Chapter 4: Devolution, Part One

Breaking into a police morgue isn’t easy. It’s even harder in New York; the NYPD precincts have all of these crazy security systems designed by Tony Stark. To get through those, you’re going to have to shell out some major dough, money I don’t have.

So getting a look at the body is out of the question. That right there is a major obstacle; if I can’t see Ravage’s corpse, then how am I supposed to gauge what’s different about him?

Come to think of it, he’s a two-ton green man; would I be able to tell anyway? I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m an engineer. He’d just be a big green lump of dead flesh to me.

I’m trying to be a detective now. First a superhero, then a murderer, and now, two days later, a gumshoe. Who says a midlife crisis doesn’t lead to any real change?

I’m up on a gargoyle, twelve stories above the Tenth Street Precinct, and suddenly I realize I’m posing; once you start up, this superhero bullshit comes natural.

So where do I go from here? Should I just go home, jerk off and go to bed, wait for the next call from Tombstone, or —?

And then my problem solves itself: Venom drops past me from above.

I don’t know if you know this, but Venom ain’t Venom no more. The weird goop that used to cover that hapless schmuck Eddie Brock? It’s changed hosts; now it’s on unrepentant scare-the-fuck-out-of-you-psycho Mac Gargan, formerly known as the Scorpion.

So now he’s this sort of Lovecraftian-nightmare; imagine a lithe Venom with a scorpion tail.

What he’s doing here, I don’t know; last I heard he got a building dropped on him by Spider-Man, and it served as an example to the rest of us: No matter how much stronger you get, no matter how much you improve, no matter how many new weapons you buy, the Webslinger is still gonna kick your —

There’s an explosion from below, followed by the pit-pat-pow of gunfire.

Holy hell. He’s ATTACKING the police station. I actually laugh out loud at the sheer balls-to-the-wall insanity of the situation, before I realize that laughing is not really the superheroic thing to do.

I need to go help. Because if I go help, in the chaos I can probably get to the morgue. Everybody wins. I smash through an apartment window, jump over kid playing with a toy train, shove aside a stay-at-home mom, blast their door off the hinges, run out into the hallway and ring for the elevator. And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And I wait.

Fuck this.

I jump down the stairs four at a time, and I’m already winded by the time I get down to the sixth floor. By the lobby I’m drenched with sweat, and panting through the mask. I race through the lobby, ignoring the terrified shouts from those around me. I blow the revolving door to pieces, and skid on my heels out into the street.

It’s a war zone; Scorpion, pardon me, VENOM has torn the front of the station apart. He’s taking his time, too, killing every officer who engages him. The black glop makes him bullet-proof, and he knows it; he’s not even attempting to dodge, just standing there and taking it, striking out with the tail and with goop-blades.

He doesn’t seem to notice me; none of them do. No big surprise there, but it still stings a little.

The scorpion tail whips out at a young officer as he runs past me, and I instinctively yank him out of the way; Gargan’s tail is easy enough to predict if you’ve known him long enough, it’s all in the geometry of the thing, the arc of the whip.

“It’s the …” The young cop’s face sort of blanks out for a moment; the same thing I saw with Spider-Man during the fight with Ravage. “Shock…er?” I toss the cop aside as Gargan tears his way into the front office of the station. Behind me I hear that old standard:

“FREEZE, SHOCKER! DROP THE WEAPONS AND —” I turn, instinctively raising my gauntlets, but I’m just in time to see the a cop tackle his superior.

“Williams, lay off, he just saved Freedman!”

“What?” Williams the Trigger-Happy Sergeant says. Again, that dead blank face.

I think I’m starting to enjoy it.

I skip over an eviscerated cop groaning for help and through the smashed front doors. It’s like a butcher’s shop; blood and raw meat are everywhere. Gargan is destroying everything; breaking windows, smashing ceiling fans … It doesn’t make sense. This isn’t his style; he’s a one-hit, one-kill type; just like a scorpion. He’s coming at this place like a wrecking ball, and …

A low, eerie hiss from down a bloodsoaked hall to my left. A primal, guttural sound. A Venom-sound.

I charge up the gauntlets.

“GARGAN!” I shout. Nothing. There’s a creak from behind the booking counter, and I hit it with a low-level burst. It’s just enough to shatter apart the wood and plastic, revealing a crouched-down cop. In his hands is a shotgun.

“Oh, sorry bud, I —”


The slug hits me in the stomach, and almost immediately slides around and off the suit; the impact is akin to being squirted with a water gun. On instinct I raise a gauntlet and blast him into the center of the room.

Wow. Blasting a cop; minus fifty points for the Shocker: Super Hero.

The hiss comes again, and I follow it. Evidence room one. Evidence room two. Decapitated body. It’s all about following the gunfire at this point, and there’s less and less of it. I go through two sets of doors, make a left, step in intestines, and now there’s just one gun firing. A scream from up ahead, and then silence. A harsh ripping sound. Another. And another.


Do I even want to know what’s behind this door?

Hey, what the hell, right?

I let of a short one and shatter the door to splinters. I immediately regret it.

Venom sits crouched on top of Ravage’s body, which lies on top of an oversized examination table. He’s tearing him apart, tossing aside organs, bones and muscle tissue. The smell is awful; Venom’s smell, that sickly sweet sugary smell, mixed with the charred body odor of hulk, mixed with that general hospital-chemical-dirt smell of a morgue.

I speak before I can stop myself.

“Mac, what the FUCK are you doing?”

Venom’s head whips up at me, and I realize immediately that Mac can’t hear me; I might as well me talking to a chainsaw.

“Hrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmunnnn …” it says, and leaps up off Ravage’s corpse to the ceiling, where it sticks, Spider-Man style, staring down at me. The tail floats around in the air, waiting to strike.

“Mac … Venom … I …”

What do I say? That I have to ask him to leave? How do you explain that you’re suddenly on the other side? It hisses at me, questioning, and suddenly the tail tenses. I skip the gauntlets up to Maximum power.

“Mac, don’t even try.” Yeah, real tough, Herman. “I’ve never had the gauntlets powered up this high before …” That’s a lie. “… and I have no idea what they’d do to you.” That’s the truth; even with the black gloop, venom is still an average-sized person. They might just implode him, and two murders in three days isn’t the —

The tail smacks me in the face so hard that for a moment I see stars. The impact would’ve killed a normal person; lucky me, the mask knocks my injuries down to what feels like a broken nose. I howl and stumble back, one hand grasping at my face like a wounded child, the other raised.

Even with an injury, I still have no problem aiming my shot; at this point, it’s like the gauntlets are part of me. It’s all intuitive.

Venom gets this wonderful “OH FUCK” look on his face right before the blast hits him; what I wouldn’t have given for a goddamn Polaroid camera right then.

The hit doesn’t just throw Venom off Ravage; it smashes him through the wall, through a storage room, through another wall and out onto the street. It also shatters every glass item in the room, and manages to flip dead Ravage off the table, spilling his organs all over the place, and …

Wait, what is that?

Still clutching my nose, I go over and kneel down next Ravage’s enormous head. Plain as day: there’s a spot on the back of his head, a simple black circle with a circumference of maybe eight inches. Is that oil, or paint, or paper, or … I reach down to pull the spot off (it looks like it might be removable, and hey, if it wasn’t, he’s dead anyway, right?), but before I can touch the damn thing there’s a shattering sound above me. A web of thick black glop hits me on the arm, and I’m yanked through a hole in the ceiling, my shoulder making an adorable little “pop” sound as it tears itself free of the joint.

“JEEEESUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSSSSFUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKK!” I shriek like a little girl as Venom takes me from sea level to two hundred feet in a matter of seconds.

I’ve taken trips like these before, with Spider-Man. He yanks you up to the rooftops and shakes you a round a bit, you know, intimidation. But after the first time, you know he’s not gonna drop you.

This guarantee doesn’t apply with Venom. I feel my ears pop as he lets go of one organic black web and fires another.

“Weeee!Kkklll!youuuu!” he says, and sinks those enormous fangs into the side of my head. It feels like he bites right through my skull, but that’s not possible, right?


I twist around and vibro-punch him in that drooling, tooth-filled mouth. The effect is rather more gruesome than I’d intended: I literally knock out ALL of his teeth in a spray of what looks like normal, human blood. Poor Mac. He lets go of me for an instant, and I take the opportunity to shove off him with my legs, sending me into a diagonal freefall, that idiot part of my brain that always takes over during fights telling me that this was somehow a good idea.

I start taking potshots at him with my good arm as I fall, but he easily swings around them, just the way Spider-Man always does.

Let me tell you, getting football-tackled out of freefall into the side of a skyscraper by a super-powered glop monster ain’t much fun. It shows what a strange world we live in when you realize that I probably ain’t the only one who’s had this experience.

God, I hope that’s just a fracture and not a break. The lucky thing is, I think the impact fucked him up worse than it did me; I was vibrating him the whole way, and he looks dazed. At least, I hope that’s dazed, because it also looks a hell of a lot like “hungry.”

He tries to hit me with the tail twice, and, thanks to some impressive “cowering like a hurt kitten” work by yours-truly, he accomplishes nothing but busting up the concrete.

Still pressed against the building, I duck down and vibro-elbow him sharply in the stomach and shove my entire fist into his mouth. I can’t think of anything Superhero-Witty to say, so I just shriek: “FUCK OFF!” in a distinctly girlish way, and press the trigger.

The sheer force of the hit ripples the air, and it blows that black-glop-costume right off him; it splats against the face of the sky-scraper on the other side of the street. Mac’s out cold, and, scarily enough, butt-naked.

At first I feel this kind of perverse victory, and then it strikes me that I’m now unsupported, with one functional arm, something hurting like a bitch in my back and a broken nose, holding a naked psychopath, twenty stories up.

Well … shit.

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