❯ In the Shadow of the Bat – Alias, the Spider ( Chapter 3 )
Alias, the Spider
“What a day,” the black haired woman sighed as she entered the hotel room. She was tall, nearly six foot, and also very fit, though not unfeminine in her shape. Her jeans hugged her hips and a leather jacket fluttered as she moved, revealing a red shirt beneath it.
“Teresa Ludlow-Dalt?” the voice asked from the shadows.
Spinning around Teresa saw a shadowy figure standing on the fire escape, his black cape swirling around his body. A massive and muscular man his mask had stylized horns, a golden disk on his otherwise grey costume containing a black bat emblem.
“God, not you too?!” Teresa declared, surprisingly unimpressed by the dark knight. “The Question and Batwoman warned me off when I hit town, the Huntress intercepted my taxi and the Invisible Hood haunted me in the library.” She paused, “The Invisible Hood, for god’s sake? I thought he was dead!”
Batman just watched her calmly, his seemingly white eyes glowing in the shadows.
“And all of you idiots need to get up to date,” Teresa tossed her bag to the bed angrily, “I am NOT the Spider! I have no intention of following in my villainous family’s footsteps.” She sighed suddenly, “I don’t even like spiders…”
“That’s not why I contacted you,” Batman said calmly, seemingly unaffected by her sudden outburst.
Teresa sat down on the bed in her little room, feeling suddenly tired. Five super hero meeting in as many hours had taken their toll, and it had already been a long day. “So why are you here?” she asked.
“While he was active as the Spider your father made a lot of enemies,” Batman said calmly, “several of whom knew about his secret identity. It appears that one or more of them… are targeting you.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Teresa said weakly. She scowled as she explained, “I’m only here trying to research a book on the Ludlows, and how stupid it is to be a super-villain! Why me?!”
“In the absence of your father or brothers they seem to think you’re a fair target,” Batman answered coolly. AS he turned to go he said, “Watch yourself… if needed you can use the uniform in your luggage. It’s bullet proof, at least.”
“Hey, how did you know my crazy mother packed that for me?” Teresa called out to him in surprise.
“I make it my business to know,” Batman answered before the dark figure disappeared into the Gotham night.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Teresa sighed, flopping back on her bed.
Teresa Ludlow-Dalt was the inheritor of a long legacy. Sadly, it was a mostly BAD legacy. The Ludlow clan had made their way in the world, not to mention a lot of money, by being utter scoundrels and cheats. Over the years they had built quite a knack for evil, and it came to a head in Tom Ludlow-Dalt.
A smuggler, kidnapper and murderer, Tom adopted the Spider identity to eliminate his competition, not help people out. Killing ‘criminals’ ruthlessly Tom still managed to maintain a illusion of heroism, even joining the Seven Soldiers of Victory only to betray the team for his own personal glory. In the end Tom bit off more than he could chew, attempting to frame the original Flash for murder and being killed by the villainous Shade.
However, Tom had kids, two sons and a daughter. Raised by a mother who was morbidly fascinated by her husband’s villainy she trained her kids unknowingly to follow in their Daddy’s footsteps, the boys adopting the Spider identity and both of them coming to bad ends. Mom even approached Teresa, but she had surprised the old bat with a firm no.
Still, her mother continued to try to turn Teresa into a new Spider. She had even packed the Spider costume into her daughter’s luggage, concealing it in the same compartment that Teresa used to hide her valuables. It was all somewhat ridiculous, not to mention oddly pitiful.
“Never mind,” Teresa murmured to herself tiredly as she got up to undress, “I’m sure things will look clearer in the morning.”
Not long after sunrise Teresa found herself once again at the Gotham Library, silently marveling at the size of the collection. In addition to the usual references the library had a surprising amount of material on super criminals, an invaluable resource for a researcher like Teresa. The Spider was mostly listed as a hero, but records of the Ludlow family villainy were both plentiful and a bit chilling.
“Here you go, ma’am,” the young man dropped off the latest stack of books to Teresa’s’s cluttered work area.
“Thank you,” Teresa’s smiled, her long hair pulled back into a pony tail.
“Call if you need anything else,:” he said, disappearing between the shelves. “Hey,” he sounded surprised, “what are you…?”
Hearing a thud Teresa’s looked up in alarm, only to see a man dressed in replica armor charge towards her. “What in the?!” she got up, even as the blond haired man swung a very real sword right at her!
“For the seven soldiers!” he cried even as Teresa’s ducked beneath the wild swing. The sword continued it’s path to thud into the wall, becoming stuck. “Oh no,” the man tugged weakly on the hilt.
“Oh yes,” Teresa’s swung with all her might, connecting with his jaw with a loud crack. The man’s eyes rolled up into his head, then he slid bonelessly to the ground.
“Die, spawn of the evil one,” the man dressed in red cape and old fashioned hat cried as he hurried up, raising a pistol.
With remarkable speed Teresa’s kicked out to send the gun flying as she snapped, “Not today.” Grabbing him by the front of his business suit she slapped the guy up against a book shelf, “Who are you? Why are you doing this?”
“You should know,” the masked man head butted her, sending Teresa’s reeling backward.
“Bastard,” Teresa’s shook her head, trying to clear the burst of pain. Seeing the man flee the room she grabbed at her bag, her thoughts racing. ‘The Seven Soldiers… you’ve got to be kidding me,’ she thought.
The Seven Soldiers of Victory were a 1940’s era team of heroes that Teresa’s had researched for their connection to her dad, all fairly unusual by nature. The Crimson Avenger and Wing, pulp style heroes, the Star-spangled Kid and Stripsey who were patriotic types, the time lost Sir Justin the Shining Knight, Vigilante of the old west and his partner Stuff had all fought beside the Spider… and now it looked like someone very like them was after HER.
‘The first looked like he was copying Sir Justin,’ Tessa thought as she stuffed her notes into her bad, ‘the other looked like the Crimson Avenger, sorta. That means there may be five more nuts after me.’
Hurrying past the elevator Teresa’s opened the stairway only to duck under a flying kick. “For the Seven!” the Asian boy yelled, taking up a fighting stance.
“Wing, right?” Tessa asked. “Look,” she said in exasperation, “I’m not connected to the Spider! I don’t want anything to do with you!”
“You’re a Ludlow,” Wing answered coldly, “blood tells.”
“Oh shut up,” Teresa’s growled as she whipped a book out of her bag and beaned him with it right between the eyes.
Picking up her book Teresa’s put it in her hag, her hand lingering on the bundle of cloth she had stuffed in there this morning. After a moment’s deliberation she moved to a darkened corner of the stairway, and began to change.
Outside the door at the bottom of the stairs a boy in star covered clothes asked, “What’s taking so long, Stripsey?”
“Dunno, Star-spangled kid,” Stripsey said, the muscle man’s shirt bearing his namesake’s red and white stripes.
“Hyah!” a crossbow bolt exploded the door, sending both stars and stripes flying backwards.
“Holy shit,” Star-spangled kid gulped.
“You wanted the Spider,” Teresa’s said as she pulled the mask in place, her blue costume clinging to her curves, “you’ve got her.” Reloading a explosive arrow into the collapsible crossbow her mother gave her Spider asked, “Who wants some?”
“Uh,” Stripsey looked at the Kid then they both bolted.
Following them outside Spider froze, blinking in surprise at several unconscious figures being watched over by the faceless figure known as the Question. “Sorry about this,” the mist shrouded figure said, “Huntress and Batwoman are just rounding up the last of them.”
“Thank god,” Spider sighed.
“Not so fast,” Question smiled wryly, “seems the Seven Soldiers had quite a fan club. These mooks are just the tip of the iceberg.”
“Guess I’ll need to keep this costume handy?” Spider sighed.
“Looks like it,” Batwoman said as she swept down, the black and red clad heroine striking even in daylight.
“Well, guess I’ll be doing some hands on research for my book,” Spider sighed. ‘If I ever meet you in the afterlife, dad,’ Teresa’s thought, ‘I’m going to kick your butt.’
To be continued….
Notes: Alias, the Spider was originally a ruthless hero in the golden age of comics, who was revised in the last Starman series. His origin is pretty much as told here, tho I added his having a daughter. Also, both sons seem to be alive in the comics, out getting into trouble of one type or another.