Revenge of the Nerds

January 12, 2017:

Spider-Man interrupts Six as she's liberating government information being transported by train. In a panic and unfinished with her download, she takes the entire drive, only to realize after the fact that doing so is THE WORST POSSIBLE IDEA, which in turn leads to Six and Spider-Man teaming up to UN-steal the data. There is a lot of screaming and swooping, and everyone is a huge nerd forever.

New York City

Alternately in the city, and on a high-speed Acela train passing through.


NPCs: Knightwatch soldiers

Mentions: Matthew Murdock, Zatanna Zatara

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The year is just a little bit over a week old. It would be nice to say that the arrival of twenty-seventeen had been eventless, promising a respite from the turbulence of the prior year — tumultuous in virtually every single way. Given the events of New Year's Eve at the charity gala, though, things have already gotten off to a wrong-footed start in the tri-cities area, and as few of the inhabitants of the Northeast corridor realize that they're living in the kind of world they are actually living in (see also: one populated by things with abilities beyond the scope of mortal means), most of them are in for disappointment if they're hoping for peace or quiet.

That goes for anybody with any proximity to the railway line that stitches its way up the eastern seaboard, most especially the Amtrak line that runs from D.C. to Boston, passing on its way there through the city of New York. It usually ferries weary commuters and business travelers at absurd prices for the luxury of not having to deal with the cramped confines of an airline, and the privilege of a view. Tonight, though, there are three extra cars connected to the Acela bulleting its way northward at over one hundred miles per hour beneath a star-encrusted sky, tatters of heavy, frozen clouds breaking up those cold points of light, promising snowfall within the hour. These unique train cars are a drab, matte brown and olive green, unmarked, though the color scheme practically screams 'military' to anyone with half of a brain cell under their employment. Two of them are windowless, cargo containers rather than passenger vehicles.

The one with windows contains — for the next ten or fifteen seconds — approximately twenty Knightwatch operatives in full battle dress. Elite soldiers hand-picked from top military black ops organizations, they are outfitted exclusively for dealing with extranormal threats.

The cargo containers contain information on its way to be stored in a secure off-site facility somewhere in the empty, boring backwater of New Hampshire, beneath a pasture overrun with cows.

The reason that the personnel car will soon no longer contain all of its personnel is that there is a sinuous figure attached to the outside of the high-speed train. Most of the figure's lines are organic, but they are broken up by decidedly inorganic changes in shape — as with the right arm, or what is visible of it beneath the pushed-up sleeve of her jacket. Light winks off of wicked, bare metal. From one agile mechanical index finger spits a blade. It flares, passes through dark, lurid red glows into oranges, then up toward whites, heating and steaming in the blast of of air.

It slices into the side of the cargo container as though the metal were butter, etching out a rough oval large enough for her to slip through.

New York City races toward the train. She's timed this — she thinks — so that she can obtain what she needs and trigger the inevitable alarms just as the train passes into the city, forcing the Knightwatch to employ more subtlety than it would have to during its passage through less populated areas.

She hopes, anyway.

The panel rips away from the side of the car in the wind. Spatters of molten metal spew outward, one sizzling against the alloy of her lower prosthetics and causing her heart to lodge in her throat. /Too close!/ In the personnel car, Knightwatch stirs.

"What the fuck was that."

The interior of the car is dark and silent, filled with the winking constellations of server racks. She knows what she needs: it used to belong to her. When she finds it, she splays the fingertips of her left hand across it, and delves into the virtual architecture that was, until last year, her entire life.

(Pulling data,) whispers Five.


(Processing at maximum—)



Believe it or not, soaring through the skies of New York City at speeds faster than most cars while people alternatively cheer you on or (more likely) scream profanity at you gets kind of boring faster than you'd think. And when it's winter time, it gets harder and harder to ignore the sinking chill that bites at your toes when winds are buffeting you at sixty-to-seventy miles per hour. Even the most diligent of superheroes need distractions every now and then.

All this preamble, of course, is just justification for why your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is currently perched on the side of a skyscraper, leaning his back into it as he fiddles around with playlists on his smartphone, a bundle made entirely of webbing hanging from his shoulder. Because he's professional. Honestly.

"No… no… no no no…" the webbed hero and/or menace mumbles to himself as he flicks through song after song. Inside the building, people have long been staring at him. You know, the way you stare at a weird animal clinging to the side of the window. Or the way you try not to stare at that crazy person mumbling on the subway.

"God, why is it so hard to find some good— Nickelback? — maybe… later… … oh yes! Awesome! Yes!! I FOUND IT!! I AM THE MUSIC GOD-KING OF THE COSMOS!!"

And this is when people start backing away from the window, like when that weird animal has started to froth at the mouth, or that crazy person has started hellaciously urinating all over the subway streets. Spider-Man notices. He freezes up. Clears his throat.

"Um. Hi. Hey. Getting a lot of good work done? I'm not insane. I swear." All of this is just coming through muffled for them, isn't it. "I'M NOT INSANE! I SWEAR! Wow I'm just making this worse for myself aren't I? I'm just— oh hey my spider-sense is tingling look at that gotta go, work hard and stay away from drugs, bye—"

And off Spider-Man goes, swinging along to save the day.

… Really.


All of that, of course, is just a long-winded explanation for why Spider-Man is currently singing songs from Hailee Steinfeld's greatest hits as he swings through the city limits near the encroaching railway tracks cutting through the city.

"Gonna love myself no I don't need anybody else — HEY! — gonna love myself no I don't need anybody else — I LOVE ME! — Anytime day or niiiiiiiiiight—"

It's… not great.

Gripping onto his bundled clothes, Peter Parker's world is full of sugary pop music as he flies through New York like a red-and-blue smudge in the sky. It's become practically rote for him, by now. Cruise the city limits, for hours on end, even as the sun sinks and the stars dotting the far away skies get blotted out by clouds and pollution, and wait. Just… wait. Wait…

… for that faint little buzzing, at the back of his skull, getting louder and more pressing the closer and closer he gets to the screech of metal and hurtling carts of— a train.

Spider-Man's singing, mercifully, comes to an end for a brief moment. He blinks. He peers. He sees a tiny dot on the side of the train in the distance. Is that a person? On the outside of the train??

"… Oh my god that's a person on that train am I going to fight a person on a train in a high speed train battle OH MY GOD that's like my #3 biggest superhero fantasy OH CRAP WAIT IT'S GOING WAY TOO FAST—"

And this is the sound of Spider-Man, a superhero, really, panicking as that train with its uniquely bland cars at the end goes screeching past in a way that deafens out even the sounds of Steinfeld crooning in Parker's ears. Panicking, the spandex-clad vigilante spirals about in mid-air; feeling his spider-sense buzzing all the more strongly as those really boring-looking cars pass by, he makes an impulse decision: he spins a web.

And attaches it to a high-speed, moving train.

"This was a bad idea wasn't iiiiAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH HERE I GO—"

And, for the second time in almost as many weeks, Spider-Man gets hurled along like a ragdoll as the momentum of the train whips him forward like a snapped elastic band. Spinning and flipping through mid-air, cries of surprise soon become a prolonged "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" as the Spider-hero soars through the air at high speeds, landing on the surface of the train crouched low to the ground on all fours. He feels the wind blasting him, trying to tear off the impossible adhesive grip of his extremities. The resistance, extreme. The sounds, deafening. It's terrible. It's—

"So. Freaking. Cool!!!"

His giddy, gushing enthusiasm is fortunately hushed by the screech of the train as he otherwise silently makes his way across the surface of the heavy, hurtling transport. Red and blue against bland metal, he makes his way towards where that mysterious figure is desperately trying to work.

It's when she is at the apex of her anxiety and tension, then, that she may or may not note the presence of a certain spider-head peering at her from the roof of the car.

"SO. HEY," greets Spider-Man at the top of his lungs, voice barely carrying over the roof of the car. And probably alerting the people inside. Not great.





Part of Kinsey's problem with her newfound abilities is that she hasn't quite found a way to efficiently ensure that she's able to do what she's doing — spelunk data, a little mote of consciousness zipping through information as electricity — and remain focused within her body at the same time. She has a dim awareness of the biting cold, and she's trying — trying very hard, in fact — to listen for the sound of Knightwatch soldiers kicking in the door of the cargo car, which she has taken the time to remotely lock…

But not hard enough for the comparatively soft sound of something landing on top of that car. She's in a rush. The amount of information is immense. Bigger than it was when she finished adding to it just before she retired, which is worrisome. It requires almost all of her focus, every bit of processing power that Five has, to try to rip what she needs from a server she may never have access to again, should she fail to obtain what's there.

The yelling has a /dramatic/ effect.

The helmeted figure inside of the car yanks her hand away from the server bank, and the effect is much like tearing away the connection an electric guitar has with an amplifier: it fills her skull with a squawk of feedback that spikes silver discomfort into the space behind her eyes. Rudely dumped back into her physical body, the profile of that helmeted head snaps to the side. The front is sleek, black as pitch, glossy; the back sprouts cables that wind down the back and underneath the bottom edge, an uneven profile, though he's a smudge of blue and red in the reflection thrown back by the sleek faceplate, backlit by passing city lights on the outskirts of New York.

For one confusing moment, she feels relief unfold in her cramping chest, mitigating that dump of adrenaline.

It's one of the good guys! There is an impulse to wave, to — what, say thank you? For the help. At the gala. Both relief and absurd urge are short-lived, dying almost before the thought has time to finish itself.

You're not exactly one of the good guys tonight, are you?

Her stomach sinks, weighed down with stones. Lines from his dossier cycle through the suddenly freed threads of her consciousness: enhanced strength. Enhanced speed. Exceptional mobility. And on, and on. No identity — he'd been new on the scene, hadn't he? — but enough information for her to realize she's in trouble.

That, and the yelling. /The yelling./

Hazel eyes flick from Man, Spider, to door, cargo train, where the card-key lock beeps and flickers red multiple times, responding to a request for access from the other side.

Oh god oh god oh sh

She jams a thumb on the 'eject' button for the black rectangle housed in the server stack, snaps up the drive, and shoves it into the lightly plated top edge of whatever she's wearing underneath that jacket.

"I was just…leaving!" she says, only it's not she. It /is/, but it isn't: her voice is artificial, recognized by software within the helmet and reprocessed to come through the speakers in the vent slots at the bottom of that helmet, emerging as a white-noise hiss that only pretends to have vocal inflection in the synthetic tones laid over it.

The little pulsing white light there to indicate her speech is /completely/ unnecessary. She stole it from a video game. She considered adding an 'emergency induction port' and decided that was taking things a little bit too far.

There is no banging on the cargo train door. The men and women on the other side are professionals. There's only silence before the plastique detonates, a charge small enough to disable the lock and warp the door without destroying any of the contents.

It is still an explosive device in a small space, and the concussion of its brisance sends Six stumbling as she vaults toward the door in the front, on the opposite side. A flick of a thought commands it to open, and she hurls herself through it, alloy limbs clanging noisily on the ladder leading up onto the top of the next car in line.

Black-clad bodies encased in military equipment seethe into the space behind her.


By now, Peter's used to the sleek, black uniform kind of deal. He gets it. It looks cool. Dramatic. He probably had a costume designed that was some sort of black leather ensemble when he was fifteen and thought that was totally awesome. That's not really what surprises him.

It's the… everything else. the featureless faceplate. The weird array of cables. The whole 'I'm straight out of a crazy Bioware sci-fi fantasy' feel they've got going on. He's never -quite- seen anything like that. And so it leads him to one conclusion:

"Whoa, whoa, wait! Are you, like — a robot? A robot -supervillain-??"

A second passes.

"Wow. Does this mean my crazy uncle's robot conspiracy theories he posts about on Facebook are actually right? This is deeply upsetting—"

Spider-Man (or Man, Spider, depending on your preference) is in the midst of those lamentations when Six actually speaks. That heavily modulated voice just adds credence to his Robot Theory (or they just have a voice modulator, like he would have if -he- had money), and makes those big, white lenses slowly condense into tiny, slitted squints of incredulity.

"So… okay. So you came here and attached yourself to the side of a high-moving train — which is -super- dangerous by the way, why don't they ever tell you how much winds hurt at high speeds?? — climb allllll the way over here with your weird… robot… whatevers, just to leave?" The spider-vigilante flips himself into the car through that hole Six helpfully made until he's literally sticking his back to the wall of that once-silent interior with baffling ease, even as he brings a spandex-gloved hand up to stroke thoughtfully at his chin. "See, I'm not — like — a detective or anything, but that doesn't add up. Or it's just dumb. I'm not sure. Is there such a thing as a dumb robot? And besides, you didn't even answer my second question—"

A tingle. Something's going to happen. He feels it originating from the cargo door, and while he doesn't hear anything save for the shuffle of feet… he knows something bad's about to happen. "Ah, crap." Within a matter of seconds, plastique is ignited and erupts in a door-warping burst of kinetic force. Within the seconds before -that-, the red-and-blue masked hero(-in-training) is already flipping backwards into the air, attaching to the ceiling of the car just barely in the knick of time to avoid the blowback of that force. "Whoa! That is not proper etiquette for opening doors!" the young man complains. And then he sees the surge of black, armored bodies pouring in. And sees his totally evil robot target running off. … leaving him looking like he's got his hand in the high tech cookie jar.

"Oh. Uh. Hey, scary… soldier dudes. I was just… janitor work."

"Everything looks spick-and-span though so I'm just gonna—"

And off Spider-Man lunges, looking to fly through the opened door in pursuit of the fleeing Six as he slaps himself to the side of the car and starts climbing up it rapidly. This is going to be tricky. Why does not one say how annoying vigilante work on a train is?!

"Hey! I, Robot! I order you to come back here! Obey the laws of robotics better!! Asimov would be giving you -such- a paddling for all this!"


Kinsey is good at math. And not just because of her oh-so-clever nom de guerre in 'Six,' either.

She calculated the timing of this as best she could, using data from most of the Acela runs for the last several years, most especially those during which additional personal or commercial cars were added or removed along the route. She was off by about a minute, as it happens, which is fairly good when one considers the length of time it takes for the Acela to actually get from D.C. to Boston (seven and a half hours at this time of the evening), but /really really awful/ when you're being chased by not only the Knightwatch, but also Spider-Man.

Sixty seconds feels like an eternity.

What she's thinking, as she struggles to crest the next train, is this:

He sounds so young.

Her memories of the gala catastrophe are confused at best, more like a flipbook of static moments than a film reel, and in any event there'd been so much /screaming/, she'd barely heard what he said at all. But the monologue in the train, that was — what even /was/ that? Who the hell, she asks herself — as the heel-like bottoms of her lower leg prosthetics split and segment into articulated claws not entirely unlike a bird of prey's, barbs scythed from the end of each claw and the tips of her one prosthetic hand gaining purchase in the top of the car as though it were made of soda-can aluminum —

Who the hell is Hailee Steinfeld?

She has to fight not to be torn away by the wind shear, and the city limits, where the train will slow, are still forty-five seconds away. She keeps her head low, splitting the incoming rush of air over her back, and scrabbles forward with what is absolutely nothing like the relative grace of Spider-Man, who just…/sticks/ to things. How does he even /do/ that, his costume was so tractionless, it doesn't make /sense/—

She knows that because she can't help herself: she turns her head to look back over her shoulder and gets blown into a sideways drift across the train roof for her mistake, leaving long rents in the surface she desperately tries to regain traction with. And what is — /what is that on his shoulder flailing around in the wind/, is that something he sucked the juice out of? Or an egg sack!? Is he actually some kind of spider-man hybrid, for real??

Thirty seconds until they hit the brakes, and she isn't sure she'll last that long. Particularly not when she sees the first helmet pop up behind the car. It is somewhat — but only somewhat — like her own, and it's there only briefly before the person occupying that helmet disappears. The disappearance worries her more than the appearance did.

"You should really get out of here while you can!" the filters are not meant to broadcast over the shattering amount of sound present on the exterior of a high-speed train. They're a last resort only: she's not supposed to get /caught/.

…hasn't really been working out for her, granted.


Six certainly is at something of a disadvantage here in terms of mobility. That web-spun background bouncing about with the rolling roar of icy wind, Spider-Man still moves with disturbingly fluid ease along the train, climbing his way up before flipping on to the top of the next car just as Six is nearly torn sideways by the viciousness of the winds.

"Whoa, watch it!" calls out Man, Spider with a flash of concern. Really, none of this is going how he expected it to. The evil robot is running instead of giving him the sweet train fight he always dreamed of; there's like… ominous robot knight people pursuing them now; things are REALLY, REALLY COLD; and perhaps most importantly of all, no one is responding to his jokes one bit.

What a bad day.

And so it is with a heavy heart, that while Six tries to recover from the billowing winds nearly whipping her off the train, Spider-Man just… jumps. By the time she looks back — IF she looks back — she won't find anything but empty air to deliver her warning to. Instead—


The voice comes from in front of her. Landing with a remarkably silent impact, the lithe spider-vigilante reasserts himself into a standing position to put himself in the path of Six and what he -assumes- is her projected trajectory to get away from whatever those ominously silent Robo-Cops were. Shouldering his makeshift backback, the act alone makes him look even younger than he likely is — like a kid just getting home from school. On top of a train.


His body tenses in preparation. Something about this seems weird to him. Who are those guys? Why is this robot (obviously) running? Did they actually try to — warn him? Was that a warning, or a threat??

His hands lift. His fingers press into his palm.


Six prooobably knows what's happening next. She'll have all of a few seconds to figure something out, before that adhesive goop shoots from Spider-Man's web-spinner in a swift volley aimed for those clawed feet — with every intention of sticking her to the surface of the train.



Six probably would look if she thought she could get away with it, but her heart is still hammering on the inside of her ribcage like it's a xyolophone, and her faceplate is pressed almost flat to the top of the train. If she could grind it further down into the surface of the train, she would. Some part of her, a fragment of her thoughts, is sitting off to one side and counting down the seconds while the rest of her tries to manage doing something that, in retrospect, seemed a lot more straightforward than it has turned out to be — she probably should've guessed that, there was that episode of Archer with the train and, god, who could've predicted that would turn out to be accurate?

So when he lands in front of her, when he starts shouting upwind of her, she almost loses her hold on the train for a second time. The sound that emits from the speakers is difficult to describe, probably because a short yelp isn't in the software's dictionary. It has no idea what to make of the sound she makes inside of that helmet of hers. She looks up on a slight angle, wary of lifting her head too much lest the wind rip it right off of her neck. His own white lenses reflect back at him in the dark sheen. "YOU DON'T UNDERST—"

Two things happen simultaneously that chuck a wrench into the machinery of her mind, interrupting whatever it is that she was going to say. The first are the words 'Saw Gerrera.' Some of her bandwidth for thought partitions off, recognizing the name, chasing it down neural pathways liberally doused in the gasoline of her adrenaline, everything presently on fire. Somewhere in those smoke-filled corridors she remembers the Clone Wars, and the realization follows, humanizing and close to home: Spider-Man is a /nerd/.

The second thing, which may reasonably be considered the more important of the two, is the sudden appearance of a circular hole at the other end of the train, perhaps two inches in diameter. It belongs to a long nozzle. It slides up, tilts until it's aiming just over the heads of the two figures atop the roof. Five picks it out for her in the HUD of her helmet, neon lines gliding over the outlines. Warnings flash.

Which is, of course, when she gets webbed. Adhesive strands bind into the delicate machinery of the transfigured prosthetics. Her immediate instinct is to thrash, but strong as their grip may be, they are attached to her legs, and her leverage into them is only as strong as she is — which is to say, not particularly.

There is a soft /THOONK/ sound as the nozzle at the end of the train sprays netting up and over the roof, aiming to trap them both. The material is opaque, deeply dense, not metal but possessed of the tensile strength of steel cable, perhaps. Whether Spider-Man's danger-sense saves him or not, Six will be trapped, and her reaction places further burdens on the software that emulates her voice: her "NO!" is split, forked along multiple octaves by the degree of her distress.

As she fights, she reaches around behind her with her organic hand, struggling with a series of three spheres latched to one of the two belts slung at her hips.

This looks so easy in the movies. In comics and video games. It looks so easy on television, and in the footage she had to watch so. many. hours of, before she was finally inducted into the Knightwatch, herself. Superman, a blur so fast that he can barely be caught on film at all, whisking people out of harm's way; Batman, disappearing with a ghost's foresight into shadows that seem too thin to house anyone so large. Spider-Man, even; slicing through the air high over the pavement like a high-diver, aerodynamic and beyond gravity.

How do they all make it look so easy?


For someone who can technically sense it coming from a mile away, Spider-Man sure has an incredibly difficult time with staying out of trouble. Maybe it's just the nature of vigilante work. Maybe he's still just too new at this. Or maybe it's just that infamous Parker Luck that's been afflicting him all his life. Regardless of the source, or sources, he finds himself barreling into that trouble headfirst yet again as adhesives cling Six to the surface of the train with a tensile strength way too strong for what ought to be… whatever that substance is. Problem solved. Right?

But something about this doesn't seem right at all. And for a moment, in his confusion, and his assurance that the threat's been neutralized, he lets his guard drop even for a moment. "LOOK," he begins. There's a dull ache at the back of his mind. "I'M STARTING TO GET THE SINKING SUSPICION YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY A ROBOT—"

Whatever else he might have had to say beyond that quip, though, is cut off viciously with the buzz of his spider-sense. He reacts in a heartbeat; but as lightning-fast as he is, he ignored that warning sign for just a second too long. /THOONK/ goes the nozzle, and those white lenses widen with what is assumedly surprise as Spider-Man springs up off the ground, spirals through the air—

—and gets snagged by the ankle as that net flies, sending him flinging towards the ground with the harsh WHUMPing impact of metal-on-flesh. Spider-Man ricochets off the ground, twists as he is bound up in that netting. The straps of that backpack loosen within the impact; by the time he's floored completely, the sack whips off of his shoulders, caught within the whirling winds ripping across the train as it goes flying off towards the ground below.

And there goes Peter Parker's clothes.

"AW— CRAP!! Ugh — this is — this is just an emotional EARTHQUAKE!" Thank you for letting him adequately express his feelings, Hailee Steinfeld.

Grimacing behind his suit, the masked vigilante lets out a forlorn groan. Can today get any -worse-? Well — yes. It can, actually. Especially because he just got -netted-. -Irony.- And so he struggles against that tensile sturdiness, phenomenal strength straining against netting in a way that ultimately just kind of makes him look like he's thrashing around like a baby throwing a tantrum right now.

Yes. Definitely makes this looks easy.

"UGH — is the universe just out to show me how annoying this is when I do it to other people or something because COME ON — I AM HAVING A LONG TALK WITH YOU WHEN THIS IS ALL DONE, MISTER OR MISS I PRETEND TO BE A ROBOT."


If she weren't panicking — really and truly panicking, of the kind that makes it feel as though her head is full of fireworks and the entire universe is collapsing in on her in a slow but inevitable implosion of not only her life but everything that ever was or will be — she would have the wits to yell even one of the things that she screams inside of her skull as he neglects to see what's coming, too busy speculating about the status of her humanity and /OH MY GOD DOES THAT REALLY MATTER/?

The quality of the wind shear begins to change. It becomes less ferocious as the train begins to slow, hitting city limits, and it begins to become rough, serrated, whipping back and forth unevenly rather than passing in a relentless backward jetstream, an effect caused by the buildings that close in to either side. The light changes, too: the stars disappear, blotted out by the orange glare of overhead arc-sodium street lights and the warm glow that spills from windows.

The spheres on Six's belt finally release. Approximately the size of pool balls, they hit the top of the train, snare in the tangle of netting, and then blaze to life with a brilliant emissions, rising from the train and somehow keeping pace. Tight, narrow beams of focused green light stab outward from one of several small holes in the fuselage of each, rays swiveling with machine precision. The net disintegrates where the laser cutters pass through. So does the webbing, though the color of the beam changes, flicked to red.

Six re-anchors her feet, but the articulated claws are gummed up by the webbing still skeined about the sophisticated joints. There's a commotion on the forward end of the train car, where the netting gun disappeared once its work was done. Time to go.

(The Valkyrie's systems are coming online.)

No! We can't use that, they'll see it! We just have to jump.

And that is fully what she intends to do, until she lifts her body up enough to brace it, looks ahead to see if she can predict a place to do that…

…and sees Spider-Man caught in the net.

She does the rough calculus in a mere heartbeat. He is closer to them than she is. Unless he's done something to screw up his cover in the last year, they don't know who he really is; they might find that interesting enough that they'd settle for taking him, letting her go. They probably wouldn't hurt him. He's one of the good guys. Tag and release, right? It could buy her time to get away.

For a fleeting second she sees that reality: her slip from the train, the way they'd drag him in, down into the cargo car, to discover that he didn't have what was taken, was only caught up in everything by accident.

And then the memory trickles in after it, his ever-rambling voice, fading off to inaudibility as he'd been grabbed by that /whatever/ it had been: "Sorry I'm coming back for you I promise if it makes you feel any better I'm actually really good at this—"

…she can't.

She just can't.

God damn it.

Claws bite into metal, and she crawls toward him, toward the potential unraveling of everything she is, down there just below them, preparing to haul them in like the world's most unlikely fish. The spheres follow. The whine they emit can be heard even over the wind.

Hands get hold of his thrashing limbs through the netting. They are not even remotely the same: one is metal, hard, cold, the other entirely organic, though gloved. "HOLD STILL STOP MOVING, I'M GOING TO GET YOU OUT. JUST— DON'T MOVE."

The laser cutters begin their work regardless; if they must trace wide in order to avoid pieces of him then that's what they do. In the background she can sense it: the man in the black tactical equipment, the helmet with the HUD inside of it that she knows every last feature of…because she designed it herself. Cataloguing her, no doubt. Him, too. Adding to their footage back at the D.E.O. The instructions he'll be getting from his A.I. in real-time, linked with those belonging to every agent still within the train.

Not for the first time, she asks herself: what have I done?


And this has become a 'we' situation, very suddenly. "LIKE /RIGHT NOW/. /NOW!/"


Unsteady and uneven bursts of wind shear across the red and blue encasing of Spider-Man's spandex suit as his muscles tense like dangerous whipcords underneath those tight confines. It's easy to see the strain he exerts upon the netting just thanks to the nature of his costume, but what is maybe more noticeable is the simple fact that those efforts, for as unfortunately embarassing as they look, don't seem to be in vain: that netting is as durable as steel. And yet, slowly but surely, it's tearing, with a hideous sound of dense material being ripped open that is lost to the slowing roar of the train.

It's an open question whether the vigilante would be able to get himself out under his own power by the time those men in black managed to make their way across the traincar roof to him, or whether he would be caught, his identity revealed, and his entire life as he knows it compromised. Whether, if Six abandoned him to that fate, he'd be able to fend for himself against so many armed men. Whether he could deal with the whole heap of trouble that would come after that with making himself an enemy of a government organization he doesn't even know exists.

In the end, though, it's an open question that is destined to remain unanswered. All the possibilities of that moment narrow down to just one within a single pang of conscience; netting slowly prying apart under the powerful grip of his tugging fingers, Spider-Man's efforts are cut short as he hears that strangely artificial voice. Feels those hands on him, one metal and dense, the other flesh and bone. He stills, for a moment. Those lenses seem to almost flicker in a blink. He looks up and sees —


First he finds out high speed pursuits on trains AREN'T fun, then he LOSES HIS CLOTHES, and now the robot villain is trying to save his life?? AND ISN'T EVEN A ROBOT?

This has been a really, really weird day.


It's a serious concern. And also just calls to mind that he has no reason to trust her. Part of him considers just breaking himself out before those lasers can do their dangerous Laser Thing to him. The other part…

… is the part that doesn't move as the netting is sliced clean faster than it would have taken him to tear through. The material spills off of him and tumbles off the train tracks, churned up by the wind and billowing into the air even as the spandex-clad spider springs back onto his feet. He hesitates. Looks at the man in black. Then Six. Man in black. Six.


This is the sound of regret as Spider-Man looks pivot about on his heel, aim a stuttering spray of webbing at the mask of the man staring at them (-rude-) to obstruct his vision and sensors or -whatever- weird robot crap is going on there, grab Six by the wrist… and then start running.


And then leap. Off the train. At high speeds.

They'll go flying high for several feet, until they gain just the velocity he needs to spin a webline for the steely surface of a nearby building wall. They fall… and as it -snaps- with tense life, the two will go whipping about that building at high speeds — away from the train and slicing through the cold January night skies.

And hopefully away from any more netting.

That's HIS schtick!!


He's actually doing it. He's actually tearing it.

The DEO is equipped for dealing with all kinds of extranormal threats. They can capture beings who slide sideways through dimensional rifts, after all.

But who would have thought that someone the size of Spider-Man could actually tear the composite material from which they've crafted that netting? Its statistical efficacy —

Someone is going to be fired for this.

Six doesn't have time to be gobsmacked. She's too terrified.

'Aren't you - like - the bad guy?'


So complicated that, if she's honest with herself, she really doesn't know.

The tangle of netting, half-rent by his gloved hands and half-sliced by technology she /really/ shouldn't have, sloughs away, probably to cause a traffic accident somewhere in the distance. He snaps to his feet with that fluidity that makes it all look so /effortless/, and she clings to the car in the ripples of air that break around him. Watches him consider the Knightwatch soldier, then herself. And again. Enough that she understands he's working through the same equation as herself, at least. She realizes, perhaps right around the same time that he does, that he has no reason to help her. She very obviously broke into a train and took something that doesn't belong to her. Why would he?

Her heart sinks.

And then plummets down somewhere into the bottom of her abdomen once he gets a hand around her wrist and takes off /running/. On top of a train now going just slightly less than a hundred miles per hour. The inertia alone bottoms out everything inside of her. She makes a haphazard effort to assist so that he isn't forced to drag her weight against the wind, but there's still /spider goop/ in her alloy feet and she finds it impossible to gain the same kind of traction that he has, so in large part she winds up kicking at the wind, a token effort.

In the moment just before he jumps she sees white webbing splatter across the front of that helmet and whatever piece of equipment was being brought to bear on the failure of the attempt to net them, and somewhere inside she mentally pumps a fist, smug and spiteful. /HAH!/ As though she had anything to do with that at all.

Then he does jump, though, and the warm glow of unearned accomplishment is swiftly replaced with vertigo. Gravity seems to cease to exist. She feels briefly weightless, able to watch the onrush of dangerous things like 'pavement' and 'parked cars' with an almost detached sense of inevitability, and after the chaos of the racket caused by the train, the sudden silence of mere wind is breathtaking.

And then they swing, and G-forces send all of her organs back down toward the bottoms of her feet…such as they are. Whoever he is, he can tear military-grade arresting gear, used to stop landing jets on aircraft carriers. He's not going to drop her unless he wants to. But the primal animal part of her brain still rebels against the seeming insufficience of that grasp, and she clenches her eyes shut behind her faceplate.

"Your costume really needs handles!"



Somewhere, in the back of his mind, Peter Parker thinks to himself,


'J. Jonah Jameson would have a field day with all this if he found out.'

Really, his only hope right now is this is all some clandestine weird conspiracy thing that's never going to make it to the press as anything other than 'GAS-LEAK MELTS HOLE IN TRAIN - SPIDER-MAN SUSPECTED OF BAD GAS?' Everything about this just seems shady for any number of reasons. And now he's hauling some crazy maybe-cyborg off a train after he/she/it just pulled a robbery. A TRAIN robbery!

Like they used to do back in the Old West!!

All these concerns and more are running through Spider-Man's head even when he goes into free-fall towards the city streets below. It's something he's done countless times before, but never under these circumstances: Six's weight might not be much for him to carry, but it's something he subconsciously calculates for and has to make adjustments to accomodate, as much as her mere presence is. Which, speaking of—

Six gets to feel first hand how fun and/or not fun it is to go web-slinging with Spider-Man in bone-chilling winter night weather when you -don't- have superhuman durability proportional to that of a spider. The good news is, it probably won't kill her.

The bad news is he doesn't really do this with other people often, if at all, and so Six gets to be one of his very first trial cases. Lucky her.

Force bears down on both of them as they rise high into the air within the momentum of Spider-Man's practical pendulum swing. When they reach the apex, another line is cast, spinning through the air until it attaches to the side of the next building and they go plummeting once more at high speeds. At best, it's like riding a very turbulent roller coster. At -best-. He's gotten so used to this by now though, there's not much that could screw up their planned trajectory.

'Your costume really needs handles!'


Not that Six doesn't try, at least.

"What do you think I am, some sort of… Vehicle-Man?! I'm not Speed Buggy! I mean, maybe if I designed them like spider-limbs or—no nope nope nope I'm not taking costume fashion advice from someone who decorates themselves with plugs! You look like you just got out of a Shadowrun convention!"

This rant is interspersed through each line and swing until, eventually, the pair whip up through the air; when he reaches the crux of his ascent this time, though, Spider-Man just bends -backwards, angling his descent so that they fall backwards down onto the roof of a nearby building, lit up in the artificial glow of the city's countless shrouds of light. If Six was losing her sense of equilibrium before, well — hopefully she has a strong stomach. Or at least waits for him to make landfall before puking.

Especially because, as soon as they land — as soon as Spider-Man deposits her on the ground — things go something like this:

"Okay, FastJack, so I just lost my clothes and my pride and MAYBE my prospects of getting an in to the Crazy Faceless Robo-Cop Conspiracy meet-up so I'm PRETTY sure I deserve some answers before I haul you off to prison for World's Weirdest Reenactment of the Great Train Robbery, so, like — start talking."

Because he needs some answers.

And also because his voice is already getting sore and he'd -really- feel like a goofus if his voice just up-and-cracked in the middle of a heroic speech about right and wrong and not tricking people into thinking you're a robot.


He told her not to scream. Because tinnitus.

And for the first swing, she doesn't. She closes her eyes and grits her teeth and is a silent — not passenger. Dead weight? A silent dead weight, trying not to imagine what's happening just beyond the exterior of her own skin, because if she thinks about it too hard, her heart might stop. This is helped only slightly by the fact that it's so cold she tenses and starts to shiver, limbs drawn in, all thoughts turned inward.

The second time, though. That's too much. They hit some kind of floating high point and then the /fall/ and she can't help it, she screams. The helmet soaks the vast majority of that shriek, speakers spewing some kind of ugly noise like the sound made by the connection of an old-school modem, underneath which is the faintest suggestion of an actual scream, because the helmet is not perfectly sealed.

Later, she'll think to herself that it would probably be a blast, once you got used to it. If you had some /control/ over it. But just then, dangling that way, at the mercy of five fingers and a palm that do not belong to her — encased in spandex, which has /no traction whatsoever how does he do that, how/ — it isn't fun. It is terrifying and disorienting and so, so cold.

She gasps for air as her insides catch up with that second upward swing. /Plugs/, he says. /Shadowrun convention/ — /oh my god he really is a nerd/ — and all she can think to say is, "THEY'RE NOT" Gasp, "DECORAT"

The fall again, but shorter. Short enough that she doesn't have time to scream again before she hits the roof hard and rolls, a bundle of varying textures and shapes, from the brown leather of her coat to the sleek leggings to the — whatever they are. Machined limbs that reach and grasp, transformed, clawed feet that search for purchase in her momentary flip across the tar and concrete. They find nothing before she lands on her side, back to him. The feet seem to want to change shape again, lock back into their typical form — a bit like booted heels — but the webbing has gummed up the works.

Three out of her four limbs may not be real, but her inner ear most certainly is, and it is still out there somewhere, being slung around at the end of a slender adhesive cord. She manages to get her hands underneath her, plants them both and pushes. The left arm shakes from shoulder to wrist. Her sense of balance is still spiraling, and her effort to get onto her knees ends poorly, center of balance veering over. It ends with her on her elbows, back down on one hip.

And panting, jets of steam leaving the bottom of the helmet, coiling into the dark and freezing air. Robots do not pant, one assumes.

Or shiver.

She rolls over onto her back, pushes herself away from him with feet and hands. That's safe enough. Until her back comes into contact with an HVAC duct.

"Well…uh…" She struggles to catch her breath, and watches him warily. Maybe he /is/ a monster. "…What…do you want to know?"

Kinsey, you are the world's least awesome whatever-you-are.


As they fall, Six finally screams. And Spider-Man's reaction to it is ineffably graceful:


He takes it pretty well.


Which IS NOT what he ever needed to hear, or think about, ever. So. He's happy about that.

And this is how Spider-Man makes landfall, with infinitely more ease than the poor cyborg making perv sounds does. He winces just a little bit as she goes for a tumble — really, even if she IS a bad guy, that can't be fun — and then just, sorta… waits. For her to recover. Even if he's rarely carried someone with him before, he's smart enough to know just how disorienting all those accumulated g-forces can be for someone unused to them. So he waits, patiently.

And waits.

And taps his foot just a bit as he waits.

That might be a little less patient.

He's started humming along to Hailee Steinfeld's "Rock Bottom" by the time Six manages to push herself away from him, his head tilting down to watch those feet struggle to shift with all their mechanical insistence. His head tilts to the right, as the humming stops.

"Oh, uh. Right. That'll dissolve in…" He thinks back to when he even applied it, white lenses shuttering into slits. "… fifty… one minutes? Maybe? So just uh. Sit tight with the monster claws 'til then, I guess." Maybe he shouldn't tell her how long his webs last. But he's pretty sure that information is useless unless someone wants to know how long they're going to be inconvenienced for. So.

He looks forward to all the ways -that- is going to come back to bite him in the ass.

For now, he seems content to just stand there — not advancing, not trying to attack her. That would just be low, kicking them while they're down. Hands on his hips, with all the judgy, expectant air in the world, he waits until that question. And here— it— comes—

"Okay so like — what were you doing there? What were you even doing in that train car? Why were those train cars even there? Who did they belong to? Why were they filled with a bunch of Judge Dredd's less emotive cousins? Are you a cyborg? Did you come from the future to kill Sarah Connor? If you are, can you explain the plot of Terminator: Genisys to me? Because I'm still like, totally at a loss there."




No. She's not thinking about that. She's not!

The vents and filters make it difficult for her to drag air into her lungs fast enough to keep up with the demands being made on her overtaxed heart, so for quite a few moments after he finishes rattling off that long litany of things he wants to say, she's still jetting steam and fighting for breath through those slots near the bottom of the helmet. Like some sort of very willowy Darth Vader, really.

She starts with the easy, non-verbal answer to his question, lifting her left arm and curling the matte, metallic fingers of her right hand into the cuff to yank back on it, exposing a stretch of very unexceptional, creamy skin on the inside of her forearm, beneath which the faint blue shadows of veins can be seen. Then she tugs the sleeve down again, because it's /cold/. Propped against the icy sidewall of that HVAC duct, she folds her arms across her chest, hands loosely folding around the shoulder opposite, knees dragged up and in. Metallic feet rasp and sing on the gritty concrete, like the soft, silvery sound made by circling a fingertip along the top of a wine glass.

The posture is as much for reasons of self-defense as it is to ward off the bite of the season. The questions he's asking, for the most part — the other ones; the other ones that aren't the kind of mental foam she's beginning to understand are part of whoever he is — are difficult. Easy to answer, but difficult to assemble as any kind of whole that makes sense without giving up some part of herself in the process.

So she has one of her own, first:

"Are you really going to haul me off to prison?"


Are you really going to haul me off to prison?

It's a good question, that should have a simple and immediate answer: yes. I am going to haul you off to prison. Because you -broke into a speeding train and stole something out of it-. Now go tell those nice young Go-Bots or whatever that you're sorry so I can string you up in front of an NYPD building and people can misinterpret me as being in league with the cyborg revolution.

But that answer doesn't come. He's got it locked and loaded, but nothing ever leaves his lips but white, condensed breath that billows and dissipates into the cold night air as he stares down at her. It should be easy, but it isn't. Because there's too many unknowns. She stole something. But he doesn't even know -what-. Information, he has to assume, but how? Through her cybernetics? Some sort of interfacing? In that case, what was security systems advanced enough for someone like her to bother doing on that train anyway?

This is getting a long way from Spider-Man's cool train battle, and he's getting increasingly upset about that fact, a disappointment he has to table for later in the face of the judgment he has to lay upon this person.

He's tense, for a long moment. They seem so normal. But normal people don't break into trains. Normal people don't piss off a whole parade of Space Marines. The answer's obvious. Let the police figure this out. Not your problem. Except—

"That kinda depends on what you tell me, doesn't it?"

—except it is.

Peter Parker, you are the world's biggest, dumbest, stupid dumb dumb stupid idiot, his brain tells him.

Thanks brain, I'll remember that later when I really need to feel like an asshole.

"All this seems really complicated and I'm getting a headache just trying to figure out what you were doing hacking a train or whatever. You tried to help me out, too, so you can't be all bad, right? Maybe just like, seventy-five percent badness or lower? I'm willing to bet on lower percentages. So, like, y'know. I'm pretty sure my ears have stopped ringing, so now'd be a good time to talk."


She doesn't move, at least, once she draws those long limbs in and folds them more closely near her core. She does not seem at high risk for fleeing, and in any event — where would she /go/? Unless those prosthetics are housing infinitely more interesting technology than they've displayed thus far, she is stranded on an island of urban architecture in a sea of open air with the one person who can get her back down to the ground again.

And very, very aware of that. Behind the featureless, glossy black of the faceplate, green-gold eyes try with futility to prise some sort of — /something/ — from the masked face of her opposite. Something. Anything. Impossible, of course. He's a stranger and so is she, and they are stranger strangers than most, having engineered facades for themselves to keep the rest of the world from getting to close to whatever the truth is that resides just beneath the visible. Meeting new people can be a challenge under the best of circumstances. This is a long, long way from /that/.

"The…the train…" Hesitation reads strangely through that filter, pauses unnatural without any sort of expression to lend the silence nuance. "The cars belonged to the Department of Extranormal Operations, Knightwatch Division. The Knightwatch is…" Several of the metal fingers wrapped around her left shoulder tighten, indicated by a wink on delicate silver robotics glimpsed between the powder-black joints. "It's an all-human specialist military branch dedicated to dealing with threats posed by metahumans, extraterrestrials, extradimensional beings, extra— " …uh, duh… "— extranormals." She finishes the sentence lamely. Sort of implied in DEPARTMENT OF EXTRANORMAL OPERATIONS, Kinsey.

There's a long silence, and then a very slight upward tilt of her helmet. Up here there isn't much light to drizzle over the black glass of the surface — just enough moonlight to warp the dull grey top of the building, and the faint suggestions of red and blue. "Us." This pause is brief, followed by a small shrug, and then she turns her head to the side, looking away at — nothing, really.

"They had research on that train that I needed. They were going to take it to a secure storage facility up north." With some reluctance, she lifts her left, gloved hand and slides it into the top of her coat, fishing for the drive. Small, black, flat, rectangular. She does not hold it up, in case he feels compelled to try to take it from her, but she does drop her head to look at it. "It's not really stealing if it belonged to m—"

The realization of what she's done, of her mistake, hits her over the head like a hammer.

She'd thought herself incapable of feeling any more panic now that they're out of immediate danger, but she was /wrong/. She audibly gasps and shoves the drive back into its place within the bust of her underlayer, unfolds like origami, struggling to get to her feet, dizzy and cold and unstable because her feet are not meant for /walking/ in this configuration.

"Oh no!" She spins unsteadily in place, head turning one way, then the other, trying desperately to orient herself to the direction in which the train was — but she can't tell, too many other buildings in the way. Both of her hands lift, splayed over the sides of the helmet — oh no, /oh no/ — and then she bends forward and covers her faceplate as though it were her face, closing her eyes and fighting off a twist of nausea.

"Oh shit, oh god. I fucked up. I wasn't thinking, I was almost done and then you showed up, you — I got distracted and panicked, I grabbed the drive…but I only grabbed /this one/. I only grabbed /mine/."

Icewater is slowly flooding her bowels, so chilling that she forgets entirely the cold outside of herself. "Oh my god. I'm so fucked."


For all that those lenses might actually be able to show some expressiveness — somehow — Spider-Man's mask is there for a reason. Whoever he is, whatever he might be thinking or feeling — that's all tightly contained, tightly hidden. For good reason, too many to list.

Besides, if people could see that there was just a teenager underneath this mask who can't even legally drink yet let alone grapple the prodigious responsibility of renting a car, no one would take him seriously. Seriously.

And so, that mask is relatively unreadable save for the slow, incredulous squint of those white lenses the more that Six tries to explain. "Department of… Extranormal… Operations," he says, practically mouthing the words like someone who's never heard of it before. Probably, because he hasn't. "Wait wait wait — there's some Big Brother government agency that's meant to like, monitor and 'deal' with people like me? — Like us? And what kinda name is Knightwatch? Did someone there just watch too much Knight Rider and decide 'what if it was a crime-solving watch instead? That's a cool name, right guys? Right? Anyone? Well, I'm going with it anyway!'"

Yes. Spider-Man acts out this whole thing. He even pitches his voice lower to try to emulate some sort of schlubby seedy government type. There's a bit of Nixon in there. It almost works.

That all just happened.


But that's not what's important now. What's important is what Six says next — what she does next. The spandex-clad spider-vigilante already has an important lesson about why it's -not okay- to steal from monolithic government agencies with runaway budgets when his would-be captive starts to just up and panic. Spinning around, gripping her head, looking for all the world like she's just experiencing some sort of Blue Screen of Death in realtime, Spider-Man just sort of… blinks. Literally, those lenses shutter in a flicker of motion. "Hey— uh— you okay there, champ? You're not, like, rebooting or something, are you? Installed Windows 8? Is that reference still timely?"

But despite his words, there's confusion and even concern in his tone. He can't help it. He reaches out. He hesitates. And then he realizes just what the problem is.

"Oh wow you are totally boned."

No. That's not helping, Spider-Man!

"Wait wait did they even see you? They just saw me, right? Maybe they'll just think you're Spider-Man! —Crap, what if they think I'm you?? Ohhh crap crap crappity crap!"

No. Still not helping.

"—Why are you — why do they care? Why are you after them? Why are they after you? I can — take you somewhere, or — Why am I trying to help a train robber!"

But he knows why. He has a responsibility.

And he can't just let this go now.

"I am the dumbest person who ever lived! Oh my god! Screw it — do you know anywhere safe — that they wouldn't know you'd be?"


"It was Stormwatch before, I don't know where the 'Knight' part came from, that's — /it doesn't matter/."

He reaches out, and maybe Six takes this as consent, because she reaches for both of his shoulders, intending to hold him at arm's length but squared to him, as though she could beam the intensity of her gaze through a half-inch of ballistics glass, and then however-many millimeters of — whatever those lenses are, and actually she's curious, because how does that work? Behind her there is a high-pitched whining sound, familiar. It's the drones, all three of them. They are /finally/ catching up with Spider-Man's mad Tarzan escape through the city of New York.

"I'm not after them. I /was/ them!" If she's got hold of him, she'll give him a little shake there for emphasis. "Please. Please, I know you have /no reason/ to trust me and I know you have no — I'm so sorry that you got involved, it isn't fair, you never should have been, but you're right. They may have seen you and they might think — maybe they'll think you took it, and if that's the case, even if they didn't see me, they might think you have something to /do/ with me, with my work, the work I used to do for them, and that's really, /really/ dangerous for you, and will you help me? Please. I have to get — I need to get back to that train. I have to cover for this somehow. I can — I can come up with something. Take more information or…just…blow the whole thing sky high, I don't know, something, anything. Anything so they don't realize what it was I was actually doing in there. Or — or you, I guess. Or what they think you were doing. I can figure this out. I can! I just — I need to think," she says, half-turning away, her gloved hand splayed across the crown of her helmet.

So what do you say, Peter Parker? /Want to rob a train with little to no information as to why?/


No! He absolutely does not!

This is pretty much the overriding thought for Peter Parker even as he is shaken so emphatically by the apparently government agent-turned-train robber. Or… whatever she's supposed to be. Whatever she -is-. He doesn't know. He doesn't really know anything about her. Even the information she's told him could be lies. He doesn't know why she's stealing from the -government- of all things, and he's pretty sure that's about as illegal as it gets, which absolutely is not what he signed up for when he got into this whole hero business—

"You're not blowing it up," he says suddenly, emphatically, as he lifts his own hands to take Six's and slowly — carefully — pull them away. "No more shaking. Shaking bad." Releasing her after, he looks back to where the train was with a slow squint and a frown behind his mask. Can he even catch up to it? Can he…

"One," he suddenly begins as he looks back towards Six, "you're not blowing up the train," he knows he said that already, but it bears repeating— "Two. You're going to fix this by putting the drive back and making it look like you just didn't manage to get the information in time. Whatever. I don't care. It's going back." And despite his youth, he's not brokering any if's, and's, or but's. But it's also not as if he could actually overlook it, either, make sure she was doing what he asked. After all…

"Three, and this is the part I hate the -most-, I'm going to give you a distraction so you can get in and do your thing," he really really hates that part he -really- hates it— "And four… I can… probably get back there, but it's not going to be a fun ride for you. I was kinda going easy for you before, uh. … so… I guess four is,

"'Please don't throw up on me.'"

It's a reasonable request. They also don't have a lot of time. And so he lifts a hand in offering, even while looking back. "And so like not that I want to rush the dramatic tension of this moment because it's really gripping and all but we -really gotta go fast right now- so— I guess the only thing I've got left is—

"Can I trust you?"


'You're not blowing it up' is the first thing he says, and even though he prises her hands off of him, she practically melts with obvious relief. Nobody needs to see anyone's expression for that to read, in neon letters ten feet high: steam mists out of her helmet vents and hear head drops backward, eyes no doubt closing and shoulders, hiked up practically around her ears by then, falling back to some faint immitation of relaxation. The small drones take up orbiting her upper body like small planets, silent and lightless. "Oh my god, thank you," she says, quietly enough that the filter barely puts out any words at all.

But he has opinions about how this is going to be done, which cause her head to snap up again. She has to put the drive /back/? BACK?

"But — b-but —"

But they'll use it. My work. They'll try to make more people like me, or—

There is no way to begin to explain the complexities of the issue. Not while the clock is ticking and she can /feel/ the train racing off toward the city limits again, where it'll pick up speed, and then there won't be any buildings for him to sling to, and then what? Then —

"Okay," she agrees, the word barely there. It's weak with disappointment, but what other choice does she have? The alternative, the consequence of her present situation, does not even bear thinking about.

He's going to give her a /distraction/. He's going to do that.

"/Thank you so much/."

He's going to get robot-hugged. Or not. If he's prudent and careful — except for the bit where he's agreeing to help this person he barely knows do something extremely dangerous on thin evidence and personal testimony — he might decide to gently dissuade her, and that will work. It's an effusive gesture, not an aggressive one.

And either way, she regards that hand of his with no little apprehension, alongside the prospect of a ride through the air that is probably going to end with her brains being blasted out of her back end somehow — oh gross, Kinsey, your imagination sometimes, honestly.

"I have a way for us to get off of the train when we're done. I mean, quickly. And it won't involve freezing my ass off, so…once I'm inside, just keep one eye on the sky. You'll know it when you see it."

His question catches her off-guard. Not because it's so innocently naive (which it is) or because he's asking it after he's already agreed, but because it is, verbatim, exactly what she said to Jessica Jones only a few nights before, halfway to tears and struggling to maintain her composure, dealing for the first time with the fact that someone out there knows what she is. What she's become. She'd had no choice. She had been terrified down to her very marrow, but she had only one decision to make: did she trust Jessica, or not?

In the end, she'd decided to trust. It was the most difficult thing she's had to do since her accident; since signing her work away to the people on that train. Since trying to cobble together a life out of what pieces of her old one remained, few enough in number.

So it hits her hard, and in a personal way. The fabric skimming the slender column of her throat illustrates her swallow.

"I /promise/. I promise if you help me do this. I will /prove/ to you that you can trust me."


This is seriously unwise. Like, of all the things he's done — and he's done some pretty dumb things — there might be only one other thing in his entire life that outranks this in sheer, reckless stupidity.

He'll beat himself up over it later. But right now…

He -is- young. And he is still tragically naive. And something about Six makes him think that maybe she's not on the wrong side of things. Maybe it's just how awkward she is and prone to freaking out and just… -human-. Maybe it's that her response to him agreeing is to hug him, of all things, a movement that's gently (and really awkwardly) rebuffed with an attempted joke of "Hey, hey, I'm not that kinda spider!!" (it's not great). Or maybe it's just his gut feeling.

And when is his gut ever wrong??

Constantly. Your gut is constantly wrong, Peter Parker.

But this time, he decides to be dumb, one last time (it's probably not the last time). She promises. Promises she'll prove that he can trust her. He doesn't know if he can believe that or not. A part of him honestly says he shouldn't, and just turn her over to the authorities. Once more, he quells it when he clasps her hand.

"Alright," he decides. "Then we're gonna do this. And I'm gonna… try not to die… and hope that your escape route out is something really cool and not something that's going to dramatically fail to leave us in a do or die moment with dramatic stakes and wow, have I been watching too many action movies lately? Do action movies have too many escape routes explode…? Are action movies FORMULAIC?! Man. My whole world is being turned upside down—"

Really, most of Peter's jokes have a purpose. Whether it's to unsettle an enemy or hide his own nervousness (usually), he crafts them towards a specific point. This one is to distract Six from the way he's gripping her in that strangely adhesive grasp of his, tensing up—

—and hurling them both off the edge of a building.


-=thwip=- -=yank=-


And off he goes. The momentum is blistering. The speed unforgiving. He's moving faster than most cars manage in an open road, and he's doing it at heights that would probably turn either one of them to paste if they fell. Maybe not him. Definitely Six. And it's cold, and everything is becoming a smudge of grays and sweeping city lights, and they're spinning around building to building—

—but at least they're making their way to that train fast, right? … right??



"Sorry — sorry. I just, I'm — thanks. Sorry." She stops hugging. She starts to pat reassuringly but doesn't want to be pat-rejected also, and just…pats the air. Sort of.


You can't die," Six says. Asserts. /Insists./ Not least because it would, in all honesty, destroy her to have been responsible for, but also— "You're Spider-Man. You /are/ an action movie."

Stands to reason.

For a few fleeting seconds during that exchange, she feels as though things might actually work out. That they can do this. They can get to the train, fix everything; she has help, she won't be alone. She'll be able to go back to the garage that night and go to sleep without worrying that every little creak is the preface to some sort of military action.

And then he ruins it by jumping off of a building with no—


It's a small shriek. There isn't enough air for her to shriek again. They hit terminal velocity fast. It crushes her lungs in toward her spine with a feeling not unlike being sat on by an elephant.

For anyone else, that might be the worst part. The movement. The nauseating looping, the way gravity pendulums nastily, the G-forces. Most people would probably throw up. Probably about the same number would be at risk for fainting.

Quite luckily for the kid in the red and blue, and even more luckily for the young woman in the helmet — because that would create an /unholy/ mess — Six was a test pilot in a prior life. This is /nothing/ like being a test pilot, but all of that experience dealing with sudden changes in momentum, trajectory, all the techniques for dealing with intense G-forces, all of that matters. She clings to that process like a lifeline, eyes screwed shut, because if she thinks about anything else, anything at all, she might—

She might open her eyes.

And look down.


Every inch of her breaks out in a cold sweat. The city is little more than an abstract blur of light and texture, a river of /urban/ things racing by far too fast for her to make sense of, even with Five's help, until that one breathless moment between arcs when everything slows to comparative stillness, details resolving with crystal clarity, the immensity of space painted in full and then /whoosh/—

It's a good thing he's durable, because the way she double-grips that one hand would probably grind somebody else's bones together.



Air pat. Spider-Man kind of… squints.

"No… problem…" Somehow, she managed to out-awkward him. -Awkward-.

Well. At least the air can't reject Six, as far as anyone knows. Or hopes. Maybe best not to think about it.

Especially since they're hurtling through the open air at breakneck speeds right now, descending towards the city in a rush of light and wind only to spring-board back into the vast night sky once more with the yank of a buoyant, spinning thread. It's a little baffling that webbing doesn't just tear under their weight, or the momentum, or the strength with which Spider-Man tugs at it. But it's just one more spectacular (ha! references!) thing in an already really weird night.


And up and up they go again, suspended for a brief moment of frozen time at their apex… before gravity reminds them of its existence with a swift plummet.



It's record time when they make it to that slowed train, so close to approaching the the edge of the city beyond reach of those buildings. It's going to be close. Closer than he'd like. Feeling the rush of air and force billowing about him, Peter does some quick calculations. And then, he makes a decision.


The 'don't scream' part comes from the simple fact that, as they swing up again at dizzying speeds, Spider-Man is going to briefly — VERY BRIEFLY — kiiiiiiiiind of toss Six into the air ahead of him.

Just a bit.

Her brief moment of being completely airborne and bereft of something to cling to will last only a second or two at best before Spider-Man lets go of that webbing, soars through the air, snatches Six out of the skies to bring her close in with a more secure, less dangling grip…

… and then keeps going without making a new web…
… and going…
… and going…
… and goiiiiinnnngggg…

They're starting to plummet. They're in free fall. That train is just beyond. He has to get the timing perfect. Just right. He can do it. He can—

A soft thwip of webs spinning is the only warning that Six is going to get before her red-and-blue friend/crazy cohort attaches a web to the roof of the first of those nondescript cars Six had targetted… and just -flings- themselves towards it like a rocket with a swift yank and every intention of landing on top with the softest of thumps, hauling Six along for the ride.


Most days of the week, Six is not awkward. Six, as a rule, doesn't talk. She shows up, she does what she needs to do, and she gets out, maintaining silent badassery all the while. And Kinsey, well…she was military. She's got a lot of self control. She's disciplined, studious. She's focused, determined. She's Irish-American, and has inherited the steel spine and latent but fiery temper that go along with that heritage. And while she is most /definitely/ a geek, she likes to think that she's the kind of cool geek who can slip in under the radar of people who don't know what things like Shadowrun are, able to transcend her tribe as necessary. Years spent in board rooms have only served to grow that ability. So the truth is, she's not usually awkward. And she doesn't usually find herself on the verge of tears, either, the way she was the other night when Jessica Jones inadvertently pierced her previously-perfect record of secrecy, without even /meaning/ to. But Man, Spider has managed to catch her at the end of a very strange, weirdly emotional week, at a very unusual, high-adrenaline time, and be witness to something that is as close to a nervous breakdown as she's ever had, barring the weeks after she woke up from her coma. Because she messed up. She messed up so very, very badly, and she's supposed to be some kind of genius. /The dumbest genius on earth./

So he gets her unfiltered internal monologue, and fuels it by being…the way he is. Like his own internal monologue, without any internal whatsoever.

It helps, actually. The long-winded ranting that he does. It gives her something to focus on other than the certain conviction at the cellular level that she's about to die, either plummeting to the pavement or being slung and pasted into the side of a building. "I DIDN'T /HARANGUE!/ I—" Begged, actually.

And then he says a bunch of other words in sequence, forming a sentence, and she says,


Bless your innocent little heart Peter Parker, but on this night, at this moment, you ask /too much/.

She's probably never screamed that loudly in her entire /life/. Not even when the explosion ripped through her lab, though that may have been partially owed to how fast things went south, but still: she practically deafens herself inside of her helmet, eyes wide and arms flung outward, fingers outstretched, as though she could somehow catch at him and keep from being slung outward into a void that has no regard for her fragile biology.

She's always heard that your life flashes before your eyes when you're about to die, and she experiences a strangely floating moment of disconnection then. And what enters her skull in that precious window of time isn't a memory of her childhood or her parents, the fact that she'll never see Patagonia, even though she's always wanted to. It's that she won't get to see the ending of Mass Effect 3. There hadn't been a lot of time to play video games when she was working, and in lieu of the social life she's now afraid to cultivate for herself, she's been catching up on one hell of a backlog.

I'm sorry Garrus, is the bizarre thought that prefaces all of the wind being knocked out of her by the arm that goes around her middle, snatched out of the air like a ragdoll. Her solar plexus locks up in protest, and she spends the duration of their descent trying to convince it that she needs oxygen to live.


It's a good thing Peter Parker doesn't know what Six's final regrets are.

He doesn't have the heart to break the truth to her.

It's a distraction, he knows, from everything that's going on around them. For a brief moment she doesn't necessarily have to focus on what it might feel like to actually hit pavement at maximum velocities, she can just be bamboozled by the red-and-blue superhero's endless gift for running his mouth.

It is, sadly, just about the only thing he -can- do for her right now. And there's not much of anything he can manage to make the next few seconds of time any more bearable. He tells her not to scream, but it's really more like 'hope'; he's already expecting that weird warbling strangeness by the time he reaches her, snags an arm around her, and goes flying off towards the train. He expects it. Doesn't make it all that much better.

But, true hero that Spider-Man is, he deals with the sound of the Robot's Little Death with stoic aplomb so as not to hurt poor Six's feelings.

Also because it's kind of hard to talk right now with the air rushing out of his lungs.

It all lasts a small handful of brief, horrifying seconds where everything becomes a uni-colored smudge and the only reality is the simple fact that they are -bulleting towards a train-. The shriek of metal grinding metal grows louder and louder as the rush of wind resistance grows ever-more intense in those familiar ways that they had only recently been acquainted with probably not even an hour earlier.

And then it all just passes by in a blip. One intensely disorienting blip that leads from them being airborne, to Spider-Man hitting the surface of the rear car's roof with a -=whumph=- of impact inaudible over the roar of the train, and unfelt under the heavy mass of frosted steel beneath them. He can feel his lungs burning as he sucks in oxygen again for the first time. He can feel the train bump and shake perilously beneath him. They're here.

"Oh my god that voice is going to give me -nightmares- —"

There. Now he can talk about the scream. This is the appropriate time.

"— like staring into the void and realizing it's just full of sex-crazed Transformers—"

There. He's done now.

He'll take his time to try to get Six settled and on her feet, his voice slightly tinged with concern when he asks, "Hey? Uh— You're alright, right? You remember the car that's holding the drives, you can make it over there on your own? Because I'm going to say hi to David Hasselhoff's weird, watch-based cult. Man you're not passed out are you because that'd reeeeaaaaally suck —"


The train is a bundle of sensory impressions that seem to her like independent jigsaw pieces jumbled together, not yet assembled into a picture that makes any sense. A dim clatter through the muted rushing of wind in her helmet, growing to a roar. A thud that somehow manages to squeeze air she didn't think she had in her lungs out of them, until she gets a vicious cramp low in her throat, between hollow and breastbone. A rumbling vibration, lights that suddenly strobe past, wind that isn't a solid sheet of ice but instead many smaller daggers of it, crossing back and forth over the roof of the train, buffeting from every angle.

Right about the time he's lamenting her possible loss of consciousness — a valid concern, given her limp lack of response to anything as she fights with her lungs — he'll feel her back arch as her ribs expand and hear the sucking, rasping gasp of air as her diaphragm finally lets go. Instinct has her hands grappling with the arm that's holding onto her, unwanted pressure as she fights off spots that swirl dizzily through her field of vision, and then conscious thought has her changing her mind and gripping the ever-loving-shit out of it instead, because she is not actually attached to the train by anything /else/ yet.

Sex-crazed…? What?

Her brain just shuts that line of inquiry down. She can't deal with that on top of everything else. It's too much. Just no. /No./

"I'm okay!" She gets her feet underneath her. They're still manky with /goo/, but at least they're the right shape for what she needs to do. "I'm okay, I can get there. Don't forget what I said, keep an eye out. It's — it'll be /up/. Okay? Don't be afraid when you see it."

She leans away, into the tension of the arm, until she can get her metallic fingers into a ridge on the top of the train car. The little barbs spit from the ends of claws and fingers.

"And, just," she adds, turning her head to look back, up, conflicted. "Be careful. If you have to bail and leave me then — I get it! Okay?"

After everything, if they were to get hold of him, if he were to get hurt? The thought sours her stomach, but adds a necessary stiffness to a spine lately turned to jello by the way she was dragged through New York's skyline in flagrant disrespect of the laws of physics. Hardly the first time she's disrespected /those/, but it's different when she does it herself.

So it lights a fire, and gets her moving. As soon as he lets her go, she digs in and begins to crawl forward along the cars, gradually pitching herself over the rounded edge, flicking her focus between the tracks ahead and the side of the car where some hasty plastic has been taped around the inside of the hole she made, to keep out the inclement weather.

Give me heat signatures, Five.

The HUD inside of the helmet slides an overlay into place. There are two bodies inside of the damaged car, one on either end.

(Will a distraction be sufficient?) queries Five.

I sure hope so, she thinks back. Butterflies stir in the pit of her stomach.


'It's — it'll be /up/. Okay? Don't be afraid when you see it.'

"Yeah — okay — see when you say things like that it doesn't suuuper inspire confidence in me."

Despite her insistence that she's fine, Spider-Man makes sure that Six is actually steady and getting her own foothold — it's only when he's confident that windforce isn't going to fling her off the train as thoughtlessly as a fly getting swatted off the ass of a horse that his grip at her midsection slackens gradually to let her adjust before releasing completely. Not flying off? No? Great.

It's as soon as she starts leaning away, looking back, that the masked vigilante bends nimbly at the knees until he reaches a low crouch. Spandex-encased fingers splay across freezing, trembling steel as Spider-Man closes his eyes behind that mask. The world just drowns out for a moment for him. No smudges of motion, no roar of engine and screaming sparking metal. Just… focus. Remember where the Knightwatch is on the train. Focus on the buzz telling you how much of a bad idea this all is and how you're probably going to die.

You can do this.

He's silent, for a little while, as Six makes that concerned recommendation — that assurance. Wide, white lenses peer at her with the upwards tilt of the young man's masked head. Okay? "Okay," he repeats. His body tenses, just a bit, muscles beneath spandex tightening in lithe pathways of preparation.

"But I'm not going to," he adds, as his knees bend and calves flex. "Because I've totally got this. Don't worry — I'm really good at distracting people!"

Which might be exactly what she's worried about.

And just like that, his right hand lifting, a simple salute is snapped off before he makes a swift spring backwards right off the back of the train.

… He's probably fine.

It's probably fine.

And as Spider-Man crawls his way across the side of the train, winds battering at his body, his mind races. They're probably on alert now. Expecting something. On edge. He's guessing whatever Six was after is precious cargo now, so guards might be there. He needs to do something to get their attention, too. Something that's going to require all of them to deal with.

So, those lenses squint shut as Spider-Man reaches the cab containing the bulk of those armored agents. He takes a deep breath.

"Welp. Go big or go home."

The Knightwatch get to be alerted to the fact that there's someone else on board by the sound of the train cab's exit being quite literally ripped off its hinges. Metal groans, protests, and then snaps with little screams of friction as the door is torn open to reveal—

—Spider-Man, looking down on at the heavy steel gripped in his adhesive palms, head tilt as if confused.

"Huh. Coulda sworn I was knocking," he muses to himself, before looking up at the gaggle of Knightboats. Knightwatchers. Whichever.

"Oh. Uh. Hi, guys. Sorry, I was just in -such- a rush last time, and, well — have any of you seen my dungarees? Anyone? You? No? Well, you look more like a shortall guy anyway. Oh well! But aaaanyway I guess while I'm here I'm just gonna— "

That door is hurled, angled to avoid accidentally splattering any of those armored but otherwise human men. It makes a tremendous and very noticeable crashing sound as it hits a wall hard enough to bend it outward; and in flies Spider-Man' webbing flying for faceplates, legs, weapons — whatever is convenient for him to target as he makes sure at least -one- of these people is free enough to sound an alarm or, whatever it is evil government people do when they need reinforcements.



Clinging to the side of the train takes almost all of Six's available focus, forced to use the more pedestrian means of 'clinging to it with pointy bits like Pinkey the Cat,' and the rest is consumed with making sure she's not about to be scraped off of it by something close to the side of the train, and/or discovered by the individuals inside of the train car. She has no ability to monitor what he's doing back there, and even if she could, it's unlikely she could do much to help him when he's probably going to have to kick the wasp's nest dead center.

She /does/ hear an explosive bang behind her — that would be the door hitting the interior of the car in the back, causing a quarter-inch of steel to buckle, and the butterflies in her stomach spontaneously combust. Please god let that be a good sound and not a bad one.

There is…no audible chatter in the train car under assault. But then, everyone is wearing a helmet, and everyone is reacting in concert, in spite of the perfect silence. Struggles follow the incapacitation of the majority of the Knightwatch in the car. The one he leaves free hooks a forearm in front of him — her? — -self and telescoping segments of plasteel expand in a coffin-shaped fan from a piece of hardware bolted to the side of that body armor, an extending riot shield. The other hand produces something that gleams, and they pass it off to the webbed body nearest them — probably a knife, if one had to guess. Which one does.

Meanwhile, the two soldiers in the server car stir, but linger uncertainly. In the end, only one of them leaves. And that is fine, actually.

Because Six has an app for that.

She creeps forward enough to slide one lean arm up and around the side of the hole she made, between it and the plastic sheeting, and then sweeps it upward, separating tape from metal with quiet popping sounds lost in the general din of the train rushing over the tracks.

Five, is the Valk—

(The Valkyrie has been holding pursuit at a distance of a quarter mile. ETA from time of extraction request forty-five seconds.)

That gives her pause, even as she folds in half around the lip of the hole, slinking inside and behind the soldier facing the rear door like an extremely bendy shadow. You did that on your own?

(Based on your conversation with Spider-Man. You appeared to have overlooked issuing the instruction.)

Which, to be fair, she had, but…still. She frowns in the darkness behind the faceplate. Thanks. But it makes me a little nervous that you're improvising.

(I have a vested interest in our continued existence, Dr. Sheridan.)

…I guess so. Gimme the cracker, polly.

(I recognize this colloquialism as an attempt at humor,) says Five. The HUD in front of her face flickers. A stream of garbage data containing the key to unlocking the Knightwatch Soldier's secure connection within his own helmet — which is /not/ plugged into the back of his head — streams down the left-hand side, blinks when it succeeds.

You ruin everything, Six thinks, watching the man with the helmet reel and stumble backward, as the speakers inside of that helmet produce an ear-shatteringly loud sound, and the visor scrambles with disorienting pulses of ultra-bright light. His gloved hands lift to tear it away, and Six pushes herself up off of the floor, reaches for his throat. A tiny needle extends from the base of her palm. A tiny amount of narcotic injects itself into his bloodstream. He hits the deck like a sack of bricks. With all of that kit on, he probably weighs that much. Call in the Valk.

(ETA forty-five seconds.)

It isn't hard for her to find the right rack. She drops into a crouch in front of it, withdraws the drive from its hiding place, and spends a moment staring at the server rack, fighting with the urge to do /anything/ but put it back. He's not here, he'd never know. And if she lets this go…she'll never know what the extra data was. She may never be able to touch it again.

A week ago, she'd sat down for coffee with a blind attorney in Metropolis, of all places. The conversation had come round to major personal accidents and how thoroughly they can transform a life — couched in vague terms, but serious, for all that.

"But Kinsey," he'd said, "What do you mean, figure out what happened to you? What are you trying to understand about it?"

Everything. I don't think I'm the same person I was before it happened, but I don't know what that means. For me."

He'd tried to be reassuring.

"In the end your life — interior or exterior — may not look exactly like the one you had before. But maybe that's okay, too. There are lots of ways to live and be in the world. Trust me, I know."

"For me, the diversity of modalities isn't reassuring. It's what I find frightening. There are more ways to be that I don't want to be, than ways to be that I do."

That's still true. And she is still not sure which way the coin flip will land, in the end. But she promised. She sighs as silently as she can, rubs the drive on her leggings to clear any smudges off of it, and then slides it back into the server.

Looks like we get to keep our souls for another day.

(Dr. Sheridan. You said…our.)

"Don't overthink it," she says, this time out loud, as she makes her way back toward the roaring gap in the side of the train. She tosses one of the drones to a hover, then leans back and gets her prosthetic hand on the curving roof edge of the hole, slowly hauling herself up and out. The wind hits her like a bucket of ice water, makes her gasp. Behind her, the drone busies itself reaffixing the tape to the inside of the train wall as she slowly pulls her limbs free.


He'd never know.

There's no way he could possibly know what's going on inside that train car right now. No way to monitor, no special psychic powers, nothing. And even if he could, well…

Spider-Man is just a little bit preoccupied right now.

"So — hey — I know I'm already kinda monopolizing your time and everything but I just have so many questions. Would it be rude of me to ask? You're not saying anything, so I'm gonna take that as a 'go ahead, Spider-Man!'"

This is Spider-Man, chatting away as he weaves between armored, faceless members of the Knightwatch. His spider-sense now constantly abuzz for -some- strange reason, he makes a lunge for the ceiling of the car, sticking to it as he admires his handiwork. One left, and he'll totally…

… not get reinforcements… and hand another guy a knife. Oh come on.

Spider-Man's only benefit here is the fact that his webbing is surprisingly dense for something so malleable; the second it dries in open air, that adhesive strength is intense. A regular knife might take a long while to cut through it. A special fancy government knife? Maybe not so much.

But it buys him time. Time he takes to think. Falling from the roof, the Mighty Man, Spider collapses on top of one of Knightwatch soldiers feet-first, making sure not to hit -too- hard — just enough to floor, disorient. Distract.

"Okay so, question one — are you guys primarily just an ominously silent force of monolithic government paranoia, or do you also solve crimes on the side?"

That knife starts to cut; Spider-Man spins a web, looking to use the momentum of the wet adhesive to slap that hand back to stick to a nearby wall of the train. It might prevent that one from cutting free, but he knows he's not going to be able to split his focus enough to stop -all- of them. Not with the guy with the riot shield bearing down on him. Some of them are going to get free, probably sooner than later. Then it's going to get -really- hectic.

"Question two — do you guys have government-issue work vehicles? If not, could I suggest something like a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am?"

There's someone else coming. He can sense it. Only one? Will that strange cyborg-person whose name he really should've gotten be alright? — No. He has to focus. He has to time this just right —

"Question three — do you make heavy use of artificial intelligence in your line of work, and does its voice program sound suspiciously similar to the old mentor dude from Girl Meets World? Not, like, the old dude. The -really- old dude."

Spider-Man pivots sharply on his right heel. Fingers dig into palm. A web line snaps out in a threading flurry of rapidly-hardening adhesives —

— timed to, hopefully, latch onto the chest of the Knight from the other car -just- as they enter, so that the webbed vigilante can give a powerful -yank- —

— and use their hurtling body to bowl over the shield-bearing government agent from behind.

"I got a ton more so — y'know — just answer at your leisure, okay? No rush. Just really really hyped to meet real life Orwellian super-fascists."

Despite the breakneck speed at which the young man talks, though, all it does is expertly mask his own subtle anxieties as he peers at the outside from within that train car. Is Six done? Are they doing what he asked?

He realizes, deep down, Six may just be taking whatever they want and abandoning him to his fate here. It's a real, sinking possibility. But… he has no way to know. No way he could possibly know.

He just has to take it on faith, now.

"… damn, I had something about Germans and 'Looking for Freedom,' too, hold on a sec…"


It's safe to say that the detail of Knightwatch soldiers in that car were not expecting Spider-Man. Had they been, they might have equipped a little bit differently, but Spider-Man is supposed to be one of the /good/ guys in this region, right? Why would they pack solvent?

They probably won't make that mistake a second time. And he probably won't land on their 'good guy' list. If they have one. Which, given the humorless character of every last person in the car, bristling with sixteen different kinds of high-tech death, is up for some serious debate.

As much as this intrusion may have painted the Knightwatch as being ineffective, nothing could be further from the truth. They are all veterans. Most of them were SEALS or Rangers or came from some other similar, high-level branch of the military. All of them have extensive combat experience. And all of them are very, very angry.

He has no trouble at all hooking that web line to the breaching soldier, or yanking it forward, and thus sending that heavy body into collision with the advancing soldier with the shield. And a less experienced individual might, feeling that impact, try to brace against it.

Combat rules dictate that moving with force is always better than trying to move against it, though, and that's what the faceless drone with the shield does: use that momentum to propel themselves toward the target.

The question becomes: 'and then what?'

'Then what' turns out to be a quick unsheathing of a telescoping, flexible, and electrified tonfa with a metal knot at the end. It lashes out around the outside of the shield. It's probably a good sign that they're still trying non-lethal methods, right..? …Maybe?

Outside, Six has made slow progress toward the car in the back. It's simultaneously easier and more difficult to move toward the back of the train; the wind is eager to help, but it's also far too enthusiastic about it, and the barbed claws are facing the wrong direction for this eventuality.

She's going to have so many things to rework after tonight. And what he said about the voice modulator…! /Rude!/

In the distance she can hear the four halo rotors of the VTOL craft as it streaks in their direction, lights off, flying low. (ETA: fifteen seconds.)

The moment she crests the third car with the windows in the sides, she lays herself flat on the car roof, leans over and balls her prosthetic hand into a fist, and bangs on it three, five times, hard, hoping he can hear it over whatever's happening in there: she can't see heat signatures through the icy-cold roof of the train, and she doesn't dare stick her head down to look.

Even if he can't, though, ten seconds later it'll be hard to miss that their way out has arrived.

The Valkyrie is a sleekly industrial monstrosity of tinkered-with engineering, with four free-spinning halos containing rotors and propellers with a few tricks of their own, canopied in front with the same featureless black ballistics glass as Six's helmet. Whatever other secrets are housed in its fuselage — and there are many — they would be occluded by the forward- and downward-facing floodlights that snap on, searing blue-white brilliance at over a thousand lumens, more than enough to flood the inside of the personnel car. The noise of her rotors does not penetrate the wind and roar of the train, but the brutal chopping of the air beneath the blades can be felt like a suck-and-push on the internal organs, playing havoc with eardrums.

There is a panel that slides open in the bottom of the aircraft, and a heavy nylon retrieval line spills out of it, loops at intervals along its length.

Six, still prone grasps one and uses it to drag herself upright, and is almost immediately swept clear of the roof, whipped backward, trailing in the wind. Two hours ago that might have given her a rush, but after what she's just experienced, being slung through the air at his mercy, it barely even rates as noteworthy.

Feet still not quite able to reform themselves properly, she doesn't want to chance getting one stuck in a loop, so she carefully hooks the next loop up with her organic hand, and then the next one after that, flashing back on episodes of American Ninja Warrior. How does everyone make this kind of thing look so easy…?


Peter Parker is smart. Very, frighteningly smart. He's also barely in college and living in those years where he thinks he's invincible, and also very nearly is (unlike being actually invincible, like SOME PEOPLE). So for however thoughtful he might be, he's also just a bit impulsive.

Like how he decides to take on a car full of trained soldiers belonging to a government organization that apparently deals with monitoring and probably neutralizing people like him on a daily basis, which is not only unsettling to think of how that thing even got approved, but also that he's probably just pissed them all off.

So he chooses not to even remotely think about it and get back to it. At worst, he figures he can just say he thought they were a bunch of bad guys hijacking the train. I mean — look at them.

It's that sort of recklessly short-term thinking that leads to him dealing with some sort of super-electrified tonfa swinging at him. He senses it, sees the trajectory as hidden muscles flex behind sleek black armor. He knows exactly where it's going to swing and how hard and just what he needs to do to avoid it.

But that doesn't mean he isn't still new enough at this that he doesn't react quite as fast as he should, and doesn't make the shave of that tonfa buzzing right over his chest as he bends backwards like a professional limboist any less close. He practically feel the electrified crackle.

"Holy crap! … are you guys -not- fans of Knight Rider? Seriously? Then what's with the name —?"

He'd go into a whole spiel of trivia about David Hasselhoff he probably found while Wiki-diving, but really, he has more important priorities. Mainly — that sudden, muted knock he hears from up above. Faint, but with those honed senses, he just barely picks it up — and knows what it probably means. And even if there was even a lingering amount of doubt over what it could be, well —


"… eeeeeeeeeeeeee."

That might be him squealing. Just a bit.

This day is just getting weirder and cooler by the minute.

Spider-Man suppresses a knee-jerk instinct to make a remark about Warhammer. It's hard. -Really- hard. But he has to, because first, and more pressing, he needs to deal open himself up a path. "Oh hey look over there it's your boss, Napoleon the Boar!"

He doesn't really think that distraction is going to work as anything but an annoyance. What he -is- hoping will work is how he suddenly falls backwards on his hands, sticks to the floor, bends his knees inward—

— and then just -slams- his feet upward into the man and/or woman's riot shield with - hopefully - enough force to send them hurtling into the traincar's ceiling like a ragdoll —

— at which point Spider-Man's just going to web them to it. Liberally.

"Uhhh well, I guess my dungaress really weren't here - super sorry about that - so I guess I'm just gonna……."

And here is where Spider-Man runs. Run, Spider-Man, run!

He's fast. Very fast. Hurtling over guards, sticking to the wall, and just otherwise trying to reach that opening he made to the outside world…

… so he can -lunge- for that crazy sleek sci-fi monstrosity with a spin of a web-line towards its underbelly like his own, makeshift retrieval line.

"YOU HAVE A VTOL! THIS IS A VTOL!" he shouts over the roar of the train and the whudwhudwhud of the VTOL. Is he scared?


Probably… not.


And you have -no idea how hard it was to hold that in-.


The downside of having a shield that radiates outward from your arm is that it's attached to you very securely. And even though it begins to retract the moment it gets kicked — because the 'look over there' quip gets as much attention as it deserves, which is none — it still unbalances the wielder enough that they catch a face full of web, and then a spine full of train car siding.

Any other extranormal would probably be mincemeat by now, but the webbing…they just did not count on the webbing. And for whatever reason, none of them have drawn a firearm, even those with a hand free to do so, so their standing orders or rules of engagement must not contain permission to use lethal force.

Tempting as that may be. Given that they're going to coast into their final destination covered in goop sprayed at them by a single extranormal who spent the duration of that combat talking about David Hasselhoff, the temptation must be very great indeed. Someone is going to have to explain this to someone else more important than they are. Things are going to be unpleasant.

Outside, Six dangles, halfway up the line, shoulders aching, forearms burning, her grip tired enough that she's having to rely heavily on her prosthetic to do the work. She's exhausted. She runs long distances to blow off steam and much of her work at the garage could fairly be considered hard labor, but she's built more for agility than raw strength, and her limbs are /tired/. Her core temperature is low enough that she's shivering continuously.

And she's just hanging there, waiting. Watching. Because that /asshole/ said he wasn't gonna leave her if things got crazy, and it /obligates/ her, /she never asked for this./

…well, okay. She did. But not this /exactly./

And then there he is, a bullet in blue and red, the quiet sound of something sticking to the metallic undercarriage of the Valkyrie.

A thought triggers the flywheel that begins to reel her line in, swiftly disappearing up into the darkness inside of the aircraft.


The wind cuts out almost entirely as she floats up into the dark interior, and she kicks out with her feet, swinging her weight toward the nose of the aircraft and releasing the line. There's no time for a graceful step off of it, and her feet are still /screwed/, so she slides across the floor into the cockpit as though it were third base on a baseball diamond, catching at the ergonomic exterior of the pilot seat and using that to drag herself up and into it. Trembling fingers reach back, fumbling for the connector end of a retracted cable that she drags out of the seat and connects to some piece of the back of her helmet.

And finally — /finally/ — for the first time since attached herself to the train in the first place, she feels as though she has some control over the situation. Her consciousness bleeds out of her and into the greater shell of the VTOL craft, as though her body had expanded to encompass all of its moving parts, a different physiology, alien but familiar. Her senses multiply: cameras in every direction, sensors that pick up on signals, frequencies, magnetic fields, environmental factors, an intuitive sense of the power, thrust, the angles of the rotors.

This part, she is good at.

The halos pivot and spin, and the Valkyrie's nose rears back and then twists away on a hard banking angle, peeling away from the train backwards as the floodlights snap off again. She does not wait for him to reach the interior. There's no time. It would take very little miscalculation to whip him through the lethal blades on either side, but her trajectory keeps him below the fuselage: once they break free of the train's immediate vicinity the craft tilts nose-down and races off toward the greater darkness of the Atlantic ocean, a vast expansive of lightlessness only a few miles away.


This is by a wide margin the coolest thing that has happened to him the past month.

Admittedly, when said month includes things like 'being covered in demonic egg whites' it's kind of a low bar, but -still-.


So awesome.

So much so, Spider-Man is a little delayed in following Six's suggestion as he internally gushes for a little while. Don't mind him. Eventually - /eventually/ - he gets enough sense to flip himself up by the webbing onto the belly of the steel-wrought beast like such things were as natural as breathing, and start following in after his weird, blank-faced partner-in-not-crime-you-shut-your-mouth.

But he's not quick enough, because apparently SOMEONE is too impatient to wait for him. The nerve! So, it's as he's crawling that the Valkyrie suddenly rears and twists violently, sending his body swaying dangerously from side to side as his extremities cling to the surface of the craft. "Hey! I — Whoa! — Am not — holy crap! — on board yet — whoa whoa whooooaaa— ! You are seriously putting a damper on what was supposed to be a crazy cool new experience for me— !"

She probably can't hear him. And that's probably for the best. Eventually, once he's sure he's not going to get sucked into one of those whipping blades and turned into so much spider-chum, the masked vigilante is bracing himself to swing his legs down and up and just flip his way inside with all the flexibility of a contortionist.

Seconds later, he's sweeping inside; with a hop, he's back on his feet… but there's something to be said by how the stresses of a given day can catch up to you without expecting it once the adrenaline of excitement begins to fade. Having spent a very frenetic half hour or so swinging across the city, fighting what he pretty much just assumes was some nerd's attempt at creating Dark Troopers in real life, and catching up with a -speeding train-, Spider-Man just sort of wobbles on his heels… and then just flops back on his ass with the hard impact of the floor beneath him in an all-too-human gesture of exhaustion.

"… oof, my coccyx."

It takes him a while to soak everything in. To take in the details. To catch up with all the little details. He's still swimming in stimulation, the nerves in his brain overclocking with exertion. But things do catch up to him, fortunately before he can start complaining at Six. Like the fact that there was no one here when they arrived. Really? He's actually not sure what he was expecting, but… "Is this thing unmanned?" he wonders aloud, white lenses flickering with a slow, whirring blink like the shutter of a camera lense as he looks around him. "How did you manage that? You have some kinda AI programmed into this? Remote commands? Or…"

He doesn't quite seem like he's looking for answers so much as thinking out loud; no doubt the reality would have him geeking at a mile a minute, so it might be best if he doesn't know. Slowly pulling himself back up onto his feet, Spider-Man sucks in a deep breath. There's only one question he really wants to know right now, anyway, at least before they reach their destination:

"Did you get it all taken care of?"

… No, wait—

"And uh why is there the ocean where are we going—?"

Two questions. He's got two.


The interior of the Valkyrie is minimalist, but not without character. There is a lack of any personally identifying objects for what are probably obvious reasons, but one of the interior walls contains a rack with multiple sets of prosthetic limbs, three to a set. At least one pair looks to be identical to what she's using, but there are others, including a set that is /alarmingly/ lifelike. If it were not for the very obvious hollow in the top each one, where the end of an amputated limb is designed to be inserted, it would be reasonable to wonder whether or not they /were/ real. The texture is perfect. The nails are painted — fingers and toes.

There are other containers bolted to the floor or the sidewalls, at least one of which has unnecessary warning stickers slapped all over it, pieces of additional gear strapped to racks, including what look like firearms of varied types. There is an entire rack that appears to contain — those might be rockets. Little ones. /Still though./

In the very back is a cot up against the rear wall, netting strung from its outer edge up to the ceiling. Beside it, a small mini-fridge, also bolted down, door secured with a drop-latch. The very tiny, locker-sized door in the back might lead to a bare-bones toilet, but if so, the picture that the door's size paints is pretty grim.

Everything is lashed securely in place. Nothing wiggles, nothing moves.

But there's paint on most of the walls and fixtures, anyway, the most obvious of which is the overhead mural of a melon-pink sky full of clouds and an attempt to reproduce the famous Dollman illustration 'Ride of the Valkyrs.'

It's not very good. Actually, it's pretty bad, but the outline conveys the gist.

He can take all of this in from his position on his coccyx. The moment he's inside, the hatch slides closed and the air pressure changes, increasing just enough to it more comfortable after popping the ears. The absolute ruckus of the last — how long has it even been? Thirty minutes? — clips off abruptly. The interior is doused shocking silence, and in darkness lit, for a moment, only by the winking constellations of light in the cockpit. Recessed lighting activates, or is activated, and the glow increases in intensity until there's enough by which to see.

"It's not technically unmanned," says Six, from everywhere. Speakers in the interior. "But there's an AI involved, yes."

"Welcome aboard the Valkyrie, Man, Spider," says Five.

When he isn't whispering directly into Kinsey's nervous system, Five's voice is smooth as silk, definitively male, a pleasant tenor. She chose the voice herself, of course. The idea was to make every AI for the Knightwatch soldiers customizable to the extent that the operators would become immediately bonded with their in-field companions.

…just. Not to the extent that she became bonded with Five.

"We're heading out over the water to stay low so we don't send air traffic control and monitoring into apoplexy. Besides, it's easier to spot trouble coming if they're scrambling air support without all of this inner-city interference. Once we're sure we're clear, I'll take you wherever you want to go. …within reason."

"Operator Six was successful in replacing the data drive taken from the server," Five says, addressing the question that Six did not. "Initial scans do not indicate any injuries, but on-board equipment is unfamiliar with your unique biological circumstances. Do you require medical attention?"


With the hatch latching closed with a thunk, Spider-Man feels that strange sensation of his ears popping, but he's hardly aware of it. He's too busy taking in everything around him with an alert, curious, and very cautious stare behind that mask. Prosthetics, so many of them, line the wall. Outfitted to different mission types? He lingers on those shockingly, disturbingly real ones for a moment. Painted nails. … doesn't actually tell him much of anything, really, all things considered. But, it's details. Little pieces.

Unlike the big pieces that are that Fun-Size Arsenal Six has going on over there. Weapons. Guns. Miscellaneous firearms. -Rockets-. Warning stickers everywhere. Lips purse behind bright red spandex.

"So um — are we sure you're not a terrorist? Because I'm starting to get serious second thoughts here."

He's only kind of joking. Weapons like that, generally speaking, only lend themselves towards one kind of outcome when they're used.

For now, he tries to put it out of sight and out of mind. Six hasn't struck him as a particularly violent person, but he's only known whoever they are for all of like a little over a half hour now, so that's really not much of an expert opinion. It's a caution he files away to keep in mind for the future as his attention drifts upward. He looks at that painting. Lenses slowly hiss into a squint.

"Oh, that's kinda cute. Did your kid do that for you?"

He's not trying to be a jerk, honest!!

He's in the midst of wandering when he comes up to the pilot's seat. He blinks. Leans in until he's standing on one foot. Peers at Six from behind the mask. "Hello? Anybody there? Oh my god if you took a nap—"

'It's not technically unmanned,' says Six, from speakers, from the ship.


This is the sound of Spider-Man skillfully blending his running gag with his abject shock as he reels back from Six, hands thrown up like someone about to kung-fu chop — what? The craft? IF HE HAS TO. A second passes. He settles. "Wait whoa wait wait hold on how are you doing that? Is this what you were doing when I found you like, tripping out in the train?? That's crazy! That's awesome! That's—"

And then there's another voice, smooth and pleasing addressing him. He thinks. Man, Spider? What?

"Man-Spider? That just sounds creepy. And useless. A spider with the proportional strength of a man…? Why would anyone want — Anyway, uh, outskirts of the city is fine, I can take it from there. Don't worry about medical attention I'm not concussed or anything I'm just weird — No wait hold on who's the Ghost in the Machine guy here??" Is she seriously Knight Rider? Is his joke becoming reality? Is that like a power he has now?!

"And it's Spider-Man! Man! … Not Spider-Man-Man, just Spider-Man!"

He just can't catch a break with this stuff he swears to god—


"LOOK," says the voice over the speakers, "I'm an engineer, not a painter! Who died and made you Clement Greenberg?"

She isn't entirely absent. When he pokes his head into her peripheral vision, the helmet turns slightly, and after a brief check of whatever it is that the helmet's HUD is telling her, she lifts her left hand and gently feels around the back of it, disconnecting herself from the seat. The HUD from the helmet transfers seamlessly to the dark glass of the canopy: a heading, coordinates, scrolling pieces of information: radio frequencies associated with translated audio traffic snippets and god knows what else. Other aircraft in the area are marked by dots on that canopy, distances written out beneath — in kilometers, because science.

SHe pivots, turning to sit sideways in the seat, though as he's occupying what space there is for someone who isn't the pilot, she doesn't stand, and for a long and silent moment looks up. She promised him she would prove that he could trust her, and there's only one way to do that, as far as she knows. She wouldn't, usually. She would almost rather die than do this for virtually anyone else alive, but he risked his life to help her correct one of the biggest mistakes she's ever made, and whatever kernel of conscience still dwells in her much-diminished body, whatever forced her to follow through and put the drive back, it is no less bound by its ethical boundaries to make good on that promise.

So still-trembling fingertips lift, and disconnect the cables in the back of the helmet from — from wherever they go. Somewhere. He did call her FastJack, right? And then they frame either side of the low lip, thumbs slid inside. They catch on something, release something.

This might be a huge mistake. It probably is. Shit.

Up and off the helmet comes, and it settles in her lap.

She is probably disappointingly pedestrian, given all the possibilities that remain when the helmet's mystery is still intact. She might have been a breathtakingly complex synthetic being, or an android with a creepy, featureless faceplate, or some sort of alien that everyone is /absolutely positive/ is drop-dead gorgeous, but who turns out in the end to be a bad photoshop job over a stock photograph of a boring model because of time and budget constraints, presumably. Instead, it's just Kinsey, a face he may or may not recognize, given it isn't covered in mascara and blood, and this is a far cry from a gown, and her hair is just sort of efficiently pinned up behind her head without any kind of effort to look nice, because who the hell was going to see it, anyway?

The bone structure is the same, though. And the eyes. The worried, self-conscious, slightly abashed eyes. "I'm not a terrorist," she says. And when she isn't screaming about being pasted to a ceiling or being synthesized by her helmet, she has a very normal, even warm voice. It's a little roughed up by all of the screaming, velvets ground on a whetstone. "My name is Kinsey Sheridan. So…" She shifts her weight in her seat, uneasy. "Yeah. Now you know what I look like and what my name is, and you know all about the people who'd really love to know I'm not just some mechanic with a garage in Gotham. And I suppose if you ever start feeling like you made a huge mistake, you can put that to whatever use you want to."

Meticulously shaped brows slide together slightly. "But, if you wouldn't mind keeping it to yourself otherwise so that I don't wind up dead or…" Left hand lifts, gestures vaguely at nothing, "Locked up in a lab, that'd be…nice."


Today is a day for huge mistakes, it seems.

"Clement Greenberg? … like that old critic guy?"

He gets that reference! Kind of!

This all, of course, leads to Spider-Man awkwardly clearing his throat and offering up a faintly half-assed "looks like it has potential really" to Six's poor butchering of a painting. He scuffs a foot. Looks aside.

Because he knows if he looks back he's just going to say point out that looks like a kid's crayon scribble and Six is a fully grown…

… whatever… it is.

A question that, in other circumstances, he might've pressed. He still has no idea who this person is or what they were after. But they didn't abandon them. And they did the right thing (he assumes). And - he knows what it's like. That need to protect your identity, to protect yourself. Protect others. Whatever. If they're not trying to harm people - though given all that firepower he's starting to question - then as far as he's concerned, it's none of his business.

Until she makes it his business, anyway. He blinks behind the mask as Six disconnects that helmet, frame it, unlatch it—

And when it slides off, his eloquent response is, "Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…"

It doesn't hit him. Not right away. The limbs, and the lack of make up, and the context of it all, along with his confusion, blind him. It's right there, on the tip of his tongue. At the back of his mind. So, maybe Kinsey will excuse his first question,

"… Do I know you…?"

Especially when those lenses suddenly widen as if recognizing the eureka moment of the person behind them. Her face. Those human prosthetics. The voice.

"You're the lightbulb molester!" … "I mean, the woman at the gala!" There.

Kinsey Sheridan. The name doesn't ring a bell, but now he knows just who she is, and that just makes this whole situation all the more surreal. The world is a small place — except it's -not-, and he was in an entirely different city than, so that's millions upon millions upon millions of people in both, and this person, Six, Kinsey, whoever, ends up being the person he met barely over a week ago? It's bamboozling. Bizarre. It's—

"Wait, does that mean I stuck you up on that ceiling when you could've protected yourself just fine?? Ah, man!" Now he feels like an ass! A giant ass!

It's not an unfamiliar feeling, and that just makes it worse!

But him beating himself up doesn't last very long. As Kinsey speaks, Spider-Man quiets. He considers her words. A mechanic in Gotham. The DEO - what? Wants her for something? There's still more questions than answers, but for now…

… as Kinsey makes her plea, Spider-Man just quietly crouches down. And in a gesture he offered Zatanna a few days before, and one that really probably just shows his age in a painful way, Spider-Man reaches out—

—and offers up a pinky to Kinsey. Unabashedly.

"I'm not gonna tell anyone, as long as you don't take… whatever all this is… too far," he ventures, slowly. Because he can't promise if she's trying to hurt people. He just… can't.

"Pinky swear?"

Yeah. He's real great at all this.



'Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh' is not the response she was expecting, and it causes her cheeks to flush red high on the cheekbones. She prepares to be indignant. Sure, she's not what most people would expect. The equipment, the aircraft — they all exude, under normal circumstances, the air of someone competent, who knows what the hell they're doing, and underneath it she's just — well, what she is. But she /took a risk/ on him, god damnit, and he could at least do her the favor of not being rude about i—


She draws a short breath and huffs the exhale. "Lightbulb molester. Great. I can add that to my secret identity's CV," she mutters.

Then softens, a little. Lashes settle more heavily over hazel eyes as she thinks back to the night of the gala. "No, I actually did need the help. Whatever happened, that first big…rush…it really knocked my systems offline." There's a pause, and then one of her brows pre-emptively slides inward, the angle expressing caution. "Which — just a turn of phrase. I'm still not a robot."

The odds of running into him again don't seem to phase her. Statistically, they're more likely to meet than Kinsey and say, any one of the aforementioned millions upon millions of civilians, right? There are hundreds of extranormals operating in the Tri-Cities area…but those are much kinder odds.

Or less kind. It's a matter of perspective.

Her gaze drops along with his height, and then slides to the side, to — a pinky. Which seems absolutely right, because it's completely ridiculous, and so is he. …With a side of frighteningly powerful. Pinky swears haven't been frighteningly powerful for her since she was eight years old, though.

She accepts it though, the bare suggestion of a smile in there somewhere, more visible in the shape of her eyes than any change to her lips. "You are /such a nerd/."

There's a beat just long enough to seal that agreement, chased with another worried look. "I'm trying. I'm really trying. I just…want to find out what happened to me. Things being what they are, that's harder to do than it should be. Obviously." She bites the inside of her cheek, slips in a glance at the canopy HUD. There are no alarming aircraft on approach trajectories, at least. "I'm still sorry you got mixed up in this. If it sticks to you, I'll help you deal with it, if I can. And I obviously owe you a /huge/ favor."


"Uh - aheh, yeah, well, y'know, it's a total perk - being eccentric makes you more likely to get… noticed… which is not what you want at all, right, nevermind."

This is Spider-Man trying to assuage Kinsey for her predilection for badtouching light fixtures.

It's not great.

Still, he thinks he's getting a better idea of what all's going on with that. As Kinsey explains, he lifts up a finger — and then slowly lowers it when she goes out of her way to explain she's not a robot. His throat clears, again. Awkwardly. Again. "Right, like, so — is that your… power? Controlling tech, kinda like, 'I am assuming control!' all Collector-style?" Well. At least she'll understand what he's getting at. Maybe. "Kinda, I dunno, digitizing your consciousness into machines like some kinda…" Long, pregnant pause. "… not… robot."

Not a robot. She swears. Those lenses are still squinting.

But, pinks linked, Spider-Man bobs them up and down in a little pact. It's incredibly solemn. Incredibly grave. Incredibly— "Nerdy? What? What's nerdy about a pinky swear?? I'm like — whatever! That was a totally cool moment right there! And youjust— ugh!"

It wasn't, though.

It is hard to picture this as the person who just ripped a heavy, metal door off its hinges only a handful of minutes prior. And yet, when that most-solemn pinky swear ends, the red-and-blue-clad vigilante seems (seems, it's hard to tell with that mask) to take Kinsey's words into serious consideration. Despite the goofiness of the moment prior, his voice is nothing if not level and thoughtful, assured. "Well… I mean," in a manner of speaking. What happened to her. She wants to know what she is. It's a sentiment he can understand. "If you need help — like — in a way that isn't going to totally break the law, or something equally not a great idea…" He closes his eyes for a moment. Should he really offer this? Is it smart? The answer to that is usually 'no.'

"… I'll help. However I can. Okay?"

But that's never stopped him before.

"And don't worry, I'm pretty good at looking out for myself! … like. Most of the time. I never really pissed off the government, though. Is that bad? That sounds pretty bad."

Yeah, he hasn't thought, like, -any- of this through.


Is that her power?

Kinsey just stares at him, slowly lifts her shoulders in a shrug, nods but in a way that seems uncertain. Yes? Maybe? Even in casual conversation the uncertainty troubles her, gathered like a transparent thundercloud on her brow and in the cast of her gaze, the subtle downturn at one corner of her mouth. She doesn't know.

It is, of course, the reference to the second Mass Effect game that actually produces the most expressive result: a full, bright laugh, a flash of teeth in a wide, easy smile. She wears good humor comfortably enough to suggest that this is closer to her default state of being than whatever self she puts on when she's Six. "Sort of. Except I'm pretty sure I can't take five thousand sniper rifle shots to the head. And I don't sound as cool, apparently," she adds, with a flat look and an indignant sniff.

Which simultaneously does and does not answer his question. With adrenaline waning, she's starting to take incoming calls from parts of her body that wish to lodge a complaint with the head office (HA!) about physical abuse. It's too much to even imagine trying to tackle an explanation. The thought alone threatens to siphon what little gas she has left in the tank — also a figure of speech, still not a robot — out, and she still needs to get him someplace safe. Herself, as well.

His very kind, very selfless, very questionable offers to assist her meet with a small smile and the momentary kindling of gratitude and something like kinship, though it gutters fast. Everything points to his being young — /really/ young. So young that she wonders how he can be out late at night without somebody noticing and taking issue with it, which — she's going to have to think about that later, all of the baggage that might come along with being what he is, at an age where nothing makes sense at all.

Well, it's that, or he's got other problems. That could be. Maybe he got Peter-Panned by whatever it is that turned him into…whatever he is.

In either case, though, the thought of putting him in harm's way again causes a guilty twist behind her sternum, strong enough to have her drawing her shoulders in. His assurance that she need not worry sloshes up against her like water breaks on a seawall, changing nothing about her reservations.

To say nothing of the fact that she's not sure she /can/ find out more without breaking the law. There is also that.

"Maybe," she says, with an apologetic smile that looks like 'no,' even though she's actually aiming for credible sincerity. Which she does actually achieve with the next thing she says, on account of actually being credibly sincere: "I appreciate that you're offering."

"I'm hoping they just write it off as a mistake. If they corner you somehow you can tell them you were there to stop Six, which is true, but the last time I had access to the DEO databases, they didn't have your actual identity, so…I'm sure you'll be fine."

She is not at all sure. She is hopeful.

And then it gets quiet, and she lifts the helmet, shoots him a small and uncertain smile, and then pulls it down over her head. "Now I should probably get you back. And go get some food before I faint." Again.

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