Prompt:616/Marvel Zombies | zombie Spider-Man | gen | Zombie Spidey ends up in the 616, after Cortez sends him and the others out of their own universe. How does the poor zombie react? How do the Skrulls?
Rating:R for violence and cannibalism
Disclaimer: The characters and settings featured in this story are the property of Marvel Entertainment. This is a work of homage and no copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Death of major characters, people will be eaten and killed, in that order, it's a zombies fic
Author's notes: Finally finished and betaed, yay! For the record this is the only fic I'll ever write in Brand New Day continuity. There's a good reason why this fic is set in that continuity rather than in the real one. Just thought you might like to know.
Only twenty minutes ago, Tony had been in bed, enjoying a mild slumber for the first time in the past 50 hours. It had taken him hours to get even that far. He pushed away a shirt that his last ‘visitor’ had left behind her, he guessed it was Clarissa. She tended to leave stuff like that to have an excuse to come back. He could enjoy the slight subterfuge. He wondered what she’d say to get him to give it back. Smiling as he thought about those little dimples in her chin. He wondered if Pepper would mind too overly much if he asked her to have it ironed. He was pretty sure she’d beat him with a crowbar if he even tried.
Three hours of sleep, couldn’t they give him even that much before showing up with yet another disaster for him to deal with? If it hadn’t been Reed Richards on the other side of the phone he wouldn’t have bothered to pick up in the first place. But it was Reed, and this was a code 12 emergency and that required his appearance, even if he had to use extremis to keep his eyes open.
The whole cell block had been cordoned off. Prisoners had been moved to make place and guardsmen walked the walls now until the new arrival could be removed to a more suitable location. Tony took off his helmet after landing and moved down to the surveillance wing.
The guards seemed uneasy, he recognized some of them. Two of them used to watch Carnage back at Ravencroft. Tony didn’t think he’d ever seen them this ill at ease. The prisoner wasn’t that much to look at, but that didn’t mean much in a world where preteen children could lift trucks. The man seemed average, average looks, average size, average build. Like he could be anyone from any area of life.
Except for his eyes.
They’d bought him here over from Bellevue Hospital. After the damage caused by his unprovoked attack on Trauma, he was deemed too dangerous to stay in a public hospital. Tony wished they could just get him out of the city, but the man needed a psychiatric review before they could send him to 42. The negative zone wasn’t an easy place for anyone, for someone already suffering from mental instability it could be the last straw to take him over the edge of what little sanity he had left.
His chart said that he’d been doped to the gills, not that it had done much good. The man’s body had cleared them all in a matter of minutes. Hank was working on some kind of heavy duty tranquilizer at the moment, but who knows how much effect even that would have.
Tony turned to Reed, he wasn’t sure what held his friends attention to his computer read outs as much as it did, but whatever it was, it seemed to worry him. A worried Reed Richards was about the furthest thing from good, imaginable.
Their prisoner was a level 12 superhuman, showing up out of nowhere, unregistered and deeply disturbed. Trauma had noted in his report that the guy had terrified him. Tony considered telling the young hero that that kind of thing should not be in official reports, but if these readings were true, he couldn’t blame him. Compared to this guy, the Sentry looked like a bastion of common sense.
Steve used to make being the leader look so simple; with everyone looking up to him for answers. He wished he could just go back to his workspace back at Stark Tower and spend a few days working on a new suit. But he couldn’t, not when people needed someone to solve their problems for them.
Tony stared back at the prisoner. Too bad they couldn’t just call Spider-Man, and ask him if he knew the guy. If there was some kind of connection between the two, then maybe Spider-Man knew who he was. Heaven knows that Spider-Man tended to attract the nutcases almost as much as Daredevil did. Too bad that both of them had gone underground after the Civil War, if they hadn’t… they could have used both of their experience. Only now, even if he could find Spider-Man, he’d have to arrest him and the wallcrawler would have to be locked up in a jail cell, only a few halls away from their mystery guest.
The patient/prisoner was crouched in the middle of the room. He ignored the bed and sat staring at everything and nothing. Tony wondered what he saw, that the rest of them didn’t. He was drawing something in the floor. Tony checked the monitors to get a better look but all it showed was a slight dent in the cement.
John Doe’s prints had been checked and had only tangled things up even more. Their prisoner was a Peter Benjamin Parker, age 30. A graduate school drop out who seemed to have been blacklisted as a teacher; fired from working for the Bugle, sorry DB now, and basically didn’t look like he’d ever done anything with his life.
The one thing that didn’t match in that list; was that at this same moment Peter Benjamin Parker was sitting in a police station over in Queens, talking to a few police officers. His aunt works at the homeless shelter where their mysterious stranger had first shown up. Parker claimed he didn’t know what was going on, and readings on him showed no sign on him having any energy related powers. The police had asked permission to let him go, Tony had seen no reason to disagree.
They’d run a blood check as their first option. Doe definitely wasn’t a Skrull, Dire Wraith or some other alien species of shape shifter that they were aware of. Aside from some irregularities in his blood stream, and the fact that he had cosmic powers inside of him, their guest was completely and utterly human.
Cloning maybe? Alternate dimensional counterpart, some weird twin that only just showed up… A blood sample of the other Parker should be arriving any second now and Tony wondered if it would tell them anything new.
“I thought I was wrong the first time around, but I wasn’t.” Reed sounded fascinated. “His energy signature, it matches with those of two others. The Silver Surfer …” and then he turned his eyes back on the prisoner, “and Galactus.”
It was those moments of innocence, right before the tornado, when everything seemed peaceful and quiet, with merely a hint of oncoming wind that made the storm seem almost worse. Right now, Johnny Storm’s biggest worry in the world was to keep from getting himself utterly and completely trounced by his nephew Franklin. Johnny was just about ready to give in to defeat when he found himself saved by the computer.
“Mister Storm sir, there’s a visitor.” The voice came out of an Iron Man doll that Reed had made for Franklin.
“Who is it?” He asked somewhat distracted for a second, he winced as it cost him as his avatar was hit from about five sides at once.
“It seems to be Mister T’Challa, sir.” Roberta answered in her even tones. Reed was working on her emotion simulator, trying to get her to sound even more natural. Until he finished, it meant she sounded like the robot she was. Yet even in that tone, Johnny thought he felt some kind of uncertainty, like some part of her disagreed with what she’d just told him.
Franklin pouted when Johnny put down his controller. He also nagged. But then that was part of the game. That kid was getting far too good at this. A few more months and he could probably use him as a secret weapon against Ben. Johnny flew down to the lobby, taking a short cut by way of the stairs and put a smile on his face for their guest. A smile that quickly faded when he noticed an old man standing there. The weathered black man looked strong, formidable, even with one sleeve empty and leaning on a crutch made out of a piece of wood. He looked like someone no sane person would underestimate.
The stranger raised his hands indicating he meant no harm. He let go of his stick and leaned up against the reception desk.
“I don’t know if you remember me.” Johnny winced; he hoped this wasn’t some guy from one of his fanclubs. He hadn’t broken any promises yet had he? Or were they trying to rope him into something. He had meant to get back to that guy from the ‘Make a Wish’-foundation. ”We briefly talked while you were in our dimension a few years back. Your version of me, said you were there because of the magical frogs.”
“In your…” Frogs? Shit. “Oh god. The zombie dimension? You’re their Black Panther. Uhm welcome, how …”
Johnny was just about to roll of a thousand questions, but T’Challa interrupted him.
“I’m not alone.”
Johnny listened to him in horror. Images played before his eyes of the Skrull world they’d been on when the zombies hit it. Men, women and children screaming in fear. All dead within a day, and those had been Skrulls. Earth wouldn’t stand a chance.
After that Johnny was flying. He’d tried to phone Reed, he’d tried to reach Ben, he’d even sent about five messages to the Black Panther and three more to the X-men. But nobody seemed to be willing to pick up the phone. He didn’t understand why, play one phone prank, ok, maybe ten, and suddenly nobody takes your calls.
He saw the city below him as it was now, and as it could be if T’Challa was right. He closed his eyes, hoping that someone anyone would listen. Maybe they could still be on time. The dying hadn’t started yet.
The guardsmen almost attacked him when they saw him coming. He barely managed to douse his flame in time to get them to recognize him and even then he was stared at with suspicion. He asked them for Reed and was sent down to the mental ward.
Johnny wondered if that was a coincidence.
He barely managed to keep from turning his flame back on, from ignoring the guards’ looks and just flying up to Reed. But he could understand their worries; it was only a few months since the last major riot. No wonder they didn’t trust some hero coming in without even a hint of a warning.
“There’s six of them.” T’Challa had said, punctuating each one with a tap on the desk. “Spider-Man.” Johnny had blanched at that, “Cage, Colonel America, Wasp, Giant Man and Wolverine.”
That was one more than there had been to decimate that Skrull world.
Reed startled when Johnny came in. “Just a second I’ll be right there.” Long years of experience had taught Johnny that sometimes it was faster to just let Reed finish, than to try and interrupt him.
“They could be human.” T’Challa had continued. “But they’ve been monsters for so long, I don’t know how any of them, even Janet, would have coped with being human again.”
And it was then that Johnny saw the patient that held Reed and Tony’s attention. Reed hadn’t been looking at him, but Johnny did, and he couldn’t help notice the way the man was clinging to the wall, held up by his touch to the surface, rather than by his position on the floor.
The man saw him and flipped over, crouching on the floor and crawling to the glass towards him. Johnny took a few steps closer. So did the prisoner. Johnny put his hand on the glass. He was cautious, slightly uneasy. For some reason his mind chose this as the perfect moment to play the theme tune of Silent Hill. He would thank it later, with lol cat pictures, lots of them.
Then the man looked up with his glowing eyes, his hands twitching as his two middle fingers bended and his two outer fingers pointed towards the glass and Johnny knew for sure.
Spider-Man looked at him through what should have been a one way mirror; Johnny just wondered what kept him in there.
Hank licked his lips as he finished of the last bits of flesh on the small set of bones. He loved having lips again. Lips and taste buds. He’d been eating ice cream all morning, just to feel the sugar on his tongue. And then he’d gone on a roller coaster up in Ferris Island, just to feel the thrill of the air moving in his face. He’d feared that human flesh would no longer taste now that he was human, but it had only improved upon it. Everything felt so much more intense now that he was human. He hoped it wasn’t the mortality that made it so. Because he would miss these sensations, though not the pain that came with them, if he were to return to his evolved self.
It had hit him when he landed here two days ago. Human, vulnerable, defenseless. He could die so easily now, just stop being and stop feeling. It’s not that he wanted to go back to being out of control or a puppet of his stomach as he’d been for years. Not that. But he wanted that strength back, that sense of convictions, of doing what was needed.
And humanity needed him to show them that. All he needed to do was reverse engineer the virus; to find a way to make it work for them; instead of against them. He’d been even more convinced of that, after he realized that the Pym of this universe had been replaced by a Skrull imposter. He’d planned to eat the guy and take his place, but someone had beaten him to it.
What if there were more of them? More Skrulls pretending to be human? Earth would have no defense. But if he managed to recreate the virus, take out the hunger, or most parts of it, and allow them to retain their senses, then they could protect earth. All in exchange for the lives of a few people that nobody would miss anyway. There were so many people on earth that served no purpose whatsoever, living meaningless lives, suffering every day and for what? Just so they could keep on existing?
Wouldn’t it be much better to round up the homeless, feed them, keep them warm until they were fit and healthy and then gently put them out of their misery? Nobody would have to suffer. They could even sedate them before the feeding; he’d make sure of that. And this time, he’d make sure that nobody got too greedy, maybe one human a day for each of them, or even just half of one for some, that wasn’t too much right? There were six billion of the sheep and what, two hundred heroes, at most? Besides, they’d probably have to lose some of the heroes anyway. The ungrateful ones, so stuck in their ways that they wouldn’t understand how much better this new world would be.
They could handle losing less than a 100 thousand dregs of society a year, and even if they ran out of those, they could start a breeding program with the criminals. It would definitely help to keep crime down. No more need for prisons, other than as breeding farms. That way the guards could even keep their jobs and the prisoners could stop nagging about over population.
And all he’d have to do to make his utopia a reality; was to find a way to recreate the virus and alter it just enough, so that they’d be in charge of their own minds and thoughts. It’s why he stayed here, plenty of lab rats. He was high enough up in rank that no one would question him if he ordered a few of them to leave with him. Humans like the one he had in the lab were good for food, but they were too weak to hold up under the hunger. It wasn’t even the powers, it was the personalities. You needed to be strong to be able to thrive under this source of evolution. It’s why only the best of them got back up again, and the others were grounded between their teeth.
He thought about the call he’d just had. Tony had said they found a class twelve superhuman with cosmic powers inside of him. Was it was one of the others? Parker, maybe Cage, it could even be Logan. How many of them would stand up against him?
He had hated to fight Janet again. But she kept insisting to stand in his way. Colonel America had been unconscious through most of it. He was still stuck in the body of T’Challa son. Hank hadn’t wanted to harm him, so he’d just knocked him out right from the start.
Hank knew he had to find a way to get to whomever Stark had and kill them. He thought of a million plans to get there, a million ways to do what he needed to do. But in the end it was as easy as stepping into a helicopter and heading over to Rykers. Hank wasn’t even sure why it annoyed him so much, that they made things so easy. Too easy.
He kept his hands in his pockets and stared around at the people in these walls. He could imagine how he’d restructure the building, Put the birthing chamber in the big room and set it up so the babies could then be taken to another room where they’d spend the rest of their life till they were old enough to be used. Maybe for fifteen years or so, just old enough to know if maybe they were mutants, you wouldn’t want to waste a superhuman on flesh. Fifteen, maybe even twenty years, that’d be about long enough to ripen the flesh. They’d never need to fear, never need to want for anything, comfort, entertainment, it’d all be there. Make them used to go to the visiting room, so that when they were ready they’d just follow their caretakers and wouldn’t fear their final visitors in a room, ready to be cleansed as soon as the meal was over.
Just as he was starting to think of how to set things up, so that each would get their fair share; he arrived in front of the cells. And of course it was Parker. At least he wouldn’t have to kill someone that he actually liked.
Parker stared back at him. Hank almost looked away. It was only through sheer force of will that he didn’t. Now all he had to do was kill him, and the threat would be over with.
“I’m not sure Reed.” Tony sounded less sure of himself than Hank was used to from his old friend. He knew he’d have to make sure they wouldn’t lose Tony. His mind was too great to be wasted. “T’Challa was right. They might be human now. But they’re still zombies in their minds.”
“You saw the video of what happened on that Skrull world. If any of them get free and spread the infection; we’re all doomed.” Hank stared back at Johnny, desperate to get away once he realized that Johnny knew the truth.
Hank fought the urge to hyperventilate. Instead he said something about taking the blood samples to his own lab for further investigation and went out the door. He only stopped to check up on Parker’s home address.
He had to hurry up his tests and Parker was as good a test subject as any. After all, beggars can’t be too picky.
Peter sat on the wall, staring at the ceiling. Then he turned back to the glass wall. They’d removed the two way mirror after he’d broken it. Tony seemed annoyed when he broke it, muttering something about false advertising.
Peter couldn’t stand looking at the mirror, for a second he’d seen his human face staring back at him and it disgusted him. He’d tried to crush his face on the glass, tear it to ribbons. But the guards had tried to sedate him. It didn’t work of course, but Peter didn’t want to harm them by accident. A doctor came almost up to the energy wall, promising him they’d remove the shards, all he had to do was stand back. So he had.
He wished they just took out the glass as well, and made the metal less shiny. Because no matter how much he tried, he kept seeing those dead eyes look back at him.
“You’re a monster.” It told him, deformed to his carcass. “You know it, they know it. So why keep pretending you’re a nice guy.”
But he wasn’t pretending, was he? He sank down, ready to smash his face to the cement.
“Why do this?”
“Why do what?”
“You’re being annoying.”
“No I’m not.”
“Yes you are”
It didn’t seem like his mind was agreeing with itself, though both halves of his brain thought he was a pain to deal with.
“Bust in the head, destroy the brains, the eyes are the mirror to the soul, pierce them apart. You could try better than hide under the bed; I could see your legs.”
He could feel him coming before he even saw him. Hank, he was alive. Peter couldn’t tell you how he knew it wasn’t dream Hank. This Hank felt much more real to him than this world did. This world where dreams came true and the monsters were hidden.
Hank stared at him and Peter looked at the floor, at his drawing of them all. He breathed into it and formed Hank’s face in the dust, branding it in the cement to make it real, touchable. Hank left, almost too eagerly and Peter wondered why, why anyone would let him go.
“I ate my wife and aunt, why did I do that?” He asked a question he’d asked a million times before. “I loved them and I ate them, and they’re gone, so long gone. Hi Johnny, took another trip on the magic frog?”
“No. I didn’t bring any Skrull for you to eat either. Sorry about that.”
“Skrulls taste slimy, they’re ickier than Badoon.” Peter said as he thumped the floor, causing ripples in the stone. Johnny grabbed his arm.
“We wouldn’t want the building to tumble down, now would we?”
Peter stopped, staring at his drawing. He bit his lips, they shouldn’t be there. His teeth felt wrong.
“Should promise a quick death rather than promise no harm. Who wants to be eaten alive?”
Johnny was still holding his hand. Then he realized what he was doing and pulled back. “Spider-Man, we need to know where the others are. Are they human too?”
“One went out the hall, down the long hall where the green men stand.” Peter tried to answer.
“Damn it. Do you even understand what I’m asking?” Johnny hissed, raised his arms in exasperation and acted as if Peter hadn’t just answered his question.
But he wanted to help, wanted to help the dream, the dream was good, even with its filth. People were in the dream; May had been there, so maybe MJ was too.
He hit the floor.
“He was here, came down the hall, down the hall with the windows, whispered words and wanted murder, but then he left, left us.”
Johnny started shaking his shoulders, staring at him. Then he let go, and looked away. ‘Shouldn’t trust me with your back’ Peter wanted to tell him.
“Spidey please, you have to get a grip. Lives could depend on this.”
Peter hit the drawing again.
“Was here, went down the hall, down to the green men! Down the hall, down that way, down the rabbit hole and gone.”
“Damn it.” Johnny stood up and stomped off to the door, and then he looked back one last time and stopped. He looked down to the floor and stared. “Oh god, he was here! Reed!”
Reed’s elastic floor showed up in front of the glass, he seemed terrified. “Johnny what are you doing in there, he’s dangerous!”
Reed had infected himself and Johnny and Ben and Sue, he couldn’t be trusted; Johnny could be. But Johnny trusted Reed.
“Reed, that wasn’t Hank.” Reed looked puzzled. Peter wanted to wring his neck, not that it would do much, but it would make him feel better. “It wasn’t our Hank.”
“Oh God.” Reed instantly grabbed his phone, said something into it. Peter kept sitting on the floor. He should stay here, nice and quiet and cause nobody any trouble, because he was dangerous and he was a threat and if he were quiet then Johnny was safe.
“He thought we were too greedy, take it slow he said. Eat them one at a time and they last longer. But it’s impossible to tell your stomach to stop. It just kept rumbling. Can a man live on air alone?” He continued almost whimsically. “There was this one world, with beings made out of wind and dust, so we took a deep breath and pulled them in. They tasted like ashes.”
Peter closed his eyes, remembering the sheer beauty of that world.
“Hank didn’t like them. Said they were useless, so we ate their planet instead.”
Some of them had tried to escape even then, but their myriad forms soon evaporated into dust that went smoothly down their throats.
“There were rainbows and kittens and long shiny things, but none could compare to our sweet angel’s wings.”
“Do you know where he went?”
“Off to the shadows?” Peter wondered; where would the giant go to hide and who would he seek for breakfast?
“You have to help us.” Johnny seemed so sincere, but he didn’t get it.
There was only one answer: “I have to die.”
That’s when Reed closed the force field down and came in. “Actually Peter, you don’t.”
Peter didn’t understand. “But I have to.” Didn’t they understand that? “Stains of blood on hand and teeth, they’ll never be clean.”
“Peter if you die, you won’t stay dead. I’m sorry, I’m truly deeply sorry, but you can’t die, if you do, our world, our very universe, may well be doomed.”