"We need an army," Karn stated, his eyes sweeping over us all.
"We have an army," Superior replied, scoffing, "or do you not see the one I've gathered?"
Karn in response looked at the Spider totem before them, "no, we don't. Since the sorcerer revealed himself to my family, they will become cautious. The Web has told me much, my father has become desperate, he has gone to the Originator."
"I thought you said he was treated like a slave by, whoever this Originator thing is," Spider-UK asked, "why would he go back?"
"Desperation," Karn hissed, his eyes landing on me, "my father's power is vast, a fight with the Sorcerer would be a battle he cannot guarantee victory, and my father rarely leaves anything to father would not take even the slightest risk of loss. The Originator will give him the power he so craves, we will quickly be out matched."
"Well….who did you have in mind?" I asked, looking around at who we had already.
There was me and my family from our world, Jean, Felicia, my Wanda, Johnny and Hope, who were definitely not participating in the fight to come. There was Toby's Spider-man, his wife MJ and his son Harry. The Amazing Spider-man, the MCU Peter Parker and Wanda, Superior Spider-man, May-Day Parker, the Spider-girl, another version of Spider-Gwen, another Spider-girl by the name of Anya and Spider-UK.
All in all, a pretty solid team but...none of the other totems were up to the level of an Inheritor on their own. Karn was right, we needed more people.
"There are other totems who have the power to face them," Karn replied, crawling into the Web, weaving his hands over the spindles, creating windows to different worlds inside it, "you must travel to them and gather your team. I have found six possible candidates, if we are to survive what is to come next, we must recruit them all."
"We'll help," Toby Spider-man spoke up instantly.
"Peter," his wife grabbed him by the arm, "you can't. Please, let someone else handle it."
"Mary Jane, if I don't-"
"-There are other versions of you here! They're just as capable! They're...they're younger too," she said, the last in a whisper, though we called and heard it. It was true, I could see the grey in his hair. This Spider-man was old, much older.
"I can't just sit back while these things come after you and Harry Mary Jane, I can't," he held his wife's hands in his, "you know I can't...if they have their way, every version of our kids out there could be at risk….it's my responsib-"
"It's our responsibility," May spoke up, putting her hand on his shoulder, her eyes tearing up for a second, why I could guess. He does look so much like May's dad….it must feel like a dagger to the heart seeing him.
"Six candidates right?" May smiled, "we have more than enough people to go get them all. I suggest while we do that you stay put with your family. Trust us, we won't let you down."
"But what if you need my help?" Toby Spider-man asked.
"Then we'll ask some other version of you," Superior replied in a dismissive tone, "besides, being as old as you are, you aren't much good for us. Stay here with your child. Keep an eye on them."
Was… was Oto showing compassion? Wow… maybe I shouldn't consider him the canon version of the Superior Spider-man I've come to expect. Hm, the more time passes, the more I realise this Spider-verse event is nothing like the one I read in the comics. It's more...different. It's vague and honestly, it's starting to unnerve me a bit.
"You shall go in teams of two," Karn spoke up, "the six I have chosen are icons of heroism in their respective worlds...well, some of them at least. You will need to convince them to join our cause. They can prove to be...stubborn."
"From my experience, most versions of Spider-men are," Gwen shrugged.
"Hey!" came three distinct shouts. One of which certainly didn't come from me, no sir. I'm not stubborn at all.
"Pair up, tell me when you're ready to begin," Karn replied, going back to the Web.
I turned, Jean was holding Hope in her arms. She nodded at me, I nodded back, we didn't need to speak, it was just agreed. Jean would stay back and take care of Hope, I guess after everything that's happened, this would be the first time in a long time the mother and daughter would have some time to spend together.
"So, are we doing this or what Tiger?" Felicia spoke up, grinning with one hand on her hip.
"You know, I can't remember the last time you and I teamed up," I smiled.
"Just the two of us? Hm...you're right, it has been some time Spider," she trailed a claw down my chin, holding it at the end, "so we're going to have to make up for some lost fun huh?"
I chuckled, "just a little seems fine," I bent down, placing a chaste kiss on her lips. I don't know why, but this small peck held so much more emotion in it than all the other lust fueled kisses we've shared whenever we were in bed.
She squeezed my hand and an unspoken understanding passed through us both.
Soon we all paired up. Wanda and Spider-Gwen, Amazing Spider-man and the MCU Wanda, MCU Peter Parker with Superior (I'm really hoping Oto isn't looking to snatch up a younger body), May Day and Anya and finally Johnny with Spider-UK., the latter of who did not seem to appreciate the poor British accent Johnny was currently trying and failing at imitating.
Soon we were all ready and Karn began opening portals for us all. MCU Peter and Superior were the first to go step up, the latter almost dragging the boy by the arm.
Karn motioned to the Web he was on, one of the windows stretched, forming an archway of sorts where the glowing purple portal that the Web used to transport us appeared. "The first one we will need is a...difficult one."
"Difficult how?" AMZ Spider-man asked.
"Deadly...dangerous, time has worked on him" Karn replied, the purple flashed as an image of a being in black arrived at the end of a long hallway, the shadows of the dimly lit structure masked his form, but we could clearly see the five armed men standing before him.
He moved, to my eyes he was fast, but I bet to the others he was downright blinding. He slashed the throat of the first man, his blood spilling everywhere, claws were jutting out of his fingers.
I turned to Jean, she already had covered Hope's eyes, I gulped, turning back to the bloodshed that was occurring on the screen.
He didn't just take down the five men, he dismantled them. He broke one's neck by kicking him up the jaw so hard his skull popped out of his spine. The other got his eyes crushed in while another was impaled on a light fixture and left to hang.
The last one begging, crawling away in fear, we saw this Spider-man rip his head off and toss it outside the open window to his left. I knew I could be brutal at times, I can't really fault him, I've done worse to the Inheritors, but I had to wonder, what made him this angry?
"Fuck," Wanda spat. The older Spider-man was holding his wife by the shoulders while he looked on in horror.
"That guy's fucking insane!" MCU Wanda cried out, "if he brings him on he'll sooner kill us than help us!" I flinched, it's a good thing they didn't see what I did to the Inheritors.
"He is not insane, he is simply...effective," Karn replied as he motioned to the screen. We saw the figure move into the light, his suit revealed.
He was full black, I can see some armor plating with hints of shining titanium underneath, a simple spider design on his chest. His eyes however, they were red, almost lifeless. I know it sounds strange, none of our white lenses move, but his...they just look so dead.
He moved to a door at the end of the corridor and opened it. The bedroom was small and looked dirty beyond all belief. In it was a simple cot, modeling and covered in stains. And on it...was a child.
I gasped, I felt my blood boil in rage. The child looked to be less than ten years old. Dressed in torn clothes with bruises all over his body. His eyes were bruised, one swollen so much it was shut, the other though looked up, no fear, no anger, no...anything.
This Spider-man reached out his hand and held it out to the child. The child reached out and took it and the image faded away.
"I did not pick a maniac," Karn replied, turning to us, "I'm sure some of you can understand his reaction...he too was once a father, though that right was stolen away from him by Norman Osborn, his Red Goblin….he isn't unreasonable, but he is dangerous."
I felt the back of my mind put forth a question, would I have done the same in his case? No...I would have done so much worse….
"Then it's perfect for us," Superior nodded.
"Ah, dude, you sure?" Peter asked nervously.
"With your innocence and my charisma we can convince him otherwise, I see no one else who can take this forward."
I narrowed my eyes in worry, stepping forward, "Superior, maybe Felicia and I should-"
"-No," he cut me off, stealing his glare at me, "the boy and I shall be enough." I glared, what was his ego talking about? Must be...but if I'm being honest, I don't think Karn would have picked this Spider for Otto and Peter if he didn't know they would come back successfully.
I guess I should trust that Karn knows what he's doing at least.
"Peter," I called out, he turned as he slowly moved to put on his mask. I paused, not sure what to say, I sighed, "good luck kid. Don't let Superior bring you down too much."
Peter grinned, giving me a thumbs up as he and Otto jumped through the portal, vanishing through the swirl of purple.
Next came Johnny and Spider-UK, Johnny sighing as they stepped forward, "can we get someone a little less murdery?"
"In this world, the Spider totem has arisen to something of a national treasure and legend," Karn explained as he waved his hand, an image of a man dressed in a blue, white and red suit appeared.
He swung into a burning building, coming out moments later with a child in each arm and a man hanging around his neck like a cape. He jumped out, landing safely on a nearby roof. We watched as he saved civilian after civilian and when he was done, he helped the firemen down on the street level, fixing in the water hose to a nearby fire hydrant.
He even stayed and helped people with the EMTs, gaining praise and cheer from all the people around him. Damn, could have had some of that when I was swinging webs.
The suit was modeled after Captain America's own costume, with the spider on his chest shaped into a star, the top point the teeth and two legs coming out of the four other points. The suit looked advanced with body armor melded into the fiber. What's more, on his back was a shield, the very same one I have seen Steve Roger use.
"So...we're going after a version of Spider-man that became Captain America?" Johnny asked, confused.
"Partially," Karn replied, "Captain Rogers passed the mantle onto him after this world's version of Sam Wilson refused. Though he was Roger's second pick, he did not disappoint, becoming the leader of his generation of heroes, shaping the reality of what it means to be a hero."
"So we're dealing with a boy scout," Spider-UK nodded, "I can work with that."
Karn nodded, "I know. Your optimism and livety will win him over," he said, his eyes landing on Johnny as he did, "good luck."
Without a second thought they both walked through the portal, vanishing.
Wanda and Spider-Gwen came up to the mantle next and once more the portal shimmered, showing us the next Spider in question.
Surprisingly it wasn't a modern day city of a dimly lit corridor at all, this time it was a tiny village and when we looked a little closer, everyone in that village seemed to dress like they were living in medieval times.
The portal showed us a town's square where a woman was being tied to a poll, the gathered crowd around her chanting loudly, though we couldn't tell what. There were twigs and branches thrown at her feet and several people raising crosses all around.
"Wait...is that a witch trial?" Spider-Gwen asked, pointing at the woman, Wanda growled, her eyes flashing red.
"Yes," Karn replied, "keep watching."
And we did. A man in white robes stepped forward, gaunt and sickly looking. The crowd cheered him on as he began to speak, pointing at the woman tied up. It drew on for a while, the crowd getting riled up with every moment that passed.
For a second, a figure passed in the crowd, I caught a flash of his cloak as he did. Brown, covering what seemed to be reddish leather armor.
The man, who now bore a gold crucifix in his hand, pointed at the woman with a maddened look, holding out his other hand. Immediately a villager gave him a torch and he turned, moving towards the woman.
Wanda seemed about ready to jump through the portal, when suddenly a figure leaped out of the crowd. We saw a flash of steel as a blade was drawn and split into the thin figure.
The robbed figure from before, his blade had sank into the priest's shoulder, blood was drawn. The mysterious figure then reached out with his other hand and pulled the torch away, tossing it into the crowd that quickly moved away in fear.
The figure moved, sliding his blade out of the priest's body, throwing what seemed to be a vial of silver powder into his face. The priest coughed, repeatedly, before slowly growing, his eyes growing red in rage and he began to heave, becoming larger and larger.
A massive pair of spider legs burst out of his body, slicing into the people behind him. Four pairs of legs popped out, they raised the frail body up, looming over the figure.
The robbed figure moved, between the monster's attacks and sweeps. I recognized the moves, they were the way I fought in the beginning, before I was trained by Natasha to use technique.
This guy, he was a totem.
The hooded figure danced behind the creature and managed to plunge a blade into his chest. The monster screamed in pain, dropping down.
The hood moved down revealing a woman, young, blond hair, almost ashen, tied back. Her eyes were green, his face marred with scars.
"A Huntress of monsters," Karn explained as the image vanished, "talented with a blade and other dealings with monstrocity...like the kind my father intends to use. We will need her mind, her knowledge and skills by the time we are done."
"Well, now this just got interesting," Spider-Gwen replied, cracking her knuckles, "send us through Karn."
"Not yet," Wanda replied as she reached for her UMF suit, clicking through some settings. Her suit shimmered, transforming into what seemed to be a medieval era washer woman's clothing. A good disguise, but the lack of dirt on her face and white teeth would make her stand out.
"Okay, I need to get me one of those," Gwen pointed out as she turned to Karn, who, almost as if he was expecting this, held out a similar pair of clothing to the kind Wanda wore.
"I don't want to know where you got these," Gwen replied as she took them.
"I can access and open portals to multiple relaties, this is trivial for me, change after you step through," Karn replied, holding open the portal. The step through, Wanda sending Jean, Felicia and eye a smile as she did. And a little kiss for Hope.
Next came AMZ Peter and the MCU Wanda. Karn looked at them and hummed, "this next one...may be a bit of a challenge."
"Why?" MCU Wanda asked.
"See for yourself," Karn replied, lifting the veil on the portal to reveal a new scene, this one off….a bar? This one looked quite different than any I saw on Earth, or in space for the matter.
The setting was very much like a classic Irish bar you would find in New York, but on the walls were what looked like weapons, broken, dismantled, along with various pictures, all of a woman standing next to various people in exotic backgrounds.
Then suddenly a commission came about as people started causing a riot. The window shattered as three heavy figures were tossed out.
The doors next to the shattered window opened up as a figure walked out dressed in a black trench coat. A cybernetic arm was raised up, the bottle of whiskey touching the mouth of the person controlling the arm.
She, for it was obviously a woman, moved forward and kicked one of the three downed people, two women and a man, all wearing ski masks, obviously they had tried to rob the place.
The woman snorted, pouring a bit of whiskey on their faces before walking back in, tossing the bottle over her shoulder.
We followed her inside as she stepped behind the bar, the patrons cheering for her as she snorted, serving them drinks. She looked old, grey hair tied back into a ponytail. Her form was muscular, true, but you could see her age upon her body.
On her jacket was a white spider inside a white lined circle. The words, "The Spider of Nexus" writer proudly on the back of her jacket.
"A vetran of an intergalactic war in her reality, and the last remaining Spider. She traveled through nearly all of space by the time she was thirty," Karn whispered, turning to the MCU Wanda, "I trust only the two of you in being objective in bringing her onboard."
"Objective?" AMZ Peter asked, confused. But Karn gave no reply. He simply handed out the two some street clothes and motioned them to the portal. Realising they weren't about to get an answer they stepped too, and I could have sworn I heard Karn sigh in relief when the portal closed.
There were only two pairs left, May Day and Anya, both Spider-girls in their own right. They must have worked together before as they both seemed comfortable around the other, approaching the Web.
"This one will require..compassion," Karn replied, looking at May and Anya, "the youngest, but with the strongest heart, if you cannot succeed with him, I do not think anyone can."
May and Anya shared a look and nodded. They approached the portal and it shimmered, showing what seemed to be an empty graveyard. It was the middle of the night, the trees casted long shadows and the moon was hidden behind dense dark clouds.
But then, the wind began to pick up, told by the way the tree's branches shook in the air, swaying gently. The clouds parted and the full moon revealed itself. And there we were shown the latest totem.
A massive creature, nearly eight foot tall, sitting down. From it's back were four massive legs, but unlike the violent priest we saw before, this one was still, it's figure gently panting.
The image shifted and now we could see his face. A horrible amalgamation of a man and a spider, eight eyes, no pincers but his face was covered in fur.
His shirt was rendered to tatters around his body, and his pants fit tightly around his massive thighs. He looked like if the radioactive spider bug had bit the hulk...wait, is that what's going on?
We then panned to the gravestone he was sitting next too, two of them in fact. The names Richard Parker and Mary Parker. Peter's parents.
"An experiment gone wrong," Karn explained, "his parents dead and he forced to live his life as an outcast. Without Ben Parker's words to guide him or May's lessons of compassion, he never becomes a hero, only a scared child...but his power holds true. Bring him to us and in the end, I may be able to help him reverse this."
Anya looked a bit nervous, but May...she looked determined. She put her mask on and looked at Karn, "send us through Karn."
The Weaver nodded, opening the portal. I watched them walk through, worried for May. I know she's determined, ready to fight if she needs too. But to win him over she may need her heart and not her fists.
And finally, there were too, Felicia and I. My Kitten stepped forward, a smile on her face, "I assume you saved the best for us?"
"In a manner of speaking, the perfect heir to the legacy of the Spider, a kind soul...though admittedly a bit burned by the legacy he now holds," Karn turned to me, "which is why you are the only one I suspect can validate his worry. Because you resemble his mentor...and your own conflict on being worthy."
I went cold...did he know? Before I could ask Karn began to show us what we were in for with our Totem.
The image opened up to New York city, an open wide skyline and the clouds promised a bright day ahead. Just then a black chopper came into view, smoke blowing out of it's propeller as it swirled out of control.
It seemed just about ready to hit a building when suddenly a white speal of webbing came out of nowhere, pulling it away to one side. More spurts, quicker than the rest before came about, forming a small bed of webbing which the helicopter landed into, dangling between two buildings several hundred feet above street level.
The window to the other world panned and we saw a figure wearing what looked like a cheap one dollar halloween costume version of my own classic costume. He was a kid, his height gave it away, and judging by his darker skin tone which his ill fitting costume gave away, I had a pretty good idea who this was.
"The Peter Parker of this world died a hero," Karn replied, "and the boy who was given the power to be his replacement has done his best...however," the image panned and people were seen booing, throwing things at the boy as he swung away.
"Why do they hate him? He literally saved people's lives!" Felicia asked, clearly experiencing flashbacks to our own time back on Earth.
"People see him as besmirching Peter Parker's legacy, like someone stepping into a position he doesn't belong in, or wasn't born into," he turned to me. That settles it, this fucker definitely knows something.
The portal opened, as Karn continued, "he will be needed."
"If he's just started, then he is green, fresh faced. The others obviously had skill and training to back up the reason for recruiting them, or at least power in that last case," I turned to Karn, "he's just a kid. We shouldn't involve him."
"...Do you think my father would see it like that? Because I can assure you, without his soul, we cannot win and sooner or later, he will die. Unless we act now...go...be his guide Peter." Karn replied, but the way he said my name didn't feel right.
Felicia sighed, rotating her neck, "well, on the plus side, we get to see New York again."
"True...," I grumbled, "send us through Karn."
"Be safe Sorcerer," Karn replied, a portal appearing before Felicia and I, "and remember, time is running out. My family approaches, we must be quick."
I nodded, stepping through the portal, the sick feeling I get everytime I pass through one of these things came but passed just as quickly. And before I knew it, I was smelling the family smell of New York once more, but once more, it wasn't my New York...but close enough.
Felicia on the other hand was grinning ear to ear. We landed on the rooftop of what looked to be a cathedral of some kind. She quickly leaped up to the ledge and smiled, taking a deep breath, "WHAT'S UP NEW YORK?!"
"Piss off!" someone from the streets below cried out.
Felicia chuckled, "ah it's good to be back...well, not really, but you know what I mean."
I nodded, "I know," I looked around, activating my Web Vision, scouting the city, looking for traces of Web energy I could follow, unfortunately I found none, "damn, guess we're going to have to do this the old fashioned way."
"You mean stalk your prodigy?"
"Yup," I got up to the ledge next to her and shot out a webline, "you coming?"
"Not flying?" she asked, looking at my webline.
"You know it doesn't feel the same," I grinned.
"Oh yeah, I know," she extended her arm and the custom web shooters I built into her suit shoot out as well. As one we leaped, swinging into the night. Felicia screamed in joy at every Crescendo of the swing.
I smiled, for a moment, just a moment, she was in that black jersey and I was in that red leather jacket. We were rushing home to get to bed before school the next day, praying something would happen to delay that just for a little while longer, a robbery, a crime, something. For a second, all the worries in the world washed away.
Solus turned to his brightest sons, Jennix, one of the few that haven't died in recent times and grunted, "are they ready yet?"
Jennix smiled, "they should be coming up the elevator momentarily father."
And sure enough the doors to the laboratory opened revealing an elevator on the other side, the recently reborn Inheritors stepped out, each looking on edge.
Bora and Brix, the twins, were looking feral, annoyed at how quickly they were dispatched no doubt, while Morlun looked far saner than he was before, a second reincarnation seemed to have washed whatever contamination the totem infected him away with. Verna and Daemos were with them as well, the other pair looking more angry than the others combined.
"Father, what are we doing here?" Morlun asked, "we should be chasing after the arachnid and crushing him for what he dared to do to us!"
Solus snorted, "why? So as to have him murder you all yet again?" The insult hurt as they flinched, even Daemos, who didn't actually die, looked unpleasant at the statement. "No my children, this time, we need to be more...careful. The totems are getting stronger, we will need an army to face them. Jennix are they ready?"
Jennix nodded as he walked towards the terminal overlooking the cloning station. Past the gorilla glass window one should see towers upon towers of what seemed to be red pods, each built inside the tower Jennix used as a cloning facility.
Whenever an Inheritor died, their souls were brought back here and placed inside a clone body. Hundreds upon hundreds of clone bodies existed in this facility, and Jennix was working on bringing each and everyone one online.
"They are fathers, but as I said, without a soul, they are worthless," Jennix replied as he clicked a simple red button, the facility before them coming alive. The screens began to show each pod was active, just waiting for the word from Solus to open up and disperse their contents.
"As of right now, they are as useful as you all," Solus replied as he reached into his jacket, pulling out a bright red shard, "put this into the soul countaier and activate it. Have it be placed into everybody at once."
Jennix blinked, "but father, that would be asking to put an object into a body, I don't think-"
"JUST DO IT!" Solus roared, Jennix flinched and he quickly moved to the other side of the lab, opening up a vacuum sealed glass container and placing the shard inside it.
He quickly moved to the terminal and began flicking through several options, the red shard began to glow, growing brighter and brighter.
Solus turned to his children, and for a moment, the Inheritors could have sword they saw their father's eyes water, but only for a second, because as soon as it came, the water vanished.
"My children...what happens to the energy we feed on?" Solus asked,
They looked at each other, confused. It was Morlun, the favorite, who spoke first, "it is collected inside of us father, churning, making us stronger as a result."
Solus nodded, "correct. And did you know...that that energy can be used to do more than just make us stronger? It can, for instance," Solus moved to a red button on the terminal next to Jennix and pressed it, "be used as a substitute for a soul."
"ARGH!" the Inheritors, sav Solus, began to scream in pain as they all dropped to the ground, holding their heads in pain.
Solus looked down at them and without the slightest hesitation, flicked another switch, causing their pain to increase twice fold, the red crystal suddenly turned golden as the Inheritors began to glow just as brightly as well.
"F-father! WHY?!" Morlun cried out as he crawled to Solus's feet, the patriarch kicking his once favorite away as he did. They all cried out as suddenly bursts of light exploded out of their bodies and into the crystal.
The entire facility then began to light up, Solus turned his back on his family and towed the vast collection of clone bodies before him.
The golden light, the energy of all the totems the Inheritors ever consumed, seeped into the crystal which then channeled the energy into the clones. Slowly from the ground up the clones began to glow, growing brighter and brighter as they all awoke, screaming in pain.
The pods exploded as the clones burst out, standing in pain as their bodies started to alter. Growing bigger and darker, with hair growing from every part of their body as pincers grew from their mouth and four massive spider legs exploded out of their back, blood and gore covering their person. Each clone body began to grow extra eyes, eight in total, them all glowing a burning red hue.
"FATHER!" Solus ignored the last cries of his children's sane mind, turning to watch them undergo a similar transformation, only these forms seemed to be more personalized and bigger.
Jennix's form was more thin and his hair remind on his head. Daemos was larger than even Solus now while Morlum was a pitch black demi-spider. The twins were golden brown now, with metal tipped pincers and arms and Verna seemed to have undergone the least transformation as while she maintained a human form, she now had pincers, eight eyes and four small arms growing out of her back.
Solus smiled, an army, just as the Originator had promised. Once that can bring down his enemy...paving the path to eventually be back with his wife.
Hello, it has been a while since I last published something.
The truth is I've been working mad hours IRL, working in a company in this economy is hard and I was doing my best to keep it afloat. I've also been dealing with some personal demons in life, things I've never been able to actually address.
I'm back now and I'm going to try and put back weekly updates again, ending this story soon. Hopefully, you'll forgive the short 5K chapter, I'll be back up to my usual 6K later on.
And to all the people who have PM'd me asking where I am and what I am doing, I'm sorry I cannot address you all individually. I hope this chapter makes up for my silence, please know that each and every one of your message helped in a way to bring me out of my depression and I am deeply ashamed I just don't have the time to give each of you the persona individual attention you deserve.