|When Spider-Men Attack!|
|What: The two Spider-Men meet, with Circus joining them--but no one has the chance to do much more than exchange pleasantries as Phobia strikes again.|
Mid-evening in the city, with Spider-Man 2099 traveling through the Upper West Side via his particular blend of swinging and gliding. A web-line attached to the side of a theater, and he uses the momentum to kick up and release. A backward somersault and he spreads his arms and legs, letting the Lite-Byte cloth on his back catch the air and keep him aloft. A tuck and spin, and he arcs downward to land on top of a water tower, from which he immediately pushes off to begin the process all over again.
It's been one of those weeks, he thinks to himself as he uses his right finger-talons to latch onto the corner of a building and swing himself around it. The discussion with Tamir about Angela still doesn't sit right, nor does the thought of the coin. He lands on the side of another building and perches there for a moment, left hand stretched behind and above him to bury the talons into the brick.
"You know," Spider-Man says as he has arms folded across his chest, head tilted, and looking towards Spider-Man 2099. "We tried writing. We tried inviting you to all the family get togethers, but you never responded and you never let us know how we could smooth the whole adoption thing over." He sighs forlornly, "I only wish...I only wish we could repair the bonds. You've...you've missed so much."
Mid-evening. Angela woke up in her apartment... alone. She sought to contain the panic attack, and managed for a full two minutes before she was out the window, and Phobia was latching onto the fire escape. Her mind is already on the prowl, searching the immediate area for a victim, someone afraid, afraid of anything, someone whose fears are sitting right at the surface of their thoughts.
Bouncing along the rooftops is someone with an even gaudier outfit than Peter's. Hers is very unlikely to become a cultural icon however. Circus has been bouncing around for a bit, and she's bubbling with energy by this point. Easily distracted she smacks into a wall inelegantly when she spots the distant figure of Spider-Man 2099, luckily she recovers before she falls to her death, and is bouncing in hot pursuit. When she sees the infamous Spider-Man atop the water tower she decides to join in the family gathering. No invite or anything! "Sorry guys. I forgot to bring the potato salad. Hot damn! Spider-Mans everywhere! Is this a convention?"
"...shit!" exclaims the black-clad vigilante, nearly falling from his perch and none too happy about being snuck up on. Not many people can do that. "The /hell/--?" Spider-Man 2099 cuts himself off when he looks up and sees the familiar red and blue. His brows lift, noticeable in the way the mask shifts, and he turns to get better purchase on the building. "Wow. Umm. Hi." Okay, so not the most interesting thing he could say, but then he's always had that problem. Especially when faced with what is, to him, a living legend--someone he's come to idolize. He's about to say more--when they're joined by a bubbly young woman. This day is just going to get stranger and stranger, even by the standards of someone who runs around in pajamas.
"Oh look," Spider-Man says and holds out his hand to showcase Circus, "We have..." He shakes his head theatrically a few times, "I have no idea who you are..." He exclaims to no one in particular while nodding, "But she seems nice. SO!" His head lolls slooooowly to the side and looks to Miguel. "Nice uni. It's my schtick. I don't know if I should be signing autos or worried you're takin' my spot, bro. What gives?"
Down on the street, the inexplicable happens: A grown man, walking down the street, suddenly screams in abject terror and turns to flee... from a woman walking her four pound chihuahua.
"Hi! I'm Circus." says Circus, standing up on top of the tower. "This is amazing. The real Spider-Man! In person! I wish I had a camera." She bounces up and down a bit, clapping her hands together. "So. You two don't know each other then? Oh...I sort of thought..." She looks from one to the other, then digs out a sharpie from her circus utility pack. It is a very high tech sharpie, obviously. "Sign my suit?" But before she can get any inappropriate parts signed, there is a scream down on the street. She walks to the edge of the water tower and leans, trying to get a gander at what the source of that scream might be.
Having read about the original didn't really make Spider-Man 2099 prepared for actually meeting Spider-Man. Though, really, he's already quite sure that nothing /could/ have. He looks up at Circus, arching a brow when she brings out the pen. He has to think she's talking to the original, as he's never had anyone react to him with much besides throwing blunt objects. Well, there /were/ those Spiderites, but.
The scream catches his attention, and he whips his head around, narrowing his eyes and tuning everything else out so he can "zoom in", as it were, and sees--aw, hell. "Oh, shit," he mutters under his breath, then looks back up to the original Spider-Man. "Short version--trans-dimensional portal. Long version later." A glance to Circus, "Umm--hi. Back in a moment to--sign--you." Still. So. Weird. Anyway, he goes to push off from the wall, to arc downward to the street to land a few yards in front of a certain dog-walker.
"Sign your suit?" the young hero with the New York accent asks for clarification, "Well, I always sign autographs for my fans, especially the ones with such bodacious ..." His words are cut off by the scream. "Welp, there's our call." Miguel's words come to him as he tilts his head in confusion, "trans-dimensional portal...Do you come from Des Moines?" As Spider-Man from the Future leaves, Spider-Man from the present leaps off the edge of the building and lets himself free fall for a few stories before firing his webshooters, "I hear they love the flannel in Des Moines!!!"
The lady walking the dog, an overly plump blonde, gasps at the dark Spider that drops down in front of her. For a moment, that's her only reaction, until her eyes widen suddenly. "Oh my GOD! Don't kill me," she screeches, hands reaching for her dog, before she tries to scurry away in terror.
Circus stuffs the pen away and follows after Spider-Man as he free falls. Even though she's coming to someone's rescue and all that, she can't help but let out a "Woooooo!" as she falls. When Pete shoots off a strand of webbing, so does she....wait, no. She /doesn't/ shoot off any webbing, because she can't. So, she keeps falling instead. Which is pretty funny if you think about it. Which apparently Circus does, because she starts giggling up a storm as she falls towards the ground below. But rather than splatting she suddenly is gone at the last moment. She reappears a split second later right next to 2099, where she skids across the ground to come to a halt. "Hey lady! He's like, a good guy! Seriously! I think!" Which makes her ask the question, "Are you a good guy?"
Now /that's/ a normal reaction. Spider-Man 2099 arches a brow as he stands erect--and suddenly there's a Circus skidding right past him. "Well. I'm trying, but one comment about power and responsibility, and I'll have to re-think that." That's said with dead-pan sarcasm, perhaps making it difficult to tell if he's joking or not. He's already looking around carefully, trying to find the source of the--problem. True, it could be any number of causes or people, but there's only one he has experience with who, herself, is related to abject terror. He grits his teeth and hopes against hope he's wrong.
Spider-Man skids to a stop and lets go of his webbing. He looks down both sides of the street in confusion. "Uhm. Okay. This is odd." His head twists back at Miguel and Circus. "Are we going to chalk this up to crazies being crazy?"
The blonde scampers away while on the fire escape seven floors up, Phobia smiles happily, tongue running over her lips. The attention 2099 is drawing, only serves to fuel her, as she flickers into minds, painting a picture of the horrifying black spider, snarling and gnashing venom-like teeth. Not that anyone but her victims as see this. No, all the Spideys and the Clown would notice is that people all around them are halting in their tracks and running AWAY from the three costumed vigilantes.
Fighting back the giggles, Circus watches everyone around them running in terror. "Wow. I am no judge of costumes, but you might consider like, something that doesn't have a big skull on the chest. It seems to make the natives no longer friendly." As she continues to survey the scene, "But...call me crazy, I don't think this is just fear of a skull or bright colors. These people are seriously freaking out!"
Of course. Though he's still really hoping he's wrong--these reactions suggest he isn't. Spider-Man 2099 lets out a soft breath, then mutters, "Yeah, they are. Look for a woman. Black hair, green eyes. She'll either look like a normal young woman or--not. It's kind of hard to explain, but you'll know her when you see her. This--might not just be crazies being crazy." And with that, he turns to start down the nearest alley so he can give it a quick scout before starting to climb the building.
"I told you, you gotta eat a breath mint after eating Indian food, dude. It drives the /whole/ town away." Spidey's hands flail towards the fleeing peoples and he then tilts his head at Miguel, "Like a normal young woman, or not. Got it. Could be a dude. Could be a billy goat. Could be a fire escape. Simple" He begins looking anyways.
Phobia's not hiding particularly well. The only thing that's got her hidden is that she's seven floors up, sitting on a fire escape, and not really moving or making much noise. When Classic Spidey flails at some people, they scream and run. One faints dead away.
On her fire escape, Phobia licks her lips, as she feeds on the fear of the civilians running from the 'super heroes'.
"Hah! Got her!" says Circus to herself as the others each do their own things. She springs up several stories and catches hold of a balcony, swinging in to attack the woman inside. Now, this probably would have worked better if she wasn't now across the street from Phobia, threatening a woman who had stepped out on her balcony to check out all the screaming down below.
"Gonna kill her..." Spider-Man 2099 mutters to no one in particular as he climbs up the side of his building. "/So/ gonna kill her..." Of course, how much of that is merely venting frustration and how much is essentially making a promise is up in the air--and there's Circus shouting. Maybe they'll get some answers. He leaps back and up, shooting a web-line from the back of his forearm so he can swing down and back up, then sail across the street. When he lands on the balcony railing, he says, "Close, but not her." A curse threatens to escape his lips again, but he holds it off. For now.
"Hey what about that one?" Spidey sees someone up on the fire escape gettin' all hot and bothered and licking her lips all seductively and what not. A quick fire from his webbing later and he's up near her and crawling along the wall. All sorts of phobias in the world. Arachnophobia is his least happy-phobia.
The woman in the apartment shrieks in fright, the sound and the emotion immediately drawing her attention. On her fire escape, Phobia stands, though her eyes remain closed as she focuses on the woman's mind. Coulrophobia, a fear of clowns. How delicious! The poor woman falls over, begging not to be eaten alive!
So focused, Phobia does not notice the unafraid wall-crawler creeping up the wall near her position.
"Whoa whoa! Lady! Calm down. I ain't going to eat you!" Circus gets the woman's sliding glass door open then herds her inside. She slams the door shut then turns around to heave a sigh of relief. Her smiling doesn't show it, but that freaked her out. Panic and balconies aren't good for people without powers. She looks around to see where the others are at. She could reach that balcony in a jump, but she's not about to rush in ahead of Spider-Man. He's freakin' Spider-Man after all! Seriously! Like, THE Spider-Man! Somewhere in that thought process she slaps into the wall behind Phobia, having narrowly missed pegging her. "Oof! Mommy!"
And suddenly people are disappearing on him. Spider-Man 2099 watches Circus disappear, then follows where she was to where she is, and--"There she is," he says, mostly to himself since it's obvious everyone else already figured that one out. He narrows his eyes in annoyance and leaps back off the balcony railing, twisting in mid-air to land on the wall a yard or so from Phobia as the original Spider-Man gets there, dashing an arm out to grab Circus before she can fall. He's radiating We Are Not Amused, all aimed right at Phobia.
TWHIP! A webbing is shot at Phobia's face, while two others are shot at her hands. If successful, Spidey is quick to poke breathing holes for this villainess. "I tried, mamma. I tried to get the kids at school to like me, but they all just ran away. Is it because of my eight legs?"
Phobia flips the freak out. Her mind screams to all those gathered, sheer panic in the tone, **NO! You won't take me! You won't have me!** With the mental words, the feel of terror, Phobia's terror, slides out. She locks on to each mind, using her fear to force her victim's minds to see their own most mind-numbingly frightening moment. There's no finesse, no careful tweaking of illusions. Just a wild shove, desperately needing to get away.
Caught by Miguel, Circus flips up and around, snagging the edge of the balcony. "Wooo! Thanks!" A quick tug and she flips herself up onto the edge of the balcony as Spider-Man webs up the person behind all this mental mischief. And that's when the crushing wave of terror washes over her. She has lots of them, but no actual phobias. Her biggest fear is becoming a junkie to her power. So, when the fear of being consumed by just how good her powers made her feel, how similar to a drug the whole thing was, she's left giggling in fear as well as mirth as she wobbles on the edge of the balcony. She should just fall and get it over with, that would be better than being a junkie and stringing out the whole thing.
It's got to be the last remnants of the infernal coin's power that keeps Spider-Man 2099's mind from succumbing--fully, anyway. Still, he can't help but see that mother fucker Venom, crouched on that desk--holding two women by their throats. "Choose who dies..." He'd said, and Miguel couldn't help it--his fiancée's name slipped from his lips. Venom had laughed, that fucking sick sound, and closed his fist. Miguel had held her as she gurgled her last breath--knowing he failed someone who loved him more than he ever deserved. The memory that's always haunted him, the memory that comes to him whenever someone else depends on him--the failure.
"Enough of this..." he hisses, then leaps from the building directly at Phobia. Somewhere in the back of his head, he damned well knows that only the coin hidden under his tunic had kept him from falling--or letting himself fall, maybe.
Peter's mind turns to black and he's suddenly a little boy again. He's walking down a long aisle, feet clacking upon a marble floor between two sets of pews in a giant cathedral. It takes him forever to make it to the front of the church. It feels like forever. At the altar is a large wooden casket. Behind the casket stand Harry Osborne, Mary Jane Watson, and Gwendolyn Stacy. Slowly he takes the first stair. The second stair. Then he looks to his friend, all weeping, and then up and over the casket. Inside is Aunt May. Before he can even react, the face decays into a skull and then turns to dust. Likewise, the faces of all his friends begin to dissipate. The skin turns wrinkly, and dusty, before tearing away and leaving their skulls. Then their bones all fall to the ground in a jangly mess. Meanwhile, young Peter begins to run back towards the front of the cathedral, but he can't seem to go fast enough. His legs won't move. All around him large stones begin to fall, some in his path some not, as the church crumbles around him. He can see the exit. He reaches for it. But he cannot get out fast enough, cannot make it in time.
Giggling, Circus walks along the edge, then leaps off as her giggling gets louder. The more she thinks about the giggling and being swept up into her power, the more it makes her giggle and the cycle repeats. She'll leave this villain to the actual pros.
Phobia staggers backwards, fear racking her mind, and she keeps clawing at the minds that respond to her attacks fully, that hint of the truth she sees the only thing 2099's mind can sense from hers for the moment, and even that is beginning to fade as the coin's protection prepares to shatter. Blinded, Phobia can't see the small lip behind her that is the track of the sliding glass door which separates balcony from her home, Miguel's home now. Her heel catches, and with a fresh wave of terror, Phobia falls to the ground, struggling against her bonds.
**No! Your hands off me! Your eyes off me! I have done nothing! Stay away! Leave me to go back to my family!**
When she goes down, Spider-Man 2099 is immediately crouching next to her. "No, you're going to stay right the fuck here," he growls, then webs her arms and legs to the ground. He yanks off his mask as he gets to his feet and walks into the kitchen. Tamir's words come back to haunt him--about how Angela will turn on him. He didn't want to believe it, and he still doesn't want to--but it's getting harder to disagree. Especially as he can feel some weird-ass throbbing in his head, growing stronger. It has to be the power fading from the coin.
Being tied down, the left, Phobia screams in terror, in rage, and flings her mind to the still recovering woman across the street. Her mental claws sink in, and give the psychic a moment of control, that she may fling herself futilely against her bonds. And then, she's silent, still, and utterly buried in the poor woman's mind.
It's only by looking out the window and seeing the way the woman across the street is writhing that Miguel figures out what's going on. He grumbles to himself and hurries back to Phobia's side. Left hand grabs her by webbing and clothing, yanking her free of the floor--in a none-too-pleasant manner, at that--while he uses his right to rip the webbing off her face so she can see his own. Irises reflecting red in the light, sharp upper canines bared--it's about as pissed off as he /gets/ without tearing her apart. Which--isn't as far from his mind as she might like it to be. "This. Stops. NOW," he hisses darkly, eyes narrowed and glittering in rage.
Freed, Phobia gasps at the sudden rush of air. Her eyes glowing green to those red ones, her frame is shaking violently. ~Let me free,~ she whisper-hisses at him, begging him. Her mind's buried too deep, and she can feel the woman's panic sustaining her.
"No," Miguel replies lowly, then--he plunges his fangs into her neck. The venom sacs behind his teeth start pumping their paralytic neurotoxin into her veins, which will begin taking effect momentarily. It will leave her conscious, but unable to do--anything.
Phobia struggles then with a gasp goes limp. The image of horror slides from her body as her mind is no longer able to sustain its attack past the venom coursing through her veins. Trapped in her own mind, Angela's eyes are wide, her breath is quick and shallow, her pupils contracted into tiny pinpricks of black against a field of emerald green. Even the trembling has stopped.
He sets her on the couch, then stuffs his mask into his waistband. He really doesn't know what he's supposed to do with her. This /cannot/ happen again. He half-wishes Tamir were here, but only because he'd feel less guilty later. With a sigh, he goes to sit in a chair, resting his elbows on the arms and steepling his fingers. He'll wait there until the venom wears off, which should be in a few minutes. But--she isn't going to like what he'll have to say. At least he's waiting until she can actually respond, so there's that.
She knows he's there. She knows she's not alone, and even if he's harsh and mean, he's the closest thing to safety Angela's known in a very long time. As the toxin begins the wear off, Angela turns, twists, then curls up into a ball, crying.
He wants to console her, but--he's been doing that. And it hasn't seemed to have been doing anything. "This can't happen again," he says quietly. "I--wear this because I have dedicated my life to helping people. I--can't let you hurt anyone, Angela. Not again. This has to stop, here and now." Though firm, his voice is kept soft; he's not trying to be a bastard, but--she has to understand that he won't allow her to hurt anyone else.
"I didn't," Angela cries out, uncurling to glare at Miguel. "You left me alone! I told you not to leave me alone. And you did anyway!" Tears are rolls down her cheeks.
I can't be here every minute of the day!" Miguel exclaims, gripping the arms of the chair. "No one can! You /need/ to find the control! If you don't..." He stops himself so he can regain some measure of calm, then, "If you don't--you can hurt people. And--tonight has to be the last time, Angela. It has to be. For your sake, and everyone else's. You can't take much more of this, I know that."
Angela recoils back as he yells at her, shaking. "I don't know how," she snarls back. "I'm not going to be defenseless again! I didn't HURT anyone! Not until ....something hit my face... blinded me.. I... I was alone... And... you weren't there..." She's shaking again, but at least she's not lashing out immediately.
"Really? I'd call people in the throes of intense terror pretty god damned painful," Miguel mutters. At least he isn't yelling, though the trade off was for snark. "Look out the window. See the woman across the street? See her rocking and sobbing to herself? Imagine that happening to dozens of people /every time/ you lose control." He sighs and rubs a fingertip between his eyebrows.
"That's me! Every time... any, time I'm alone. I can't stand it. I can't deal with it," she retorts, knees drawing up. "I can't sleep for it all, and feeling someone else.... knowing I can terrify them, like I am terrified.. helps." Like a smoke helps calm the nerves.
"Which is going to end," says Miguel, keeping his head bowed but keeping his eyes on her. "You--can't be allowed to do that anymore, Angela. It's not easy for anyone; we all have to--fight ourselves, sometimes. But you can't get a free pass just because you're scared. No one does." Closing his eyes, he rubs his face, wondering if he'll ever get a good night's sleep again. Somehow, he doubts it.
"Then don't leave me," she all but begs.
"You know that's not an option," says Miguel quietly. "I can't let people /die/ because I'm here. I--have to go out there and help people. It's--the only thing keeping me going, the knowledge that maybe, just /maybe/, I can help someone. That's why I'm here, now, instead of taking you to an asylum. Because I want to help you--but you need to control yourself. You can't rely on others."
"Then take me with you," Angela blurts out, grasping at straws.
Quirking a brow, Miguel just looks at her for a moment. That she's serious doesn't exactly help any. Finally, he says, "Yeah--you know that wouldn't work. I mean, the Lite-Byte cloth alone barely works with just me--" And something clicks in the back of his scientist brain. "Hey, wait--define 'alone'. Like, do you actually need another human being physically present, or would something else work? I mean, I assume you have some sort of long-range communication capability, unless this is the damned Stone Age or something. And does it need to be someone you can talk to, or just another mind, or what?" He's obviously on a track that hopefully leads somewhere.
Angela blink-blinks at that, frowning in complete confusion. "I... I ....don't know?" Her eyes are flicking about, trying to think that through and failing.
"Well, think about it," says Miguel, warming up to the idea. "If you can come up with an answer, we just might be able to figure something out." He leans forward a little, adding, "Just--try and think about how the whatever-it-is works. I think I have an idea, but it'll take some thought."
"I don't want to think about it! I don't want to think about being alone, ever," Angela retorts, sounding very much like a child.
"What, you think anyone else does?" Miguel snaps back, voice growing louder. He's really about had his fill of this shit. "You think anyone /wants/ the fucking life they're given?! No! No one /wants/ the life they have--no one /wants/ their parents to beat them, their children to hate them! No one /wants/ it, but that's life! You either choose to accept it and get the fuck on with it, doing the best you can, or--" He cuts himself off and sighs softly, then adds, more quietly, "Or you might as well kill yourself, because someone else will do it for you and it won't be very humane."
To that Angela gulps and falls quiet for a good long while.. "What... did you have in mind? ...About the company?"
Another soft sight, and Miguel rests his right elbow on the arm of the chair, leaning his head down to massage his temple. "For one thing," he says more calmly, "we can try pets--I don't know, mice, birds, cats, whatever. For another, I assume you have some mobile version of that thing." A vague gesture with his left hand toward the telephone. "I mean, I can't take you everywhere physically, but maybe that way."
Pets? "I've... never had... my nanny said I was allergic... that it wasn't proper...." Angela follows the motion of Miguel's hand, blinking, then, "A cell phone? Yes. I have one. Don't yo- oh.. that's right... Ah... I can get you one?"
"Well, we try it," says Miguel, continuing the massage to his temple. It really isn't helping much, though. "Worse comes to worst, you're allergic. If there isn't anything to treat allergies available, then you might just have to deal with it. I could whip something up--if I had the proper laboratory, and if I knew what you called your chemicals in this time period. Names change, and I'd still need a fully-stocked lab, anyway." His eyes close, more in response to the throbbing behind them than tiredness. "Anyway, yeah--let's start with something small--hamsters, or something. Maybe a rabbit."