Author's Note: All properties are the rights of their respective owners, Marvel, Respawn Entertainment, etc.
This week, I've not been watching football and have instead been playing Control. All I've got to say is that if you haven't played Control, then you should play Control. I've never played anything else quite like it.
Blaze1992: I know, but I feel that the distinction between those two is often difficult to make, I didn't mean to call you out and apologize if it came across that way. Separating what I would do vs. what Matt would do is one of the trickier aspects of this story. As for your second point, yeah, but that's the character of Spider-Man, his flaw is that he's too nice, he's too idealistic to see what's right in front of him. It's keeping in line with his character and is one of the reasons I wanted to to this story, to have a character who isn't that way, who's a bit more pragmatic about things to contrast with just how insane some of Peter's 'boy scout' tendencies can be.
MarauderPrime12: We'll see, I'm not going to spoil anything just yet. Thanks for the support, hopefully you enjoy this one too.
It has somehow taken be 65 chapters to get to Van Halen, which is too long to be honest, even if I'm not their biggest fan. This is the band's second ever single, and comes from their self titled debut album that was released in 1978. At first glance, the song is satanic, but it really isn't, that didn't stop people from accusing it of being satanic, despite the band insisting that it was about life on the road. It was stuff like this that led to the fantastic clip of the lead singer of Twisted Sister testifying before congress in full rock and roll frontman attire, snakeskin boots and all.
Power Without Question – Chapter 65: Runnin' With the Devil
I live my life like there's no tomorrow
And all I've got I had to steal
Least I don't need to beg or borrow
Yes, I'm living at a pace that kills
Runnin' with the devil
"Soldiers of the Last Man Battalion, this is your commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bliss," began the man as he addressed his unit from the balcony on his headquarters. A large number of troopers were assembled below, and those that weren't there were hearing the address via radio, though they couldn't see the pair of LMB banners hanging behind him or officer's formidable presence as he looked over his men. Taking a deep breath, Bliss continued to speak in his calm demeanor, not raising his voice and relying on the microphone set up before him to project his words out to the courtyard and assembled personnel. "There are those among us who are angry when the decision was made to send us into the streets. Send us to die, as some people said."
Below him, the gathered troopers remained motionless in their armor, blank visors staring up at the Lt. Colonel. While they had been making good progress in their objectives, the two recent defeats suffered at the hands of the Marauder in the last 12 hours caused Bliss to address his men, reinstall their confidence in themselves. "But when I look at this city, I see opportunity. I see what it can be – if someone had the guts to fight for it." He hadn't been hired to protect civilians or defend infrastructure, if he was here, then he was going to fight, him and every man and woman of the 4th. "If there were men willing to go out in the streets and take them back from the degenerates and lowlifes who rule them now at any cost…to do what the cowardly government and it's fearful, weak police are too afraid to do…and to cut down all the liars and thieves and murderers and vigilantes who stand in the way of peace!"
That was his goal; the easiest way to make damn sure that you won was to ensure that, when the smoke cleared, you were the only one standing. Anyone who stood against him would be sought out and crushed, Bliss had the finest fighting force on the streets, and he would be damned if he didn't let them do what they did best. "We will not look back. We will not compromise. We will do whatever it takes to ensure a better tomorrow for all those who stand with us!" he declared; only now speaking louder, his voice echoing through the Queens Tunnel Camp.
But as quickly as he had raised his voice, it was lowered back to its calm, reserved tones. "And those who stand against us? May God have mercy on their souls." Giving one last nod of approval to the Troopers he would send into battle, he brought his hand to his brow in a textbook salute, "Dismissed, Bliss out." And with that, he turned on his heel and went back into his office.
Donning his freshly repaired suit, Spider-Man, stepped out of the Lab and swung off, still shaking his head in an attempt to ward of the last bits of his headache following his ordeal earlier that morning. As he got underway, he stopped putting off the one thing he had to do and dialed MJ as he flipped off the end of the web line before flinging out another. "Hey MJ," he greeted when his call was answered, "just calling to let you know that uh, I'm not dead, I guess."
"Well…thanks for letting me know," replied Mary Jane with a hint of sarcasm, "Matthew wasn't exactly…forthcoming with details." Peter rolled his eyes inside his mask; of course his friend wouldn't be helpful with assuaging the redhead's fears and leave him to do all of the heavy lifting. "All I could get out of him was that you had a run in with Scorpion?"
"And he got some upgrades, I've been dealing with the effects of his new poison all morning, and a bit of that was going around and getting stuff for an antidote." It was actually more than a bit, but she didn't need to know that.
Though, the old Parker luck reared its ugly head, or maybe it was just that MJ knew him a bit better than that. "Peter," she said in that way that told him she wasn't buying it instantly, "I distinctly remember you swearing off swinging under the influence last year."
"Are you smiling? You sound like you're smiling?" he asked, the corner of his own mouth quirking upwards slightly. He knew that the redhead liked taking him down a peg and remind him that he wasn't the only one who could quip, and she was sharp witted enough to pull it off too. Peter, for his part, didn't mind too much, it kept him humble and prevented him from developing an ego. "And it's not like I had much of a choice."
That argument, somewhat predictably in retrospect, fell flat on its face straight out of the gate. "You couldn't have called Matt to help? Or me? Hell, even Felicia for god's sake?" replied an exasperated MJ. "Just because we were trying to keep radio silence doesn't mean you get to ignore us!"
"I know!" groaned Spider-Man in reply, "I already got this talk from Matt like, an hour ago." He really didn't need it again.
As he spring boarded himself off the corner of a rooftop, it seemed that, thankfully, he was going to get his wish. "Alright, I'll spare you the lecture…this time." She was definitely still smiling, but he was happy enough to do a quick back flip at not having to hear another lecture. "Pete, you are okay, right?"
Any thoughts of a hasty response went away when he came out of his flip with his head spinning just a bit. "I'm better, should be back at 100% in a couple hours," he answered honestly, taking a deep breath before continuing. "MJ? You mind if I toss a kinda thorny ethical question at you?"
"Not at all."
"When is it ok to give up on a friend?" he asked bluntly. It was an issue he was still grappling with, even more so after what Cooper had shown him about his mentor earlier. Peter still didn't think that simply killing Octavius was the right thing, or something he could get behind, but seeing him as the enemy? That was sticking with him.
"Oh wow, Pete…" replied MJ, the reporter taking a moment to compose her thoughts, "thinking of Otto?"
"That obvious, huh?" he said sadly. Peter couldn't help but be saddened to think of what Otto had done and the part he had played.
"Yeah; understandable though." Her words were calm and placating, a stark contrast to the brash Cooper, "man…the high minded generous part of me wants to say 'never' – being a true friend means being there, even when people lose their way…" she said, and that was what he always thought, but her job as a reporter meant she always had to weigh both sides, and that's why he was asking her, for that balance opinion. "But with what Otto's done…I just don't know Pete," she admitted, "I guess if you have decide if the Otto Octavius you knew is still in there or not…maybe if he was ever there at all…"
"Yeah…" agreed Peter absentmindedly as the gears turned in his mind, the Otto he always saw was only a part of the man and there was a darker side just behind that, but he still knew that the man had been there. "Yeah. Thanks MJ. I gotta process some stuff, I think."
"Call me any time Pete," encouraged Mary Jane sincerely, "I'm here for you."
Crouching down, Cooper inspected one of the M18A1 Claymore mines that was set up in a construction site with this one, among others, surrounding a choke point. Moving deeper into the mostly finished lower floor, he found himself in a long hallway that lead towards an area with a few metal columns, crevices along the floor where piping and wiring would eventually be laid but were currently empty. The columns were filled with old fashioned TNT. Jumping up to a crow's nest, he found a Spitfire placed there earlier, a stock of ammo, a few massive barrels packed with gasoline, and a small cache of fire stars. Double checking that the machine gun was in good working order and that he had a good field of fire from the bags of concrete set at the edge, he placed an electric smoke next to the gun. "Hey cowboy," purred a familiar voice as he turned around to see Felicia there in Black Cat gear, "you got your little trap ready for today?"
"Just about," drawled Cooper, "still want to give everything a once over. C'mon darlin, walk with me." Beckoning her to follow him, he pulled back a plastic tarp covering a window to reveal a long stretch of road, devoid of streetlights and the most logical approach into his stronghold. "How're things lookin'?" he asked as he checked that the nearby Double Take and the energy rounds for it were ready and waiting.
The vixen gave him a confident smirk, "Just like I said. Bliss isn't taking things lying down; he's got most of his shooters out searching for you." He knew better than to argue with Hardy, especially when it came to manipulating people. It was his job to be ready for when Bliss and his Last Man Battalion rolled up to the construction site, but it was Felicia's plan that would get him into the trap. He did have a lot of toys waiting for them as he made his way up stairs, checking the bouncing betty mines that were lying in wait. "All that's left at the Queen's Tunnel Camp is a skeleton crew. The biggest problem left is Bliss' personal guard…" she said, trailing off in the way that told him there was more to it.
Now on the next floor up, he picked the Mastiff up from the floor and checked that the magazine was loaded with slug rounds, chambering the first and sliding into onto a shelf and out of view. As he looked around the room, he saw the bags of ANFO that Kingpin had left stashed at the site laid around seemingly haphazardly, but each had been positioned so that the whole floor would be affected when the blasting caps inside were triggered before his eyes finally made their way around to Felicia, hand resting on her hip and a self-satisfied smirk on her face. "Let me guess," he drawled as he pulled his helmet off and matched the look on her face, "you have a plan for that too?"
"Well…not exactly a plan," she began, strutting towards him alluringly, "but I do happen to know that Osborn has called Bliss in for a meeting this evening and that the Lieutenant Colonel will bring his guard with him."
Cooper's smirk turned into a predatory grin at the reveal, "Beautiful…" he rumbled lowly, "what would I do without you Felicia?"
"Have a lot less fun…especially in bed," she purred seductively. Cooper could only shake his head but couldn't stop the smile that appeared on his face since he couldn't argue her. Felicia then broke the brief silence that followed, "you ready for the gunfight at the OK construction site cowboy?" she joked lightly.
Grinning, Cooper drew his Smart Pistol and twirled the weapon like an old western gunslinger before slipping it back into its holster, "Should be. Got enough surprises packed in here." In addition to everything else, he still had more tricks to get set up, wiring for lights, smoke grenades, and ensuring the troopers that came after him would be funneled right where he wanted them.
"Well I'm going to help you set up, because the meeting is in an hour," she told him, "where do you want me?"
With there being a lull in the action and no leads on the remaining super villains, Peter took the opportunity to go to FEAST and check in on his Aunt in person. When he arrived, he was met with the sight of body bags being loaded into an ambulance and bags of trash lined the sides of the stairs leading up to the entrance. Inside, the situation wasn't much better; the main floor seemed to have been turned into something resembling the field hospital SHIELD had erected a few weeks ago. One wall was lined with pictures and messages for the sick and dead, and the sheer size of it was sobering for the Web slinger to see as he had to walk past the length of it to get to the kitchen, where he thought his aunt would be. "Right over here – until Miles gets back, the best thing we can do is keep everyone fed..." The voice that said that sounded like Aunt May but didn't at the same time. It was tough to believe that it was the same woman who had raised him, she sounded tired, her voice scratchy and weak, and when he turned the corner to see her, she turned to face him and her face instantly lit up. "Oh Peter! It is so good to see you," she greeted, taking his hands as he scrutinized her face, bags under her eyes and deep-set frown lines. "How are you – healthy?"
"I'm good," he assured, which wasn't a complete lie, "how are you holding up, May?" he asked, barely hiding the concern in his voice.
"Good," she managed wearily, but mustered a smile, "but busy." He understood that sentiment completely, from the look of things she hadn't been having an easy time of it, turning the homeless shelter almost completely into a hospital over the course of a few days. Looking past his aunt, he saw a volunteer arrive with another box of foodstuffs and May turned to see the man struggle with the box. "Oh! Let me get…" but as soon as she began to walk towards him, she stumbled, breaking out into a coughing fit as Peter was forced to keep her from falling completely to the ground, pulling her back up and helping her to a chair where she sat.
"Whoa there," he said calmly as the older woman continued to cough into her hand until the fit slowly passed.
Carefully, May sat up, resting against the backrest as she extended a hand, "I'm okay," she assured, but Peter was not convinced.
Dropping to a knee, the younger Parker gook his guardian's hand, "didn't you tell me something once about accepting that I'm human, just like everyone else?" he asked, managing a wry smile.
But it seemed that is aunt wasn't amused, rolling her eyes, "you and Ben," she began, suppressing another small cough, "masters at turning my own words against me," she lamented. "I'm fine Peter," she assured with a smile, "just a little run down."
Still not totally convinced, Peter decided not to press the issue further, leaning back to give the woman some space and moved on to other issues. "Where's Miles?" he asked, "Could he help out?"
He stood up and turned to look around for the teen, not recalling seeing him on the way in. "Oh, he is!" answered May, "he's off picking up medical supplies from the relief center." She turned and looked out onto the main floor sadly, the empty boxes stacked up into massive piles, "it's amazing how quickly we go through antibiotics. It's the only thing that seems to slow the infection down but…it can only buy you so much time."
Peter was trying not to show it, but he was worried on multiple levels. Those relief centers were far from safe, more than one had been hit by either the Rikers or super villains, and he didn't know exactly what Cooper's plans for the PMC were. "Ok. You stay off your feet for a bit; I'll organize the unloading and check in with Miles," he offered, "deal?"
Though his tone and stern face got the message across that this wasn't up for negotiation. His Aunt looked up at him, surprised at his backbone, but didn't offer any resistance, "Deal." She cracked a small smile and continued, "Give me a chance to nurse my wounded Parker Pride."
Nodding and offering a smile of his own, Peter turned and pulled out his cell, dialing Miles and pressing the device to his hear as it began to ring, "Come on Miles, answer," he encouraged, "don't make me worry about you and May…"
Frantically pulling his vibrating cell phone, Miles scowled at the screen, "Quiet, quiet…" he muttered as he quickly silenced the device and ignored Peter's call, "so much for a milk run…" Crouched down behind a wrecked truck, he looked around at the ruins of the Relief Center, the cars and trucks in the parking lots were wrecked, either crushed or shot to pieces by Rikers. None of the other buildings or temporary structures were in any better shape, and Miles didn't want to look for any more of the white armored troopers after having seen two suspended upside down from one of the guard towers, swinging limply from side to die in their blood stained armor. "How did a bunch of convicts even do this?" wondered the teen, "Looks like an exploding bulldozer went through here." Even with that, that didn't change why Miles was here. "Can't turn back…" he told himself as he steeled himself, "F.E.A.S.T. needs those antibiotics…"
Poking his head around, he checked that the coast was clear before dashing across to another wrecked car. "You hear the sound his head made when the big guy hit him?" asked one Riker, Miles unable to help himself but pause once he was out of sight.
"Like a bug on a windshield," replied a second with a bark of laughter, "splat."
"All cause he made one crack about the guy's suit." Miles shook his head, trying to push the image that conjured from his mind as he opened the hacking app on his phone, hoping that Sable's systems were still unsecured as he looked for the spotlight up ahead and let out a small sigh of relief when he was able to access it and overload it. The teen could see the top of a Riker's head as he moved to investigate, giving him an opening to creep past. Around, various Rikers were focused on looting the bodies and supplies, allowing him to get by without being noticed.
Vaulting over a low wall, the teen let out a sigh of relief at the sight of a mostly intact medical tent, "Maybe this'll be easy," the words were half reassurance, half prayer as he stayed low and made his way inside. Most of the tent had been picked clean, but there were still a few half full boxes and sealed crates. Trying to force himself to stay calm, Miles began to rifle through the boxes, "gauze…iodine…but no antibiotics. Need to keep looking." There was nothing else to find in the tent, leaving Morales no other options but to move further into the ruined compound.
One side had more than half a dozen armed Rikers, while the other had a single man puffing on a cigarette. Fortunately, he was standing within earshot of a fuse box that Miles was able to hack and overload, causing it to spark angrily and get the man's attention, allowing Miles to slip past. To his left, Miles could hear a man's pained scream, "believe me, I hate seeing Barnes wail on ya', just tell us your supply routes…" droned a Riker lazily before Miles heard another punch and grunt of agony before the teen forced himself to move away, staying pressed to a row of crates. He only paused when he heard a blood curdling scream and then a gunshot that silenced it. Blood chilled, he quickly connected to a drone and tried to force it to take off, only its ruined rotors forced it to spin and twist uselessly, drawing away another Riker before he took off through the opened path.
Overhearing bits and pieces of other Rikers talking about trying to find the other Sable supply routes; he tuned it out, going through a few crates laid out behind an open truck, but again, no dice. "Couple trauma kits, but no antibiotics." With only one pathway forwards, he crouched down behind an open crate and looked up to see a sniper on a shipping container overlooking the area. "C'mon, turn around, c'mon," he encouraged, rocking nervously on the balls of his feet, hoping another Riker didn't come back here and spot him. Thankfully, before that could happen, he saw the sharpshooter turn away and seized the opportunity, dashing across to crawl through an overturned car.
Moving slowly and taking his time, the teen looked long and hard at what was waiting for him on the other side before slowly emerging. The situation was nearly perfect, there weren't any Rikers he could see and there were more crates emblazoned with the red cross logo, and Oscorp, but it was the former that Miles was happier to see. "C'mon crate, be the one," he pleaded softly as he lifted the lid off slowly to reveal bottles of pills neatly arranged inside, grabbing the first, he ducked back down and let out a sigh of relief when he read the label. "Amoxicillin, perfect." Quickly, he placed the bottle back in the box and resealed it, taking the whole thing and making it about three steps before there was a massive crash behind him and turned to see a Sable trooper sprawled out on the floor. Chest and helmet caved in and blood staining the white and black gear he wore as he lay there motionlessly. Unable to satiate his curiosity, Miles tiptoed back and heard a cascade of gunfire, and he saw a flurry of red lasers cut through the air. "That is a very large man," breathed Miles, recognizing the Rhino shrug off the fire with impunity, his armor barely even getting scorched by the rounds that hit. Ignoring the lightshow, Rhino crouched down and charged forwards, slamming into the car the mercenaries were hiding behind at full force, throwing it into the brick wall, pinning the men between the vehicle and wall. "Found the exploding bulldozer…" muttered Miles as he could only watch.
Rhino placed both armored hands on the inverted car and lowered his head so that his horn was a foot from the helmeted Sable agents. "Supply routes and schedules. Now!" demanded the eight-foot-tall villain as he roughly shoved the car towards the tight-lipped troopers. "Ya skazal."
But before Rhino could lose his temper further, Miles saw a green figure crawl across the top of the brick wall, leaning down to appear as his instantly recognizable mechanical tail extended skywards and curled around. "Gentlemen, I apologize," began Scorpion as he flipped around and came down on the car, the tip of the tail glowing ominously. "My associate is…inelegant." Turning around to bring his tail closer, putting it right in the faces of the troopers, he continued to speak in his calm demeanor, the psychopath barely hiding just beneath the surface. "He doesn't understand the fine art of persuasion." Scorpion said those words as he looked at the trooper on the left, and as soon as they were out of his mouth the tip of the tail came down, slicing through the helmet of the one on the right and plunging deep into his skull with a sickening wet sound that had Miles tumbling backwards in shock.
"Did not need to see that," he told himself, trying to tune out the desperate pleas of the sole survivor as he saw an escape route and scooped up the box of antibiotics before making a break for it. Sprinting across the open ground and clambering atop a generator and the toolbox on top, then pulling himself up onto the shipping container. Dropping down on the other side, he took out a second to take a deep breath, "don't think he saw me," he assured himself, "time to get out of here."
Any hopes of a clean getaway were crushed as badly as the shipping container ahead of him that caused Miles to duck down, able to hear the massive footsteps ahead of him. "Whoever is here, come out!" roared the Rhino in his heavy Russian accent as he stomped forwards, leaving massive indentations in the concrete, "I have not time for this!" Miles knew he had to move, but there was no escape to be found behind him, he had to push forwards. Opening his app, he almost jumped for joy at it picking up an unsecured light nearby and acted on faith that it would distract the super villain. Pressing the button, the teen subconsciously held his breath before he heard the Russian bellow once more, "we are having fun with lights now?" he asked as he stomped towards the source of the distraction, "I will have fun with your face."
Taking a chance, Miles poked his head out and saw the man's back towards him and an open grate that led to a water drainage tunnel below. Knowing that it was his best shot, the Teen made for it, treading as lightly as he could while carrying the case of pills. When he was halfway there, he saw the giant armored hands slam down on a pair of wooden crates, turning them to splinters instantly, but Rhino's bulk shielded Miles before the Russian marched forwards, giving Miles a clear path to the safety of the tunnel. Cringing at the splashes his feet made when he hit the water pooling in the tunnel, Miles crept forwards as quietly as he could. "Come out and I promise not to crush you."
Looking up, Miles felt his heart drop at the metal grating over him, not solid concrete, allowing him to see out and, more importantly, giving the chance for his pursuer to peer inside. But Rhino didn't seem interested in that, instead planting one massive foot on the metal, causing it to creek and bend, but not break. "Please don't see me, please don't see me…" changed Miles softly, the prayer like a mantra as he moved forwards slowly, rounding the corner only for his heart to sink at the sight of the tunnel to be blocked by a grate, his only way forwards was back up onto the surface…right behind Rhino. Waiting patiently, he forced himself to stay still as the Russian spun around and looked for any sign of Miles, only to suddenly bull rush forwards and away.
Hastily, he stood and placed the box on the street before hoisting himself up onto the road. Looking around to see the Rhino still tossing crates around like toys as Miles scampered away, clambering over a few wooden boxes before finding himself on the waterfront with only one way to go. But he was stopped dead in his tracks as a crate sailed past and fell into the water, "play no games with me," taunted Rhino lowly.
Looking around frantically, Miles came to a stark realization as he forced himself to calm down, "Only way forward is past him…" looking down at his phone, he felt his heart drop when he saw nothing he could hack, nothing to distract the armored super villain. Now forced to peer out, he saw the Russian distracted and scampered across to a set of green boxes, pressing himself into the corner, his mouth shut tightly to keep his teeth from chattering when he felt the ground shake from the heavy footfalls of Rhino get closer.
"Come out," demanded Rhino as a nearby wooden crate practically exploded, sending out debris in every direction, "now!"
But Rhino moved on, past the teen and giving him the opportunity to try and give him the slip once more. Hand clutching the handle of his precious cargo tightly, he moved as fast as he dared, scampering to another box before opening up the distance towards a forklift. Letting out a sigh of relief, he saw an open container giving him a way up and out, quickly going through it before he found himself on top of the metal shipping containers that filled the yard. "Gotta be getting close," he told himself, "just a little farther."
But Rhino's outrage was getting louder when it should have been getting quieter before Miles was suddenly sent to the floor as the entire crate lurched from the impact of the Russian's bulk. That lit a fire under the teen as he jumped down into an area mercifully free of anyone trying to kill him and with another drainage pipe that he eagerly dropped into, recognizing the safety it offered. "Shit," he cursed, "dead end." Unlike last time, there wasn't even a way up. "At least I can wait for Rhino to leave, there's no way he can find me here."
On que, an armored fist the size of Miles' ribcage smashed through the solid metal above him, twisting it as the half inch steel plate clattered against the concrete of the tunnel about a foot from the teen as he stared at the plate with wide eyes before they came to the armored hand. Immediately, he fell backwards, scampering away as the hand seemingly reached around to try and grab him. "Where. Are. You?!" snarled Rhino as Miles clamped his hand, with his phone still in it, against his mouth to keep from saying anything.
When the hand went up and the super villain stomped off, the shaking caused by his footsteps getting fainter, Miles removed his hand and breathed heavily, "oh man. Ok…" he started before he forced himself to calm down, "I gotta get outta here." Pulling himself up out of the drainage pipe, he realized he was once again confined with Rhino, who was throwing a box the size of a car across the space. "There's my way out." Another shipping container led up to the top of another, and just beyond that Miles could make out a building that was close enough to just be across a street.
That only left him with how to actually get there. Deciding to try for a straight line approach, Miles watched Rhino stomp off and then dashed behind a forklift, but that only allowed him to see another problem: the stacks of boxes blocking his way out. His mind raced frantically, there was no way he could move those boxes, especially with an exploding bulldozer close by…but maybe he didn't have to. Dashing over to a stack of green boxes, he selected the forklift on his hacking app and activated it, causing the bright yellow lights and reverse siren to come to life. The elicited response was instantaneous as the Russian spun and charged with an ear splitting roar as he slammed the forklift into the shipping container, denting the steel before he began to rip the yellow vehicle apart.
Seizing the opportunity, Miles scampered away and into an open white container, out of sight as he saw his escape just a few yards away and opened his hacking app. His target was the siren in amongst the middle of the crates that beeped loudly but briefly. Its ear splitting noise cut short when it, like the numerous other obstacles to the teen, were crushed by the weight of a charging armored Rhino. But his excitement was cut short as he saw Rhino spin around; causing him to duck back down out of sight before the super villain tore off once again, giving him a clear path to safety. Without hesitation, Miles dashed forwards, keeping up the barest pretenses of stealth as he ascended the makeshift ramp and neared the top. Suddenly, the crate shook and Miles lost his footing, the hard case with the amoxicillin flying forwards as he pushed himself forward on all fours as he heard a giant metal hand slam into the side of the now flimsy feeling metal box as he threw himself over the wall and fell on the ground gracelessly, the wind getting knocked out of him. "It is chase of goose!" declared Rhino loudly, "I hate chase of goose!"
But Miles couldn't care less as he breathed deeply, trying to move all his fingers and toes before peeling himself up off the ground as the crate he had just used to escape went flying through the air and crashed down onto the concrete, slamming down and throwing up a shower of sparks. Sprinting off, he didn't stop until he was across the street, his back pressed against the brick of the building as he breathed in deeply and quickly, slowly feeling his pulse return to normal as he looked down at the box of pills he held in his shaking hand. "Should let May know I have these…" he muttered, all of that for a box of pills. A box of pills that will save lives he reminded himself as he closed his hacking app and began to look for the older woman's number.
"What you got there kid?" barked a man, snapping Miles from his task as he looked up to see a Riker, bandana covering his face as beady eyes peered down at the Teen. Instinctively, Miles stepped back as the man bore down on him and he reacted almost reflexively, pocketing his phone and remembering what Spider-Man had told him like he had just heard it yesterday.
Hips squared, wait for an opening he told himself as he raised his right hand, already clenched in a fist as he watched the man's eyes focus on the box in his left hand before the Riker went to grab it, simply electing to ignore the teen and take his hard earned supplies. But when the inmate went to snatch it, he opened himself up, allowing Miles to throw a punch, leaning forwards to put all his weight into the blow as it slammed into the man's jaw and caused him to stumble back and trip over a bag of trash and fall back, slamming his head into the pavement before he went still. "Argh, that hurt," he muttered as he shook out his hand and turned away, picking up speed as he gingerly retrieved his phone and dialed the last person to try and call him.
"Miles?" greeted Peter, the older man sounding as worried as his aunt, "hey, I've been trying to reach you, you OK?"
This…this wouldn't be a terribly pleasant conversation; hopefully Peter would take it better than his mother was bound to. "Hey. So uh…don't freak out, but um…I got to fill you in on some stuff…"
"Fill me in darlin," drawled Cooper as he loaded the EM-4 Cold War and looked over his target, the Queens Tunnel Camp and headquarters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bliss and Sable International's Fourth Security Battalion, "what needs doing?" He had been told to make some noise by Felicia, and so in addition to the burst fire grenade launcher the Marauder had a Volt SMG and a few satchel charges. Even if he was armed to the teeth, there wasn't any way he could deal with the entire base, with its several buildings, full perimeter fence, heliport, supply depot, and motor pool.
He could still tell that the base wasn't fully staffed, that motor pool was mostly empty and not all of the perimeter defenses were manned. Most of those that were stationed there were out looking for him and Spider-Man or with Bliss as he met with Osborn. "Hold your horses cowboy, we're waiting on one more," began Felicia as he stepped back into cover as a Sable helicopter flew overhead, flaring it's nose up to land on the helipad as he heard a click on the comm link, "this isn't just a smash and grab. We need to put the screws to Bliss and that means exposing what he's doing and do it legitimately."
Behind his visor, Cooper raised an eyebrow at the words, but before he could answer a new voice cut in. "You doing something legitimately? That's a new one Black Cat," deadpanned Captain Watanabe, "I hope you that explains why I'm sitting three blocks from a Sable Camp with three other units when the others are preparing to engage the Rikers."
"Got it in one captain. The Marauder is going to do the hard work and give you citizens that will want to press charges and come forward as witnesses against the 4th." Felicia was, unsurprisingly, equanimous as she continued, "that means you get the fun part handsome. You see that big building on the east side labeled 'Detention Center'? That's where they're keeping people they don't have a criminal case against and it's also where they're interrogating them. You need to stage a breakout."
With the gears in his head turning, Cooper stowed the Cold War and tucked a Volt SMG under the crook of his arm and flicked the fire selector to auto as he instinctively began forming a plan when Yuri's voice broke in. "I'll need more than that if I want to build a convincing case. Marauder, anything else you can find that proves what Bliss was up to I want."
With that in mind, Cooper activated his cloak and swung across the street, drawing his combat axe, and using it to hang from a building. Looking down into the camp, the beginning of a plan began to take shape, "Cat, any ideas on how to oblige the Captain?" he asked.
"One or two," replied the burglar coyly, "there aren't any recordings or records on either Bliss' terminal or accessible on the main network, so they probably have them on an isolated server. My guess is that you'll find that either in the detention center or Bliss' headquarters."
"Alright then," he drawled, "before I get started, any other requests?" asked the Pilot dryly.
"As a matter of fact, yes." Cooper rolled his eyes at Felicia sounding like she was enjoying this a bit too much before she continued, "In the HQ is 'the War Room,' command and control for the 4th. That's where you need to set up the link we discussed." That link was the plan Hardy had come up with to ensure that he could pull off his scheme with the construction site, if he could establish it then she could feed Bliss whatever it took for him to fall into the trap.
With that reminder, Matt could feel the adrenaline humming in his veins, his trigger finger almost literally itching. Everything since he had gotten back into the action had been relatively light work, but this was going to take him working at full speed again and he was anticipating the challenge. "Got it sweetheart," he assured coolly, "wish me luck ladies, it's time to make some noise." Taking one last deep breath, he withdrew the axe and sprung from the wall, jump kit flaring as he fell towards the rooftop of the detention center, any pretenses of stealth going away as he opened up with the Volt. Blue tracers rained down on the two snipers on the rooftop, cutting them down before Cooper landed, rolling into a crouch as he snapped the gun up and drew a bead on a guard in one of the watchtowers and emptied the rest of the magazine. The armor absorbed one or two shots, but even Sable's advanced plate couldn't withstand multiple hits as subsequent armor piercing rounds punched through before the Trooper slumped over and fell from his elevated perch.
While the Marauder slipped a fresh magazine into the SMG, the base came to life as alarms began to blare. With his reloaded weapon, the Pilot dropped off the edge of the rooftop and used his kit to jump to the wall of the building, running alongside it as he brought the Volt to bear one handed, cutting loose with a long burst on a squad of troopers that emerged from the headquarters. Those that weren't hit dove away as the Marauder pulled the pin on a frag and tossed it amongst the group before activating his phase shift. Streaking through the open door as he drew his Smart Pistol and was phased back to reality and face to face with four Sable guards, two with rifles, two brandishing stun batons. The melee troopers rushed him, weapons crackling with red energy and held high as the Marauder stood and raised his pistol, putting two shots into the first troopers gut, staggering him long enough to get a target lock on the two gun wielding men and pull the trigger once to spit out four rounds and put both down, leaving him alone with the two baton wielding men.
But as the second arrived, swinging his weapon and forcing the pilot back as the first one recovered and the Pilot jumped into action, using the wall to propel himself forwards, ramming his knee into the closest troopers chin, snapping his head back and sending him stumbling back and sprawling across the floor. With him temporarily out of the fight, Cooper pulled his left fist back, arc knuckles sparking with blue energy in contrast to the red of his foe's baton. In one fluid motion, Matthew fired his jump kit, throwing himself at his opponent as he extended his legs, clipping the troopers armored off hand before the Pilots fist followed up, the white armor not stopping the futuristic tech as the man's muscles seized up while Cooper slid across the floor. Coming to a stop, he rolled onto his stomach and raised his pistol, putting smart rounds into both of the troopers to put them down as he swapped magazines for both the sidearm and Volt before pushing further into the building. "Heads up cowboy, I'm tracking you over the buildings internal security system. The War Room is one floor up, nearest access is through the mess, hang a left and it's the third door on the right," informed Black Cat, "it also looks like there are lots of troopers assembling in the mess. Probably the ones who are supposed to stop you."
Cooper rolled his neck and pulled out his EM-4 as he followed both the signs and his girlfriend's directions until he was outside the double doors of the mess and replied with a simple "they can try." With that he raised his boot and gave the door an exo augmented kick, throwing it open to reveal nearly twenty fully armed and armored troopers on the other side. In their split second of hesitation at the Marauders unexpected appearance, the Pilot tossed down an A-Wall, the orange wall of light springing to life before they could bring their weapons up. As energy pulses dissipated harmlessly across the hexagonal pattern of the tactical, Cooper squeezed the trigger of the EM-4, feeling the weapon whine and hum as it charged up. When it did finally fire, the weapon unleashed hell on the troopers, in the confined space with nowhere to run; Cooper raked the muzzle from one end to the other, spreading out the explosive pellets to devastating effect. No sooner was the first burst out of the Cold War when a second was charging and another burst of explosions ripped through the room. As the shock of the sudden attack wore off, the survivors tried to regroup and a group of shield wielding troopers rushed the Pilot. Calmly, Cooper lowered his point of aim and charged up the last burst from the Cold War and sent the 4.7x33mm explosives to their feet, the blasts breaking up the attack as their bodies and weapons went flying across the room.
Dropping the spent magazine, Cooper slammed a fresh one in, yanking the charging handle back before signing the grenadier weapon over his shoulder in favor of his SMG as the A-Wall faded and he stepped forwards. Moving swiftly through the carnage he had wrought, the Marauder found the stairwell up and ascended swiftly, bouncing off the walls up to the second floor. Slinging the pulse blade into the wall across the open space waiting for him at the top of the stairs, Cooper was surprised to not find anything waiting for him and pressed his attack before the PMC Troopers could regroup. Thankfully, everything was labeled clearly, so even as he slide hopped at breakneck speed through the corridors and jumped onto the walls to change directions, he didn't get lost.
Pulling up outside the War Room, the Pilot readied an electric smoke before ramming his shoulder into the door and tossing the grenade inside before a torrent of rounds came back at him and he pressed himself to the wall outside the room. Activating his phase shift, he dove through the door, tucking his shoulder down and rolling behind one of the terminals before he was ripped back to reality and looked up to see a pistol held by someone on the other side of the desk. Standing quickly, he grabbed the arms holding the gun and twisted, tucking his shoulder into the man's chest and ripping him down to the ground in front of the Pilot before slamming an arc charged punched into the man's exposed face. Moving as only a Pilot could, Cooper slid across the ground, propelled by the jump kit as he took aim with the Volt, spraying rounds with the SMG. The men and women inside the room instinctively ducked down behind whatever cover they could find, the two who didn't had the stream of blue tracers walked onto them, blood flying as the bodies collapsed to the floor.
Matthew kept up the momentum, not stopping and instead jumping up, still holding down the trigger and spraying the last of the 33 rounds on tap before one of the personnel working in the War Room stood up, only to get kicked in the chest and sent sprawling back while Cooper reloaded. As he slammed the fresh magazine in, his foe recovered and tried to wrench the gun away to no avail as Cooper's exo assisted arms rammed the muzzle of the gun into the mercenaries' gut, causing him to double over before Matt flicked the bolt release and planted the first round in the top of the man's skull before he spun around. As soon as he did, he caught a red laser bolt square in the chest, feeling residual heat make it through his armor enough to warm his skin as he grit his teeth and returned fire as the shooter ducked behind a console.
Head snapping from side to side, Cooper looked for an angle to pry at, but couldn't pick out any sign of his foes. Activating his cloak, he then sent out a hologram, watching the phony pilot walk out into the open as he slipped from cover and stalked through the War Room, focused on the hologram and waiting for someone to take the bait. The sound of a laser pistol broke the silence caused the damn to break, three different streams of fire filling the air and going through the hologram. With the last few seconds of invisibility, Cooper moved in behind the nearest just as it faded and slammed the man in the back of his head with the stock of his weapon before he hosed down the other two, one falling back and slumping against the central table while the other spun and fell behind a console.
For a brief moment, Cooper thought it was over, but a loud wince echoed through the eerily silent room from the direction of the last Sable agent. Volt at the ready, he moved to the downed Agent and rounded the corner, weapon leveled at the agent as he got a look at the woman. She had removed her hat, right hand clutching her left shoulder in an effort to stem the bleeding as her sidearm sat on the ground within arm's reach, but she made no move to grab it. "What are you waiting for?" she asked, her voice low, almost hiss like, but Matt couldn't tell if that was because of pain or fear, "You gonna execute me you vigilante piece of shit?"
"Depends," began the Marauder as he gestured with the muzzle of his gun towards the sidearm, "you gonna shoot me in the back if I don't?" When she shook her head, Matt kicked the pistol well out of reach while pulling out a pack of bio gel. "Move your hand, I'll give you something to stop the bleeding and help the pain." After a moment's hesitation, she complied as Cooper crouched down on one knee and applied the first aid, sealing the wound and applying a local anesthetic. With that done, he turned back and looked for a central console that had survived the firefight, moving with a deliberate rapidity that came with the rush adrenaline tempered by experience.
Keeping the wounded woman in the corner of his eye, Cooper found a suitable terminal and pulled the body of the trooper that had protected it with his body off before drawing his Data Knife and jamming it into the terminal, starting to form the needed link. "Why?" asked the woman weakly as the x shaped visor turned to face her, "Why kill all them but spare me?"
Cooper shrugged as the blue circle projected by the knife turned blue and he withdrew and sheathed the blade, "You surrendered." She stared at open, incredulous and open mouthed as he shrugged again before the moment was abruptly shattered as automatic laser fire caused Cooper to hit the deck and return fire, the white armored trooper ducking back into cover. Throwing a pulse blade out to see what he was up against, the tactical illuminated a full dozen troopers waiting for him outside the War Room.
"The link is up," began Felicia as Matt stuck the SMG up and emptied the rest of the magazine before he began to reload the weapon, "I found the server with the data we need, it's on the top floor of the Detention Center along with the main security station." Pulling out a frag, Cooper tossed the explosive through the door and waited until the grenade detonated before he attacked. Vaulting over the desk he had taken cover behind, he activated his Stim to throw himself forwards in massive leaping strides and slide through the door, Volt spitting out it's blue tracers to finish off anyone that survived the frag.
When the area fell silent, he reloaded the SMG and sprinted for a window at the end of the hallway. "Solid copy," he replied as he checked his remaining ammo, only seeing two more magazines for the Volt before looking up at a window, "I'm taking a short cut." With that, he fired his grapple hook above the frame and pulled himself through the window feet first before falling to the courtyard below, jump kit firing to slow his descent automatically. No sooner had his boots touched the concrete than the Pilot bent his knees and jumped onto the perimeter fence before he leapt across to the backside of the Headquarters building towards the Detention Center, activating his STIM to cover the distance in the blink of an eye, jumping off the wall and firing his grapple at the edge of the building and sling shot himself around the building. Jump kit firing, the Marauder launched himself through the air and landed on the roof of the Detention Center.
Drawing the Cold War, the Pilot turned to see the door that led to a stairwell down into the prefabricated structure swing open as the guards came to confront him. "Take him down!" ordered one of the Mercenaries, but the shriek of the EM-4 was the Marauder's response as the super cooled explosive pellets shot out glowing their distinct blue and blew the white armored men across the rooftop or back into the stairwell they had just ascended.
Moving in, the Pilot jumped down the flight of steps before he buried a freshly recharged pulse blade into the door only to find that there weren't any more guards waiting for him. Yanking the door open, Cooper confirmed with his eyes that the room was clear before drawing the Data Knife and jamming it into the large server bank and pulling the trigger to begin establishing a data link. "Cat?" he asked, "You receiving this? It should be the data Watanabe needs." This was starting to go far too smoothly, and he was getting a bit anxious.
"It is. I'm not seeing any more Sable personnel in the camp, you're clear cowboy. Now you just need to get the prisoners out of there, I've sent word to Yuri to start heading your way," informed the Thief as Cooper pulled the knife from the server and jammed it into the main console, "she'll be waiting on the west side, there's an exit from the detention center and then the perimeter. I'll make sure to keep an eye on their systems and ensure Bliss knows where to go once you're ready for him."
When the blue ring filled, there was an audible chime from the computer, the monitor reading 'Cell Blocks Open.' With that done, Cooper sheathed the blade and placed one of the satchel charges he had brought with him on the console. "Copy that Cat, I'm leaving a few presents for Bliss to make damn sure they can't use this place again." Descending the stairs once again, he came out in the main holding area, the energy barriers that kept people contained had faded and some had made their way out into the center of the room. "Listen up people!" he called out, "I'm getting you all out of here. I'll clear the way so all you need to worry about is keeping your head down and not getting shot, there will be NYPD waiting to get you out of here and take your statement if you want to press charges, you got it? Good." Thankfully, there was only about a dozen or so nodding heads looking back at him. "Let's go!" he beckoned as he led them to the designated exit. Stepping out to scan the area and ensure it was clear; he spied Yuri and a small group of NYPD cars waiting just outside the perimeter gate. With a wave of his hand he got the civilians to follow him as he used his data knife to override the electronic lock and open the way for them. As they made their way out the Marauder turned and casually tossed a second Satchel Charge on a small stockpile of aviation fuel placed next to the building before following the civilians out.
"Good work," complimented Yuri as he exited, "I'll take them back to the station, hopefully I can convince the Mayor that letting a PMC have free reign isn't in his best interests." She watched the civilians, some sporting bruises, as they passed before shaking her head. "That should be enough to get Bliss to back down. You going to help with the super villains?" she asked.
Now it was the Marauder's turn to shake his head, "Not yet. Even if Osborn tightens the leash, Bliss is gonna keep coming after Spidey and I. I just need to ensure I'm the one Bliss wants to go after." To ensure that was the case, he drew the clacker and detonated the explosives he had left behind. While the explosions were small, the fire that started from the aviation fuel began to quickly spread to the Detention Center, and with the central console destroyed there wasn't a chance the sprinklers would come online to try and douse the blaze, "and if he wants me, than he can come get me."
Cooper's Logbook – Assault Rifle: M16A4
This is what will probably the last in a long line of M16 rifles, the A4 model is used exclusively my the United States Marine Corps in limited supporting roles, supplanted by its little brother, the M4, as the standard issue service rifle of both the US Army and USMC. Between the M16 and M4, there is more than five decades of service, more than any other rifle platform in the history of the United States. Derived from the Armalite AR-10 that was developed by famed arms designer Eugene Stoner in the 1950's, the M16 was an AR-10 rechambered into the .223 Remington intermediate cartridge and first adopted by the US Air Force before becoming the standard rifle of the US Army and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Working off a unique gas impingement/gas piston hybrid system where the piston is integrated into the bolt carrier assembly, it is not in fact a true direct gas impingement system as is often described.
And that isn't the only unique thing about the rifle either, remember that it was designed in the 1950s, when a military rifle was made of wood and steel, at that point, the M16, with lightweight aluminum components and black fiberglass furniture, was truly a revolution. These features weren't universally praised though, with many soldiers dubbing it the 'Mattel-16' because its weight was more like that of a toy. That wasn't the only change the M16 brought with it, the other big one was that it was the first to break with the American .30 caliber tradition by adopting the .223 Remington cartridge, and then later the slightly hotter 5.56x45mm NATO SS109 cartridge. These rounds were smaller and lighter but traveled with much more pace than the M14s 7.62mm NATO round. Early field trials in Vietnam revealed that the light bullets would 'tumble' upon impact with a human target, creating larger internal wounds than even the heavier 7.62, and giving the gun the moniker of 'Meat Chopper.'
But that .223 round, since this was before the 5.56 adoption, had one flaw. A switch in propellant type upped the pressure in the round, increasing cyclic rate and carbon buildup that lead to extraction failures. Couple this with a misguided notion the futuristic looking gun was 'self-cleaning' and that led to the famed reliability issues the rifle suffered in Vietnam. Good training, discipline, and a comic book to explain how to clean the gun properly were just as important to overcoming these issues as the updated M16A1. Half a century later, and the M16, along with the smaller M4 and civilian AR-15 variants, has become an institution. The definitive black rifle and an American Icon, the weapon has withstood several attempts to replace it, and even vilification by the country it protects on occasion, but it is undoubtedly a modern classic.
Closing Notes: This one was a bit tougher to crack, just solidifying the timeline was a pain, but now that everything else is planned out it's a pretty straight shot to the finish here. I made a few tweaks to the Miles segment, particularly the ending, since it was a bit too over the top for my tastes. I still am not a huge Miles fan since he's just really...bland I guess, likable enough but really forgettable and I realized that when writing this chapter. Other than that? I really am leaning into the Division for characterizing Bliss, the speech that opened the chapter was slightly tweaked from the one he gives in one of the games' collectibles to fit the situation. Though honestly, he really does feel shoehorned in, but I still think having him was the best choice so that he can give Matt something to do other than get in the way of Peter's story arc. I'd be curious as to if anyone out there has thoughts on that.
If you have thoughts on that or anything else, feel free to review as always.
Next chapter is a boss fight that's been a long time coming, and now the tables have turned around, so You're Going Down.
Stay Frosty, Misfit Delta out.