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Entwined Destines – Episode Twelve Curse of the Cat Part Two: Punishment Thwarted
Stacy Residence in Queens, night
"You have a nice home, Gwen," Felicia said admiring Gwen's childhood home. Like Peter and Gwen, Felicia had unmasked upon entering the house.
"Thanks, I guess," Gwen said. Gwen still had a hard time believing her friend Felicia was the criminal Black Cat. Although she knew it was irrational Gwen felt betrayed by Felicia's unwitting pursuit or her fiancee.
"I'm thirsty. I think I'll grab a soda. Do either of you want anything?" Peter asked.
"I could use a diet cola," Gwen said in truth she wanted something stronger much stronger.
"That sounds great bring me one to handsome," Felicia said with a wink which caused Peter to blush and Gwen to glare at her. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding." Felicia laughed neither of her companions, however, shared in her mirth.
"I'll be right back," Peter said as he quickly exited the living room.
"No more hitting on my fiancee, especially not when I'm standing right next to you, got it," Gwen said the moment they were alone.
"Jeez Gwen, I said it was a joke lighten up will you," Felicia said.
Gwen ignored Felicia's denial. "If you keep disrespecting my relationship with Peter we can't be friends anymore, Felicia," Gwen said admittedly.
"This really bothers, huh?" Felicia her previously jovial expression suddenly became a serious one. Gwen only nodded not trusting herself to remain civil. "I'm sorry. I won't go after Peter again."
"Apology accepted, as long as you keep your word," Gwen said.
"He rejected me already you heard him yourself. I don't like being humiliated so he's off my radar." Felicia said frankly. "He really loves you and I can tell you love him. I wish someone loved like you guys love each other."
"Dressing up like a superpowered stripper won't help you find love maybe get laid but not find love. My advice, try a more modest outfit." Gwen snarked.
"Meow Gwenie, and here I thought I'm the catty one. I see the little spider has claws of her own." Felicia said with a giggle.
"Dam right, and don't you forget it kitty cat," Gwen said she then added. "Why are you doing this, Felicia?" she gestured at Felicia's Black Cat getup.
"I enjoy stealing things, shiny baubles and all that," Felicia said.
"But you're rich," Gwen said in disbelief.
"What can I say. The thrill is exhilarating." Felicia said with a faraway dreamy look in her eyes.
"Unbelievable," Gwen said shaking her head. "Why did you attack Oscorp HQ?"
"I didn't 'attack' Oscorp I robbed the place." Felicia corrected.
"People died," Gwen said. "People don't die in a robbery."
"Sometimes they do," Felicia said noticing Gwen's expression of disapproval Felicia amended her statement. "I didn't mean for anything to die or to get hurt. What happened was an accident. I'm not a monster."
"A good friend of mine was crippled in your attack," Gwen said.
"Harry Osborn the fiancee of our mutual friend Mary Jane, I know," Felicia said her eyes downcast. "I'm sorry but what happened wasn't my fault. I had no idea a chain reaction would occur if I pulled that thing free."
"Why, just tell me why?" Gwen said.
"Kingpin made me steal the prototype exosuite," Felicia said following a prolonged pause.
"And I'm back," Peter said. "Here you go." He passed each lady her diet cola.
"How did Kingpin make you attack Oscorp?" Gwen said opening her drink.
"I burglarized Oscorp for him burglarized. Will you stop saying I 'attacked' the place, please." Felicia snapped.
"Why?" Gwen repeated her question.
"He wanted to eliminate you guys and he was blackmailing me so I had to go along," Felicia said. "Way to be a jerk, Gwen." Felicia huffed folding her arms over her chest.
"Kingpin is involved in this?" Peter said having come in midway through the conversation he was deeply confused as to what exactly they were talking about.
"Kingpin hates you two. He wants you out of the way along with Daredevil. The three of you are disrupting his criminal operations and he's bleeding cash. He told me he'd do anything to get rid of you guys." Felicia answered matter-of-factly.
"Nice to know we fans." Peter joked.
"We need to talk, Peter," Gwen said not laughing.
"This sounds personal maybe I should I leave?" Felicia asked.
"You can't keep treating me like I'm made of glass, I'm not," Gwen said pretending Felicia was not present.
"I don't treat you like your made of glass," Peter said.
"Bullshit," Gwen said. "You keep things from me because you think I'm to fragile to handle the truth."
"Gwen you almost died. Green Goblin almost killed you not that long ago," Peter said.
"You lied to me about making out with Black Cat again and with Ghost Spider earlier," Gwen said.
"Wait, but you're Ghost Spider," Felicia said pointing at Gwen.
"This is ridiculous!" Peter said angrily.
"No more lies for my own good, Peter. If you hadn't lied to me about who Green Goblin was and that you are Spider-Man I would have been on guard while in Europe. It might not have done any good but I would have at least had a fighting chance." Gwen said.
"I just wanted to protect you," Peter said.
"I know," Gwen said her expression softened. "From this moment forward we'll protect each other. You're not alone anymore. We can shoulder the burden together. And we should really tell your Aunt May and my dad the truth so they're prepared if someone like Green Goblin goes after either of them."
"I don't know if that's a good idea," Peter said.
"Trust me, it is," Gwen said.
"I'm scared, Gwen," Peter said a moment later his voice low.
"I'm scared too, but we need to do this," Gwen said. Their eyes locked at that moment Peter knew Gwen was right, it was time they came clean.
"My secret identity isn't included in your family confessions, okay. My mother would have a stroke if she knew the truth." Felicia said.
Whatever you want, Felicia. Your secrets are yours, not ours." Gwen said.
"Hit the deck!" Peter shouted.
Peter and Gwen fell to the floor their warning senses were going wild. Gwen pulled Felicia down with her. Bullets whizzed around them penetrating windows and walls alike. After the barrage ceased a voice was heard over a megaphone.
"This is the Punisher speaking! Black Cat I know you're in there! I observed you entering this resident seven minutes ago! If you're still alive come out! If you surrender yourself quietly I'll take no further action! If you fail to emerge in two minutes I'll fill the dwelling with poisonous gas!"
"Great, nutjob is back," Peter said.
"Doesn't he realize this is a heavily built-up residential area? Loads of innocent people could have been hurt or killed by his little stunt just now." Gwen growled.
"He only wants me. If I give up he'll go away." Felicia said.
"No way," Peter said.
"Peter's right we're not handing you or anyone else over to that psychopath." Gwen agreed.
"What are we going to do then?" Felicia asked. "You heard him. He'll gas us if I don't surrender in less than two minutes."
Outside, two minutes later
"I'm here, don't shoot anymore or use gas!" Black Cat said coming out of the front door of the house with her arms raised high above her head. A crowd of neighbors many in their night clothes had gathered to watch the spectacle unfold.
"Get down on the ground and clasp your hands behind your head, now!" Punisher ordered.
"Okay, chill," Black Cat said dropping to the ground. Punisher kept his AR-15 trained on Black Cat as he patted her body down with his free hand. Black Cat felt the barrel of the AR-15 at the base of her skull. "Hey, what are doing!? I've surrendered!" Black Cat yelled.
"You're to great a flight risk. I can't have you escape from me again. My client will have to be satisfied with your carcass. I'm terminating with extreme prejudice, Black Cat." Punisher said his finger began to pull the trigger when a strand of webbing grabbed the gun pulling it free of his grasp. A stray bullet flew off at an odd angle thankfully it did not hit anyone. The crowd gasped in a mixture of shock and horror. "What the hell!?" Punisher exclaimed spinning around only to have his hands cocooned in webbing and his feet roped up by yet another strand of webbing which tripped him.
Black Cat was on her feet in a flash. She repeatedly kicked Punish in his chest and stomach. With some difficulty Ghost Spider, who had tripped Punished while Spider-Man disarmed him, restrained Black Cat.
"It's over." Ghost Spider said her hands around Black Cat's waist, "calm down."
"What do you mean calm down!? That son of a bitch just tried to kill me!" Black Cay raged as she struggled mightily to break free of Ghost Spider.
"You can't do this! I'm one of the good guys! I'm a hero!" Punisher ranted while Spider-Man threw away his various weapons and wrapped him up tightly in webbing.
"Trust me when I say you're no hero pal," Spider-Man said.
"Black Cat is a legitimate target! She's killed!" Punisher contended.
"Why you," Black Cat said doubling he efforts to break free.
"Who appointed you her or anyone else's judge, jury and executioner?" Ghost Spider said.
"You have no right to decide who lives and who dies," Spider-Man said backing up his partner.
"I have every right! If not for me the streets would be more dangerous than they already are! You two, your friends and the police simply feed the revolving door prisoners! I offer a real solution!" Punisher said.
"Count yourself lucky we don't share your twisted view of morality," Spider-Man said. With a well-placed squirt of webbing over Punisher's mouth, he ended the heated debate while sirens approached.
"Are you good?" Ghost Spider asked Black Cat who had finally stopped struggling.
"Yeah, I'm good." Black Cat said. The second Ghost Spider released her, however, she delivered a final sharp kick to Punisher's ribs. "There, I'm done." she smiled. "I better book before the girls & boys in blue arrive, bye."
"We still need to talk about how you got your powers," Spider-Man said.
"Super Soldier Formula." Black Cat replied instantly.
"Wait, the same stuff that made Steve Rogers into Captain America?" Ghost Spider asked in bewilderment.
"More or less," Black Cat said over her shoulder before she departed leaving our duo with far more questions than answers.
"Be warned you two are on my list of targets. Next time I see either of you I won't hold back." Punisher said when the police took him away in handcuffs while the second group of officers roped off his van with police tape.
"Neither will we." Ghost Spider said.
"Catch you later, Frank. Say in ten to fifteen years with good behavior." Spider-Man said.
"Congratulations on another job well down." Captain George Stacy said putting one hand on Spider-Man's shoulder the other on Ghost Spider's shoulder. "And you protected my home and family yet again, even if my kids are out somewhere having fun."
"Thanks, sir," Spider-Man said.
"We do try our best, sir," Ghost Spider said.
"Um sir, could we talk with you in private when you get a minute? There is something important we need to tell you" Spider-Man said.
"Of course," Captain Stacy said. "Go inside and head upstairs to the master bedroom I'll be along shortly."
Inside, ten minutes later
Spider-Man and Ghost Spider waited nervously for Captain Stacy to arrive when he did Ghost Spider tried to speak her mind but he interrupted her. "I know what you are going to say, Gwen." He said. Ghost Spider and Spider-Man both froze in place. They were dumbfounded. "Yes, I know. I've known Peter was Spider-Man since right before he saved me from Doctor Octopus. I never said anything because I felt it wasn't my place."
"You aren't mad at me, are you daddy?" Gwen said taking off her mask while Peter did the same. She suddenly sounded like a little girl with her hand caught in the cookie jar.
"I'm not mad, Gwenie. Quite the opposite in fact. I'm proud of you, both of you." Captain Stacy said embracing his daughter. He reached out with his left hand and clasped the hand of his future son-in-law. "You look after her you hear. Keep her safe."
"We'll look after each other, I swear," Peter said.
"Get out of your costumes kids this place will be crawling with crime scene investigators soon." Captain Stacy said breaking the embrace with his daughter. "Oh, and Gwenie remember your sling even though I see your arm has fully healed we need to keep up appearances."
"Sure thing, daddy," Gwen said with a smile her eyes moist from emotion. "I love you, daddy."
"I love you too, Gwenie." Captain Stacy said with a warm smile.
As he watched the heartwarming scene Peter only hoped his revelation to Aunt May would go half as well. Then there was Kingpin who needed to be dealt with and his "uncle" Doctor Octopus who he still did not completely trust. Oh, and they needed to find out the whole truth about Black Cat aka Felicia Hardy. Lives of superheroes were nothing if not hectic and nerve-wracking he could not forget nerve-wracking always nerve-wracking.
The Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York the next day, afternoon
Dr. Miles Warren surveyed his hidden underground laboratory built with money he had basically stolen from Donald Menken of Oscorp. Everything was proceeding at pace. By spring his clones should be ready including his own modified clone with spider powers. He would have to find a way to transfer his consciousness into the shell before then which would be a challenge luckily his new business partner should help there, assuming the man was being truthful about his scientific prowess.
"Impressive for a penny ante operator such as yourself I must say." The tall figure said stepping out of the shadows. His voice was rich and cultured with the barest hint of a British accent.
The man was clad a tight-fitting black leather bodysuit complete with a segmented attached cape. His skin was chalk white, his pupiless eyes red and his short hair jet black. He grinned showing rows of sharp white teeth. A red diamond shape dominated his forehead.
"Spare me your demeaning commentary, Sinister," Warren said.
"Very well," Mr. Sinister said.
"Did you bring the promised genetic samples?" Warren asked.
"I did indeed." Mr. Sinister said producing a tray of crowded vials from within the confines of his expansive cape. "Genetic material from every major metahuman and mutant currently active in the 'superhero' game, as promised."
"Plus the consciousness transfer technology?" Warren eagerly inquired.
"Now, now, all in good time." Mr. Sinister said wagging the index finger of his free hand at Warren who gritted his teeth in fury. "When and only when our new line of clones have entered production will I furnish you with the tech in question. In the meantime, we had best get to work."
"Who are they?" Warren asked when five colorfully dressed men emerged from the shadows behind Sinister. He noticed each carried a large piece of machinery.
"These are my associates Gorgeous George, Hairbag, Ramrod, Ruckus, and Slab. Collectively they are known as the Nasty Boys. They will be assisting us in our endeavor." Mr. Sinister explained. "Begin assembling the equipment." He ordered the Nasty Boys.
"Right away boss." Slab grunted setting down his burden on the floor.
Warren did not approve of these unexpected guests but if Mr. Sinister delivered on his promises the inconvenience would be a small price to pay. Besides he and Sinister shared a common goal to genetically perfect the world. Together they would sweep away the old and bring in the new. Together none would stop them. Together they would change everything.
To Be Continued
Author's Note -
While Mr. Sinister aka Nathaniel Essex was not introduced in the X-Men comics until much later in Marvel Continuity (1987 to be precise) many have speculated he was Miles Warren's mysterious backer hinted at in Amazing Spider-Man. I decided to run with that fan theory here as it allows me to greatly expand the scope of the upcoming first Clone Saga. I mentioned at the start of this series some of the changes wrought by Gwen living would be good ones while others would not be, the altered Clone Saga will be one of the latter its ramifications for the timeline will be very great indeed.