"Advent of Midnight"
Chapter 13: "The Void Cries Through Him"
Disclaimer: Spectacular Spider-Man belongs to Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios. Darkstalkers and Devil May Cry belong to Capcom. All related characters and properties belong to Marvel and Capcom, and I make no money from this story.
Author's note: It's been a year and four months since I began this story and now it's time to end this phase of it. Yes, "this phase," since I plan to continue the adventures started here in the form of a wider crossover between Marvel properties and Capcom properties. Oh, yes, anticipation of Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds has gotten the better of me, though I do wish Marvel's side had some women. (And they'd better include the Web-Head or heads will roll.)
In all seriousness, it's been a long time coming. Spider-Man is all set to confront the demon that took his Aunt May and nearly destroyed his humanity. Meanwhile, the demon lords continue to wage their hellish civil war on Earth, and who knows just who might exploit this for their own gain? What heroes will emerge to stand against the fiends that threaten humanity? What villains will attempt to barter with them for personal advantage? And will anything or anyone be left standing after the battle is over? For the answers to those questions and others, read on as the endgame begins!
"Agent Romanoff," an imposing man with gray-tinged brown hair and a patch over his scarred left eye whispered into a Bluetooth earpiece. "Have you managed to rendezvous with Agent Van Dyne and her boyfriend yet?"
"I'm with Agent Van Dyne now, Colonel Fury," a female voice with a low Russian accent responded over the com-link.
"Are Agents Barnes and Barton with you?" Colonel Nick Fury asked.
"They will be meeting with us shortly," Agent Natasha Romanoff replied. "They have gone to track down the other parties you claimed interest in."
"Good," Fury replied. "I'll link up with you shortly. Fury out."
He closed the com-link before closing his good eye to practice a meditation technique that would prove useful in restraining him from killing the man that had just walked in. The man in question was tall and broad-shouldered, garbed in his usual military brass uniform, and his hair had gone nearly completely white with age. Despite that, he was in rather fine physical shape; it was his attitude Fury didn't like.
"So, Fury, your little freak menagerie still can't hack it, can they?" the man taunted.
"It's not like your soldiers have been able to pierce that barrier surrounding New York City, hmm, Thunderbolt?" Fury retorted with a slight smirk. "Bet that guy you've been chasing all over the country would be pretty useful right now."
General "Thunderbolt" Ross bit back an angry growl at the reference to his lifetime mission, which so far had been an abject failure. "You got any better luck with that thing?" he asked, just to be snarky.
"No," Fury admitted. "We still have communications in there, but beyond that, any of our forces stuck inside that city are on their own."
Ross grunted. "Just what the hell is going on?"
"I don't know, but for the sake of every innocent person in that city – 'my little freak menagerie,' as you call them, better be able to stop it," Fury replied.
Inside the city that had been transformed into a veritable hell on Earth, the Ghost Riders confronted the dark prince of Makai, Jedah Doma. "What's your game?" the red-hued Ghost Rider asked.
"My game?" Jedah echoed. "You think this is a game? Your masters have long left this world to rot in its own filth, and you expect me to just let that stand? The corruption of this world, the celestial plane, and the infernal plane will lead to the destruction of everything – unless I stop it."
"And how do you intend to do that?" the blue-hued Ghost Rider interrogated.
Jedah spread his arms out to gesture to the city around them, the bleeding skies and the rampaging demons. "I am going to merge our worlds together. All will be as one, and we will be reborn from the Womb of the Holy Mother. We will be free to begin anew . . . and we will be saved."
"You're a fool, Jedah Doma, to think that a devil like you will be our salvation," the blue-hued Ghost Rider snarled.
"And you are a hypocrite," Jedah retorted. "I know the fuel behind that fire of yours . . . Zadkiel."
The blue flames surrounding the other Ghost Rider's skull blazed brightly. "You . . . are going to die here!" He withdrew a length of chain with bladed links from around his torso and threw it at Jedah, the links breaking apart for a shrapnel-like attack that cut into the demon prince. "Your mad dream will never be reality!"
Jedah laughed, even while he was bleeding from the blue-hued Ghost Rider's attack. The Ghost Riders figured out why he was laughing when his blood began to attack them. The red-hued Ghost Rider unleashed hellfire on Jedah Doma, while the blue-hued Ghost Rider unleashed blue-tinted holy fire upon the demon prince. The two differently powered fire attacks hit the demon prince and seemed to engulf him, only to be violently dispersed by a cluster of bladed wings.
"Are you that sure my dream will never be reality?" Jedah asked.
"It never will be," the red-hued Ghost Rider growled, throwing out his own hellfire-enhanced chain to bind Jedah, who merely snapped it apart in a bladed fury and attacked the Riders with those same blades. The red-hued Ghost Rider dodged and psychokinetically directed the severed links of his chain to strike Jedah like bullets, while the blue-hued Ghost Rider attacked more directly, lashing at Jedah with his bladed chain.
"You're the fool if you think you can beat me," Jedah snarled, catching the blue Ghost Rider's chain and using it to yank the flame-skulled biker toward him. Twisting in midair, the blue Ghost Rider tangled his chain around Jedah Doma and came down slamming the demon prince into the rooftop.
"Who's the fool now?"
Elsewhere in demon-infested New York, a cute girl in her early twenties, notable for the attractive blend of Caucasian and Asian features, entered Hank Pym's apartment. Briefly pausing to admire the décor, she immediately headed for the hidden room where he worked on his "special" projects. "Hank? You there?" she called out.
"Yeah, Jan," Hank greeted her, his voice filtered through the insect-styled helmet he wore. When Jan saw him, she noticed that he was wearing insect-like red armor with blue joints. An upraised shell resembling an insect's thorax rested on his back, and if Jan wasn't mistaken, it covered the power source for his armor. His face was entirely concealed by a helmet with lenses resembling an insect's eyes and the mouthpiece resembled an insect's mandibles.
"So this is the G.I.A.N.T. Suit you've been working on," Jan remarked. "I'm impressed."
"I've got spares," Hank replied. "One of them I made for you."
"Aww, you shouldn't have," Jan purred amusedly. "By the way, I've got some friends waiting for you outside. We've got a lot of work to do. Mind showing me that suit you made for me?"
Hank showed her to the armory where he kept his spare G.I.A.N.T. Suits, pointing out a black-and-gold model with a more feminine shape. "That's the G.I.A.N.T. Suit, Wasp Model."
"What's yours called?" Jan asked.
"Ant Model," Hank replied. "You wanna try it on? I'll look away."
Jan chuckled. "Always the gentleman, Hank. That's what I like about you."
After Jan had gotten the Wasp Model G.I.A.N.T. Suit on, she flexed her fingers curiously. "Wow, this suit . . . it's just right . . . how?"
If Hank hadn't had his helmet on, he would have scratched the back of his head nervously. "Let's meet these friends of yours."
Once outside Hank's lab and outside his apartment, the G.I.A.N.T. Suited couple found themselves face to face with several other people, most of them in costume. One was a well-muscled brunet man in a tan vest and brown pants made out of lizard hide. Another was a redheaded young woman garbed in a skintight black leather suit with the zipper halfway down, a belt with a red symbol resembling that of the black widow spider, and metal cuffs on her wrists.
Two others were seemingly ordinary teenage boys in nondescript clothes, one Asian and neatly groomed, the other Caucasian and somewhat scruffier. A fifth was a grim-looking young brown-haired man in black tactical body armor with a rifle strapped around his torso, a pistol strapped to his hip, and his eyes concealed behind a black visor. The sixth was a blond man in black-and-purple tactical body armor with straps around the torso aligned to resemble an uppercase "H," a quiver full of arrows on his back, a collapsible bow strapped to his hip, dual pistols strapped to his thighs, and a pair of sunglasses over his eyes.
"Who are these guys?" Hank asked.
"They're the tactical squad S.H.I.E.L.D. put together for its Avenger Initiative," Jan replied.
"You work for S.H.I.E.L.D.?" Hank deduced.
"Yeah," Jan confirmed. "Fury offered me a pretty good deal. He could offer you one just as good."
"Does he know what the hell's going on out there?" Hank asked.
"Demons," the muscular man in the earthy colors replied. "According to my stepmother Hera, somebody's trying to break down the walls separating this world from the world of demons and the world of angels . . . and possibly the home realms of the gods as well."
"What would happen if those walls came down?" Hank inquired, suspecting he wouldn't like the answer.
"About what you'd expect," the Asian boy answered. "Fire and brimstone, the forces of Heaven and Hell fighting their war on Earth and dragging the human race into it kicking and screaming, some of the nastier gods setting off to reestablish their former dominance over humanity, and in the end . . . rocks fall, everyone dies."
"Rocks fall, everyone dies?" Hank repeated incredulously.
"What, you never heard of tabletop RPGs?" the boy asked incredulously. "It's what happens when the game master gets sick of his players acting like idiots or just feels mean. He kills them all off."
Hank chuckled embarrassedly. "I've missed out on a lot, haven't I?"
"Be serious, Amadeus," the redheaded woman admonished with a light Russian accent, just heavy enough to add a touch of exotic allure.
"If it's that serious, what are we standing here waiting for?" Hank asked. "Let's go out there and save some lives."
"Sounds good to me," the sunglasses-wearing man with the "H"-straps around his torso replied. "And on the way, how about we all get to know each other? Name's Clint. Call me Hawkeye."
Hank chuckled slightly. "It's Hank. Call me Giant-Man."
"All right," Hawkeye responded.
The scruffy boy twisted his left wrist to loosen the sleeve, revealing what appeared to be a wrist-mounted sport watch. A closer look would reveal that the object was actually embedded within his wrist. With a twist of the casing, the watch face "opened" to reveal the holographic image of an armored warrior in silver and green with a blond braid sticking out of the bottom of the helmet. The boy grinned at the image before slamming his hand over it, and in a flash of bright silver-green light, he was gone, replaced by the very warrior he'd been projecting.
The warrior was garbed in a silver-white breastplate with a circular hole in the center to expose the white starburst symbol on the under-suit for his armor. That same breastplate also extended to cover his sides and hips, while silver-white metal boots and articulated leg armor for greater freedom of movement covered most of his legs. He wore white gauntlets with specially articulated joints for his wrists and knuckles, and his face was concealed by a white helmet that looked like a high-tech Spartan helm.
"Whoa," Hank uttered. "And I thought my armor was cool."
"That's Mahr-Vehl, a warrior of the Kree Empire until he got fed up with how its leadership managed that empire," the Wasp explained. "His DNA, memories, and personality were encoded within that implant on Rick's wrist and whenever Rick activates it, he takes over."
"Marvel?" Hank uttered in confusion.
"Mahr-Vehl," the armored warrior corrected sourly. "But yes, call me 'Captain Marvel' if that's easier to pronounce."
"You could chill out, you know," Hawkeye suggested. "It's not our fault your name doesn't roll off our tongues so easily."
"No, I suppose it isn't," "Captain Marvel" replied with slight resignation in his voice. "But it's still irritating."
"We've talked long enough," the leather-clad redhead cut in. "It's time to move."
"She's right," the Wasp said. "Let's get to saving some lives."
And somewhere else in the demon-infested city, the Scarlet Spider – as Ben Reilly had taken to calling himself – was swinging through on his webs. Following him were Arana (Anya Corazon), Spider-Woman (Mattie Franklin), Tarantula (Harry Osborn), and Spider-X (Brian Kornfeld), all in their own ways. Arana was using bolas with spider-shaped weights that doubled as clamps to swing from, while Spider-Woman was climbing over the skyscrapers with her extended spider legs. Tarantula and Spider-X were web-slinging like the Scarlet Spider, but their webs were organic while his were artificial.
"You ever think that if this were an action movie, there'd be some heavy metal blasting in the background right now?" Scarlet Spider asked, trying to make conversation.
"Shut up, will you?" Spider-X grumbled. "We're supposed to be hunting demons, not yakking for no good reason."
"But that's what Spider-Man does," Tarantula defended somewhat hesitantly.
"Well, I'm going to be a better Spider-Man," Spider-X snapped.
Just then, the Web Corps heard a scream that sounded that of a young girl. A closer look showed a young blonde girl in a red cloak with the hood over her head carrying a picnic basket while being chased by a pack of demons, screaming her head off for someone to help her. Spider-X and Scarlet Spider immediately somersaulted down to save her, only for the young girl to turn around, pull a giant rifle out of her picnic basket, and start shooting wildly at the demon horde chasing her.
"What the hell?" Scarlet Spider shouted in astonishment.
The girl laughed with psychotic glee as the demon horde fell to her bullets. "Night-night!" she shouted at them as they died.
"What kind of . . . ?" Spider-X wondered aloud, just about as stunned as Scarlet Spider was.
Then the girl caught the two Spider-Men gaping at her. "Surprised a little lady like me is carrying such a big gun?" she taunted them.
"What was that about?" Scarlet Spider exploded.
"They're demons, I'm a demon slayer," the girl answered with utter nonchalance. "Just doing what I do to make an honest living."
"You just slaughtered them all!" Scarlet Spider yelled.
"Yeah, so?" the girl asked nonchalantly still. "Demons are so much fun to kill. You don't have to feel bad about it because they aren't even human."
"You are one twisted little girl," the Scarlet Spider commented.
"The name's B.B. Hood! And I'm not a little girl, either!" the girl shrieked, throwing open her cloak to reveal that, indeed, she was a bit more developed in the mammary area than an actual little girl would be. Of course, it wasn't by that much.
"You sure look little," Spider-X stated bluntly.
"You piece of . . . !" B.B. Hood yelled and pointed her rifle at him. Before she could fire, Spider-X had sliced the rifle apart with the talons that he also used for wall-crawling. "What the hell? I paid good money for that!" Then she started snickering in a quite disturbing fashion. "Then again, it's not like I don't have more."
"You're a mean little girl, you know that?" Arana remarked, having joined Scarlet Spider and Spider-X along with Tarantula and Spider-Woman.
"You wanna get out of my way?" B.B. Hood asked sweetly. "That way I don't have to make you all bloodstains on the pavement?"
"Like I'm letting a psycho like you run loose," Scarlet Spider retorted.
"Ok, you wanna play it like that . . . more fun for me!" she announced with mad glee, pulling out a pair of semiautomatic pistols and aiming them at the Spiders.
"Oh, crap . . ." Tarantula uttered.
"Dodge, bitch!" the red-cloaked girl shrieked, shooting at the Spiders, who were forced to put their new superhuman agility to the test by dodging so many bullets coming at them per minute. Scarlet Spider attempted to fire an impact webbing bullet at her, only to be forced to use his externalized web-shooter trigger to deflect her bullet instead.
"So much for that web-shooter," he muttered as he continued to dodge.
"Weaklings," a deep voice snarled, and suddenly the bullets were being sliced in half by what looked like a katana. The Spiders stopped in their tracks to see what looked like a samurai out of the depths of Hell itself. The demon samurai charged through the hail of bullets B.B. Hood was bringing down on him.
"Should we let them kill each other off?" Tarantula asked.
"Uh, I don't think we're gonna have much of a choice in the matter," Scarlet Spider replied, spotting more demons coming out of the shadows to confront them.
As Web Corps got ready to fight, a woman suddenly descended from the sky in an acrobatic somersault that ended in her uncurling herself to scratch one of the demons with clawed hands that strongly resembled cat's paws. That wasn't the only thing noticeable about her; she was practically naked except for a few strips of fur to (barely) preserve her modesty, and she had large white cat's ears sticking out of her bushy head of blue hair.
"Whoa," Tarantula uttered.
Joining the cat-woman was a werewolf who attacked the demons by ricocheting in a curled-up position like some kind of pinball. "Dr. Warren's been holding out on us," Spider-Woman mumbled.
"Wolves," B.B. Hood muttered. "I hate wolves." She took out another big gun and was about to open fire on the werewolf, only for Scarlet Spider to fire an impact webbing bullet that clogged her gun.
"No, missy, that's enough killing on your part today," he admonished.
"You're a nice fella!" the cat-woman remarked. "What's your name?"
"Scarlet Spider. Yours?"
"Felicia. And my buddy over there is Jon Talbain! Say hi, Jonny!"
"We don't have time for introductions!" the white-furred werewolf growled irritably in the midst of the fight.
"But we have to be polite!" Felicia insisted.
"By the way, who's the samurai from hell?" Spider-Woman asked.
"Bishamon," the werewolf, Jon Talbain, replied. "He's really a suit of cursed armor and a demon sword. Anyone possessing them will in turn be possessed by them and driven solely by the urge to kill."
"That's sick," Tarantula remarked, "and not in the good way."
Just then, B.B. Hood began to rap. "Ka-ka-ka-ka. Ka-ka-ka-ka . . ."
"Something tells me this is not going to turn out well," Spider-Woman murmured.
Arana looked down and saw a primed grenade roll next to her. "Oh, crap."
The grenade promptly exploded just as the combatants had all taken evasive measures. That didn't stop the explosion from knocking them around quite a bit, but it did succeed in taking out the demon hordes attacking them. When it died down, Arana rubbed her aching head.
"That girl's crazy."
Meanwhile, Spider-Man followed the Nightstalkers, as he had learned the band of vampire hunters called themselves, to Demitri Maximoff's manor. He found it funny that, with the exception of Frank Drake, the guy dual-wielding pistols, all of the Nightstalkers were themselves vampires of one kind or another.
Hannibal King, the talky one with the bare arms and dual-wielding swords, was a partially turned vampire who'd somehow resisted the full transformation, like Spider-Man himself. Rachel Hellsing, the pantsuit-wearing swordswoman, was a descendant of Abraham van Helsing (apparently, Dracula was real, after all). She was a vampire in her own right, but she used those abilities to hunt other vampires.
Edith Murray, the cute blonde with the guns, was a latent vampire (and her last name was kind of familiar) and, like Rachel, used her abilities to hunt fully manifested vampires. Blade, the leader of the bunch, was a dhampir, born to a human woman who'd been impregnated by a vampire that hunted her down and killed her after Blade had been born, hence Blade making it his lifelong mission to eradicate the vampire scourge.
In another time and place, Spider-Man and Hannibal would have gotten along great; they were both chatterboxes who could fill up entire silences with the amount of talk they'd both be spewing. Now wasn't the time for any of that, though, as Spider-Man had a beloved aunt to save.
As Spider-Man swung through the city following the Nightstalkers, he got the feeling he was being followed. "You sure you wanna take on your ex like this?" he asked.
Morrigan just smirked at him as she flew beside him. "Very."
When they made it to Demitri's manor, Spider-Man moved to knock the door down with his fists, only for his spider-sense to suddenly flare painfully. "It's a barrier spell of some kind."
"Barrier spell, huh?" Morrigan remarked. "Lilith?"
Lilith cracked her knuckles. "Leave it to me, sis." She began tapping her right foot, then her left foot, all while nodding her head as though listening to a beat no one else could hear. The Nightstalkers and Spider-Man looked at her in confusion as she began to dance, swiveling her hips to that same inaudible beat until she stopped to twirl and punch the door, shattering the barrier spell.
"Who knew dancing could do that?" Spider-Man quipped.
Hannibal whistled appreciatively, before Rachel elbowed him in the ribs. "She's too young for you."
"No, I'm not," Lilith purred flirtatiously.
"You wanna get your life sucked out through your dick, that's perfectly fine by me," Edith grumbled.
"Jealous, Edie?" Hannibal taunted.
"Can we just go inside and kill this bastard already?" Blade asked sourly.
"I'm with Mr. Sunglasses-at-Night," Spider-Man agreed.
"As am I," Morrigan added. "The longer we wait, the more time Demitri will have to refortify his defenses."
They went inside, spreading out through the manor. Just then, the wall-crawler's spider-sense went off and he whirled just in time to avoid being attacked by a vampire. No . . . on closer examination, his attacker wasn't a vampire; he was a ghoul, a partly turned human who'd been driven berserk by his incomplete transformation. It was suddenly apparent to the web-slinger that Demitri was using ghouls as shock troops.
Spider-Man threw the ghoul off and webbed him to the wall, before his spider-sense alerted him just in time for him to dodge another ghoul's attack. Rolling under the ghoul, Spider-Man twisted to kick him into the ceiling and web him there in the same second his back touched it. Flipping onto his feet, Spider-Man slammed an elbow into a third ghoul's ribcage without even looking before sprinting out of there to find Demitri.
Elsewhere in the manor, Blade ran into a small coterie of ghouls. He immediately drew his titanium-silver longsword and began slicing through them. Nearby, several of the ghouls had drawn guns and were now shooting at Hannibal King, who was using his inhuman reflexes to deflect the bullets with his twin swords while getting closer to his opponents. When he was close enough, he sliced off their gun arms, but he spotted one in the reflection of his blades about to shoot him from behind. Reacting quickly, Hannibal whirled and sliced the bullet in two, its halves striking two ghouls in the head.
Rachel looked at the ghouls that were rushing to attack her with a wicked smile on her face. She quickly unsheathed her sword . . . and sheathed it again mere seconds later. A second after, the ghouls collapsed in puddles of their own blood, leaving Rachel to smile at a job well done.
"You wanna do this together?" Edith asked Frank over her shoulder.
"No problem," Frank replied.
The two vampire slayers aimed their guns together at an attacking ghoul and pulled the triggers simultaneously, their exploding bullets striking the ghoul in the head. Frank then twisted away from Edith, pushing her out of the way of another attacking ghoul while drawing his second pistol and hitting the ghoul with another explosive round. Edith dexterously avoided another ghoul's attack and pumped him full of exploding silver-jacketed lead.
Elsewhere in the manor, Morrigan and Lilith were in the midst of a horde of ghouls, their wings morphing into bladelike tentacle spears that ripped through the twisted humans. Morrigan lunged at one of the ghouls and wrapped him in her wings before slamming him into the ground in a manner resembling a piledriver. Lilith split into two and attacked two more ghouls in complete tandem with her duplicate before recombining with a graceful back-flip.
While all these fights were going on, Spider-Man suddenly collapsed in pain from spider-sense overload. "No . . . not now . . ."
The Spider-Clone had burst in, tearing through ghouls with all the ferocity and strength of a madman. "Demitri Maximoff! FACE ME!" the hybrid abomination screamed furiously.
A deep, ominous chuckle rose from all over the manor. "Is that what you want, you deformed freak of science?" Demitri taunted. "Then that's what you get."
At that moment, Demitri emerged from the shadows of his manor, briefly manifesting his gargoyle-like demonic visage before shifting back to human form. The Spider-Clone snarled beneath his mask and lunged at Demitri with his extended arm transformed into a giant organic blade that could probably cleave the vampiric demon in two. Unfortunately for him, Demitri reacted faster, grabbing him by the throat and slamming him into the ground with one hand.
Furious, the Spider-Clone sliced Demitri's arm off with his blade arm and then impaled him with that same blade. To his surprise, Demitri just laughed it off, before grabbing the clone by his clavicle and hoisting him off, not minding that the clone's blade arm had just cut him even deeper. The clone contorted in midair and lashed out with his arm like a bladed whip, an attack Demitri dodged by seeming to just vanish.
"Where is he?" the clone hissed, just before he got punched in the face by Demitri, who had suddenly reappeared. As the clone sailed through the air, Demitri dashed behind him to strike him down with a vicious two-handed punch. The clone barely had time to roll onto his feet before Demitri was on him again, punching him with a speed and brutality the likes of which would have terrified even more hardened warriors.
The fully healed Demitri picked up the clone and smashed his head into the clone's head. While the clone was still disoriented, Demitri grabbed him and body-slammed him into the reinforced floor with enough force to nearly break the tiles. "Nothing but a childish freak," Demitri muttered scornfully, walking away from the wounded Spider-Clone.
It was at that moment that Demitri got a surprise, as the Spider-Clone had just enough force of will left to get up and slice the aspiring demon lord in half. "So what if I am?" he asked coldly. "I'm still good enough to kill you."
The clone didn't have the chance to savor his triumph, as the Demitri he had "killed" was nothing but an illusion. The clone found this out when Demitri grabbed him by the face and slammed him into the ground before stomping on his head for emphasis. "Your refusal to die is perversely admirable, but it's getting annoying."
Suddenly, he found himself dodging exploding bullets, although he quickly honed onto their origin – Edith Murray and Frank Drake. He smirked. "Did you really think you could get me with those?" In a flash, he was right behind them and ready to decapitate them both. Another flash interrupted him, this one Rachel blocking his attack with her sword before kicking him back . . . right into a swinging kick from Spider-Man.
"Where's my aunt?" Spider-Man asked.
Demitri smirked. "We've been having a lot of fun, she and I."
Spider-Man growled furiously and attacked Demitri with a berserk flurry of punches and kicks, only for Demitri to catch his last punch and break his arm with a brutal twist. He then added insult to injury by kicking Spider-Man in his broken arm, eliciting an instinctive cry of pain from the web-slinger. At that moment, Hannibal flashed to attack Demitri with his swords, Morrigan and Lilith flanking him.
"Not cool, what you just did to that kid," Hannibal remarked. "Not cool at all! What kind of self-respecting psychopath are you?"
"Let's just finish him," Blade snarled, attacking Demitri with Hannibal.
"You two think you can take me?" Demitri mocked. He directed his next comment to Blade. "You think you can take me, you sorry half-breed?"
Blade impaled Demitri through the hand, but only because Demitri had deflected the strike that Blade intended for his heart. Demitri smiled evilly at Blade and impaled him through the stomach with his other hand before tossing him aside. He then pulled Blade's sword out of his hand and experimentally swung it.
"Nice grip. You've probably scored a lot of kills with this, haven't you, Blade?"
"You're welcome to add yourself to that list," Blade retorted.
"Silver?" Demitri wondered as he hefted Blade's sword. "No wonder my hand was stinging. But that's all you can do."
Hannibal and Rachel attacked Demitri, only for Demitri to block them with his stolen sword. Rachel flashed out of sight, reappearing in the air behind Demitri to deliver a tornado kick to his head. Unfortunately for her, Demitri blocked her kick by impaling her through the foot with Blade's sword before ripping the blade out forcefully and knocking her to the ground. Hannibal attempted to use his swords like scissors to cut off Demitri's head, but Demitri blocked it with his singular sword and kicked Hannibal in the stomach, knocking him to the ground as well.
Edith flashed in front of Demitri and shot him in the head before jumping back out of the way as Frank pelted him with bullets. Sadly, that wasn't enough to do him in, as Demitri was regenerating at an abominably fast pace. He laughed in their faces – right until Morrigan and Lilith double-teamed him with their drill wings.
"You . . ." Demitri snarled.
"You never were one for taking hints, were you?" Morrigan taunted.
"You abandon me for that Sparda filth, you dare take that childish freak of science into your bed, and now you fight alongside the hunters. . . ." Demitri snarled. "So much humiliation I've suffered at your hands, Morrigan Aensland. No more. It ends tonight!"
Suddenly, a web lashed out to bind Demitri's arms. "You . . . really don't know how to deal with a woman who says no to you, do you?" Spider-Man taunted, his good arm outstretched in the web-spinning position.
"Spidey!" Lilith greeted exuberantly.
His spider-sense barely had time to go off before Demitri ripped free of the webbing and lunged at him, body-slamming the web-slinger into the floor like he'd done with his clone. A ragged scream ripped out of Spider-Man's throat as the pain from his broken arm was aggravated once again. Demitri smiled cruelly at the sight of the web-slinger's pain.
"And now for the other one . . ." Just as Demitri was about to break Spider-Man's remaining good arm, the wall-crawler's clone tackled him, slamming his shoulder into Demitri's ribcage. Demitri attempted to attack the clone, only for that clone to twist around in midair and come down with a brutal punch to Demitri's face. Unfortunately, this gave Demitri the opening he needed, grabbing the clone by his throat and throwing him aside like a ragdoll.
"You . . . saved me?" Spider-Man asked his clone.
The clone just chuckled painfully. "We can't beat him like this."
"You got any suggestions?" Spider-Man inquired. "Because I could use some ideas right now."
The clone's symbiotic mass began to stretch out from him in tendrils that gently but insistently gripped Spider-Man's side. "Hey, hey, hey!" Spider-Man protested. "I'm not doing that again!"
"A merger," the clone whispered as the tendrils of his symbiotic mass continued to envelop Spider-Man. "We can beat him together. Warren made me to be your superior. Instead, I will be your support."
"Not like I've got very many options here," Spider-Man muttered. "Just don't do anything funny."
"Another trick?" Demitri asked, staring at the cocoon of hardened black ooze where the two Spider-Men had been. "You might as well give up."
The cocoon was split by a brutal punch from inside, revealing a black-coated arm with strange glowing lines running through it. Another arm joined it, much similar to the first, and a humanoid figure used those arms to push out of the cocoon. The figure resembled Spider-Man in black, but the lenses of his mask were glowing red along with the spider symbol on his chest, its legs extending and tapering into the glowing circuit-like runes on his arms, legs, and torso.
"Rematch?" the new Spider-Man challenged.
"I knew those protection sigils would be good for something!" Lilith cheered.
Demitri snarled and lunged at Spider-Man, only for Spider-Man to catch Demitri's fist and throw the demon lord back. Demitri merely twisted onto his feet, disappearing and reappearing behind Spider-Man, only for Spider-Man to slam his elbow into Demitri's ribcage. With Demitri knocked back, Spider-Man jumped and contorted in midair to spray Demitri with black webs, trapping him momentarily. Demitri merely ripped free, but by then, Spider-Man had seemingly vanished.
The demon lord was made aware of Spider-Man's presence with a tap on the shoulder that barely alerted him to the punch he received from the revitalized wall-crawler. As Demitri sailed through the air, Spider-Man dashed ahead of him and flipped back for a brutal drop kick that ended with Spider-Man riding Demitri's prone body like a skateboard and kicking him into the wall. Without even looking at him, Spider-Man walked away.
"You . . . omigod, you were so cool!" Lilith exclaimed. "It really, really turned me on!"
Spider-Man shivered internally. ". . . Thanks. I think. Listen, watch that guy for me. I gotta find my aunt."
"As long as you come right back," Morrigan purred. "I'm not finished with you yet."
Spider-Man jumped onto the balcony of the manor's top floor and sprinted for where he was sure Demitri was keeping Aunt May. He didn't know why he was sure, only that he was sure, and he found a most unexpected presence when he opened the door.
"Morbius! What are you doing?"
Michael Morbius stepped away from the bed, revealing a very human Aunt May – only she was still dressed in that "Victorian harem" outfit Demitri had put her in. Spider-Man felt a mixture of relief and unease, the former from her being human again, the latter from her still wearing that outfit. It was very incongruous with the Aunt May he knew, but he would worry about that later. He turned to Morbius and asked his question in one word.
Morbius held up an empty vial. "Gene cleanser. I stole it from Warren."
"Why not use it on yourself?" Spider-Man asked.
"I once wanted to save lives," Morbius replied soberly. "While fighting my way here, I got back in touch with that desire. I believed I could start with your aunt."
"I . . . I don't know what to say . . ."
"Nothing needs to be said." With a flash, Morbius was gone, so fast even Spider-Man's eyes had a hard time tracking him.
Aunt May . . . he heard his symbiote-fused doppelganger's voice, sounding so plaintively childlike it nearly broke his heart. Spider-Man walked over to Aunt May's sleeping frame and let the symbiotic matter of his costume recede from his hand so he could touch her cheek gently. "Sleep tight. The nightmare's gonna be over for us both soon."
He picked up Aunt May, covering her in a blanket, and came down with her. "So that's your aunt," Hannibal remarked. "She ain't that bad-looking."
"Are you going to flirt with every living female you run into?" Rachel asked irritably.
"Just the cute ones," Hannibal answered with an impish smirk.
The symbiotic Devil Trigger suit peeled off Spider-Man, revealing the red-and-blue costume Lilith had made for him. The suit itself twisted into the form of a taller, more imposing version of Peter Parker, only he'd changed somewhat. His skin wasn't as leathery, but it was still a tan color, and the spiky barbs that covered his jaw had shrunk to look mostly like beard stubble. The barbs that made up his hair had softened into a more matted, downy look that could actually pass for hair.
His eyes were a different story, though; they were red with pinkish sclera and six extra eyes akin to those of a real spider had situated themselves between and above his human eyes. As everyone stared down the new Peter Parker curiously, it was Morrigan's gaze that carried hints of outright lust.
"Mm, if this is what you'll look like in a few years . . ." she remarked sultrily to Spider-Man.
Spider-Man aimed a sour look at Morrigan. "I just wanna get my aunt home. I'll worry about you and him and the rest of this later."
Blade looked out at the sky. "It looks like regular night again."
"Really?" Spider-Man asked. "Does that mean . . . we won?"
Some days later, Peter Parker busied himself attending to Aunt May back in their house with lots of soup and tea. She tried to insist that she could at least get her own tea, but Peter wouldn't hear of it. For that matter, neither would Ben, who was still living with them for the time being until he was old enough to get his own place. Even Mary Jane and Anna Watson had joined in the fussing, and Dr. Bromwell had made sure to give May a full checkup.
"I'm very touched that you're all so concerned about me, but I am not yet so fragile that I can't at least drink my own tea and eat my own soup," Aunt May insisted.
Peter looked like he was about to argue it some more, only for Mary Jane to put her hand on his shoulder. He sighed. "Ok."
"Besides, it'd be good for you to go out and do something," Aunt May advised. "You can't stay in here fussing over little old me forever."
"Yeah, you're right," Peter conceded.
So it was that Peter found himself dressed up as Spider-Man and on a rooftop with Morrigan and Lilith. "You kept the costume!" Lilith squealed.
"Yeah," Spider-Man answered. "It's not so bad."
Lilith pouted cutely.
"Ok, it's great! It's spectacular!"
Lilith giggled. "You're so cute."
"So, what did you want to meet here for?" Spider-Man asked.
"It was Jedah Doma that created the instability between our worlds," Morrigan explained. "Some mad idea he had in his head about saving us all or something."
"So where do we go from here?" Spider-Man asked.
"Back to the way things were before, I suppose," Morrigan replied easily. "It's not like the other candidates have enough strength to challenge me now, not after what happened."
"Is this goodbye?" Spider-Man asked, finding himself oddly saddened by that prospect.
Lilith walked up to him and peeled his mask off, just enough to expose his face. "No. This is . . . 'see you around.'" Then she kissed him on the lips – with tongue. Peter's eyes nearly jumped out of his head, he was so shocked by how Lilith was kissing him. When she pulled back, she noticed that Peter was in a daze and gently pulled his mask back down over his face before turning to Morrigan with a pleading expression.
"No, we can't take him with us," Morrigan denied. "I'd love to; he'd make an entertaining playmate if nothing else, but this city needs him far more than we do." Lilith pouted. "And no, I don't care how much that pout of yours makes me want to take you right here and now, we are not kidnapping him when he just got his aunt back."
"You've sure grown a conscience, huh, Morrigan?" Dante remarked, landing on the roof with his motorcycle.
"It happens," Morrigan admitted.
That was when Spider-Man snapped out of his kiss-induced daze. "So is that . . . it?"
"For now," Morrigan answered. "But I'll be back for you, Spider-Man. Until then . . ." She blew him a sultry kiss before a flurry of bats engulfed Spider-Man. When the flurry stopped, he noticed that he was all alone on the rooftop now.
I don't know if that's a good thing or not, but . . . might as well roll with it, Peter thought as he jumped off the rooftop and fired a web to swing on. He jumped, flipped, contorted, somersaulted, and swung through the concrete jungle that was his playground and protectorate all at once.
He was Spider-Man. Criminals, beware.
End Notes: There you have it! The end of the first installation of Advent of Midnight! As I'm sure most of you following me already know, this story is going to continue in an expansion of the Wide World of Marvel as it meets the world of Capcom's most venerated franchises. Spider-Man will be teaming up with the crew of Street Fighter against the might of M. Bison and Tombstone, joining up with the elite crime-fighting team S.T.A.R.S. to battle the sinister creations of the Umbrella Corporation and its rivals, tagging along with the likes of Mega Man to battle Dr. Wily's mechanical madmen, and even more! If that doesn't intimidate you, look out for it.
Furthermore, I'm sorry I couldn't get in all the fight scenes I wanted, with the Avengers and the X-Men, but at least I got to introduce the Avengers. With the exception of Scott Summers, the X-Men didn't even get to show up! Poor X-Men; they're always being left out of Marvel's big parties. I also wish I could have done more with the climactic fight between Dante, Vergil, Trish, Lady, and Nero, but this was Spider-Man's story still.
To move on, a lot of what I introduced in the second half of this story is still going to continue in the next volume of Advent of Midnight. Michael Morbius and the symbiote-hybrid Spider-Man clone are still out there. The Web Corps are waiting in the wings, the unwitting pawns of whatever agenda Norman Osborn and Miles Warren have in mind. Tombstone is embarking on a gang war of what might be epic proportions, and the Avengers are coming together. How will all this impact Spider-Man's world? You'll just have to wait and see.