It’s been months since you last saw Lynn,” said Lucas. “She’s already midway through her pregnancy. Before you know it YOUR child will be here. So you’re just gonna tell me you’re gonna skip out on your responsibilities?”
“He never told me he confronted Mike,” Lynn said to herself. “Lucas, words aren’t enough to describe how I feel about you. I need to help get you through this.”
“It’s what’s best for Lynn and the baby,” explained Mike. “You have to understand.”
“I understand something.” Lucas felt his blood boil. “I understand what it’s like to have a lousy father. To me anyone who backs out on their responsibilities as a father is a loser, a scumbag. Is that what I’m to think of you now? Hmph, figures. Let this be known. If you don’t do the right thing you can consider us family no longer.”
“Ahh!” Lynn was surprised by his words. “It must be hard not having a father. I do have one but I don’t really care for him.”
LUCAS AND LYNN’S APARTMENT
The front door to their apartment opened. In walked Lucas’s cousin Veronica who had a look of concern on her face. Clearly, she knew what had happened to her cousin. Before she could find him she would be stopped by Ted Mankowski who was raiding the refrigerator.
“Umm, can I help you?” he asked.
“Who are you?” questioned Veronica. “This is my cousin’s apartment. I heard he was hurt. I need to see him.”
“I’m Ted,” he began to answer. “You must be Veronica. Jessica instructed me on who to expect to show up while I keep a watch out. Lucas’s condition is stable but there’s more going on then a chest wound. Jessica and three others are currently hard at work trying to help Lucas as we speak.”
“What do you mean?” Veronica was confused.
Ted led Veronica to Lucas’s bedroom where she saw Jessica holding Lucas and the three other girls sitting beside the bed while meditating.
“I don’t really understand this magic mumbo jumbo,” explained Ted. “But they’re all inside Lucas’s mind trying to piece him back together.”
“I want to help to,” she said. “If he needs help I can’t just stand by and do nothing. He means too much to me and my daughter. He’s the most important male role model in her life.”
Mania dropped down from above. She returned to where Menace had struck down Lucas, only this time she came with unwanted company. Misterioso and Spidercide were here as well. The blood splattered on the ground grossed out Misterioso.
“How unsanitary,” said Misterioso.
Spidercide began to chuckle to himself. “I’ve smelt that blood before. It seems your boyfriend was in over his head once again. Isn’t that right, Spider-Girl? Heh.”
“Tsk, do you ever keep quiet?” asked Mania. “You’re making me regret not putting you out of your misery back when we last fought.”
“Oh, I wish you tried,” followed Spidercide. “I would have loved every second of it.”
Mania walked over to the building’s ledge and crouched down to watch the city below. Misterioso cracked his knuckles as preparation for the hand signs he was about to weave. He pulled his hands apart and two circles of light with mystical patterns appeared.
“What’s gotten into her?” asked Spidercide of Misterioso referring to Mania. “Usually, when she’s around anyone other than Boss Lady she’s quiet and cold.”
“In pretty much every instance we’ve been around her the symbiote has been the dominant personality,” explained Misterioso. “It would seem the symbiote has allowed its host to take control for the time being. What we’re seeing now is a slightly darker version of the former hero known as Araña.”
“Spider-Girl,” said Spidercide.
“Whatever, now sit back and shut up.” Misterioso waved his hands. “I’m trying to work here.”
With one final flick of his wrist, Misterioso was able summon images of the last moments of the fight. The new Araña was on the ground while Menace hovered over him with an axe in hand. Mania turned and focused on the one she knew to be Lucas.
REALM OF THE SPIDER HUNTER
Elizabeth had entered one of Lucas’s memories. She found herself on some street in Boston where she watched her father being pelted by random objects from people who lived in the area. She began to tear up.
“I heard the stories but this is worse than I could have imagined,” she said to herself as the tears started flowing faster. “Daddy, I know you’ve had a hard life but all I want is for you to care about me. I wasn’t as lucky as my sisters. I didn’t get as much time with you before…”
Rocky accidentally entered a memory where Lucas and Anya were making out. She quickly exited that memory and stepped into another where she found herself on a weird looking world where Avispa was on a rampage. He attacked anyone in sight, even his own sister. He only stopped when a pair of blue armored arms wrapped around his torso. Anya spoke softly to calm him down.*
*This happened in Young Allies #2—Justin.
“Their connection was stronger than I thought,” said Rocky.
Jessica walked into one memory and instantly remembered what it was about. She saw herself looking at her brother who had remained silent while she told them the events that took place when the Goblin had confided in her. She couldn’t read his expression but had a feeling of what he was thinking about. She knew her brother all too well. They were twins after all.
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said. “And I don’t care. He saved our little sister. Do you know he has a little sister too? She’s in danger with the rest of his family. It’s the only reason he’s doing all this. We need to help him save his family before he does something stupid.”
“And you believed him?” asked Avispa. “Did you even check to see if he has a real little sister? He’s playing you!”
“It’s not like that!” she spat back.
“You’re being foolish!” he yelled. “I’m trying to knock some sense into you! For someone who just graduated as valedictorian you sure don’t use your head.”
“Don’t try and lecture me,” she continued. “Acting like the big tough older brother. It only took eighteen years for you to finally man up. All this time I’ve been watching your back which has been a total pain in the ass this whole time!”
“Is that how you see it?” Avispa backed up. “I’ve been nothing but a nuisance to you…”*
*And this happened in Araña #11—Justin.
The real Jessica’s eyes widened. She too began to tear up. She walked out of the memory as fast as she could to get away only to walk into another. There she saw herself standing at her apartment door with Lucas and Elizabeth standing outside.
“Oh, damn,” she said as she placed a hand to her forehead. “Lucas I totally forgot. We were gonna spend time together. Something’s come up.”
“What?” Lucas threw his arms out at his sides a bit annoyed. “You’re gonna blow me off again? What is this like the fifth time? The only times I ever see you is if we just happen to show up at mom’s at the same time.”
“I know, I know.” Jessica quickly hugged Elizabeth. “But I wouldn’t do this if something big didn’t come up. Look I’ll make it up to you.”
“That’s what you said the last time.” Lucas felt let down and took a step back from his sister.
The Jessica from the memory and the real one saw the look of distress in his eyes.
He grabbed Elizabeth’s hand and began walking to the elevator. “Yeah, I like being reminded of that. Whatever I don’t care. I guess I’ll see you around sometime. Maybe dinner at mom’s house…around Christmas time.”
*This was last issue Araña #20—Justin.
Jessica left the memory and began bawling. Lynn, a bit saddened herself over hearing the conversation between Mike and Lucas, ran over and wrapped her arms around Jessica.
“What happened?” Lynn asked while she hugged Jessica tightly.
“I’m a horrible sister!” she squalled. “I called him a nuisance and I ignored him when he needed me most.”
“What do you mean that time during the crime war?” asked Lynn. “Anya, told me he was being a bit hard on you. Besides you both got passed that. And we’ve both been actively trying to help him through this depression of his. I know for a fact he doesn’t think you’re a horrible sister.”
“He may not think I am but I feel that way.” Jessica felt low.
“Nonsense.” Lynn held Jessica in place to so they could look each other in the eyes. “Stop thinking like that. We’re helping him now. We need to stay focused on the task at hand.”
“Guys, I think I found something!” called Rocky. “You better come over here.”
They joined Rocky and Elizabeth who stood before a memory cloud that didn’t show anything. There was a strange symbol on it. At first Jessica wasn’t sure what it was but then remembered something.
“This is my father’s magic!” The tears on her cheeks evaporated when her blood began to boil. “Of course it had to be him!”
“Why would he block a memory from Lucas?” asked Lynn. “Can you counter whatever spell this is?”
“I believe so,” replied Jessica. “It might take more time than I want it to but I’m sure I can undo what my father did here. Then maybe we can finally start putting things back the way they were.”
Jessica got to work and as she said it took sometime. The seal broke and cloud revealed its hidden memory. Jessica was surprised to what was locked away. She saw an thirteen-year-old Lucas being embraced by an thirteen-year-old Anya.
“Wha!?” She didn’t know what she was looking at.
“This was when they were younger,” said Lynn. “I’m guessing six years ago.”
“They met before we moved back to New York?” questioned Jessica. “I always wondered what led them to fall in love with each other so quickly. I thought their relationship was a bit rushed. After all this time it was just instincts. They were technically together all along.”
“That would explain why Anya never tried dating anyone before our senior year,” Lynn added. “I have a feeling if we looked inside Anya’s head we’d come across the same thing.”
“I bet you’re right,” said Jessica. “Let’s see what this is about. Come we’ll go in together.”
MEMORY OF SIX YEARS AGO…
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK
Jessica and her companions found themselves in an unfamiliar building. They all looked around to get an idea of where they were but couldn’t find any answers. The group reconvened where they originally started.
“What is this place?” asked Rocky.
Elizabeth gestured that she didn’t know with her arms. “None of the doors open. I did walk through a wall but it didn’t get me anywhere.”
“Jessica, what do we do?” questioned Lynn. “I walked through the walls also and found no one.”
Jessica held her hands together up to her mouth almost as if she were praying. After a few moments she withdrew her hands and then pulled them apart to reveal a talisman in the shape of an eye. It floated between her hands until she motioned for it to fly off. It went out the window next to her. She kept her eyes closed which allowed her to see through the talisman. The talisman moved around to help Jessica outside the building.
“Ahh?” She was surprised at what she saw. “There’s a giant four on the building. Can it be? We’re in the Baxter Building.”
“The Baxter Building?” asked Rocky.
“This is where the Fantastic Four live.” Jessica recalled the talisman. “Why would Lucas have a memory like this? Well, since we’re here that has to mean Lucas is nearby.”
A door opened and in stepped a blond-haired woman accompanied by the younger Anya.
“That’s Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman,” said Jessica. “Why is Anya with her?”
Sue Richards looked dead on to a shadowy corner of the room. “You’re sure someone is here? If there was someone invisible I could sense them provided they’re not using magic or psychic abilities to conceal themselves.”
“I know there’s someone here,” replied Anya. “I can feel it.”
A man dressed in a suit and tie with a gold pin in the shape of an ant walked in the room followed by a boy who appeared to be in his early teens. Jessica recognized the man and Lynn became annoyed by the appearance of the boy.
“He looks like such a twerp,” groaned Lynn. “Why did Mike have to be part of this memory?”
“Considering my Uncle Javier is here, I’m not surprised that Mike is with him,” explained Jessica. “But where is Lucas?”
“I apologize Mrs. Richards,” said Jessica’s Uncle Javier. “It would appear my curious nephew has been exploring your building within the shadows, against my wishes. I told you to stay at the hotel.”
Thirteen-year-old Lucas stepped out of the shadows. He looked away from his uncle a bit annoyed much like a teenager would do to a parent.
“So I’m guessing magic?” Sue inquired.
“This my nephew Lucas,” Javier introduced. “His powers are magical in nature. Much like an insect he can meld well in certain places, appearing invisible. But that didn’t stop you from sensing him young lady. Who might you be?”
“This is Anya Corazon.” Sue placed her hands on Anya’s shoulders. “I watch her from time to time for her father when he’s out on assignment for the New York Herald.”
“I appreciate it,” said Anya. “But I’m not a child anymore I can watch myself.”
“Always so eager to be grown up,” laughed Sue. “Anya, don’t rush things. One day you’ll be older wishing you could go back to when you were younger. Enjoy what you have now because you never know what could happen in the future.”
“That’s probably how she feels right now,” said Lynn. “Provided she feels anything in that alien costume of hers.”
“I guess you’re right.” Anya turned to Lucas to greet him. “It’s nice to meet you. You had me freaked out for a moment there.”
“Hmph.” Lucas shrugged off Anya.
“I take it back, it’s not nice to meet you.” Tension between them grew quickly as they stared down each other with Lucas’s eyes burning orange at Anya. “Is that supposed to scare me? I’ve seen my mother’s eyes do that too. That’s nothing special.”
“Tsk, whatever.” Lucas walked off.
“Nice guy,” growled Anya.
“Please forgive him,” requested Javier. “He’s been through a lot in his life. Unfortunately, it has led him to be anti-social. He finds it hard to get along with others. Just leave him be and he’ll keep out of trouble. I’ll have him out of your hair as soon as I’m done with Reed.”
Jessica and the others followed Anya as she cautiously watched Lucas.
“I had no idea,” said Jessica. “To think this is how they originally met. They didn’t like each other at first. I guess you can’t blame Anya for reacting the way she did, but Lucas couldn’t help who he was.”
“Well, we know which direction the story goes.” Lynn looked at both. “Now how did it get to where we are?”
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – PRESENT DAY
Mania lurked around the floor of a building she was sort of familiar with. This was where she watched a mind-controlled Crimson Spider fight against Lucas. She remembered Felix Jade and then her mother showing up. This building belonged to Rescue Incorporated, the company owned by her former Young Allies teammates American Panther and Rescue.
Two balls of light appeared in the room. These lights grew and spread taking the shape of Misterioso and Spidercide. The light faded revealing them. Misterioso spun his hands around with magical energies swirling along with them. The spell he was casting brought forth transparent images. It was almost like watching a video recording. There they saw Lucas in his Araña costume on his knees as Elizabeth ran into his arms in tears.
“Who is this child?” asked Misterioso. “And what is her importance to finding information on Menace?”
“She seems pretty familiar.” Spidercide smirked. “Ain’t that right Spider-Girl?”
Webbing shot out of the shadows covering Spidercide’s face. Mania approached the image and examined the girl. She had yet to learn who this child was but the resemblance was uncanny. Not only could she see herself but her mother as well.
“If she looks like me then I bet she has inherited her father’s personality,” remarked Mania. “And his powers. She was the girl in the Avispa costume who came to his aide when he failed to confront the symbiote.”
The images seemed to rewind like a video. Araña and the Crimson Spider left just after Elizabeth went back in the cage. It went back to when the girl was being manipulated by Felix Jade. Elizabeth walked over to a table where the figure of a woman was masked by a white sheet. Jade commanded Elizabeth to use her powers that she gained from a mystical item hidden away in an old Mayan temple back when she was in her original time.
The trio watched as this happened a number of times. Jade was forcing Elizabeth to give people superpowers. They figured that the woman under the sheet was Menace. They meaning Mania and Misterioso. Spidercide not being the brightest, had no idea what was going on.
“Remind me to kill Jade the next time I see him,” said Mania. “I’ll make sure it sticks this time. No one ***** with my child. No matter what time period she’s from.”
“Now we know where she came from.” Misterioso crossed his arms. “Examining these locations have increased our chances of tracking this goblin Menace. If we understood what her goals were we could probably narrow down her whereabouts. Maybe if we could find this Jade you spoke of.”
“Find Jade?” she questioned. “Hmm, I do have some unsettled business with him. I have no doubt he’s hiding somewhere in this city plotting out a way to re-establish himself. Let’s go find him then.”