By frochez 0 Comments
The Web, New York
‘Can I get you anything?’ The Iron Spider asked. ‘A drink? Something to eat?’
‘You can start be telling me what the Hell is going on,’ Martinique said, her hands placed firmly on her hips.
‘Yeah, who are you people?’ Andy joined in. He’d meant to sound tough, but his voice cracked on the final word. Way to look macho. The woman glared at him, and he blushed.
‘All in good time, Martinique. You should at least change into something more comfortable and less… prison-y,’ said the Iron Spider, settling into one of the chairs around the large table.
‘If you head through that door and turn left, you’ll find a room with some clothes laid out,’ the man pointed to an inconspicuous door to one side. ‘The same goes for you, Alpha. Second room along.’
‘Why me?’ Andy asked, as the woman flounced out of the room.
‘Because at the moment your costume is associated with those hideous phones. You may even want to change your codename, but there’ll be time for that later. The Web requires something more subtle. Why use a machine gun when a scalpel can be so much more delicate?’
‘Uh,’ Andy said.
‘Just go,’ the man said, waving his hand dismissively.
‘Not the most promising start, is it?’ Dragon Man asked, sitting next to his companion. The chair had been designed specifically to hold his weight, and the steel still groaned slightly beneath him.
‘Oh, I don’t know,’ the Iron Spider said. Dragon Man suspected that if he could see beneath the mask, the man would be smiling.
‘I think there’s something we can work with.’
Utopia, Off the Coast of San Francisco
She stood on the rocks, allowing the sun to soak into her skin. It had been, what, four days since she’d last seen the sky? She sighed, pulling her dirty brown hair back from her face as she turned it upwards.
‘Torpid? Laura, what are you doing?’ She spun round. Bugs stood in the cave entrance, his mandibles chattering in anxiety. It scuttled forwards, keeping low to the ground.
‘Get back in the tunnels, before someone sees you,’ he said, picking up her gloves with one limb and handing them to her.
‘Like who? No-one comes anywhere near here anymore,’ she said, slipping the gloves over her oversized hands.
‘You can’t know that. SHIELD have eyes everywhere,’ Bugs said, pulling her gently underground. ‘It’s safer to stay below.’
‘What about the monster?’ she asked, hesitating at the cave entrance.
‘Come on, Torpid,’ Bugs said. ‘Even the x-men don’t come here anymore. We’re the only monsters left on this island.’
‘I know what I saw,’ Torpid muttered, as she followed him into the shadows.
The Web, New York
‘This had better be some sort of joke,’
Andy returned to the large room to find that Martinique was already there, her palms pressed against the table as she glared at Iron Spider. The orange jumpsuit was gone, replaced by a tight-fitted white jumpsuit. A fur-lined coat, also white, was flung over one chair with- Andy did a double-take- a gun in a white holster.
‘I’m no White Queen,’ the woman snarled at Iron Spider.
‘And why not? Miss Frost is no longer using the name, and you do have family connections with the Hellfire Club,’ Iron Spider said.
‘Emma Frost is a psychotic dominatrix, and my father was probably the worst person I’ve ever met. What makes you think that I’d want anything to do with either of them, or the secret society that tried to use a mad space bird to take over the world?’
‘Hmm, fair enough. Would you prefer something in black?’ Iron Spider snapped his fingers, and Martinique’s outfit turned from white to grey to black. Only the fur collar of the jacket remained white.
‘Wow,’ Andy breathed.
‘Ah, Alpha,’ Iron Spider said, turning to the boy. ‘Good of you to join us. You’re not going to complain about your costume, are you? This isn’t a tailors, you know.’
‘What? Oh, no. It’s fine,’ Alpha looked down at his own body. The costume was almost the same as his original, with the green panels replaced with red. There was a black mask, which was a welcome addition, with a red ‘alpha’ symbol over the right eye. Finally, Iron Spider had added a belt, with the same ‘alpha’ symbol forming the buckle.
‘Well, that’s a relief,’ said Iron Spider. He gestured to two of the empty seats at the table. Martinique and Alpha took their seats. There were two more, both left empty.
‘I suppose we’re waiting for someone else?’ Martinique asked.
‘Hmm? Oh, no,’ Iron Spider said. ‘We will hopefully be adding to our roster later, but all things in good time.’
‘So, this is the part where you tell us why we should trust you?’ the woman asked.
‘You should trust me, Marty, because if not for me you would still be in a prison cell, awaiting trial indefinitely for undisclosed crimes,’ Iron Spider said. Martinique glared at him.
‘And what about me?’ Alpha asked.
‘Oh, you’re here because you’ve got potential, my boy,’ said the Iron Spider. ‘No-one else may be able to see it, but I certainly can. Together, we’ll-’
‘We’ll what?’ Martinique interrupted. ‘We’ll rule the world? Destroy it? Save it?’
‘Third time’s the charm, my dear.’
‘May I?’ Dragon Man cut in, speaking for the first time.
‘Absolutely,’ Iron Spider said. Dragon Man rose to his feet. Alpha blinked. Up close, the creature was much taller, possibly eight feet tall, not including the wings.
‘I began life as what most of you would consider a villain. That was my purpose; it was how I was created, and how I acted.’ Dragon Man pressed a button concealed on the table’s surface, and the screens that covered one wall lit up. Alpha recognised the Fantastic Four and the Future Foundation. The largest image was a close-up of Reed Richards with a blond-haired girl sat on his lap.
‘However, a few years ago I was inducted into Reed Richards’ Future Foundation, an organisation designed with one simple purpose: ‘Fix Everything.’ In the process, my mind was… evolved by Richards’ daughter, Valeria. Specifically, I was designated as an extra guardian, a teacher and protector for the children of the Foundation.’ Dragon Man paused, his gaze locking on the Iron Spider.
‘I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing this for them. For Bentley and Valeria and all of them. How many times did Richards fail us? How many times did his secrets leave us vulnerable? How many times did his actions put us in jeopardy? No one seems to see it except for me. The rest of the Future Foundation and the Fantastic Four are too in awe of his intelligence to see his faults. Dr Doom is too consumed by jealousy and rage to acknowledge the bigger picture. Someone has to be there, to step in when Mr Fantastic finally goes too far. And if that person has to be me, then so be it.’
‘Are you insane?’ Alpha broke in. ‘You want to kill Mr Fantastic?’
‘No one’s killing anyone,’ Iron Spider said. ‘Not yet, anyway.’
The images on the screen changed. Alongside the Fantastic Four were the X-men, several teams of Avengers, even figures that Alpha vaguely recognised as belonging to Alpha Flight and Excalibur.
‘The world is full of heroes,’ he said, as a slideshow began, with different lineups and teams appearing in turn on the screens. ‘Men and women of incredible power and bravery. People sworn to protect humanity at any cost. And that’s part of the problem. At. Any Cost.’ The photos changed, one by one, until all showed scenes of destruction. Alpha could make out the wreckage of Atlan in the Hudson river, the ruins of Utopia of the West Coast, and several other destroyed towns.
‘Sometimes the means doesn’t justify the ends. The Avengers have lost sight of what’s important. They think themselves gods, not men. Every day, they put people in danger. And that cannot be.’
‘So you want to take down the Avengers?’ Martinique asked.
‘No, no,’ Iron Spider shook his head, laughing. There was something oddly mechanic about the sound from behind his mask.
‘I want to save the world from the Avengers.’
Utopia, Off the coast of San Francisco
‘We need to find something to plug that leak,’ Bugs said, as they dodged around the thin trickle of water in the middle of the passage.
‘With what?’ Torpid asked.
‘We’ll find something,’ Bugs said. ‘Stuff’s always washing up on the shore. I’ll go out tonight to have a look.’
‘Or we could just look now?’ Laura asked.
‘You want to end up in a SHIELD cell?’
‘At least it would be dry,’ she muttered. There was a crash behind her.
‘Bugs?’ She spun. A section of the floor had caved in behind her. It happened all the time; Utopia had never been the most stable of structures, and without the constant upkeep of the X-men, the former mutant sanctuary was quickly deteriorating. But it was fine; Bugs could climb, better than Spiderman. Or so he claimed.
‘Bugs?’ she called into the darkness. Something stirred beneath her.
‘Bug? Are you ok?’ The ground trembled, and Torpid leapt backwards as the hole widened.
It rose towards her, a huge tentacle of flesh and twisted metal.