The Cadmus Web

Chapter 4: Expect the Unexpected

Peter and Dick were waiting for Barbara to show up, they had been looking around the factory building to check it out, so far there didn't seem to be anything going on. But then again both of them had been in this business long enough to know better. Since they had left a clue it was pretty easy to say that they were expecting Batman to show up.

So far they noticed a few ways in by the time Batgirl showed up, she landed onto the roof they were on not too far away. Peter looked over at Babs, normally he could see given that tight fitting uniform that Barbara wouldn't have problems with a love life, but then he remembered the kind of strain this kind of life had on the social side of your personal life. He also wondered why the hell Dick gave that up? He thought Batgirl was hot but he would never say that, Kara would kill him.

But still, he watched at the two got to talking, they were planning things out and Peter was trying to see if there was any spark there. He noticed that they did try and keep things professional, they weren't totally serious but he could pick up a little hint of something there. There was like this hidden layer between them, he tried to put it into words but it was kind of hard to describe. The best he could do was how he was when he had broken up with MJ that time, or after he and Kitty ended. There was just this unpleasant thing between them, like some kind of taboo you weren't suppose to talk about.

Peter fought the urge to sigh, he honestly wished that he was more insightful, or that at least Kara was here. She was better at this kind of thing anyway, besides if he could read women he would have had more success in his love life.

"So you really think the west side is the best way in?" Batgirl asked Nightwing as she was looking at the large structure.

"Looks that way," He said to her and then turned to Peter. "I think you should stick back, you surprised the Joker last time and trust me he would have learned his lesson with you."

"We did this last time and if I recall...I came to save the Bat-team's collective asses." Peter smirked under his mask. "So I think I'll go this time around, you never know."

"You're not exactly Mr. Stealth, especially in that costume," Batgirl pointed at the red and blue costume that Peter wore.

Peter looked down at it, sure enough he did tend to stick out in Gotham compared to the others that worked this city. He did have that black costume for a bit but that just led to unpleasant memories, with Eddie and how he turned into Venom. "Yeah okay...But aren't the Robin costumes bright red too?"

"You know I always wondered why Batman made the suit like that," Batgirl wondered. Sure it fit with the name, given that robins had that red breast on them, but it was kind of hard to stay concealed. The black cape would help but it was kind of flashy, given that Batman preferred to keep to the shadows and all that.

"You know there were times I think he made it like that so that I drew all the attention and fire," Dick grunted and then he looked at Peter. Peter noticed this and he really didn't like that look, it was a look he had seen General Fury give him once and after that episode that he didn't want to relived he learned to avoid those looks.

"Oh no, whatever you're thinking forget it." He flat out told Nightwing.

"Hey you didn't want to get left behind this time, so this time you go in front." Nightwing said.

Now Batgirl was grinning as she knew where Dick was going with this, "Come on, besides with you up front you can give us a warning with that spider-sense of yours. What's the point of having it if you don't use it?"

"I use it just fine thank you," Peter told her. "I prefer to let me know of threats I don't know are coming, not being your own personal trap detector."

"Spider-Man we really could use your help, now we could go about this a different way but honestly this way I think works for the best." Dick then started to explain how they would stick to the shadows, they would most likely be expecting Batman and Peter would be the wild card. He could easily dodge and escape anything they would have set up for the usual heroes of Gotham, plus it would be totally unexpected and would throw their game off.

After a few more minutes Peter had to admit the logic of it all, he hated it of course, but it was the best plan they had. In defeat he looked to the large and now very ominous looking building, he sighed just knowing that nothing good would come of this. He jumped off the building feeling the air rush around him and then fired a web line to a close building. Peter swung to the roof of the building and found the skylight entrance that he and Nightwing had found. He touched the glass and didn't feel any tingle from his spider sense, so he knew there was no alarm set up for this at least.

He easily broke open the simple lock with his strength and slipped into the darkness. He knew that Batgirl and Nightwing would be close by, he looked into the darkness it was hard to see and he slowly started a walk down the darkened halls.

After some time, Peter was starting to think that maybe they had guessed wrong, so far all he saw was a bunch of empty rooms, old equipment that didn't work, and a lot of nothing. He was starting to think that they should just pull out and look for the Joker elsewhere. He sighed to himself as he stopped for a moment.

"Okay let's see, I'm in a dark creepy building and so far nothing is going on? Why did I agree to this again? I could be in my home city, or better yet curled up on the couch with Kara watching a movie...or just curled up with said blond in one of our beds." He mused to himself thinking of being with the blond alien powerhouse in a not to family friendly setting. He put that aside, now was not the time for that although it sure was tempting.

'Damn it, it's those stupid male hormones that got me into this in the first place so knock it off!' He thought to himself.

Spider-Man was about to call it a night when he noticed something on the floor, he walked closer to it and saw it was a doll of all things. "Who would leave this here?"

He was about to pick it up when his spider sense kicked in, he jumped back and onto a wall just as it blew up into a cloud of green smoke. Then of course there was that insane laughter that he heard before. "Looks like I found him alright."

"Well I was expecting the Bat but I do admit that I've got a score to settle with you too, bug boy." The Joker laughed as the lights suddenly kicked in. Peter was blinded for a moment and then looked around, he was in a wide open area, by the looks of it, it was some type of loading dock/storage area. There were a few goons and there sitting in a chair on top of a platform behind some controls was the Joker. He noticed Harley was there with him as usual.

"Bug boy?" Spider-Man asked him, "Gee not like I've heard that a million times before, what's the matter can't come up with anything original anymore? Marcel Marceau is funnier then you." Peter hoped that he got the reference to the famous mime.

"What?" The Joker nearly snarled out at him. "You know beating me I can forgive but no one, and I mean NO one steals my shtick! I do the jokes here and not some amateur."

"Hey at least I'm funny." Spider-Man shot back at him. "Now then how about we get this party started shall we?" He jumped off the wall he had been on and lunched himself into the group, he landed on one of them, and kicked off sending him flying. Then while in the air he fired two web lines and using those, nailed two more of the gang members and pulled, smacking them together. Peter continued on fighting with inhuman speed, agility and strength. The Joker watched on as he battled his minions although he was getting a bit bored, it was a bit too one sided.

"You know I think this needs a little spicing up, what do you think Harley?"

The women in the red and black costume thought about it and snapped her fingers. "Oh I know just what this needs Mr. J. Babies!"

Peter heard Harley call out although he thought he heard wrong, that is until a strange laughing sound was heard and he noticed two hyenas were now in the fight. His eyes widened under his mask, he hadn't seen them, although there were plenty of areas to hide. He noticed the goons that were still able to walk moved away fast.

"Great just great, here I thought I'd just pummel laughing boy and I get to be on the next episode of Wild Kingdom." He managed to get out as he jumped out of the way of the lunging wild animals.

"Heads up!"

Peter heard Nightwing call out and this time jumped up, making a web line to the ceiling that he used to stay out of reach when two capsules landed by the hyenas, they blew up into a cloud of gas and when it cleared the two animals were fast asleep by knock out gas. Harley cried out to her pets as Joker looked as though bored. From the few shadows, Nightwing and Batgirl jumped out to face the mad clown.

"Well that's hardly sporting," Joker said getting up off his chair, "You know I had hoped for the Bat and not the side kicks. I went to oh so much trouble to lure him here, got everything set up, and...I brought the guests." He grinned at them all as he pushed a button. The large steel doors leading outside opened up as a large heavy truck pulled up to it. When it stopped the back opened up and out stepped Killer Croc, and Bane.

"I know I like to be a solo act, but what can I say? I wanted to share the fun this time," Joker went into a mad laugh as the two villains walked up to the heroes. Croc wasn't a big fan of Bane, after all first time they met he was put into a hospital bed, but then again this was his change to get the Bat, he could always take Bane out when he wasn't looking.

Bane didn't care about who he worked with, as long as he got what he wanted, he adjusted the device on his palm, he could feel the Venom flowing into him, his blood was like it was one fire, he felt alive, he felt powerful and he was going to break each one of these kids so there was nothing left. "You three should have stayed home tonight, but I guess it's too late for that."

Peter landed on the ground looking around, " much trouble are we in? On a scale from one to ten?"

"Eleven," Batgirl said as Harley jumped down wanting a piece of the action herself.

"I'll take on Lizard-Boy," Nightwing whisper.

"I got clown-girl," Batgirl turned to face Harley.

"And I got...Oh crap you got to be kidding me," Peter noticed who he had left. "Anyone care to trade? Honestly I don't mind."

The other two heroes jumped at their opponents and Peter sighed, then with a shrug jumped towards Bane. Nightwing took out his fighting sticks as he dodged a swipe from the larger opponent, he countered with a few blows and then backed off. He knew that Croc had a tough skin and it would take time to wear him down, unless he could find something large and very heavy to drop on him.

"I'm going to enjoy this pretty boy," Croc turned to a piece of machinery and with his impressive strength lifted it, he hefted it over his head but he was too slow. Nightwing dug out a couple of small concussive explosives. He threw them right as Croc's wrists aiming for the weaker area of the limb. The force even with his tough skin sent pain through his nerves.

He yelled out in pain and then his eyes widened as he lost his grip, the heavy metal came crashing down on top of him. Nightwing grinned and was about to turn when he heard a groan and the shuffling and he looked back to see Croc move the heavy machine off of him. The large meta-human got up, rage and murder was in his cold eyes. His wrists were still stinging and his hands were barely working from the nerves still not working properly.

But for Croc he had other weapons, his powerful jaws could still tear the young man apart and his hands even though he couldn't make a fist the claws on them were still useful. He roared in bloodlust as he jumped towards Dick with a speed that most wouldn't think the large mutant was capable of. Dick was knocked onto his back and quickly managed to put his fighting sticks up, he made a cross of them as they held back the biting jaws that were just inches from his face.

Batgirl was already jumping with the grace of her natural acrobatic skills to avoid Harley who was just as quick and agile. Looking at the two women they moved in a beautiful dance that was almost too perfect not to be planned out. The two of them were equally matched as they moved with speed and grace, they dodged the other's attacks and then would follow it up with one of their own. Harley tried to get in close to Batgirl, while Batgirl at times tried to get a little distance to use batarangs or some other long range weapon in her arsenal.

Spider-Man was left with Bane as the large man sent a fist into the concrete floor that Peter had just jumped aside. He saw the fist actually go into the cement and then pulled out. "Great I get the human wrecking crew, well then come on you fetish freak, time for a spanking."

"Cute," Bane sneered as he tried to grab onto the smaller man, but it wasn't easy. Spider-Man was a lot more quick and agile then a normal human even Batman would have some trouble doing some of the moves Peter did almost naturally.

"Well how about we even things out a bit Mr. Steroid?" Spider-Man asked as he tried to fire a web line to where he saw the control device. He had asked Nightwing about a little more info on those that escaped while he and Nightwing had been looking for leads. From what he remembered if he took off that device then the venom supply would run out, turning the guy back into a runt of a man.

Bane however wasn't the stupid type, despite the generalization that those who were super strong lacked intelligence, he wasn't one of them. He saw the web line and quickly caught it, he grinned savagely as he pulled. Peter was caught off guard and was yanked forward as high speed, and right into the left fist of Bane. The blow hurt, in fact he was pretty sure it was a pretty decent shot to get onto his top ten of people that could kick his ass.

He hit a few old crates with a groan, trying to shake his head clear. 'Oh man...That guy has a wicked left hook. Mental note...Don't block his fists with your internal organs anymore.'

The Joker laughed on as he watched the three heroes, by now the rest of his gang were high tailing it, letting the major villains get their shots in, especially since a few of them couldn't get out without the help of their buddies. But then the Joker grew bored of things, he watched Nightwing take a nasty shot from Croc but the young hero came back with blows from his fighting sticks. Batgirl and Harley were still at it, only now they were on a few crates while fighting.

Harley got in a few good shots but Batgirl was the more experienced fighter and was starting to get a little headway in the battle. Spider-Man was still fighting Bane, he landed a few blows which actually staggered Bane. Enough for Spider-Man to jump onto the man's back and tried to rip out the feeding tube in the back of Bane's mask.

Bane managed to grab him and with a powerful swing slam Spider-Man into the ground. He then kicked the hero across the room, but Peter managed to stop himself by 'gripping' the floor. He hurt but he slowly got up already trying to think of a new battle plan.

But by the looks of things the heroes might actually get to the upper hand and the Joker wasn't a fan of that idea. Then he got a brilliant idea, at least to him it was. He had a crate filled with some of his favourite 'toys' and he had something that he wanted to try out.

He pulled out a large and strange looking device as he laughed to himself. "You know all the times I've been foiled by the Bat and his little clubhouse has always left me with egg on my face. So I thought it was time to return the favour."

He fired the strange weapon wildly, Peter was close enough to take the first dodge and as first he didn't know why his spider sense went off so much. It looked like just an egg, that is until it hit the floor and then exploded.

"Damn! What the hell are in those?" He yelled out as he had to dodge both Bane and the Joker's wild firing.

"A little nitro goes a long way," The Joker laughed firing like the mad man that he was. He didn't care if the others got in the crossfire, he was having too much fun. Explosions rocked the area, the more combustible materials caught fire, a few holes in the walls formed, and even the other villains had to take cover.

"Joker watch it!" Croc yelled out, he had nearly been hit by a stray shot but the Joker wasn't listening.

Spider-Man knew that he had to get that weapon out of the Joker's reach and he was the quickest of them. He jumped high up into the air and fired a web line to swing out to the clown. Joker saw him coming and tried to fire some more, but Peter was still agile in the air, and with mid-air acrobatics dodged the deadly eggs.

"You know Joker I think you're overcompensating for something with that large toy of yours," Spider-Man quipped as he managed to get close enough to dropkick the villain. The weapon dropped from his hands as he fell back into a railing.

The Joker still had on a grin on his face, "Well that wasn't nice, but to show I'm not the kind of guy to hold a grudge here's a gift." He reached in and threw out a grenade with a joker face painted on it. The Joker laughed as he threw himself off the side of the railing. Peter didn't see where he went he only tried to dodge the grenade by jumping the opposite way. There was a large explosion, and with Spider-Man in mid air the shockwave sent him flying into a large metallic support beam, he landed onto the ground dazed and a bit hurt.

Peter felt like he had been hit by a truck, repeatedly, with loud country music playing to add insult to injury. He looked up to see Bane grinning and it wasn't a nice grin either, there was a few fires now from the Joker and he could feel the heat of the place. He couldn't see Batgirl or Nightwing at the moment, but his focus was on the giant of the man walking towards him. "After I tear your head off I think I'll mount it. But first I think you need a little softening up."

"Man my internal organs are already tenderized, think you're job is done." Peter said as he tried to get up, he defiantly had a bruise rib or two at the moment, it was hard to breath.

Bane just gave a small laugh as he picked up a piece of metal that had been blown to scrap by the Joker. Peter got the impression that Bane wanted to play baseball, as him as the ball. Spider-Man got ready, he had a few moves planned out and was about to jump out of the way, and hope while in mid swing this time he could snag that control device and rip it off him.

Bane charged and took two feet, when green bolts of energy hit him in the side sending him flying. Peter blinked a few times not sure what happened. He looked over to the door where the truck had come in, it looked to be where the energy had come from. And there floating a few feet off the ground was a jaw dropping sight. It was a woman, and a very hot looking one, she had a body that could rival Wonder Woman's, strange green eyes, a mane of red fiery hair, orange skin, and in a kind of skimpy purple outfit.

"When I returned to this world, I went to look up my old friends," She spoke to Bane who was rising up. "And when I came here looking and heard the explosion I had a pretty fair idea of where to look. And it looks like I was right." She smiled to herself.

Peter looked around and saw Nightwing over Croc, the lizard human hybrid was out cold and Dick looked a little banged up, although the look on his face told Peter he knew this mysterious person. He could see Barbara had finished up with Harley putting on cuffs on the struggling woman, on the ground.

Bane got up, glad for another new comer, she seemed like a strong one and worthy of his time. "You know pretty one, I think I'm going to enjoy this fight whoever or whatever you are."

She wasn't phased by him at all as she took up a spot in front of him. "My name is Starfire and it is I who will enjoy this fiend."

Next Up Chapter 5: Old Flame