|With Great Power: Mitigating Circumstances
Author: Tork PM
After a tragic incident involving Spider-Man and the Molten Man, Tony Stark tries to keep Norman Osborn from acquiring the power to crush the Web-Slinger. Issue III of the With Great Power series.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 6,406 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 01-21-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4024671
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NOTE: De to technical difficulties, the author of issue 2, "Little Black Case" was unable to write it and post it in time. To keep the momentum going, we press ahead and hopefully the gap won't be too confusing for the readers. Thanks for your understanding and don't forget to read the prologue and the first issue to catch up. Now on with the show.
Previously on Spider-Man: With Great Power…
Faced with the choice to keep his aunt alive or continue his marriage to Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker was spurred by his dying aunt to move on let her pass to the next world. While Peter made the right choice, he didn't necessarily make the easy one as the demon Mephisto swore revenge against the hero for spurning his offer. Enlisting the Norse God Loki and fellow New Avenger Dr. Strange, both Peter and his beautiful wife are safe from direct attacks from the Dark Lord… for now…
However, the Prince of Lies isn't the Wall-Crawler's only problem at the moment. Longtime nemesis Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, has landed a rather powerful position as the Director of the Thunderbolts within the Fifty State Initiative and has even secured a seat with the Commission on Super-Human Activities, giving him a whole new platform which to make the Web-Slinger suffer. Suspecting the former murdering super-villain is still up to no good, Tony Stark has employed Spider-Man's ally, the Black Cat, and Misty Knight to keep tabs on Mr. Osborn.
Though Norman may not wait for Tony to decipher his plans before he sets them in motion…
2 hours ago…
The air felt sterilized and unnatural around Tony Stark as he made his way through the corridor into the deliberating room inside the Commission on Super-Human Activities. Gripping a cold and silver briefcase containing the red and gold alter-ego he had cultivated, Tony was donned in a dapper black and white business suit. His walk was the walk of a calm, confident Director of SHIELD except for the little fact he was currently neither calm nor confident. He felt like he was going to the Principal's office for putting worms in Little Suzie's hair or on trial for murder. He knew the next few hours would be tough. He was going to have to explain a very sticky situation with about half the facts he wanted to give the Commission and hope they didn't give a crazed madman all the power he needed to set the world on fire.
The door at the end of the hall opened to a darkened room and a table seated with various dark figures. The room was small and claustrophobic and lit only with a large light over the table and a few monitors. Almost immediately, the man locked eyes on a single man of red, wavy hair and sinister reputation.
"What is HE doing here?", snorted Tony.
The man smirked slightly. He was Norman Osborn, official Director of the Thunderbolts Project in Colorado and a highly influential figure within the Fifty-State Initiative. He was also the Green Goblin, an insane murderer and former legend within the New York Super-Villain underworld. Though his current status was more respectful on the surface and less appropriate for Halloween-styled spandex, he was just as much the sociopath and monster as he had been the day he flung an innocent college student named Gwen Stacy off of the Brooklyn Bridge. He delighted in Stark's antipathetic reaction to him.
The chairwoman of the Commission, Val Cooper, cleared her throat just loud enough for Stark to notice it wasn't for the sake of expelling phlegm from her vocal chords. "I invited him here; Mr. Director. He is here because he has valued first-hand experience with the subject at hand."
Tony shot back, "It is PRECISELY because of his "first-hand" experience that he shouldn't be in this meeting. You can't trust this maniac to give you any objective input here! Look at all the things this man has done, the pain and suffering he's inflicted! Norman Osborn is the very last man on this planet that I'd trust to be clear and fair on this."
Norman shifted in his chair, setting his elbows on the arm rests and putting his hands together in front of his face as if he was plotting Tony Stark's destruction right there. He responded with, "Oh, and we're to believe you have no leanings one way or other on this? This man used to be your protégée, yes? He served with him in the Avengers, right? Who's to say you aren't here to protect your little buddy, now?"
Before Tony could respond, the chairwoman slammed her palm on the cold metal table with a firm "Enough!" She continued with, "If you two want to get into a pissing match, that's fine, but while we're all on company time, I'd like to get this debriefing started so we can choose an appropriate course of action for this."
Both nodded in consent as Tony slid into the chair adjacent Ms. Cooper and began to give his report.
A day and 2 hours ago…
Peter Parker looked to one side of the crowded and smelly deli and to the other before walking across the checkered tile floor to the outside dining area to where his company was waiting patiently for his lunch.
"Thank you, my good man" Edwin Jarvis spoke with that delightfully British accent that amused Peter so much during his days in Stark Tower. "Though I must say, Peter," he continued, "we really need to work on your choice of public attire."
Peter looked down at his chest and, with arms situated in a V-shaped manner, asked the old butler, "What? What's wrong with it?" Peter was adorned in a black "FDNY" ball cap, black sunglasses, a blue and gray hooded sweatshirt, and blue jeans that were perhaps and size too big.
Jarvis gave a wry smirk, responding with, "Well, if your plan was too let everybody within visual range of you to think, 'Well, that chap clearly doesn't want people to notice him', then you're doing a bang-up job, my friend."
Peter cocked his eyebrow just slightly. "Hey, I spend half my life in red and blue long johns and beat on guys in rhino costumes and green onesies. Subtlety just isn't my forte."
Sitting down to enjoy his dry salami and cheddar on white, Peter then dropped the mood of light-heartedness by asking, "So, what exactly did that case Felicia and Misty bring to Tony have in it?"
Jarvis, swallowing down his turkey on rye with a sip of his iced tea, told his companion, "Well, there're a lot of things he found that we can't determine the nature of or what it means. However, he did see the schematics of a prototypical nanite, similar to the ones used on the Thunderbolts."
"Prototype? What do you mean prototype?", Peter responded with a mouth half full of lettuce and condiments.
Jarvis continued, "These specs seem to indicate, according to Mr. Stark, that these nanobots do more than simply shut down the nervous system. They can theoretically send command signals to the brain, effectively giving whoever is in control of the nanites access to the bearer's motor functions."
Peter almost choked on a mound of salami at the thought of it. With that kind of technology, Osborn could effectively had entire throngs of people victim to his very whim. Finishing his bite, Peter asked his friend one last question: "What does Tony think Norman is planning?"
Jarvis gave a light shrug. "He doesn't seem to know, though I would sincerely doubt that man has anything good planned with such a horrid little device. It would be best if you were to keep an eye for anything. I'd bet my finest piece of china that Mr. Osborn isn't done with his little vendetta against you…"
1 hour and 45 minutes ago…
"So, Mr. Director," Ms. Cooper inquired, "you know that Peter Parker was having lunch with a friend at this deli yet you couldn't get there in time to apprehend him, you can't tell me who was there with him, and you can't tell me where they went afterwards."
Tony simply responded by saying, "Madame Chairwoman, by the time we could confirm it was Peter Parker, he had already left and satellite images couldn't pick up where he had gone. This isn't 24, ma'am. I can't just point a satellite at Manhattan and magically filter out a million people and pinpoint a single man in the busiest piece of land in the country. We were lucky just to find this in the logs"
An unconvinced Val Cooper dropped the subject but added, "Do you have ANY information on what took place here?"
Tony did. "It appears this man that Parker talked with was informing him of some extralegal stratagem within the US government, perhaps some sort of terrorist strike. We're unsure of the details but we have reason to believe that it might have had something to do with the assault on the van yesterday."
Val leaned back in her chair. "Well, Mr. Stark, that is a very serious proclamation. Just how solid is this?"
Tony could only respond with a "We're looking into it, Madame Chairwoman…"
A day, 1 hour, and 45 minutes ago…
Metal knees scraped against metal floor as prisoner Mark Raxton, aka the Molten Man said kneeled on the floor with adamantium straps and locks wrapped around him and similar cage enclosing him like a captured game animal. He felt the jumps and shakes of every crack and every bump in the road. He was in a armored van, ready to be taken to the Raft for assault against Ebenezer Laughton, the Scarecrow. A wave of sadness and misery fell over Raxton like a dark cloud. It wasn't the jail sentence that struck his alloy heart. It was the look of his step-sister at the trial, the mask of disappointment and sorrow on her face was enough to destroy him. He had failed her. He had let her down once again, the latest in a long line of hurts and pains that he had inflicted upon the poor woman.
Raxton's mourning, however, was not shared by the four guards surrounding his cage, guns aimed, fixated upon the golden man in the center of the van. The armored guards were all business, oblivious to any distress demonstrated by the metallic charge.
Mark felt the van slow to a stop at an intersection. His lowered face almost missed the gun to his right rising above him in the corner of his eye.
'Hey, new guy," the adjacent guard said, "what do you think you're doing there? Eyes downward, man. Never point that thing anywhere you don't plant to shoot."
The guard only responded with a cold "I know" before squeezing the trigger and spraying the van in wads of hot lead. The blood and bone splattered from the falling guards to the cage and on Mark's face. He could hear a muffled "What's going back there?" from the driver before the assailant fired two more shots into the front of the van, shattering the Plexiglas window and ensuring the van wouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon.
Raxton looked up to see the guard grab the key from the bleeding bag of meat and shattered bone next to him and unlocking the door. Raxton's muscles tensed and shifted as they vainly attempted to shake loose the restraints. The guard then unzipped his flak jacket to reveal a hypodermic needle, adamntium tipped and filled with a murky grey liquid.
"What are you doing?" Raxton asked. The tinted visor of the guard's helmet gave no indication of his intentions, though a smart man like Mark would know that the needle wasn't for insulin. Mark unsuccessfully tried to convince his captor to give information with a much more frantic, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" The fearful anticipation ran through Raxton's body as the guard disappear from view, walking behind Mark's field of vision as he tried to move his fixed head to see what was happening behind him.
Mark could only twitch and shake as violently as he could as the cold sharp prick into the back of his neck. Cold nothing crept in as a flood of black entering into the Molten Man's brain.
1 hour and 25 minutes ago…
"And you believe this assault on the van was from somebody on the inside?"
Tony answered the chairwoman with a simple nod. He added, "We've analyzed the van and we can see no signs of forced entry into the van. No indication that the van was ambushed or even attacked by outside forces was found. More to the point, all the bullet holes found were done on the inside and none of the guns we found on the dead guards were fired in the attack. This would seem to suggest that the victims weren't expected to be killed by who killed them."
Defense Secretary Jack Kooning interjected, "Well, Mr. Stark, has it occurred that maybe somebody phased into the van unnoticed and fired these rounds. If I'm not mistaken, your old friend, the Ghost, is more than capable of something like this."
Tony wasn't smiling at Kooning's comments. He never liked the guy. The Secretary always seemed to have something against the playboy inventor. Tony returned the man's acidic reply in kind, "Yes, Mr. Secretary, I did think about this. However, I think my point can be clinched by simple arithmetic, sir. There were four guards in that van, excluding the driver. We found three. I may be mistaken, but my brain tells me that's one guard too little. And my concept of logic seems to think this missing guy might be our perp."
Not amused, Val Cooper asked Tony, "Well, who is guard number four?"
"A Gabriel Montez," Tony replied, "he was a recent addition to the New York staff, having just come from Colorado and was very eager to be working in New York. I guess we now know why. We've yet to find the guy. He's still MIA since yesterday's attack."
Norman Osborn then stood and with a finger pointed at the Director demanded, "Colorado? What's THAT have anything to do with anything? Are you trying to imply something here, tin man?"
"Oh, no" Tony replied, "nothing at all, sir."
A day, 1 hour, and 25 minutes ago…
The echo of the Molten Man's screams reverberated through the streets of downtown Manhattan.
People were fleeing en masse from the golden monster as cars and debris flew in every direction. The crowd was frantic and terrified.
The police stood there, helpless against Mark Raxton's fury. Minutes ago, an officer had rammed his squad car into the rampaging ogre. Fiberglas and metal merely buckled and folded upon the impact. Raxton merely turned around and flipped the downed car like a flapjack.
The radio was deafening in cries for help from SHIELD and the Initiative. With the initial unit downed by the treacherous Montez, Cape-Killers would still be minutes away. With police and civilians scattered along the ground amid the wreckage, the Molten Man stomped on, grabbing a motorcycle, he eyed a small group of civilians coming out of a nearby building. He flung the motorcycle at the poor crowd. Fully expecting to die, the entire entourage was surprised to see the motorcycle was fixed upon a myriad of silk stronger than steel.
The Molten Man's quarry had arrived.
1 hour ago…
The look on Val Cooper's face was clear in its display of confusion. 'Excuse me, Mr. Director, but this man escapes from custody, has just fled from a lengthy sentence in the Raft and the first time he does is brisk downtown and demand to face off against a man our sources tells us he considers a friend?"
"That is correct, ma'am." Tony answered.
"Mr. Stark," fellow Commission member Raymond Sikorsky said, "that makes absolutely no sense."
"I'm aware of that, sir," Tony answered "but I believe Mr. Raxton was not operating of his own free will. This is absolutely contradictory to everything I've ever know of the Molten Man. I believe this man was doing this through the machinations of another. I think he was forced into this."
A familiar, deviating voice broke through. "This is asinine." Norman Osborn said. "I can't believe we're sitting here wondering why an insane criminal would out doing things insane criminals do. He was out of his lid, end of story."
Tony Stark gritted his teeth at the astounding hypocrisy. Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, the king of the same criminals was calling Mark Raxton a sociopath. He was tired of Norman getting on his case every step of the way. He had the perfect response for him but was wondering if this was the appropriate time. It certainly wouldn't be professional.
"Screw it." He finally thought. "This'll shut him up."
"Actually," Tony began to say, "this wouldn't be the first time Raxton was causing havoc against his will. A few years back, the man was brainwashed into killing Alison Mongrain. You know about that, don't you, Norman? After all, YOU'RE the one that sent him to kill her."
The tiny briefing room exploded with rage and anger. Peter Gyrich and Jack Kooning among several guards were forced to restrain the super strong Osborn as well as they could. "YOU SON OF A…!", Osborn shouted through the room, "I SHOULD WIPE THAT SMIRK RIGHT OFF YOUR FACE!!!!!"
"Gentlemen! Gentlemen!" the chairwoman screamed. "If you can't act like you're any older than twelve, I'll have you thrown out of this compound!"
Norman Osborn regained his composure and sat back down. An exasperated Val could only say, "Listen… let's just take a 15 minutes recess here. Everybody rest for a little, gain their sense back and we can return where if Mr. Stark can keep the accusations down to a minimum, we can finish this report and decide a course of appropriate action."
A day and an hour ago…
Peter Parker felt the burning, hard cheek of Mark Raxton strike against his foot as his toes popped and cracked under the pressure. The kick was no good.
"Mark," Spider-Man pleaded, "what are you doing here? This isn't you, man!"
The cries felt on deaf ears as mark's arm swung up and came down in an almost automated fashion upon Spider-Man's leg and lifting him into the air before flinging his opponent into a nearby semi.
Hitting the metal side of the truck on all fours, Spider-Man squatted along the truck wall, somewhat in pain.
"Think of Liz, Mark! Think of Normie!" Do you REALLY think this won't break their hearts?"
The Molten Man barely hesitated before digging his hands into the asphalt of the street below and pulling up chunks of road. In the same mechanized manner as before, Raxton shifted his torso and elbow and flung the bits of street at his enemy like a GI Joe toy might with a little plastic grenade.
The robotic motions did not go unnoticed by the web-slinger, who thought, "He really isn't moving like anything I've seen like before with him. Nor is this ever like anything he's ever acted like either. Of course that isn't to say the man isn't—"
The thought was stopped short by the hail of asphalt coming towards the wall-crawler. The rocks and chunks pinged against the superhero like bullets, causing him to lose balance and hit the street below, merely punctuating the end of his train of thought.
50 minutes ago…
Tony Stark splashed some water on his face in the restroom of the building. He wasn't exactly thrilled about having to go back in there in another five minutes and deal with Norman Osborn's drivel. What he'd realize soon was Norman wasn't going to wait another five minutes.
"Where in Hell do you come off, Stark, waltzing in this compound and pissing on my doorstep?" the red-haired psychopath yelled as he swung open the restroom door."
Tony just stood there before commenting, "I don't know, Mr. Osborn. Where do YOU come off illegally developing mind-controlling nanites?"
The words came off as a shock to Osborn. "Black Cat… Knight? That was YOU?"
Tony stood his ground, "I know that you're up to no good, Osborn. The PR guys might have wanted the American people to think I supported your ascension to leader of the Thunderbolts, but know this: I know you're planning some kind of terrorist attack with these nanites and I won't rest until you're left exposed and behind bars."
Norman threw a light smirk. "But that's it, isn't it? You can't prove anything without exposing your little operation to spy on me, right? That's a tad illegal, isn't it, Mr. Director? I don't think the UN Security Council would much appreciate the head of their little watchdog keeping illegal tabs on American officials. And even then you have virtually nothing that links to everything.'
Norman's statement was met with silence. He responded with a hearty laugh and a playful slap upon Tony's cheek. "Ah, have fun chasing your tail, kid. It's a great joy to see the great Tony Stark chasing wild geese and making a bloody fool of himself."
Walking out the restroom, Norman added, "Oh, and next you see Peter Parker… tell him said "Hi."
A day and 50 minutes ago…
The hot, searing hands of the Molten Man clasped Spider-Man's neck as the air started to escape from the web-slinger's lungs. Desperate for oxygen, Spider-Man unleashed his left stinger on the chest of his opponent, which only scraped and sparked against the Molten Man's metallic hide.
Just then, an explosive round hit Raxton in the face. Released from the iron grip, Spider-Man flipped back to gain some ground between them. His Spider-Sense, however, started to go into over-kill as a Cape Killer stood behind him.
Rifle raised, the agent screamed, "GET DOWN!"
"Are you freaking kidding me, kid?" Spider-Man responded, "I appreciate the help, but you DON'T know what you're dealing with here!"
The Cape-Killer's comrades begged to differ. Enclosing Raxton in a half-circle, the squadron unloaded round after round into their target, only proceeding to drive the man madder. Swinging his fist into the nearest pole, the large metal cylinder became a bat for the Molten Man to swing around. Windows shattered. Concrete buildings chipped and were marked. The pole came swinging towards the formation, knocking all but the Cape-Killer behind the red and blue hero.
Diving behind an overturned car, the agent screwed a rocket to the extension on the gun. Jumping to his feet, he launched the rocket at his prey, hoping it would end the madness of the day.
Swinging the pole one last time, Raxton connected with the rocket perfectly, sending the exploding missle right back to the Cape-Killer.
The young man could see his death spiraling towards him. Life flashed before the kid's eyes as a flurry of red and blue dived in front of him. Taking the brunt of the hit, Spider-Man rolled in mid-air onto the agent and slammed into the ground. With blood in his mouth and bells ringing in his ears, he checked the Cape-Killer's pulse. Confirmed the man was still alive, he grabbed the kid's rifle and ran back into the fray.
45 minutes ago…
Tony Stark once again opened the door into the darkened room to see everyone was already in attendance. He could see the glaring eyes of a grinning Norman Osborn off to his left. He chose to ignore it this time.
"Right…" Val stated, "if we're all ready to move forward in this little debriefing, Tony, you may finish this report."
"Well, let me just say this before I get into the brass tacks of things: despite what happened yesterday, Peter Parker saved lives. When Mark Raxton was viciously assaulting the people of New York, he leapt into action, no concern for his own well-being. He helped stem the loss of life that day. When our agents were sorely outgunned, it was Spider-Man that held off the assailant. He took blow after blow after horrendous blow and he still kept fighting. He even took a rocket in the chest. Our boy would be a stain on the ground if not for Spider-Man."
"Is there… a point to this tangent, Mr. Stark?" Val Cooper coldly responded.
Tony looked at in the eye and replied, "Spider-Man is a hero. Whatever our feelings about the legality of his presence or the nature of his training or anything else, he's a hero. He's a hero and I think we should take that in consideration in regards of yesterday."
"That may be," Val responded, "but he's a criminal and the law is the law. He's a criminal that may be responsible for a lot of deaths.
"Now, please, Mr. Stark… continue with the report…"
A day and 45 minutes ago…
Peter ran along the side of the building walls downtown, taking aim at the Molten Man with the Cape Killer rifles. He had managed to grab them all, webbing them at various high points in the area. Unloading the clip, he then dropped it and swung to the next gun twenty feet away, stuck on a brick wall. However, before he could take aim again, he saw an incoming flaming mailbox courtesy of the Molten Man.
The heavy object struck Spider-Man like a bag of hammers. The cobwebs in his head seemed to grow more and more and he slammed into the concrete below.
He didn't have the time to gaze at the stars before his Spider-Sense told him to duck the oncoming flaming gold axe handle that was swiftly descending upon him. Rolling away, Peter leaped to his feet just in time to feel the burning hot metal fingers of the Molten Man around his neck.
Peter could feel the air whoosh past as Raxton tucked his elbow and quickly straightened it again, slamming Spider-Man into the office building window ahead of them.
Peter skidded across the floor hard and looked up only in time to see his gold-skinned adversary charging towards him like a mad bull…
30 minutes ago…
Silence ran throughout the room as Tony Stark finished his report. He had already told the Commission the finale of the fight, its aftermath, everything. Moments passed away like leaves in the wind as everyone in attendance sat in silence, absorbing the impact of what happened.
Finally, the air of quiet was shattered by the madam chairwoman.
"So, what exactly do you have planned to do about Spider-Man, Mr. Director?"
Tony responded quickly and without pretense. "What do I plan to do about Spider-Man?"Tony queried slightly, adjusting his tie. "Frankly, I don't know. Was this tragic? Yes, it was. Did innocents die needlessly? Yes, they unfortunately did. However, this wasn't Spider-Man's fault. I know Spider-Man better than most in here and I'll tell you that neither did he intentionally do this or could have in conceivable way stopped it. Frankly, we have bigger problems. We have Skrulls invading every facet of the planet. We have Latveria launching a very public attack on American soil. We have a veritable war over the first mutant baby born since the Decimation. We have Red Skull looking to eviscerate America. We have this new "Hood" guy looking to make a new Masters of Evil or whatever they're doing. I have a million different crises going on at once and, honestly, capturing Spider-Man is very, VERY low on my priority list. Yes, he's currently allied with unregistered metahumans, but the SRA was designed to keep competent heroes on the streets. Regardless of anything else, Peter Parker IS a competent hero; one of the best I've known. To spend needless resources on a wild goose chase to bring him in would be a serious, serious mistake on our parts…"
Val Cooper let a few moments in before letting Stark know how she felt on the subject: "Well… Mr. Director, that's all well and good, but the law is the law and if we expect the American people to have any hope in us, we have to uphold that law, and given the nature of what happened in New York yesterday, Peter Parker has to answer for a lot."
A day and 30 minutes ago…
The smell of drywall dust and splintered wood filled Spider-Man's nose as he slammed through the wall. He could hear the rush of hot air and fans moving as he slammed his head on the concrete floor of the boiler room.
Raxton gave a charge again, running at full force. Thinking quick, Peter hit a web line to the ceiling and retracted, sling-shooting to the wall. He'd been battling the Molten Man for nearly an hour now and he was tired and in a tattered uniform. He was ready to end this. He didn't want to hurt Mark, but somebody was going to end up getting killed if this went on. The web-slinger had to finish this.
Eyeing a lead pipe lining the ceiling, he made a backhand spring and connected to the ceiling next to the pipe and ripped from the building, steam shooting everywhere. With a fine blanket of white fog encircling the small, damp room, Mark Raxton was running blind, swinging at anything that looked remotely like Spider-Man.
Brandishing the pipe in two pieces, Spider-Man dropped behind the golden behemoth and hit Rxton in both shoulders. Slumping to the ground, Raxton screamed in pain.
"I'm sorry." Spider-Man let out before unleashing a flurry of hits with the two pipe pieces. Metal and sparks flew everywhere as the pipes splintered off the alloy that was the Molten Man's skin. Blow after blow descended upon the wall-crawler's foe. Soon, however, a rumbling emulated from the man before something akin to a bear growl reverberated through the room.
Spider-Man barely had time to register it on his Spider-Sense before Raxton gave him a swinging back hand that sent him flying into the wall. Shaking the stars from his brow, Parker could see emerging from the steam a Molten Man with feet charging once again and fist arched back. Spider-Man dove to the right, just missing the criminal's hammering fist which left a gaping hole in the wall, large enough to forklift the Blob in.
Swinging his head to lock eyes with his prey, Mark Raxton was foaming at the mouth. He shifted his feet to meet his opponent. Suddenly, however, Mark stopped, an pained and anguished look on his face. He dropped to his knees and grabbed his sides, squealing in pain.
Peter's Spider Sense was going into overdrive. Running to his old friend, Spider-Man could see a black mist following behind Mark's eyes.
"G-g-go…" Mark weakly said, a remnant of the old Mark Raxton before all the insanity of the day began.
"Mark, let me help you. What's happening here?" Spider-Man was adamant on trying to save his former ally.
Grabbing Spider-Man by the collar, Mark pulled Peter close, made another pained "GO!" before flinging Spider-Man out of the gaping hole he had made just prior to the outside.
Grabbing his footing, Peter Parker turned just in time to see the bright flash and sonic boom…
10 minutes ago…
After hearing all of the delegates' opinions on the subject at hand, it was now Norman Osborn's turn to speak his mind. The man stood, adjusted himself, and began to speak.
"Ladies and gentlemen, what we have to do here is clear. 12 people are dead. Another 3 are wounded. Somebody has to answer to this horrible, horrible crisis and that person is Peter Parker. Either, this explosion was intentional or a part of the vigilante's incompetence, most likely hitting a gas main and was too busy beating on his man to care. Either way, this was a case of two unregistered post-humans brawling in the street and innocents dying because of it. This is EXACTLY why the SRA was made. How are we to have the public trust if we allow menaces like these running around blowing up buildings? Something has to be done here."
"Well. Mr. Osborn…", Val Cooper, "…what do you propose we do?"
Norman gave a look like the cat that ate the canary. He had been waiting for his moment all day. Really, he'd been waiting 12 years for this. He had everything he needed to hunt down his famous nemesis like a dog and in the name of national security, no less. Life was good.
"Well, since the Avengers aren't up to task…"
A day and 10 minutes ago…
Iron Man could see the carnage for miles away. The black smoke and red fire filled the sky. He touched down and examined the area with thermal scanners, desperate to find survivors. A faint sign here, a small one there. There were those alive, barely… and strangely rising all to the top of the wreckage. Soon, a glob of debris shot out as Spider-Man, ragged and bloodied, rose holding those that survived the initial explosion.
"Peter! What happened here?" Iron Man demand of the weary superhero, "Where is the Molten Man?"
Peter barely had time to catch his breath. "He… he's gone. He blew up. He was the explosion. Something happened and he… he detonated."
Looking around, Iron Man could hear all the emergency channels. The crisis teams were all coming fast and they wouldn't take too kind to the web-slinger standing in the middle of this disaster.
"Peter, you need to go. The authorities are barreling down here. Just get out here and I'll call you with whatever I get on this. Now, just get out of here."
Peter slung a web to the nearest building. Just before he kicked off, he turned to Tony and said, "Find out what happened. Do it for Mark. Do it for me… because this was no accident. This was a trap… and I'd bet bottom dollar that SOB Norman Osborn and his little nanites were behind this…"
"Me too…" Tony responded, "…me too…"
Storming out of the meeting, Tony quickly initiated his Extremis powers to call a certain payphone in Queens, New York.
"Hey, Tony," said a bruised and battered Peter Parker, "so, were we right?"
"We were right," answered Tony "Norman was behind everything. The breakout, the rampage, the explosion… everything; he's behind it all. He's looking to stir up stuff against you. He's lobbying to set up a task force under his reign to build you in, dead or alive. Oh, and he says 'hi.'"
"Ah, yes! I mean, or course, right?" Peter sardonically stated, "I mean, despite the fact that I have an utter crap whirlwind of a live right now, well that's just too good right now. We just have to kick it up a notch to super duper epic crap vortex of the Power Cosmic!"
Rubbing the sides of his nose in an irritated manner, Peter asked his former boss, "Well, at least tell me we can stop him."
A small sigh came out as Tony explained the predicament. "The problem is, Peter, I got nothing to nail him conclusively and what I do have will land me in prison for illegally shadowing the man. I'll gladly go to prison for the rest of my life if it means we can lock away Osborn, too, but frankly, until we can get some solid evidence that he's breaking the law, he's untouchable. Trust me, Pete… things are about to get very ugly."
"Yeah…" Peter shot back, "…story of my life."
24 hours ago…
On the outskirts of the New York city limits, a black Ford Lincoln raced through the street. A man, Gabriel Montez, pulled out a cell phone from his recently acquired pants and pressed the series of buttons that would direct him to the office of his superior.
"Montez?" the man asked "Are you there?"
"Yes, Mr. Osborn." Montez responded. "The plan went off without a hitch. I led the Molten Man to a office building and pulled the trigger. Parker's got the blame. All the justification you'll ever need for hunting him down is all yours, sir."
Holding a small silver cylinder with a flat red button, Norman responded with "Excellent. Say, Gabriel, are you still driving the car I gave you?"
Norman didn't even give Montez a chance to explain beyond a "yes" before pushing the button. Waiting a few seconds to hear the loud confirmation of the bomb's success followed by a long dial tone, Norman sat in his office and smiled quietly. Phase One had begun.
Next Issue: Spider-Man teams up the new Captain America to take on a Red Skull/Lukin employed Chameleon as Peter tries to figure out what this new Sentinel of Liberty knows about his parents. Stay tuned for February 4th as Spider-Man: With Great Power continues!