The Worst Job Interview Ever

June 11, 2018:

The Iron Monger puts Spider-Man to the test.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Iron Man

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

New York City.

Oh what a lovely day!

The skyline is bright and beautiful, some amount of birds are trying their best to be loud over the din of NYC traffic, and for the most part all is quiet. Not a siren, not a peep on a police scanner or anything close to a disturbance.

It is a beautiful, beautiful day.

And a boring day to be the friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man. At least until the relay in his suit bothers him with a cell phone call.

It's JJJ, which might count as some sort of criminal attack, but only on Peter Parker's soul. It even seems like the flashing indicator that shows the call ringing is beating a little more angrily than usual, surely some sort of trick of the mind.

An uneventful day. A boring day. Honestly?

Peter Parker couldn't ask for anything better.

Given how his life usually goes, a little injection of normalcy is like a breath of fresh air for the webslinging superhero/vigilante/menace. He counts every day something doesn't go horribly wrong like a tiny, minor blessing. A little miracle. Things to treasure.

Times when he might actually get to study.

… Not that it keeps him from doing his daily routine, however. Webbing spins a line through the warm, stale air of New York's cityscape, hooking on the side of a nearby building as the red-and-blue form of Spider-Man gushes past in a smear of color on his usual tour of his city — his home.

"WOOOOOOOOOOO!" cries out the spider-hero as he sweeps past to land on the clear glass window of a nearby skyscraper. He peers in, lenses of his costume whirring into a scrutinizing squint. "Hey! Um. Any crime going on here? No? Not even some light stealing of office supplies? It's okay, you can tell me, I'm not a cop." Stark silence. Muted stares. "No? Seriously. Well, okay then. Uh. … Good luck with those… TPS reports you know what no nevermind that's a dumb joke. Maybe something about that old show 'The Office'? Or —"

And then that relay starts to flash, with a big, angry face of J. Jonah Jameson appearing in his field of vision, perfectly photographed mid-hurling cigar.

"Aw crap."

How does it somehow seem even more rage-filled?!

So, with a, "sorry, I'll try to think of a better joke later, really gotta take this!" Spider-Man swings off, finding a nearby rooftop to land on far enough away from the din of traffic before he takes a deep, steadying breath, steels himself… and answers the call that will assuredly spell some kind of doom.

"Um — hi, Mr. Jameson, sir! What can I do you for?" 'What can I do you for'? Come on, Peter. Get your head in the game!!

"PARKER!!"

A beat, and somewhere nearby, even though they could not have possibly heard JJJ screaming through Peter's earpiece, some pigeons take to the sky from the edge of the rooftop. A cloud immediately passes over head. Literally the only one in the sky, a shadow covering that rooftop.

"Where are you?! The website's down again and that other kid that does all the computer stuff is out sick! You act like you're smart, how fast can you get over here and fix it?!"

It is everything you might expect from your grandfather complaining about Facebook not working, except filled with an inconsolable rage that seems to never end. Thirty years from now, will JJJ be calling Peter Parker from his retirement home, screaming about his VR remote not working?

As much as the tension of the incoming rant may threaten to ruin an otherwise calm day, something else kicks in just at the end of JJJ's question. It moves, but is hard to see. Arcing in from the sky like a great canonball, the technology is similar to what SHIELD uses on it's helicarriers to keep them hidden. Reflective paneling that deactivates a holographic stealth mode only moments before the great metal behemoth aims to smoosh a certain red and blue bug. While it may be familiar, for something quite similar once attacked Silk long ago, it appears to have made some upgrades over the scans Stark had of it.

Apparently it did not perish at that Gala, as so many had imagined.

As it aims for bone-crushing impact, a chain gun on it's left arm begins to sink, rippling the air with heat and fire. No talking. No ultimatums.

The Iron Monger is here to kill Spider-Man.

He knows his spider-sense isn't going off. He just knows it isn't.

But when that voice hollers over the other end of the line, Peter Parker -swears- he feels a warning tingle run down his spine.

"Again? Didn't I just — wasn't it just fixed like, yesterday? Um. Well. If I rush -" stop to get a sandwich and enjoy the sandwich and pray to the sandwich gods that JJJ doesn't eat up the rest of his day yelling at him — "I can probably make it there in like… an hour-?"

And there he feels it. The tingle down his spine. The shiver at his senses. That little, nigh-precognitive radar that blares a warning of danger through his nerves.

… JJJ couldn't be that mad, could he-?

For a brief moment, Peter Parker wonders over the depths of JJJ's rage; it's quickly cast aside, however, as that threatening feeling just -intensifies-. His legs tense beneath red and blue, his muscles coil. Those lenses narrow. He sees the glint of -something- from the very peripherals of his vision. And within a fraction of a second —

"Bethereinabitgottagomaybetryturningitoffandonagain!"

— hell comes for Spider-Man in a rain of bullets.

A fraction of a second. A hairline fracture's of a moment. That's all the difference in the world between Spider-Man, springing just out of the way of a hail of artillery fire pummeling stone and metal into shredded rubble and scrap, and Spider-Man, reduced to a pile of meaty, bullet-riddled giblets. He flips backwards as hot lead streaks just past his masked face, twisting with supernatural grace —

— and it is there, inverted through the air, that he sees it. That massive suit of armor, so similar to Iron Man's, yet not. There are some differences between the one he saw and this, but Peter knows engineering — he knows the signature of a design, knows how to spot the similarities. This is it. The one that attacked Silk. The one who assaulted that gala. Beneath his mask, teeth grit together. He suppresses a flash of confusion and anger and anxiety.

"Oh my god! It's Iron Man's creepy uncle!"

And he copes as best he knows how as he fires off twin bursts of webbing mid-leap, aiming to seize up the inner workings of that chain gun and clog its barrels with powerful adhesives before he lands a handful of feet away from where he was nearly turned into a bloody smear.

"I'm not, like, TOTALLY sure it's what you were going for, but someone should let you know so it might as well be me — bullets are not like hugs. They are VERY DIFFERENT FROM HUGS."

Brick and mortar explode, the suit powers through the roof and into the floors below, crushing into someone's apartment. There is a scream. A scream of an innocent person, minding their business, from somewhere inside the building. Repulsors flare to bring the suit exploding back out of the building, only to meet webbing head-on that completely gums up the works of the chaingun.

Still, the Iron Monger raises it, tries to fire, and when nothing happens it looks at the gun before looking back to peter. Is a machine capable of an angry face? There is a sudden hum to the air, a vibrant sensation of electromagnetic power that sweeps out from it - but no pain, no effect. Whatever it was, it seems not to harm Peter or the building as it stops forward and deploys a shoulder-mounted missile launcher.

"Clearly you've never dated a Russian girl."

The missile launcher seems to track the masked menace for a brief moment, before suddenly swiveling 90 degrees toward the south. Four micro-missiles fire, one after another, repulsor smoke blaring in their wake.

"Those are headed for a daycare center twenty blocks from here."

The tone of the gravel-laden, modulated voice is that of a challenge, daring Spider-Man to make a choice. Then, the Iron Monger simply seems to stop. No followup, no attack, watching the Spider-Man for something as the echo of the missiles ring in the sky on their mission to kill innocent children and their caretakers.

Mortar bursts, rubble collapses — and it quickly becomes apparent this is a fight that Peter is going to have to take outside the city limits. Or at least, as far away from the general population as he possibly can. Behind that mask, the young college student-turned-superhero presses lips into a thin line, goes over his options — of which there seems to be increasingly fewer.

"Is this a Black Widow joke? I feel like it's a Black Widow joke. Not all of us spider-people know each other, you know. So I guess now you're speciest on top of the whole, you know, homicidal maniac thing. You just get scummier by the secWHOA!"

Missiles fire — but they're not for Peter. A feint. A feint that he reacts to, preparing to wheel backwards… until he sees exactly where they're heading. Until he hears -exactly- what the Iron Monger is saying, behind the modulation of that steel suit.

"NO! Wait-!!"

And Spider-Man reacts purely on instinct.

It's almost dizzying, how fast he moves when he's really trying. Within one moment, he is backtracking; in the next, he is -lunging- forward in a dizzying whirl of motion to blitz past Iron Monger. One hand presses fingers to palm, creating a funneling webline to connect to a nearby building.

The other?

Attempts to introduce the metallic monster's face to a splatter of sticky high-tensile adhesive.

"You are just — the worst — sort of person-!!"

And then, Spider-Man is in swing. He doesn't know if he'll manage to distract the Iron Monger long enough with his stunt. He doesn't even know if it worked; he can't afford to pay attention to that right now. Like a man possessed, like a person who simply can't NOT sacrifice everything for the sake of others, he moves. Everything is on chasing those missiles, trying to get close enough —

Close enough, that he can release his webline, and shoot off two more for the outer pair of those micromissiles.

To try to ram them together, before they can reach anything dangerous.

Whatever happens to him, as he goes into freefall, well…

He can't worry himself about that right now, when there are so many others in much more immediate danger.

"Hngh."

The webbing covers the Iron Monger's face, but it only forces a momentary blip as other sensors take over. This, courtesy of Tony Stark, who taught him this lesson so long ago: Don't put all your sensors in one basket. Still, the opportunity to test this webbing compared to Cindy's is well met, reaching up to curl his great metal hand over it and slowly rip and pull until some of it - maybe half of it - is pried free with an application of strength that makes Obadiah grimace a little at how difficult it is to remove. What a formidable substance. He can only hope to replicate it someway.

Meanwhile the Spider-Man is off and after those missiles, a dizzying pursuit of desperation that ends when the webbing hits the missiles and they fizzle out of existence.

Not quite holograms, it explains the electromagnetic sensation that preceded their firing.

There is little warning, but worse, no traction to react. Freefalling, Peter will find a savior in a great metal man who snags one of his legs as the Iron Monger rockets by, helpfully taking him towards a nearby building. And through it, if he doesn't wrench himself free, plowing into a building under construction, but finished enough that the metal man will gladly take the brunt of the impact if only to drag Peter through the jagged, destructive aftermath, one that will pry Peter from his grip if Peter doesn't wriggle free first.

Eventually, the Iron Monger will land on concrete in slide that comes to a repulsor-assisted stop, whirling about to look for it's new best friend. "I guess you're as much of a hero as everyone says, The Daily Bugle not withstanding. Some part of me really wanted you to conclude you'd be too late to stop them and just try to cave my head in. I just want you to understand. I wouldn't mind killing a whole building full of children just to make it easier to kill you, and now that I know you care so very much, you'll have to wonder if I'm bluffing next time. Do you throw yourself after my missiles every time, or do you call my bluff to save yourself and put me down? Guessing wrong might stay with someone forever. It is my sincere hope you think on that for the rest of your life. In fact, it makes me hope you survive this little test run of mine to do just that."

Webbing flies. Webbing strikes.

"Yes!!"

Webbing keeps flying as missiles cease to exist.

"No!!"

Lenses snap wide with obvious shock the second Spider-Man's intended plan sort of flops in the wake of that fakeout. He realizes, a second too late, that something is off — the missiles don't register on his spider-sense nearly as much as that chain gun did. But desperation can do much to unsettle someone's balance, and Peter Parker is still a very young man. The experience will teach him.

It's just that this time, it'll teach him in a particularly painful way.

"Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap oh CRAP-" is Spider-Man's new mantra as he goes into an uncontrolled dive towards the ground below. His intention, of course, is to string another line up and -yank- himself above street level; he gets about as far as curling his middle two fingers inward towards his palm before a big metal hand clamps his ankles like a vice. "OH CRAP"

yank

And off they go, tearing through the New York cityscape. Concrete shatters like the crunch of paper mache underneath the Iron Monger's repulsor-assisted charge; the first thing Peter Parker feels is the sensation of a half-pulverized cinder block pummeling his ribcage like the angry fist of god. It's a mere prelude to a painful symphony of rebar and concrete hell as debris tears through red and blue spandex material and punishes flesh and bone with lacerations and hairline fractures. He can feel himself bruising already as a starburst of pain rushes through his nerves.

And it'd likely get that much worse, if Peter did not muster up his strength to swing up and -kick- himself free with his ungripped foot, accepting the punishment that comes to his ankle as he goes flying across the half-finished room of this incomplete building. He crashes into a wall, and construction material collapses in on him in a heap of metal and concrete as the Iron Monger comes to his hissing stop. The metal fiend looks… but there is no one around. No one to answer, as he gives his screed.

Somewhere, someplace amongst the rubble, Spider-Man is left to think through the pain as a sharp inhale helpfully tells him he's probably fractured one of his ribs. He knows the suit involves tech stolen from Tony. He thinks about what he knows of Tony's designs; it means it probably functions off some kind of Arc Reactor, just like his. If he could reach it, he could shut it down. It also means that, if this is someone who -knows- Tony, it's probably exactly what they expect.

It is my sincere hope you think on that for the rest of your life.

*thwip*

"I… khh… do."

Webbing flies, to either side of the Iron Monger. And from the rubble, bursts Spider-Man, costume torn and ragged, blood standing red and blue and the exposed flesh beneath. He can feel injuries protest as he -slingshots- himself forward at dizzying velocities, like a human missile. He can feel that rib break — maybe two.

"Every time!!"

And he tries his best not to let the pain of it deter him, hoping Iron Monger does what he expects and tries to protect that reactor —

— so that Spider-Man can go low, for the knee joints, with force that could punt an SUV across a city block, and acceleration that much faster with every intention of plowing the massive metal monstrosity down. The Iron Monger is flight capable. Still has weapons. Maybe there's no one even in there.

He's still betting — hoping — it'll be hard to move around, with broken legs.

Sensors frantically search, switching to different wavelengths to find the body - or what he assumes is a body, when no quipy reply comes in the immediate aftermath of that destructive wake. Just about when Obadiah might detect a heat signature, webbing lances by to take hold of steel and slingshot this brave, foolish hero towards the Iron Monger's chest. It is a reactive thing, raising it's hands to fire a replusor blast, meaning to stop that sudden charge short.

But Peter wasn't going for his reactor casing at all, and instead the energy beam hums by the Spider's face on his way towards his knees. Feet impact a single knee, caught in the forward motion of trying to meet that charge, to far more devastating effect, flesh and metal rebounding as one tears, and this time it is not the kid from Queens.

Something snaps in that leg joint, sends the Iron Monger toppling forward as all center of gravity is stolen from it, faceplanting on concrete and farther, through this floor to land in a crater on the next. Twisted and broken, the leg is made of metal that would put tank armor to shame, but in that moment it might as well have been tin-foil and it shows in how it is strewn and dangled and all but destroyed.

"Stronger than I thought. Tougher, too. I suppose I just have one more thing to test when it comes to everyone's favorite masked menace."

The behemoth pushes on concrete, turning over with a groan of metal, and though it is sitting up, it is certainly not standing. "Can he bring himself to let someone this dangerous go free, if it means saving lives? An actual worse kind of person would have fired more missiles already. Forced you to make that choice. But I'd like to think that logic can win the day, even in dire circumstances. Even between enemies?"

The helmet turns, looking for the spider, sparks flying from it's damaged leg.

"So what do you say, pal? Why not let an old hunk of metal be on his way? I'll give you sixty seconds to think it over."

There's no followup threat or specifics of what he can do, other than mentioning the faux missiles he let fly just a little while ago. He could test his measure again already, or talk about what x weapon could do to y number of people before the Spider could disable him. But this is the Iron Monger wading in his enemy's mind, gauging everything from how long it takes for Peter to make his decision to the tone of voice he might choose to respond in.

After all, if Obadiah's plan for forming a global team of registered heroes comes to fruition, and if he really wants to make his old friend JJJ as mad as possible, he's going to need to know everything he can about the Spider-Man he wants to lead the New York team.

Strength and velocity are at Peter Parker's advantage here today. So often he has to hold himself back just to avoid killing people. He might not be as strong as the likes of truly otherworldly heroes like Thor and Superman, but…

When Spider-Man has cause to hold nothing back, it is often something to behold.

Metal crunches beneath his feet, and he ignores how those red-clad soles protest as he feels that incredibly strong alloy twist and shriek beneath his blow. He doesn't feel flesh and bone snapping beneath — a sensation he's also become far too familiar with since taking up this mantle — but given how large the Iron Monger is, that might not be saying something.

Tony can pilot the Iron Man armor remotely (so cool) and even operate more than one at a time (so super cool). It could be the same for whoever is running this one, or it could simply be that the armor has more of a cockpit approach, given its sheer size. He isn't sure.

But there's always one way of finding out.

It's these thoughts that help to distract him from the pain as he collapses into the rubble beneath him when the floor simply -gives out- under the immense weight of the Iron Monger. He twists in mid-air, deftly maneuvering around falling rubble and landing on hands and knees on the level below with a shockingly quiet -=thump=- of impact. His ears are ringing. The entire world feels like its wobbling around him as he sucks in a deep, nauseating gasp of breath, each intake of oxygen wheezed out with the sharp stab of pain that explodes at his right side. He hears the Iron Monger speaking, past the whine of his eardrums. His body aches.

But Spider-Man still forces himself up onto his feet, trying — and mostly succeeding — to resist wobbling unsteadily in place as he approaches the sitting figure of the Iron Monger.

The ultimatum is made. The threat implied. An appeal to logic. Teeth grind behind his mask, lenses whirling into a squint. Torn as it is, the suit can't hide the way his entire body is tense like a spring ready for release, fingers curling into fists at his sides.

Sixty seconds.

By the fifth, Spider-Man is already speaking.

"You're the one… who attacked Silk, aren't you?" he breathes out, slowly, to avoid giving away how his exhales come in a dangerous wheeze. "And the gala and… and…" No Peter. Focus. How about this — how about I remove the like, eleventy billion weapons you've got and take you to Mister Stark, and see what he thinks about all this? You'll love it. It's got all sorts of neat gadgets and a pretty decent snack bar and what I'm pretty sure is a dungeon but Mister Stark keeps assuring me it's probably not for anything weird."

He jokes. But his entire body is a tightly corded knot of pain and restraint. His hands ready to fire webbing at the faintest notice. Everything feels tense, like that quiet moment before guns are drawn.

"What d'you say? I'll even save a crab cake for you when we get there."

And that, it seems, is Peter's answer.

There is no motion from the suit. Webbing hangs off of half it's face. Sparks simmer away as power is completely cut to that torn and dangling leg. Both of it's hands are needed to support this up right position, unless it wanted to move and somehow position itself to turn onto it's remaining knee. But it does not. Whatever other weapons it has bristling in it's armored shell stay silent. There seems to be only contemplation.

But it must assume it has only a like amount of time to consider Spider-Man's counter offer.

Eventually, there is s low tilt of it's head, canting upwards, a motion so human one might expect speech to follow. Instead there is only a high pitched whine that is a side effect of a neural pulse, one that he once used to paralyze and murder Raza, a man who failed to follow his orders. Tony once felt it's bite too, when Obadiah's Chessmen came for his Mark 2 Arc Reactor. There is no doubt Peter Parker's physicality will be more resistant, but then, this neural paralysis generator is not pocket-sized.

The entire armor thrums with the keening wale, and outside this building cars swerve and fender benders pile up as the paralytic wave washes over the entire block, enough to seize a normal person for ten minutes, to leave them barely breathing. On Peter? Who can say. But long enough, to be certain.

A great metal hand lances out, and now matter how much his spider sense screams, it will not save him from what could be a killing blow. Instead, it is a cradling catch, to stop Peter from hitting the ground under the effects of his weapon, which cuts off before it might do any permanent damage.

With a creak of metal, the Iron Monger gently lowers Spider-Man to the concrete, looming over him as if he were a protective father figure, and not the person who tortured him, seemingly for no other reason than to test his resolve.

"I'll pass on your generous offer. As much as I try, I can't find a good crabcake outside of Baltimore. Give my regards to the other spiderling. As much as I am fond of metal as a final solution to the worlds problems, you both have impressed me in ways I could not have imagined."

It does not reach for his mask or examine his technology or do anything else that might be tactically sound in this situation. In his own way, Obadiah is certain this is the greater move, sowing confusion and frustration. Something else to drive Tony mad.

"Oh, and do make sure that 'Mister Stark' knows that this is his fault."

With that, the Iron Monger leaps back through the destroyed building side, extra repulsors deploying at it's back to help make up for the near-missing leg. The din of those engines fade into the background, leaving Peter Park with only the sound of the chaos in the block caused by that paralytic wave, one that will begin to wear off in just a minute or two for him, but lasts tens of minutes for anyone else.

He doesn't see it coming.

It isn't entirely accurate. He -knows- something is coming. He can't not; there's very exceedingly few things that ping that spider-sense when they mean to do harm to him, and 'paralytic neurological reaction' ranks pretty high up there on the chart of 'THINGS THAT CAN THREATEN YOUR LIFE.'

Unfortunately, feeling that threat and knowing what exactly it's going to entail? That's two very different things entirely.

And so, as the Iron Monger's head tilts, Spider-Man is already preparing to move backwards in a graceful flip that belies the amount of damage he's taken today. Already preparing webbing to plaster the war machine down. Seeing with excrutiatingly slow detail how that armor moves, how every part of it groans with reactor-infused life.

"Nope, no bad touchlgkjss — wh —"

When his world comes crashing around him with the sound of a buzzing whine.

Ever since he was bitten, Peter Parker has never been off balance. Never fallen and -not- landed on his feet bar being punched into the earth by various hulk-like jerks. Never had that perfect orientation. Now? Now, the entire earth seems to spin around him into a vertigo smear of colors and shapes and indistinct noises as his brain feels like butter being cooked in a saucepan. A choking, gurgling sound escapes him as he loses control of his bodily functions mid-leap and he ends up in an awkward and uncharacteristic tumbling flail, veins purpling with the panicked pulse of lifeblood through his body as his brain sends frantic and chaotic signals throughout the entirety of his nervous system that cannot quite make up its mind. His body feels like it's dying, and it responds appropriately.

And for a moment, amidst the confused haze of sensations, Peter thinks he is, too.

He would have hit the ground in a heap, if it weren't for the cold grip of iron clenching delicately around his comparatively tiny figure. He is settled onto the ground instead of tumbling into it, a twitching, spasmodic form that looks so much younger when it is forced to curl up upon itself into a defensively fetal position. Soft "ggk" and "hlkgl" sounds escape him like little hiccups as his witty response to the Iron Monger's declarations. He can barely parse the words, even as his unnatural body starts to combat the sounds that have waged war with it, adjust him to the sensation of his entire world being scrambled like the runniest eggs ever. Fingers twitch, scraping concrete.

And it's probably a testament to Spider-Man's determination that a single hand lifts off the ground in a shaking, futile gesture after the Iron Monger as he leaves, as if Peter could somehow stop him through that forced gesture alone.

He can't, of course. And though right now his body, his mind, is fully focused on recovery, as he coughs blood into the inside of his mask, there are still doubts and confusions that plague his mind. Things he'll be thinking of for a long time after this. Dwelling over. Worrying over. Not the least of which, why whoever that was didn't bother trying to remove his mask.

For right now, though? For right now, he just tries his best not to vomit. He really doesn't need to deal with that on top of everything else.

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