RCM Fanfic - Agents of ARACHNOS, Ep. 2
Episode 2 - Not All Is As It Seems

"Oh, blithery poop, my cowardly lobster. You don't need courage. After all, who needs courage when you have a gun?"

-Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Futurama


Baron was just about to head out to work when the text came through:


He groaned. Every week there was some new activity, some crisis that he alone could stop. It was exhausting. Didn’t this guy know that even heroes need a day off every once in a while? For a moment, Baron considered ignoring the message, calling in sick, and holing up at home for the day. He needed rest, and a big part of him cursed the day he had been sucked into this mess.


It was a chilly Friday in November, shortly before the Christmas shopping rush, and Baron had been filling in for the night at GamerShop. The store had been dead all evening, and the manager had gone out to pick them up some contraband snacks to hide under the counter. Baron tried keeping busy by straightening sections and texting movie quotes back and forth with Varyar, who was having a similar night at the sports store, but the minutes were passing like hours. He remembered the leap of joy in his heart when the door chime rang the announcement of a potential customer. That joy was short lived.

The young man was dressed in a brown hat and trench coat that had seen better days. He seemed nervous, looking over his shoulder as he took a few hesitant steps towards a display opposite the register, then a quick step around a center display so that he was blocked from the window. Having grown up as the son of a cop, Baron knew immediately something wasn’t right with the individual’s behavior and kept a wary eye on him. “Sir, can I help you find anything?â€

The man looked up, startled. His eyes told Baron they were around the same age, although the man’s clean-shaven baby face made him look much younger. “Are you Baron von Gosu?â€

Now it was Baron’s turn to be startled. “Um…yes?â€

“Oh thank God. I’ve been checking different GamerShop stores all over Cleveland for you. You’re not an easy person to find, Mr. Gosu, and I admire how you can host such a popular show every week and still remain so anonymous in the outside world.†His eyes shone for a moment as he paused. “I’m sorry, Mr. Gosu, I’m just a very big fan.â€

“It’s Baron. And you are…?â€

“My name’s Ja- uh, it’s probably better if we just go by our online names. Safer that way. You can call me The Messenger. My…hobby, I guess you’d call it, is collecting evidence of the world outside of what mainstream society wants us to see. Ghosts, aliens, shadow governments, you get the picture. I’ve been a very big fan of Ghost in the Podcast and your work in the paranormal for some time, and based on what I know of your experiences, I think you may be able to help me.â€


As he wove through the traffic heading north on Ontario, Baron sighed. He’d heard the Messenger out to pass the time since Varyar had stopped texting back, and the tale told seemed more like a troll trying to get a reaction: a giant coordinated spider invasion was being set in motion by forces upset over the results of the Lord of Terror elections, and the Messenger was convinced that Baron was the one hero who could stop them. The only problem was, they were connected to a shadowy organization whose ultimate motives were unclear, but who had the potential of destroying anyone who got in their path.

Over the course of hosting Ghost in the Podcast, Baron had received messages from conspiracy theorists before; that was par for the course when hosting a show dealing with horror and the supernatural. Of course, none had ever gone so far as to physically track him down at work, and at the time he’d said a little thanks that it was there instead of at his home. He might have chalked it up to an overzealous kook and pushed it from mind had he not encountered a disturbing message the next day.

Baroness had gotten a phone call and left early that morning, and unable to fall back to sleep, Baron had gone downstairs to try the couch. He had just gotten comfortable when his ears picked up on a whispery sound, faint but close. As he got up to investigate, Baron noted the sound seemed to intensify â€" almost like a frantic skittering as he approached where he thought the sound was coming from. Sunlight was streaming through the patio door in his office, filtering through the curtain and casting the room in a soft green sheen. Silhouetted behind the fabric, Baron saw the movement of a couple of fist-sized shadows scurry over the window.

Easing his SUV to a stop as he approached Public Square, Baron shuddered as he remembered what had happened next: With a feeling of dread creeping up in his soul, Baron had slowly, gingerly touched the edge of the curtain, then with a quick movement ripped the fabric back from the window. While he didn’t actually see the creatures, their handiwork came like a sock to the stomach. Baron stumbled backwards, a scream catching in his throat.

Like a horror film bastardization of Charlotte’s Web, a giant spider web stretched across the outside of the patio door with the word “DIE†woven crudely into it.
He didn’t remember how he got out to the front drive, just that he was suddenly out of the house and dry heaving next to the mailbox.

Suddenly, Baron’s thoughts were interrupted as he became aware of a commotion up ahead in the Square. An RTA bus was pulled off to the side, and there appeared to be a number of people trapped inside some sort of smoke cloud. Baron cursed as he saw the bus number: 135, just like the Messenger said. Which meant that the cloud material he saw was most likely spider silk.

“Ah, fuuuuuuuuuuuuck…â€

Pulling a black superhero mask over his eyes, Baron deftly weaved his way to a parking spot before grabbing his trusty Glock and even trustier fedora. As he ran toward the bus, he checked to make sure his secret weapon was in his pocket. He didn’t like the idea of destroying public property, but as he neared the mass transit and saw the panicked passengers inside, he knew he had no choice: this evil menace must be stopped at all costs. Adrenaline kicking in, Baron forced the emergency door open using nothing but his own strength and immediately pulled a young mother and her infant out of the bus to safety.

“Come on!†he yelled to the passengers as he boarded the bus to assist an elderly woman. “This way!†Choking back his own fears, Baron elbow-smashed a large spider into the wall of the bus as it dropped down from the ceiling. As he felt the creature’s exoskeleton crunch into a gooey blob, for a second Baron thought he was going to be sick, but his attention was quickly diverted to a bevy of high-pitched screams coming from the front of the bus.

Fighting his way forward through the webbing and smashing more spiders along the way, he neared the source of the screams and took a deep breath. Just in front of him, a bevy of scantily clad women were huddled together in panic as a spider the size of a dog waved its hairy legs at them.

It took a few seconds for Baron to get himself under control enough for his protective instincts to kick in. “GET DOWN!†he yelled to them as he levelled the Glock. Sensing the shift, the spider turned its attention from the lovelies to Baron and let out an angry hiss. Baron responded with a hiss of his own: the hiss of hot lead bitch-slapping the oversized arachnid in its bulbous, hate-filled eyes.

Baron’s stomach lurched as the predator exploded in a burst of sticky goo. There was no time to be ill; trying to side-step as much of the mess as he could, he helped the nearest girl to her feet. The blonde teetered a little in her silver stilettos and clutched Baron’s arm with tears in her eyes. Looking past her to the others, he felt bad for them; their doe-eyed stares told him these poor girls were even more frightened than he was. He pulled his secret weapon, a shiny chrome Zippo lighter, out of his pocket.

“Come on, ladies,†he said in his deepest, manliest voice, “follow me.†He shielded them as best he could from the sight of the now ex-spider and corralled them toward the back of the bus, stopping every few steps to light some of the webbing â€" better to burn the little bastards to cinders than risk one escaping. By the time the last of the lovelies was off the bus, the flames had caught and combined into an inferno.

Danger passed, the ladies were now regaining their composure and lining up to give their appreciation to the hero. In the early morning sunshine, Baron noticed each was dressed similarly in a short skirted, body-hugging sheath dress with matching stilettos. And they were gorgeous â€" blondes, brunettes, a couple of raven-haired beauties thrown in for good measure. He cursed the fact that he couldn’t gloat to the guys about this one.

“Are you ladies all right? There’s nothing to be afraid of now,†Baron heard his voice say.

The first blonde he had helped on the bus stepped forward from the pack, slinking towards him with a practiced gait. “You saved us,†she purred, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. She closed her eyes, then slowly opened them again as she gazed up at him seductively. “However can we thank you?â€
Baron’s breath caught as she licked her lips and leaned forward, but he caught her in time and took a step back.

“Sorry, ladies,†he said as he walked away, wiggling his left hand in the sunlight, “but I’m married.â€


Crap, what happened last time?
On to the next episode
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