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A Quirk of Fate, a Spider-Man fanfic

The Master Planner

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Greetings and salutations, all readers of fanfiction. I present to you my best offering, my Quirk of Fate series. I shall post an excerpt now, wait for reviews, and depending on the length, post chapters or give you the links to the rest of the story or the sequels.

Quirk of Fate, Part 1: The Octopus Strikes

Synopsis: A story of an alternate reality in which one small quirk of fate causes Mary Jane Watson, not Peter Parker to get bitten by a radioactivity-enhanced spider. How will this circumstance change the lives of those involved?

Dramatis Personae
(major) Mary Jane Watson, Peter Parker, Dr. Otto Octavius
(minor) J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborn, Edward Brock, Flash Thompson

The Standard Disclaimer
All characters belong to Marvel. I do not make any money off of them, considering I live in a one-bedroom rathole in a one-horse town and buy my food at Wal-Mart and my clothes at the Goodwill store.

Happy reading.
 
Chapter One: Chance Meeting With Destiny

“Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.”
--William Shakespeare, Hamlet

To him, this high school field trip was exciting. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and to look at such revolutionary genetic experiments as these—even someone like him, who fell firmly into the category of “nerd” in the school hierarchy—well, all he, Peter, could do was look around, with his jaw open.

To her, this field trip was utterly boring, and full of things she didn’t exactly understand. However, she knew that he had nursed a crush on her for quite some time, and if she found something here sufficiently interesting to warrant an explanation, she could always ask him, because he knew about that sort of thing. Not within earshot of others, of course; a Popular girl like her, associating with a Nerd like him would be roughly the equivalent of an East Indian Brahmin, for example, associating with an Untouchable. It just wasn’t done. In the autonomous world of the American High School, it was social suicide. Unfortunately, she found him sort of cute, and she really liked him. It was better though, for her, Mary Jane, to leave him hanging for a while.

His camera, a Christmas gift from his aunt and uncle, was hanging around his neck; his passion for photography almost equaled his passion for science. The tour guide leading the students through the lab was droning on about spiders, and he was quickly getting distracted by her. His best friend was standing next to him, posture slouched, as bored as the rest of them, wondering why he didn’t take after his brilliant, wealthy scientist father. He thought of trying to talk to her, again, but every time he had tried to in the past, all that came out was mumble, mumble, mumble.
The tour guide was going on about the three major genii of spiders: “Arachnids from the three major groups each possess unique strengths that help them in their constant search for live prey…” He shuddered. He didn’t like spiders very much. He focused his attentions on her; heart pounding, he gulped and prepared to try to talk to her for the umpteenth time.

At that moment, one of the Popular guys, the captain of the football team, quickly moved in and put his arm around her smooth shoulders, nuzzled her sinuous neck. He muttered under his breath.
The teacher yelled at the rest of the class, who was looking at and talking of anything but the spiders. Now that he saw that Popular jerk put the moves on her, he was the only one of the class who was remotely interested. As long as the spiders remained in the cage, he didn’t mind. It was if they ever got out that he got nervous. He didn’t like spiders.

“The genus Salticus can leap up to forty times its body length, thanks to a proportionate muscular strength vastly greater than that of a human being…” the tour guide droned.

He lifted the camera up to his face. “Okay to take a few pictures—for the school paper?” he asked. The tour guide nodded her assent.

But just at the crucial moment, some jerk (most likely Popular, no doubt) bumped into him, jostling the camera do that it produced a perfectly good photograph of someone’s elbow. He cursed under his breath.

“The funnel web spider, genus Atrax,” the tour guide continued placidly, “spins an intricate, funnel-shaped web whose strands have a proportionate tensile strength ten times that of an equivalent strand of steel.”

He raised the camera again. He was jostled again, producing another useless photo. His best friend intervened, telling the jerk to knock it off. The Popular guy made a snide comment in retort.

“The crab spider, genus Misumena, has neural reflexes so fast it borders on precognition…”

He gawked at the giant images of spider DNA strands displayed on the computer screens, and immediately recognized that he was the only one who found them interesting.

The tour guide’s pride showed in her voice as she announced that the scientists had, through the miracle of genetic engineering, succeeded in creating hybrid spiders that had the strengths of all three spider genii. To top that off, the mutant hybrids had been injected with something called the Oz formula, which enhanced their strength, endurance, and speed even more. When a particularly arachnophobic student inquired as to why they would wish to do such a thing, the tour guide shot her a look of withering condescension in reply, as if to say that if she didn’t know why, the whole implications of the experiment was entirely lost on her and she wasn’t worth an explanation.

She, Mary Jane, the most Popular and Beautiful of the class, was leaning into the glass cage where the spiders resided, and began to check her makeup in the reflection. He, Peter, the School Science Nerd, was anxiously leaning toward her, trying to get a picture. “Can I take your picture? I need one of a student…”

“Of course,” she replied, pouting like a model. She loved the camera as much as it loved her. “Don’t make me look ugly.”

“That’s impossible,” he laughed. He raised the camera and snapped a picture. “And one more…”

But she jerked away from the frame.

One of the hybrid spiders had escaped from a miniscule crack in the seal, scuttling its way toward freedom. It spun a delicate web, down towards the large, bipedal primates below, and in one last, desperate gesture, lunged.

A girl’s high screech, echoing of pain and terror, pierced the air.
“Mary Jane! What happened—?” Peter called. Other students, too, were making muttered expressions of concern.

“It bit me! The little bastard just bit me!”
 
Chapter Two: A Few Side Effects

Mary Jane Watson was curled up at the waist, assisted by her Popular friends. Peter and his best friend, Harry, hovered at the edges of the group, along with the teacher, who was insisting on calling 911.

“Please, Miss Watson, we’ve got to get you to the hospital. There’s no telling how poison from one of those hybrids is going to—“

“No, I’m fine,” MJ insisted, a little smile playing on her lips as if she was trying to be tough, in a girlish way. “I was bitten by a black widow once. I was fine after a few days. I’m just very healthy. Just take me back to the school and let me have a nap in the nurse’s office. My dad threatened to cut up my credit cards if I didn’t bring my grades up.”

Mr. Sullivan, the teacher, sighed and helped her into the school bus. In loco parentis just wasn't what it used to be. “But if anything takes a turn for the worse—you have them call 911, understand?”

“Um, I’ll help you catch up with your schoolwork,” Peter mumbled behind her. It was the first coherent sentence he had ever managed to say to her.

Mary Jane ended up sleeping the rest of the school day in the nurse’s office. At nearly dismissal time, she stretched out her legs to get up, wondering why she felt so strange and so healthy at the same time. Other than a few strangely unsettling dreams she had had about spiders, strands of DNA, Flash, and a six-armed Peter, she felt perfectly fine.
Better than fine.

In fact, better than perfect.

She felt like she was strong enough to conquer the world. It was amazing what a few hours’ deep sleep could do for you. She looked down at her toes, which were all tingly for some reason. She gasped, feeling oddly like she was looking at her body for the first time.

She stood up, looked in the large mirror that hung on the wall next to the small cot. It was her face alright, but plopped on someone else’s body. She gaped at her reflection, examining her legs, her arms, her shoulders. Her body, once supermodel slender from running for miles and eating little else but salad, now looked buff and defined, as if she had been pumping iron for months on end.

“****,” she muttered. Thinking it was all a dream, she got up and walked to her locker to retrieve her books. If her ******* father asked her why she was late, she could always say she had detention—for text messaging friends during class. Yeah, that was it. Text messaging. During class. Detention for an hour. Perfect excuse.

Flash Thompson accosted her as she closed her locker and headed for the exit. “There’s no reason why you have to ride the bus with the nerds,” he said suavely. “I got a brand-new car for your birthday and you’d look great in it.”

“Listen Flash. I’m not interested. I’m not into you that way.”

“C’mon baby, you don’t have to play hard to get. Just give me some sugar and I’ll—“

“I said no, Flash!” The statement was accompanied with a hard push to the chest. Mary Jane was completely unaware how hard her little push was until she saw that it had sent Flash flying across the hall, slamming into the locker with a loud metal thud that echoed through the hall.
The few students and faculty that were left had gathered around to gape. Flash ruefully started to rub at his head; there was a rather prominent bump there, as well as profuse bleeding from a scalp wound. “You didn’t have to get violent, *****!”

MJ gulped. Great. Now I really am going to get detention.
By the time her detention ended, she had to walk home, as the school bus had already left. She wondered just what had happened, because she knew something had. She just had no clue what.

She was so lost in her own thoughts crossing the street that she didn’t notice the sedan barreling toward her at forty-five. Mary Jane’s eyes opened wide, and she suddenly grabbed at the back of her neck. It seemed to her that her senses had become so acute that she knew instantly what was coming, and just as instantly she knew what she had to do.

Jump out of the way. Fast.

Mary Jane’s now-immense leg muscles tensed, hardened to steel. She sprang out of the way so fast and high she thought she was flying. She gently landed, and sighed with relief as the car sped past. If she hadn’t jumped out of the way, she would most likely have been killed.
Her relief ended when she noticed how she landed. She was exactly perpendicular to the ground, clinging to the wall by her fingers…
…like a goddamn spider!

But no, that was impossible, that sort of thing only happened in comic books…

She hesitantly crawled up the wall a few feet, entirely oblivious to the crowds of people gawking at her below. Then she stopped, and climbed back down the wall.

She ran home, as fast as she could. She knew what she had to do when she got there.

She had to talk to Peter.
 

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