-1All characters appearing in Spider-Man are copyrighted to Marvel Entertainment and Stan Lee. No infringement of these copyrights is intended, and is not authorized by the copyright holder. All original characters are the property of TVfan.
Note: this story is continued from the end of "All the King's Men" and will run through my version of Marvel's Civil War. If you wish to know the exact plot of my version of the "Civil War", you will need to read my story in the Captain America section titled, "Civil War", although it should not be necessary to understand the events of this story.
The Laws of Terror and Joy
Chapter 1: Fantastic Meetings
"You what?" Mary Jane asked in surprise letting her toothbrush fall out of her mouth and land in the sink in front of her.
"I said I'm going to do what I can to track down the Scriers," Peter answered, "As we both know that they aren't going to take our 'rescuing' of Osborn, even it was only to send him to prison, lightly."
"Yes, I know that," Mary Jane answered as she turned to face her husband, "but we did what we had to and beat them. Do you think they're going to mount an assault on the Avengers Tower?"
"No, that isn't exactly their style," Peter admitted.
"Then why bother go looking for them?" Mary Jane demanded, "Something here is failing the common sense test."
"I'm doing it because I know that if we don't get them behind bars, they may very well do something like what they did with Osborn," Peter answered, "Hire some powerful villain, either in terms of his personal ability or ability to control people with super powers to try and hunt us down, and since we may be their next target, they may give these foes our names, as I'm sure they've figured out who Arachne is."
Mary Jane sighed, knowing that because of the Scrier's association with Osborn, they likely knew Peter's identity as Spider-Man from him, and therefore probably figured out who her alter-ego, Arachne, was as well. She had gotten used to various villains grabbing her because of who her husband was, and she now felt that as Arachne, she might have a leg up on some of them as they wouldn't expect her to be able to fight back, but that still didn't mean she wanted her identity to be publicly known.
"I can understand that you don't want them to cause any major trouble, like what they did with Fisk," Mary Jane sighed, "but wouldn't it be better that you wait until they try something directly? I mean, we have no idea where Kaine went after the Scrier's warehouse burned down, let alone where the Scriers themselves went."
"I know that," Peter sighed.
"So how do you expect to find the Sciers?" Mary Jane questioned, "We had to beat it out of Fisk's men in order to find their last hideout, and Osborn is in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. I doubt they'd let us question him."
"I was thinking more along the lines of drawing them out," Peter answered, "Act like I'm not paying attention and they'll set up some sort of ambush for me."
"Purposely springing traps is not the wisest idea," Mary Jane said firmly, "especially since I have rehearsals today and can't back you up."
"It's the only thing I can think of," Peter answered, "I don't think any other hero has had any altercations with the Scriers."
"I would still think that there is some thinking that needs to be done before you go gallivanting off after a secret organization that might be wanting to take revenge on us for sending Osborn to prison rather then killing him."
"Maybe after I find them, but for now, neither of us can do anymore," Peter answered.
"I'd still prefer to let them come to us," Mary Jane told Peter and returned to brushing her teeth.
Peter then sighed, "To be honest, I'd prefer that too, but the Scriers were always something that stood apart from other villains. Guys like Osborn can be relatively easy to find and it's almost better idea to try and react to their plans, but the Scriers… the Scriers are somehow different. You never know what they're doing, sometimes even after they've done it. Guys like Osborn tend to leave very visible trails of their actions. The Scriers, don't, and I don't want to keep Aunt May kept in the tower because the Scriers might decide to pull something out of Osborn's book."
Realizing that Peter was determined to do this, Mary Jane sighed. There was nothing at the moment that she could do to talk him out of it.
"Just take care of yourself then," Mary Jane said firmly, "and call me if you get into real trouble."
"I will, and don't worry," Peter told her as he kissed her on the check, "Have a good rehearsal."
Newark, New Jersey
The Lead Scrier who had lead the recent operation to try and gain revenge on Osborn quietly walked through one of the rooms of a fairly expensive looking apartment that was secretly owned by the Brotherhood of Scriers. He carefully approached a mirror inside the apartment's master bedroom. Tapping on the side of the mirror, the Lead Scrier activated a hidden gear that flipped the mirror around to reveal a direct communications link with the main Scrier bases in the Himalayas. The Grand Master of the Brotherhood of Scriers appeared on the screen before him.
"Greetings, Manhattan Leader," the Grand Master of the Scriers spoke, "I trust that Norman Osborn is dead for his betrayal?"
"I am afraid not, Master," the Manhattan Leader of Scriers answered, hiding his own nervousness, "the hero and heroine Spider-Man and Arachne carried him off. I believe he is presently in the custody of the agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. and other then that, we do not know anything."
"It is unlikely that he will be able to get away from S.H.I.E.L.D.," the Grand Master of the Scriers spoke back, "We know enough about the technology that Fury built for them that Osborn will not escape them."
"That was my impression as well," the Manhattan Leader of Scriers answered, "and I also presume that Spider-Man and Arachne are now to be viewed as true enemies of the Brotherhood?"
"Yes," the Grand Master of Scriers answered, "Spider-Man has meddled in our affairs before. Now he has stopped the rightful of execution of a man who is also his enemy. He must be punished."
"I have most of the New York area members keeping an eye on him," the Manhattan Leader answered, "Improving our files on him so that the appropriate action can be taken."
"Make sure that he battles persons other then ourselves," the Grand Master of Scriers said firmly, "I do recall that Osborn did send reports on Spider-Man's ability to defeat large numbers of non-super powered enemies, even if they were among the best warriors in the Brotherhood."
"He hardly defeated our warriors," the Manhattan Leader replied, "More like he managed to escape."
"Regardless, Spider-Man is experienced in facing long odds, and has a habit of having his battles do damage to the area around him," the Grand Master of Scriers said firmly, "It would be preferable that the tool of his destruction be someone who has no connection to us."
"Of course," the Manhattan Leader nodded, "It will be done."
"Peter seemed to be in an awfully big hurry this morning," Aunt May commented as she and Mary Jane ate breakfast, "Does he teach today?"
"No, his last teaching day for this week was yesterday," Mary Jane answered, "He's not supposed to return to the school to teach again until next Tuesday, although they could ask him to 'sub' one of the other classes… but he won't be doing that today."
"Is there trouble?" Aunt May asked.
"No one's caused any major trouble, yet," Mary Jane sighed, "but he fears the Scriers will decide to have revenge on us for foiling their attempt to get revenge on Osborn."
"Revenge is never a good course to take," Aunt May commented, "Revenge seems to follow cycles. One person does something and someone feels offended by it and decides to get even and when they do, someone who had no idea about the original crime witnesses the revenge action and then lust to get even with the first person who had his revenge. It never stops in many cases."
"Well, Peter isn't the one trying to get revenge," Mary Jane told her, "He's worried that the Scriers might go after you."
"Peter was never that way," Aunt May commented.
"He's had his moments," Mary Jane informed Aunt May, trying to sound careful, "Although, it's generally after someone's done something that has really done something. The Chameleon once used robot duplicates of his parents in an attempt to try and kill him. When he learned of that deception, he sort of abandoned being 'Peter Parker' to get even with the Chameleon after he hurt him so dearly. I'm also pretty sure that Osborn's involvement in Gwen's death didn't make him very happy either."
Aunt May was quiet for a moment and then said, "It isn't in his nature to want revenge, and sadly, many people do many things that they regret later when they're angry."
"Yeah," Mary Jane nodded, "But if these Scriers kill him while they're angry, I doubt they'll regret it."
"Peter's a smart boy," Aunt May said, "I'm sure he won't put himself in too much danger deliberately."
"He may not do that deliberately, but it could very well happen anyway," Mary Jane answered, "And with the new play having its first rehearsals today, I can't call in sick to watch his back. And what really confuses me is that he said they wouldn't go on some sort of revenge streak against us. If they wouldn't do that, why is he going after them like they might."
"He may not have thought it over entirely," Aunt May commented, "Something else might have happened that made him change his mind."
"The whole thing still fails the 'common sense test' as far as I'm concerned," Mary Jane answered, "If they do go for a revenge plot, we should let them come to us. We can handle them easier that way, but going after them like this seems rather foolish, and as I said, I can't back him up today."
"He'll be alright, and neither of you need to worry about me," Aunt May said firmly, "I'll be perfectly fine."
The Scrier's Former Base
Spider-Man landed on the edge of the burned out base. The whole situation involving the defeat of the Scriers and the sending of Norman Osborn into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody had been a weird one. He was fairly certain that he had seen the building on fire when he and Arachne left with Osborn, but he never saw any news report on the fire, which he found confusing. Then the next day, he was actually pursuing a couple of carjackers while MJ was busy with some lessons with Steven Rogers, also known as Captain America. As he chased after them, he noticed that there was no major fire damage to the exterior of the building, there was visible damage, but damage that indicated that what happened was far smaller then what he had seen earlier. It was all too weird.
"When investigating something, always check the scene of the crime," Spider-Man commented aloud in a manner as if he were reading from some guide to detective work.
Spider-Man then approached the entrance that he and Arachne had used to enter in their attempt to 'rescue' Osborn. He then slowly walked down the stairway and looked around carefully. He noted scorch marks that showed that the fire had burned away any paint and other parts of the wall that would burn, but had left the wall, itself, which was made of metal, perfectly intact. The stairs themselves creaked a little, but his spider-sense didn't give him any warning that the floorboards had been damaged by the fire. There was certainly more to the Scriers then could be easily seen and Spider-Man decided that something that could help him find out where they went would be helpful. If the building survived the fire as well as it did, maybe a safe, or something survived as well.
Meanwhile, while Spider-Man made his way into the abandoned Scrier base, five Scriers landed on the same roof themselves. They had been watching the webbed hero as he moved through the city, and were somewhat surprised that he had returned to their abandoned base. One member pulled out a cellphone and dialed a number.
"We might have a problem, sir," one of the Scriers said in a nervous voice.
"What is it?" the Manhattan Leader demanded, "Have you lost your ability to watch Spider-Man?"
"No, we know where he is," the reporting Scrier reported.
"Then what is it?!" The Manhattan Leader asked in a nearly furious voice.
"He has gone into the facilities we were using to torture Osborn," the reporting Scrier said nervously.
"All our equipment as been removed from it," the Manhattan Leader answered, "There is nothing there that he can use to threaten us or even find where we've moved our main operations to."
"Yes, but he doesn't know that," the reporting Scrier answered, "I think he may suspect something. Request permission to kill him before he gets lucky in his search?"
There was a brief silence on the other end. After a few moments the Manhattan Leader answered.
"Very well, but be careful," the Manhattan Leader answered, "You must not allow him to defeat your reconnaissance team and you must not draw the attention of those who are outside the building."
"Of course," the reporting Scrier nodded.
Spider-Man, meanwhile made his way through a series of hallways that all looked as if a fire had raged through them, but still looked like the floor had not been weakened. This puzzled him, but he had no time to theorize on why.
As he walked, he checked inside the rooms that adjoined the hallway. The doors all appeared to have burned away, offering him a clear view of each room. Like the hallways, with the exception of ash laying on the ground and some bits of burned wood, the rooms were bare.
"Love what fire's done with the place," Spider-Man muttered, "It's like the whole thing happened yesterday."
Spider-Man then passed an open door and looked in to at least scan the room as he had done the others. He was forced to take a step back and look into the room to see that there was a pair of wall safes that did not look like they were damaged. He slowly made his way into the room and carefully inspected the safes. Neither of them were damaged and both were of course, locked.
"Time to see which is stronger, the wall or the hinges and the lock to the safe," Spider-Man thought to himself.
Spider-Man then climbed up the wall to stand over the safes and grabbed on of the handles with both hands. He then pulled with all his might, and he did this or several minutes until the metal wall began to bend and he literally pulled he safe out of the wall, and made no progress in getting it unlocked. He tried prying it open the door, but he couldn't get the lock to break. He sighed and then threw safe across the room. It landed on the floor with a loud bang after denting the other wall.
"And I'll suppose the same thing will go for you?" Spider-Man quipped to the other wall safe.
Spider-Man sighed and was about to return simply searching the building for anything that might help him find some clues as to possible locations that the Scriers went to, when his spider-sense went off at full force. Spider-Man quickly leaped up onto the ceiling as he heard several ninja stars harmlessly bounce off the metal wall where he had been standing. He then saw five Scriers walk in through the door, each of them was carrying a sword.
"Well, let me guess," Spider-Man spoke in a fairly humorous voice, "You five are the welcoming committee for new tenants? I'm afraid the market here seems a little rough for my tastes and there is dust everywhere."
"Joke all you wish, Spider-Man," the first Scrier said back, "Your actions have made you a formal enemy of the Brotherhood of Scriers."
"You mean I wasn't before?" Spider-Man asked as he leaped down and landed a kick on two of the Scriers that sent them flying out the door that they had just came in through.
Two other Scriers lashed out at Spider-Man with their swords in a pattern that they hopped would catch him. One swung his on the same level as Spider-Man's neck while the other swung for his knees. Spider-Man merely jumped up, while bending far forward and kicking his legs out so that he nearly did the splits and kicked the second pair of Scriers to opposite ends of the room. He then had to roll out of the way for the first Scrier brought his sword down and cut him in two.
"You know, I'm actually glad you guy's are here," Spider-Man commented as he spun around and shot out a webline that caught the first Scrier's sword, "You see, I had a feeling that you people would decide that since I did my job as a super hero, you would want vengeance. I can't image why. I mean, first I thought you might not actually go for revenge as you know I'm a good guy, but then I remembered that my luck isn't that good."
"How very nice that your wanted us to find you," the second Scrier said as he and the third Scrier reentered the room, "Then I suppose you will enjoy it when we kill you."
Spider-Man then pulled on his webline and took the sword away from the first Scrier. He then smashed it against the floor.
"No, you see, you don't understand," Spider-Man said he flipped up in the air a the fourth Scrier attempted to attack him from behind, "I'm the good guy, you know, the one who backs law and order and justice? Well, your little revenge plots aren't good for the city. You're last one let Fisk regain control over New York crime. Sure he's behind bars now, but his organization is the leader of Manhattan Crime."
"Less talking," the fourth Scrier growled as he pivoted, "More dying!"
Spider-Man easily leaped away and avoided the Scrier's attempt to slice his chest open.
"But it's such a good speech," Spider-Man quipped, "Now, where was I? Oh yes, I've been looking for you as I am not going to let you run another revenge plot that could potentially destroy my city."
Spider-Man then clubbed the fourth Scrier from behind, knocking him out, and caught the fifth Scrier with a webline and then threw him across the room. The fifth Scrier hit the wall hard and fell to the floor unconscious.
"But you guys are so good at hiding, it makes if difficult for me to make sure your cult ceases to exist," Spider-Man finished, "So, would you consider opening those safes for me? Or do I need to beat the living daylights out of all of you before you'll agree to it?"
"You're a fool if you think you can bring down the Brotherhood of Scriers," the first Scrier growled as he threw another barrage of ninja throwing stars at Spider-Man.
"Not the entire Brotherhood," Spider-Man answered, "Just your operations in New York, and the New York area if necessary. I think your Brotherhood would then decide that I am not worth the effort of destroying."
"And you think we let information that you could use here?" the first Scrier questioned as the other two Scriers began to advance on him.
"That was the idea," Spider-Man replied as he fired out two weblines that grabbed the swords of the second and third Scriers and pulled the weapons from their hands, which he destroyed once he caught them.
The second and third Scriers then lunged forward in the hopes of pounding Spider-Man to death, since he had taken their swords. Again, Spider-Man's spider-sense allowed him to avoid taking blows, although one of them did manage to land a punch that glanced off his shoulder. Spider-Man finished off these two by webbing both of them up and letting them struggle against the webs he had used.
"So are you going to give in and give me the information I want?" Spider-Man asked.
"I'm afraid you've made this entire trip in vain," the first Scrier said defiantly, but knowing that Spider-Man had won the engagement.
The Scrier then threw another barrage of throwing stars, forcing Spider-Man to jump backward to avoid being hit.
"You can't beat me by yourself," Spider-Man spoke.
"That is true," the first Scrier nodded as he then pulled several glass spheres from inside his black robes, "but even if you were to beat me, you would gain nothing. The fire destroyed all our electronic equipment and we removed all of the contacts that you could get from our safes the next day. There is nothing here of value. All this is for you is a very hollow victory."
The Scrier then slammed all of the glass spheres to the ground, and when they broke, the entire room filled with smoke. Spider-Man quickly realized that Scrier was trying to make a quick escape without him pursuing. Trusting his spider-sense, he pulled a spider-tracer out of his belt and threw it into the smoke in front of him, hoping he would hit the Scrier, or one of the unconscious ones if he carried them out with him.
Spider-Man ended up standing alone in the room coughing on the smoke for about five minutes before the smoke finally began to clear. When it did, he found the room as bare as it had been when he had entered. The Scrier had somehow carried his comrades out. The safe he had pulled out of the wall lay on the floor not far from him. Ignoring that for a moment, Spider-Man tried to focus on his spider-sense and see if he could locate his tracer. He could still sense it, but it was rapidly approaching the range in which he could sense it without working up some sort of device that could pick up a fainter signal. He then sighed heavily, he didn't trust the Scrier's word, but he couldn't break the safe open, which meant that he would need to cut into it or pick the lock. He would have to find the Scriers again later.
"You shouldn't worry yourself to death this way," Mary Jane spoke, saying her character's lines in the play, "They haven't even said anything about what has been happening."
"But he is my son," the other actress, named Chloe, spoke her character's lines, "And his unit was at the center of the battle."
"If something had happened to him, surely they would have told you by now," Mary Jane spoke her next line, "All we can do is wait, and if you kill yourself worrying, you won't survive the news, whatever it is."
"Maybe, but that doesn't mean I can not stop worrying," Chloe answered.
"Okay, that's good," the director said from one of the theater seats, "It took us a while, but I believe we've finally got Act One right. I want everyone to keep working on the suggestions given to you for Act One and we will begin work on Act Two on Monday."
The director then made his way toward the offices behind the stage while the actors began to make their way off the stage and head out. Chloe quickly ran to catch up with MJ as she made her way out.
"Thanks for some of the tips on what to say and how say it," Chloe said quickly as she caught up with Mary Jane, "Have you been in a part like that before or…?"
"No, actually, I've never played the part of a worried wife or mother," Mary Jane answered honestly.
"Really?" Chloe asked, "because your suggestions sound like you've had experience with that sort of thing."
"Well, I sort of do, but it has nothing to do with acting," Mary Jane answered, "Do you know the name of the man who takes Spider-Man's pictures for the Bugle?"
"The best ones are by a 'Peter Parker, but the Bugle has used almost anyone's photos of Spider-Man, but Parker's are the best," Chloe answered.
Mary Jane nodded, "That would be my husband…"
"Wow," Chloe cut her off, "You're married to Peter Parker? Oh that is amazing. Has he ever told you how he gets all the shots that he gets?"
"You're a fan of newspaper photography?" Mary Jane asked in a surprised voice.
"Only of the guys who get photographs of the super heroes that live here," Chloe answered, "There is real art there, not just guys playing chess in the park, but a real complicated scene. Especially your husband's, as almost all of his shots appear to have been taken during Spider-Man's battles."
Mary Jane chuckled slightly, but decided to give Chloe an answer.
"It takes a lot of work, and largely involves a lot of hanging from a ledge," Mary Jane answered, hiding the part that Peter generally webbed his camera to the ledge, but she felt what she said was believable, "but that is what ha made me worry from time to time. Because he does try to get those photos while Spider-Man is fighting the super villain of the day, and in doing so, that puts him in a lot of danger. I've worried a lot that he wouldn't come home or that he would come home, but he'd be severely injured."
"Oh man," Chloe gasped in surprise, "I didn't think the work was that dangerous."
"It can be," Mary Jane answered, "And it's given me some 'real world experience' in the art of worrying."
"I'm sorry," Chloe said weakly, "How do you deal with it, if you don't mind my asking?"
That made Mary Jane think for a moment. She worried about Peter because he was Spider-Man, but now as Arachne, she had taken on the role as Spider-Man's partner and she was able to insure that he didn't do anything foolish that could get him seriously hurt.
"There is nothing that has ever made me not worry about him," Mary Jane tried to answer, "but I have reminded myself that he is a smart person and wouldn't needlessly take risks. That's about all I can really do."
"I'm sorry if I brought up a bad subject," Chloe commented.
"It's alright, trust me," Mary Jane told her, "Peter's never gotten himself hurt, and he's been following Spider-Man around with a camera ever since he was fifteen. He'll also be very excited to hear that he has a fan of his work."
"Thank you," Chloe answered, "see you Monday."
Mary Jane nodded and waved goodbye and began to walk toward the Avengers Tower on her own. When she arrived, she found Jarvis dusting off a table in the entrance room that immediately boarded the elevators.
"Hello, Jarvis," Mary Jane greeted the Avengers butler, "Have a good day?"
"Yes, it was most excellent," Jarvis answered, "I am just finishing up some of my duties before moving to spend some time with your Aunt."
"You can call her, May," Mary Jane said to him, "My aunt by blood lives in Florida and no one else here is named May. We'll know who you mean."
"Of course," Jarvis answered.
"Has Peter come back yet?" Mary Jane asked.
"Yes, he has been in one of the main labs working on something," Jarvis answered, "but I do not know what."
"It's alright," Mary Jane answered, "I will figure that part out."
Mary Jane made one brief stop in the room that she and Peter shared to drop off her purse and then set out for the main 'Avengers' area of the building. When she got to the doors that lead into that area, Mary Jane sighed and pressed in the code that Tony had given her after she became Arachne officially. It was largely a gesture of respecting the fact that she was working with her husband, who happened to also be a member of the Avengers. She was granted access as Arachne in case there was a criminal that she had become embroiled with that the Avengers had information on.
She found Peter, still in costume but with his mask was removed, in the main science lab that was available, trying to pick the lock to a safe.
"Tiger, have you and Felicia been doing something you'd like to tell me about?" Mary Jane asked humorously as she walked in.
Peter looked up and then looked over at the safe.
"No, this is from that building that the Scriers were using as a base to torture Osborn in," Peter answered, "I'm trying to see if there is anything the safe that might be of use to finding them."
"Couldn't you just break it open?" Mary Jane asked.
"I tried that," Peter answered, "That's how I got it out of the wall it was in, but the lock and the hinges are apparently much stronger. So, now I'm stuck to picking the lock."
"Any luck?" Mary Jane asked.
"None," Peter sighed, "My first option was to check with Felicia, as her past experience might give me some help in opening the safe, but she wasn't at her apartment or the Cat's Eye, and I doubt her neighbors would react well to Spider-Man stalking her."
"So you came here hoping to pick the lock yourself?" Mary Jane asked.
"Yes," Peter answered, "It can't be all that hard. In all the movies, all the guys do that are breaking into these sorts of safes is listen for a specific sound to know they've got the right number."
"Most of those guys use a stethoscope in the movies and it is generally assumed that they have had prior experience with breaking into safes," Mary Jane pointed out.
"The only other option would be to blow it up," Peter answered, "And I don't want to picking metal fragments and torn pieces of paper off the floor."
Mary Jane then watched as Peter put his ear to the side of the safe and began running through the safe's key dial in an attempt to open it. After a few moments, Peter finally tried to open the door again. By some miracle, he was successful in doing so. Peter then looked into the safe and then sighed heavily.
"He was right," Peter sighed as he set the safe down.
"Huh?" Mary Jane asked.
"I was only successful in finding a group of Scriers that had been tasked to kill me," Peter answered, "There was only five of them, so I guess their primary mission was to find me, but their instructions didn't say they couldn't try to kill me if they thought they could win. I knocked out four of them and the fifth one ran off. Before he did, he said that searching their old base would be pointless."
"And you didn't believe him?" Mary Jane asked.
"I've never had reason to believe a villain when they've told me it was useless," Peter answered, "but apparently that Scrier was right. They had in fact cleaned out the entire base."
"So they've gone," Mary Jane commented.
to lick their wounds," Peter answered, "They have decided that
we've committed some crime against their 'Brotherhood'. We've
got to find away to put their New York chapter in jail before they
cause some serious trouble for everyone."
"So I take it you're not going to stop with this," Mary Jane asked.
"They're last revenge plot nearly destroyed the city in a gang war," Peter answered, "I'm not going to give them the chance to do anything more to the city in order to get at us."
Mary Jane sighed, knowing that she wasn't going to make much in the way of stopping him from trying.
"And what crime have they committed?" Mary Jane asked, "We have no proof of their activities regarding Osborn and Fisk. We could beat them up and they will be released because there was no evidence of them committing a crime."
"They wear black robes," Peter commented, "Maybe we can send them to the government and say they're terrorists."
"Not funny, Peter," Mary Jane said firmly.
"The police would have to hold them overnight at least," Peter answered seriously, "And if we can find where they're operating out of, we're bound to find hard evidence of their real activities, allowing them to be tried and put in prison."
Mary Jane sighed again.
"So, did the Scrier who escaped give you their address, or are we going to be swinging around the city at random?" Mary Jane asked.
"I managed to get a tracer on him before he left, and…" Peter began to say.
"What, you didn't go after him?" Mary Jane asked.
"He blinded me with smoke, I was still trying to get my bearings back together when he left," Peter answered, "Anyway, I did get a spider-tracer on him, but he's gone outside the range that I can feel it with my spider-sense. I've been trying to work out a device that can read the same signal, but is far sharper then what our spider-senses work at, but the tower here doesn't have all the right equipment."
Peter then held up a small piece of plastic that looked like a cellphone.
"I've got all the stuff needed for the software, housing, and wiring, but I need some kind of receiver that can catch the signal," Peter answered, "and those here aren't good enough."
"So where are you going to get the receiver?" Mary Jane asked.
"The only guy I know that might have the access to a receiver would be Reed Richards," Peter answered, "Although he uses most of that stuff to communicate with Galactus or something like that."
"Great a mystical nightmare into a guy who eats planets for lunch," Mary Jane sighed, "I'll go get changed."
Newark, New Jersey
"You failed to kill him?" the Manhattan leader asked in a questioning tone.
"I think Osborn's files and the reports of Fisk's lackeys underestimated Spider-Man's skills," the last remaining conscious Scrier from the earlier battle said, "We would be better to use the initial report of our agents in the battles that were fought against the Clone-Spider-Man."
"Reilly?" the Manhattan leader asked.
"Yes, I believe he had more altercations with us then Spider-Man did and both Spider-Man and Clone-Spider-Man have the same powers, so our files on Clone-Spider-Man should give us accurate assessment of Spider-Man's abilities and weaknesses," the Scrier answered.
"Osborn destroyed all those documents after he killed Ben Reilly," the Manhattan leader gave a growling sigh, "In terms of dealing with Spider-Man and Arachne, we will have to rewrite our observations, and for the moment, should not engage either unless we heavily outnumber the Avengers as a team."
"Of course," the Scrier answered, "Shall we send a call to the other offices for help?"
"No," The Manhattan leader spoke, "For the time being we are to merely monitor Spider-Man and his partner. There is no necessary need to waste men on two heroes when we can easily get others to do the work for us… perhaps that was part of our mistake with Osborn. We should have let Fisk kill him when he captured him, then we would not need to worry about this."
"Who shall we contact?" the Scrier asked.
"For now, we will merely observe the situation," the Manhattan leader spoke, "It would be preferable to avoid organized gangsters, as they generally like to use their own plans, many of which do not fully suit our needs, but most of the criminals that would stand the best chance of defeating Spider-Man and Arachne are in jail. We must analyze the talent available to us."
"Of course," the other Scrier nodded.
The Baxter Building
Spider-Man landed on one of he large windows that made up the upper floors of the Baxter Building, the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, and began looking in through the window, hoping one of the Fantastic Four was inside. Arachne landed above him and merely looked down toward the ground.
"Shouldn't we go to the roof an knock?" Arachne asked, "I mean, they all live here, like we live at the Avengers Tower, and you know that Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic are married to each other."
"So?" Spider-Man asked.
"Well suppose they're… you know… enjoying each other's company and we go by the window," Arachne said, trying to hide some embarrassment on her part.
"I've landed on every window on this building whenever I've needed Reed's help," Spider-Man answered, "I've never seen anything like a bedroom. Besides, our bedroom doesn't have windows."
"That's not the point," Arachne answered, "They have to have a door on the roof, incase some of the guys that can fly need help or maybe even a special elevator for guys that can't fly. It'd be polite to knock first, especially since we didn't call ahead."
"I'll knock as soon as I find window that one of them will hear me knocking from," Spider-Man answered and continued along.
Arachne was about to say something when one of the windows opened up behind her, and despite her spider-sense, she practically jumped when she heard another voice speak to them.
"She is right though, you could use the DOOR every now and then," came a strong sounding voice with a strong Brooklyn accent.
Arachne and Spider-Man then turned to see the orange rocky face of Ben Grimm, commonly called the Thing.
"Oh come on," Spider-Man smiled behind his mask, "You know spiders will always use the windows, and besides, you gotta give the Torch something to do besides burn the carpet."
The Thing chuckled slightly at Spider-Man's humor and then stepped aside.
"Come on in," the Thing said politely, "Stretcho's workin' on something in his lab. I guess it's him you want to meet with?"
"It's just a really small favor," Spider-Man shrugged.
"Care to say what this favor is?" the Thing asked, "The last favor you asked us for, ended up with me fighting some weird super-Skrull… that you lost when it was all over."
"I didn't lose Ethan," Spider-Man insisted, "He said he wanted to put his 'healing power' to good use and left."
"Do you know where he is?" the Thing asked.
"Exactly?" Spider-Man asked back, "I have no idea where he is."
"Then you lost him," the Thing answered.
"Is there a point to this?" Arachne asked, "The guy may have left, but he turned out to be a good person."
"He was a Skrull sent to conquer Earth," the Thing said, "The fact that the programming failed does not make him 'good'. And I don't want to end up doing another favor like that one."
"Then you can relax," Spider-Man responded, "The favor I need involves a little scientific work. You don't need to go anywhere."
"I hope you ain't takin' shots at my intelligence, web head," the Thing grumbled, "the Air Force doesn't accept dumb people."
"If you want to help with all the science stuff, I'd be more then happy to let you help," Spider-Man offered.
"No thanks," the Thing vigorously shook his head and then turned to Arachne who was bringing up the rear of the group, "Say, you're the new hero on the block, ain't ya? Arachne right?" the Thing asked.
"Any particular reason for hanging around Spider-Man?" the Thing asked.
"He's been helping me with my powers," Arachne answered, "Why do you ask?"
"Nothing," the Thing answered, "Just curious is all."
They continued walking for a few minutes down a hallway that Arachne thought was clean enough to do surgery on until they came to a large door that had the words 'lab one' written on it.
"Stretcho's in there, although be careful," the Thing cautioned, "A lot of what he works with could potentially go wrong."
Spider-Man nodded and walked into the lab with Arachne following closely behind. They found what looked like some sort of miniaturized spacecraft. Reeds legs appeared to be standing underneath the craft, although the rest of him appeared to be inside the ship somehow.
"Good afternoon, Spider-Man, and miss Arachne, I presume?" came Mr. Fantastic's voice from under the ship, "I'm sorry if I got the name wrong, but we do no communicate very regularly with the Avengers. Either we're busy or they are busy, and when we do talk, it's rarely about small talk."
"Yes, it's Arachne," Arachne answered with a slight sigh, knowing that for awhile, most of the people she would run into wouldn't know who she was.
"So what can I do you for, Spider-Man?" Mr. Fantastic asked, still working on whatever he was working on with the ship, "If you need help analyzing miss Arachne's powers, I'm afraid I'm rather busy."
"No, I've been using the Avengers facilities to train her," Spider-Man answered, "I already told Ben that the favor I need isn't really all that big. What are you working on, anyway?"
"Hopefully it's a properly working spaceship that will have the ability to fly from one end of the cosmos to the other in micro seconds," Mr. Fantastic answered, "You see, a few days ago, Charles Xavier, a handful of X-Men, and part of a group of space explorers called the Starjammers crashed to Earth. Now, normally the return of heroes from Earth to Earth wouldn't be a bad thing, but what they told me is there is some sort of crisis going on in the Shi'ar Empire that they need to deal with."
"And you volunteered to build them a spaceship?" Spider-Man asked, "Were you bored or something?"
"No, but they gave me copies of the their ship's original designs and I was fascinated," Mr. Fantastic replied, "The science behind it all is amazing."
"Well, I'm sorry to stop you, then, but I would require a little help," Spider-Man commented, "If you could come out, or stretch your head out so I can explain."
They then waited for a few moments as Mr. Fantastic brought himself down to his normal proportions and came out from underneath the spacecraft.
"So what is it you need?" Mr. Fantastic asked.
"Well, I've recently had some troubles with a 'cult' called the Brotherhood of Scriers," Spider-Man explained.
"Never heard of them," Mr. Fantastic answered.
"They're not on the Galactus level of evil doers, so I doubt you've heard of them," Spider-Man told him, "They're a secretive bunch that worked of Norman Osborn awhile back. Recently, they decided Osborn betrayed them and they decided to get revenge for it. That resulted in a huge gang war that nearly destroyed Manhattan."
"And these Scriers are still out there, I take it?" Mr. Fantastic asked.
"Yes," Spider-Man nodded, "They've now changed their target from Osborn to Arachne and I. I need to be able to find out where they're operating."
"I wish I could help you, Spider-Man, but as we, the FF I mean, have never had a run in with these people, I wouldn't know where to look," Mr. Fantastic said with a sigh.
"The help that is needed is more technological rather then actually looking," Arachne spoke up.
"Yeah, I had to fend off one minor attack from them earlier today, and when they fled, I managed to get a spider-tracer on one of them," Spider-Man added, "Unfortunately, the Scriers got outside the range that I can sense my spider-tracers with my spider-sense alone. I need a device that can detect the signal better."
then handed Mr. Fantastic what he had assembled so far, and the
leader of the Fantastic Four looked at it for a few moments.
"It appears to me that you need some sort of 'receiver'," Mr. Fantastic commented, "Something that can pick up the signal, however faint."
Spider-Man nodded and was about to follow Mr. Fantastic over to a nearby workbench when he was cut off by another voice.
"There they are," came Johnny Storm's, the Human Torch, voice.
Spider-Man and Arachne turned to find Johnny coming toward them with his sister trying to hold him back.
"Johnny, you don't know what's going on," Susan Richards spoke.
"I do know what is going on, and I intend to make sure a friend of mine is not being taken advantage of," Johnny answered firmly.
"What is going on Torch?" Spider-Man asked from where he was standing and watched as he approached Arachne.
"Have you seen the papers lately?" Johnny asked toward Spider-Man, "Particularly the ones that have come out since your new partner has appeared."
"Not very closely," Spider-Man replied, "Has something happened?"
"So you haven't seen the rumors?" Johnny asked.
"What rumors?" Spider-Man asked back, deciding to have a little fun with his friend.
"About you and your partner here," Johnny replied, "That you're a 'couple'."
"We are," Arachne said firmly, "It's not a rumor."
"But that ain't right," Johnny turned back to her, "You're making him cheat on his wife."
"Johnny," Susan spoke trying to calm her brother down and wondering why Reed was ignoring the present altercation.
"What?" Arachne asked.
"Yeah, you heard me," Johnny answered, "You see, Spider-Man has always been a good friend of the FF and we've helped him out with a lot of stuff…"
"Generally because you guys have either the equipment or the expertise to help me with some of stuff I've run into," Spider-Man informed him.
"And and one of those events, when learned who Spider-Man is under the mask," Johnny continued, "And Spidey and I have been fairly good friends. Of course, it's natural for the coolest superhero to have friends that are also superheroes."
"And let me guess, Spidey told you about his wife?" Arachne asked.
"Yes," Johnny answered, "And I trust that Spidey would never betray her deliberately. So what are you doing to him?"
"Nothing that any wife wouldn't do with her husband," Arachne answered.
That made Johnny pause for a moment. Susan Richards looked surprised, but not nearly as surprised as Johnny was.
"You're…?" Johnny asked.
"Johnny, I'd like you to meet my wife, Mary Jane: Arachne," Spider-Man commented, "I'm sure you'd like to apologize for accusing me of cheating on my wife with my wife, if that's understandable."
"Oh man," Johnny then said sheepishly, "I am sorry, it's just that the papers didn't report enough…"
"And you flew off the hook," Susan scolded him from behind, "Hello, Mrs. Parker, I am Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman, although I'm sure you already know all that. How are things? I mean, from what we understand, you never had powers before."
"I'm about as good as I can be," Arachne answered, "And yes, having powers is a fairly new thing for me. I got them as a consequence of an attack on the Avengers Tower by two criminals, one was called Tracer and the other was the Hobgoblin. Peter has been helping me get used to all of it, and to an extent, it's been a partial relief for me."
"How so?" Susan asked curiously.
"Well, before this happened, Peter was always on his own facing very deadly foes," Arachne answered, "I would be left sitting at home with no clue as to what was going on. Now, I can be there to insure that he's safe and we can watch each other's backs, although it may have made raising a family fairly difficult should I ever get pregnant."
"Being a mother and being Arachne shouldn't be all that hard," Susan told her, "Although it would be a good idea to temporarily 'retire' while pregnant, but after the child is born, returning to 'work' isn't all that difficult. At least it wasn't difficult for me. I'll have Reed build you two a HERBIE robot if you need an extra set of hands. You just let me know when the two of you decide to start a family."
"Thanks, I guess," Arachne answered, not expecting to be getting support from the Invisible Woman, although at one time, she didn't expect to have super powers either.
"It's no problem," Susan answered, "It'll actually be good to have more married superheroes out there, and I'm sorry about Johnny. He's a bit of a hothead, but he's a good person."
"I don't mind him," Arachne answered, "To be honest, if I were in his shoes, I probably would have reacted the same way. I mean, I didn't reveal my identity as Arachne when the press found out I had appeared, so anyone that knows Peter might not know the full connection between 'Mary Jane' and 'Arachne'. I've generally tried to keep that identity secret, but… it's apparently hard to keep it secret."
"We've never dealt with that really," Susan answered, "and actually, having an open identity isn't necessarily a bad thing, although we would never force someone to what they were not inclined to."
"Yes," Mr. Fantastic finally spoke up, "although things are changing in this world. I've heard rumors about the government wanting all superheroes to 'unmask' themselves. So far it's only a rumor, but it seems persistent. And persistent rumors seem to have some truth to them."
"Well, hopefully there's no truth to these rumors," Spider-Man said, "How is the receiver coming?"
"It should be ready for use," Mr. Fantastic answered, "I don't know what the range you're looking for is, but the best one that I have can pick up any radio frequency on the North American continent."
"Pretty powerful," Spider-Man commented.
"It should allow you to find who you're looking for," Mr. Fantastic told him, "Hopefully the two of you are able to find these Scriers."
"We'll find them alright," Spider-Man nodded and moved to leave again with Arachne following "Sorry to have bothered you all."
"It was no problem," Susan answered, "It's about time Reed quit working for the day and had dinner. You provided him with the breaking point."
"If there's anything you need done to help, don't hesitate to call," Johnny called as they left, "Oh, and when you have kids, I make a great baby sitter."
"Great, the baby sitter who takes the kid out on a date with him," Spider-Man muttered.
"Chicks love guys with kids," Johnny said with a smile.
"Maybe, but a club is not the best place to take them," Spider-Man told him.
Johnny only shook his head and turned to Reed and Susan.
"I've done a good job right?" Johnny asked, "I mean, Franklin and Valerie haven't burned the house down."
"That's because Ben has been here to make sure you don't burn the house down," Susan commented with a chuckle.
Johnny sighed in defeat.
Spider-Man and Arachne swung away only a few blocks from the Baxter Building before Spider-Man tested the device to find his tracer. Sure enough, he got a signal from it coming in loud and clear.
"You getting anything?" Arachne asked.
"Yeah, it's coming from Jersey though," Spider-Man nodded, "I wonder why they went there?"
"Maybe secrecy," Arachne suggested, "I don't think there are many super heroes in New Jersey."
"That's probably it," Spider-Man nodded, "but according to this scanner, it looks like they've gone all the way to Newark or somewhere around there. I don't want to go that far tonight. Besides, if that's a base, they won't be expecting us to hunt them down, therefore, they won't move."
"Okay, so we head home for tonight, or patrol?" Arachne asked.
"Patrol for a little while," Spider-Man commented, "See how well your first lessons with Cap have gone."
Arachne nodded and then turned to head out and asked a question as she did so.
"One thing, Tiger," Arachne asked.
"Yes," Spider-Man responded.
"Is Johnny Storm always like that?" Arachne asked as the began webslinging through the night.
To be Continued…