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 5: Distant Past
The day after Slayer's impromptu lesson, Peter was out of it. He woke up, ate breakfast, and went to school without saying a word, barely getting a chance to say goodbye to Aunt May. He was still reeling from the beating Slayer gave him last night. It was bad enough his body was sore, but the harsh words of the warrior hung over his mind heavily. And no matter what he did, he couldn't escape it.
So I'm going to have to make a choice...or something like that. Just what the hell kind of a choice was he talking about? And why now of all time?
Weaving through the halls of Midtown, Peter got his books out of his locker and prepared for class. He didn't remember doing much homework. Chances are he'd get yet another lecture from his teachers. He used to be so good about getting things done. But with all these complicated thoughts about what he was fighting for going through his mind, homework seemed somewhat trivial.
Suddenly, a football hit him right on his head.
"Whoops! Sorry, Parker! Guess my aim is off," laughed Flash Thompson as he, Kong, and his football buddies laughed.
Flashing them a featureless glance, Peter just walked away. It was not his usual response, but he had too much on his mind and didn't want to waist precious brain cells on brain dead jocks.
"Whoa, not even a frown? What's with him today?" said Kong with a confused look.
"With Parker, who knows?" shrugged Flash, "I swear the guy's a space case. Ever since Gwen died and his Uncle kicked it he's been really messed up."
Some merely shrugged at his logic, but others were not so quick to accept his remarks.
"Yeah, that's REAL sensitive, Flash!" scorned Liz, storming off, "I'll bet you have to compensate for a LOT of shortcomings if you're picking on someone else's suffering!"
Flash was silenced by Liz's harsh words, but the rest of his friends couldn't help but snicker in thinking about what she meant by 'shortcomings.'
"Ooh! Nasty!" laughed Kong.
"Shut up, Kong."
As first period drew near, Peter sat at his desk and started doodling. He drew things like yin/yang symbols, spiders, and other such scribbles. And over and over, Slayer's words echoed in his mind.
"The heart of every warrior is the cause he fights for. Without that, he's just another guy with a sword."
Suddenly, he was shook out of his daze by a familiar voice.
"Peter? Hey Peter!" said Mary Jane, shaking him to get his attention, "What the hell happened back there?"
"Huh? What?" he stammered.
"Uh hello? Flash hit you with a football."
"Nothing new there," quipped Peter.
"But not even a comeback? A one-liner? A remark about how his life peaked three weeks ago and why he'll be pumping gas after graduation?"
As much as he needed to laugh, Peter Parker had too much on his mind. He let out a deep sigh and cast his girlfriend a reassuring look. Even though in the back of his mind, he knew she'd see right through it.
"Sorry, MJ. I'm just not in the mood today."
"Aw, what's wrong?" she asked playfully, "Something happen yesterday? Something you want to talk about 'in private' after class?"
Turning back to his doodles, Peter hesitated before answering. Slayer told him many times that it was best not to let people in on his training. It was just one of the warrior's many quirks when it came to remaining anonymous. But Peter still managed a smile, hoping to lay his girlfriend's worries to rest at least for the moment.
"No, just didn't sleep well last night," he told her, "Call it a Parker hangover."
"Right..." grinned MJ, looking unconvinced, "And Captain America wears red, white, and blue as a fashion statement."
Peter shook his head in amusement. Mary Jane always had a way of cheering him up. But it only made him think harder about Slayer's ominous words.
"You sure you're okay?" she asked seriously.
"As sure as any guy as messed up as me can get," he replied.
"If you say so," sighed Mary Jane, "But that doesn't mean I believe you."
The bell rang as everybody filed in for class. Looking back over at MJ, Peter smiled. He was lucky to have her in his life. Without her, there was little doubt his life would be a lot bleaker and so would Spider-Man's. But at the same time, Slayer's words came back to haunt him. And even as class began, they echoed in his mind.
"A time will come when you'll have to fight knowing you failed everybody. And after you've lost everything, your Aunt, your world, and even MJ, you have to ask yourself...will you be able to keep fighting? Will you be able to carry on?"
On one of the many piers in New York harbor, Jack Robinson sat on the edge looking out over the busy waters in a daze. It was rare moment of peace for the young warrior. He always enjoyed scenes like this over harbors. They reminded him of his home back in San Francisco. Watching boats come and go through the choppy waters, his mind drifted as he sat in a meditative position trying to get some answers.
Just like back home...except the Golden Gate looks a lot better at sunrise.
Closing his eyes and holding his hands together, he chanted in an ancient mantra. The symbols on his hands glowed softly and the mark over his eye flashed yellow. His face contorted in discomfort as a rush of images surged through his mind. Yet there was nothing in the visions that he hadn't already seen before.
"Damn!" he cursed, "Something's blocking me out. Or more likely...someone."
Rubbing his sore head, he got up and stood over the peer looking out towards the George Washington Bridge. Standing in a daze, a look of great sorrow fell upon his face. And through his great strength and unparalleled skill, a tear fell down his face. Memories of the past still haunted his twisted mind. Mixed in the powers of the all seeing eye and the limitations of his fragile human mind, his poise sunk to the harsh reality that was his life.
"Can't give up..." he mused, "I won't let it happen again!"
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a lotus blossom and carefully set it in the choppy waters. The gentle fragrance brought back some of the rare pleasant memories of his life. There weren't many, but they were worth hanging onto. As the flower drifted away, the warrior clutched his fists in determination. Whatever this power was, he was going to stop it.
Layla...I promised you. And I swear on my honor, I won't let you down again.
The bell rang for lunch and Peter and Mary Jane met outside on one of the picnic tables under the shade of a tree. The first part of his day went by in a blur and Peter was still out of it. He put on his usual ruse so it wouldn't show, but that didn't stop some of his teachers from scolding him for not paying attention. And now that she had the chance, Mary Jane was there to confront him.
"So..." said MJ.
"So what?" he said, biting into his sandwich.
"So are you gonna tell me or am I going to have to throw a tantrum?"
"What are you, four?" laughed Peter.
"I may have to be if you keep acting this stubborn."
Peter smiled, but still hesitated. He didn't like keeping secrets from Mary Jane. Besides, it was impossible to lie to her when she knew him so well. But still, Peter remained reluctant.
"Come on, tiger," she said more seriously, "I swear, you can tell me anything. What's wrong?"
Taking a deep breath, Peter set his food down and faced his girlfriend. He didn't want to give her the whole story, but he was sick of holding it in. Besides, he wasn't getting anywhere thinking about this. Maybe MJ could offer some insight.
"Mary...remember the night when the Green Goblin abducted you?" he began anxiously.
"As if I could forget," muttered Mary Jane, "Why do you ask?"
"It's just that...I've been doing a lot of thinking," mused Peter, his tone growing more distant, "I've been wondering what would have happened if I didn't save you."
"Didn't save me?"
"Yeah, as in I failed and you died because of me."
His tone becoming more strained, Mary Jane scooted in closer, slipping an arm around his waist and giving him a firm hug. He relaxed in her warmth, but was still filled inner turmoil.
"But you didn't fail," she reminded him.
"I know, but what if I did?" he went on, "Maybe I succeeded last time, but what about next time? Or the time after that? It only takes one mistake and I'll have another burden to carry for the rest of my life."
"I'm serious, Mary!" said Peter, getting more hysterical, "There may come a day when I do fail. And if that day comes and you and Aunt May pay the price...I'm not sure I could carry on as Spider-Man or Peter Parker for that matter."
His head sinking in a fit of uncertainty, Peter took his girlfriend's hand and gave it a firm squeeze. Mary Jane tried to be there, but she could still feel so much distress.
"Is that what's been bothering you? Thinking about all these horrible things that only 'might' happen?"
"It's not just that," said Peter, shaking his head, "MJ...do you think I'm a hero?"
"You saved a pretty girl from a big green monster," quipped Mary Jane with a humored grin, "Isn't that the definition of a hero?"
"Maybe to some..." mused Peter, "But looking at other heroes like the Ultimates, the X-men, and the Fantastic Four I can't help but wonder whether I'm a hero or just some kid running around in a costume."
"Now you're just reading too much into the Bugle," said Mary Jane, sounding more worried.
"Well maybe there was some truth to ol' Jameson's words," said Peter, "Maybe I am just a guy hiding under a mask."
"But you do that to protect the people you care about," argued MJ, "You said it yourself."
"I know I said it, but that's not the whole reason," he sighed, "What if I didn't have a family or girlfriend to protect? Would I still wear one then?"
"Well let's hope it never comes to that," said Mary Jane.
"I pray it never does. But when I think about it, I keep seeing myself as hiding behind that mask even when there's nothing left to hide from. And you know what that says about me?"
"I'm afraid," said Peter in shame, "I'm afraid of being a real hero."
Mary Jane looked at the young vigilante with shock. Peter had never gone this overboard before. She knew he had his doubts, especially after Gwen died. But she had no idea it was this bad. There was never any doubt to MJ that he was a hero, but Peter didn't see it that way. All he saw were failures.
"How can you say that, Peter? After all the people you've helped, me included, how can you think you're not a hero?"
"Because I never would have saved all those people if I didn't have Uncle Ben's death on my conscious," he said grimly, "If he had lived, those people would have died and I wouldn't have lost a second of sleep over it. And I...I don't know how to feel about that."
"You're dwelling on this too much, Peter!" said Mary Jane, growing increasingly frustrated, "The point is you DID save those people."
"But that doesn't make me a hero. It just makes me a kid who feels guilty for not doing the right thing when he should have."
Mary Jane wasn't sure how to respond to something like this. She wasn't a costumed crime fighter. Diverting his gaze, Peter was at a loss. She couldn't possibly understand. Nothing she said seemed to do Peter any good. It was frustrating beyond definition and it hit Mary Jane hard.
"So I guess I was one of those people?" she said bitterly, "Did you save me from Norman Osborn just because you were guilty?"
"Don't start again, Peter!" she muttered, gathering her food and walking away, "It sounds like you need to be thinking. You've clearly forgotten. Come back to me when you finally get your head out of your ass."
"Mary Jane!" he called out.
But it was no use. Mary Jane was already gone and Peter was left alone with all the more reason to hang his head low.
Way to go, Parker. You just pushed away the one person in the world you can confide in. Why don't you go home and yell at Aunt May for giving you too many hugs?
Feeling even lower than before, Peter grabbed his sandwich and took another bite. He let out a sigh of defeat and pulled back into his own lost world. It was pathetic. Doc Ock, Shocker, and Norman Osborn could hit him hard, but only he could make himself feel this miserable. He was his own worst enemy in a ways and he just took it out on the girl he loved.
"That's some relationship you've got there," came a voice from under the tree, "Jerry Springer must have you guys on speed dial."
Turning to see the warrior leaning casually against the tree, Peter cast a disgruntled look and turned back to his food. Slayer expected as such. He arrived in his less formal attire. Instead of his armor, he was wearing a pair of torn jeans and a vintage San Francisco 49ers football jersey with the number sixteen and the name of Joe Montana on the back. He could have come as a warrior, but he needed to talk to Peter man-to-man, not teacher to student.
"What do you want? Come to kick my ass and rip me apart again?"
"With a hangover strong enough to down a rhino? I'll pass," quipped Slayer.
Stepping into the sunlight, Slayer sat besides Peter at the picnic table while he ate his food. Peter still wasn't making eye contact, but Slayer could hardly blame him. He sat there staring into the distance, waiting for one of them to break the silence. Never one for conversation, the young warrior just stared out into space.
"Aren't you going to say something?" asked Peter.
"I don't know," shrugged Slayer, "What should I say?"
"Oh, I don't know. How about 'gee Peter, I'm sorry for causing you so much grief yesterday.' Or how about 'are you feeling any better after the pounding I gave you?'"
"That's not how you teach a warrior," said Slayer seriously, "No warrior in the history of the universe has ever attained greatness without confronting the cold hard truth and getting the wind knocked out of his spirit."
"Sounds like a hell of a motivation technique," muttered Peter, "Maybe you should copyright it and make your own infomercial."
"It was necessary, Peter."
"Yeah, yeah. It's the way of the warrior," said Peter, his words dripping with sarcasm, "You can only learn by having your ass handed to you on a regular basis."
Sensing his stubborn mood, Slayer fell silent. His communication skills were by far his weakest. He could take on demons and madmen, but he couldn't hold a decent conversation. Peter was used to being frustrated like this, but the warrior didn't let it persist. Even if he was an emotional cripple, he tried for the sake of holding on to the first real friend he had in a long time.
"You're really lucky, Peter," he said, "You've got a nice life here."
"Uh...thanks," muttered Peter, "Maybe you didn't see it with that eye of yours, but my parents are dead, I work for a jerk, and I just had a fight with my girlfriend."
"You'll make up. She loves you too much and you love her," said Slayer, forcing a smile.
"That eye of yours can see even that?" scoffed Peter.
"No, I just happen to know the signs," mused the warrior, "The way you look at her...the way she looks at you. You see each other and you feel completely vulnerable. Every barrier you put up around yourself crumbles under her gaze and you just want to take her in your arms and never let her go because you're afraid it's just a wonderful dream and you'll wake up the second you feel real happiness."
His words struck Peter strongly. Growing curious, he set his food town and turned to the mysterious warrior. He still had that thousand-mile stare in his eyes, not turning to face him. Now he was the one in a daze ranting on like the drunken nobody he was.
"You think your life his so horrible, but no matter how bad your day goes you come home to an Aunt who will sooth away your pain. You come home to a beautiful girl who will hold you in your darkest hour. That's a strength I'll never match."
Holding his head low, Peter's disgruntle look faded. Jack was a complicated man, but he was serious. He was usually very quiet when it came to emotional issues, but not this time. And from what Peter could make out, he started piecing a few things together about the enigmatic figure that had so suddenly entered his life.
"Were you ever in love?" he asked seriously.
A look of great pain fell on Jack Robinson's face. He could take hits by monsters and get back up, ready to fight. But whenever he dwelled on this, he was as weak as an old man.
"I was...once," he said, his voice heavily strained, "In fact I was around your age when it happened."
Not knowing what more to say, Peter listened. He couldn't believe a guy so strong who spent his free time getting drunk and banging hookers could be such a wreck. But looking at him now, he was completely vulnerable. He was not just the warrior, Slayer. He was Jack Robinson, a lonely broken shell of a man.
"It was a feeling that had no equal. It was as if God put an angel on this world just for me. I grew up without parents and spent most of my life living in shit holes on the streets, but having her by my side made all that pain go away. Her name...was Layla."
Slayer had to stop when he said the name he so rarely uttered. Yet he confided in Peter because he had a right to know as his pupil. Looking at him, there were so many similarities between them. They lost their parents, lived a life of great strife, and had power they never asked for. But there was only so much this young teen could understand.
"What happened to her?" said Peter, sensing it had to be bad.
"She died," said Jack, swallowing the hard lump in his throat, "She died in the worst imaginable way...right in front of my eyes. I watched her suffer until her last breath. Even when she kept crying out to me I couldn't do anything. I failed her. I failed her in the same way you failed your Uncle Ben."
It was new to Peter, but it finally made sense. Slayer was an emotional cripple with great physical prowess. But he fought his battles with a broken heart. No wonder he kept to himself. And of all the people he could have taught, he chose Peter. And now he was beginning to understand why.
"I...I had no idea," said Peter with a hint of remorse, "I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize, Peter," he said, trying to hide the strain, "It's my burden, not yours. You didn't fail the woman you love. And that is why I can never be as strong or as driven as you could be if you just stopped being afraid."
Slayer got up and turned away. He hid his conflicted look from Peter, not wanting to show it to anybody.
"You hide behind a mask for many reasons, but you don't run from it. That much you should be proud of."
"So then why pick at me like this?" asked Peter, "I was doing pretty well by myself before you gave me all this crap to think about."
"Because something is coming, Peter," warned the warrior, "I've been having visions."
"Yes, visions of a new power with you at the center of it," said Slayer with an assertive gesture, "And if you face such challenges without having confronted your greatest weaknesses, then you and your loved ones may not make it out this time."
Peter's lunch began to churn in his stomach. Conversation skills aside, Slayer was no liar. He didn't say make jokes when it came to threats. And after seeing the kind of forces he faced in Hotshot, Peter dreaded having to face another.
"What kind of threat are you talking about? And why does it involve me?"
With a defeated sigh, Slayer shook his head in remorse.
"I'm sorry, but I don't know."
"You don't know?!" exclaimed Peter, "I thought that eye of yours could see everything!"
"Only as much as my human limitations," reminded Jack, "There's only so much I can process without lobotomizing myself."
"So there's nothing you can do?!"
"No, there's plenty," said the warrior strongly, "The most important of which is to prepare you for the worst."
"But what about my aunt or my girlfriend?!" yelled Peter.
"That I don't know either," said Slayer, grabbing the younger man's shoulders and trying to calm him down, "But I do know this...whatever this power may be, you're strong enough to face it. You just have to set aside all fears, doubts, and concerns and find that which truly drives you from within."
His lunch was primed to make a comeback. In his current state he probably wouldn't be able to handle a purse snatcher, let alone some other great challenge. But despite his disheveled state, he swallowed the bile in his throat and tried to stand strong.
"That'll be a mind job," he sighed, "Will you at least help me?"
"I'll keep my eye open," said Slayer, the purple mist surrounding him, "But I can only do so much, Peter Parker. When it comes to finding the warrior spirit within, I can only guide. It's up to you to find your path."
The cloud surrounded his figure and without another word, Slayer vanished. He left behind a dazed and uncertain Peter Parker. Bearing this new knowledge, he was back at square one. Sitting back on the picnic table, he set his food aside and rested his head in his arms. He was a teenage guy living in a complicated world of spider powers, demons, and super-villains. Clearly, Peter had a lot to think about. And if this was as serious as Slayer said it was he had to think fast.
Great...nothing like a little pressure to put my brain on the fritz. What does he expect me to do? Am I just supposed to wake up one morning and find my inner warrior? And what the hell is so dangerous that he's given me this crap to think about?
Groaning in frustration, Peter gathered his backpack and went back inside. It was obvious he wasn't going to find the answers today. His confidence was already shaken after Gwen. Now he had another test on the horizon.
Ugh, now I understand why Jack drinks so much. Who wouldn't after thinking about this stuff? I just hope that whatever this threat is, I can stop it before it gets too bad.
As evening set in and a full moon hung over the New York City skyline, activity atop Fisk Tower was going strong. Wilson Fisk had not shown up to any meetings or issued any orders, a rare occurrence for the Kingpin of crime. Instead, he spent the day by his wife's bedside while the mysterious Mr. Smith worked on the stone. Vanessa's condition wasn't getting any better. Her time was short and this strange figure was his only hope. He spent most of his time reading over the text on the stone and doing strange chants, but nothing had come of it yet. Fisk still didn't trust this guy, but for Vanessa's sake he let him work.
"How much longer?" he asked impatiently.
"Patience, Mr. Fisk," said Smith, "I'm getting close."
"You said that three hours ago!"
"And I'll say it again if I have to," he said calmly, "This process cannot be rushed. The power of this stone is too great. I'm beginning to see why your wife believed in it so."
Fisk's gaze diverted to the life support readings on the machines keeping Vanessa alive. They didn't look good. He wasn't sure if she would last the night and this strange figure looked as though he could care less. But he remained strong as the Kingpin should.
Suddenly, a strange smile spread across the dark figure's face. Rubbing his hand over the relic, a new sense of excitement filled him.
"Ah yes...I see it now. It's all beginning to make sense."
"What is?" said Fisk hopefully, "Have you figured it out?"
"I believe I have," said Smith, picking up the stone and carrying it to Vanessa's bedside, "The text was damaged and written ambiguously, but the meaning is clear. This stone most certainly has the power to heal your wife."
Fisk's eyes widened at the prospect. Even if he had a bad feeling about this figure, saving Vanessa took priority over suspicions.
"How do we use it? She doesn't have much time!" bellowed Fisk impatiently.
"She has enough," assured Mr. Smith, "Her illness is of no concern in using this stone. In fact, no illness is sufficient to beat this power...even death."
"Death? Just what the hell kind of power is this?"
"A very strong one," said the figure, the grin widening, "You see, the stone acts as sort of a conduit for spiritual energy...namely the soul. In the hands of a skilled user, the stone can nourish one's soul to a point far greater than any natural stimulus. And rich with soul, any and all illness can be conquered."
It was the miracle Fisk had been hoping for. Vanessa had faith in this power and now he knew why. The power of the soul laced in a relic so small was a force to be reckoned with and using power was what the Kingpin did best. But first, he had a wife to heal.
"Then what are you waiting for?" he said, approaching the figure, "Use it to save, Vanessa!"
An insidious grin formed on the dark man's face. Fisk was growing deeply annoyed, but even the Kingpin of crime could not intimidate this man.
"Are you certain this is the course you wish to take?" asked Mr. Smith casually, "I must warn you, I am not a charity. I will not perform this service for free."
"Save my wife and you will be handsomely rewarded," said the Kingpin sternly, "I run this city. I don't care about the price. Just save her!"
His decision final, Mr. Smith gripped the stone and smiled.
"Very well. You have yourself a deal. I'll save your wife. We'll discuss my reward afterwards. Just stand back and let me work."
Casting the figure a warning glance, Fisk retreated to the corner while Mr. Smith stood over the dying woman. With the stone in hand, he closed his eyes and held it over the bed. For a moment, there was only silence. Smith gathered his focus, concentrating hard as he began to grunt with demonic evil. Yet Fisk ignored it. He didn't care if this man was the devil himself. He just wanted to save his wife.
"Great power of the ancients, relic of the spirit, tool of the divine...heed my words and give me the power I crave!"
The air grew tense, the temperature dropping fifteen degrees. It sent a shiver down the Kingpin's spine, but he watched on as Mr. Smith chanted over his wife's body.
"Energy of life! Energy of death! May the power of the soul stone flow through my being! Grant me the authority over the soul! This I pray to thee!"
Suddenly, a gust of wind emerged around the bed. Even with the windows closed and the night crystal clear outside, it was like a raging storm. Then, as Mr. Smith chanted in the language of the inscriptions on the stone, the relic began to glow with radiant, rainbow-like brilliance.
"Yes! I feel it! Now hear the words of the ancients! May this power merge with my being! The power over all souls and essence, COME UNTO ME!"
A whirlwind of blue clouds formed over Vanessa's bed, sparking with lightning of all colors. The lights flickered and the machines keeping her alive short circuited. Fisk was growing concerned. He had seen a lot in his days as the Kingpin, but none were quite this spectacular. And looking at Vanessa's dying form, he had seen enough.
"Stop it! You'll kill her!" yelled Kingpin.
But Mr. Smith didn't stop. He kept chanting in a mysterious language. And the more he chanted, the brighter the stone glowed. Soon, it was too bright for Fisk to look at. He was forced to cover his eyes and looked away, not knowing what was to come. The light consumed the room, centering completely around Smith and Vanessa. Then suddenly, it came to a stop in the blink of an eye.
"YESSSSSSSSS!" proclaimed Smith, "I FEEL IT!"
Opening his eyes, Fisk turned to see a rainbow-like glow surrounding Smith and his wife. Then, with glowing eyes, Smith unleashed a white light from the relic, inundating Vanessa Fisk in an aura of radiance. Fisk could only watch, but knew this would be it.
"The power is mine! Power over the soul! Mine for the wielding! And by this great power, I heal this broken mortal!"
The anguished cries of Vanessa sent Fisk into a rage. Light show or not, if he was hurting her then no force on the planet would keep him from making this man suffer. But before he could make a move, the light faded. Lights came back on and the clouds disappeared. All that remained glowing was the stone, still secure in the hands of Mr. Smith.
"W-Wilson?" came a voice.
"Vanessa?" said Fisk, not believing his eyes.
It was a miracle. She was alive. Gone was her sickly form, replaced by a beautiful radiant woman. She looked as healthy as the day she was born, her skin flushed with life and her body strong with vigor. Vanessa Fisk had been healed. And Wilson Fisk once again got what he wanted.
"It...it worked!" he exclaimed, running to his wife's side, "The stone worked!"
"The stone?" she said with an anxious look, "Wilson what's going..."
Suddenly, a renewed burst of light erupted from the stone and the mysterious Mr. Smith was consumed in a fiery haze.
"No..." gasped Vanessa, falling into a daze.
"Vanessa!" yelled Wilson.
"Belongs to me!" came a low, demonic tone.
Suddenly, Fisk felt himself lifted as if he were light as a feather and thrown against the wall. His imposing body slammed against the wall and he lay helpless as the power within the rooms swirled in a torrent of energy. The lights flickered as the glowing aura surrounding the figure intensified. All the while, Vanessa Fisk's eyes glowed dark red, standing besides the figure as emotionless as a statue.
"Smith! What is this?! What's going on?!" demanded the Kingpin.
But he got no response. Instead, an insidious laugh echoed through the room. It was evil enough to strike fear into anybody, even the Kingpin. Slowly, the light began to fade and a new figure was revealed. Fisk watched in horror, the human figure of Mr. Smith now gone and standing before him was no more man than he was demon.
"No...not Smith!" shot the sinister figure, "Call me Hotshot, fat boy! I've got your wife's soul! And soon I'll have everybody's soul! With this power I'm gonna make this world suffer! And it's all thanks to you! Ahahahahahahahahahaha!"
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