[ TWENTY-TWO ]

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          Clover never wanted powers, nor did she want the responsibility that came along with them

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          Clover never wanted powers, nor did she want the responsibility that came along with them. Her cousin, Peter never wanted them either, but he never hesitated to do the right thing when the city needed him, when people needed him. He's lied to so many and he continues to lie because he knows it's for the best. Clover has finally gotten a taste of how it feels to lie to someone you care about, the one person you should tell, the truth to. When the teens got home after their day of training, May told them that Liz had come by and they talked, about what, May did not enlighten them. The next day when they went to school, it seemed as though their friends were ignoring them. Wednesday was the same and Thursday too, Friday came and Liz cancelled on Peter. The weekend brought pure silence from their friends.

Now, it's Monday; Peter and Clover are sitting on Peter's bed staring at the map they had made. They already found a pattern, they had figured it out over a week ago. But the trick was going to be figuring out where he's going to strike next, Vulture hasn't made a move since Clover's encounter last Monday. Peter and Clover have trained each evening but no villain to use their skills against. Most of the villains Peter has encountered are locked away, now all they have left to do is stop the odd robbery or car thief. Peter is beginning to think that his job is finished, that he's done what's needed and it's time to hang up the suit. The police scanners have been practically silent for the past two days, barely a sound. But at last, the scanner makes a noise.

Peter and Clover jump at the sudden noise. They take a moment to listen to the dispatcher, "We have a 10-66 at the bus yard in Midtown, we need a single unit response"

          Peter responds to the scanner and both scramble into their gear and swing out of the window. Side by side, Clover and Peter make their way to Midtown. They land a block away from the bus yard. Peter and Clover part ways and go to either side of the yard. Clover peers through the fence, seeing nobody, she scales the fence and hops down into the yard. Peter does the same from the other end, but it's because he sees movement. Peter crawls on top of a bus and follows the hooded figure as he lifts the hood of one of the buses. The man pulls out different parts and places them in a bag next to him.

"You must be really desperate buddy to be stealing bus parts in the middle of the night. Like who does that?" Peter calls from behind the figure.

The man spins around startled by the presence of Spiderman. At first he keeps his head down and doesn't respond. Clover creeps closer to Peter's location with the stranger. Peter crouches in place.

"You mute?" Peter asks.

"No" the stranger responds.

"Good that'll make things easier when the police question you about why you're here"

The stranger glances up at Peter, revealing his dark face as he pulls off his hood.

"Who said anything about cops?" the stranger asks in a sinister tone.

Peter responds, his voice dripping with sarcasm, "Um...I did?"

          Everything starts within an instant. The stranger shrugs off his sweater to reveal a  metal contraption on his wrist, it glows purple and emits a low humming noise. Peter barely gets a chance to look at it before the stranger connects the object with the bus Peter stands on. The nose of the bus flies upwards, flipping the bus on its back, wheels exposed like the under belly of an animal. Peter rolls to the side, catching his breath as the stranger punches another bus. Clover still ducks out of sight.

"Who are you?" Peter says.

The stranger approaches Peter slowly, dragging his feet, "I am a new age of evil. A new villain, one who out matches your new breed of heroes. We are more powerful than you and we will rule!"

The stranger raises his metal armoured hand, ready to contact with Peter when Clover leaps from her hiding spot and slings webs at the man, pulling his arm to the ground behind him.

"Yeah...great speech. But I'm just not ready for the new age of evil. I like my villains dumb and incapable of worldwide takeover." Clover taunts as she stands over the man.

Peter gets up from his crouch and walks next to his cousin. With a light pat on her shoulder, the action begins again. The man smirks at the two before his metal contraption emits an earsplitting vibration. Clover and Peter stumble to their knees until the man gets free and stands before them.

"This is why you will lose, you underestimate us...you assume you have us beat from the very moment you lay eyes on us. Technology always surprises...as do we."

Peter and Clover try to stand, but the vibrations keep them weak. Peter can barely speak, but he forces out a few sentences.

"We will always beat you...whoever you are...Good trumps evil...every time" Peter says.

For a moment the strangers eyes go soft, "You think I've always been bad? Thriving on hate? I only became like this because evil won and it was easier just to join him, easier to become Shocker"

The vibrating softens and soon stops, Clover and Peter still lay on the ground, recovering.

"W-who's him?" Clover whispers.

          The buses farthest from the trio burst into flames, flipping onto their sides and knocking down other buses like dominoes. Fire makes its way to each row of yellow vehicles until the whole yard is filled with flames. Amidst the flames and smoke, a figure appears like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. He lands a few yards away and Clover is quickly pulling Peter to his feet as he approaches, his metal wings extended. The Vulture stands before them looking like some sort of winged demon from hell.

"You're both quite resourceful youngsters...skilled too, although I never would have pegged a scrawny boy from Midtown High to be Spiderman. Nor his cousin to be his partner in crime" Vulture sneers.

Both teens look to the villain, "How-"

Vulture doesn't give an answer, he just lunges forward at Peter. Clover tumbles out of the way, knocking into Shocker. The man grabs her arms, but she sprays his face with webs. Ripping the substance from his face, Shocker tries to blast Clover with his vibrating beam. Knowing better, she dodges it and advances on him, punching him in the side. Meanwhile, Peter and Vulture battle over head, tossing and turning twenty feet above the ground. Soon, Shocker is pushed to the very edge of the bus yard, farthest from the smoke. Vulture swoops suddenly for the ground, causing Peter to tumble off his back, tackling Clover to the dusty ground. The two villains now stand at the exit while the heroes struggle to get to their feet. Flames roar behind them and sirens are barely heard in the distance. A Mexican standoff unfolds as the two sides wait for the other to make a move.

Vulture turns his head as the sirens grow louder and within his earshot, "Until next time Spiders" he says.

Vulture grabs Shocker by his shoulders and lifts him into the air, away from the bus yard. For a split second, shockers face is not cold and bitter, but soft and guilt ridden. As police cars and fire trucks arrive, Peter and Clover stumble out of sight and catch their breath.

"What was all that?" Clover asks in between her gasps for clean air.

"Only the beginning" Peter says.

"Of what?"

Peter sighs, "Of something really...really bad"

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