Spider-Man: STING! (complete)

Spider-Man: STING!

Prologue – The Vulture
Chapter 1 – Peter Parker
Chapter 2 – Mac Gargan
Chapter 3 – Gwen
Chapter 4 – Farley Stilwell
Chapter 5 – Aunt May
Chapter 6 – The Shocker
Chapter 7 – Daredevil
Chapter 8 – Matt Murdock
Chapter 9 – The Scorpion
Chapter 10 – J Jonah Jameson
Chatper 11 – Robbie Robertson
Chapter 12 – Uncle Ben
Chapter 13 – Spider-Man

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Spider-Man: STING! – Chapter 13 + Epilogue

Chapter 13: Spider-Man


Jonah looked out of his home office window as the sun broke the horizon. He had written several drafts of the editorial he wanted to put in the next edition of The Daily Bugle, but he couldn’t put his finger on what he was missing. He thought back to the story he had told Robbie on the drive home, and somehow regretted not telling him the full truth as to why he was the way that he was.

He knew his involvement in the creation of The Scorpion would come to light no matter what he did. He was, after all, the one who approached Stillwell to do the experiment and the one who chose Mac Gargan to be transformed into the psychopathic Scorpion.

Jameson yawned. The currier that Robbie would be sending would be there shortly. If he wanted to tell his story before it was forced out of him, he had to get his metaphoric pen moving. He put a fresh sheet of paper in his old typewriter, cracked his knuckles, and started typing.

“My name is J. Jonah Jameson Jr.,” he typed. “And I am responsible for the creation of The Scorpion.”

***

The Scorpion emerged from the shadows and began walking towards Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He stripped off the black trench coat, dropped it on the ground, and unwrapped the tail from around his midsection.

Jameson and Stillwell apparently wanted to help him by undoing what The Scorpion had accomplished, but The Scorpion knew that they really wanted to help only themselves. They helped turn Gargan into what he was, and now they wanted to do away with him to protect themselves.

“You can’t get rid of me that easily, Jameson!” The Scorpion said. His tail lashed out, leaving a small rut in the parking lot. “Not after what you’ve done to me!”

***

Spider-Man swung down towards the main entrance of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He was hoping to find Dr. Stillwell there so he could get some answers, but he found something he didn’t expect. “Scorpion!” he exclaimed, stunned. The Scorpion had just torn the main doors off and went inside. It looked like Jameson’s trail had led him to where he needed to be after all.

Spider-Man swung through the door, planting both feet into the back of the Scorpion and sending him flying across the lobby and into a wall, much like he had done at The Bugle.

“Spider-Man!” someone shouted. Spider-Man recognized Farley Stillwell from his photos in Jameson’s magazine, but it looked like he wouldn’t get his opportunity to ask his questions. Not until The Scorpion was put away.

“Stand back!” Spider-Man said as The Scorpion got to his feet.

“You shouldn’t have come here!” Stillwell shouted.

“Pardon me for saving you from a psychopathic super villain murderer,” Spider-Man said.

“SPIDER-MAN!” The Scorpion shouted. “You’ve interfered for the last time!”

“Yeah,” Spider-Man said. “I get that a lot.”

The Scorpion twisted is body, swinging his seven-foot long tail towards Spider-Man. He jumped over it, sticking to the ceiling in the process. He fired webbing from both web shooters, hitting The Scorpion on his each of his shoulders. He pulled, getting Scorpion off the ground and following up with another dropkick to his midsection.

The Scorpion twisted his body again, this time throwing Spider-Man through the glass window in front of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He fired two more strands of webbing, hitting the building and slowing his flight. The Scorpion charged from the building, nailing Spider-Man with his shoulder. Spider-Man went off into the parking lot, rolling on the ground as he went.

“Can’t you see, Spider-Man?” Scorpion said. “All of your tricks are useless. You can’t beat me. You’re not strong or fast enough. A spider can never kill a scorpion.”

***

Dr. Stillwell watched as Spider-Man fought The Scorpion in the parking lot of his building. He plan hadn’t been perfect, but it was the only way to stop him. Now that Spider-Man was here, angering Gargan, there was no telling what he was capable of doing.

Dr. Stillwell was planning on luring The Scorpion under a false presumption that Jameson wanted to talk, somehow get him calm, and administer the antidote. Things didn’t look good when Scorpion tore the doors off the building, but Stillwell’s plan didn’t totally go to hell until Spider-Man showed up.

Spider-Man was still outside, tangling with The Scorpion. He seemed to think twice about being pummeled in the parking lot and started scurrying up the side of the building. The wall nearly shook as Scorpion began punching holes in the wall to climb after him, ignoring the fact that the suit was designed to aid him.

“I have to go after him,” Dr. Stillwell said, breaking his paralysis. He turned to take the maintenance elevator. There was still a chance he could inject Gargan while he was distracted by murdering Spider-Man.

***

Spider-Man climbed the wall as fast as he could. He normally didn’t shy away from a fight, but he wanted to take it away from where civilians would soon be out and about. Most of the city would soon be awake, and that meant a super hero battle would draw a crowd of gawkers. There was less of a chance of injuries if the battle was above the street level.

“I got you!” The Scorpion shouted, grabbing ahold of Spider-Man’s ankle. He swung Spider-Man, smashing him through a window and back into the building. This time on the fourth or fifth floor. He smashed into a desk and fell to the floor along with beakers and test tubes of whatever was being worked on in the lab. The chemicals ignited, spreading fire along the floor. The rush of air from the broken window fed the fire as smoke rose to the ceiling.

Spider-Man sprayed some wide webbing to cover the flames, but The Scorpion was through the window and back on him, pushing him through a wall and into a long hallway. Spider-Man rolled out of the way of a jab from The Scorpion’s tail. A cracked hole in the floor appeared.

Spider-Man fired a web into the ceiling and pulled hard. His body lifted from the ground, and he took The Scorpion with him. He hit The Scorpion with a knee to the jaw, sending him on his back. He turned towards the source of the fire once again, but The Scorpion grabbed him from the back, clutching him in a spine-crushing bear hug.

“What’s the matter?!” The Scorpion shouted. “You don’t have anything smart to say now?”

“The building…” Spider-Man said, trying to get breath into his lungs. “It’s burning!” There was an explosion from the other room, and the wall flew outwards. The Scorpion didn’t move as they were pelted with debris from the explosion.

“Let it burn!” The Scorpion said. “You and I have other business.” The Scorpion used his tail to propel him through the ceiling and towards the roof.

***

Dr. Stillwell ran down the hall through the smoke. He was lucky he had sent the rest of his security and staff home after what happened the night before, but the fire was spreading and the sprinklers weren’t doing much to control the blaze. The chemical fire that The Scorpion and Spider-Man started was being fueled by the oxygen from the open window. If he didn’t find Scorpion soon and inject him with the antidote, he’d burn along with the building.

“Where the Hell did you go?” Dr. Stilwell asked, squinting his eyes through the smoke. He walked up to a small pile of rubble on the floor. He looked up and saw the answer to his question. There was hole in the ceiling. The Scorpion and Spider-Man were heading upwards.

“The roof!” Dr. Stillwell said, turning around. He still had a chance to end The Scorpion before any more damage was done.

***

Fresh air filled Spider-Man’s lungs as The Scorpion made his final hole, bringing them to the roof of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. The hold was finally broken, and Spider-Man was tossed onto his side. He quickly rolled and got back to his feet.

“Is this is where you wanted to do this?” The Scorpion asked. “Do you think you can beat me while the ground below us burns?” As if to answer his summons, smoke began to pour from the hole they just emerged from, signaling to Spider-Man that the chemical fire was rapidly spreading.

Spider-Man considered asking The Scorpion once more to stop his rampage, but he knew it was useless. He knew that whoever was behind the mask was too far gone to bargain with. Instead, he charged into the battle. He fired a line of webbing, sticking it to Scorpion’s left hand. The Scorpion pulled, flinging Spider-Man into the air. The Scorpion swung his massive tail, but Spider-Man dodged it in mid-air. He landed on the opposite side.

The Scorpion swung around, smiling. He swung his tail once more, and Spider-Man jumped forward, landing a foot on the tail. He used the momentum to flip in the air, fired to lines of webbing to the ground near Scorpion’s feet, and continued the webbing as he fell on his other side once more.

The Scorpion turned again, this time trapping himself in Spider-Man’s web. “You know this won’t stop me!” he exclaimed, starting to rip the webs apart.

“It’ll give me time for this!” Spider-Man retorted, giving Scorpion a huge uppercut. The Scorpion used his tail to keep himself on the ground after the blow, and he grabbed Spider-Man by the throat, squeezing as he lifted him from the ground.

“You’re back in my grasp,” The Scorpion said. “I already told you: you can’t beat me. I’m too strong.” He threw Spider-Man into the side of the building’s communication tower. It toppled beneath the force of Spider-Man flying into it, back first. Spider-Man tried to rise, but the weight of the rubble on his back was too much.

The blade on The Scorpion’s tail was out, and it dangled playfully in front of Spider-Man’s face. He had nowhere to go. The Scorpion was right: he was too strong. “I think it’s about time I split your skull open,” Scorpion said. The tail went into the air again. Spider-Man looked up to see a man running towards them. He opened his mouth to yell at him to stop, but no words came out. His world began to fade in a fog.

***

Dr. Stillwell ran towards The Scorpion as fast as he could, holding the spike of antidote in his right hand. This was the chance he needed. The Scorpion was distracted by his fallen enemy, and would hopefully not register the attack. He zeroed in on his target. The area in the neck wasn’t as armored as the rest of The Scorpion’s suit, so he would need to be precise. If the the spike broke anywhere else, then all would be lost.

Dr. Stillwell was only a few steps away. The Scorpion’s tail moved downwards towards Spider-Man’s skull. Stillwell swung his arm in a sideways arc towards Scorpion’s neck. He was about to end this. His muscles tensed as the spike neared its target.

The Scorpion turned suddenly. The blade missed Spider-Man’s head by an inch, leaving a large gash in the roof instead. The Scorpion used his pincer like hand to break the bones in Stillwell’s arm. The spike of antidote fell to the ground.

“What do we have here?” The Scorpion said. “You trying to finish me off?”

“It’s for your own good!” Stillwell spat through the pain. “The antidote will cure you!”

“I need no antidote!” The Scorpion yelled. He picked up the spike with his other hand and tossed it into the smoking hole and into the burning building.

“No!” Dr. Stillwell shouted. “You have no idea what you’ve done!”

“I’m going to show you what I do to those who interfere with me,” The Scorpion said. “Pay attention, Spider-Man!”

The pain Dr. Stillwell felt was nothing compared to his terror as The Scorpion held him over his head. He tried to free himself, but The Scorpion gripped tight, breaking more bones as he carried him to the edge of the roof. “Happy landings,” The Scorpion said, tossing Stillwell over the edge.

***

Spider-Man didn’t have time to think about what had just happened. The Scorpion had just tossed a man off the side of the roof. He was still trapped under the rubble of the small communication tower, but he was able to fire a line of webbing. He watched as the web sailed over the falling body of Dr. Stillwell, missing him as he fell to his death.

I couldn’t save him, Spider-Man thought.

A foot was on Spider-Man’s shoulder, pinning him to the ground. He felt the heat from the fire in the building underneath him. Soon, the roof could cave in, and they’d both fall to the flames below. If this was going to be his end, he’d rest well knowing The Scorpion fell to hell with him.

“It doesn’t end like this,” the voice of Uncle Ben said inside Spider-Man’s mind. “Get up. You can beat him.”

HOW?! Spider-Man thought back. He could feel The Scorpion’s boot on his head, but it felt a million miles away. How do I beat someone this much stronger than me!

“With great power…” Uncle Ben started.

“Comes great responsibility,” Spider-Man finished.

“What did you say?” The Scorpion asked.

Spider-Man pushed on the ground with his fists. He pushed so hard he thought he’d put a hole in the roof, but he was able to push Scorpion’s foot off. He didn’t stop until the rubble on his back began to lift. He slid out quickly and got to his feet, standing in front of his opponent.

The Scorpion took a wide swing towards Spider-Man’s head, and he moved quickly to dodge it. It was the same kind of blow he landed back at The Bugle. The Scorpion threw two quick jabs, and Spider-Man dodged them easily. He had been throwing them since their first fight on the bridge. Next came the tail, which was easy to dodge when it frustratingly came after the punches failed to land. Spider-Man side-stepped it, and it crashed into the rubble.

Some of Matt’s words came back to Spider-Man when they talked about The Scorpion in Matt’s hospital room. “I wouldn’t use the word skilled,” Matt had said. “He’s a pure brawler. Maybe a little boxing in there. I didn’t have much room to maneuver because he cornered me in an alley, although I don’t think he intended it that way.”

Matt was right. The Scorpion may have been strong, but he was still inexperienced. If he continued the fight inside the narrow hallway, he could have won easily, but he brought Spider-Man to the roof, giving him plenty of room to dodge his blows.

The Scorpion swung with a left hook, and Spider-Man trusted his spider sense to dodge. The tail lashed out again next, and Spider-Man leapt over it. Frustrated, The Scorpion lunged at Spider-Man with both hands extended like claws. Spider-Man leapt over him, using his head as a stepping stone.

“I’LL KILL YOU!” The Scorpion shouted.

“You can’t kill me if you can’t land a single blow,” Spider-Man said. He fired webbing at The Scorpion’s face, covering it with webs. Both of Scorpion’s hands went to work trying to rip it free, and Spider-Man used the opportunity to web his feet to the ground. The Scorpion got enough of the web off to see and breath, and went right to work trying to rip his massive legs free of the mess they were in.

“Time to make this a fair fight,” Spider-Man said, firing another line of web and snagging a large piece of jagged metal from the pile of junk that used to be the tower. He took it in both hands and leapt over The Scorpion, dodging the tail that was now flapping wildly as he tried frantically freeing himself of the webs. Spider-Man came down with both hands, jamming the piece of metal into the tail near its base.

“NO!” The Scorpion shouted as sparks and smoke flew from his costume. Spider-Man twisted and pushed down with all of his might, wrenching the metal between the joint of the tail. The Scorpion got his feet free, and tried to nail Spider-Man with a backhand. Spider-Man ducked it, and grabbed The Scorpion’s flaccid tail, pulling it as he stuck his feet to the ground. Just as every muscle in Spider-Man’s body screamed in agony, The Tail came loose.

The Scorpion screamed in pain. Spider-Man tossed the now useless tail aside. When he was silent, Spider-Man was aware of the sounds of sirens around the building. “It’s over, Scorpion,” Spider-Man said.

The Scorpion sneered, charging Spider-Man. Spider-Man balled both of his fists together, and nailed The Charging Scorpion with a huge uppercut. Without the tail to help him balance and keep his body upright, The Scorpion fell backwards. Spider-Man followed up the double-fisted blow with another. The Scorpion lost his footing and tumbled off the side of the building.

Spider-Man considered letting him drop all the way to the ground, but moved as the notion left his mind. He went to the edge of the roof and fired a line of webbing downwards towards The Scorpion. He caught him in his midsection and pulled upwards on him. He began to turn in mid-air, becoming tangled in the web. Spider-Man repeated the action, spinning The Scorpion like a yo-yo in mid-air, tangling him in more webbing. He let the line go and fired another, letting the Scorpion’s mo momentum tangle him further. He repeated the action one more time. When he was done, The Scorpion was trapped in a spinning cocoon. Spider-Man let him drop the rest of the way to the ground.

The pavement cracked in a semi-circle around The Scorpion where he hit (only fifteen feet or so from where Stillwell’s lifeless body lay). He was alive, but knocked out cold between the pain of losing his tail and his tumble from the building. Spider-Man watched as the police approached him, rifles drawn. With The Scorpion’s rampage ended, an exhausted and bruised Spider-Man turned and swung off the smoking building and into the morning.

***

Jonah answered the door when the currier rang the bell. He held the manuscript of his editorial in his hand. He placed the pages in a manilla envelope. He included a message of apology for Robbie.

“Good morning, Mr. Jameson,” the currier said. He was a boy that couldn’t be too far out of his teenage years. He had a crop of red hair on his head. “Mr. Robertson sent me to pick something up.”

Jameson hesitated for a moment. Once his packet was out there, there was no turning back. He looked off in the sky and saw smoke billowing in the distance. “What’s going on there?” Jameson asked.

“I dunno,” the currier said, shrugging. “Some building caught fire. They closed the whole block off. I heard on the radio Spider-Man might’ve been there.”

Jonah harrumphed and handed the envelope to the currier. “Make sure Robertson gets this ASAP, kid.”

“No problem, Mr. Jameson,” the currier said. He lingered for a moment, observing Jameson.

“What’s the matter, kid?” Jameson snapped. “You waiting on a tip or something?”

“No,” the currier said, coming out of his daze. “It’s nothing. I’ll get this to Mr. Robertson right away.”

“Thanks,” Jameson said, slamming the door. He leaned against it and let his body fall to the floor on the other side. He put his head in his hands, praying that he was making the right decision. After a few minutes he decided to get up and try to get some sleep. His entire world was about to come crashing down around him.

 

 

Epilogue


Spider-Man swung from building to building, making his way towards The Daily Bugle. There had been some major changes in the last few days since J. Jonah Jameson stepped down as Editor-In-Cheif (he stayed in charge as Publisher) after confessing to being the one who created The Scorpion.

Spider-Man supposed he should be happy that Jameson felt compelled to confess (even though he was somehow avoiding jail time for manslaughter). It was vindication that he could make mistakes like the rest of humanity. Also, he had to publicly admit that Spider-Man not only saved his skin but cleaned up his mess as well. A personal visit from Spider-Man was in order.

An alarm blared from the streets below, and Spider-Man descended to see if there was anything he could help with. He dropped to the top of a streetlight and looked at the scene. There was a man dressed in a giant frog outfit leaving a jewelry store, carrying a sack. The costume looked like it was made from a polished garbage can, complete with a dome lid over it making it look like a frog’s mouth. A purple vest was painted on it.

“And don’t try anything funny, or The Bullfrog will return!” the villain aptly named The Bullfrog shouted from inside his metal armor.

“You’ve got to be kidding me with this getup,” Spider-Man said, leaping down from the light. “I’ve fought the worst of the worst, and I’ve never seen a super villain in a painted garbage can before.”

“Laugh all you want, Spider-Man!” The Bullfrog said, putting the satchel of money into his costume’s mouth. “But not even you can keep up with my gigantic leaping!” The Bullfrog used two mechanical legs to jump fifteen feet in the air and away from Spider-Man. He hit the ground with a thud twenty or so feet away and leapt back into the air. Spider-Man stared after him, wondering how rude it would be to just stand there and laugh at the poor guy.

“You think that’s just a frog suit or he’s spliced his DNA with a frog’s?” Spider-Man asked the jewelry store’s security guard.

“Are you just going to let him get away?” the security guard asked.

“Fine,” Spider-Man said, firing a strand of webbing with a THWIP of his web shooters. He hit The Bullfrog in the back, and pulled him back towards the earth as soon as he tried to hop away again. He hit the ground with a clang. He dragged the screaming villain back as he clawed at the pavement. Spider-Man turned back to the security guard. “I expect a cut of your next paycheck, by the way.”

***

A spider hid in the dark corner, contemplating a run across the floor so he he could climb the wall and make a web by the small, barred window. It would be the perfect spot for catching any tasty bugs that want to warm themselves by the sunlight. The spider scurried, leaving the safety of its corner for the prospects of the window. Its excitement was short lived when a hand came down, crushing it to death.

Mac Gargan picked his hand up from the ground, looking at the squashed spider inside it. His back was in immense pain where his tail should be. He thought he’d die when they pried the suit from his body, but he hadn’t. There were times in the dark of the night that he wished he had.

The squashed spider twitched a bit, and the hint of a smile grew on Mac’s unshaved face. The bars and walls of the prison they sent him to were strong, but he knew it was only a matter of time before he was able to escape and continue his quest for revenge on Jameson and Spider-Man.

“One spider squashed,” he said, still staring at his hand. “One to go.”

***

Jameson’s office was quiet for a change. Robbie was busy getting used to his new role as Editor-In-Chief and didn’t seem to want to speak much to his old friend after what he had recently confessed to doing. Robbie was always mad at him just for printing the stories about Spider-Man.

There was a knock on the window, and Spider-Man was stuck to the outside of it. Jameson grunted and opened the window to let him in. “What the hell do you want?” he asked, lighting his cigar with a silver zippo lighter. “You here to gloat?”

“Of course,” Spider-Man said. “But now that I’m here, I don’t think I will.”

“Don’t feel bad for me, wall-crawler,” Jameson said. “Save your pity for someone else.”

“But why did you do it?” Spider-Man asked. “Dr. Stillwell’s lab was nearly completely destroyed by the fire and nobody would believe a psychopath like Gargan. You didn’t have to do this. This will ruin you.”

“I wouldn’t expect someone like you to understand,” Jameson said. “The public has a right to truth. I love this newspaper. I’d print it in my own blood if I had to. I won’t see it’s journalistic integrity questioned because of my mistake.”

“So this is about integrity?” Spider-Man asked. “I find that hard to believe.”

“I wouldn’t expect a masked vigilante to understand the meaning of the word,” Jameson replied.

“So we’re back on that already?” Spider-Man asked with a sigh.

“Don’t think this changes anything between us,” Jameson said, breathing out a thick cloud of smoke. “I’m still publisher of this paper, and I won’t be using the kid gloves on you. You’re still just a masked menace who takes the law into his own hands, and I won’t rest until I’ve exposed you for what you truly are.”

“Well, you’ve done a good job at exposing yourself,” Spider-Man said. “And to think, I really thought you’d learn your lesson after I saved you from yourself yet again. I’ll see you in the funny pages, chuckles.” With that, Spider-Man fell backwards from the window and back out into the afternoon breeze.

Jameson looked out the window, putting out his cigar. There was a knock on his office door, and Robbie entered. “Am I interrupting anything?” Robbie asked.

“An unwarned visitor was just leaving,” Jonah said. “I’ve cleaned out the desk. It’s all yours.”

***

Officer Brady sipped his coffee while his partner made sure nobody was sneaking into the burnt wreckage of the Stillwell Pharmaceuticals building. The wrecking trucks were on their way to demolish what was left after the fire Spider-Man and The Scorpion started. Brady turned to look at it again, and saw someone coming out.

“Hey!” Brady shouted. “You’re not supposed to be in there!”

“I’m sorry,” the man said in a calm voice. He wore an expensive black suit and had piercing eyes. He wore a fedora atop his head of short, brown hair. He was carrying what looked like an old briefcase that was slightly singed. “But I’ve purchased this company. I wanted to see if anything was salvageable. I actually found what I was looking for, if you can believe my luck.”

“You can’t take that,” Brady said. “This was a crime scene.”

“I’m aware,” the man said. “But the contents of this briefcase became my property when I purchased Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. It’s just a few notebooks and laboratory findings. Really boring stuff for someone like you. Are you really going to put me through this after a company I just bought burned to the ground behind the corpse of its creator?”

“It’s just procedure,” Brady replied. “You can come to the station and…”

“It’s OK,” Brady’s partner, Wilson, said running up behind him. “It’s no problem. It’s just a ratty old briefcase.”

“Thank you,” the man said, smiling. “I’ll be on my way now.”

They both watched the man get in the back of a limo. The driver closed the door, walked back to this driver’s seat, and drove off.

“What the hell is your problem?!” Brady exclaimed. “You can’t just let some guy go in there and take stuff! We’ll get suspended!”

“Do you have any idea who that man was?” Wilson asked. “That was Norman freakin’ Osborn! He owns the place! I just saved both of our jobs.”

“Norman Osborn?” Brady said, dumbfounded. “He should just have said so.”

***

Peter found Gwen in the park where he’d ask her to meet him. He wasn’t sure if she still wanted to talk to him after what had happened recently. An entirely new argument was sprung on him when she saw he had gotten up the morning after their argument to take pictures of the burning Stillwell Pharmaceutical building and the police unmasking and taking away The Scorpion.

“Hi, Gwendy,” Peter said.

“Don’t you ‘Gwendy’ me,” Gwen said. “I’m still mad at you.”

“I’m sorry,” Peter said. “But my job…”

“Isn’t worth your life,” Gwen said. “Or anyone else’s.”

“Of course not,” Peter said. “I would never do anything to hurt those I love.”

Gwen looked into Peter’s eyes. “You love me?” she asked.

Peter looked away towards the trees. “Yeah,” he said. “Of course I do. And I would never let anything bad happen to you. I promise. I understand if you don’t want me around anymore.”

“Peter,” Gwen said. He turned around to look at her. “I love you too.”

“Does this mean your still my girl?” Peter asked.

“For now,” Gwen said, half-smiling. “As long as you don’t pull your disappearing act with me again.”

Peter picked Gwen up and kissed her. She kissed him back, putting her hands around the back of his neck. The two stayed like that for a moment longer before coming apart and taking a walk in the park, hand in hand.

Spider-Man: Sting – Chapter 12

Chapter 12: Uncle Ben

 

Peter Parker laid in his bed, looking up the ceiling. He had a lot going on in his head. The Scorpion, Jameson, and Dr. Farley Stillwell. The names crisscrossed over and over again. The Scorpion, Jameson, and Dr. Farley Stillwell. What did it all mean? He had resolved to pay Dr. Stillwell a visit at Stillwell Pharmaceuticals first thing in the morning. He wished he could have moved sooner, but his body desperately needed rest, and Dr. Stillwell wouldn’t be around until the morning.

On top of dealing with the mystery surrounding The Scorpion, he was assualted when he got home by the tag-team of his aunt and girlfriend. Gwen had apparently been so mad about Peter ditching out on her and their friends that she eventually made her way to Peter’s home to wait up for him with his Aunt May.

“Where have you been?!” Aunt May exclaimed as soon as Peter walked in the front door.

“Off taking pictures,” Gwen said, answering for Peter. “How could you just leave us like that? How could you leave without telling me that you were going?”

“I had to,” Peter said. “Jameson expects pictures of these things.” The photographer gig was the perfect cover as to why Peter was never around when Spider-Man needed to be in action, but the consequences of that double life still hurt the ones he loved. It wasn’t an easy price to pay, but it was the price he payed over and over again.

“But to run out on us and have Harry make excuses for you?” Gwen asked. “That’s low, Peter. I wouldn’t have expected that from you. Not in a million years.”

“You don’t understand,” Peter said. “The Scorpion was calling out Spider-Man and he was so close.” It was another half-lie. Another grating of Peter’s soul.

“You were hurt too!” Gwen said, spotting the same bruise that Joe Robertson spotted earlier. “We worry about you so much, Peter. Why can’t you see that?”

“What I do has to be done,” Peter said. “It just has to. I need the money for school. Books and supplies aren’t cheap.” He saw the look on his Aunt May’s face and wish he hadn’t said it. She felt guilty about their money situation ever since his Uncle Ben died.

“But you just left us all there,” Gwen said, starting to tear up. “You didn’t even say goodbye.”

“Your Uncle Ben would have been very disappointed with what you’ve done, Peter,” Aunt May said. Her own eyes were glossed over with tears. “He wouldn’t want you acting like this and not owning up to what you’ve done. He taught you better.”

Peter was stunned into silence. Gwen didn’t say anything either. She knew how much his uncle meant to Peter, and Aunt May bringing him up like that showed how mad she really was. This argument carried on for what seemed like hours. It ended with Gwen leaving in tears and Aunt May telling Peter that he’d be lucky if she was still his girl after ditching her and his other friends to put himself in danger, and he knew that she was right.

Peter wished he could tell them the truth. He wished he could tell them that he left his friends to stop The Scorpion from hurting others. He wished he could tell them he was Spider-Man, and that he dedicated his life to helping others because of the words of his Uncle Ben and his tragic death.

“It’s time to get up, Peter,” Uncle Ben said on the fateful day of the spider’s bite. “You’re going to be late for school.”

“Gosh, Uncle Ben,” a fifteen year old Peter said. “You’re worse than a room full of alarm clocks.”

Uncle Ben laughed, ruffling Peter’s hair. “Come on,” he said. “Your aunt’s making you some wheatcakes. She’s trying to fatten you up so I can’t out wrestle you any more.”

“My favorite!” Peter said, hopping out of bed. “I’ll be right down.”

The morning went on as usual. Aunt May gave Peter more food than he could handle and Uncle Ben joked and laughed with their makeshift family. A twist of fate had put the three of them together, but Peter couldn’t imagine anyone else he’d rather spend the time with.

After a normal day of being bullied and picked on at school, Peter went to the scientific exhibit on radioactivity. It was there that the spider descended from the ceiling, passing through the field of radiation, and biting Peter on his hand.

“Ow!” Peter exclaimed. “What? A spider? Why’s it glowing? Why does it burn?!” Peter ran out of the exhibit while the adults in attendance assumed it was because he had weak stomach. He found that the bite from the radioactive spider had miraculously transferred its power into him. He had super strength, agility, and the ability to climb on walls.

Once Peter was used to his newfound spider powers, he started his very short career as an amateur wrestler, using his agility and strength to best the competition. He soon redesigned his masked costume and started putting on acts of feats as well. It was after one of these shows that he made the mistake that would prove fatal for his uncle.

“Stop!” the security guards shouted. “Thief!”

Spider-Man stood aside, letting the thief pass. He caught a look at his face as he went past him. He had blonde hair and a crop of freckles across his face. He ran ahead, nearly jumping into a closing elevator. “Made it!” he exclaimed.

“What’s the matter with you?!” the security guard snapped. “All you had to do was trip the guy or hold him for a few seconds. I’ll never make it to the lobby to catch him now!”

“Not my job,” Spider-Man said. “I’m through being pushed around by anyone. From now on, I’m just looking out for me.”

“Real nice, kid,” the security guard said. “I should run you in.”

“Save your energy, pal,” Spider-Man said. “I have better things to do.”

Spider-Man crawled on the walls of the old ACME warehouse on the waterfront. The police officer that just broke the news to him that his uncle had been shot had told him where the burglar was hiding. He was apparently surrounded, but they’d have a hard time finding him in that maze of old wood and garbage. It would likely take an army to get him out of that warehouse.

Spider-Man fired a thread of webbing with a THWIP to a nearby lighting pole and swung into a window. He was quick enough to elude the police that had the place surrounded. It was dark inside, but he was able to navigate on his instincts alone. He started listening for the sounds of a man walking over the scurrying of rats and dripping of water.

“I just have to wait for the moon to go down,” a voice said from a dark corner of the warehouse. “Once it’s dark enough, I can sneak right past ’em, and I’ll be free.”

“You’ll never escape, murderer!” Spider-Man shouted.

“Who said that?!” the burglar exclaimed, turning with his gun in his hand. He looked around in the darkness. He looked up, spotting Spider-Man crawling down on the wall. “What the…?!”

“Surprised?” Spider-Man asked. The burglar turned and started to run. Spider-Man leapt from the wall, blocking the burglar’s path. “Not half as surprised as you’re going to be.”

The burglar swung with his gun, trying to pistol-whip Spider-Man, but he knew of the danger before it was there, and he moved his head. The gun found nothing but air. “You’re going to have to do better, sunshine,” Spider-Man said.

The burglar aimed his gun at Spider-Man, thumbing back the hammer. Spider-Man fired a line of webbing, covering the gun and the burglar’s hand before he could pull the trigger. The burglar’s hand was frozen in its cocoon, unable to put an end to his target.

“Stay away from me!” the burglar said, stepping backwards and falling over. “Keep away!” He got up, still backing away from Spider-Man.

“There’s no place on the earth you can hide from me,” Spider-Man said, punching the burglar in the face. “Not after what you did you my uncle.” Spider-Man approached the form of the burglar laying on the ground. “GET UP!” he shouted, picking him up by the lapel of his dirty, brown coat.

The burglar’s hat fell off as Spider-Man picked up his unconscious body. The blonde hair. The freckles across his nose and under his eyes were all too familiar. “That face!” Spider-Man said. “It can’t be!” It was the very same burglar he had let slip past him only days before.

Peter was stunned. He leaned against a wall and let himself fall to the floor. His uncle would still be alive if he had helped stop that robber, and all he had to do was extend a foot to trip him up. “It’s all my fault,” he said. He vowed from that day on that he would use the power given to him by fate for good. He lowered the the burglar to the police with a strand of webbing and went off into the night.

Uncle Ben had always been the voice of chivalry and good. He had even gone as far as almost fighting a bully that chased Peter home from school. Aunt May would often talk about how Ben was in high school since they were sweethearts. Ben looked out for his brainy little brother, Richard, and would likely slug any of the bullies that would try and pick on him or any of his friends. He wore every bruise like a badge of honor while he fought the good fight.

That’s why it hurt so bad when Aunt May said that Uncle Ben wouldn’t approve of what he was doing. He donned the mask of Spider-Man to use his power to help innocents, and he knew it was what his uncle would have wanted him to do with his power. Sometimes Peter wondered if Aunt May knew that he was Spider-Man she would approve of what he was doing. He wondered if Gwen would understand why he had to run off the way he did and the way he will in the future.

Peter got up from his bed. He walked to his small desk where he had the magazine he took from Jameson’s office still open. The sun was peeking over the horizon, which meant that he had fallen asleep for a few hours while thinking about his uncle Ben and trying put the pieces of his latest foe together.

A piece of the answer was somewhere in the magazine article about Dr. Stillwell. Peter read it three times before brooding on his long day. Dr. Stillwell’s forte was the splicing of animal DNA. It was incredibly similar to what Dr. Curt Connors was doing when he injected himself with lizard DNA to regrow a lost arm. The rest of his body mutated, and he became The Lizard. There was a possibility that whoever The Scorpion was succumbed to a similar fate.

Peter became frustrated, hurling the magazine across his bedroom. “I won’t let you hurt anyone else, Scorpion,” he said. It didn’t matter how he came into being or how deep Jameson’s involvement went. The only thing that mattered is that The Scorpion needed to be stopped, and Farley Stillwell might have the only key to stop him.

No longer waiting for morning to be completely upon him, Peter put on his Spider-Man costume and snuck out his window. He headed in the direction of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals.

***

The Scorpion woke up on the floor of Mac Gargan’s office. He clutched his gut. The Scorpion suit absorbed the blast from the rifle, but he still felt it under the rubber and wire mesh armor. The pain had lessened now that he slept it off, but his abdomen was still sore. He supposed it was The Scorpion DNA at work.

He walked through towards the door trying to put the pieces together of the night before. He defeated Spider-Man twice, but he failed to kill Jameson.

“Jameson,” The Scorpion said, sneering. “Spider-Man won’t always be there to save you.”

The Scorpion walked towards the front door when something on the floor caught his eye. He picked up an envelope and opened it with a claw. He pulled the letter inside out and read it in the dark.

“MacDonald,” the note read. “This has gone on long enough. Jameson and I want to help you. Return to where this all began and we can undo the damage. Please come quickly. It will soon be too late. You can still be saved.

-Dr. Farely Stillwell.”

“You think you can end this?” The Scorpion said, crumpling the letter in his hand. “I’ll end you and Jameson, Stillwell. I will be the end you all.”

The Scorpion wrapped his tail abound his abdomen and put Gargan’s large black trench coat around his shoulders. It was time to pay Stillwell one last visit.

Spiderman: STING! – Chapter 11

Chapter 11: Robbie Robertson

 

Dr. Stillwell worked tirelessly in his lab as soon as the police left after taking his statement about the three guards. They made sure to tell him not to leave town and that a detective would be calling on him shortly. He knew it was only a matter of time before he was outed as the creator of such a vile monster, so he decided to help put an end to The Scorpion rather than sitting around and doing nothing.

The theory behind the Scorpion Serum antidote was simple enough. It was just a matter of his quickly he’d be able to put it together. Every minute that passed was another minute that Gargan was on the streets, masquerading as The Scorpion. The longer The Scorpion was out there, the more lives would be at risk.

“We interrupt this report for a breaking story,” the news reporter said. Stillwell had left the TV on in the lab so he could hear if The Scorpion resurfaced again. He knew in his gut that he had as soon as the news anchor had cut in. “The Daily Bugle has been evacuated after The Scorpion and Spider-Man continued their epic battle near the top floor of the newspaper publisher’s headquarters. There’s no word yet on any injuries or casualties from inside the building, but we have received word that an injured police officer died in transport to the hospital after being attacked by The Scorpion. No name has been released…”

“Another dead,” Dr. Stillwell said, putting his hands to his temples. “The blood The Scorpion spills is on my hands as well. I have to make things right.”

The paperwork from the lawyer was on his desk. He had come by earlier that day to make another offer. It was very generous, and Stillwell was seriously considering signing, taking the money, and fleeing to Europe. If only he could push the feelings of guilt and responsibility out of his mind.

Dr. Stillwell continued working on what he hoped would be an antidote to the Scorpion Serum and an end to MacDonald Gargan’s psychotic rampage. The problem Stillwell decided to worry about later was how to introduce it into Gargan’s bloodstream.

***

“Jonah!” Robbie Robertson shouted, coming back into the offices of The Daily Bugle. He found Jonah giving a statement to a police officer with a pad. When Robbie came up, he closed the pad and thanked Jonah for his time. “Thank God you’re alright.”

Jonah harrumphed. “This has been a hell of a night,” he said. “I don’t even know what to print about all this.”

“Is that what you’re thinking about?” Robbie asked. “What to print?”

“Go with what you want,” Jonah said, shrugging.

“Betty took care of it already,” Robbie said. “‘Hero Newspaper Publisher Evacuates Building’. Or are you too modest for that?”

Jonah smiled. “I’ll take it,” he said. Robbie didn’t think it sounded like he was happy about it, but he didn’t argue.

“The police offered to take you home and set a watch outside your house if this guy comes looking for you,” Robbie said.

“Not necessary,” Jonah said, absently waving his hand. “They wouldn’t be able to stop them if he did show up again. I’d be putting their lives at risk by asking for their protection.”

“How are you getting home then?” Robbie asked. “I have my car if you want a ride.”

“Sure,” Jameson said. “I’ll take you up on the offer.”

***

Spider-Man dropped from the hole ceiling of the hotel where The Scorpion was last seen. His radio told him that the spider tracer was still here. The room seemed deserted aside from the police officers outside of the door. Spider-Man quietly moved the mess around on the floor, finding his small, red spider tracer.

“Scratch that idea,” Spider-Man said, putting the tracer in his belt. He didn’t like the idea of waiting for The Scorpion to strike again to know where he was, but he didn’t know where to look. He didn’t know who he really was, where he came from, or any connections. Well, there was one.

“Jameson,” Spider-Man said, looking out the penthouse’s window to The Daily Bugle across the way. There had to be a reason why The Scorpion was after him. Spider-Man couldn’t go back to The Bugle without tangling with the police, but Peter Parker might be able to get around.

There was a noise from the hallway. The door slowly opened, and Spider-Man made a quick exit through the hole in the ceiling made by The Scorpion. He then descended to street level to change into Peter Parker.

***

Robbie drove an uncharacteristically silent J. Jonah Jameson home. He knew he should get Jonah to talk about what had just happened, but he knew it would be hard seeing as his life was just saved by the man who he had spent so much time besmirching in print for years.

“It’s odd,” Jonah said, breaking his own silence. “How everything can all come to a crashing crescendo right in front of you sometimes.”

Robbie didn’t respond at first, but spoke even though his mind screamed not to. “You know what I think?” he asked. “I think you created this Scorpion character.”

Jonah turned to look at Robbie. There was something in his eye that Robbie had never seen before.

“Not literally, of course,” Robbie continued. “But all this ‘hero or menace’ stuff targeting Spider-Man… It was only a matter of time before some costumed villain came crashing through our walls.”

Jonah signed. “Have I ever told you why I do what I do?” he asked. “Regarding these masks?”

“You have,” Robbie replied.

“Maybe not the whole story,” Jonah said. “I made no secret over my disdain for these masked characters’ vigilantism and their blatant disregard for the law. Spider-Man fights one of these jacked-up criminals, destroying property, injuring innocent bystanders, and getting away with it all because nobody knows who he is. If he really was a hero, he’d do it without his mask. Like the police or fire fighters… Or my son.

“When my son, an astronaut, came back from a mission outer space, his accomplishments were overshadowed because that pajama-wearing nut came onto the scene on the same day. My son should have been praised as the hero, not Spider-Man. It was a travesty to put his story on the front page of my own paper instead of my son’s.

“My own wife, Joan, was shot and killed by a mugger. Did you know that?”

“I did,” Robbie said. The fate of Jameson’s wife was no secret around The Bugle.

“I was away on Bugle business,” Jonah said. “The editor-in-cheif at the time needed someone to go to Korea for a story, and I never said no. I didn’t get the news that she’d been killed until I was back stateside. I couldn’t be there, Robbie. I couldn’t save the woman I loved. Where were these masked vigilantes then? Where was Spider-Man when my wife needed a hero?”

“I’m sorry about what happened,” Robbie said. “But it wasn’t Spider-Man’s fault. None of it was.”

“Nobody can be a hero all of the time,” Jonah said. “My own father proved that. He was hailed as a war hero, but I knew him for what he really was: a drunk and a wife beater. You praise this Spider-Man as a hero, but you don’t know him. How do you know I’m wrong about him? How can you?”

Robbie looked at the road ahead of him. He didn’t have an answer and didn’t think another argument about Spider-Man’s intentions was really the best thing for this friend right now.

“How can any man be as big of a hero as this Spider-Man claims to be?” Jonah said, looking out of the window as they neared his house. “How can anyone be that good of a man?”

“I don’t know,” Robbie replied.

“Neither do I,” Jonah said.

“We’re here,” Robbie said, pulling along side Jonah’s house. “You want me to come in?”

“No,” Jonah said. “You need to get back to The Bugle. The news still needs to be reported.”

“Alright,” Robbie agreed. He knew Jonah was too stubborn to be silenced, even when his life was on the line.

“And call Parker,” Jonah said. “Have him get some pictures of the wreckage for tomorrow’s paper. They have the floor closed off, but I’m sure he’s resourceful enough to sneak up there.”

“Parker?” Robbie asked, remembering the recent blowout between Jonah and Peter. “Are you sure?”

“Don’t ever tell the kid I said this,” Jonah said. “But I respect the hell out of the fact that he has more guts than brains when it comes to his craft.”

“That’s probably something you should tell him,” Robbie said. “If you clean it up a bit first.”

“Are you kidding me?” Jonah asked. “The kid is likely to start sniffing around for a raise!”

Robbie laughed. He was happy that Jonah was finally starting to show signs of himself.

“I need one more thing,” Jonah said. “Send me a currier first thing in the morning. I have something I need to write.”

***

Peter looked around the disheveled offices of The Daily Bugle, looking for clues as to why The Scorpion was targeting Jameson. He had his camera around his neck in case anyone asked why he was there, but so far it had been quiet. Aside from a few police officers roaming the halls, he was able to stay virtually unnoticed.

He entered Jameson’s office, which seemed to be worse off than the rest of The Bugle. The wind from the city entered from the broken window, chilling Peter. There was little he’d be able to find in the mess, but he looked anyway. He bent down next to Jameson’s desk, examining the pile of folders and papers on the floor. He picked up an old magazine article from a science magazine that Peter was familiar with.

“This doesn’t seem like that type of thing that interests Jameson,” Peter said, flipping through the pages. He came across an article that Jameson had written all over. It was an interview with genetic engineer, Dr. Farley Stillwell. On the bottom of the page there was a note. Jameson had scribbled one word with two big question marks next to it: ‘SCORPION??’

“Jameson,” Peter said. “How deep in this are you?”

“Peter?” someone called from outside of Jonah’s office. Peter recognized it as Robbie Roberton’s. “Is that you?”

“It’s me, Mr. Robertson!” Peter called back, rolling up the magazine and stuffing it into his back pocket and pulling his shirt over it. “I”m getting some picture of Jonah’s office.”

“So you got the message I left your aunt?” Robertson asked. “She sounded pretty peeved. I didn’t think she’d give it to you to be honest.”

“That’s my aunt,” Peter said, covering up the fact that he’d come there on his own intuition. “How’s Jameson holding up?”

“As well as someone could after being attacked by one of these masked villains,” Robertson replied. “He’s home, getting some rest. Any idea how something like this could’ve happened?”

“How would I know?” Peter asked. Robertson gave him a quizical look. “I mean… I just got here myself.”

“You’re pretty intuitive,” Robertson said. “Absent minded sometimes, but intuitive. I’m sure you can put the pieces of what happened her better than most of the reporters in this place.”

“If I had to guess,” Peter said, wondering how much he should say in front of Robertson. “I would guess that The Scorpion was holding some kind of grudge against Jameson, but why?”

“That’s the million dollar question,” Robertson said, looking around the disheveled office. “Jonah’s definitely riled up these masked vigilantes before, but this Scorpion is new on the scene. Unless he’s tied to someone else that Jonah has come out against in print.”

“I don’t think so,” Peter said. “The Scorpion doesn’t seem to be following any particular agenda. He just seems to be a psychotic, using violence to get what he wants. On the bridge…”

“You were on the Queensboro Bridge?” Robertson interrupted. “Is that how you got the bruise on the side of your head?”

“Um…” Peter said, remembering that he hadn’t gotten any pictures. He absently rubbed the bruise on his head he received from The Scorpion earlier. “No. The police had the whole thing blocked off. I couldn’t even get a good view of what was going on, but I heard what happened from the officers that were on site. The Scorpion was apparently smashing cars and scaring innocent civilians just to get the attention of Spider-Man. I got the bruise from the crowd trying to run the opposite way.”

“This is an odd nut to crack,” Robertson said, looking out of the broken window. “Why would someone be after both Spider-Man and Jonah? Does this make any sense to you?”

“No,” Peter answered, but he knew where to start looking.

“Be careful out there, Peter,” Robbie said, walking past Peter and putting a hand on his shoulder. “This is some rough business.”

Peter watched as Robbie left without saying any more on the subject.

***

Dr. Stillwell followed the only lead he had. The only two people who knew that The Scorpion was actually MacDonald Gargan was Jameson and himself, and he highly doubted that Jameson would out himself as being involved with The Scorpion.

Dr. Stillwell finished what he suspected would be the antidote to The Scorpion serum, and armed a spike with with it. The Scorpion armor wouldn’t allow the injection anywhere except around the neck, where the armor was made more flexible. The only problem was getting close enough to administer the injection. Gargan was too far gone to allow Dr. Stillwell to get close enough jab a spike into his neck.

There was only one address for MacDonald Gargan, and that was the office for his Private Investigator business. With nowhere to go after his attack on The Bugle, Stillwell was sure he’d be hiding out in there. Now that he stood outside the cracked wooden door that said ‘MacDonald Gargan: Private Investigator’, frozen in fear. He steadied his nerve to do what he came there to do. He reached in his coat, took the envelope out form his inside pocket, and slid it under the door.

He stood there for a moment, listening for movement on the other side, but he heard none. He was almost relieved, but he knew it would be short lived. He walked back down the dark hallway towards the staircase. All he had to do now was wait.

 

Spider-Man: STING! – Chapter 10

Chapter 10: J Jonah Jameson

 

Spider-Man crawled onto the muddy shores of the East River. He tore his mask from his head and coughed up the water that nearly drowned him moments ago. He didn’t even know how he survived the fall from the bridge, let alone his escape from his own webbing and the long swim to shore. He sat down on the cold earth, looking towards the Queensboro Bridge. He saw the red and blue flashing lights of the police cars and the spotlights they were shining onto the dark waters below. The Scorpion must have fled after he threw him from the bridge.

Spider-Man groaned as he stood up. Every muscle was sore from the swim. He ran into the fight without thinking. He just wanted to stop the madness of The Scorpion before someone else could get hurt. He hadn’t even stopped to set up his camera. He wouldn’t even get paid for a picture of his own defeat, and he knew Jameson would have paid handsomely for one.

“Jameson,” Peter said. “What did The Scorpion say?”

“I hope this makes Jameson happy.”

“Jameson?” Peter said aloud. “Could he mean my Jameson? Jonah? What’s he have to do with this? Did I just call Jonah Jameson my Jameson? Yuck.”

Peter steadied his nerves for what would be coming next. He needed his spare costume and extra cartridges for his web shooters before he did anything else. He also needed his radio in order track the tracer he was just barely able to get onto the Scorpion. To do that, he’d have to sneak into his house to collect his belongings and sneak back out to hunt for The Scorpion.

***

The Scorpion hid behind a dumpster, watching the police cruisers go by in the direction of the Queensboro Bridge. “Spider-Man,” he breathed. “I beat the Spider-Man.” He laughed hysterically at the thought of it. He decided quickly that he couldn’t be out in the open like this, but he had nowhere to go. He considered heading back to his room at Stillwell Pharmaceuticals, but he remembered the three men he killed when he made his exit.

“I killed them?” he asked the shadows in the dark alley.

The image of the first guard he killed came back into his head. The Scorpion reached out his black-gloved hands, squeezing the man’s head until he died screaming. Blood streamed form his ears, nose, and eye sockets.

“No,” The Scorpion sighed, still on the ground in the cold alley.

The second guard tried to free his colleague from The Scorpion’s grip. He died when The Scorpion lashed out with the claws designed to help him climb walls, cutting his throat in three jagged gashes. He fell to the floor in a heap with the man he was trying to save.

“I killed those men,” The Scorpion said, looking up into the sky.

The third guard had tried to run, seeing the quick work The Scorpion made of the others. He wasn’t fast enough to outrun The Scorpion or his tail. The blade extended from the tip of the tail, and it found its way into the guard’s back. He fell, several feet from the others.

“I’m a killer,” The Scorpion said. “What’s happened to me?” He looked down into a puddle, looking at his reflection. He was almost scared when he saw what was looking back at him. The hood and mask of the Scorpion looked as natural as his own skin now. “How could this have happened to me?”

“Jameson,” the reflection said.

“Jameson,” The Scorpion repeated. “This was all his idea. His fault! I can rectify his mistakes. I can make him pay for what he’s done to me!”

With a scream that filled the night air, The Scorpion was off in the direction of The Daily Bugle.

***

“At least twelve were injured on the Queensboro Bridge before Spider-Man showed up,” Joe Robertson said to Jameson, who was looking out the window of his office while he listened. “There’s no word on what happened to Spider-Man or The Scorpion. There’s been no word from Parker on any pictures.”

“Nothing, Robbie,” Jameson said. “We have nothing.”

“Are you OK, Jonah?” Robbie asked. “No angle on this one? No ‘Spider-Man and Scorpion terrorize commuters’?”

“That’s a good one,” Jameson said, still looking out the window. “Run with that.”

Robbie looked at Jameson for a moment before leaving. He had no idea what was wrong with his boss and friend, but he knew better than to pry.

Jameson looked over the city, seeing his own reflection above it. “What have I done?” he asked himself wistfully. “To justify my own personal hatred, I tried to destroy Spider-Man. In so doing, I’ve unleashed a far worse menace upon the world. A menace I can no longer control! A menace which no one can control!”

Jameson sat in his chair, still looking out over the city. “Damn Spider-Man,” Jameson said. He put his head down. This wasn’t really Spider-Man’s fault; it was his own. He looked over to the paper that had skyrocketed The Bugle into the juggernaut it was today. The headline read “SPIDER-MAN: HERO OR MENACE?”.

“You represent everything that I am not,” he said to the drawn picture of Spider-Man’s mask under the headline, finally admitting to himself what he knew was true. “You’re brave, powerful, and unselfish. The truth is, I envy you. I, J. Jonah Jameson, millionaire, man of the world, civic leader. I’d give everything I own to be the man that you are.

“But I can never climb to your level. So all that remains for me is to tear your down, because, heaven help me, I’m jealous of you.”

Jameson put his head down, waiting for Robbie to come back in with more news about the devil he created.

***

Peter snuck around his bedroom and opened the trunk from under his bed. He snuck in the window, but he didn’t want to do anything that got his aunt’s attention. He didn’t have the time to make up any excuses to his beloved aunt while a crazed villain like The Scorpion was still out there. Peter took a step towards the window, and the floor creaked under his foot.

“Peter?” Aunt May called. “Is that you?”

Peter could have slapped himself. “It’s me!” Peter called back. He pushed his wet costume under his bed with his foot and threw on a shirt over the new costume that he had just put on. He got it buttoned up before his aunt was at his door. “What are you doing home?” she asked. “I didn’t even hear you come in.”

“I had to come home to change,” Peter said. “I got a good drenching from a broken hydrant.”

“Were you on that bridge?” Aunt May asked, accusing Peter with her eyes.

“I tried,” Peter said. “But I couldn’t get past the police barricade.” It was the same lie he was practicing to tell Jameson when he would have to explain why he got no pictures of Spider-man’s fight with The Scorpion.

“Gwen’s been calling here,” Aunt May said. “Did you really leave her in a restaurant without telling her you were leaving?”

“Yeah,” Peter said, lowing his head. “She would have talked me out of going.”

“How could you do something like that?!” Aunt May said. “You leave here right now, find that sweet girl, and apologize, and you better pray that she’s still your girl afterwards.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Peter said, leaving his room. He walked downstairs, out the front door, and began walking back towards the city, following his radio to the tracer he left on The Scorpion.

***

The Scorpion scaled the side of The Daily Bugle, the ground becoming farther away with every inch he climbed. He found it easy and oddly relaxing to climb into the night sky towards his prey.

“I’m coming Jameson,” he said, smiling. “You don’t have to wait much longer.”

***

Jameson sat in his office, still occupied in his guilt. Betty Brant came in with nothing new to tell him. “Still no word from Peter,” she said. “Also, no word on where the… The Scorpion!”

Jameson turned quickly to see The Scorpion standing just outside his window. He smashed inwards, jumping inside. “Quick, Betty,” he said, shoving her out of his office before she could hear The Scorpion admit to being Jameson’s creation. “Evacuate the building! Call the police! I’ll deal with him!”

“Very heroic, Jameson,” The Scorpion said. “But it’s not going to save you!”

“What are you doing here?” Jameson pleaded. “What do you want?”

“Can’t you figure it out?” The Scorpion asked. “You did this to me.”

“You…” Jameson stammered, stepping backward. “You’re mad! Don’t hurt me… I’ll pay any price.”

“You should have thought about that before,” The Scorpion said. “Before you made into me what I am.”

Jameson ran towards the door as The Scorpion’s tail lashed out, creating a large gash in the wall where he was standing just a moment before. “Run all you want,” The Scorpion said. “There’s nowhere you can hide from me!”

“Help!” Jameson yelled.

The Scorpion gave chase. “There’s nobody -”

The Scorpion flew forward, going through Jameson’s wall and into the offices of The Bugle. He rolled on the floor, overturning desks as he went. “Thanks for the shout, Chuckles,” Spider-Man said. “I heard you all the way from the Queensboro Bridge.”

“Spider-Man!” Jameson shouted.

“You’re interrupting,” The Scorpion said, seething.

“Don’t be so greedy Scorpion,” Spider-Man said. “You should learn to finish with one enemy before you move onto the next.”

“You shouldn’t be here, fool!” The Scorpion said, lashing out with his tail and hitting the floor as Spider-Man jumped back.

“That’s my line,” Spider-Man said, firing two strands of webs to the ceiling, deftly leaping over Scorpion’s head as he reared the seven-foot long tail once again. He narrowly missed the spike at the end of the tail.

Spider-Man stuck his feet to the ceiling and fired a ball of webbing into The Scorpion’s face, covering his eyes. “Run, Jameson!” Spider-Man shouted. Jameson didn’t question the command and began to run towards the exit.

“Not so fast!” The Scorpion called, ripping the webbing from his face. He ran after Jameson, but Spider-Man dropped from the ceiling, blocking the way. “You can’t stop me!” The Scorpion flipped a desk towards Spider-Man with his tail. Spider-Man used two strands of webbing to catch the desk and throw it back at The Scorpion, shattering the wood when he lashed out with his tail once again.

“Your tricks are useless!” The Scorpion said, sneering.

“They work fine at birthday parties,” Spider-Man replied, webbing Scorpion’s feet to the floor.

“This won’t hold me!” The Scorpion exclaimed, wrenching his foot from the floor. Spider-Man didn’t know if he’d be able to keep him away from Jameson for long, let alone beat this lunatic.

“I know Jameson’s a jerk,” Spider-Man said. “But I won’t let you harm him!”

“I’ll step over your corpse if I have to!” spat The Scorpion, attacking Spider-Man with a renewed fervor. “Jameson is mine!”

The Scorpion took the bait, attacking Spider-Man instead of pursuing the fleeing Jameson. Spider-Man dodged the first few blows, but he wasn’t able to keep up with the fury of punches with his arms and legs still sore from his swim. Spider-Man leapt back, but not far enough. The Scorpion landed a blow to his ribs that had him double over. The Scorpion’s tail came down next, smashing Spider-Man across the back of his shoulders and pounding him to the ground. “It’s over,” The Scorpion breathed. “I told you that you can’t beat me.”

The Scorpion looked around him. “Dammit,” he said. “Jameson got away. No matter. I’ll find him again. You can’t babysit him forever, Spider-Man. Not if I kill you where you lie.”

The Scorpion raised his tail above his head, extending the blade in the tip. He looked at his victim, savoring the moment. “It ends here, Spider-Man,” he said. Before he cold bring down his tail, a bright light came into the windows of The Daily Bugle. Papers flew around as a police helicopter hovered just outside Jameson’s smashed window.

“PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, SCORPION!” an amplified voice said. “WE WILL OPEN FIRE ON YOU!”

The Scorpion ignored the order, bringing his tail down towards his victim. There was a blast as a rifle was fired. The bullets ricocheted off of his back, but it had stopped him from finishing off Spider-Man. The Scorpion turned towards the hole in Jameson’s wall and the smashed window. The police let off another shot, ricocheting off The Scorpion’s abdomen this time.

“So you want to play too?!” The Scorpion exclaimed, beginning to run towards the window. The helicopter moved away from the building as The Scorpion leapt from the window. He landed on the side, grasping the side with his hands and thrashing with his tail. The blade caught the throat of one of the officers. He fell back grasping his throat. The other took the opportunity to blast The Scorpion in the chest with his rifle, getting him free of the helicopter.

The Scorpion fell as the police helicopter tried to get itself from the sky and close to a hospital. He landed on the roof of a hotel across from The Daily Bugle, going through the ceiling and landing in the penthouse. He crashed to the floor as the people inside fled in terror.

***

“Spider-Man,” Jameson said, crawling next to the unconscious body of the hero.

“Wha…?” Spider-Man said, regaining his composure. “Didn’t you leave?”

“I’ve worked for this paper my entire life,” Jameson said. “I’m not going to abandon it while two masked lunatics are trying to kill each other.”

“You’re welcome,” Spider-Man said, picking himself off the floor with a groan. “Any idea which way he went?”

“He jumped out the window after the helicopter,” Jameson said. “I think he landed on the hotel. If he survived the fall, he’s probably long gone.”

“Live to scorpion another day,” Spider-Man said. “Any idea why he was targeting you?”

“No idea,” Jameson said, looking away. Spider-Man knew he was lying, but he knew the police would be there any minute, and he’d have to make himself scarce. He decided to come back a little later to see if he could uncover any motive for The Scorpion’s seemingly random attack on Jameson.

“Call me if he shows up again,” Spider-Man said, making his way to the same hole that The Scorpion had exited. He looked around for any signs of where he could of fled to, but he only saw the hole in the hotel roof. It looked like he’d be back to tracking him by radio (if the tracer was still stuck to him).

“Wait!” Jameson called, walking into his disheveled office. “I just wanted to thank you.”

“Wow, Jameson,” Spider-Man said. “I don’t know what to say.”

“How about ‘you’re welcome’, you little punk?” Jameson said.

“Now there’s the Jolly Jonah Jameson I know and love,” Spider-Man said. “I’ll be seeing you, chuckles.” Spider-Man leapt from the window, swinging from a strand of his webbing as he went. Jameson walked to his window, watching him swing off into the distance.

Spider-Man: STING! – Chapter 9

Chapter 9: The Scorpion

 

“Fight it, Gargan,” Mac said, willing his body to come back under his control. “Fight it!”

Mac woke up, not knowing how he got back into the bed he was occupying at Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He was stripped of The Scorpion suit and going through some kind of brand new version of Hell. His entire body ached, and he felt as if his head was going to split in two. He steadied himself on the small desk, realizing how much his room resembled a prison cell. He burst through the door and started wandering through the halls, looking for Dr. Stillwell.

“STILLWELL!” he shouted. “WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!”

It didn’t take long for Dr. Stillwell to find him. He pulled a small pouch with some needles in it from his pocket. “Hold still, Mac,” Dr. Stillwell said.

“What’s going on?” Mac asked. “What’s happening to me?”

“It’s withdrawal,” Dr. Stillwell said.

“Withdrawal?” Mac repeated. “From what?”

“The Scorpion serum,” Dr. Stillwell said. “The cocktail you’ve been taking. You’re coming off of it.”

“Why am I coming off it?” Mac asked. “The job isn’t done yet. Spider-Man is still on the loose. Jameson won’t pay me what I’m owed until the job is done.”

Dr. Stillwell ignored Mac, and took a syringe from the case. He readied it to inject into Mac’s arm.

“Get that thing away from me!” Mac shouted, pushing the syringe to the ground. “Give me the serum! I can fight this! I can finish the job! The Scorpion can finish the job!”

“It’s too dangerous to continue,” Dr. Stillwell said. “Your health may be at risk. I don’t care what Jameson -”

“Jameson,” Mac sneered. “I’ll show him that The Scorpion can squash the little spider. I’ll show you all! Give me the suit.”

“It’s locked away,” Dr. Stillwell said. “We can attempt to continue once you’re better.”

“I’m taking my suit,” Mac said, picking Dr. Stillwell up by his throat with one had. “You can tell Jameson that he’ll have his spider. Whatever is left of when I get done with him.”

Dr. Stillwell’s eyes widened as his lungs screamed for air. His worse fears were confirmed. He saw the insanity in Mac’s eyes. He felt the strength in his veins without the serum. The scorpion DNA was taking over Mac’s body, and he relished the feel of it.

With little effort, Mac tossed Dr. Stillwell down the hall. His body rolled until it hit a wall. There he stayed, unconscious. Mac turned and began searching for his suit and whatever serum he could find.

The withdrawal symptoms were beginning to wane, but he still felt odd. He felt as if he were missing a piece of himself. Every time he tried to swing his tail, he felt a great pain down his spine. He felt like he would die if he didn’t get the suit back on him.

Mac was lucky there weren’t many guards or employees on the inside of Stillwell’s small campus, but it would only be a matter of time before someone came across Stillwell and figured out what had happened. Mac came by a room he recognized from the night he had the ‘interview’ with Stillwell and Jameson. It was the room they took him in to show him the scorpion suit.

“Here I am,” Mac said, walking up to the glass case that held the green and black-striped Scorpion suit. He saw his reflection in the glass, and didn’t like what he saw. He stepped back for a moment, trying to figure out how to free himself from the other side of the thick glass. His back hit a table, and he turned. He tried to open a metal drawer, but it was locked tight. He called upon all the strength he could muster, ripping it from the desk with his pincer-like hand.

The contents of the drawer was strewn about the floor, but Mac found what he was looking for. He found four doses of the green scorpion serum and a package of syringes. He smiled. It would only be a matter of time until Spider-Man was delivered to Jameson.

Mac injected all four doses of the serum into his jugular vein, and he was able to free The Scorpion suit from its containment. He emerged from the lab moments later, feeling whole once again. There was nothing that could stop him now.

“Stop right there!” a voice shouted from behind him. The Scorpion turned to see three of Stillwell’s guards. “Take off the suit, or we will use force to take it from you!”

“Go ahead,” The Scorpion said, smiling. “Use force.”

***

Peter Parker laughed along with Gwen at some joke Harry was telling. Peter and Gwen were having a late lunch with Harry Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, and Flash Thomson to blow off steam after a particular tough week of exams. Peter was trying to keep his mind on his friends, but his mind kept wandering to Matt and this guy that called himself The Scorpion. There hadn’t been any sign if him, but he would be sure to pop up sooner or later. These guys always seem to pop up when they weren’t wanted.

“You guys want some coffee?” Harry asked, getting up. “I think I’m going to have one.”

Everyone agreed, sending Harry off. “I’ll help you carry all those,” Peter said, joining Harry.

“Thanks,” Harry said, grateful for the company. “Are you sure you’re OK, Pete? You seem kind of distant tonight.”

“It’s nothing,” Peter said. “Just deep in my thoughts I guess. School and work and this and that.”

“I hear you,” Harry said. “Just the other night my father was on the warpath…”

Peter listened to Harry go on without really listening. What was on the TV next to the cashier had taken control of his attention. The newscaster was talking about a guy in a green suit with a tail wreaking havoc on the Queensboro Bridge. “That’s not too far from here,” Peter said.

“What?” Harry asked. “Are you listening to… Peter! Don’t even think about running over there to get pictures.”

“I have to go,” Peter said, walking towards the exit.

“Peter!” Harry called, not caring that people were starting to stare now. “You can’t just ditch us like this.”

“You don’t understand,” Peter said, ignoring Harry.

“I know your job is demanding,” Harry said. “But think about Gwen. She’s been very patient with you so far, but you don’t want to get on the bad side of her temper. Trust me. I’ve known her longer than you have.”

“Thanks for the advice,” Peter said, leaving the cafe. He ran off to find an alley he could change out of his street clothes and into his Spider-Man costume. He wouldn’t let The Scorpion hurt anyone else to get his attention. He’d go straight to The Scorpion to put an end to all of this before it got even more out of hand. “Cover for me, Harry.”

Harry watched Peter leave the cafe and run down the street in the direction of the Queensboro Bridge. “Cover for you,” Harry muttered. He looked back over towards the others. His eyes lingered on Gwen, who was sure to be furious. “Great.”

***

“Where is he?!” The Scorpion shouted, tossing a car on its side. He whipped his tail at another, flipping it on its top. “Where is Spider-Man?!”

People screamed and ran away from him in every direction. The police had either side of the bridge barricaded, but it would do them no good. Every policeman in New York City wouldn’t be enough to stop The Scorpion’s rampage. Not with the amount of Stillwell’s serum he had injected into his veins. There was only one man in New York who had a chance.

“GIVE ME THE SPIDER!” The Scorpion screamed.

“Will you keep it down,” a voice said from above his head. He looked up to see Spider-Man perched on a beam, hanging upside down. “You’re going to wake the baby!”

“Spider-Man,” The Scorpion said, smiling wide. “Finally.” He coiled his tail under him, using it to spring himself into the air towards his foe. Spider-Man jumped out of the way just in time. He wasn’t expecting The Scorpion to be that fast, despite the warning from Matt.

“Come on!” The Scorpion said, jumping from beam to beam after Spider-Man, matching his agility. “Fight me!”

Spider-Man fired a web onto a beam up above him, swung above The Scorpion’s head in an arc, and hit him in the back with both feet. “Heads up!” he shouted. The Scorpion fell down to the street. “Oops,” Spider-Man said, landing on the street more gracefully than The Scorpion had. “I probably should have yelled that earlier.”

“You haven’t won yet,” The Scorpion said, getting to his feet. Spider-Man had to stop from taking a step back. He shouldn’t have been able to get up so quickly after a fall like that. “You got lucky.”

The Scorpion lunged without warning. Spider-Man’s spider sense blared, warning him to duck. He barely missed a haymaker, and flipped back. The Scorpion was back on him instantly, throwing another punch, this time connecting and sending Spider-Man flying backwards and into the windshield of an idling car.

His spider sense warned him of immediate danger again, and Spider-Man rolled off the car’s hood just in time to avoid getting nailed by The Scorpion’s tail. It came crashing down in to the hood, leveling the car to the ground. The Scorpion turned to face Spider-Man once more, extending the blade from his tail with a loud ‘TWANG’. Spider-Man decided it was time to put on a little offense of his own.

Spider-Man threw a punch, landing it right between The Scorpion’s eyes. The Scorpion followed up with a punch of his own, staggering Spider-Man. The tail swung next, hitting Spider-Man. He put his arms in the way of the tail in time to save his still tender ribs from being smashed, but he was flung far enough to nearly be thrown from the bridge. With a quick THWIP of his web shooter on his left wrist, the slowed his flight and was able to keep his footing.

Hitting this guy feels like hitting a brick wall, Spider-Man thought. And he’s as strong and fast as Matt said he was.

Spider-Man hopped back onto the bridge, where The Scorpion was waiting. “It’s time to finish this,” The Scorpion said.

“That’s my line,” Spider-Man said, using his web shooters to completely cover The Scorpion. If he couldn’t beat him in a contest of strength, Spider-Man would subdue him with his webs. Soon, The Scoprion was completely covered in a net of webbing.

“You think your webbing can hold me?” The Scorpion shouted. “My hands work like a scorpion’s pincers!” The Scorpion began ripping and tearing at the webs with his powerful hands as if they were straw. He was out almost as fast as he’d been captured.

Spider-Man needed a new plan fast. He’d never faced a foe this strong or surpassed his agility. He leapt backwards, leaving he bridge and swinging under it. With luck, The Scorpion will think that Spider-Man fled rather than fight and let his guard down.

Spider-Man swung under the bridge, using a short strand of webbing to fire himself in an arc at The Scorpion’s back. The Scorpion turned quickly, as if he had something akin to Spider-Man’s spider sense, using his momentum against him as he nailed Spider-Man with a hard backhanded blow. Spider-Man tumbled through the air, landing a few dozen feet away.

What is this guy? Spider-Man thought. It was becoming more and more apparent that this wasn’t just some nut job in a suit like so many others. Without even a backward glance, The Scorpion used his tail to gather up the remains of Spider-Man’s failed attempt at a webbing net, flinging it through the air. It hit Spider-Man, wrapping around his body.

The Scorpion was back on Spider-Man as he struggled to free himself form his own webs. Spider-Man used his spider sense to dodge the blows, but each dodge tightened the webs around him, trapping him inside. The Scorpion landed a hit to Spider-Man’s temple, and he saw stars as he went down. “I hope this makes Jameson happy,” The Scorpion sneered.

Spider-Man didn’t recall being picked up off the ground, but he found himself being held high in the air by the Scorpion. He tried to wriggle free from The Scorpion’s grasp, but the vice-like hands tightened on his leg and shoulder. All he was able to do was fire a little, red spider-tracer from his the top of his web shooter, sticking it to The Scorpion near the base of his tail. Spider-Man tried once more to free himself, but felt like his limbs would break if The Scorpoin squeezed him any harder.

“IS THIS YOUR HERO?!” The Scorpion shouted, tossing Spider-Man from the bridge. The world turned over and over again as he fell towards the water. It was useless trying to free himself from the web while he plummeted towards the river below him. He tried to at least free one hand to fire a web at the bridge above him, but it was useless.

Spider-Man plummeted into the cold water as the world grew dark.

***

“He did what?!” Jameson exclaimed.

“He threw Spider-Man into the river,” Robbie Robertson replied. “I’ve taken three different phone calls myself. Spider-Man was defeated by this guy in a green suit calling himself The Scorpion and thrown off the Queensboro Bridge.”

“Dammit,” Jameson breathed.

“What?” Robbie asked. “I thought you’d be happy.”

“I’ll be happy when that web head is laid out in front of me, unmasked,” Jameson said.

Jameson’s private line rang, and he knew it must have been Stillwell with some kind of explanation as to why Gargan was terrorizing civilians and destroying property. “I have to take this,” he said to Robbie.

“No problem,” Robbie said, walking towards the door. “I’ll run this story on page one.”

“And get Parker on the phone,” he said. “I pray for his sake that he was there for all this.”

Jonah waiting for the door to close before he picked up the phone. “Jameson,” he said.

“It’s Stillwell,” the voice on the other end said. “We have a problem.”

“You’re damn right we have a problem,” Jameson said. “What’s Gargan doing out there? He’s supposed to bring Spider-Man to me! What’s he doing throwing him in the river!”

“That’s not the worst of it,” Dr. Stillwell said. There was panic in his voice. “Gargan is out of control, Jonah. He knocked me out and stole The Scorpion suit. He also took four full doses of the serum. I was giving him lighter doses because it was beginning to make him psychotic. He threw me down a hallway and knocked me out without the serum. He killed three guards on his way out to find Spider-Man. It’s taken ahold of him.”

“What are you trying to say?” Jameson asked, sitting down in his large chair.

“The scorpion DNA was changing him before,” Dr. Stillwell said. “It’s mutating him. With the amount of serum Gargan injected into himself…. Jonah, he’s going to be changed permanently. He won’t come back from this.”

“I’m putting an end to this,” Jameson said. “The Scorpion Project is over. Gargan’s employment is terminated as of now.”

“It’s too late,” Dr. Stillwell said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. There’s no more Mac Gargan. There’s only The Scorpion.”

Spider-Man: STING! – Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Matt Murdock

 

Peter took the subway for the second day in a row. His body was still healing from his battle with The Shocker, and he didn’t want to injure his body further by web slinging before his classes. He still had his Spider-Man costume under his clothes just in case, but he didn’t plan on using it. He hadn’t gone to or called anyone at The Dailey Bugle since his blow up with Jameson, but he didn’t have any pictures of Spider-Man with him taking a couple of days off to heal anyway.

“Hiya, Petey,” Gwen said, coming from behind Peter to give him a tight hug. It took all his strength not to scream out in pain. His ribs must’ve been more tender than he thought.

“Hi, Gwendy,” Peter said. “Good morning.”

“Here’s a sight,” Harry Osborn said, walking from behind them. Harry was slightly taller and thinner than Peter with short, brown cornrowed hair. “Peter Parker on time for class. There must be a snowball fight in Hell today.” Peter laughed. Even though they had only just become friends recently, they had become very close. They even joked about getting their own apartment in the city.

“You should’ve seen Puny Parker in high school,” Flash Thomson said, joining his friends with Mary Jane Watson. Flash was bulky with muscle, and had a head of blonde hair. He reminded Peter of a muscled-out Ken doll. “Never late for class. Homework always done. Hell, I think he used to beg for more homework. What happened, Parker?”

“Don’t listen to him, Peter,” Gwen said.

“I rarely do,” Peter said, walking with his arm around Gwen. He caught Mary Jane watching from the corner of his eye. She definitely had the looks for the modeling / acting career she wanted so badly, with her long red hair and seductive eyes. He wondered if Gwen had a sour look for her, and decided the answer was yes without looking to see. It wasn’t that long ago that they both seemed to be vying for Peter’s attention (a situation he wasn’t in the least bit comfortable with). She had been flirting heavily with both Flash and Harry as of late. Peter often wondered if she really cared about either of their feelings.

“I’m just happy we don’t have to hear a Peter Parker excuse,” Gwen said.

“Some of those are fun,” Mary Jane put in, maybe as a jab to Gwen. Mary Jane and Gwen sometimes would lock horns in some sort of female competition that Peter didn’t even try to act like he understood. “I like the one where he was accounted by the nuns for interrupting their service.”

“It wasn’t funny,” Gwen said. “They bruised him up pretty bad. What if it was a mugger or something? Did you read what happened to that blind lawyer? What’s his name? I’m drawing a blank.”

Peter stopped dead. He knew the name.

“Matthew Murdock,” Flash Thompson said. “It was in The Bugle today.”

“He got mugged and beat up pretty badly last night,” Harry piped in. “He’s still in the hospital and might be there for a while.”

“He probably ruffled some feathers,” Flash said. “He’s always on the news. It’s too bad Spider-Man wasn’t around to fight them off.” Flash mimed a fight as Mary Jane stepped back. The biggest irony of Flash’s life was his bullying of Peter and his unconditional love of Spider-Man. He actually told Peter to drop dead the first time they ran into each other on the ESU campus, but he seemed more tolerable of Peter’s presence once Mary Jane Watson entered into the equation.

The others went out of earshot as Peter stood with Gwen. Mary Jane took one more glance over her shoulder before going into class with Harry and Flash. “What’s the matter?” Gwen asked.

“I have somewhere to go,” Peter said.

“Now?” Gwen asked. “But class is about to start. Can it wait?”

“Yeah,” Peter said, remembering that Harry had said that Matt would be in the hospital for a while. “I’ll go after class.”

“It’s OK,” Gwen said, not questioning where Peter had to go and why. “But I want to go with you. You seem pretty spooked.”

Peter almost told her no, but didn’t think it would be wise to blow off his girl when she was so concerned. “OK,” Peter said. “But I have to find out where he is.”

“Who,” Gwen asked, walking with Peter into class.

“Matt Murdock,” Peter said.

***

“I didn’t know that you know Matthew Murdock,” Gwen said, walking through Roosevelt Hospital with Peter. She had kept stealing glances of him during class, worried. She regretted talking him into attending class before checking up on his friend. “How’d you two meet?” She asked.

Peter was deep in thought. He hadn’t met Matt Murdock. Spider-Man met Daredevil in the weirdest of circumstances. A villain called The Ringmaster took a circus audience hostage after advertising that he’d have Spider-Man as part of the show. Spider-Man decided to make an impromptu appearance, inadvertently falling victim to The Ringmaster’s hypnosis. Luckily, Daredevil also showed up, battled a hypnotized Spider-Man, and undid the hypnotism of both Spider-Man and the audience.

It wasn’t until later that Matt Murdoch ran into Peter Parker and deduced that he was Spider-Man based on the pattern of his heartbeat. Daredevil entrusted his identity to Peter Parker as well. The pair had teamed up and watched each other’s backs on numerous occasions.

But Peter couldn’t tell Gwen the honest truth about what had happened.

“Matt defended The Bugle when it was being sued for some of my photos,” Peter lied. It was more believable than the truth. He wondered if Matt was close enough to hear with his super human hearing. “He got me out of some serous hot water.”

“Oh,” Gwen said. She wasn’t a fan of the lengths Peter took to get his pictures, but she didn’t complain. He seemed to be passionate about helping to paint Spider-Man as a hero when his boss took the opposite stance.

“You shouldn’t have been in that neighborhood that late,” the police officer in Matt’s hospital room was saying as Peter and Gwen entered. He had closed his small notepad, stashing in his pocket.

“It’s my neighborhood,” Matt said. He sat up in his hospital bed, wearing his dark sunglasses. His red hair was a mess, but he probably hadn’t run a comb through it since he was admitted.

“There’s little we can do,” the officer continued. “Considering how little you saw.”

“I didn’t see anything,” Matt said, deadpan. Peter almost laughed but bit his tongue.

“I didn’t mean…” the officer stammered. “Call us if you remember any details.” The officer left a card on the nightstand, tapping it so Matt would know where he left it.

“Thank you,” Matt said. The officer hurried down the hall, towards the exit.

“Hi Matt,” Peter said, acting as if Matt didn’t hear him enter by his footsteps or recognized him by scent. “It’s Peter.”

“I know the sound of your voice, Pete,” Matt said. “But unless you started wearing perfume, I think you’ve brought someone with you.”

“Sorry,” Peter said. “This is Gwen Stacy, my girlfriend.”

Matt put his arm out, looking for a hand to shake, and Peter almost laughed again. He knew that she hadn’t moved since she entered the room. She broke her trance and hurried to Matt’s side and shook his outstretched hand. “Pleased to meet you,” she said. “I’ve read about you in the papers.”

“Just the good parts, I hope,” Matt said, smiling. “It was nice of you to come see me. You just missed Foggy. He had to get back to the office. He said he’ll come by with Karen later.” Matt was cofounder of the law firm he ran with his friend Foggy, Nelson and Murdock. Karen worked for them as their receptionist.

“I just wanted to make sure you were doing OK,” Peter said.

“I’m famished,” Matt said. “But the nurses won’t give me anything but mush.”

“I can try and get you something to eat from the cafeteria,” Gwen said. “I’ll see if I can sneak it up here for you.”

“Thanks,” Matt said. “Peter and I will catch up.”

“See you soon,” Gwen said, giving Peter a peck on the cheek and leaving the room. Matt waiting, listening for Gwen’s footfalls to fade enough to speak again.

“She’s gone,” Matt said. “I’m glad you stopped by.”

“What happened?” Peter asked.

“Some costumed villain got the jump on me,” Matt said. “He wanted me to give a message.”

“A message?” Peter asked. “For who?”

“For you,” Matt answered. “Do you know anyone called The Scorpion?”

“Nope,” Peter said, looking up while he thought. “Never heard of him. He’s not one of mine.”

“Well, he’s looking for you,” Matt said. “He wanted me to tell you that he’s coming for you.”

“Did he say why?” Peter asked.

“I didn’t ask,” Matt said. “Didn’t get the chance for a long conversation. He’s strong, fast, and fights using a tail.”

“A tail?” Peter asked. “Like an actual scorpion? Could he be a mutant? Maybe we should try and contact the X-Men.”

“No,” Matt replied. “I felt the tail when it hit me in the chest. It’s metal. The tail is man made, and he’s at good using it.”

“So he’s a skilled fighter?” Peter asked. “He would have to be to take you down.”

“I wouldn’t use the word ‘skilled’,” Matt said, making a weird face. “He’s a pure brawler. Maybe a little boxing in there. I didn’t have much room to maneuver because he cornered me in an alley, although I don’t think he intended it that way.

“Still, he’s pretty tough as far as these guys go. Promise me you’ll be careful if you come across this guy.”

“I will,” Peter said. “But it sounds like I don’t have much of a choice. If he’s strong enough to put you in the hospital, then it’s only a matter of time before he finds me and likely does the same.”

“But there’s a difference between you and me,” Matt said. “A difference between me and most of the others.”

Peter didn’t respond, but he knew what Matt was saying. For Daredevil, there was no radioactive spider, no cosmic rays, and no super soldier serum. Matt’s four remaining senses may have worked on super human level, but his strength was all his own.

“What are you going to do?” Matt asked.

“There’s no point in looking for The Scorpion,” Peter said. “It sounds like I just have to wait, and he’ll find me. I fought plenty if these guys before. What’s one more?”

“Remember what I said,” Matt said. “This one’s different. I’ve fought you before, so I know your strength and speed. The Scorpion may be stronger and faster. He was done with me in a matter of minutes.”

Peter thought hard. If Matt was right (which he almost always was), then he’d have his hands full and then some with this Scorpion character. “I think I’m going to take a snooze,” Matt said. “Give me a call if any more of those pictures land you in trouble again, Peter.”

Peter didn’t have to turn to know that Gwen was back. “OK,” he said. “I’ll catch you later. Oh, hi Gwen. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“They didn’t have much in the cafeteria,” Gwen said. “How’s a burger burnt onion rings?”

“Sounds great,” Matt said. “Thank you. It was really nice meeting you, Gwen.”

***

“STILLWELL!” Mac Gargan shouted, walking through the halls of Stillwell Pharmaceuticals. He swung his arm, putting a large crack in the wall to his right. He was growing weaker. Whatever was in the serum that Stillwell had been injecting into his veins was wearing off quickly.

He wasn’t able to keep the tail up any longer, and it dragged behind him like dead weight. He was lucky he was able to keep it wrapped around his midsection so it stayed hidden as he made the trek back.

“What are you doing?” Dr. Stillwell asked, running down the hall with an escort of guards. “Were you out in the suit all night?”

“Not all night,” Gargan said. “What’s happening to me, Stillwell?”

Dr. Stillwell stood, transfixed. He didn’t answer Gargan’s question.

Mac faltered. He suddenly found it hard to stay on his feet. “WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME?!” he shouted before collapsing. Two of Stillwell’s employees came rushing down the hall.

“Get him out of that suit and into his room,” Dr. Stillwell said. “And lock the suit up when you’re done.”

***

Dr. Stillwell sat at his desk, trying to decide what to do next. He didn’t give Gargan leave to pursue Spider-Man, even though Jameson demanded it. He hadn’t told Gargan or Jameson, but he was weakening the doses of The Scorpion’s serum to test the effect on Gargan.

A blood sample was taken from Gargan after he was stripped of The Scorpion suit and put to bed. After examining it, Dr. Stillwell’s fears were confirmed: More scorpion DNA was present in Gargan’s blood than should have been, despite his collapse. The only explanation was that Stillwell’s experiment was working too well, and Gargan’s DNA would be too far gone if he didn’t stop taking the serum. The scorpion’s evil nature could already have taken over. It may have already been too late. This, coupled with Gargan’s recent outbursts of violence and destruction, steadied Stillwell’s resolve.

Dr. Stillwell picked up the phone and dialed Jameson’s private number. “Jameson,” he said after a single ring. This number allowed him to bypass his operators and secretary.

“It’s Stillwell, Jonah,” Dr. Stillwell said. “We need to talk.”

“What is it this time?” Jameson said, annoyed.

“It’s Gargan,” Dr. Stillwell said. “I think we need to back off on The Scorpion Project until I can run a series of tests.”

“Back off?” Jameson asked. “For how long exactly?”

“Indefinitely,” Dr. Stillwell replied.

“Out of the question,” Jameson said.

“With all due respect, Mr. Jameson,” Dr. Stillwell said. “Gargan has been displaying signs that quite frankly worry me. He punched a hole in a wall just this morning, and he completely destroyed an entire room before sneaking out with The Scorpion suit last night.”

“Sneaking out?” Jameson asked. “I wanted him out looking for Spider-Man last night.”

“There’s also an issue with his blood -”

“Listen to me,” Jameson said, raising his voice. “I’m paying you for this experiment, and I’m paying you well. I don’t appreciate you telling me that you want to put this entire thing on hold after the amount of money I’ve put out.”

“I think we need to talk about pulling the plug before Gargan is too far gone,” Dr. Stillwell said.

“There’s nothing wrong with Gargan,” Jameson said. “He’s frustrated, like I am, that that wall-crawling menace has been in hiding ever since he helped in a bank robbery. We are NOT pulling any plug.”

“It it’s about the money -”

“Do you have the funds to pay me back?” Jameson asked.

“No,” Dr. Stillwell said sighing. He kept the secret that the corporate lawyer had returned to make another offer on Stillwell Pharmaceuticals and all of its research, but he we wanted to see the Scorpion Project to whatever end. “But Gargan -”

“Then we move forward,” Jameson interrupted. “I’ll give Gargan a nice vacation after he has defeated Spider-Man. On me.” Jameson hung up the phone, ending the conversation.

Dr. Stillwell held the phone in his hand, not knowing what to do. Jameson was stubborn and probably wouldn’t chance his stance. Still well turned off his desk lamp and decided to retire for the night. He’d have to sleep on whether or not to put an end to The Scorpion project without Jameson’s approval.