15381/Now You See Him...

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Now You See Him...
Date of Scene: 26 July 2023
Location: Central Park, Manhattan
Synopsis: A pleasant afternoon at the Central Park Zoo is spoiled by Spider-Man's (or his evil twin's) attempted assassination of the Mayor of New York City. Jessica Drew is forced to watch a burger kiosk explode. Right. In Front. Of Her. Eyes. So it's a bad day all around.
Cast of Characters: Spider-Man, Askante, Spider-Woman (Drew)

Spider-Man has posed:
It is very nearly a perfect weekend afternoon. The unrelenting heatwave the city has labored under has broken at last and while it is still pleasantly warm, the waves of humidity are gone leaving it a particularly lovely afternoon to be out and about. With the sun high in the brilliant blue sky and only a handful of fluffy clouds drifting lazily by to provide some contrast, there is not a better time to hit Central Park and visit the zoo.

It seems to be a sentiment shared by many of the locals as the paths that meander through the various exhibits are crowded for the most part, bustling with families and their children who race along, eager to take in the next pavilion of exotic animals.

Even the city's mayor has decided to take advantage of the day to get out and about, to hobnob with some of his constituents, his small security detail lingering nearby should the need arise, but for the most part staying back as instructed so the most prominent politician in the city can press the flesh and generally try to look like a man of the people.

While the visit is supposedly a spontaneous, spur of the moment type of thing, the truth is always a little different. Certain media outlets were given advance notice to insure that cameras and photographers could be on site to capture some choice shots for the evening news and tomorrow's papers.

And, naturally enough, one of those same reporters just happens to be Peter Parker, who lingers nearby, occasionally lifting the camera that dangles from the strap around his neck to snap a picture or two, but otherwise looking a little bored. It is not the most stirring sort of assignment to be sure and he can think of plenty of places he would rather spend a weekend afternoon the fighting the crowds to take pictures of the mayor. He didn't even vote for the guy!

But while Peter's preference might be to be off elsewhere, his pocketbook is pretty sure he's exactly where he needs to be. At least if he wants to pay next month's rent anywhere close to ontime. Not to mention eat. He's pretty fond of that too.

So the intrepid photographer tries to ignore the crowds and the fact that he is jostled -- again -- by the small horde of children racing by, seeking inspiration for some shots that the skinflint J. Jonah Jameson might just shell out for.

He is also -- for the moment -- entirely unaware that he is not the only person paying close attention to the mayor. And those eyes peer at the man through the sniper scope of a rifle.
Askante has posed:
Askante is here, for different reasons. Whenever there's a big crowd, there's always a certain draw for the creature, because inevitably, there's angst and nerves and people that need to be soothed of those, to have a good day. It has already escorted five lost children to zoo keepers and concession stand kids, which probablhy counts as its good deed for the week. It is now on a park bench by the flamingos, eating some popcorn with much efficiency. Having three arms for the eating of such means that there's always a limb in the bag. A small earthenware bowl sits on the bench next to it, with a button in the bottom which seems oddly enough, to be attracting people's small change.

Folks wander by, they drop a quarter, even though begging in the zoo isn't exactly a common thing -- and each time, the creature smiles for the passer by.

Politics aren't its cup of tea though. Too many of them and the media also, exploit part of its nature for their own gains, but curiosity got the better of it at least this time.

And currently, there's a couple of toddlers watching it rather than the animals, with wide eyes. Children after all, tend to see it for exactly what it is.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
The horrible humidity has taught Jessica two things: one, her hair does not respond well to high humidity, and two, she never wants to retire to the tropics. /These things we bear are life lessons,/ her therapist tells her. Jessica manages not to share the long discussion (rant) she had at JARVIS -- always there to listen -- about hair problems.

Today, Jessica Drew is one of those at the zoo, but not so much to see the animals. No, there's one solo reason, one that likely isn't a surprise to anyone. There's a kiosk that does a double cheeseburger and fries, and who is Jess to turn down a cheeseburger? Never, according to the brilliant pink 'Cheeseburger Master' t-shirt she's wearing, anyway. She's one bite into the burger when the sound of some crowd nearby pulls her over to watch. Hey, people. And someone famous?

Jessica can probably be forgiven for not immediately recognizing the Mayor. She doesn't watch much television. She draws closer, and pauses, mouth opening. Wait. Is that the bear, her bear friend, eating popcorn? She waves, and tries to push through the crowd towards him, making an annoyed sound. Reporters: so pushy and annoying.
Spider-Man has posed:
Hey, those cheeseburgers might be a little over-priced given the choice location of the little kiosk, but for food that you can casually pick up while wandering through a zoo? They're pretty damn good.

Not that Peter would know that of course. He doesn't have that kind of money to splurge on some fancy cheeseburger! Not if he's going to cobble together enough pocket change to pay his rent sometime in the next week or two. So he has been steadfast in ignoring the scents coming from that kiosk, the aroma of char-broiled bugers cutting through the less pleasant smells of crowding so many people and animals into a fairly confined space.

It would seem that the mayor has no similar concerns however as he makes his way over towards that kiosk at that slow pace, stopping every few feet to shake hands or chat with people. But Peter knows where he's going. Damn fat cat politicans. Rubbing people's noses in their success with the purchase of quality burger products. Hmmmmph.

Raising his camera up to capture a shot of the mayor crouching down to tousle some kids hair, he's about to capture the shot when he is suddenly jostled by a passing woman, casting a quick look back over his shoulder and muttering what probably isn't a compliment before hurried turning his attention back towards his actually assignment here.

But the moment is lost, the man already straightening up and that perfect shot simply evaposating. With a much put up sigh, Peter starts to try to find a new vantage point from which to capture a few photos as the crowd around the city's top politician start to get a little unwieldy.

Perhaps fifty feet away, sprawled out atop the roof of the bird pavilion a figure in a red mask continues to play with the sniper scope of the rifle that is already pointed in the mayor's direction. Shrouded by his low angle and a nearby tree, those boughs heavy with leaves hanging low over the roof, anyone who actually got a look might notice the fact that it looks supiciously like Spider-Man. Lining up a kill shot on the mayor.

Clearly Jameson is right. Spider-Man really is a menace.
Askante has posed:
That growing sense of focus niggles at Askante. It's a thing that isn't comfortable in its psyche and it waves a couple of hands at the children staring and stands from its seat, casually putting the bowl with its button into its pocket. It managed enough small change to -buy one of those quality cheeseburgers which might have been the point of the exercize. But then there's the cheeselady, which it catches sight of just as it was about to wade through the crowd.

Honestly, it doesn't know Spiderman from a hole in the ground, being not overly gifted in the heightened senses department -- but the one sense it does have, is comparable in function if not in scope, with that infamous 'spider-sense'. Danger. Knowing something dire is about to happen. That is probably what spurs it to be nimble footed to intercept Jessica and inch past a very wide girth coming the other way.

And thus does the Ninja talking bear state: "...something is up. Not sure what. don't know what it is I'm feeling, but there's something worrisome in the air. Do people get panicky around animals? No, that doesn't make sense..." although it does if you're a talking ninja bear of course. "You're not here for the cheese are you? There isn't much and it appears to be made of plastic."
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
One of the benefits of living (mooching) off of the Avengers Mansion: Jessica doesn't have to worry about a food budget most of the time. So splurging on an overpriced cheeseburger? Perfectly fine.

The problem with super-sharp hearing is you get to hear exactly what people say when they mutter under their breath. The kind of thing most people would ignore to avoid a fight. Except Jess is the kind of person who spoils for a fight. "I am NOT fat!" Jessica says, with a faux-shocked look at Peter. Granted, that's actually NOT what he said, but Jess is the sort of person trained to use the crowd around her to her advantage. Look at her, all innocent with her expensive, dripping cheeseburger and pink t-shirt!

Whether or not the distraction works she gives a well-practiced hrumph as she turns her attention to the approaching bear, like this sort of thing happens all the time.

"Do you eat fries?" she asks the bear as it approaches. "I assume, since you liked the popcorn. Here," she says, offering the grease-stained box of them to Askante, even as the ninja-bear indicates there's something amiss. She lacks the spider-sense of awareness, and so she merely blinks at it. "I mean, yeah. I'm surprised people aren't upset you're out of your cage, but you seem chill to me." Not exactly what Askante asked, but anyway. She's making a lot of assumptions! Bears in New York logically must live in the zoo. "...um." She has the grace to look momentarily embarrassed, bristling defensively: "I /like/ cheese."
Spider-Man has posed:
Look, what Peter said wasn't particularly nice. But it wasn't exactly something that would have gotten his mouth washed out with soap by Aunt May. And it certainly wasn't that Jessica was fat.

"I didn't say anything of the sort..." the intrepid photographer starts to argue, any real hope of capturing a suitable picture pretty much gone for the time being as he half-turns to protest his innocence with his accuser. Entirely unaware that his accuser is not interested in much more then making a scene. For him.

Before he can even try to search her out, Peter finds himself surrounded by a small group of people pointing and yelling at him about 'body-shaming' and 'being a decent human being', leaving the young man just a little bewildered.

What the hell happened there?

Maybe it's that confusion that keeps him from paying as much attention to that nagging little tingle in the back of his own head.

It is not just those in the immediate vicinity that are attracted by the ruckus however as even the Mayor takes notice. Even as his own security detail starts to close in -- just to be on the safe side -- the silver-haired politician takes a step over towards the scene as well, trying to get a better look.

No one can help it really. Everyone has to stop and take a look at the car wreck. And it seems like Peter is always on the verge of wrapping his proverbial car around the lightpole.

There is a loud crack -- the unmistakable sound of a rifle being fired -- just as the mayor moves to get a better look and a high-powered bullet tears through the space occupied by his head only an instant before, embegging itself into the wooden enclosure just behind the man, sending up a shower of splinters.

For just a second a sense of quiet dread, of calm descends upon the zoo. Silence reigns in the aftermatch of that gunshot as no one seems to lnow just what's going on.

Then the first panicked screams start.
Askante has posed:
"well, so do I. Congealed cow lactation has been around for a long, long time. I remember the first time it happened by accicent, that was interesting -- " but then Askante's stiffening, because it's just about to happen but DAMN it doesn't know what or where this feeling is coming from. It distracts from the spectacle of poor Peter getting the short end of societal shame, as the lion's share of its attention is on what could be causing the worry. Cages secure? Yes. No animal looks particularly like it's about to lose its cool. Nobody is about to fall into a pen or anything...

"I think I eat fries, yes? They.... oh, thank you. In my cage? I don't live in a cage. What made you think I..."

Nevermind. The calm before the storm happens when the gunshot goes off. "Boom stick. Why boom stick? /Why/?"

Askante makes to grab Jessica by the elbow, aiming to dodge her out of potential stampede territory, but immediately after is literally leaping on top of an ice-cream stand, to the protest of a few, but really, there's more to worry over, black eyes sweeping the area. It can tell already that there's bottle necks and people are likely to get injured on their attempts to get clear of being caught in any cross-fire.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
The look Jessica gives Askante is, at first, one of bafflement and then widening eyes of alarm. "Nope," she says, "Nope, nope, lala, I don't need or want to hear how this is made. Ignorance is bliss." Literally. She's still kind of sing-songing to herself even as Askante grabs her elbow and pulls her free of the sudden stampede of people.

Jessica, unfortunately, recognizes that sound. High velocity rifle fire from a distance: her sharp hearing even allowing her to identify the location the shooter fired from. She squints. Wait, isn't that...?

She sighs. It's the sigh of someone who knows they aren't going to get to eat their high-priced, full-of-saturated-fats yet inarguably delicious cheeseburger. As compensation, she shoves a last mouthful, all she can fit, and drops the rest of the burger. She starts to turn towards Askante to explain, but the bear's... gone? With a shrug, she pushes through the understandably panicked, screaming crowd.

Fortunately most of them are headed for the exit, so once Jessica's free of the initial rush, the path to the bird pavilion is pretty clear. Conversely, it means she's a pretty clear target directly approaching the shooter. But he's like, her bestie. Spider-Man would never shoot her. Then again, Spider-Man's never used guns, like, ever, as far as she knows.

Shading her eyes with her hand, Jessica comes to a stop and squints upwards towards the masked figure. "Hey, Spidey! Look, don't worry. It's probably mind control. Maybe aliens. Actually, a lot of the time aliens. Sometimes a rogue telepath. But yeah, aliens probably. Just drop the rifle, and I'll help you de-program. Got a lot of experience at that!"
Spider-Man has posed:
Saved... by the gunshot?

In the middle of receiving a rather heated lecture on pretty much all sides, the barrage of rather impolite words hurled his way comes to an immediate stop when that gunshot rings out. And while the intrepid reporter is, all things considered, glad not to be subject to a stern dressing-down that he's not entirely certain he deserves, the reason for it is more then a little concerning.

Almost immediately the crowd around him dissipates, screams filling the air as they seek to scatter, to make their way towards the exit -- all seeming to be waiting for the inevitable follow-up, for one more mass shooting. A few people cower in place, crouching low to the ground or behind whatever cover they can find, some shielding their loved ones -- children or significant others.

But the follow-up shot never comes. The mayor's security detail converges, the quartet of undercover, suited cops grabbing the man and half-urging, half-hauling him towards the nearest exit as well.

Up on the rooftop of that bird pavilion, the sniper there gives his own curse -- though definitely not in english -- and slides to where a ladder rests nearby against the edge of the building. While he wears the tell-tale red and blue costume of Spider-Man, the wall-crawler generally, you know, crawls on walls. He doesn't use a ladder.

He does today though, but Spidey has not yet touched down on the ground before Jessica is there, confronting him. Promising him it will be alright. That she can help him shake off the mental influence, or claim him back from his alien overlords whom he has vowed to serve and recruit others to labor in their sugar mines. Again he curses -- in a language that sounds suspiciously like russian -- before dropping the rifle in his hands and instead going for the automatic pistol at his side. "Fool woman. This is the last mistake you'll ever make," he promises, bringing that gun up.

He sounds like Spider-Man even, though there is no humor, no jesting in that tone. Just cold finality.

Across the way and suddenly devoid of accusers surrounding him, Peter finds himself free. Free to watch as Spider-Man suddenly appears from his chosen sniper's platform -- right in front of the evening news cameras -- and pulls a gun on another woman. "What the fu-": he starts before he catches himself. "fudge. What the fudge," he growls, darting a quick look around the nearby exhibits before positioning his camera just so and webbing it into place. Then, ducking behind the tiger enclosure, he unzips his backpack and starts to tug out the red mask there, trying to tug off his shirt while hopping on one foot, kicking a sneaker free.

For a pretty agile guy he sure doesn't look it right at the moment.
Askante has posed:
It never goes the way you want it to, when speedy costume changing. There's entire vegas acts that are built around the quick-change routine, after all! And if you're ripping stuff that -does- get expensive after a while. Sometimes, it just sucks to be Peter Parker.

Up on the ice-cream stand, the tall daemon gets its bird's eye view of the goings on, but its cheese loving friend is on the case there. And occasionally, being a hero involves -not- going to the crux of the action. Having examined the lay of the land, it hops down and begins steering people, altering the flow of foot traffic. Maybe it seems like a cop, or a security guard, maybe that dad that had army training. Maybe another kind of first responder, or maybe even a costumed zoo worker. It has no idea, but it helps, radiating a calm, taking away the fear to help restore a little order and save people.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
Yeah, that's also weird. First a gun, then ladders. Jessica's almost as sure Spider-Man's never /touched/ a ladder as she is that he's never touched a gun. There are a lot of downsides to Jessica's Hydra training. One upside though is that she was taught multiple languages, Russian among them. She's /certain/ Spider-Man doesn't speak Russian.

"Third strike and you're out." Even as the faux Spider-Man's bringing up the gun, Jessica's moving. The place is too open, and too public, for Jessica to use her venom blasts. But she doesn't really need them: her reflexes kick in, one hand reaching to try and grab at faux-Spider's wrist for control of the gun, while at the same time her knee comes flying up, aiming for his groin.

Look, normally Jessica prefers to punch people in the face. Going for the nuts is a really low blow. But in fairness, so is trying to shoot her. (Oh, and the Mayor. Yeah, totally that, too.)

Of course, she has to with the mouthy retort. It's a Spider-must-do, which really should've been her number one sign that this was a faux spider. "Yeah, kind of doubt that. I'm kind of known for making mistakes, like, all the time. Terminally, you know? My therapist says it's my way of processing trauma by living the life I was denied."
Spider-Man has posed:
Maybe it's the fact that there is no second shot forthcoming that helps to calm the people down, maybe it's the fact that there is a ninja-bear playing traffic cop with the heated emotions that are running rampant through the crowd. Either way, the abrupt evacuation of the nearby environs is remarkably smooth, turning almost orderly. No one is trampled, no one is even knocked down. CHildren aren't separated from their parents and the mayor doesn't even order his detail to just clear a oath and damn the plebians!

It's one less concern for the good guys to worry about. At least for the moment.

IT seems that the faux-Spider-man pretty much expected JEssica to just shut up and die. So he's probably a little surprised and more then a little disappointed when she doesn't do either of those things and instead hurls herself right at him. He tries to bring that gun to bear, his finger even tightening on that trigger when she locks a hand on his wrist and keeps that weapon firmly pointed away from her.

Then there is the piece de resistance and as she closes that distance and drives a knee square into the fake Spider-Man's groin.

What J. Jonah Jameson and more then a few of New York's criminal underground wouldn't give to exhcange places with her right now. Living the dream. She's really living the dream.

Like a stone, pretend-Spidey drops like a rock to the ground, clutching at himself and trying to cover up. For just a moment that mask seems to flicker and instead there is the plain, stark white featureless mask of one Dmitri Smerdyakov. The Chameleon. But just for an instant and then it is again Spidey there once more, writhing on the ground.

Trying to inch away, he holds up a hand, scampering back in a pained half-crab walk. "Enough. Enough," he says, the voice slipping a little too.

Then he presses down o nthe device hidden in his other hand and an explosion tears through the nearby cheeseburger kiosk, sending debris raining down all around them and the few other people who chose to seek shelter rather then flee. "One step closer and I'll blow up every explosive I planted to cover my escape," he threatens.

Meanwhile, behind the tiger enclosure, Pete has finally managed to kick his sneakers off and slip on the mask, just pulling off his shirt as well as his camera quietly clicks away, capturing images of the scene nearby. Darting out from his improvised change room he shouts, "It isn't me, it isn't me! I didn't try to kill the mayor!" he shouts -- and very nearly runs straight into that explosion at the burger place, forced to wheel and drop into a crouch with his back to the blast as he covers up just in time, debris pelting down on him.

Double the Spideys. Double the trouble.
Askante has posed:
This is where Askante bows out, at least of the shepherding people toward the exits in an orderly fashion. Explosives are very much out of its breadth of experience -- "Mining charges?" it whispers, but that's also its cue to go talk to the police, to make sure everyone is well clear and to slide into the background. Exeunt, teleport left.
Spider-Woman (Drew) has posed:
When faux-Spider-Man goes down, it's pretty damn satisfying. Jessica Drew is beaming. She lost half of a cheeseburger, but this just brightens things up. She's mindful enough of not getting shot that she kicks away the gun from faux-Spider's reach as he's writhing on the ground. When that face flickers into view, she actually gasps. "Hey! That's SHIELD tech. They tend to get stroppy about it being misused. Take it off, or I'll plant another one, this time in your-"

The exact location will have to be imagined, because this is when faux-Spider sets off the explosives.

Jessica is only human. Well, she's technically part deadly spider, but details. She has that instinct most people do: when something explodes, she /has/ to look at it. In this case, she probably wishes she hadn't.

"NOOO!" Why did it have to be the cheeseburgers? She was psyching herself up for a victory burger and everything.

Her narrowed glare turns on faux-Spider, mollified only a little by his crab walk. "You blow another cheeseburger place and I'll end you!" she threatens, fists balling. Oh, and: "Or an animal enclosure." Yeah, that too. Her bear-buddy has to have somewhere to live, right? For now it seems like she'll stay where she is, settling for glaring at ultra max level.

A glare that, as the /real/ Spider-Man stands up, is turned towards him, too. This is clearly his fault, as well. Sort ofin an indirect way, granted -- not like he can help it if there's copy cats -- but Jessica's having a day. "You have terrible timing." A beat. "AND you need to stop letting people pretend to be you. It's bad for your reputation." So helpful, she is.
Spider-Man has posed:
*Click* *Click*

For just a moment those automatic pictures capture two Spider-Men in the frame. It's not much, but maybe it will be proof enough that the real Spidey -- that being him -- did not just try to assassinate the Mayor in front of a bunch of people who will say otherwise. Not to mention the video evidence.

Ugh, the video evidence. That's going to be a nightmare. He really needs a publicist or an agent or someone to spin this story for him. Because Peter just can't see this going particularly well.

Showered with debris, the heat of the explosion is palpable against his back and a variety of small tears mar that costume. Great, just great. Another exciting evening of sitting in his tiny apartment, mending his costume. The thrilling life of a twenty-something to be sure.

Standing just in time to get another lecture -- this one from Jessica herself instead of just inspired by her, Spidey plants his hands on his hips. "It's not like I asked someone to dress up as me and try to kill the mayor you know," he shouts back. "And I certainly didn't suggest he plant some bombs and threaten to blow up Bambi, or some other fuzzy, loveable critter that I'll surely be blamed for. You now it's... huh. I think he's getting away," he comments, voice dropping from annyoed to mild in the blink of an eye.

Sure enough, the Chameleon -- still masquerading as Spidey -- has managed to regain his feet and started to run in the opposite direction, darting out of sight between two pavilions. Though, perhaps to Jessica's satisfaction, he does so with a noticable limp. Just before he vanishes from sight though, he holds up that hand and waggles the remote controlled detonator held there as a sort of warning.

"Man, I really needed him caught to prove I'm not responsible for any of this," Peter moans. That pity party? It's back on bay-bee. "Look, I'll have to yell at you some other time. I gotta get after that guy, maybe find some of those bombs," he says, launching a webline. "And hope the boys in blue don't decide to use me for target practice. Geeez. When it rains it pours," he mutters as he leaps into the air and starts to swing down the path.