Since the Unauthorized Autobiography of Otto Octavius, my deviantart-exclusive, mature content rated fanfic, is almost finished, your Philosopher Queen of the Ottoscene feels sorely incomplete without a new fanfic to write. Thus...a new installment of my always-popular Quirk of Fate series! Happy reading (and reviewing)!
Quirk of Fate, Part 5: The Master Planner Returns
Mary Jane Watson, the Amazing Spider-Woman, wakes up one day with no memory of her identity...and convinced she's a criminal in the employ of Carolyn Trainer, the deadly new Doctor Octopus! How did this happen, and will Spidey figure it out in time to stop her enemy's evil plans? Also featuring a bonus short story!
The Standard Disclaimer: All characters involved belong to Marvel, unless I note otherwise. Any quotes I may use belong strictly to their authors. And if I really made money off of this, don't you think I'd have a canopy over my bed instead of a canopy under it? Come on, it's a joke. Just read it out loud.
Dramatis Personae: Mary Jane Watson, Ned Leeds, Anna Watson, Flash Thompson, Elizabeth Allan, Randy Robertson, Benjamin Reilly, Dr. Carolyn Trainer, Dr. Curtis Connors, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Bennett Brant, Prof. Quentin Beck
Previously: Mary Jane Watson, the Amazing Spider-Woman, quits the Fantastic Four over a dispute and plans to resume a normal life as a college student and lone superhero. But everything changes when her beloved Aunt Anna is suddenly stricken with cancer. Given a mere two months to live, Anna's only hope is the experimental ISO-36. However, a shipment of the medicine was hijacked from Cal Polytech by a woman claiming to be Spider-Woman. With her reputation and the life of her aunt at stake, Spidey learns that the false Spider-Women were clones under the employ of the mysterious Master Planner. In the underwater lair of the enigmatic villain, Spidey learns that the Master Planner is actually Dr. Carolyn Trainer, a computer scientist who once worked for old archenemy Otto Octavius. Possessed of unrequited love for her late employer, she had cloned him, and stole the ISO-36 to save the clone's life so Doctor Octopus could live again. But even after a nerve-racking battle with the new "Lady Octopus", Spidey had to fight her inner demons to save her life and that of her aunt...And now begin!
Chapter 1: Prologue: Curriculum Vitae (The Course of Life)
"Thought I ran into you down on the street
Then it turned out to only be a dream
I made a point to burn all of the photographs
She went away and then I took a different path
I remember the face but I can't recall the name
Now I wonder how whatsername has been."
Green Day, "Whatsername"
early afternoon, outside stark industries headquarters
She stumbles up to her feet, cradling her head. Quite disoriented, her vision was blurry and her knees felt weak. She looks up, and she feels a day after a college party marked with heavy binge-drinking.
Curled up on the ground, she finally raises her head to see a tall, slender woman with a shock of curly hair dyed purple. Dimly, the gleam of the four metal tentacle-like arms attached to her torso registers in her mind.
"Who am I?" she asks. "Why am I sitting here?" She looks at her hands, gloved with bright red fabric puncuated by a shining black webbing pattern. She looks at her feet, covered in boots with the same design. "And why am I wearing this ridiculous costume?"
The purple-haired woman (whoever she was) is not amused. One of the tentacle-like things (whatever they were) raises up, a three-pincered claw threateningly snapping in her face. "If you're trying to be clever—or catch me off-guard—it won't work! I'm far too intelligent for a trick such as that!"
"No!" she insists. "I'm not acting!"
Another woman, red hair cut to a short bob, races forward, leaping out of a van parked a few feet away. She cannot trust her vision, but the girl also seems to have a weird costume on, solid red and gold. This girl must be working for the purple-haired lady, she thinks, conidering the deference she shows her.. "What is it, boss?" the girl asks, unusual anxiety filling her voice. "What the hell happened?"
Finally, her vision clears enough to view the purple-haired lady clearly. With a shaking hand, she points to her, imploring. "You—with the purple hair and the freaky mechanical arms!" She pants for breath. "You seem to know me somehow!" Tears leak out from under her mask. "Tell me—you must tell me, please! Who am I—and why can't I remember anything?"
She stands up, lurching in an unsteady walk, toward the purple-haired woman. The girl with short red hair moves protectively towards her boss. "Careful, boss, she's getting too close!"
The purple-haired, mechanical-armed woman merely shoves the girl out of the way. "Shut up, you fool! She's not faking it!" Thinking quickly, the purple-haired woman reaches the obvious conclusion. "My dear Jessie, it seems that our costumed friend has herself a severe case of amnesia! We must explain to her what just happened, and who she is..."
"There's no need to worry, my friend," the purple-haired lady reassures her. "You were only the unfortunate victim of a small accident when the equipment we were stealing had a small interphase misalignment."
"Stealing it?" she asks. "Why were we stealing it?"
The purple-haired lady pulls her close, embracing her with a human arm. "The reason why you're in that costume is: you're one of the superhuman criminals in the service of the woman called the Master Planner—
"but personally, I prefer to honor the nom de guerre of my late mentor and paramour: Doctor Octopus!"
The purple-haired woman makes sense: after all, the other girl serving her also had that spider theme going with her costume. And shrugging, she responds: "Well, I can't remember any of it, but I must believe you; I've no other choice!"
early morning, headquarters of the master planner, two weeks earlier
The slow leak had now become a flood, as the ceiling prepared to cave in from the pressure of the ocean. The water level in headquarters was already over eight feet high.
You will recall, dear reader, how Mary Jane Watson, the Amazing Spider-Woman, escaped the drowning wreck of the Master Planner's secret headquarters. But what of the other players in the Master Planner's drama?
In movies, where a happy ending is de rigueur, the villain always dies at the conclusion of the final battle with the hero. And while Mary Jane might be much relieved to never have to deal with cephalopod scientists again, as an actress she should have known that after all, real-life isn't the movies.
Carolyn Trainer arose from her faint when the trickles of water reached her head. The tentacles saved her, Otto saved her, by raising her to an air pocket when the headquarters was almost flooded completely, allowing her precious time to grapple for an oxygen tank from the scuba shop. The tanks were part of emergency equipment for her and her cloned servants; she, being the Master Planner after all, was nothing if not prepared for any contingency. Fitting the mouthpiece to her face, the tentacles swam her to safety, approximately twenty minutes after her enemy had succeeded in her own escape.
She later returned, when the police were gone, looking for her Otto, and not succeeding.
early morning, headquarters of the master planner
Benjamin Reilly, after fifteen minutes of treading water, started to go under. He was only an ordinary human, after all, an unassuming spy not endowed with the superhuman strength and endurance of his cohorts, the false Spider-Women.
But the Spider-Woman called Mattie took pity on him, and swam toward him.
"Leave him!" the Spider-Woman called Charlotte commanded. "He'll only slow you down!"
"I can't!" Mattie cried. "I can't just leave him!"
"Suit yourself," Charlotte said, and swam away after Julia and Jessie.
Mattie grabbed Ben under the arms, and tread water for the both of them.
"Why?" he asked. "Why did you save me?"
"Because of my dreams, Ben. You remind me of the man in my dream."
"Funny thing," he said. "You remind me of the girl in my dream."
"What was the dream about?"
"We were in a bank, and your hair was longer, and you wore a different costume," he started.
She knew this dream. "And the Master Planner was in the bank, only it wasn't Carolyn, it was some dude."
Ben nodded. "The guy in Carolyn's tank."
"He grabbed you and killed you with the tentacles, and I couldn't stop him."
She rips away the face mask of her emergency oxygen tank, and presses it on him. "Take it, Ben."
"Take it, so I can make up for what happened in my dream..."
"Mattie, we'll escape, we'll get out of here—"
"No, you will," she said. "Then the dream will have a happy ending."
She presses her lips against his, and for one shining moment they are transported to their dream of another, parallel life.
It was true, as a Spider-Woman, Mattie could hold her breath far longer than any ordinary human. But even she couldn't hold her breath forever...
morning, watson residence
"Hi, Aunt Anna!" Mary Jane Watson cried, excited to finally have the chance to visit her aunt after her long recovery from her near-fatal battle with cancer. "How are you doing without me?"
Anna was accompanied by her best friend and neighbor, May Parker. Mary Jane was accompanied by her new boyfriend, Ned. "Well, it does get lonely being in that big house by myself. So," she said, "May had the greatest idea. We'll move into my house together, because it's bigger, and rent the third bedroom out for some extra money. I know you're having a hard time paying for college."
"Come on, Anna, I have a job now." A paying job, for once. Because if superheroism were a paid job, I'd make sure to get overtime for tackling mad scientists with too many arms.
"Does it pay well?"
"I just go around taking pictures for the Daily Bugle. No big." Mary Jane shrugged. "I always thought I was going to become a model or actress, but...
"...for now MJ's behind the camera, not in front of it," Ned finished.
"Well, good luck with getting a renter!" Mary Jane said. "And for God's sakes check them out first."
"We didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday," Anna reminded her. "We'll insist on only the finest references!"
"Ad in the paper?"
"Yes, but May here has been showing me all about how to use the internet. We're going to put a listing on craigslist as well."
early afternoon, queens area
Dr. Carolyn Trainer needed a place to go. Her underwater lair was flooded, one of her cloned servants was missing and the other drowned. But those clones were merely clones, after all, merely tools to further her plans. What Carolyn did resent was the fact that all her hard work was for naught. Not only her grand plans for world domination, but her plans to resurrect her beloved Otto Octavius, whom she had loved since she was his assistant at OsCorp.
She could have succeeded. She would have succeeded in correcting the clone's genetic flaws, if it hadn't been for that medding Spider-Woman's interference, causing her not only the loss of the lair, the slave, and the spy, but also the loss of her Otto—speaking of version 2.0, of course.
But being a naturally optmistic person, Carolyn tries to see the good in her situation. For one thing, no one knew that she was the true Master Planner, the mastermind who had been behind several thefts and many extortions and shakedowns, the mastermind who had been attempting, with her cloned super-servants, to take over the criminal underworld. The clone of Otto had washed up on shore near Pier 56, and Otto Octavius, that fusion of hardware and humanity called Doctor Octopus, was quickly pronounced the Master Planner in the papers.
Carolyn did not mind that Otto had taken the blame—or the credit—for the deeds of the Master Planner. After all, she had more than enough of his DNA to attempt, again, to bring her sweetheart back to life. That task could only be easier if no one suspected her true role in the Master Planner's failed operation.
So Carolyn Trainer goes about finding a nice, quiet place to live. This is facilitated by her own strange abilities, granted through the use of nanotechnology to improve her already formidable brain—to sense the internet, to "see" every bit of wireless data floating through space from satellites to every Starbucks wi-fi hotspot and back again. To her, the World Wide Web is an actual spider's web, with her at the center, sensing every trembling thread. She can control computers and track any email sent by any person—but to her eternal chagrin, she also senses every chain letter, every advertisement for fake Viagra, every scam involving Nigerians soliciting money, and every can of virtual spam. For this reason, she prefers to use this ability to the fullest as minimally as possible. She does not care for this power to go on overdrive, causing her to sense every pop-up window for every—ugh—pornography website.
Leaving this digression, we see that Carolyn has only to think her way to craigslist and every other local online classified page to find a good housing prospect.
Room for rent, comfortably furnished, light and pleasant with 1/2 bathroom. Property features in-ground pool and garden. Suitable for retired lady or gentleman. 800 a month, call after 5 pm weekdays.
Carolyn nods at the craigslist ad she sees.
Carolyn follows the link, follows the gossamer thread to the picture. Quiet house in the Forest Hills area. Landlord probably some gullible old lady who wouldn't suspect a thing, and even less inclined to ask.
afternoon, outside daily bugle headquarters
Mary Jane Watson, the Amazing Spider-Woman, sat comfortably in a swing made of spider's web, hanging from a lamppost next to the workplace of her boyfriend Ned. She disgustedly reads the headline: Publisher Calls For Investigation of Spider-Woman: Vigilante linked to death of astronaut.
Just fucking awesome, she thinks. Now I'm being blamed for the death of John Jameson—as well as the deaths of Harry Osborn and Peter Parker. It's things like this that make a girl want to cancel her subscription—
Her reverie is interrupted by the opening of the window and the screaming of the aforementioned publisher, J. Jonah Jameson. "Spider-Woman! Get outta there, you wall-crawling hussy, before I have you hauled off for trespassing! All my employees are so busy gawking at your barely covered body that they're not getting any work done!"
Enraged that his tirade earned no response whatsoever and not a man to learn from any evidence to the contrary of his firm beliefs, he only shouts louder. "Don't just dangle there, you web-slinging slut! Say something!"
Sighing, Spider-Woman decides to oblige, being such a nice girl and all. She swings forward, pitching the paper through the window. "Don't mind me, I was just reading this glorified asswipe to get my laugh for the day! Seriously, you guys are better than Last Comic Standing!"
"How dare you, you murdering—"
"You still think I murdered your son?" Spidey asked. "Christ! I know you're torn up about it and all, but sometimes murders go unsolved! I'm not going to take the blame so you can have closure!"
She merely swung away, muttering to herself, heading towards Empire State so she wouldn't be late for—ugh—Biology. One of these days, that asshole is going to push me too far and I'll—
Forget it, Watson! You'll grin and bear it, and take the blame too, just like always! I mean, I can understand the poor guy. He lost his son, doesn't know who did it, and he wants so badly to find a vent for his suffering and heartache! That's gotta be the reason why he hates me; after all, he couldn't really be as bad as he seems!
Spider-Woman swoops down over the lawn, cheered by her roommate Liz Allen, whose life she once saved from the Green Goblin, and her boyfriend Flash Thompson, who had always carried a king-sized torch for his heroine, much to Liz's dismay. Not being possessed of the ability to swing on spiderweb, they were walking to class along with Flash's roommate, Randy Robertson and his girlfriend Glory Grant, and her roommate, Helen, who hailed from Mother Russia.
"Is it true you're Spider-Woman's number one fan?" Randy was curious; his father was the city editor of the Daily Bugle and as you have seen, gentle reader, there was no love lost between Spidey and the Bugle.
"Course I am. You know, I'm the president and founder of Webheads, the premier Spider-Woman fan club—"
"Oh no," Liz started. She knew what was coming.
"—and for only the nominal fee of twenty dollars, you too can get an official Webheads teeshirt, an official Webheads membership card—"
Randy held up his hand. "Look, I'll admit she's one extremely attractive—"
"Hey!" yelped Glory.
Unfazed, Randy continued his questioning. "But how can you be sure that she's not someone very ordinary beneath that mask of hers?" Meanwhile, Liz fumbled with her ringing blackberry.
"Ha!" Flash laughed. "Not a chance!"
Liz held up the blackberry. "Anyone seen Mary Jane Watson around? I'm getting sick of being her social secretary! Anytime anyone wants to get a hold of her, she's never around and they text me instead!"
The answer can be found on the rooftop, where Spidey crawls into the skylight of the gym, a seemingly perfect place to change since it's usually empty this time of day, then off to—ugh—Biology, and hope that Dr. Connors doesn't have to chew her out for being late again.
evening, watson residence
"Good evening," Dr. Carolyn Trainer gracefully shook hands with Anna Watson, her prospective landlady, and set down her suitcases. "I'm calling to inquire about renting a room in this lovely house. If you would accept me as a tenant, I have the cash for rent and deposit on hand. I'm quiet, work from home, and don't smoke. I'm sure I'll fit your requirements."
"Cash?" Anna was no spring chicken after all, and was properly suspicious.
"My house was destroyed in an accident," Carolyn explained, truthfully enough. "I scraped together all my savings, since I need a place to stay immediately."
"Oh, well, in that case, do come in," Anna said. "You must be perfectly trustworthy, being a doctor and all. The room is yours if you want it."
"I'm deeply touched by your kindness, ma'am," Carolyn says. "It's nice to know that a girl can still depend on the kindness of strangers, even in New York City."
Suburban house, white picket fence, Carolyn thought. Even if anyone knew I was the Master Planner, they'd never think to find me here.
"Now, Miss May Parker, with whom I live, is away shopping, but I just know she'll welcome you as much as I do," Anna said. "And you must meet my lovely niece, Mary Jane, she'll just adore you."
night, empire state university, brian m. bendis memorial wing
How in hell did I get roped into doing this job? Mary Jane sighed as she clipped the stark hallways of the Empire State University building devoted to the science classrooms and laboratories. She was carrying a cardboard box filled with test tubes, beakers, bunsen burners, and all kinds of odd metal equipment, and accompanied by friends Flash Thompson and Randy Robertson.
She looked up to see the familiar sign on the door: Offices of Dr. Curtis Connors.
Randy and Flash both sighed with apparent relief. "Well, Dr. Moreau's not here," Randy announced. "We'll just go in, set the box on the desk, and get out."
"Dr. Moreau?" MJ asked.
"You know," Randy said, "like the story by H.G. Wells..."
"I know about the story, but why do they call him that?"
"Well, the guy's a genius," Randy explained, "but he seems to have an unhealthy interest in—"
"Cut the crap, Robertson, all he has are unhealthy interests," Flash cut him off. "And if you want to know the man's character, MJ, all you have to see is this." Flash shined his flashlight on a picture hanging on the wall. The picture depicts two men, one tall and blonde, one short and chunky with wild chestnut curls falling over thick glasses. The tall blonde has his arm thrown around the short brunet in a display of drunken brotherly devotion. Both hold beers and sport wide grins.
Flash indicates the short man with the flashlight beam. "Recognize him, MJ?"
Mary Jane's mouth tightened in repressed anger. "Yes." Even without the four metal tentacles, trenchcoat and sunglasses, I'll remember that face as long as I'll live.
"My dad always told me you're judged by the company you keep," Flash solemnly nodded. "Well, there's the company Dr. Moreau keeps—kept."
A voice, stern and low, spoke from the shadows. "Excuse me?"
Flash jumped a little in his sneakers. "Yeah, just put the box down on the desk and—"
"Yes, I've heard you imprudent whelps call me that," Dr. Connors said, stepping out of the shadows. "Don't worry, I understand why: you fear what you don't understand."
The lights turned on, and Dr. Curtis Connors stood before them. He was tall and blonde, true, but his right arm was gone, replaced with a robotic prothesis that looked for all the world like a metal skeleton limb.
He gestured towards his metal arm, then to the cage of lizards to MJ's left. "I left this arm in Kosovo," he explained. "That's why I've been researching lizards. You know, lizards are capable of regenerating body parts, particularly tails. If we could find a way to merge the lizard's DNA controlling cell growth patterns to the DNA of an amputee—"
Both Randy and Flash shot MJ a look which clearly said: Thanks a bunch, Watson, now we have to stand here and listen to this shit from creepy ole Dr. Moreau! Why in bloody fucking hell couldn't you have just put the box on the desk and headed the hell out?
Mary Jane just stared at Professor Connors' metal arm, thinking, Did Doc Ock build that for you? Finally, her morbid curiosity got the better of her. "Who rigged that arm up for you, Doctor? Never seen anything like it."
Connors sighed, gesturing toward the picture of two newly minted college grads unaware of their dark futures. "My friend, Otto Octavius, built it quite a few years ago," he said. "A crying shame what happened to him."
All Mary Jane could think upon hearing that was—