#4: The Deadliest Game, Part 4 May 12, 2019 13:28:42 GMT -5
Post by Charlie on May 12, 2019 13:28:42 GMT -5
Issue #4: "The Deadliest Game, Part 4: Hunters & Prey"
Written by Brian Burchette
Cover by Roy Flinchum
Edited by Charles Wilkins
Spider-Man stood over the unconscious body of The Chameleon before looking up at Professor Allan. The last fifteen minutes were a walking nightmare. Two people had figured out his secret identity; a psychotic shape changer and one of his teachers. Personally, he felt safer with the psychotic shape changer.
“I think you've got it wrong… Dr. umm, what's your name again?” It was lame, Peter knew that, but he didn't seem to have a lot to work with, and lying was not something that came that naturally to him.
Liz Allan's father gave him a rueful look. “Give it up, Peter. If nothing else, during the battle, you let your Spider-Man voice slip; I recognized it right off the bat.”
Clearing his throat, he spoke in his deepest, most gravel sounding voice. “I'm the $#&-damned Spider-Man.” He watched Professor Allan's face give him a sour look and replied with a half-hearted wave. Why bother, he thought to himself.
“Any idea why this man wanted to kidnap you,” Spidey asked, desperately trying to change the subject.
This time it was the Professor who fidgeted nervously. “No, I… I have no idea.”
“Uh, yeah, okay. Well, if you don't mind, I'm taking this Chameleon with me. Maybe I can get some answers from him.”
As the young hero turned to go, he was stopped by Allan's voice, reassuring in tone. “Your secret is safe with me, Peter; I promise you.”
“No offense, Doc.” He replied, refusing to turn around. “But if you want to play the secret game, it's going to go both ways.” With that, he walked out of the room, leaving Professor Allan to begin pacing, nervously.
J. Jonah Jameson looked at the blurry photos with disdain. “Is this the best you've got?” He bellowed at Harry Osborn, who flinched at the booming voice. “You can barely even tell that this is Spider-Man! My God, kid, the guys a hero, he deserves better than this if he's going to be on the front page of New York's premier newspaper!”
“Well, it was kind of hectic, what with tables flying over my head and all,” Harry tried to explain.
“I don't want excuses, I want grade A quality photo's. This belongs on some gossip rag next to a sighting of Big Foot!”
“Well, I'm sorry to bother you, then, Mr. Jameson,” Harry said weakly as he went to take the pictures back.
Jonah snapped them away, “Hold on there, I didn't say I wasn't going to use them. I'm just not going to pay you very much for them. Not for shoddy work like this.”
“One hundred and forty-nine dollars, not a dollar more.”
“But… but… these are the only pictures of Spider-Man-- ever!”
“That's why I'm buying them! Anyway, aren't you Norman Osborn's kid? What are you worried about money for? Your old man ranks right up there with Hammer, Stark, and that guy who created Microfish.”
At the sound of his father's name, Harry bristled, his face growing red. “It's not about the money,” he said heatedly. “It's about doing something I want to do.”
Jonah gave him a hard look as he chewed the end of his cigar, “I see. In that case, congratulations, you did it. My secretary will write you a check. By the way, what the hell is this thing that he's fighting?”
Harry shrugged, feeling oddly defeated. “They called him The Rhino, I guess. Came crashing through the wall looking for one of our teachers; ended up disappearing after the battle was over.”
“Which teacher?” J.J. asked.
“Professor Allan,” Harry said as he walked out of the office.
Jonah grabbed his intercom and bellowed for Robbie, who was in his office five minutes later.
“What is it, J.J.?” He hated asking that question; the answer was never going to be good.
“I want Urich to investigate this Professor Allan guy. Something tells me there's a story there, and it's got Spider-Man's name written all over it.”
“Well… Jonah, Ben is pretty tied up down in Hells Kitchen right now.”
The Publisher through his arms up in disgust, “I forgot about that damned obsession he has with that Daredevil guy. I told him, brooding loner, hanging in the shadows, trying to scare criminals to death, won't sell newspapers. Spider-Man! Flashy costume, witty repartee - he's the hero of the future. Oh never mind, get that new dame down there! What's her name?”
“Brant-- Betty Brant, Sir.”
“Yeah, her, send her. About time she starts making herself useful around here.”
Robbie closed the door behind him, thankful to be out of the office.
He woke up with a splitting headache, but couldn't figure out if it was because of the punch or the fact that he was webbed up and hanging upside down with all his blood rushing to his head; either way, he felt like crap.
“Well, look who woke up,” The one called Spider-Man said. “If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions, and honestly, I have a feeling that you do have to be smarter than a fifth grader to answer these.”
“I will tell you nothing!” The Chameleon spat in clipped Russian.
“Hey! Say it, don't spray it! Too bad, though. A while ago you were dying to tell me how you figured out my identity.”
“Ha! That! That was pure luck on my part. I was posing an average looking kid, monitoring the situation, when The Rhino announced himself. I saw you run into the bathroom and suddenly Spider-Man appeared. That doesn't take a fifth grader to figure out. So I found your hidden cloths, switched identities, hoping to get closer to Professor Allan, in case The Rhino failed, which he did. I knew you couldn't unmask me without unmasking yourself, so I was safe.”
“Yeah, great plan, for all the good it did you. So who are you working for, Mr. Ken Doll?”
“I work for no one but myself.”
Spidey made the sound of a buzzer, “Oh, wrong answer. Sorry, you lose, but we've got some lovely parting gifts in the back. You just admitted that you were waiting for The Rhino to show up, which means somebody is watching Allan. I get this feeling that you're just a lackey in this four ring circus, so I want the name of the ring leader, now!”
The Chameleon laughed, “Little man in spider-suit does not scare me. Not only can I mimic people, but I am pretty good at reading them too, and something tells me you are not a torture or kill sort of person.”
“So nothing I can do will get you to tell me who you're working for, or why they want Professor Allan?”
“Nothing, so go ahead an send me to police, I will be out in less than an hour, but not before I reveal who you are.”
Under his mask, Peter was biting his lip. He was in a no win situation; a real life Kobayashi Maru. He also suddenly realized what a geek he was for thinking that. Yet, since he was going down that path, he had to ask himself what Captain Kirk would do in this situation.
After a few moments of thinking, he realized that Kirk would probably pound his face in, get his shirt torn open, and bed a green skinned alien woman. Unfortunately, none of those options were available to him… well, maybe the shirt tearing thing, but what good would that do?
“Time to let me down, boy,” The Chameleon said.
“I'd listen to him if I were you,” came a voice from above the alley where they had been conversing.
Spider-Man looked up to see a red and black costumed figure standing above him; a black mask covering three quarters of his face.
“Who are you?” Peter asked in surprise.
“I'm the Tarantula, and I've been paid a pretty penny to retrieve this loser, so unless you want to die an early death, you'll just walk away now.”
“You know,” Peter began while rubbing his eyes through his mask. “How come you wacko's only started coming out of the woodwork as soon as I put this costume on? I might begin to take this personally...”
“Wow, you guys got the day off? How lucky is that?” Mary Jane said as she sat with her friend Gwen Stacy at the local coffee shop.
“Nobody's talking about why, though. Sounds like there was some kind of break in and the police are investigating. Anyway, that's why I called; I figured we could have a girl's day out.”
“Well you caught me on a good day,” Mary Jane said as she brushed her red hair back from her face. “I don't have any classes today, and no prospect for any modeling jobs, either. So it looks like a quiet day for me, too.”
Gwen gave a wicked grin. “You know, we could call Harry and Peter and all of us do something together. Maybe a movie… or a picnic in the park.”
M.J. bristled, “You know, let's just keep today about us girls. I'm not really in the mood for Peter Parker.”
“Oh. Things really didn't go well for you two at the Prom, did it?” Gwen asked.
“Nope.” M.J. replied and took a sip of her drink.
It was a closed subject, and Gwen knew it by the tone of her friend's voice, so instead, she began discussing plans on their day out in the big city.
That tingly feeling in the back of his neck went off just seconds before Tarantula leapt toward him, and gave Spider-Man only seconds to dive out of the way; leaping up and grabbing a hold of the side of the brick building.
“I carry this guy all the way from Queens to Manhattan to have a little private time, and you actually find us? I'm beginning to believe that whole George Orwell thing.”
“You imbecile, it was not you that I was following,” Tarantula said as he leapt up, grabbing a hold of the fire escape and pushing himself forward, again barely missing Spidey, who had leapt out of the way. “It is the other one I was looking for.”
Spider-Man shot his webbing, grabbing Tarantula by the arm, “You've got a bit of a Spanish accent; makes me wonder if there isn't some kind of U.N. conspiracy going on around here.”
“You need to learn when to shut up,” The Tarantula said as he feigned a left, causing Spider-Man to leap right; but then the villain opened up his palm to have what appeared to be webbing coming straight out of his glove. It wrapped itself around Spider-Man's shoulders, pinning him down.
“Huh, you've got webbing too. How's that for a surprise. Maybe we could have coffee and talk about where you buy your supplies.”
The black masked man smirked, “Mine are not man made. Mine come natural,” He said as he pulled Spider-Man from the far wall and towards him.
Peter sailed across the alley, towards his enemy, “Eww, like the human body doesn't have enough fluids coming out of it. Can we say, 'gross to the max'.”
Trying desperately to break Tarantula's webbing as he flew across the alleyway, his danger sense began to shriek in his head. He looked up in time to see a spike at the end of the villain's boot, and he was headed right towards it.
He moved his hand as much as he could and shot his own webbing, hitting the boot and able to use just enough strength to throw the man off balance.
“Very James Bond, there, pal.” Spidey said as they both fell to the ground.
As he hit the pavement, Spider-Man was able to roll away, constricting his muscles and breaking free of the webbing that had trapped him.
“Don't you ever shut up?” Tarantula snarled as he leapt to his feet.
“Only when I'm watching something with Jessica Alba in it.” Peter quipped.
The Tarantula said nothing, just grinned and shot more webbing from his palm, upward, and than propelled himself up onto the roof.
“Heh, looks like your friend didn't want you that badly,” Peter said turning to The Chameleon, only to find that the webbing had been cut open, and the guy was gone.
“Aww nuts!” Spidey said as he shot his webbing and began his pursuit of The Tarantula.
Dr. Gerald Allan had finished talking to the police, giving them every detail of what had happened, leaving out his discovery, of course. He was surprised to learn from one of the Detectives that this Chameleon person was wanted in over twenty different countries. It was mentioned, Allan noted, because the detective thought it funny that he would come after a High School teacher.
The Professor held his nervousness in check. It wasn't that he really knew why the Chameleon was after him, but after yesterday's incident with the Rhino, he had a feeling what it might have to do with, and he wasn't willing to discuss his project with anyone. Not yet, at least.
As the police finally left, Professor Allan began to clean up in the lab when his cell phone went off. He noted his daughter's number and answered it. “Hello, Liz.”
“Dad!” He heard his daughter's voice and the panic that was coming through the phone. “Dad, help me! He's chasing me; he's trying to get me.”
Gerald Allan's heart began to race. “Who? Who's after you?”
There was a sudden silence on the phone and then the voice of the Chameleon came on the line. “Don't you mean, who has you, Professor.” He said with a chuckle.
“Don't harm her! Please, I'll do whatever you say, just don't harm her!”
“Now that's a smart man. Meet me at the Harlem Meer in twenty minutes. You do know where that is, I assume?”
“North East corner of Central Park.”
“And come alone, Professor, or your precious Liz may end up at the bottom of the lake.”
The phone went dead, and Dr. Allan left immediately.
Peter was swinging his way from the East Village towards mid-town, hot on the trail of the Tarantula, who was moving rapidly away from him.
Everything was moving so fast, and Peter felt completely out of control of his life. Two attacks on Liz's father in twenty-four hours. Two people had discovered his secret, possibly even more if the Chameleon went blabbing to his boss. This was not what he had expected when he had decided to do the right thing… to become the man he knew his Uncle Ben wanted him to be.
He pushed himself harder, swinging low across the heavy traffic that moving down Broadway. Where was Tarantula going, any way, he wondered.
It didn't take him long to find out as he watched the assassin make a sudden turn onto West 34th street; heading straight for 5th Avenue and The Empire State Building. Tarantula landed on the observation deck located on the 86th floor. The tourist and sightseers screamed and began to flee.
As the villain was about to leap up towards the next few floors, he was struck from behind as Spider-Man came swinging in, feet first, striking him in the back.
“You were in the city and just couldn't resist doing your King Kong impression?” Spidey asked.
Tarantula rolled when he hit the ground and came up, only to be struck in the face by a red gloved fist. He staggered back and Spider-Man kept up the assault, hitting him, blow after blow.
The assassin fell to his knees as Spider-Man raised his fist one more time, but stopped as he felt a sudden and painful piercing in his right leg. He looked down in time to see the sharp end of Tarantula's boot exiting from his costume. Peter also immediately felt the burning sensation as the poison entered his system.
“Wow, what a prick,” Spidey mumbled as he staggered back.
“I warned you,” Tarantula hissed as he leapt up and began to climb the side of the building.
Peter took a deep breath, fighting the feeling of nausea that was building, and shot his webbing at Tarantula, who dodged it and continued to climb. Spidey let out a curse as he leapt as far as he could, landing just inches below Tarantula. He reached out and grabbed the man's ankle; gripping onto it tightly.
He had to end the fight quickly, his heart was beginning to race and he felt his body becoming hot and sweaty. He yanked on the ankle, but his strength was already leaving him.
Tarantula, holding onto the brick wall with his clawed gloves, used his other foot and kicked Spider-Man in the head, shaking him loose. He continued his climb upward, and Peter, his vision beginning to blur, had no choice but to climb the wall and chase after him.
Gwen and Mary Jane had stopped in Central Park to feed the ducks; after spending some time at theGuggenheim Museum. It was a beautiful spring day and they had chosen to walk the rest of the 5th Avenue, turning onto Central Park North when they decided to feed the ducks that swam lazily in the Harlem Meer.
“So can I ask you a question?” Gwen said, hesitantly.
“Of course, just make sure you want to hear the answer,” Mary Jane replied with a mischievous grin.
“Why didn't you and Peter get along, last night? I know that the whole Prom thing was a disaster, and Peter nearly being killed didn't help either, but I get this feeling that there's something you're not telling me.”
The smile fell off of M.J.'s face. “Gwen, you've been my friend for a lot of years now, so please trust me when I say, drop it. He's just not into me.”
“Did he tell you that?” Gwen asked. “Because it really looked like you two were hitting it off at first; Harry and I could tell that there was some real chemistry there.”
“Darling, trust me when I say that lightening did not strike us… or cupid for that matter. To be honest, I think he's into someone else.”
Gwen gave her a curious look, “Do you know that for sure, or are you just guessing.”
“I'm pretty sure.”
“Did he tell you who?”
“Liz Allan?” Mary Jane exclaimed.
Gwen gasped. “He likes Liz?”
“What… oh, no! Over there, isn't that Liz Allan?” She asked as she pointed towards the Dana Discovery Center.
Gwen looked across the grass and saw that it was indeed her friend. She grinned and called her name, waving at her. It seemed, however, that Liz could not hear her, or just wasn't acknowledging her. In fact, Gwen thought as she called out again, Liz's face had a rather odd look on it.
“I think she's waiting for her dad,” M.J. said as she pointed to Professor Allan, who they observed running towards his daughter.
“I feel sorry for them,” Gwen said. “With her mother dying last year, all they have left is each other. I know Mrs. Allan's death hit them both pretty hard. And after that Rhino guy tried to kidnap her father last night, I'm sure it has them both pretty shaken up.”
They watched as Professor Allan ran up to his daughter and gave her a hug, holding her tightly, and looking like he was in tears, Mary Jane noted.
Then, right before their eyes, they watched Liz pull out some kind of gun and fire point blank into her father. Gwen cried out in surprise and Mary Jane drew in a breath at the site, but before they could react, the scene became even more surreal as Liz's body began to shimmer and suddenly a police officer was standing in her place. He grabbed the body of Dr. Allan before it fell and began to carry him away.
“Oh my God!” Gwen exclaimed. “What just happened?!”
“I think Liz's dad has just been kidnapped.” M.J. whispered in shock.
Gwen was already grabbing her cell phone as she realized for the first time that the area they were in had very little foot traffic going through it. “I've got to call my Dad; he'll be able to help. Wait, where are you going?” She cried out as she watched her red haired friend take off.
“I'm going to follow them,” Mary Jane shouted back. “I'll keep in touch with my cell phone. Somebody is going to have to let the police know where they're going.”
“Mary Jane, don't,” Gwen cried out, but M.J. continued to disappear into the distance. The phone was suddenly answered on the other end.
“Captain Stacy here.”
“Dad, it's Gwen! Dad, something horrible has happened… we need your help!”
The two adversaries had reached the very top of the Empire State Building, both hanging off the spiral, their feet planted on two of many antenna's that were attached to the building.
Peter had to end this now, and fast. He didn't know what kind of poison he had been subjected to, or how much longer he had before his body was going to give out, but he had to know what was going on - why this was happening.
“No where else to go, pal. You want to tell me why we're up here? And if it's not too much trouble, who exactly are you and the Chameleon working for?”
“The fact that you have not succumbed to the poison yet, Spider-Man, is impressive, to say the least. It is a pity that I have to kill you. There is obviously more to you than meets the eye.”
“Yeah,” Peter said, “I'm a regular Transformer; now who hired you?”
“That, I am afraid, is privileged information. I will tell you why we are here, though.”
“Please do.” Spider-Man said.
Tarantula grinned. “Because I've always wanted to see what a spider would look like when it falls from one of the tallest building's in the world.” With that his leg shot out and his foot struck Spider-Man square in the chest.
It was the last straw, and Peter could hold on no longer as he was shoved away from the building and into the air. As he plummeted to the ground from over fourteen hundred feet in the air, his last thoughts were of his Aunt May and his Uncle Ben. He had let them down… again…
TO BE CONCLUDED
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