The Kevorkian Conspiracy
Disclaimer: Spider-Man and all other syndicated characters appearing in this story belong to Marvel Enterprises, Inc. – not me. Although I really, really wouldn't mind if they'd just turn over Spider-Man to me ' ::bats eyelashes:: pretty please? No? Okay, then – I'm not making any money, so please don't sue me, all right?
Prologue: The Old Parker Luck
The wind whipped down the streets of New York City, howling. Thunder rolled ominously in the distance; lightning flashed with a promise of danger. It had been dark for an hour already; what had started as an overly-warm spring day was quickly becoming a stormy night.
Peter Parker had been web-slinging all afternoon, as he was wont to do these days; after being Spider-Man for six months, he was absolutely addicted to his newfound mode of transportation. Not only did it get him around NYC much faster than walking (or even taking a cab) and allow him to spot anything bad happening in his hometown, it was a freeing experience. Grabbing each new web and hoping it would hold his weight was exhilarating, and the wind whipped at his face through the mask, and the people below him, never looking up, seemed so small and not intimidating that Peter could forget about his problems for a while and just imagine he was the only person on Earth who mattered—
Until he saw a disaster and swung into action. Today alone Peter, as Spider-Man, had stopped four muggings, one rape (the rapist would be spending a good, long while in the hospital, much less on Riker's Island), and an out-and-out robbery of an armored car.
However, the afternoon was long over and the late evening was not promising weather very accommodating to a young web-slinger. When Peter had spotted the first flash of lightning he had given up his favorite pastime in favor of walking, as he was not particularly eager to become a fried spider (which he felt was far more likely when he was thirty stories above the ground rather than on foot). After ducking into an alleyway and changing back into his street clothes, which he kept in his backpack, Peter had begun to walk home while the sky steadily darkened and wind picked up and the thunder began to rumble from far away.
Now it was fully dark – the true dark that came with night along with the unnatural dark of a thunderstorm. And Peter was wishing very hard that lightning wasn't threatening, because he'd have been home a lot sooner if he could only web-sling. Hunching his shoulders, he began to walk quickly – just a little too quickly for a normal human, but no one was watching, after all.
Naturally, that was when he heard the shouting coming from an alleyway not too far ahead.
Peter liked being a hero – really, he did – even if he wasn't fully appreciated as one. It was fun at the best of times, drop-dead terrifying at the worst, and most of the time an alleviation of the perpetual weight of guilt that was Uncle Ben's death. But he was getting hungry, the sky was getting angrier by the minute, and he had homework to do.
Still, duty called.
Peter glanced around surreptitiously to see if anyone was paying attention to the boring teenager shuffling down the street, and when he found no one looking his way, he leapt straight up as high as he could – about three stories – and clung to the thirty-story building. He then scuttled up the wall, supporting his weight entirely with his arms (his shoes prevented his toes from aiding his grip), and hauled himself onto the roof. He looked down over the edge and into the alleyway as he began to strip off his clothes to reveal his Spider-Man costume.
At first it looked like a mugging. Three burly men, one with a gun, had one young man up against the wall of the alleyway, and they were being none-too-gentle with him as they rifled his pockets. However, another moment of watching revealed the truth: "You don't got the key! I told you, you gotta have us the key!"
Extortion, Peter thought as he kicked off his shoe and began to crawl down the side of the building stealthily, still listening.
"L-look, I'm trying," the young man – he's probably only a few years older than me, Peter thought – stuttered, looking harassed and beleaguered. "But-but that l-lab is high s-security!" he blurted, wringing his hands. "I'll have to s-steal it—"
High security labs? And here I was thinking that they're just trying to bust up the local bar . . . crap.
"That's too bad for you," snapped one of the bullies. "We ain't gonna be the ones takin' no heat from the good doctor, kid! We'll hand you right on over, and we'll see how you like how he handles failures!"
The victim went wild-eyed. "P-please, give me two more days! J-j-just two! I can get it, I swear!"
"You'd damn well better have it, or we'll have the doc quarter you!" hissed one of the burly guys, before he grinned nastily just in time for a lightning flash to illuminate his scarred face. "And just to be sure you remember here's a little present from me to you . . ." he cocked his fist, and the young man ducked, his hands over his head—
Alrighty, nothing more to be heard here—
Peter pushed off of the wall from two stories up and landed neatly on the shoulders of the would-be puncher. "Hi! Mind if I join you guys?"
"Gah!" was all that the puncher said, staggering under the sudden force of additional weight coming down on his shoulders. "Spider-Man!"
"Oh, you are smart," Peter smirked under his mask, jumping back off of him before he could recover and firing webbing at the gun in the hand of one of the extortionists. "You get a gold star for your observational skills today!" He perched on the alleyway wall about fifteen feet up and watched with pleasure as the gang's victim ran from the alleyway in a panic.
"What the hell is this stuff?" asked the gun-toting thug, picking at the webbing now covering his weapon, not even noticing the fleeing man.
"Get him!" shouted the third man, pointing at Spidey as thunder rolled and lightning flashed. The storm was getting closer.
"'Get him'?" Why does everyone say that? Why does anyone even have to say it? As if you're not going to come after me anyway," Peter said conversationally as he seriously considered having a quick fistfight with the three thugs before leaving them wrapped in webbing for the police. God knew they deserved a good whomping. There was another flash of lightning and Peter discarded the idea; without another word, he began to spray them liberally with webbing until all three were hopelessly webbed to the sidewalk.
Now, a little information.
Hopping down from the wall, Peter jumped to crouch on the stomach of one of the thugs. The thug grunted, waking up from a semi-daze, and began to curse profusely.
"Tsk tsk, such language," Peter admonished before turning serious. "Shut up or I'll dislocate your jaw for you." The man fell silent. "Better. All right, big guy, tell me this – who's this doctor you're working for?"
The man shook his head. "I tell you, he'll kill me."
"Dude, you're going to jail. You don't have to worry about the doc's opinion for a while at least. Mine, though, you gotta worry about," Peter said in his best threatening voice. Cracking his knuckles, though, probably had a lot more to do with the frantic agreement from the thug than his words did.
"Okay, okay, it's Doc Ock! Doctor Octopus!"
Doc Ock? I thought he was in jail. Peter frowned in confusion and was grateful his mask kept his expressions private. "And what would he want a key to a top secret lab for?"
"I dunno. I swear I dunno," the man babbled. "He says 'get this key', and we go get it, we don't ask why, you know – but we're in hot water unless—"
"You're already in hot water, buddy. Where's this lab you're getting the key to?"
"Uh, OsCorp. It's an OsCorp chemical lab, that's all I know—"
OsCorp '? "Lay off the caffeine, will you? You sound like the Energizer Bunny. Get some sleep." With that, Peter cracked the man's head against the pavement hard enough to knock him out.
It was a simple matter to begin the climb back upwards toward his clothes, but Peter's head was swimming. Okay, here's a pretty riddle: what does Oscorp have that Ock wants? And how the hell did he get out of SHEILD's hands? . . . And here I was having such a good day.
And for that matter, if the guy wasn't just lying about Doc Ock, why hadn't he seen anything on the news? SHEILD should've jumped on the chance to warn people about an escaped criminal. Unless, of course, asses had to be covered – which, really, would have made sense. This was a government organization Peter was thinking about, after all.
Peter had just gathered up his backpack and was ready to leave when suddenly his spider-sense buzzed him, hard. Letting instinct take over, Peter leapt off the roof of the building and to his left, back-flipping onto the wall opposite the one he had been clinging to. As usual when operating by his spider-sense, he acted not a moment too soon; there was a blinding flash of lightning and a simultaneous CRACK that deafened Peter, and the roof behind him exploded outward in a cloud of dust and shrapnel even as he jumped. Holding onto the opposite wall with only his feet, Peter cupped his arms over his head to protect himself as smoking pieces of brick struck him with enough force to be painful. In mere moments, the entire episode was over.
Peter stared at the smoking roof blankly, breathing hard and trying to piece his wits back together. His immediate response to the explosion was to assume he had been attacked, but when his spider-sense gave no further warnings and Peter's clearing vision revealed no suspects, he slowly realized that he had very nearly been the victim of a lightning strike.
Just a lightning strike . . . sheesh, just a lightning strike? That was, like, fifty jillion times whatever Electro's thrown at me! Peter laughed nervously and tried to keep his teeth from chattering from shock. Good God, that was the adrenaline rush from hell . . .
There was another flash of lightning and a boom of thunder, and Peter jumped in reaction before taking a deep breath and climbing up the side of his new building perch to change.
. . . And then the heavens opened, and it began to pour.
Peter clung stubbornly to the building, gritting his teeth as his costume immediately froze to his skin, clinging in that uncomfortable way wet clothing had. There were worse things to be than soaking wet . . . such as on fire.
This was apparently what the lightning-struck building had decided to be.
There was a cry for help from inside the now-burning building. Peter groaned quietly, webbed his backpack to the wall, and leapt towards the inferno, telling himself that yes, the old Parker luck held, even when that particular Parker was in costume.
It was a very long night.