Spider-Man: Dimensional Shift
Chapter 4: The Shift
By Thomas Compton & Joesph Compton
Previously: Only having his powers for a bit under a year since the accident at Future Foundation, Peter Parker struggles to maintain his average day life with his night life as the hero Spider-Man. Continuing to elude capture, the mysterious art thief continues his string of thefts, with Spidey always a few steps behind. But Spidey is more determined now than ever to put an end to this crime spree as he devices a plan to capture this thief…
Future Foundation building, 2 A.M.
A heavy silence hung over the floors of the Future Foundation, as most everyone had left for the evening. The silence was accompanied by a pressing darkness, most of the lights besides outside the building were turned off. The only sound to be heard was the low hum of a computer monitor and the clicking of a keyboard as Peter Parker sat alone in one of the many research areas, the dim light from the monitor barely illuminating the area around him. His eyes stung as he stared at the monitor, scanning over several maps with layouts and location markers of every museum in the city. He let out a stale yawn as he jotted down some notes on a few papers scattered around him, his tired mind struggling to stay awake. He shifted his weight and slide his chair over to the side, a few spider trackers and other bits of tech sprawled out on the desk in front of him. He began to tinker with some of the trackers, his hands fumbling every now and then as he worked.
It’s been three weeks now and I still don’t have any solid leads on this thief. He’s managed to slip in every time without setting off any alarms or leaving any footage of himself or anything behind, but I know all the thefts have to be from him. I think I’m starting to see a pattern with it though, but I’m not sure yet. I have to do a little bit more research, but I’m getting so close. And if he can teleport I need to increases the signal strength of my spider trackers. I’m almost got it, I just got to… got to… keep… going…
Peter’s thoughts trailed off as his weary mind couldn’t take it any long, his head falling down onto the desk as he passed out.
Peter’s eyes snapped open and darted around, making sure he was still alone in the room the morning light just starting to pour in through the windows. He looked over at the clock on the computer.
Twenty minutes until the openers get here! I gotta get out quick.
He sat up from the desk and collected his belongings as he turned off the computer. He bit his lip in frustration as he quietly head down for the exit.
I can’t believe I feel asleep that early. I lost too much time on that and the more time I waste, the more that thief gets away with. I can’t afford to waste more time, I have to get serious about this search.
Peter broke away from his thoughts as he slipped out a side door, swiping his ID card to unlock it. The door clicked shut as Peter sprinted down the alley.
“PARKER! WAKE UP!” The teacher slammed his hand on the side of Peter’s desk. Peter lifted his head up slowly, dark circles forming around his eyes. “That’s the forth time this week you’ve fallen asleep in my class! Do it again and it’s detention for a month young man!”
“…Yes, sir.” Peter muttered as the bell rang for the end of class, signaling the start of lunch. Peter waited for the rest of the class to rush out, raising from his chair sluggishly. He shuffled down the packed hallway in a zombie like state, blankly staring at a spiral he held in front of him.
Come on, there’s got to be something I’m missing here, some kind of order with his thefts….
“Hey Peter. Ready to have lunch together?” Peter looked up from his notes, seeing the bright smile of Gwen Stacy. Her long blond hair was pulled back by a hair band, her thin framed glasses sitting gently on her face. Peter felt a little bit of life come back into him as he smiled at her.
“Absolutely.” He gently grabbed her hand as they walked out to the court yard of the school, the sunlight beaming down, filling the area with a warm glow. Peter and Gwen sat under a shady tree as Gwen started to unpack her lunch.
“Peter, where’s your lunch? You always pack your own lunch.”
“I uh, didn’t have enough time this morning to make it. I slept in to much and had to rush here this morning. But don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” Gwen pouted her lips and raised an eyebrow to him. She tore her sandwich in half and handed half to Peter.
“I’ll share my lunch, but you shouldn’t be skipping meals, mister. It’s not good for you.” Peter graciously accepted her offer, kissing her softly on the cheek. They sat in silence for a long while, the sounds of the rustling trees and other students filling the air.
“Peter…is everything okay with you?” Gwen paused as she waited to make sure she had his attention. “These past few weeks you seem to be so distant from everything. I’ve heard that you’ve fallen asleep in class almost every day this week, you look like you haven’t slept in days, and you look like you’ve been skipping several meals. Harry’s worried too, he said he’s barely seen you at all recently, that as soon as class get out you head straight to Future Foundation…” Peter sat silent, doing nothing but starring into his sandwich, not knowing what to say. “And the other day when I tried to call your house, your aunt said that you were out, and that you’ve been out late almost every night these past few weeks…I feel like I haven’t even really seen you in weeks.” She said slowly, the last sentence feeling like a knife turning in Peter’s heart. He leaned in close to Gwen, embracing her in a hug.
“Gwen, I’m truly sorry. There’s this big project I’m working on that I can’t talk about and it’s been eating up all my time, but I’m almost done. I truly appreciate the concern, you guys mean to world to me and I hate to make you worry. I don’t want you to ever think I don’t care about you or Harry or Aunt May. It’ll just be a little bit longer and then everything will be fine, I swear.” He pulled back and stroked Gwen’s hair, causing her to blush slightly as Peter gave her a small kiss again. They went back to eating their lunch silently. Gwen looked down for a moment before speaking.
“Peter, if you ever need someone to talk to though, I just wanted you to know that-” She stopped as she felt his head bump into her shoulder, his body leaning into her arm, his eye shut tight as he drifted off into sleep. She sighed as she placed her hand in his hair, running her fingers though it as the sunlight danced playfully on the two through the leafs. “Class starts back in fifteen minutes, try to get some rest.” She whispered soft in his ear.
More days pass…
Peter slouched in front of the monitor at Future Foundation, his eyes practically glued to the screen as he continued with his research. As the hours passed, his fatigue and feeling of exhaust continued to worsen. His eyes fluttered as he could feel sleep creeping up on him, making him shake his head in a disparate attempt to stay awake. Suddenly his eyes snapped into focus as he jumped half-way out of his chair and grabbed the sides of the monitor.
Wait…no it can’t be…it is! That’s it! There is a pattern!
He snatched up a pencil as he furiously began to scribble down the information on the screen.
It’s not an exact pattern, but more of a probability. So far he hasn’t gone to the same museum twice, and of the remaining ones left in the city there’s a certain probability chance of which he’ll hit next. It seems at first like sporadic choices for which he hits next, but there seems to be a subtle pattern in all of it. He hasn’t be to any of the museum in there certain areas, so that increases the chance even more for these other museums. If I follow this pattern, the most likely to be the next target should be….this one. I’ve still got a lot to prep for though. Gotta finish my modifications on the spider trackers first.
Peter slid over to the trackers he had laid out on the desk and started to fumble with them, the sound of metallic clicking echoing though the empty, dark building.
“Peter? Peter, wake up. What are you still doing here?”
Peter’s eyes snapped open, his faced buried in his arms atop the desk. His pulled his arms closer to his body at the edge of the desk, the spider trackers hidden underneath him. His eyes winced at the sudden flow of sunlight that filled entire floor. He struggled to focus his eyes, seeing for a while only the silhouette of a man standing next to him. As his eyes finally started to adjust to the light, the features of the person with him began to become clear. The rising sun shined in from behind Reed Richards, giving him an almost holy looking glow around his body, his aged yet soft face illuminated clearly as he looked down at Peter with concern.
“Peter, where you here all night?”
“Er…uh… yes. I was working on a new project and accidentally nodded off, apparently.” Peter tried to force a chuckle, his body still hunched over the desk. He glanced over behind Reed quickly, seeing that the computer he had been working at had gone in to sleep mode, turning the monitor off. Reed’s eyes glanced over as well, seeing the scattered papers around the area. He turned back to Peter, a small frown forming on his lips.
“And I assume this is a secret project you’re not ready to share yet?”
“Er, yes, sir… if you don’t mind. I’d like a little more time to work on it before I reveal what it is.” Peter tightened his body up a bit more, pulling the spider trackers closer to him. He felt an immediate sense of guilt and shame for lying to Reed. Even before his Uncle Ben’s death, Reed was someone that Peter always felt he could go to with his troubles, and started to see Reed like a father figure, even more so after Uncle Ben’s passing.
Reed let out a light sigh.
“That’s fine. You can tell me about it whenever you’re ready. But I’m getting a little concerned about your well being, Peter. The past few weeks you seem like something has been bothering you. You look tired everyday and look a little malnourished. Is everything alright?”
“Yes, yes. Everything’s fine. You don’t have to worry about me, I just have a little cold or something.” Peter’s gut sank further down as he continued to lie, the feeling of guilt making him feel sicker than the lack of sleep and nourishment.
Reed let out one more sigh as he walked over and patted Peter on the shoulder lightly.
“Okay, as long as you say so. But know that if you ever need anything or any help, I’m always here for you Peter.” He said with a soft smile as he walked off. “Though you might want to wrap up here. I believe school starts for you soon, correct?”
Peter glanced over at his watch, seeing that school started in about an hour. He panicked a bit, but waited until he was curtain that Reed was no longer nearby before shoveling his spider trackers and notes into his book-bag. He turned his computer off and darted for the stairs, leaping down the flights several stairs at a time, reaching the bottom of the building in a matter of seconds and bolted out the front doors, racing down the busy streets.
The door slammed shut behind Peter as he ran up the stairs to his room to wash up and change cloths.
“Peter, is that you?”
“Yes, Aunt May.” Peter called out over the running water in the sink.
“Where have you been? You didn’t come home last night and I was worried sick about you all night.”
“I’m really sorry, Aunt May. I stayed over at Harry’s place. We were working on a project and I forgot to call you.” Peter slipped on a clean shirt and pants as he sprinted down the stairs.
“You’re leaving already? But you haven’t even had breakfast yet.”
“I’m really sorry again, but I’m gonna be late if I don’t leave now.”
“Peter, please wait!” Peter stopped mid-exit through the door as he turned to see Aunt May standing in the kitchen door, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
“Peter please tell me what’s going on. Lately you’ve been coming home so late or not at all at night, and then you leave so early in the morning…I don’t even get to see you and you don’t even eat or take a chance to rest. I feel like I haven’t seen you in days. Is something happening, Peter? You don’t look well.” Aunt May’s hands began to shake as the tears ran down her cheeks, her breathing becoming a series of sobs. It felt like a knife was plunged into Peter’s gut as he saw her crying, rushing over to hold her.
“Please Aunt May, don’t cry. Everything’s fine. I’ve just been busy with school and my internship, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“I know, I just can’t help but worry about you. If anything happened to you, or I lost you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
Peter stroked her hair back as he tried to comfort her.
“It’s okay Aunt May, you don’t have to worry. I’m almost done with my projects. It’ll be over soon.”
She began to calm down a bit, her breathing pattern returning to normal.
“I’ve got to go now, but I promise I’ll make sure to call you if I’m out late or if I’m not going to be home during the night.”
She nodded as Peter headed back for the door.
“Be safe out there, Peter. And please be sure to call me!”
“I will. I promise.”
Peter closed and locked the door behind him, and instead of taking his usual left down the street to head to school, he turned right and began to head towards the museum he had picked out.
I’ve got a lot of setting up to do, I can get away with skipping class for one day.
Spending the majority of the day setting his own security around the library, Spider-Man sat perched atop the building across the street from the museum, the dark night sky stretching around above him. A few small computer screens with feeds to the cameras he’d hidden were scattered around him. He rocked silently back and forth in place, looking between the screens and the building itself every few moments. He pulled up his phone to look at the time, seeing that it was already past one thirty in the morning.
There’s no telling what time he normally shows up, but I didn’t think it would be this late. If I have to wait all night I will, and if this isn’t the one I’ll just have to try again…I just hope this is the right one though. Wait, there!
He snatched one of the screens up, the camera set up behind the building, where the main power grid was. Next to it stood a figure, which Spidey was certain was his thief.
Seeing him clearly for the first time, Spidey started to make out the man’s features. His body was slender looking, cloaked in a black suit that looked to have some light padding to it. His face concealed by a black mask, with no features besides some metallic looking eye holes that glowed dimly in the dark. Around his wrists sat the same strange looking devices, small screens and several buttons lining the sides.
Spidey watched as the man popped off the cover to the power grid and attach a small device he’d pulled out of the bad slung around his shoulder. The man pulled the devices up around his right wrist and tapped the screen a few times. On the other screens around Spidey, he saw the security and lights through most of the museum shut off instantly. The only lights remaining were the outside lights and the area around the guard station.
The two guards on duty were completely oblivious to what just occurred, as one was fast asleep, while the other fiddled with his phone, the screens in their office showing absolutely no signs of change. The thief backed away from the grid and tapped the wrist device a few more times. He pulled the one on his left wrist up and tapped that a few times. In a instant and in a puff of smoke, the man vanished from the screen, the smoke quickly fading away.
Spidey put the screen down and cluttered them all together, waiting for any signs of movement on any of them. Outside the front entrance the man appeared again, banging on the door before disappearing again. From the security room, the one guard awake looked up from his phone and looked at the monitors in front of him. He slowly got up and left the station and walked toward the entrance, which was only a few feet away, and looked out around the windows. While this happened, the thief appeared again near the guard station, slipping in silently. He went over to the drink the awake guard had and poured a powder into it. He approached the sleeping guard and quickly opened his mouth to drop a pill down his throat. The guard woke for a moment, but the thief held him down and closed his mouth. The guard struggled, then went limp as he fall into a deep sleep. The thief vanished again right as the other guard returned to the station. A few moments passed until the guard took a swig of his drink. Within minutes the guard slumped down in his chair and passed out.
The thief appeared back in and checked the guard before taking the keys.
Spidey fell back slightly in amazement at how effortless and smoothly the thief managed to operate.
Well that explains how there’s been no footage or proof of him. Now’s my time to act though.
Spidey watched the screens, seeing the thief head to one of the storage rooms. Spidey leapt off the building and landed atop the museum. Picking the lock on the skylight, Spidey slipped in from the roof to the main part of the museum. He crawled along the ceiling, heading towards the back where the storage room was. Finding the vent cover, Spidey popped the cover off and crawled into the vent, silently making his way in. He crawled towards the vent opening in the storage room, peering though the grating. From the moonlight that spilled in from the ceiling, Spidey could see the thief in the far corner of the room, his back turned toward Spidey. Slowly and as quietly as possible, Spidey exited the vent cover and lowered himself down with a web line. He pulled out a spider tracker and readied his next action.
Okay, I’m only gonna have one chance at this, I have to make sure I get this right.
Spidey lowered himself down and broke off his web line, dashing forward as soon as his feet hit the ground. He fired off a web blast that slammed into the thief’s hand, knocking him off balance.
“Didn’t you mom teach you it’s wrong to steal, young man?” Spidey launched in the air, leaping forward and landed a punch to the thief’s jaw. Right as he landed the punch, Spidey lightly stuck his spider tracker on the thief’s back before pushing him down to the ground. The thief scrambled around on the ground, trying to recover from the hit as he tapped the devices on his wrists. Spidey shot a web blast, knocking the thief’s hand back, the webbing partially covering the device.
“Uh-uh, not getting out of here that easily, buddy. You didn’t pay the entrance fee for the museum, and you’re taking their stuff. Not cool, man.” Spidey shot another web, but the thief dodged around that attack before it could hit him. The thief flipped to his feet, and wasted no time, throwing a barrage of punches and kicks at his foe. Spidey could barely keep up with his blocks, the thief pushing forward hard and fast.
Damn, this guy knows how to fight.
The thief managed to cut through Spidey’s defenses and landed a solid kick to his ribs. Spidey heaved hard as the thief grabbed his arm and spun him around before grabbing his head and slamming it to the ground. Spidey’s ears rang as his vision blurred for a few seconds, still in a strong hold from the thief. Spidey broke his arm free and drove his elbow hard into the thief’s head. The thief stumbled back, grasping his head in pain as Spidey staggered back up to his feet.
They both stood in an attack stance as they stared each-other down, both ready to act in an instant as they waited for the other to make the first move. The thief turned his head around for a brief moment as he glanced for the door. The tension thickened with each passing second, both waiting for the other to act. The thief suddenly grabbed a large pot next to him and flung it at Spidey. Spidey back-flipped out of the way, giving the thief the chance to run to his large bag. The thief slung it around his shoulder and kicked down the door, bolting out of the room. Spidey was after him a second later, trailing only a few feet behind. The thief finally managed to clear the webbing off his wrist device, his fingers tapping the screen furiously.
A second later, with another puff of smoke, the thief disappeared right in front of Spidey. Spidey skidded to a stop, panting hard as he tried to catch his breath.
Well that could have gone better. But I don’t think he noticed the tracker. I just need to collect my things and I’ll go see what the tracker has to say.
Spidey gathered the cameras he’d set up around the museum, stopping by the guard station to make sure the guards were okay. Both were in a deep sleep. Spidey guessed the thief had given them a strong sleeping agent.
At least he didn’t kill them.
Outside, Spidey collected the last camera around the back of the building near the power grid. Before he left, he noticed the small device the thief put on the power grid was still there. The small black box gleamed in the dim light, the smooth clear coating around it displaying strings of numbers that ran across the front of it.
Better take that, anything I can get from him will help out.
As Spidey plucked the little box off the grid, every light in the museum turned on and the alarms howled out through the night air. Spidey pocketed the box and ran off the roof, heading for the building across the street to collect the rest of his equipment. He gathered his stuff and ran off the roof, swinging off into the distance.
Several block away, Spidey finally found a place he felt comfortable, and stopped. He laid his belongings down on the rooftop, pulling one of the small screens out of his bag. He tapped it a few times, pulling up his tracker program.
Alright lets see what we got here. With the modifications I made to them, the trackers should be able to give me an accurate pinpoint….Wait, that can’t be…there’s nothing here. He’s nowhere nearby. He’s not even in New York. Did he find the tracker and destroy it? Is he able to teleport that far out of the range?
Spidey slammed his fist down onto the ground and gritted his teeth. He stood up and paced back and forth on the roof.
Dammit, how can this be? How did he find it so fast? There’s no way I’m gonna get a chance to confront him again.
Spidey continued to pace, shaking his fists in anger. Suddenly he heard a blip come on from the tracker program, the pinging sound of the tracker going off every few seconds. He rushed over the screen and saw the little dot of the tracker showing up.
What? How did- never mind, it doesn’t matter. I have to get over to him before it disappears again.
The wind howled through the alleys of the empty storage center, the only sound heard besides the hum of passing cars in the distance. Spidey crept along the roof, the tracker program pinging ever few seconds, the dot of the screen much larger now as he drew closer. He looked around the large vacant center, looking like it hadn’t been used in years. From the broken window of the building, the dim glow of light could barely be seen. Spidey swung over to the window and peered around the corner of it. From inside, Spidey could see a large stockpile of paintings, pots, gems, and various other pieces of stolen art that lined the sides of the building. In the center was a large table, several pieces of equipment and tech sprawled across it. Next to the table was the thief, who seemed to be tinkering with the wrist devices on the table.
Spidey slowly crawled in through the window, gently stepping to the rafters as he made his way to the center of the building. Spidey watched for a long while as the thief remained hunched over the table. Eventually the thief stood up and walk over to what looked like computers that were built from spare pieces and parts. Seeing this his best opportunity, Spidey swung down from the rafters, firing several web blasts.
“Nice place you got here? How’s the rent for it? Looking for a roomie, maybe?” The thief spun around as several of the web blasts slammed against his body, followed by a hard kick to the face from Spidey. The thief flew back, smashing into the computers behind him. “ You know, I’ve been tailing you for weeks now, and I don’t even have a name for you. I mean it’s not like I have much to work with, all you do is steal things and poof around. Art Thief doesn’t sit right, but I think I’m starting to like Poofy. What do you think?”
Spidey felt the tingle of his spider sense right as a lead pipe flew out from the wreckage, narrowly missing him as he leaned back, falling to his hands and feet to the ground. Before he could get up, the thief jump out of the wreckage and dived into Spidey, knocking the wind out of him. The thief landed a few punches on Spidey before he managed to throw him off. As Spidey struggled to get back to his feet, he saw the thief was at the table, putting the wrist devices back on.
“Oh no you don’t! You’re not getting away again!” Spidey lunged forward, tackling the thief’s legs, causing them both to crash to the ground. They struggled on the ground for quite some time, the thief trying to bash Spidey away, who’s hold on him was too strong to break off.
“Stop kid, you don’t know what you’re doing!” The thief spoke for the first time, his voice gruff and age sounding. Spidey held strong onto the thief, determined not to let him free again. As they struggled, Spidey grabbed the thief’s left wrist device, the device not fully latched onto him, and pulled it off. As this happened, one of the buttons was pushed. The device buzzed and glowed for a moment. “DAMMIT, NO! YOU DON’T UNDERST-” The thief couldn’t even finish his sentence as a bright, intense light lit around them, nearly blinding Spidey as their surroundings almost melted away in an instant. As usual, with a large puff of smoke, both Spidey and the thief vanished, the large storage building now void of anyone.