In New York, a group of high school students followed a woman around a lab as she talked about spiders and genetic research. None of them where aware of the tiny blue and red arachnid spinning its web in the high reaches of the laboratory above them. In the overall sterile environment of the lab, there was few if any food to be had for the tiny creature, and then it detected heat far below it.

Drifting downward on a nigh-invisible thread, the spider landed upon the spot of heat and discovered that the creature was far too large to be considered food. The hapless teenager shifted at the wrong moment, and the startled spider bit down only to be thrown off by the sudden twitch of the threatening creature it had first thought was food.

Quickly the startled creature scuttled under cover and out of sight, and just as quickly it forgot the teenager it had bitten. Losing track of its original web, the creature reached the edge of the wall and cautiously started the vast journey around and out of the lab. The controls on the project were basically sterile, but had not been designed with the idea that any of the spiders would ever get out of their cages.

There were other labs on the premises, labs with commercial applications and the spider found its way into one such lab in an outdoor section of the facilities. The lab had a large supply of insects geared toward a layered natural defense against parasites and pests, plenty of food for a starving spider. And the colorful blooms gave it an excellent place to hide itself as well.

That was until certain blooms it had chosen were gathered, packaged and mailed out of the country, in past customs through various means available to the one that had ordered the blooms.

By the time the spider arrived at its unintended destination, across the North American continent and the Pacific Ocean, it was nearing the end of its lifespan.



Frightened again.

The first thing it did as the blooms were carefully removed from the packaging was to bite.

"Ouch! Accursed insect!"


The plane touched down in the Big Apple as the days of summer started to draw slowly to a close. July was ending and the dog days of August were right around the corner, and the young woman stepping out of the plane could feel that as the heat sent its wavering fingers into the exit platform that connected the aircraft to the airport.

The crowd of people around the young woman made her wish that she had opted for the luxury class flight rather than blending in with the common fare.

People made her…uncomfortable.

It was hard to feel like she…fit.

Too much had happened.

Ignorance was bliss.

Clarity was confusion.

And heartbreak…

She walked past a newsstand, not even taking a glimpsing interest in the papers on sale there. Had they been in Japanese, even such total disinterest would have been enough to become aware of the headlines and attract her attention, but her English, excellent as it was, took time to digest compared to her native language.

The young woman set her carry on luggage down in front of a phone and lifted it up, dialing in her credit card and the number she wished to call.

"I have arrived," she said quietly, speaking in her native Japanese. "No, everything is taken care of. Has she…?"

She sighed in disappointment and, placing her gloved hand against the wall, leaned heavily.

"I'll keep in touch…no, please, tell no one…no shadow must be placed on her…my thanks, yes," the young woman sighed and hung the phone up, bending down to pick up her luggage and move on.

She moved quietly to the luggage claim and from there to a cab to take her to her new home.

And soon she was looking out of her new estate, complete with the necessary greenhouse, at the setting sun in the distance.

Taking a deep sigh, she turned to look back at one particular piece of luggage, a large trunk that contained an old suit of armor that she'd taken home for sentimental reasons.

At least that's what she told the customs agents.

Walking to it, making no sound as she walked delicately across the floor and bent down to easily lift it up and carry it over to a nearby table and opening the latch.

The scarlet and sapphire armor within certainly appeared as if it were a finely crafted antique, made from hundreds of individual plates, though the young woman in question showed none of the consideration an actual antique would deserve as she took up the kabuto and set it on the bar in front of her and proceeded to dismantle it.

Quickly, the metal plates were separated and cleaned from their artificially aged appearance and set in front of her one by one as a succession of darts, each of which made hollow clinking sound as she set it down.

The backing of the helmet unfurled into a long lash of cloth that had been thick only by how many times it had overlapped itself. This, she tied to the crest with a quick, sure movement before she lashed it out experimentally through the large room. Calling it back with another simple gestured, she coiled it gently and effectively even as she slid a piece of the crest-turned-handle off the rest and then shut it closed again.

The sote, with thick shoulder plates, came next, each dismantled into five canisters which only lacked a solid sound due to the liquid each still held within. These went next to darts as well.

It was good to have the supply on hand, her plants would not be arriving for another four days yet, and it would take some time before she could grow the exotic plants she needed for her concoctions.

The o-yori came apart next, disgorging dozens upon dozens of small glass marbles that contained within themselves what appeared to be water surrounding another, smaller marble within. Each of these were treated cautiously and carefully, making sure to keep any of them from coming close to rolling off and breaking somewhere.

The plates that had made up what appeared to be the primary defensive construction of the o-yori separated out into a succession of slim round pieces of metal as she knocked the ceramic corners off and proceeded to screw the pieces together into a succession of batons.

The plates of the kusazari was undone, the metal was removed to reveal a flexible and fibrous material that she wasted no time in laying out as the pieces of a full outfit similar to what the ill educated masses would have assumed had at one time been worn by ninja. The cloth itself stretched out easily enough and she began to slip the removed metal pieces into their proper positions.

Hearts and Lungs.


Upper arms and thighs.

The kote and tsubo suneate were left intact, but, as they were polished, it became obvious that the aged appearance was faked again and the armor was of a much newer and more cutting edge alloy.

Everything was marked, acid etched in most cases, with a webbed pattern that showed the repeating motif of a rose.

"Ahh, time for a little exploration," the young woman said.


Her training and experienced combined with her new strength and agility made roof-hopping reach whole new levels, but she didn't really reach her greatest speed until she hit the high-rises of New York proper.

The city was full of tall buildings.

Buildings of stone and mixed with the more familiar glass that the younger skyscrapers of her home city had.

This was the most free she ever felt.


In the old times it had been the only time she could find clarity, the only time she could see the world for what it was.

And now it was the only time she could put the world behind her.

Funny how that worked.


"Hurry it up," an insistent man dressed in unflattering black clothing said. "Someone could see us any time now."

He and the man he was speaking too were huddled in the shadows in front of a Gamestop advertising everything from guns and to jewelry. Inside was a virtual smorgasbord of material that would go very quickly on the black market.

"It's three o'clock in the morning," the other said. "Who's going to see us?"

"Cops," the other said. "Or one of those masked freaks that's been running around. The Punisher."

"Okay, so there's a lot of reasons, but still, what's going to make us slower," the second asked. "You pushing me to hurry up? Or you being quiet and letting me work."

He waited for a response and failed to get one.

The thief crinkled his eyes in confusion, expecting at least a mumbling acceptance if not a scathing, sarcastic remark from his partner. Turning about, curious, and a little afraid, to see what had happened to quiet his friend, the man paused in his attempt to deactivate the alarm system.

There was his partner, standing there above him, standing eerily still, mouth open and hand at the back of his neck as his eyes glanced about frantically.

"What the…" he started to say.

And that's when the dart sank into his shoulder. He had enough time to open his mouth and start to push back in surprise before almost every muscle in his body simultaneously froze and he toppled stiffly to the ground behind him.

Both men watched, as much as they could, a slender, definitely female form drop out of the dark sky and trace a casual, sophisticated stride to where they had been frozen and glanced over the two of them, eyebrows arcing.

"You shall be capable of moving again shortly," she said in a shrill voice that never the less held a polite tone. "However, I think I have other methods with which to engage your presence further…"

It wasn't much later that a police patrol car drove by to see the two thugs hanging downward from strands of thick webbing, the image of a rose worked into the netting between the two.


The advanced biology class was filled with pretty much what Peter had expected there to be: a load of older undergraduates on their way to pre-med or biology programs. He nodded and made his way across the room to find a seat.

His presence was really something of a formality really. There were no tests to take to pass out of this class, as it was considered a somewhat high level class. He wasn't expecting it to do much for him, but that was what personal study was for. And there was always the chance of getting an exceptional teacher.

Several of the other students were looking at him somewhat questioningly. He did still look something like a high school student after all, and all those older students were probably wondering what he was doing there.

The sound of the door opening attracted his attention, but it was just another student walking into the room and she didn't look any older than he did.

She was Asian, and fairly short and trim with long legs. She was flipping through the book with a resigned and bored expression on her face.

"Excuse me," one of the other students said. "This is a 4000 level class, I think you two have the wrong class."

The Japanese girl turned an irritated look toward the speaker and appeared to be gathering herself for an answer when another person entered the room.

He was a tall man and he would have been distinguished even without the missing arm.

"I think I should be the one to make that judgment," he said. "Miss Kuno, please take a seat and we can get started."

"Certainly," she said, restricting herself to an irritated frown as she sat down in a nearby available chair and began to set her class materials out.