, Spider-Man shakes his weary head as his eyes flutter open into the waking world once again.
"What the hell..."
As his vision cleared, Peter saw that he was trapped, imprisoned on the side of a wall, his hands and feet bound to the stone surface by some kind of green mucus.
"Uggh...that's gonna take forever to wash out..."
Spidey looked around and realized that he was in a massive underneath New York. The place had to be at least the size of a football field, and held at least a dozen tunnels leading off into various sections of the sewer system. But, more importantly, the Wall Crawler noticed that he was not alone.
"Oh my god..."
Peter saw that there were dozens of other people, women and men of all ages, trapped on the walls of this chamber as he was. Most were unconscious, but there were a handful who were awake, and they were all looking at him.
"Um...hi. So...I gather you all are the kidnapped victims I read about in the Bugle"
, the Web Slinger asked a heavy set man who was stuck next to him a few meters down.
"You figure that one out on your own, Sherlock", the man scoffed in a thick Jersey accent.
"Jeez, easy, pal. I'm here to help."
"Yeah, you're doin' a bang up job so far", the man laughed.
"Sorry", the man sighed, "been hangin' on this wall for what's gotta be a freakin' week! Kinda makes one a irritable bastard, you get me?"
"Yeah...so, what's the deal here?"
"Well, as you guessed, we're all the people these lizard guys' have kidnapped", the man explained.
"There were a bunch here before me, so they musta been collected us for a while now. Every day, a few of 'em will come out of that tunnel there", the man said as he gestured with a nod to a large entrance into a corridor that was dimly lit by torchlight.
"And they'll grab one of us and take 'em back through there, and we never see them again."
, Spider-Man thought the worst of the vague reasons for that case, what the hell am I dealing with here?
"I can only imagine what they're doing to those poor people"
, a familiar voice caught Peter's ear and he turned to see a likewise familiar face just a few dozen yards to his left.
"Mary Jane! Are you okay!?"
, Mary Jane replied. She was one of the more recent additions to the growing prisoner population, and was still in relatively good health, minus a cut on her forehead.
"But how do you know my name?"
, Peter froze as he quickly thought of a answer, "I read about you in the newspaper. Your boyfriend, Harry, is worried sick about you. Figured I'd try to find you and all the other missing people."
, she smirked, trying to take the edge off of the situation, "congrats, you found us."
I did. And now I got to figure out a way to get us all out of here
, Peter thought as he looked around, and tried to tear his hands free from the goop, but to no avail.
What the hell is this stuff? You know...on second thought, I probably don't want to know.
Before Peter could think of any other ideas, a loud, throaty grumbling was heard, and four lizard men came striding out from the dimly lit tunnel the man had pointed out earlier. The lizard men make right for Spider-Man, removing the hero and dragging him away, as Mary Jane and the others watch on as their last glimmer of hope slowly disappears down the ever-darkening tunnel...
Basil Karlo tries to peer into the window of the old Stagg Enterprises building. He can see movement inside, but the grim on the window, coupled with the bad angle, makes it impossible for him to figure out what's going on, let alone get any solid evidence of the deal taking place inside.
He had been here for nearly fifteen minutes now. He had been running late by five minutes, but Toomes was nowhere to be seen when he showed up. Thinking Adrian went on without him, Karlo began snooping around, and noticed that there was already something going on inside the building.
Not wanting to wait for Adrian and potentially miss his opportunity, Basil began trying to find a vantage point from which to safely observe and record the deal as it happens. But that prospect was, apparently, incredibly difficult.
That's when Basil noticed the latter leading up to the roof above the warehouse's main room, in which the activity was taking place in. Karlo had an idea and quickly climbed up the ladder. There, affirming his thought, atop the roof was a skylight comprised a half-a-dozen window panes.
Basil slowly crept up to the window, the faint sounds of voices from inside the warehouse below reaching his ears. Peering down cautiously into the warehouse floor, Basil saw three men, one holding a shotgun and the other two seemingly unarmed.
Basil can't really make them out that well, so he leans forward, trying to get a better vantage point. Unfortunately for Basil, he leans a bit too far forward, and his weight against the old, weathered glass shatters the skylight, and Basil Karlo falls hard onto the floor of the warehouse, crashing into a crate.
Basil cries out in pain as he feels one of his ribs break upon impact. His eyes begin to tear up as his every breath pains him now, and Basil is yanked up hard to his feet by two of the men and thrown down to the floor amid the broken glass of the skylight.
"Move and you're dead", one of the thugs said as all of them trained their guns on Basil Karlo.
"You know something, boys.."
Basil groans as he wipes the water from his eyes to see Adrian Toomes step out of the shadows, taking a puff of his cigarettes.
"...I do so love the predictability of avarice."
"Hello, Basil. Ah, you brought your camera. Good."
, Toomes smiled wickedly.
"Are you ready for the show to begin?"
Spider-Man finds himself in a small side chamber connected to the larger one. Piles of bone sit in piles in the back of the room, which is filled with dozens of snarling lizard men. But Peter is not really focusing on any of them, as his sights are fixed on the massive lizard man standing atop a large raised platform...and in front of a machine that looked eerily similar to the gene splicer that transformed him into Spider-Man.
"It is good to finally meet you, Sssspider-Man"
, the lizard man hissed, and, as it spoke, the other lizard men quickly grew silent, identifying it as their leader.
"Wha...you can talk"
, Peter uttered in disbelief?
The lizard leader chuckled, a sound that sent a chill running down Spider-Man's spine.
"Don't sssound so ssssurprised, Ssspider-Man"
, the leader chided, "is it that hard to fathom another intelligent ssspecies other than you primates?"
"Uh huh...how about we cut the BS. Who are you"
, Spider-Man demanded, trying to push past the feeling of dread in the back of his mammalian brain, focusing on the obvious calling card of the Jackal behind the leader.
"Clearly you know of a man called Miles Warren, so my guess is you must have been one of his little experiments, am I right?"
The leader snarled, "Not quite, little Sssspider. However you are partly correct. Though that's not sssurprising considering you have the ssstench of OsssCorp on you."
"I knew the human called Miles Warren very well. He and I were colleagues. After OsssCorp cast him out, I helped him finish hisss work."
"Wait a minute...I remember hearing about you, from my research on Warren"
, Spider-Man spoke out as he began to put the pieces together.
"Curt Connors? The medical geneticist?"
"Connors is dead"
, the leader growled, "you may simply call me Lizard now, mammal."
"You had some brilliant ideas on genome manipulation to allow humans the ability to regrow lost limbs. It was really some fascinating stuff."
"A fan of ssscience I see? Another sssurprise, but a pleasant one. Yesss...I had sssought for years to help those ssstricken with the loss of one of their limbs"
, the Lizard states as he absently looks down at his right arm.
"Mainstream ssscience ridiculed me, but Warren helped me achieve my goals...and ssso much more"
, the Lizard uttered, his voice getting louder as his sentence progressed, getting agreeing grunts and growls from his minions at the end of it.
"Using Warren's ssscience with my own, I was able to evolve myself into sssomething better than that pink-skinned sack of flesh that you wear."
"Yeah, I'm pretty fond of my "pink-skinned sack of flesh", thank you very much. Besides, not like a got much of a choice anyway."
"Ah, but you're wrong, Ssspider-Man"
, the Lizard grinned devilishly, baring two rows of dagger-like teeth.
"You see, these people had a choice"
, Lizard exclaimed as he opened his arms wide to emphasize the lizard men filling the room.
"Wait a second..."
, Peter spoke as he looked around at them all, "the splicer...that's why the kidnapped victims are never seen again when they're taken from that room. You turn them into your puppets!"
"Not puppets, Ssspider-Man"
, the Lizard hissed.
"Free beings under my care, no longer burdened with the fragility of human existence. Here we will ssstart a new sssociety! A better sssociety!"
The lizard men roar in approval at their leader's proclamation, and Spider-Man can't help but feel a wave of horror and guilt wash over him. All of these...things were once people.
Fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters...normal, everyday people. People just trying to live their lives in peace.
People taken from their homes and their families, and forced to be lab rats for this madman's sick agenda.
"Do not fret, Ssspider-Man. They are better now than what they once were. Besssides...the process cannot be reversed. They are now, permanently, in a better ssstate of being."
"Wait a second...you said they had a choice...what if they said no to you?"
"Well, you sssaw the alternative asss you entered"
, the Lizard chuckled as he looked around at all the scattered bone piles in the room. Spider-Man had been so transfixed on Connors and the splicer next to him that he didn't really look closely at them.
Now Peter's mouth fell open as he saw the bones of people amid the evidence of slaughter. Some looking as though they came from children.
The Lizard laughed, a disgusting sound to Spider-Man's senses, "What'sss wrong, mammal? Does the process of natural ssselection disturb you?"
Spider-Man sprung to his feet, not holding back his strength, as he knocked the two lizard men out with a pair of well placed punches.
"You're a monster!!!"
Spider-Man leaped at the Lizard, engaging the would-be reptilian monarch in combat...