Marvel Mayhem: El Tarantula #1 - Storm Warning
Sirens rang out as the pair of police cruisers thundered down the highway, dust coating the paint work as they cut through the dust storm and flakes of melting tar. Sitting in the front seat the bearded detective watched as the Speedo crept up to ninety kilometers per hour as it continued the agonizing climb upwards. It was a risk, the driver could barley see even with the hi-beams on, it was almost as if they were driving at the dead of night, yet he knew it was a sunny early April morning. Slowly the dust cleared as a minute speck of silver accelerated off into the distance.
“Dispatch this is Dawson, the suspect escaped… again.” Dawson reported into the on-board car radio. “We hit a hundred and he was still keeping pace, almost as if he was mocking us. Star and I are heading back to the way station, see if he left any evidence.”
“I doubt it.” Officer Star sighed. “We haven’t got any leads yet. Do you think this has something to do with that 'Tarantula' Vigilante?”
“Maybe. From what I've seen so far he doesn't play well with other capes.” Dawson answered, “Look at Mr Drago, eaten alive the poor basted, the only connection I can see between the Tarantula and Hurricane is that they both clean up after their messes. The ants destroyed almost all biological evidence save for Drago’s dental records. The phone used to call us belonged to the victim. We also found a canister belonging to a mister Henry Pym, we’re trying to schedule a meeting with him but so far we’re being stonewalled by his secretary.”
“And if you had the choice between catching one and not the other?” Star asked as she turned performed a u-turn and headed back towards Austin.
“That’s not my choice to make.” Dawson stated as he looked back over his shoulder, “We’ll get both of them eventually.”
The tall athletic woman sat down at the table, flicking her red streaked hair out of her face as she looked with mild dismay at the tray of something the cafeteria at the University of Austin called shepherd’s pie, an English delicacy she knew shouldn't look that way. “Hum I think I’ll pass.” She mumbled as she removed a physics book from her bag and flipped it open to a page describing the equations to calculate the effect of friction.
“Hey, you mind if I sit here.” An accented voice asked from behind her, if she had to guess she’d say the speaker was from Florida or maybe Louisiana. “Sure.” She answered as the tanned well built man with sparkling hazel eyes swam into view before sitting opposite from her. “Names Tobias Harvey, we have Bio Chemistry together.” The man added, “You’re that quiet girl. Maria something?”
“Vasquez.” Maria answered, “And if you don’t mind I’m trying to study.”
“Physics?” Tobias asked reading the spine of the book, “You thinking of changing modules?”
”No, I'm trying out for the track team.” Maria answered sharply, “This is just a little background reading to make me pass the grade.”
“I used to love running.” Tobias said dreamily, “But then I had an accident, ended up in hospital, would have been crippled if not for this amazing physiotherapist I had, called himself Dr. Mason, pretty much got me moving again by himself.”
“As much as your story fascinates me.” Maria yawned. “I have other places to be.” She added as she packed her books back into her bag and getting to her feet. “But by all means enjoy my shepherd’s pie, someone should.”
“Wait before you go.” Tobias said reaching into his bag and scrawling over a napkin on his tray. “If you ever want tips on running that’s my dorm room number, just pop in and I’ll teach you everything I know.”
"Thanks, but I think I can manage." Maria answered as she crumpled up the napkin, and dropped it back onto his tray. But not before she memorized the number, just in case she changed her mind. She walked out of the cafeteria, well aware she had crumpled his heart along with the napkin.
Maria sat on the saddle of her dirt bike, a copy of the Austin Sunrise in her gloved hand as she watched the convoy of vehicles flanking the massive flatbed lorry. It was carrying a hexagonal ring stabbed down by steel cables, followed by a refrigerated van with warning stickers plastered across the back. Pulling her mask down and activating the voice modulating software mounted on her headset, Maria waited for the cars to pass before switching on the radar tracker she had installed under the Yamaha Star Bolt’s handlebars. Counting down from ten she managed to reach three before the flash of chrome streaked past her and the smell of burning tar wafted up her nose. Gunning the engine she felt the bike vibrate as she roared onto the highway in hot pursuit after the convoy and Hurricane. It took only seconds for her to catch up the convoy, but it was clear that had been too long...
Two of the escort HUMVEE’s had been tossed aside like toy trucks, the hired security inside groaned as they lay broken on the floor. From up ahead, at the head of the convoy, there was the occasional burst of gunfire until Hurricane barged into the vehicle on the left, the sheer velocity caused the vehicle to spin off to the hard shoulder.
Seconds later the flatbed was breaking, the trailer snaking round as the driver panicked, the reason behind his fear skidding under the cab and skidding to a stop in front of the refrigerated van. Slowing to a stop Maria got her first clear look at Hurricane, the man was clad in gleaming chrome armor that seemed to be increasing the musculature of his arms and legs to crazy levels.
“That’s some steroid enhancement you have there.” Tarantula stated as the drivers of the van bolted out of the vehicle. “Either that or you’re a mutant. Either way your days of highway robbery are over.”
“My employer wants the energy source.” Hurricane replied in a grating metallic voice as he ran towards Tarantula. “And what he wants I get.”
“Not anymore.” Tarantula answered reaching for the bolas strapped to her leg only to see Hurricane grab the front wheel of her bike and flung her off, sending her crashing into the side of the van. Grunting more from anger then pain, she spun the bolas only to see Hurricane caught it and snapped the steel cable connecting the weighted balls.
“Nice bike. Now get on it and leave. I don’t want to hurt anyone, not if I have the choice.” Hurricane warned her as he threw the bike over to Tarantula.
“Too bad, because you just made me angry.” Tarantula hissed as she threw a grenade onto the highway, the outer case splitting open to reveal a shower of barbed caltrops. Getting to her feet she gestured for Hurricane to come get her, only to see him leap off the flatbed, and propel himself in to her.
“You asked for it.” Hurricane buzzed as he begun to pound Tarantula in the chest, the blows cracking her ribs until she counter attacker, lashing out with her blades and ripping off half of Hurricane’s helmet. “Now you've gone and done it!” Hurricane growled, his voice modulator broken revealing his Florida accent. “I already owe the Tinkerer for getting me on my feet and now you've damaged his equipment. I’ll take what I owe him out of your hide.”
“Sorry but I've got to run.” Tarantula answered as she twisted the pin of a concealed smoke bomb on her waist, thick grey smoke erupting from the device as she wiggled free just as sirens sounded on the horizon. Grabbing her bike she gunned the vehicle off the side of the highway as Hurricane ripped the doors off the van to retrieve the glowing energy cell inside, then sprinting off back the way he had come. Retreating into the darkness, Tarantula looked back briefly at the crash site before remembering the seemingly worthless numbers she had seen this morning before snarling. “Hurricane I’m coming for you.”
Dressed in jeans and a red crop top Maria Vasquez knocked on the dorm room door belonging to Tobias Harvey, a knife slid into the waistband of her trousers. The plan was simple, knock, get inside, get close and paralyze the man while she looked for evidence. The first part was simple and after two sharp knocks Tobias answered, a surprised look on his face. “Hi I didn't think I’d see you.” He said happily.
“Well I figure why pass up on an opportunity when he walks right past you.” Maria answered with a forced smile. “Is now a good time?”
“Yeah sure.” Tobias answered as he walked over to his bed and sat down to remove a series of plates from his leg to reveal a pair of cauterized stumps. “Sorry I know that ain't pretty, it really turns off any dates I have.”
“What happened?” Maria asked as she reached for the concealed blade.
“Me and my brother were in a car accident. He was killed and I was ripped in two.” Tobias sighed. “I blame myself. I was playing with the radio like kids do, distracting him when the truck came out of nowhere. I woke up a double amputee at the age of sixteen. Can you imagine? Would never have walked again if it wasn't for Doctor Mason. He wanted me to beta test some kind of adrenal enhancement exoskeleton, and I wasn't going to say no, of course it worked as you saw earlier today, but it didn't bring back the thing I wanted most.”
“Your brother.” Maria finished before retracting her hand. “My sister died a few years back in an explosion. I blamed myself for everything, and I knew my family did as well, they stopped talking to me, looked at me as if I was the bomber.”
“Ah they didn't think that.” Tobias answered. “One good thing came out of losing my legs” He added, “I had been hanging with a bad crew before the accident, you know shop lifting, joyriding all that stupid kid stuff. After I got my new legs I turned over a new leaf, buckled down and studied to get where I am today. I just wish my brother could see me now.”
“This exoskeleton?” Maria asked, “How fast does it make you?”
“I’ll be lucky if I can top eight miles an hour.” Tobias answered, “Any faster and the plates shift out of alignment and send me tumbling. Hell after the first few times I had a limiter installed to keep me from stressing out the joints.”
“I’m sorry.” Maria sighed as she looked down at Tobias’s legs before genuinely smiling as she walked back towards the door. “It’s been nice talking to you.”
“Sure, you know where I am if you need me.” Tobias answered as she shut the door before fishing a remote control out of his pocket and double tapping the main button to reveal a secret compartment in the dorm room wall, his Hurricane armor gleaming under the spotlights in the floor. “And that’s on the run.”