Sunday, July 24, 2011

Earth-349: Spider-Woman

Disclaimer 1: This story is inspired by a story in Superman #349, but is not limited by that story or any other.

Disclaimer 2: This story is based on characters copyright DC Comics, Inc., Marvel
Comics and others. It is written for entertainment only and is not intended to deny or disparage those copyrights.

Disclaimer 3: The inspiration of Tebra's delightful "Diablo Wars" series is gratefully

Disclaimer 4: This story is not recommended for persons under 18, or the easily offended,
especially those who are uncomfortable with themes such as transgender, mind control,
male dominance and women's undergarments.

Spider-Woman clung to the wall and looked around the room. They were all awake now, eying one another warily. That was understandable – the last time she had met a stranger dressed in a spider costume, it had not been a pleasant experience.
The girl in a violet one-piece bathing suit and spiderweb-print domino mask, red hair flowing freely to the middle of her back, kept looking from one to another, more anxious than hostile, as though wishing someone would take charge of the situation.
The one who was once more trying the room's vault-like door had blonde hair showing at the top of a costume that otherwise covered her completely in a substance that resembled the glossy carapace of a black widow. The blackness was relieved only by a white spider-shape on her chest and abdomen, and white eyespots much like those on pider-Woman's own mask.
The fourth, in a mostly-red bodysuit and with black hair that looked impractically if not improbably long, just sat in her corner, seeming to move not at all, merely waiting for what came next.
The redhead was starting to babble, asking nonsensical questions, panic rising in her voice. The blonde turned from prying at the door with her fingertips and started to speak angrily to her.
"Hey, girls!" Spider-Woman yelled, cutting them both off. "Let's not everybody talk at once, okay? Room's too small!"
"Yeeeah, iddiz too schmall, ain't it?" the blonde sneered, mocking Spider-Woman's Queens accent.
"Quiet," the black-haired woman said softly, her own accent sounding vaguely Slavic. "She is right. Let us find out how much we all know."
Spider-Woman thanked her, then peeled off her mask, revealing her own brown hair, cropped very close except for a small forelock.
"I think I know what's going on. I think we're all four of us from different worlds, with different histories."
"That would explain your haircut, Tiger. I was thinking it made you look like you were from Mars."
"Not different planets. Different Earths.
"My name is April Parker, and I come from a world that some people have called Earth-349. People have visited our world from elsewhere, and some of us have visited other worlds, so maybe you will know that name."
The redhead nodded and April continued.
"Three years ago I was attending a scientific exposition at Osborn Laboratories, where they had been studying the peaceful use of atomic energy. I was bitten by a spider, became terribly ill, and when I recovered I had strange spider-like powers. I can only guess at this part, but I think the spider -- a brown recluse, most likely -- was exposed to radiation, and its venom was altered by the radiation in such a way as to give me these powers."
The blonde asked, "Three years ago?"
"Yes, in 1962."
"Huh. On my world, three years ago was 1972."
The redhead blurted, "A radioactive spider – ugh, it gives me the creeps."
"Irradiated, not radioactive," the other three said in unison.
The redhead shrugged, unabashed, and untied her own mask. It hadn't hidden much of her face anyway.
"Okay, whatever. I'm Mary Jane Watson, and I'm from Earth-348. I'm friends with the Human Torch, in the Justice Battalion, so I know all about Earth-349. I didn't know there was a Spider-Girl on your Earth, though."
"Spider-Woman," April corrected.
"Okay. Anyways, like about three years ago – in 1940 – I had the measles real bad, and I thought I was gonna die. There was this spider in a web up by the ceiling in my room, and one night it started to talk to me. It told me it was Anansi, one of the old gods my Auntie Mae used to tell me about, and he said he would heal me if I would serve him. So I said yes, and the next thing I knew, I woke up feeling like a million bucks, and I was clinging to the ceiling."
"And how do you serve Anansi?"
"Mostly by helping the war effort. Hitler isn't one of Anansi's favorite guys.
"Look, since we're taking off the masks and stuff, I hope you guys don't mind if I get comfortable."
She reached into her suit and pulled out a pair of foam rubber falsies, going suddenly from a C cup to an A.
"What the heck do you wear those things for?" the girl in the black costume asked.
"Part of my disguise. My buddy Peter Palmer – I guess he'd be my boyfriend except he's bent – told me to do it, to keep people from guessing who Spider-Girl really is."
The girl in black chuckled.
"Right, nobody will be looking at your face."
Mary Jane glared at the girl's shiny black D-cups.
"You'd know all about that, wouldn't you?"
April tried to raise the tone of the conversation.
"There's some sort of force at work between the worlds that causes things like this, that look like crazy coincidences."
She pointed at the woman in the mostly-red costume.
"Let's hear your story."
The black-haired woman stood up, revealing just how tall she was, and confirming the amazing length of her hair. She peeled her mask down, revealing a beautiful but not very animated face, and very large dark eyes.
"My name is Felicia Hardy. That's the name I have adopted, although I was raised as Arachne. I was born in a laboratory in a cave on Mount Wundagore, in Bulgaria. It is quite clear that neither of your worlds is mine."
"I'll say! On my world, there's no such country as Bulgaria. It's just a made-up place on the radio."
"And on mine, it's an historical name, out of the Middle Ages. But do go on."
"Yes. I was born there, one of some thirty children created by the scientists Drew Parker and Harrison Osbourne. They called us their X-Men, because we were crossed – 'x'-ed – between humans and other species. Leon was half-lion, Reynard was half-fox. And I was, as I said . . . Arachne."
She looked at the other girls, as though watching for signs of revulsion or disdain.
Two of them smiled reassuringly, while Mary Jane stared blankly, clearly not getting the reference.
"I grew up with my special abilities, my powers I suppose you could say. I was also the only one of the X-Men who could pass for human, at least when fully clothed. So three years ago in 1965, I went out into the world as a sort of ambassador for my family. Those who have shown me friendship call me Arachne. The newspapers call me the Tarantula."
The fourth girl, the one in the black-and-white suit, had been listening thoughtfully while the others told their stories. Without any obvious action on her part, the blackness covering her face flowed downward as though it were liquid, revealing a pretty face with a little too much jaw.
"I see what you mean, April, about weird coincidences. My Uncle Ben used to work at Wunder-Gore Labs, in the Osborne Building. And my name is -- well, I've been calling myself Gwen Stacey, but the name I was born with is Peter Parker."
Mary Jane gave a high-pitched giggle that could easily become annoying with repetition.
"I'm sorry, it's just that on my world, nobody would ever name a boy 'Peter Parker'. Where I come from, a 'peter-parker' is a guy who, erm, gets around the girls a lot."
Gwen blushed but continued.
"Well, I can't very well use that name anymore, anyway. But it's the name I grew up with. My Aunt May and Uncle Ben raised me. Three years ago they both got sick, and I joined the Air Force to make some money to support them."
"You joined the Air Corps? How old are you?"
"Seventeen. I was fourteen then. Why?"
"Never mind, I guess. Tell us more."
"Well, I was at this lab at Wentworth Field, assisting Major Jameson with a sample that a probe had brought back from the Moon –"
April surprised herself by being the one to interrupt this time.
"Your people have been to the Moon?"
"Just machines, so far. One of them brought back this really weird piece of black stuff. It seemed like it was almost alive, but we couldn't get it to do anything. Not until I was transferring it from one containment vessel to another and, well, dropped the jar and broke it.
"As soon as it touched my skin, it came to life, glommed onto me and covered me. It changed me, in a lot of ways, made me faster and stronger, and it turned me into, well, a girl."
She pressed her palms together and spread them. A spiderweb formed between her hands, rather like a cat's cradle.
"The costume – that's the way I think of it, as a suit of clothes, although it's eallyr a symbiotic life form – can spin webs, and it allows me to cling to walls. Since the Air Force doctors can't figure out how to get it off me, they made me a Captain, and now I'm what they call a 'special asset' of the Air Rangers, code name: the Spider."
"Wow. I wonder why it made you a girl?"
"I don't know. Maybe its own reproduction requires that it be passed on through the mother."
"Anyway," April said, "what's most important now is that we find out what we're all doing here."
"And which Earth 'here' is."
"True enough."
Gwen looked again at the door.
"That weird coincidence-causing force, whatever it is, might have brought us all together, but why would we be in this locked room, with a door that even our spider-strength can't open?"
April nodded.
"It seems to me more likely that someone has brought us here."
Arachne was waving her hands along the sides of her body, as though wafting air over herself.
"Do any of you smell that? There is some chemical being introduced to the air in here. A different one from the one that was fading as we woke up."
April sniffed.
"I don't notice it, but I have a sort of danger sense that started going off just before you spoke up."
Gwen said, "My suit is acting all creepy-crawly, like it should protect me from something, but it can't tell what."
"I think it is too late to worry," Arachne said distractedly.
"My spider-sense is calm now. Or is it just damped down by that stuff . . . ?"
Mary Jane wrung her hands.
"Oh, gee, this is like when Doctor Goblin caught me with that drugged perfume. I hated how I just did what he told me . . . ."
April shook her head,slapped her own cheek.
"Yes, like the Green Goblin's drugs, that's what this feels like . . . ."
"Must . . . fight . . . influence . . . ."
"Lady . . . your English grammar . . . slips when you're . . . excited . . . ."
After the four of them had sat passively for some twenty minutes, the gas was purged from the room. The sound of massive bolts being withdrawn came from the door, and it swung open, revealing a strange figure in a scaly green bodysuit and a hooded purple cloak.
The stranger entered the room, pushed back the hood, and smiled at the four spider-women.
"Mr. Osborn!"
"Uncle Ben!"
The man laughed, seeing four sets of eyes turned on him with abject adoration, imprinting on the first male to come into their view.
"All of the above, and none, my girls. From now on, you shall all call me 'Master'."
"Yes, Master," they chorused eagerly, rushing forward to kneel at his feet.
So did the Green Goblin of Earth-349 acquire his four loyal Black Widows.

No comments: