The day ended and the employees at Oscorp took their leave, most of them not looking back since they barely wanted to stay there in the first place. Most people who worked there found it rather strenuous to stay an eight to ten hour day on a regular basis, though, without the more ambitious people, there would be a shortage of people who actually loved their job. Among those who enjoyed working, Otto Octavius had to be one of the most ambitious. As the stocky man wearing round spectacles, a lab coat he often took home with him, and sporting a balding head strolled his way out of the building, his mind was spinning with ideas and things he knew would, no doubt, propel the company from a state of what he felt to be "stagnancy" for the past few years. Sooner or later, though, he hoped to one day prove himself to be helpful in saving the company.
His thoughts were put on hold, however, the moment he strolled past an alleyway bordering the Oscorp Tower and what sounded like a muffled explosion resounded. Curious, he stopped in his place.
"What was that?" he exclaimed, somewhat concerned.
The good doctor had dealt with strange noises sounding from within and outside the tower before. Most of them had to do with security or elemental systems - such as water or gas - having a faulty connection to the building and him having to assist in maintenance fixing it. This had better not be another mainframe gas leak I need to fix, he thought lividly. He didn't want to have to pause going home from work to deal with another situation.
And so he cautiously walked into the alleyway to check for the source of what had been the problem. As he stood at the base of the tower, he listened for another noise to confirm where the issue had been emanating from. When he heard nothing, he simply shrugged and attempted to walk out of the place. Before he could react, however, a cloud of tear gas consumed his surroundings seemingly out of nowhere. Just a whiff of that stuff caused him to slump to the floor, his vision blurring and fading the moment a shadowy winged figure seemingly fell from the sky and stood over him.
The figure waited a few moments to confirm whether Octavius was knocked out cold from the impact of the tear gas. A deafening silence followed as he checked to make sure the good man would not wake up until he brought him to his base. As if by magic, the winged figure hovered over Octavius's unconscious figure, dropping its feet to latch onto his lab coat's shoulders, and seamlessly lifting the man into the air. A high-pitched hum resounded as the figure took off, the unconscious Otto in tail, as civilians watched from below, wondering what, or who, on Earth was carrying off a "pharmacist".
Otto Octavius later woke up to a cold splash of water reaching his face like a wave in the ocean surging over him. Water dripped from his face as he viewed through slits in his vision the outline of a man with a lesser amount of hair than him standing firm in front of a bright light, the sun-like brightness nearly blinding him.
"Wake up, my friend," the elderly voice rang out. "Ah, yes. A rather unexpected welcome for you, our guest, though I'm only certain you'll adjust well to the light within moments."
Octavius blinked three times. His glasses soaking wet from the water, he regained full consciousness to find the man standing over him was no stranger, but rather a former colleague that he only heard rumors of his absence circulating throughout Oscorp: Adrian Toomes. The man stared him down, his beak-like nose protruding into his personal space.
"Adrian… T-Toomes?" Otto questioned. "Was it-was it you who knocked me unconscious?"
"And rightly so, for I have come to seek answers from you," Toomes explained as he strolled about.
"Well if you're looking to brutally beat them out of me, you'll get no such pleasure from me!" Octavius riled up defensively.
"Relax, Otto, for I have learned better in the CIA than to pummel the answers out of lesser beings than myself," Toomes stated proudly. "Rather, I am seeking answers on that lying thief, Osborn, as something rather subtle and non-threatening: a friend."
"A f-friend? B-but would you consider us friends after all you did to get ahead?"
"Not as we were, Otto, but as something more along the line of acquaintances."
Octavius felt reluctant to answer whatever the bird-like man had to say. If Toomes had more to say regarding the situation at Oscorp, which he no longer worked for, he would be more than happy to get out of there as soon as possible.
"Given your circumstances with how Osborn let you go, Adrian," Octavius started, "my intuition tells me you're only in it for personal gain to trump Oscorp with."
"I should mention, Otto, that the less you comply, the more I will be forced to take extreme measures to ensure you talk," Toomes threatened, jutting into his face. "And you wouldn't want that, now would you?"
Octavius pursed his lips rather tightly. Adrian Toomes getting up in his face all menacingly felt like enough to persuade him into complying, but only under one condition. "Fine, but only if you let me go after this!"
"Just promise you won't tell anyone we talked. Are we clear?"
Otto mulled over for a second before reaching his conclusion. "Clear."
"Alright," Adrian said, turning menacingly toward the light. "First off, when does Osborn's tech flight arrive in shipment to the tower?"
"...Osborn's announcements indicate that the arrival should take place tomorrow, Friday, late evening - roughly 7 p.m."
"Mmhmm… And where might the shipment arrive?"
"The Port of Authority, straight from New Jersey."
"Excellent," Toomes affirmed, clenching his fist. "Now, Otto, I hope you keep your promise as your are free to go! I will not disclose what I will do with this information, though you might be pleased to know it may benefit you in the long run."
Otto gulped. He wasn't sure what to expect, though he was certain, within that time, Toomes would remain a friendly force. "Alright, Adrian," he said standing up, surprised he wasn't restrained to his chair. "Thank you for being an acquaintance; you have my word."
And with that, Octavius fled the dark room, not knowing what to expect beyond its boundaries. If anything, he would be glad to see natural light again should it come to him.
Meanwhile, Toomes just stood there, pondering his evil intentions as he silently gloated over what new information he had obtained. Never did he want to hurt Octavius, which made him rather glad he could pull the answers from him without much effort. Thoughtfully, he turned to his phone, ringing up Schultz as his contact whom he now trusted so much.
It didn't take long for Montana to answer the phone. "Vulture to Shocker, I've let the subject go as he's given me all the information we need to be successful. Osborn won't know what hit him once we steal what he needs most."
The two conversed about how well everything might go according to plan. Hopefully, no interference would stand in their way of vengeance against the likes of Osborn.
Friday came and the whole day Midtown High was stoked for the first home game of the season. Everyone wore spirit wear far and wide and the cheerleaders went around the school promoting the main player's football jerseys - especially Flash's - up and down the hallways in an effort to pump everyone up. Thankfully, Liz wasn't too full of herself to flaunt around stating that the star player was also her boyfriend - only vice versa with Flash telling his football cronies Liz was his girlfriend - and Peter could commend her for that. Even Gwen and MJ were amazed she didn't want to be "that girl". Aside from that, Harry had big plans to bring his posse to the game later that evening and, surprisingly, none of them backed down. This would mean more time for Harry to spend getting cozier with MJ.
Likewise for Peter, he would get more time with Gwen. For years, he had fantasized about being a big hunking jock on the football team to rival against the likes of Flash in an internal competition to see who was the best. Sadly, the opportunity for him to do so had passed for he acquired his secret "spider muscles" far too late after last year's tryouts had ended. Plus, soon after was when his grieving process for Uncle Ben started. He wouldn't have cared anyway.
Regardless, the idea of Harry going to the football games, despite failing last year's tryouts, was rather intriguing to Peter. While they drove to Midtown's football field in Harry's green convertible, two things lingered in Peter's mind; one was how he and Gwen were going to tell Harry and MJ the former two like each other; the other was what was the deal that Flash allowed him to come to his games.
The latter question came forth at exactly the right moment. "So, Harry, what's the deal between you and Flash that you can, you know, attend his games despite not making tryouts last year?" Peter inquired.
"Simple," Harry started. "Flash and I made a bet last year that, should I fail to make tryouts myself, I ought to be there and support him at all his games - even away games."
"That's cool and all," said Gwen. "But what about us? Wouldn't Flash be against us showing up at his games as much as he was when we showed up at his place?"
"He didn't say anything about not bringing you guys, so I figured I'd keep you all under his radar. That way he doesn't have to care, nor do we have to worry," Harry explained.
"Very smart of you, Harr-bear!" said MJ cutely followed by her leaning beyond her passenger seat to plant a wet peck on his cheek.
"Aw, schucks!" Harry responded, blushing.
At this, Peter shot Gwen a look that indicated, "You want to?", but she shied back, communicating it was too soon. Harry and MJ were already happy as it was so clearly Peter and Gwen knew they should avoid shoving their happiness down their throats. With that, he cupped her hand and patted it, sending the message that "Your secret's safe with me."
Once they arrived in the school parking lot, the place was packed, though they eventually snagged a spot the moment someone else pulled out of theirs. They walked in, showed their tickets they bought in school with their IDs, and made their way to the bleachers, Harry and MJ displaying a showoff amount of PDA whilst Peter and Gwen casually looked at each other mostly. The game kicked off with a bang, the Midtown Manhattan Tigers starting with the ball against the Central Park East Mustangs. Things were looking good in the play-by-play, the announcer calling out each play as they went along and the cheerleaders led by Liz encouraging everyone students, adults, and kids to cheer as loud as they could. While Gwen was open to cheering loudly, Peter seemed rather shy about projecting his voice so loud and far.
"Come on, Pete, just try it!" Gwen encouraged, nudging Peter on the shoulder.
"Not sure my voice really has the capacity to carry a cheer that far," said Peter shyly.
"You don't know if you don't try," Gwen replied, smiling.
The one thing he couldn't resist was her smiling face. Seeing it ultimately caused him to cave, take a huge breath, and forwarded all his diaphragm strength into one simple cheer. "T-I-G-E-R, we are fire, yes we are! GO TIGERS!" he shouted loudly with the crowd at the tail end of the cheer.
Hearing this, Gwen punched him playfully on the shoulder. "Not bad!" she complimented.
Peter smiled in return. Guess all he needed was a little encouragement from Gwen.
The game continued throughout the next two periods until the two teams were tied at seven. Things really started to heat up the more the night air cooled down, Midtown students tense about where the game would go after this. The more the cheerleaders cheered the players on, the more the student's section continued to shout with all their might to ensure victory.
As the announcer continued to call the plays, the players got into position to hike the ball, the hiker tossing it to Flash who seemed to hesitate searching for a player to throw it to. From Peter's point of view, he seemed to mouth the words, "Randy, you're up!" before tossing it to Rand who ran way out towards the end zone. However, a Mustang player stuck to him like glue, going as far as Flash threw the ball and catching it himself, swiftly running around the crowd of both teams and into the opposite end zone. Seeing this caused Peter and Harry to slump in unison, the two of them watching the scoreboard increase on the away team's side.
"Come on, Flash! Don't let a simple interference get you down!" Harry called out supportively.
The Mustangs unfortunately scored the after points kick immediately following, effectively landing the ball in between the goal posts and watching it tumble back to the ground. Peter could not believe what he was seeing and he didn't even have to look to understand that Gwen was feeling the same. He darted his eyes toward the cheerleaders down in front. From what he could decipher, Liz was suggesting they try something risky much to their dismay, but he couldn't hear a word of it. Next thing he knew, the cheerleaders were lined up to toss Liz and her small body up into the air, several cheerleaders standing in front of her to catch her. However, once the cheerleaders threw Liz forward and she struck a pose midair, the cheerleaders in front failed to catch her, her leg impacting the ground with a bone-cracking thud. The crowd gasped as Liz grabbed her ankle, writhing in pain over the accidental drop that just transpired.
Although Peter barely cared for Liz given the way she tended to treat him, she couldn't help, but stare in shock over what just happened to her. The female cheerleading coach crossed the track over to her, presumably asking what happened and how she feels. It didn't take long for her to call an ambulance, which showed up in the nick of time to carry her away on a stretcher. Peter looked over to Gwen to see how she was taking it and clearly she was just as much at a loss for words as he was. He almost wasn't sure words were even appropriate considering the current state of the game.
Suddenly, Peter's Spider Sense rang. Really, right now? He thought - but the danger seemed to be coming from above. He looked up to notice a winged figure flying high above the buildings, swooping low enough into view that anyone could have noticed. From what he had read in the papers, this could have been something - or someone - potentially dangerous as a rather similar - or possibly the same - winged figure was last seen carrying an unconscious "pharmacist" away from Oscorp. Whatever it was, this gave Peter a good excuse to leave the game early.
"You know what?" he said, turning to Gwen. "I'm not really feeling this game currently so I need some air. Uh, don't follow, okay?"
Without glancing or even second thoughts, Peter shoved his way out of the students section, Gwen calling for him to no avail before he rushed out of sight.
Peter rushed back to the convertible to grab his bag out of the back seat and ran straight for an alleyway nearest the school where he threw his bag toward a dumpster and webbed it. Continuing his run, he threw off his clothes, applied his mask and gloves, before he knew it, he was suited up as Spider-Man ready to catch some bad guys once more.
"Gotta blanket the area and track whatever birdie decided to nearly drop in on the football game," Peter quipped to himself as he soared over the building.
As if a psychic burst panned out in front of him, Peter's Spider Sense picked up on where the mysterious winged figure had gone, using also his enhanced hearing to sense the loud humming sound it emitted. His eyes panned across the buildings following the infrared path of bread crumbs laid before him when, thankfully, he spotted the winged figure diving down a ways across the island.
"Bingo!" he said, turning to web swing his direction.
Spidey flew over the oncoming buildings acrobatically before touching down and perching on a building overlooking the Port of Authority shipping docks. The sun was getting to be rather low to a point where most of what he could see throughout the docks were a bunch of shadows masking everything from the searchlights that swept the area. From the outside, the shipyard appeared rather calm and undeterred, but the flying bird-like man or whatever it was was nowhere to be found. Without much to go off of besides sheer wit and spider-like instincts, Spidey propelled himself forward onto the fence protecting the shipyard perimeters and silently leapt off to attach himself to a nearby crane. From his new vantage point, he oversaw an Oscorp truck drive its way onto the dock nearest to a freighter ship that carried what looked to be an important shipping crate.
"So Oscorp must be shipping something very important, but what would a flying bird-like dude want with Harry's dad's work?" Spidey stopped to ask himself.
Spidey caught wind of yet another high-pitched hum that died the instant a shadowy figure perched itself on a watchtower nearest to the shipping area. He didn't even have to look twice to determine that this was the bird man he saw just moments ago.
"Whatever this is, I don't think you should get your hands on it!" Spidey commented, spinning a web to take him to the other side. Time seemed to slow down the moment the vulture-like being rose from his perch and attempted to swoop down toward its intended target. In a moment's notice, Spidey impeded the bird man's progress, kicking it directly in the face and throwing it off balance.
"What?!" the bird exclaimed, befuddled as to what just hit him.
The bird-like figure turned around to notice the silhouette of the hero turning around to reposition itself toward him. Spidey then sent himself tumbling through the air, raising a fist that ultimately connected with the bird man's metallic wings. The clang that resulted from Spidey connecting his fist to such a hard alloy rang far throughout the shipyard that someone could have easily heard it or mistook it for one of the crates banging together. Spidey, however, was thrown off balance to where the bird man grabbed him by the shoulders, tackling him to the side of the watchtower they were adjacent to and possibly getting the attention of the guard inside.
"Wow, and I thought armored birds were an extinct species," Spidey quipped. "What sort of fossil did we uncover today?"
"You dare call Adrian Toomes a fossil?!" the bird man exclaimed, his old face showing through the light given off by the ship's light sources nearby. From what Spidey could see, the man was also wearing a green, electromagnetically-powered flight suit that allowed him to gain ground and fly through the air.
"And I thought baby birds were snotty, but the old guys too?" Spidey joked. "What are you, some kind of pissed off old man who doesn't like his corned beef at a certain temperature?"
"The name is Vulture!" Toomes shouted angrily, squeezing Spidey by the shoulders. "And who is this I have: Spider-Man? I thought you were a myth!"
"Myths are just tall tales, old timer! I'm the real deal your dealing with here!" Spidey quipped back. He then turned his web shooter downward to fire a web at an empty wooden crate, pulling it up and slamming it right into the Vulture's exposed side as it shattered, the contents falling to the concrete below and Vulture getting thrown off so bad he accidentally let Spider-Man go. Thankfully, though, Spidey was able to perch on a nearby crate close to the ground.
From all the ruckus occurring nearby, the Oscorp guards caught wind of what was happening and turned to affirm what the other was thinking. "Our position is compromised! Quickly, get the package out of here!" called one to the other.
"Right away, sir!" affirmed the other.
Quickly, but securely, the crate was loaded into the large Oscorp truck, the doors slammed behind it and the engine ignited for the vehicle to kick into gear almost immediately. Hearing this, the nearly dazed Vulture turned to Spider-Man, livid with enough energy to knock him dead.
"You idiot! Giving away our position are you?" said Toomes, his blood boiling. "Well, that package is mine whether you like it or not!"
"I wouldn't go stealing Oscorp's stuff if I were you," Spidey affirmed. "They're pretty valuable and they're just trying to advance the future and stu-" Before he could finish, the Vulture dove away from Spidey's lecture, leaving him with no solid conclusion. "And that's why I'm not sure I could be a great teacher. Not enough people listen to me."
Spidey swung off in pursuit of the Vulture, the Oscorp truck aiming for the shipyard perimeters and rolling onto the main roads. Determined to impede the vehicle's progress, the Vulture landed on the truck's hood, startling the vehicle's occupants, and raised his razor sharp wings as they gleamed in the city's night lights. Using the edges of his wings, Toomes then punched a hole in the glass, breaking the windshield and causing the driver to steer the vehicle out of control in an attempt to throw him off. Before the Vulture could do anything to the drivers, Spidey swung around to the front of the vehicle and kicked the Vulture off of his perched position, sending him tumbling back into the sky. Ever so bent on stopping the vehicle, the Vulture ignored the fact that Spidey was now on his tail and continued to fly his way over the streets in pursuit of the vehicle.
That Vulture guy sure is persistent, but still, whatever his beef with Oscorp, they can't afford to lose a valuable asset of any type, Peter thought to himself, swinging higher in an effort to catch Vulture by surprise. Arching off of his previous web swing, he landed his feet firmly on top of the Vulture's back, causing Vulture to lose altitude ever so slightly, but without falling.
"Surf's up!" Spidey exclaimed, mimicking the nature of a surfer dude out on a sunny day.
Keeping a close eye out on the Oscorp truck turning the corners below, Vulture did a three sixty roll over in an attempt to throw Spider-Man off, but found that the Web-head persisted in sticking his feet to his back much like a spider would. Without much resources to throw Spidey off, Vulture opted to lean in close to the buildings in an effort to scare him off. Seeing this as an easy kill tactic, Spidey disconnected his spider hairs from the Vulture's back and shot a web up to him as he fell through the air. The web connected to Vulture just enough to bring him down a few feet as he struggled to break free of the wall crawler's webs.
"Unhand me you… you… bug-eyed freak!" Toomes spouted, unable to come up with a good insult.
"Look who's insulting who for their appearance!" Spidey stated somewhat hypocritically.
The Vulture flew upward in an effort to lose Spider-Man, but was unable to shake him due to the Web-head's persistence. He then flew low over a building, Spidey's web clinging to his foot as he trotted along the roof determined not to let go. Coincidentally for Vulture, the truck happened to be turning down the road directly below; with a bird-like dive, Vulture incidentally twisted Spidey's hand up in his web, causing him to let go as he dove for the truck. With a thud, Vulture landed on the roof of the truck, ejecting out his razor-blade-like wings and sinking them into the roof of the vehicle. The metal tore open with an excruciating metallic screech for a few seconds before Spidey came yet again to kick the bird man off the truck. The two wrestled in the air as the truck then took a detour for a nearby parking garage, much to the dismay of the Vulture who managed to catch it out of the corner of his eye.
"NO!" Toomes exclaimed, himself slashing at Spidey in an effort to claw at him like the bird of prey he was. The two rose up to new heights toward a building until Vulture managed to kick Spidey off of him, the wall crawler skidding to a halt atop the concrete roof.
"You think you're some kind of hero, don't you?" the Vulture asked Spider-Man. "To let them get away and forward Osborn's plans? Well, if only you knew the harsh realities of this world, my boy!"
"Harsh realities? Osborn? What's your beef with Oscorp anyway?" Spidey demanded.
"That matters not what I'll do, but what you'll find out soon enough!" the Vulture spouted, throwing down a smoke bomb directly in Spider-Man's direction. Next thing he knew, Spidey's surroundings were clouded in smoke, the Web-head coughing and swatting the cloud away to ensure he didn't lose sight of Vulture. Unfortunately, soon as the smoke cleared, the bird man was gone, having flown away in a flash of light that he could no longer pick up his trail.
"Damn it, he's gone!" Spidey exclaimed, bummed out he let one criminal - his first supercriminal he ever fought for that matter - slip through his fingers so easily. "One thing's for sure, though, that vulture sure had a lot of persistence to try and ruin the advancement of Harry's dad's company. I wonder what his next big project is right now? Maybe I should ask Harry about that when I return to the game. Speaking of…"
Spidey checked the time on his phone he had strapped to his web shooter utility belt and noted that it was now close to the end of the game time for Midtown.
"Oh no, the game might end soon! Oh, well, not sure if it was worth it to stay or anything - especially given the state of the game when I left. I just hope Liz is okay. Just hope Gwen won't be the one to fry my ass when I get back. She's the last person I'd want to be mad at me."
And hopefully that would not be the case. Although he clearly abandoned her yet again, the last thing Peter wanted was for his friends to give him grief for abandoning him. The idea of doing so was such a foreign concept to him that to now have to do it on a semi-regular basis was almost killing him in a sense. If this ended up being the reason he lost friends, though, he would have to do whatever he could to get them back no matter if it wound up hurting him.