Peter's world is rocked when a mysterious warrior named Slayer shows up who is intent on training him to be a real fighter. But along with this man comes demonic figure who wants him to make him an...
Chapter 2: Straight Answers
Peter Parker was officially confused. On one hand, he was relieved that the epic fight between a warrior and demon/man wasn't his mind playing tricks on him. On the other, the warrior was now sitting in his basement using his first aid kit. Needless to say, he had plenty of questions. But the mysterious warrior just sat there, casually tending wounds.
"Who...who are you?!" Peter demanded.
Getting up off the trunk, the young warrior bowed respectfully and smiled.
"Name's Jack Robinson," he said, "Most people call me Slayer."
"Slayer?" said Peter, not knowing what to think of that, "What are you? A new member of the Ultimates?"
"Hell no. I'm a solo act, just like you," he said, tearing the bandage and securing it to his wound, "And I must say, I was pretty impressed with what I saw back there. Not a lot of people have the guts to lay out Hotshot, especially someone who's only recently dawned a costume."
The contents in Peter's stomach churned mercilessly. That leftover meatloaf he ate for lunch was trying to make a comeback and it probably would have if he wasn't so shocked. He just met this guy, so how could he know his secret?
"You...you know?!" he exclaimed.
"That you're Spider-Man?" said Jack, not making a big deal of it, "Yep."
That was it for Peter.
"I don't believe it!" he said, throwing his arms in the air in a fit of frustration, "Why do I even bother with a secret identity anymore?! It's like everybody I come across just happens to find out! Is it because I'm careless?! Is it because I'm unlucky?! Why can't I just be anonymous like every other good hero?!"
A brief silence fell over the room as Jack stood there with his arms folded and a humored look on his face. Now Peter just felt foolish for going off like that in front of a total stranger. Maybe he was going crazy after all.
"Feel better?" said Jack, trying hard not to laugh.
"Yeah," said Peter, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck, "Sorry about that."
"Don't be. We all need to vent. Hell, if I could count how many times I've gone off on a rant, the boys in white would be here in a heartbeat."
"That's...comforting," said Peter, not knowing what to make of that.
Slayer sighed, mentally kicking himself for his lack of social skills. He could fight the forces of darkness, but couldn't carry a decent conversation. And this was just a kid. He didn't expect their paths to cross like this. But after seeing him stand up to Hotshot, he at least owed him an explanation.
"Look, sorry about the intrusion and the mess at the school," said Slayer in a more serious tone, "Things just got a little out of hand."
"That's one way of putting it," muttered Peter, "Who was that psycho anyways?"
"It's a long story," sighed Slayer, "Simply put, he's a deranged psychic masochistic killer who was shot to death only to be reborn from a rogue demon who was banished from Hell. Pain and suffering just happen to get him off, so he tries to inflict as much of it as possible. He feeds off the torment of the innocent to make himself stronger. And on top of that, he can't be killed."
Peter Parker didn't know what to make of a creature like that. He just stared at Slayer blankly, not knowing whether or not to believe him. Then again he had seen his share of the impossible. And near as he could tell, Slayer was dead serious. And with the monster's demonic laugh still echoing in his mind, he gave the stranger the benefit of the doubt.
"Oh uh...wow," he said in a bewildered daze.
"Yeah, he has that effect on people, which is why I had to wipe everybody's memory with a quick reverse spell. They'll all sleep easier not knowing that a monster like him exists."
"That's another thing..." said Peter, getting more curious, "What happened back there? One minute everybody is deadpanned and the next it's like it never happened. What did you do? Are you some sort of entity or god like Thor?"
"Hardly," scoffed Slayer, "I'm from San Francisco believe it or not. And that little ploy was just a magic trick meant to undo the damage done by dark forces. However, spells like that have a way of taking it out of you. That's sorta why I'm using your first aid kit. Don't have enough energy to heal myself."
Further proving his point, the young warrior showed him the back of his hands. On them were a couple of elaborate symbols that looked like a vast blend of Oriental and Latin origin. And as Peter took in their mysterious aura, they began to glow in a soft yellow light.
"See, in addition to being a warrior, I also have the power to tap mystical energy. It helps me in my fight against the forces of darkness. And as you saw with Hotshot, it can be pretty challenging. It's why I operate in the shadows. The less people know about the battles I fight, the better they'll sleep at night."
"So then why do I remember what happened?" said Peter, getting defensive once more, "Everybody else had the luxury of forgetting."
A smile spread across Slayer's face as he approached the young teen. Peter was still suspicious, but he didn't sense any threats. Despite his imposing demeanor, he seemed genuinely sincere as he eyed him with great intrigue.
"Because you're special, Peter Parker," he said in a mysterious tone, "You actually took a stand against Hotshot and survived. Most people who do that die terrible deaths of agony."
"Well else could I have done? That monster threatened my girlfriend!"
"And you defended her...which is more than I could ever boast."
"What do you mean?" asked Peter, noticing a sad shift in his tone.
"Uh...nothing. Forget that last part," said Slayer, shaking his head clean of such unpleasant thoughts, "But the point is you courageously defended your loved ones. And that shows the true heart of a warrior."
Drawn further by this strange man's words, Peter grew more curious. This guy may have been a bit off, but he didn't strike him as someone who took his work lightly. The fact he was actually talking to him in his own house was proof enough that he was no joke. And there was no getting around that magic show he put on earlier. Tricks like that couldn't be normal.
"I'll be frank," he went on, "You're new to this game aren't you?"
"What gave me away? The fact I'm still in high school?" quipped Peter.
"That was the first sign," said Slayer with a smirk, "But honestly, you don't have a lot of fighting experience, do you?"
"Well I do, but mostly on the receiving end. I think they named a toilet after me in middle school for all the swirlies I endured."
"And that's cost you as Spider-Man, hasn't it?" said Slayer, further pushing his point, "You've only been going on instinct, letting your own whim guide you through battles. But that doesn't always work out, does it?"
Diverting his gaze, memories of how Doc Ock beat him up and flew him on a plane to Brazil or when Kingpin knocked him out and threw him out the window came to mind. He was well aware of his lack of skill and bore plenty of scars from it, some more than others. It wasn't like he didn't try to learn some moves, but it was hard when he had to live life both in and out of costume.
"I guess my batting average has some room for improvement," conceded Peter.
"More like a major overhaul," commented Jack, "But I see a lot of potential in that charming wit of yours."
"Sure you're not just seeing a nerd turned super-powered nerd?"
"You'd be surprised what I can see, kid."
The strange mark over his eye suddenly flashed a golden yellow, further showing off the mystical prowess of this mysterious warrior. And while Peter wasn't sure, it hardly looked like a fashion statement.
"You see, this mark symbolizes the power of the all seeing eye," explained the mutant warrior, "I can see through any deception, break through the bounds of distance and time, and look beyond the surface where mortal perception can't tread."
"You know there are a lot of guys who would have a ball with an ability like that," commented Peter with a grin.
"This power is no joke, I assure you," said Jack, the mark glowing brighter, "It's what guides me through the most trying battles. It allows me to attain knowledge no other beings could have. I am limited to what I can see. Learn too much about divine forces and your head will explode...literally. But it has served me well."
"Sounds like a hassle. At least you never have to ask boxers or briefs."
"It helped me see who you really are, didn't it?" said Slayer with a smirk, "Hell, I could use it to find out what kind of underwear your girlfriend had. And it's how I know about your untapped potential."
Peter blushed at his comment, but the mysterious warrior maintained a serious poise. Jack grabbed his armor and slipped it back on. Standing in full warrior attire, he addressed young Peter Parker in a more formal manner. Even if he was just a kid, he was a fellow warrior at heart. And warriors always treated one another with respect.
"So you say I have potential," said Peter, still finding this hard to believe, "I'm flattered, but so what?"
"That, Mr. Parker, leads to the other reason I came here," said Slayer, "Yes, you have potential. But potential alone will get you precisely dick. You've got the skills, courage, and heart. But you don't have an ounce of training. So I propose this...let me show you a few things."
"You mean train me?"
"Exactly," said Slayer in an affirmative tone, "I was taught by the best source of warrior knowledge in the universe. And believe me, I don't impart such knowledge on just anybody. In fact, you'd be my first. But I think you have the right stuff, Parker. You do a lot of good with the amazing abilities you've got. But you could do so much more with training. You have the power. It's just a matter of how you use it."
Peter fell silent, not sure of how to respond. He did have a point though. His skills were antiquated at best. Sure, he could beat down casual thugs without a sweat. But when it came to major baddies like the Kingpin, Norman Osborn, and Doc Ock, he always survived by the skin of his teeth.
The memory of the night he nearly lost MJ to the Green Goblin still haunted him. It was the night when one of his greatest fears had been realized. The people he loved were at risk when he put on his mask. And because of his lack of skill, Uncle Ben might not be the only victim of his failure to act.
He barely knew this guy, but he clearly knew a thing or two about fighting. He held his own against Hotshot in a crowded gymnasium. He was a mystery, but there was something in the way he carried himself that stuck out. He clearly had the know-how. But would learning from him make him a better hero?
"I...I don't know," said Peter, full of uncertainty.
"It's okay," assured Jack, "This is a big decision. It doesn't matter what you choose. It's not my place to interfere with your life. I know you just met me, but if what I saw back at the school was any indication, you have all the necessary components to become a true warrior. That, and maybe there's something else about you, Peter...something that goes beyond just a kid with spider powers."
Slayer's eye flashed bright yellow. It was difficult to comprehend with his mortal mind, but he detected a trace of divinity in his soul. He knew the signs all too well. He had something, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. There were many spirits out there, warrior and non-warrior alike. Slayer was familiar with reincarnated warriors and myths about the legendary Anansi spirit of the spider. He wasn't sure which it was, but he was curious to find out.
For Peter, the thought of being a hero was one thing, but a warrior was something else. Looking at what he had accomplished, it all felt so superficial. He ran around in tights and beat up petty criminals and the occasional super-villain. It would be hard to think of himself as a real hero like the Ultimates or the X-men. And if all this running around didn't make him a hero, then was he really doing Uncle Ben justice? Did that show he was a better person or had learned from his loss?
As a hero, maybe it wouldn't. But as a warrior...it just might.
"So you say you can help me..." said Peter, thinking hard about his choice, "Look, I won't deny I'm new at this. I've already gotten into a world of trouble and it's nearly done me in more times than I care to recall."
"And I can help change that," said Slayer confidently, "You just have to give me a chance."
"I don't know," said Peter with uncertainty, "I've never really taken lessons from somebody. And my life is pretty full as it is."
"Doesn't that make learning all the more vital?" argued Slayer, "If you're going to do good with your powers, shouldn't you use every opportunity you can get instead of relying on instincts and luck? Because I gotta tell you, luck is a rarity in this business."
Slayer made a good point. Peter knew all too well luck was rarely on his side. Even though he had gotten out of many jams by the skin of his teeth, he had paid a high price for his inexperience. He lost Gwen because of it and he almost lost MJ. And if there was any chance at stopping such tragedies he had to take it.
Letting out a deep sigh, Peter finally came to his decision.
"I guess I shouldn't pass this chance up," he said, "Fine, you got yourself a pupil."
"Glad to hear it, Peter," smiled Jack, "Now I don't have to erase you're mind too."
Peter flashed him a strange look.
"Kidding," laughed the mutant warrior, "Is my sense of humor that bad?"
"Could you ask me when you don't have your sword?" quipped Peter.
"Maybe some other time."
Giving him an encouraging punch in the arm, Slayer saw all the workings of a great warrior. He also had a hell of a wit, which promised to make things interesting. It went against his usual way of doing things. He was always strict about keeping everybody he came across at arms length. But there was just something about this kid he couldn't get around. He saw the makings of a true warrior in him, but he had a long way to go before he could earn that title.
"We'll start tomorrow," said Slayer, heading towards the cellar exit.
"Tomorrow?" said Peter warily.
"Yeah, on the roof of the Bugle just before you punch in. We'll go over a few basics and take it from there. Just be ready to give it your all. Nobody ever becomes a great warrior by going at it half assed."
"Oh boy," muttered Peter, "I can't wait."
"You'll be fine," assured Jack as he opened the doors, "You do your part and I'll do mine...warrior's promise."
Being a warrior, Jack took honor very seriously. He never made a vow he didn't intend to keep. And looking back at Peter, he looked forward to seeing where it led him. He was a peculiar kid, but he had a lot of spirit. And that was enough in Jack's mind.
"Um...thanks," said Peter, "Does this mean I should start calling you sensei or something?"
"If you want to feel like the Karate Kid, go ahead," shrugged Jack, "Just stay sharp, Parker. I'll see you around."
Jack was about to make his leave, but before he did there was one last burning matter on Peter's mind.
"Wait!" he said, stopping him just before he stepped out, "Just...one last thing. You know, about that all seeing eye of yours?"
"Oh, you mean your girlfriend's underwear?" smirked the mutant warrior.
"Well uh..." he stammered, blushing profusely.
"Hell, if you really want to know...G-string thong."
Peter's eyes widened with astonishment. Of all the things Slayer was capable of seeing, few could equate to this. As much potential as he had, he was still a teenage boy. They would have to work around that if he was to become a great warrior, but for now it was best to take things one step at a time.
"Damn you're gullible, Parker," he grinned.
And before he could do anything else to embarrass himself, Slayer walked out into the yard, disappearing in a haze of purple mist. It was an amazing tight to a teenage boy from Queens, but he didn't dare deny it any further.
Standing in his cellar, Peter sighed in a fit of exhaustion. It had been a long day, but it had taken a very interesting turn, no less. And whatever this mysterious stranger had to teach him, he had a feeling his life would never be the same.
"Wow. A real samurai wants to teach me to fight," he said to himself with a grin, "Jackie Chan, eat your heart out."
Feeling as though he had enough excitement for the day, Peter rubbed his head and retreated to his computer. But just before he sat down, he heard another knock on the small window next to the cellar door.
"Peter? Peter, are you there? It's me," came a familiar voice.
His ears perking up to the familiar tone, he turned to see MJ staring down into the cellar with a concerned look. Seeing her brought a smile to his face after thinking he was going crazy. And as he opened the doors to let her in, the smile never faded as the beautiful redhead approached him with great concern.
"Hey Mary," he said, trying to sound as though he hadn't just talked to some mystical samurai.
"Hey yourself," she scolded him, "You scared me back there. What the hell happened? Is something wrong?"
Peter was silent for a moment, debating on whether or not he should tell her about what happened. Who would believe that a warrior and a demon fought in the middle of their gym and wiped everybody's minds of the whole thing anyways? Then again, this was MJ. She was the one dating Spiderman, so maybe she deserved the benefit of the doubt.
On the other hand, he was still sorting this out himself. He could barely rationalize it and he was a science nerd. Going over the whole mess in his head, he quickly concluded it would be easier not to try and explain it this time.
"No, everything's fine," he told her, "I just freaked back there."
"Freaked?" questioned MJ.
"Yeah uh...I thought my spider sense was going off again. Turns out pep rallies are just as dangerous as the Kingpin."
"Now you're just being paranoid," said Mary Jane with a laugh.
Her fears seemed to ease as she reached out and touched his forehead, trying to see if he was sick in any way.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"I promise you, I'm fine."
"You sure?" she said playfully, "You're not having some mental breakdown that's going to have me calling 911?"
"Not for now," said Peter, returning with similar banter, "Give me till the end of the week. Maybe I'll be crazy then."
"At the rate we're going, I will too. So at least we won't be alone."
"Works for me," said Peter with a warm smile.
The young couple shared another round of laughs. It was times like this Peter was grateful that she had her in his life. Even when he thought he was going crazy, she was there to keep him grounded. And if he wasn't afraid to save her from a real demon, then that was all the assurance he needed.
"So you wanna raid the fridge before my Aunt gets home?" he asked casually.
"Totally!" she said, lacing her arm with his, "You know how to treat a girl to fine cuisine."
"I have to if I'm the amazing Spiderman," smirked Peter.
"Oh just shut up and kiss me."
As Peter and Mary Jane sifted through the kitchen for whatever treats they could find, the stress over what happened in the gym soon faded. But while they were enjoying themselves, a dark figure emerged from the shadows of a house across the streets. Like living mist the ominous presence formed slowly, making nearby plants whither and die. And when the shroud solidified, a pair of dark fiery eyes locked onto the Parker house.
"You..." gasped a low, sinister voice, "I know you're in there."
The distinct demonic tone of Hotshot made all life around him shutter. His presence seemed to make all forms of life tremble, as if he embodied death itself. His figure was not as imposing as it was when he faced Slayer. His body was still reeling from defeat. Yet as always, death did not take him from this world.
Heaven hated him. Hell couldn't handle him. The mortal world was the only untamed place he could tread. As a man and a demon, he had the potential to inflict so much suffering. But as always, that meddlesome warrior, Slayer, just had to put a damper on his fun. To him, Slayer would always be a mortal enemy. But he was not the target in his vengeful sights this time.
"Parker...Peter Parker," he growled with seething hatred, "I could have had it. I could have won this time. But you just had to be the hero!"
He desperately wanted to just ambush him while he was in his own home and peel away his flesh until he begged for mercy, but as he stepped into the sunlight, he howled in pain.
"Augh! Damn! Still too weak!" he cursed, grasping his arm, "I swear when I get my hand on that warrior I'll..."
But he stopped himself there, focusing back on the Parker house. As much as he hated Slayer, he wasn't the reason he had lost this time. It was all because of that punk kid. There was something about him, he could feel it. He was no ordinary human. Normal humans don't punch that hard.
This kid was going to be a challenge. He wasn't some run of the mill nobody who he could just torture and feed off of. He was a fighter. He had a real heart. It sickened the demonic madman, but would make his suffering all the more delicious in the end.
"No...Slayer can wait," he grinned to himself, "This kid can't. He's a strong one, I'll give him that. But NOBODY crosses Hotshot and lives to tell about it! NOBODY!"
His black, rock-like skin simmered with heat. Fueled by his rage, he followed the shadows to get a closer look. The kid was in there. He could feel it. But if he was going to make him and Slayer suffer for their pestilence, he was going to have to do a little planning.
"You better watch your back kid," he said, his fiery eyes fixated on the house, "From now on, you're tops on my list for suffering! I'll make you, your girlfriend, and everybody else you care about feel my wrath! I just need to bide my time and build up my strength again. Until then, I'll be watching you Peter Parker. Oh I'll be watching you!"
And in a blackened shroud of mist, the demonic figure faded into the shadows. Yet even as everything became quiet once more, the menacing eyes of Hotshot never diverted from the house of Peter Parker.
He needed time to put himself back together. But being a demon and a man, he had all the time in the universe. He just needed to find the opportunity. Only then would this little punk know the consequences of crossing Hotshot.
HOTSHOT HAS PETER IN HIS SIGHTS! REVIEW WHILE YOU STILL CAN!