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 3: Training Daze
Weeks had passed since Peter's first visit from the mysterious warrior known as Slayer. Since then, his unofficial training in the ways of the warrior began with session on the roof of the Daily Bugle three times a week. As if he didn't have enough to deal with from school, work, and home, training with Slayer added a new challenge to his already complicated life. But there was no turning back now. He was officially training to become a warrior.
Peter quickly learned that Slayer was a tough teacher. He was abrasive, blunt, and demanding. He didn't hold back when they spared or showed him moves. And every time he thought he was getting close to matching his level, he'd throw something new into the mix and push him further. What Slayer lacked in social skills, he made up for in his knowledge of Bushido. Learning to fight like a warrior was one thing, but learning to think like one at the same time added an extra dimension of difficulty. But despite these challenges, Peter was determined to learn it.
However, it did come with a painful price at times.
"Ugh!" grunted Peter as he fell to the hard gravel of the roof again, "Not again."
Peter's limbs were throbbing as he panted hard and pulled himself up. Slayer was still in a combat ready stance. He was teaching Peter some new take-down moves, but he was struggling to put them into practice. But the young warrior was beginning to show signs of fatigue as well, hinting that Peter was making progress in matching his skill.
"You're getting better, Parker," said Slayer approvingly, "But still not good enough."
"You've been saying that for weeks," groaned Peter, "At this rate I'm going to have an intimate relationship with every stone on the roof."
"The ways of the warrior take time to absorb and you've only been at it for a month. So don't be too discouraged."
"I'll stop being discouraged when my arm pops back into its socket," he muttered.
Slayer rolled his eyes as he approached his young friend and checked out his wounds. There was nothing serious, but he had plenty of scratches and no shortage of bruises. He already had scars from previous battles and Slayer wasn't looking to add to them. But if he was going to learn this, he would have to suck it up.
"You'll be fine," he told him callously, "Just remember, your enemies won't be nice enough to give you a breather."
"Don't have to tell me twice. I've already been shot, thrown out of a skyscraper, and trapped on a plane that ended up in Brazil."
"You're lucky that's all that happened to you," said Slayer in a serious tone, "You could be dead and so could your loved ones."
"Don't remind me," said Peter in a morose tone, "I've already lost my uncle and a good friend."
"And you may lose more if you don't learn how to fight like a warrior," said Slayer, taking an offensive stance, "Carrying such burdens are never easy. But they should serve to strengthen you...not weaken you. Again!"
"Wait! What about..."
But Peter didn't get a chance to debate the mutant warrior as he lunged forth and attacked. He was so quick his spider sense barely picked it up, but he was fast enough to block an oncoming roundhouse kick with his shoulder. His body still stung, but he muscled through it and fought back.
"Argh!" he yelled upon feeling the hard blow to his already bruised shoulder.
"Tough it out, Parker! Come on! Fight me!"
With a determined grunt, Peter launched his own attack. Using his spider-like agility, he leaped around his sensei with great speed, hitting him with a barrage of punching combos. He didn't allow Slayer to move around as much this time, which helped him gain the upper hand. But his greater size and strength helped him counter every attack, forcing Peter to change his tactics.
"You want a fight Mr. Samurai? Here's my Crouching Spider Hidden Ass kick!" taunted Peter.
Using the fast paced technique Slayer taught him, Peter hit the mutant warrior with a barrage of kicks. And because of his agility, he could hit him faster and harder than a normal human. Slayer backed towards the center, narrowly avoiding the fast paced attacks. He tried to go on the offensive, but Peter wasn't giving him the chance this time.
"You're the one tasting the pavement this time, Slayer!"
"Don't get cocky," said Slayer with a slight grin.
Peter went in for the victory, leaping onto the air conditioner and shooting himself towards Slayer in a high speed flying kick. But the mutant warrior was ready for him, countering with a perfectly executed spin move that allowed him to grab his leg in mid flight, use his momentum to spin him back around, and fling him into the air conditioner unit.
"Whoa momma!" yelled Peter as he hit the unit, leaving a sizable dent.
Peter rubbed his head, groaning in pain as he pulled himself up. He didn't know what hurt more, his body or his pride. He thought he had come close this time, but as always Slayer brought him down to show he was still the student.
"I think that's enough for today," said Slayer, extending his hand to help him up, "You okay?"
"I will when the bells stop ringing in my head," he muttered.
"Sorry, but you left yourself way too open there. You were asking to have your ass handed to you."
"Funny, I thought I just ordered a salad."
"It's nothing to joke about, Peter," said Slayer more seriously, "Give your enemies enough chances and eventually they'll take them. Victory can only be assured when you're the one dictating the odds."
"You make it sound easy. But why does it have to hurt so much?" he groaned.
Slayer grasped the young man's shoulder, looking at him with pride and scorn. He had all the makings of a great warrior, but he was still just a kid. He had a lot to learn if he was going to continue fighting his battles and he still had plenty of growing up to do in terms of knowledge and maturity.
"Peter, as your teacher, I can only teach so much. Being a warrior is not just about being able to pull of quick moves."
"But it sure helps," muttered Peter.
"Only as much as you allow it," the mutant warrior went on, "In the heat of battle, it may not always come down to who has the better moves. More often then not, the victor is the one who thinks on his feet and fights with all his heart and soul."
"And exactly how much of that have I accomplished?" wondered Peter.
"Yeah, that's encouraging," he groaned.
"Peter, you've got a lot to learn about this line of work," said Slayer, shaking his head in exasperation, "You've got the power, but you have to learn to use it. You're spider powers grant you great strength and that mouth of yours gives you a distinctive edge in the psychological warfare department."
"My mouth, huh? Think I could sell it to the military?" he joked.
"As a weapon of mass destruction," said Slayer with a grin, "But even with these strengths, I can only teach you the technique. It's up to you to find something to take with you into the heart of battle. Only then will you have the power to overcome the challenges that await. Understand?"
Taking a deep breath, Peter shook his head respectfully to the man who had taken the time to show him this new way of thinking.
"Good," said Slayer with a smile, "We're done today."
"Finally!" he said, checking his watch, "Between these sessions, work, and school my social life is becoming endangered."
"You'll tough it out," said Slayer, fixing his armor and hitching his sword over his back.
"Wish I had your confidence," he sighed, still rubbing his neck.
"Wishing is useless. Doing is so much more valuable."
Rolling his eyes, Slayer reached into his pocket and pulled out a small flask of glowing red liquid. Looking over at Peter, it was easy to forget he had a life. Jack's world was a toss up between fighting the forces of darkness and wallowing in booze and hookers during downtime. In addition to these sessions, he deserved a little help.
"Here, you've earned this today," he said, giving him the flask.
"What is it?" said Peter, looking anxiously at the strange liquid, "Please tell me it's not the blood of a werewolf or something."
"Sorry, but I used that stuff up last week," shrugged Slayer, earning him a strange look, "What you've got there is an elixir. It should help ease the pain and give you a boost for your job."
"Really? Like coffee or pep pills?"
"Only without the nasty side effects," said Slayer, walking over towards the ledge, "Trust me, it'll help. 9 out of 10 hookers agree will back me up."
Peter cast the mysterious warrior an odd look. He knew about Slayer's appetite for certain vices, but it was amazing to think that a warrior so strong could also be so wretchedly human. He couldn't help but be curious as to why Jack drowned himself in such things. There had to be a reason. Someone doesn't become an emotional cripple overnight. He remained very closed on the issue, but Peter didn't want to pry. Something told him it was far from pleasant.
"So then...same time this Friday?" said Peter as he drank the elixir.
"I'll be here," said Slayer, standing on the ledge of the building, "Until then, I'm going to see how many hookers I can fuck before my luck catches up to me."
"Uh sure," said Peter awkwardly, "How the hell do you get the money for all stuff anyways?"
"In case you've forgotten, Atlantic City isn't far from here and having an all seeing eye goes a long way in poker and low end lotteries," grinned Jack, "Just need enough to keep me under the radar, that's all. It's easier that way. As long as I've got enough to get me through the night, I'm sane for another day."
"Well good luck with that. Just as long as I can have Saturday free. I promised MJ I'd take her out."
"You do that," said Slayer, casting the young man a smile, "Treat her to something nice. Just remember..."
"I know. Don't tell her about you," muttered Peter, "My lips are sealed."
"Be sure they are," said the mutant warrior as a purple mist arose, consuming his figure until it was out of sight, "Now go on, earn your paycheck, and go home to your family."
In a strong gust of wind, the purple mist faded, taking Slayer with it. Peter stood for a moment, gazing upon the area from where the mysterious warrior had disappeared. He had learned a lot from this man, but he still knew very little about what made him tick. But he was going out of his way to help him and that was enough for Peter Parker.
Man, wish I could get around like that. Oh well. Time to get back to Planet Reality.
Grabbing his backpack he set next to the door, Peter entered the Daily Bugle for his usual afternoon shift. Slipping into a nearby bathroom, he changed into his dress shirt and tie. Checking his appearance, he was surprised to see the bruises from his session already fading.
Wow. That stuff really works. Guy may be a little offbeat, but he knows how to make a good potion.
Already feeling energized, he descended the stairs to his cube. Checking the clock, he was just on time. But as his usual luck would have it, he ran into his temperamental boss, J. Jonah Jameson.
"Parker! You're late again," he muttered, exhaling cigar smoke in the process.
"Uh, actually I'm right on..."
"Less talking more working, kid," he said, giving him a thick stack of papers, "I need that website up for the big press conference with Nick Fury and his sideshow super team."
"I'll get right on it, sir," said Peter, holding back his groan at the sight of the thick stack of papers.
"Be sure that you do," said Jameson, taking another puff of his cigar, "And get yourself a new watch. We got rules here, you know?"
With one last threatening glance Jameson stormed, leaving a thick trail of cigar smoke. And as Peter let out a hard cough, he shook his head in exasperation. Not only does his boss scold him for being late when he was on time, but he had the gall to blow smoke in his face right in front of a 'Please Don't Smoke' sign.
It was yet another touch of irony in the life of Peter Parker.
Clouds rolled in over the skies of New York as evening set in. The city that never slept descended into the chaos of rush hour, flooding every major bridge and parkway with traffic. But just off the docks near the George Washington Bridge, a lone boat swayed in the choppy current.
"They don't pay us enough for this," muttered one of the men on the deck, "Please tell me why we're still our here."
"Because we're under Wilson Fisk's dollar and you know what happens if we don't give him his money's worth," replied the second man at the main helm of the small fishing vessel.
"Wilson Fisk? You mean the same guy who murdered someone with his bear hands on tape and got off because of high priced lawyers?"
"The very same," replied the second man grimly, "And if we're turning in early, you're telling him why."
There was a brief silence between the two men. But even as the wind intensified, they conceded to their predicament.
"We'll give David another hour," sighed the man, "Like it'll do us any good. How anybody could find anything in this muck is beyond me."
"Tell me about it. Whatever it is, it must be valuable for him to keep at this crazy crap shoot."
"As if anything could stay intact long enough in these waters," muttered the captain, "If what the hippies say about this river is half true, it's probably a wad of dust on the bottom of the..."
Suddenly, the line hanging over the end of the boat began twitching, snapping the two men out of their daze.
"What the...is he low on air?" said the panicked skipper.
"No, his tank was filled to last a full hour," said the captain as he scrambled to the edge, "Something must be wrong! Let's drag him up!"
Frantically, the two men pulled at the thick rubber tubing, using a mechanical winch along with brute strength. They weren't sure why they were being signaled, but they weren't taking any chances.
Soon, bubbles began rising from the water along the side of the boat. It was hard to see because of the mucky water and the worsening weather. But through the murky sea, a figure broke the surface.
"Guys! I found it!" exclaimed the diver, frantically swimming towards the boat.
"Found what?" exclaimed the captain as he helped pull him in.
As soon as the man in the diving suit stumbled onto the deck, he set down a small object he had been protectively cradling in his hands. It was gray, wet, and covered in muck from the murky waters. But their excitement was hard to contain.
"Get ready to retire boys!" said the diver with an enthused grin, "Because when Fisk sees this we'll have our own island!"
Later that night at Fisk Tower in the heart of New York, a mysterious figure in a trench coat walked through the pouring rain into the main lobby. Since it was past business hours, much of the area was dark. But as the security cameras caught a glimpse of the visitor, all the locks disengaged.
"Identity confirmed. Security clearance granted."
The doors opened for the striking woman. And as she stepped out of the rain, she tossed the trench coat aside, revealing her impressive figure. Bearing tight leather pants and an eye popping top that accentuated every one of her womanly curves, most men would have trembled in her presence. If not for her looks, then definitely for the metal sighs she carried on each hip.
Without a word, she entered the main elevator and hit a series of buttons. Suddenly, a hidden compartment opened.
"Please identify," said a mechanical voice.
"Elektra," she stated firmly.
A small voice reader processed the information and a little red light turned green.
"Identity accepted. Penthouse access granted."
And with a soft hum, the elevator ascended the large tower to the very top. The lights flickered as it passed through the highly secured shaft, yet Elektra remained unafraid as she grasped a small object concealed in an inauspicious handbag. And when the doors finally opened, she arrived in an elaborately decorated bedroom adorned with expensive fixtures and an array of medical equipment.
In the center of the room, a king sized bed dominated the area. And at the side was a large, imposing man looking over an unmoving figure.
"Fisk..." said Elektra, keeping her distance.
"Do you have it?" he asked, not taking his eyes off the figure in the bed.
Without another word, she reached into the bag and pulled out a small stone with ancient text and mysterious images. Turning to see for himself if it was real, the big man many knew as the Kingpin of crime looked upon the relic with his penetrating gaze. For a moment, he said nothing. But as he took in the sight, his face lit up.
"At last..." he said, a smile forming on his face, "The tablet of soul is mine!"
Elektra watched indifferently as Fisk's hands trembled as he held the relic, but even she couldn't help but be curious as to why a man of such power was so worked up over a mere stone.
"What is this thing?" she asked, folding her arms casually.
Turning back to the unmoving figure on the bed, the Kingpin's expression turned to one of sorrow. Speaking not with his usual malice, he took the figure's hand and grasped it gently with his imposing grip.
"It is my wife's last hope for survival."
Across the city, lightning flashed as the rain fell harder. Atop the imposing buildings of the New York City skyline, the malicious figure of Hotshot loomed over the darkened metropolis. Still drained of strength from his previous fight, he remained in the shadows. His sights never diverted from the punk who crossed him, but he had yet to make his move. He still needed to bide his time. He wasn't going to move in until he had a plan. If this kid was going to suffer, it would have to be absolute. His spirit, his heart, and every fiber of his being must be broken. Until then, he stayed out of sight, keep recovering his strength, and learn about his enemy.
From what he saw, he had plenty more reason to hate him. Parker was a do-gooder who just so happened to have this great power that he chose to use for good because his precious uncle kicked the bucket. It was so pathetic he wretched just thinking about it. His hatred was further fueled by the discovery that Slayer was training him. That meant two of his most hated foes were working together. And whatever plan he came up with, he would have to ensure it handled both of them.
"God I hate this kid," he mused, watching him as he swung through the rain in his Spider-Man costume, "I completely fucking hate him! Lousy little wannebe! Tries to be a hero just because he feels guilty! This little punk has to suffer! Oh yes! I'm gonna enjoy this one!"
Grunting with frustration, he was tempted to attack him now. But in his current state, he wouldn't make him suffer the way he wanted. He needed an edge. He needed a plan. And until he got it, he was going to stay hidden.
"Bedtime Parker," he said short of breath, "But you better rest up. Because when I'm ready you're gonna..."
Suddenly, the imposing human/demon froze, his evil eyes erupting into a halo of fiery red flames. A new power had arisen. It was strong, potent, and just there for the taking. And it was already in the tangled web of Peter Parker's life.
It was like an early Christmas gift to a very naughty child. And as Hotshot took in the sweet scent of his power, his eyes drifted back to the figure of Spiderman, who was quickly fading in the distance. He was inclined to follow, but had just been given an opportunity too great to pass up.
"The soul stone...the lost power of the ancients! I can't believe it. Of all the pricks to find that piece of shit, it just happens to be the fat-ass who has a grudge against my new greatest enemy! God I love irony!"
Turning away from the swinging figure of Peter Parker, Hotshot disappeared into the darkness. Only this time, he had a destination and a plan.
"Get ready, Peter Parker," his sinister voice echoed through the cold winds, "Your worst nightmare is coming. And everything you've ever fought for...everything you've ever cared about...is going to come crashing down."
In the grim and gritty streets of Brooklyn, the rain fell mercilessly against the dirty windows of a cheap motel. In one of the many rooms, three attractive women lay naked in a bed, already sleeping soundly. In the bathroom, however, it was far less peaceful.
"Huaaagggghhhh!" choked Jack as he puked his guts up into the toilet, "Augggghhhhh!"
Bent limply over the bowl, the mutant warrior groaned as he spit up the last contents of his stomach. Wiping his mouth, he flushed the toilet and collapsed against the wall, allowing his insides to collect.
"Mmm...Jack? Are you okay in there?" said one of the naked women from the bedroom.
Grasping his churning stomach, Jack yelled through the closed door.
"I'm fine! You're money's on the table. Go back to sleep."
Wiping the cold sweat from his brow, the young man went limp against the wall. Looking in the mirror, he sure didn't look like a proud warrior. He looked like a guy who just went on a six hour bender, banged three hookers, and puked his guts up. As nice as it was to get a release, the hangover kicked his ass more than half the enemies he faced.
"Ugh," he groaned, "That's the last time I mix cocaine, whisky, and ecstasy in the same drink."
Pulling himself up from the floor, he bent over the sink and splashed cold water on his face. His hair was a mess and he was in need of a good shave. Some would have called his behavior self destructive, but to Jack it was the only thing that kept him sane.
"New York City. Hookers, drugs, demons, heroes, and everything in between. This really is the best and worst city in the world."
Rubbing his blood shot eyes he grabbed his boxers and slipped them back on. He was tempted to join the naked women on the bed, but sleep was the last thing on his mind. Right now, he just needed a little peace and quiet to meditate and collect his thoughts.
Suddenly, a hard pain shot through his head.
"Argh!" he grunted, keeling over the sink.
The symbol of the all seeing eye flashed bright red, bombarding his mind with a wave of new images. Still reeling from booze and drugs, he couldn't make sense of it at first. Then, he saw an all too familiar smile.
"Hotshot!" he gasped, seething with hatred, "You evil son of a demon! What are you up to this time?"
Not sticking around to make the same mistake twice, Slayer shook off his hangover and grabbed his things. And with the rain still pouring, he disappeared into a cloud of purple mist.
Guess I'll have to blow away his sorry ass again. But first, I need to do a little investigating on this so called soul stone.
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