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Agents of ARACHNOS, Episode 30
Episode 30

*****
"Well, damn," Manly Stuff muttered.

"Go," Baron said. "It's me they want. I'll distract them until you can take off."

Shinzon looked at his friend, shocked. "Baron, that's suicide!"

"It's the only way. If Arachnos hits the plane with her webbing, we'll never get it off the ground. The only way to give you guys a chance of getting aboard and taking off is if I keep Arachnos occupied."

"He's right," Manly agreed. "But once we're airborne, we can drop a rope to Baron, then set off the charges."

Alex looked dubious. "What if Arachnos shoots her webs at you while we're in the air?"

Manly shrugged. "Dodge it."

"Can your plane do that?"

"It's not the plane that does it." Manly whipped out his aviators and struck his best Freddie Mercury pose. "It's the pilot who flies her."

Shinzon raised an eyebrow at his friend. "You know it's pitch black and storming right now."

"Ah, right." He slid the glasses back into his pocket.

"Shin," Baron continued, "give me your gun. I guarantee once Arachnos sees me she's going to ignore you. I don't know how much good it will do, but I'd rather be armed than not."

"There's a cliff on the western side of the island that overlooks a small beach. Do you remember seeing it?" Manly asked.

"I think so, Baron replied as he strapped the gun to his belt. "It wasn't far from where the movie shoot was filming."

"Exactly. If you can lead Arachnos there, that will give me enough time to get the plane off the ground and loop around to get you. Get as close as you can to the edge, and we'll drop a rope down for you to grab onto to escape."

"Wait," Shinzon butted in, "isn't that also where we put the majority of the charges? Because of the egg sacs?"

"Yes."

"That sounds very...perilous."

Manly's eyes narrowed. "It is extremely perilous."

"Sounds almost like the end to an adventure movie," Alex added thoughtfully.

"Well," Baron said, "the story isn't over yet. Although..." he paused as a large glob of webbing was hurled in their direction, "...it will be, if we don't move. I'll meet you at the rendezvous point. Now GO!"

As Shinzon and Manly raced the paralyzed Alex through the darkness, Baron started screaming to get the creature's attention away from his friends and the getaway plane.

"Hey, spider-bitch!" he yelled. "You think you're so big and bad, huh? You think you're so tough, sending your little henchmen around the world to attack innocent people? To come after my friends? And for what? Because you were pissed off that the elections didn't swing the way you wanted them to? Yeah, big all-powerful spider queen, my ass. There's nothing regal about you. You're just a giant, hairy crybaby."

Arachnos turned her head toward Baron, her mandibles twittering as four pairs of red eyes came to rest their attention solely on him. Good. He didn't dare take his eyes off the creature for even a second, but out of the corner of his eye saw Manly turn. Baron waved him off.

"That's right, you whore. Here I am. You couldn't even be bothered to do your own dirty work, could you? You had to send some floozy to do it for you. Laziness, that's what that is."

The creature slowly scuttled its body around to face him, eyes never leaving his face as a growl emanated from its thorax.

"Look at you," Baron spat. "You think you're so queen-like, because you run around with a stupid-looking crown on your head? Figures, it's not enough that you're a lazy crybaby, you have to show off your perceived entitlement." His voice took on a high pitched mocking tone. "'Oooh, look at me, I'm a spider princess in my spider crown and if you don't vote for me I'll suck your family dry.' Waah. Why don't you just hold court in some organic coffee shop with all your whiny hipster friends, you lump of foul deformity. Or is your so-called regal bearing too mainstream?"

Arachno's leg twitched.

Come on, Baron thought. I've gotta be pushing some buttons. What's going to send it over the edge?

Baron thought a moment. Then his eyes narrowed, a sneer working its way across his face as he shrugged. "Whatever. It makes your face look fat, anyway."

That did it.

Arachnos let out an ungodly screech and moved to attack. But instead of rearing up on her hind legs as Baron had hoped, Arachnos swiped out a front leg, the jab barely missing Baron as he jumped backwards and broke into a run.

Baron headed for the tree line, dodging and weaving as globs of gooey white webbing splattered around him. An hour before, he wouldn't have cared if he'd come to a sticky end. But now that he knew Baroness was alive and being a badass, Baron found his steps were a little swifter, his turns a little tighter, and his will to kick this monster's ass just a little bit more vengeful.

He was so in the zone now that he didn't realize he was still carrying Manly's cell phone until it started to ring mid-chase. "Yeah?"

"Baron!" Hax's voice crackled over the line. "Sorry about that. I got Baroness away from the fire engine, but I forgot to tell you something."

"I'll be honest, Hax," Baron replied as he banked a hard left around a tree, "this isn't exactly the best time..."

"This is important. When Arachnos arrives..."

"Hate to break it to you," Baron interrupted, hurdling a low branch, "but Arachnos is already here. Kinda being chased through the woods at the moment."

"Ah!" The Brit sounded somewhat surprised. "Well, what you need to know is that firearms aren't going to help - the spiders' exoskeletons are too thick for most bullets to pierce."

"Oh, joy."

"Baroness discovered there is a weak spot in the spiders' armour. What you'll need to do is get underneath the creature and impale it at a spot just where the abdomen meets the cephalothorax."

"The abdomen meets...what?"

"The cephalo- erm, where its midsection meets its large hind end. There's a gap there where the parts of the exoskeleton meet, which it uses to communicate with its followers in a way similar to how crickets chirp. Just be careful not to-"

Before Hax could finish the thought, Baron jumped in surprise as a very well-placed shot of web goo knocked the phone completely out of his hand.

"Son of a...WELL THAT WAS RUDE!" he yelled over his shoulder. Baron fired a few shots back in Arachnos's direction, more to try to put some space between him and the rapidly closing spider than to do any real damage. Fantastic, he thought, I'm being chased through the woods by a monster from my worst nightmares, and I can't even shoot it. Now I know what Varyar feels like when he goes on ghost hunts.

He slid on some wet leaves, dropping the gun as he went tumbling to the ground for a moment. Baron just barely rolled out of the demon creature's path as it thundered past, unable to stop its own enormous momentum. He used those precious seconds to scramble off to the side, his fingers finding the reassuring weight of a fallen tree branch he could use as a weapon. Regaining his footing, Baron jerked right, dodging another shot from his arachnid foe before he came barrelling out of the treeline. He quickly skittered to a halt as he realized just in time how close he was to the edge of the cliff.

Heaving for breath, Baron slowly turned to face his enemy. He stared into the creature's hateful eyes. It had come to this: the final battle. Humanity versus spider-kind. Mano a arachno. If Hax was right, Baron had only one chance of spearing his foe and getting out of there alive. But strangely, he didn't care. Baron was so pissed off that it didn't matter that Arachnos towered several feet over him. This son-of-a-bitch had fucked with the wrong podcaster.

With the others nowhere in sight, he started to raise his makeshift club to launch his own attack, when suddenly a dark figure fluttered out from the trees. The clouds broke long enough to cast the silvery glow of a low, full moon over the black hood as the shadow strode forward. It placed itself between Baron and the spider queen, the folds of its heavy cloak fluttering in the sea breeze. Baron strained to find the sounds of a plane engine, but all he could hear was the sound of his own racing heartbeat. Finally, the figure spoke.

"Hello, Baron."

Absinthe's sultry voice stabbed Baron like a blade of ice through the heart. As she lifted her hood, her cloak fell back to reveal a very low-cut dress of blood red velvet overlayed with a web of black lace. Her hair was still a fiery red, but her black lipstick and heavy eyeliner gave her a decidedly goth appearance, almost like the lead singer for Lacuna Coil. Her hands, sheathed in fingerless gloves of matching black lace, were glittered with ruby rings, and around her neck hung a large pendant that looked like a bastardization of a Celtic cross with a ruby spider set on it.

Baron nodded in acknowledgement. "She-bitch."

She frowned, her eyes growing even colder. "It didn't have to be this way," she murmured. "You could have given yourself to me, stood by my side as we ruled the new world Arachnos is giving us. We still could, it's not too late. The queen and her consort, living a life of luxury as we impose the will of our spider god: ARACHNOS!"

Absinthe turned and performed a low, sweeping curtsey to the monster, the white skin of her breasts gleaming in the moonlight. She knelt on the ground a moment, muttering something in a low, melodic chant as the wind picked up around her. Faintly, now, Baron thought he caught the buzz of an engine.

Her incantation complete, Absinthe slowly rose from the ground, casting a seductive glance over her shoulder. "This is your last chance, Baron. Join me, belong to me, and we shall rule together over our new spider paradise!"

"Sorry, sweetheart," Baron replied sardonically. "I'm already married to someone waaaaay more attractive and badass than you. Not many people can take that much spider venom and then go all Steven Segal on an army of your insects."

She looked at him sharply, her eyes flickering with fire as the implications of his words registered in her head. "If you will not give me your hand," her voice said, icily, "then you shall die by mine!"

The vixen spun around suddenly, black cloak twirling about her as Baron caught the glint of a silver dagger in her hand. She lunged, hitting with enough force to break off the end of the branch as she grazed Baron's arm with her blade. Droplets of blood bubbled to the surface of his skin, but his adrenaline was pumping too hard for him to register the pain that came along with it. In fact, as he thrust up his tree branch to stop a second attack, Baron tried not to roll his eyes as he noticed the dagger, too, had an ornate ruby spider set in its hilt.

"Jesus," he muttered, "what'd you do, buy a matching evil villain starter kit?"

Absinthe shrieked with rage, shoving into his makeshift staff with all of her might. Baron used this to his advantage, shifting his own weight and using the branch to help propel the screaming banshee over the edge of the cliff. Before he had a chance to catch his breath, Baron's attention immediately refocused to the advancing Arachnos, who, seeing her minion shoved over the cliff to a near-certain death, was now charging at the podcaster.

As the monster reared up on its hind legs, Baron gave a silent thanks to his own deities as he finally got the chance he was waiting for. "I'll see you in hell, spider bitch!" he screamed. "I'll see you in hell!"

With that, Baron let out a yell and charged for the spider's underbelly with everything he had. The splintered end of his tree branch jammed in between the armor plates with a crunch, and the monster let out the most horrific sound that Baron had ever heard. But just as the spear had sunk about as far as it would go into the creature's insides, Baron suddenly and frighteningly got an idea of what Hax had been trying to tell him over the phone.

"Oh, SHIT!"

The spider suddenly began whipping about, taking Baron along with it. He'd be crushed or smothered if he let go, so he could do nothing except hang on for dear life as Arachnos started thrashing about, spewing a near-continual stream of sticky webbing everywhere while emitting that blood-curdling shriek. The sound bore into Baron's very soul, erasing all other sound and replacing them with a sensation of fear Baron didn't know he had. There was no way Manly could bitch that this wasn't horror - twice he was certain he would be crushed to death against one of the large trees as the creature spun about, and his arms ached as they tried to keep his grip on the death spear.

It seemed to Baron he'd been hanging on for an eternity, and he was starting to wonder if his friends had made it when suddenly a plane buzzed just above their heads. Baron snapped his head around. They made it! They were circling back, and there was something dangling from the plane! As they passed, Baron loosened his grip just enough to quickly stick an arm out for the rope, but reached too soon and missed. He cursed himself as the plane flew off, banking a turn for another pass. This time he caught it on the flyby, getting a good grip with both hands. But just as he was almost to the cliff edge, something snagged him by the ankle. The wind got knocked out of Baron's body as he slammed to the ground with a sickening thud.

No... he thought as he heard the first of the charges going off behind him.

His body felt heavy, and every ache he'd ignored for hours came throbbing through his muscles at once. He tried to move, but couldn't, the strain of the adventure finally becoming too much. Baron closed his eyes, gasping for breath as he felt a spindly leg brush at his torn jeans. As he raised his head, Baron caught the glint of Manly's plane in the distance, turned now and flying straight for him, but he didn't think he would make it. Then, from somewhere deep in the recesses of his mind, was Baroness's voice saying "Come on. The story's not over yet."

This was the last chance.

He would never be able to quite explain where he found the strength, but with his last bit out energy, Baron rolled himself over to come face to face with the enemy. Arachnos, rasping with her dying breaths, had her massive spider face mere feet from his. Even on Death's door, her eight eyes still glittered red with hate. Her mandibles twitched as though she was ready to bite him, but before she had the chance, Baron felt his leg kick up and smoosh right into her beady eyes. The sensation of impact almost made him vomit, but the weakened creature one gave one belabored death squeal before toppling over in a disgusting heap.

Baron rolled out of the way and onto his knees just as the plane made its final pass, and this time, he didn't miss. As Shinzon helped pull Baron's bloodied body into the hold, Manly pushed his craft into a steep climb to avoid the massive fireball that exploded behind them, and they headed out to open sea.

*****
Battered, but not broken, Absinthe clung to the vegetation growing out of the side of the cliff and stared with a vile hate as the plane disappeared over the ocean. Above her, she could still hear explosions as the fire spread to the various supply sheds, igniting fuel tanks and supply caches along with the sacs of her young. Rage boiled in her blood, but in a way, she had a grim satisfaction. The Prophecies had told of this time, how an enemy would rise from the north to strike her people in a foreign land, but how Arachnos would rise from the dead, more powerful than any could possibly imagine. How the chosen ones would lead their people to victory over the infidels and go on to greater glories than the world had ever known. All was coming to pass, just as the sacred scrolls had predicted.

Which meant she, as Arachnos's chosen one, would be the one to rise.

A sinister smile bloomed across her hardened face. "You may have won the battle, Baron von Gosu," she growled, "but you lost the war. And I will have you, one way or another. You and your friends will be brought to pay for your sins. Oh, yes, you will pay. And your little wife, too."

*****

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