1963-08-07 - Case of the Crazy Cultists
Summary: She-Hulk and Spider-Man take on a Times' reporter's dire enemies.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
von peter jennifer 


Sunday evening in Manhattan is surprisingly quiet, even for a city that never sleeps. The tourists are well on their ways home, the airports and bus stops having emptied them back to the various facets of America from whence they came. Occasionally some local celebrations or fairs go through Sunday night with subdued events. Such as tonight, on the edge of Central Park, the folk faire's final events are just a concert and some shared international food, but little of else.

Naturally, with the more active events having been yesterday, the crowd is less but there's still a few hundred people out and about. Guitar and drum circles are prevalent, and there's a distinctive scent of herb in the air. But for some of the visitors near the folk faire, the draw isn't the music nor the artwork. It's the food.

One moment, Eduardo is closing down his stand, and the next there's a voice that lifts. "One chili dog, please."

The man looks up, blinking curiously. "You're in luck, we're almost…" And then Eduardo realizes he's looking face to face with the infamous Spider-Man. "Oh crap… uh, look I don't got much money. My brother came by to make the deposit."

"Umm, thanks. But really I'd just like the hot dog." With that Spider-Man extends a dollar bill to the man.

Still looking a bit leary, Eduardo takes the money warily while starting to assemble the dog. He watches the masked man even as around them some of the crowd starts to point and there's a murmur of 'menace' in the air. Yet, having finished creating the exquisite dog, Eduardo hands it over. "He-here."

"Thanks!"

And suddenly there's a /thwip/ that carries Spider-Man up into the air as the webline catches to the corner of a nearby building and then draws taut, snapping him skywards.

He lands in a crouch besides a particular green giantess and says lightly, "You don't know what you're missing." As he pulls up his mask partially so he can get at the chili dog easier.

*

The earth mother walking among them might be offered a doobie or two, and she nicely brushes off the kind displays of generosity from thoroughly baked Beatniks who don't know any better. Not until they see her close up and realize she tops them easily by a head.

Jen combs through her windblown verdant locks, struggling to restore some sense of order around the wild mane. Composure keeps her from turning a nightshade smile on the latest guy to approach, holding out a white, handrolled joint that smokes thinly at one end. "No, thanks." When he nudges it further, she reaches out and pinches the burning end off. "You go share that with your friends and have a nice night." So the night is going well.

A look around and she takes a quick bound off from the field, springing up onto an adjacent fire escape, a climb up the metal risers. Another jump lands her to a roof. There she waits, having returned to their rooftop a few seconds before Spidey shows up. Like she remained there all along.

A sniff vindicates everyone's taste. "Are you sure that isn't toxic? Possibly made from a bionic goat?" A shake of her head and she sounds rather repulsed. "That is deeply disturbing to watch a person eat. I don't fathom how it's even possible." Legs dangling over the side of the building, Jen isn't subtle.

*

With the baseball games all wrapped up already, Von's earned himself some free time and has decided to finally get some down time in the park. only a change of clothes might have been something worth bringing had he the foresight to bring some. Just as he's considering buying himself some of those hemp clothes there's a tug in his chest, some invisible string winding tight as the air around beings to swirl and grow uncomfortable.

Nearer to the center of the park a circle of five stand around a single man holding a book, each of the six wear a heavy black robe with the hood drawn up, obscuring their features, except their chins. Their mouths bob slowly up and down as they chant amongst themselves, building a spell. The effects on nature are dark, winds shift and trees rustle as the atmosphere is pulled inwards towards the center of the park in the middle of a wooded area with the brush cleared away. A small area obscured by leaves and dampness just large enough for the five figures to be at arms reach of each other.

*

It's right in that moment before he's about to take a bite of his chili dog when Spider-Man's attention is grabbed. He frowns as he turns his head to the side, canting his head almost like a curious dog that's heard a most distinct sound. Though, for him, it's the jangle of his spider-sense. "Something's up." He says in that no nonsense tone.

For a moment, he looks displeased as he looks at the dog, then off in the distance… then back to the dog again. Sighing he sets it down /carefully/ upon the wall that lines the rooftop's edge and he tells it. "Stay right there. Good boy."

Planting a hand upon the edge of the roof, Spidey abruptly /leaps/ off the wall and snaps a hand out to fire a webline that lets him _yank_ himself into the sky with a burst of motion. "C'mon She-Hulk, the game is afoot!"

And as quickly as that, Spider-Man starts off in the direction of those spell-casters without yet knowing who they are.

*

The green-skinned lawyer knows well when to trust that tingle up the back of her neck when something isn't wrong. It helps when that tingle comes from the breeze caused by a man in scarlet and blue pajamas sweeping away on a string of spiderweb.

"The game's afoot, is it?" Jen wrinkles up her nose. She tucks her hair behind her ear, a mossy curtain falling down her back. Then brushing off dust, she gets up. The pause is needed to gauge direction that Spider-Man moves, and the ring of hooded and robed people pretty much screams trouble in bright orange letters.

She runs down the wall of the building, and then leaps off, ignoring gravity for one of those great big bounds the Hulk and his cousin are probably known for. A flat out run sends her across the alleyway, and she continues to sprint through the greenery.

*

The tug at his chest is aimed in the direction the trees are billowing in, Von looks left and then right as he follows his gut feeling the direction it leads. The sweaty reporter crawls his way through the trees and getting closer and closer still to the six robed figures, though the do remain out of his vision.

The six figures start to speak louder and louder, their chant beginning its cresendo, growing louder and louder by the moment. The result being the air pulls harder towards the group of mages, the trees lean and shake more violently and the clouds seem to condense over the park, and start to get darker and darker grey, as if the rains will stop the very malestrom of magic.

*

Once one runs out of rooftops, they're left with having to finagle a different way to swing. For Spider-Man, he ends up zip-lining from one tree top to the next, swing around them and leaping into the air then firing another webline to pull himself towards a distant pine. It lets him cover the ground, but not as fast as he usually does.

But soon he finds himself landing on a high branch near the changing individuals.

He lifts his voice, "Cultists. Never good." Perhaps She Hulk is close enough to hear him, but he calls out trying to be louder than the maelstrom of wind shaking and causing the trees to shift back and forth, swaying awkwardly.

"Hey. Hey you!" Truly a great opening. "Stop with the chanting!"

Alright that didn't work, and with that option exhausted out come the webs. Spider-Man leaps out of the trees and lands upon the edge of the clearing amongst the cloaked and cowled figures. He brings up his hands and sends a few wads of webbing firing straight towards the mouths of the chanting guys. "I said shut it. No nameless horrors, please."

*
Jen is only a woman. Not a great magic user. Not a super-genius. Not a technological weapon. She is, however, a dreadfully quick sprinter and nearly seven feet of corded muscle and surging adrenaline.

Cover really isn't worthwhile though summer gives a fair bit of camouflage. She emerges at a clean run out of the wooded park, more like a wolf or a mountain lion. Several leaves swirl around in her wake. Darkening skies get a look and her green eyes flare radioactively bright. While web flies around in the storm-tossed air, she goes plunging into the brink.

Basically this means Jen Walters becomes a green torpedo driving into the nearest in the circle with intent to knock them off their balance. A calculated choice tries to send the cultist flying into another, preferably to topple whatever kind of conclave they have going on.

*

Von stops just as Spider-man makes his appearance truely known with a barrage of web shots to muffle the 'cultists' in the middle of their chants.

The middle one quickly turns around his back to the webhead as he drops his book and starts to claw at the webbing covering his mouth. The five around have to bolt around in fear as their spell is halted. The winds suddenly fall still and the trees return to normal as well as the building storm halting its progress.
The group is just starting to scatter and flee when Jen appears like a minature green juggnernaut style bowling ball. The thick robes of the six chanters at least soften the blow minorly though one's leg is broken as he smashes into another and landing on top of the now unconscious man. This leaving four total.

Von approaches not exactly quietly, the reporter pulling at his tie knot to loosen it and allowing his neck to breath as he approaches the scene though he pauses as soon as the twinge of magic in his chest halts, he know can see where it was coming from and whoa, Spider-man and what looks like a female hulk. He has to approach slowly and safely, trying to get a better look in the maze of trees.

*

So really, from afar it looks like this group of druidic re-enactors are having their butts kicked by two superheroes, and their main defense for it is going to be, 'Well, Spider-Man said he had a feeling that stuff was going down…' Hopefully they're actually doing some good here, though right now the wall crawler is reasonably certain they're definitely up to no good.

Leaping towards the remaining cultists he fires a webline and yanks the cloaked figure to him to ideally bind him up and pull him to the ground before he spins around and tries to do likewise to another.

"Things seem like we mighta got here in time, the heck was that?" And, if he has the chance he'll try and pull the hood off of one of the guys, just to make sure they're perhaps not assaulting The Elderly Lady's Gothic Cookery Club.

*

She-Hulk frowns at the couple of robed figures falling together. Footsteps planted in the grass mark her trail as she gets to them, dropping to her knee. A finger presses softly to their necks, checking for vital signs. Breath and pulse are the obvious ones. Neither will be jarred much except to gently move the upper one off the unconscious one, and one of the times it pays to be very strong and rather dextrous is now.

She peels back a strand of sticky webbing to assure it won't be inhaled. "Some kind of concentrated meteorological phenomena caused by an artificial microclimate?" That's right, someone got a good education. Not a supergenius but respectable. "Clouds never start churning like that over a park, do they? Not in New York. Nothing suggesting a tornado. We were out here the entire time without any suggestions of atmospheric overturn or suddenly dropping barometric pressure." Her nose wrinkles. "I don't like it. Public assemblies in monochrome robes involving chants typically end in someone getting burnt, you know?"

*

The man lifted off the ground by Spider-man is struggling to remove his gag still even as the masked man rips off his hood, a darker skinned man likely of South Asian decent squirms and writhes while hanging from the tree top.
The two that Jen happens to be helping are of Eastern European decent, and the one conscious screams loudly clutching at his leg as soon as she removes his webgag. The man is obviously in pain though his features morph into a scowl as he seethes at the heroine, "You broke my fucking leg you crazy bitch!" His accent thick with anger and his homeland.

The three remainng have their gags cut through via an ornate blade held by the man who was in the middle, he reaches up to his cowl and throws it back as he turns to face the heroes and issues a command to his two subordinates in latin. Responding to his orders, the two start to fan out and each approach Spider and She apiece. Their hands moving up above their heads but forwards, their fingers contorting into unusual poses and the leave beneath them starting to rustle from the building spells.

*

"Oh hey," Spider-Man comments as the eldritch energy builds as evinced by the shifting leaves and the flow of wind around them. "Suddenly I feel less remorseful about punching you guys." The wall crawler goes back to back with She Hulk for a moment as he murmurs, "They do seem to break easy though soo uhh," He stops short of telling Jen to take it easy, but hey a Hulk's gotta do what a Hulk's gotta do.

With that said, however, he leaps off and away from his place guarding the Amazon's flank as he flips through the air and lands between two of the men. Dropping smoothly, he slices one leg around towards the legs of one of the men, seeking to rob him of balance even as he keeps up that momentum to blur around in a roundhouse kick at the other guy's jaw, hopefully sending him flying into the air only to try to catch his flight with a quick /thwip/ of webbing to yank him down and back and land him onto the other fallen fellow. Ideally binding the two if he's fast enough.

*
Jen does not respond the least to the profanity. She slaps the sticky web back in place, silencing the cussing Eastern European who could stand to learn a few things about treating a lady. A pat on his shoulder suggests, very gently, he ought to stay down.

Sometimes it sucks to be the nice gal or good guy. Evidence before the court: man with fancy knife subduing the peaceful option. "Eyes at six," she shouts, and the woman's dark shirt stretches all the more as her eyes narrow, and she quite visibly grows even taller. Her long stride has served well before. Now it just promises out and out violence at a zigzagging jump rather than approaching straight on after what appears to be the ringleader. The thrill of the moment isn't exactly lost on her.

If anything, it means she runs harder, jumps further, and goes stronger. There still is caution not to break the man with a punch. On the other hand, snagging a branch on the ground or throwing a handful of dirt in his face is probably bound to mess up his spell.

*

The first one starts to fall once hit by Spider's foot and putting his hands below him as he falls there's a crack as his wrist is also sprained from the fall. The pain breaking his concentration on the spell and causing the magic he was building to disipate into nothingness. The lone woman of the group a black skinned girl who gets the Webhead's heal to her jaw has her head snapped to one side and her body goes with it, though she's caught by his snare and is sent through the air onto her associate like a sack of potatoes. Quickly webbed up and restrained three are fully unconscious figures, one strung up in web, another with a broken leg and the last one. Obviously the oldest, staring down with Jen.
"Back off gree-" He stops as she grows even larger, and is forced to shake his head and recomposes himself. "Back off green and you'll live through thi-"

"MORDENT!" Cries out Von, interrupting the last cultist as he finally pushes his way through the brush! The reporter sounds livid and approaches the whole group without much concern for his own mortality or situation.

*
Stopping long enough to make sure that the bound people aren't too terribly injured, Spider-Man starts to angle up another run on the last cultist, leaping to the side and grabbing a low-hanging branch to spin flip up to perch atop it. He lowers his hands, fingers splayed as he takes aim with both web-shooters…

Only for Von's voice to cut across the clearing. A quick glance is given towards the approach of the reporter and he doesn't seem to be part of these guys, but he definitely moves like a fellow with a purpose.

Spider-Man's voice lifts as he tosses a few words Von's way, "You know these guys, buddy? They've got a big case of the bad voodoo." He keeps his perch, however, ready to give anybody who moves a dose of the ole webbing one-two.

*

"I can't do that." Conviction gives Jen's low voice something of a remorseful tone. "You threaten the public. Stop and we don't have to fight…"

Whatever she would have said is interrupted by a man's shout. Her head turns slightly to bring Von into her field of vision, still keeping Mordent in sight.

More importantly, also in arm's reach. She exudes bunched menace in every tightened muscle under her dewy green skin. Shifting from foot to foot almost unconsciously speaks to an Olympian's readiness to spring off the starting line given the invisible shot. Could be intimidating given her cousin is famous for having irrational temper and destructive capacity. He doesn't have the calculated intelligence in his eye, though.

*
Mordent keeps his weaponed pointed at Jen though he twitches his eyes towards Von and the look of recognition grows wide on his eyes. "Y- you're alive!" He says, looking at Jen and then Spider-man, "I - I had thought you- you died." The warlock says still with his eyes looking back and forth at the two heroes. Mordent doesn't make a move forward, but instead backwards, "You SHOULD have died!" He screams as he pulls a vial out of his robe and breaks it on the ground at his feet emiting a neon green flame that licks up once in a masive flair and swallows the mage whole and just like that he's gone.

Von steps forward with a gasp, lifting his arm to shield his eyes from the brightness and is left standing between and slightly away from the heroes with a stunned look.

*
"Soooo," Spider-Man's voice has that edge of puzzlement to it as he drops down from his perch and lands amongst the cultists. He takes a moment to slowly move from one to the other, making sure they're sufficiently bound. "That was interesting."

The wall crawler steps towards Von even as he gives a nod towards She Hulk to let her know things are secure enough for now. Those lenses in his visor give Von's reflection back to him as the hero looks to the newly arrived man. "I am seriously hoping you have a good amount of exposition to deliver here, fella."

*
Once Jen is close enough to hear he asks her, "Not sure how we're going to get the cops to take these guys, I don't think there's a law on the books about attempting to summon demons."

Whatever else she expected to happen, it wasn't a man disappearing in a green flame.

But maybe Jennifer should have thought twice because she lunges forward to grab at the disappearing man through the blinding burst. Those welts and burns appearing on her verdant skin will go down presumably. Might as well remind the warlock not everything is impressed by light shows. He might hear the low rumbling snarl that probably belongs to a cave-lion out of the primeval mists of antiquity that the homo sapiens brain shudders to. It might remember being stalked by terrible Ice Age predators. It comes right out of her throat, and she snatches her hand back with an angry little shake.

"Speckles, that wasn't fun." Her tone cracks in a hint of irritation. Blowing across her knuckles may help. May not. "Are you all right, sir?" Yes, it's She-Hulk asking nice questions of the reporter. "He knew you. Parted on bad terms?" A look goes to the visored crime-fighter a short distance away, and she nods to him. Trust means Spider-Man can deal with the specifics while she goes for the remaining bundle of people. "Leave the issues of the laws broken to me. The intent here is obvious and endangering the public is foremost. They've done some damage to the park, and mischief covers just about everything."

*
Von lowers his arm and looks to Spider-man with a shrug, as he's not sure what answer he could really give to the masked man, "He's my uncle… and started to teach me how to use magic when he … a few years ago." Von starts and walks over to where the battle begun, and bends over to pick up the dropped book. Thick, leather and with what looks like all different kinds of pages and papers. "I've been looking for Mordent for about five years. He's a sorcerer." Von says before he blows the dust off the tome and holds it against his side. Looking back to Jen he has to look up to her and he blinks a few times. "You- you're- Wow. Nice to meet you." Then a look to Spider-man, "You're the. Sorry I don't usually get star struck but, holy cow."

*
"Your uncle? That sounds like a touch childhood. Though hey, you probably saved on having to get magician for your birthday parties. So you got that going for you."

But then Von seems to recognize him. "Oh no," Spider-Man holds up his hands, "Look, I know the Bugle says a lot of stuff, but seriously I'm not that bad of a guy." He says this a little frantically as if he'd had one too many people flipping out on him recently. But at least Von hasn't thrown anything at him or shot at him. He turns his head to the side and gestures to She Hulk, "Tell him, She Hulk." He looks back towards Von, "See. I'm hanging around with someone that's actually respectable. That's gotta mean something, right?"

But, perhaps to his credit, Von doesn't seem like he's ready to rail angrily at the wall crawler, so Spidey doesn't immediately beat feet. Instead he steps back and crawls a few feet up the trunk of one of the tall pine trees.

*

"Oh speckles, this is just getting better." Ms. Walters rakes her long fingers through her hair. Nothing like having sharp, pointed nails to breaking through resisting snarls formed of her mossy, dark strands. She drops her hand and does some basic first-aid for each of the fallen, starting with the conscious one and headed towards the unconscious. Any obvious signs of distress will be dealt with accordingly.

The conversation between the men doesn't interrupt her initially. Mentioning her name brings her head up. "Speckles and sprinkles, a sorcerer?" Her deadpan tone practically says 'Great, just great.' "Dark robes, evil knife, wicked cackle. Yeah, that sounds about right. These ones are going to need some medical attention to be sure nothing bad happened to them. I hope they aren't the blood sacrificial type of evil cultist." Shoulders rotate back. A nod is given to Von, sympathetic expression maybe a surprise. "Spider-Man has been honourable, noble, and for the most part respectful of property when I've been around him. The Bugle has a bias in order to shift more sales."

Her nightshade mouth quirks. "You okay, sir? Need a lift or some help?"

*
Still holding the book, Von starts to shuffle and pulls out a card, extending it towards Spider-man, "Oh no no no. I don't read the bugle, bunch of one sided stuff, that Jameson is ridiculous." Von's card says he's a reporter for the Times. Von does hesitate as he leans closer and whispers loudly enough to be heard by both. "What's with the costumes?" Von asks both as he steps over towards Jen and bends down to start reaching into the pocket of the man she knocked out. A moment after fishing, Von pulls out a dime and clutches it in his palm. "I'll go get an ambulance here quickly as possible."

*

Accepting the card, Peter looks around and stuffs it into the waistband of his costume. "Oh, uhh. You know. Laundry day." Spider-Man replies as he climbs up another foot upon the trunk of the tree. Then he points towards Jen, "And she just sorta, you know. Is tall and green. Not so much a costume. But don't tell her that, she's rather proud of it."

That said he looks over the scene of chaos and smiles a bit awkwardly behind his mask. "Do you know what your uncle was trying to do? I mean, should we keep an eye out for them in the future? Or try to track them down? And if so is there anywhere we should start?"

*

"His costumes?" The green jotun jerks her thumb towards Spider-Man with a detailed degree of amusement. "After Captain America made blue and red look so good, just about all you can find in the stores these days. New Yorkers want someone who looks patriotic. Aren't we funny that way?" Her grin comes easily and quick, but the book on why she is green is shut or as open as why the other green giant, non jolly, is green.

Then she gives the reporter an approving nod. "Could you? I don't know the nearest payphone and I want them to be treated properly. No reason they should have to walk with a limp or take a bad knock. The cops will have a few questions."

*
Von laughs at Peter's joke before he suddenly falls onto his face, his foot snagging a root. Collecting his book again the man groans as the fall obviously hurt and he slowly gets back to his feet and answer Spidey's other questions. "It's been five years since I saw him last, and I've been looking but I think he could be dangerous now. After seeing what he did this evening, yeah, he's probably dangerous." Von says with a look over his shoulder to Jen and dusting off his pants from the fall he starts to head out. "Name's Von, nice to meet you both and good luck. Medics will be back here soon!" The young wizard says as he moves towards the nearest phone, just outside the park.

Somewhere outside the park on a rooftop, a trio of pigeons are savoring a wonderful, free dinner of a chili dog, left by some unknown being.

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