Major Arachnos was a thorn in the side of a few Super Groups (Player Teams) in City of Heroes for years. This story will show you why, and just what a ruthless ass he is.
First you need some background so the story makes sense contextually. First, Arachnos is the main villain organization in City of Heroes. Think of them as Marvel’s Hydra with a Spider Theme and run by metahumans. The story starts right after my Villain Group; the Bureau of Archvillain Development did a mission raiding an Arachnos lab, then did 3 consecutive mayhem missions (missions into the hero side of the game) where the 3 of us robbed the bank, cleared every side mission and completely cleared the map in all three cases. The two brutes (high strength and damage resistance character class) were particularly vicious.
One of the two brute players wrote up the adventure, quite proud of the carnage. It was called “Arachnid Woman’s Emergence” Arachnid Woman was an villainess based on Supergirl.
The story was a blow by blow narrative from the local media’s POV. Suffice it to say 3 of Paragon City’s zones had some hefty damage by the time all was said & done. Being a moderately realistic role player, *my* take was that the US wasn’t going to be happy about things, AND that even as nasty as Arachnos is, they don’t have the raw power to hold off a full scale invasion (short of launching the nukes in Warburg, which would insure Arachnos is nuked off the map too). So, the story is essentially what happened after that raid and how Arachnos did PR based damage control.
A few other things you’ll want to know so you’re up to speed. Major Arachnos’s story about a captured spy was actually Arachnos kidnapping, torturing and brainwashing another heroine; Miss Deadshot into becoming an Arachnos widow. She was rescued and deprogrammed by her mentor; Miss Thornbird and other heroes.
The story of “last year” was when Miss Thornbird herself was undercover in Arachnos, pretending to defect. Her role was unknown to her SG; United Sentinels of America. Justice Omega, one of their leaders, pulled a Statesman Task Force style raid on Grandville (the island where Arachnos is Headquartered) to try and find her and “make a statement” Major Arachnos’s response after the fact was to level half of the poor areas of Grandville and make it look like Justice Omega ordered a tactical air strike against innocent civilians. He gave the footage to the media and had a field day on TV & in front of the UN General Assembly. That whole story arc came to an end with a full scale invasion of Grandville by the USoA, a couple of platoons of Longbow (the game’s equivalent of SHIELD) and Miss Thornbird’s father’s Airborne special forces unit. The USoA rescued Thornbird, and her family who’d been held hostages, and uncovered Major Arachos’s doctored footage, AND did a full data core dump on the Arachnos mainframe before reinforcements from the rest of the rogue isles forced the raid force to evacuate.
Beyond that, Widows are the Arachnos versions of Black Widow, with some psi powers. Sabrina Marcone is the villain group leader, and daughter of the mob boss on the islands where Arachnos is based. Lord Recluse is the supreme leader of Arachnos. Arachnid Woman was another player’s character and the adopted daughter of Recluse with an origin otherwise similar to Supergirl’s. Major Arachnos calling her “Princess” is not a title, it’s him being an ass.
Aftermath: Major Arachnos Steps Up
Lord Recluse stood in his control room, staring at news reports of the carnage around Paragon. While the damage areas had been limited by use of the force fields the city uses for this kind of emergency, the actual damage was still extensive where it hit. Two police stations completely destroyed, scores of police and Longbow injured or dead, buildings burnt, a corporate executive kidnapped, cars, trucks, buses and almost anything else loose on the street destroyed. The number of police, Longbow and civilians injured was so great that hospitals in other zones of the city had to be used for the overflow.
The sick, twisted darkest part of Recluse took ghoulish delight in what he saw. It was truly survival of the fittest at it’s violent best and Paragon City was proven weak. None the less, his more rational side realized this was not the kind of publicity Arachnos needed. The potential fallout was even less welcome. Galvanizing the world or even a portion of it against him was not something Recluse was ready to deal with… yet.
Recluse slammed his fist down on the console in front of him. “Imbeciles!”, he shouted angrily. He turned to a nearby technician. “Get me their base, NOW!”
“A.. at once, my Lord Recluse.”, the terrified technician managed to stammer as he made the connection.
A moment later, the overhead monitor came to life with a picture of Night Widow Commander Marcone, Widow Shama, Arachnid Woman and Stunning Cruelty. In the background, Major Arachnos could be seen leaning against the wall with his arms crossed and a smug look on his face.
Lord Recluse didn’t even wait to be acknowledged. “Do the lot of you have a proper explanation for this little circus, or should I assume your actions were deliberately treasonous and intended to bring half the planet down on Arachnos?”
Marcone spoke first; “Lord Recluse, I assure you, I only authorized them for the standard hit and fade operations, and…”
“And you lack the strength and discipline to manage your troops? Is THAT what you are trying to tell me?”, Recluse snarled, cutting her short.
Marcone showed the beginnings of a deer in the headlights look. “No, no, of course not, Lord Recluse…”
Recluse turned to Shama, a bit more anger showing. “And WHAT is YOUR excuse? YOU were in the field with them as the senior officer.”
Shama showed no emotion and perhaps just the vaguest hint of a smug smile. “My understanding was that your adopted child was outside our normal command structure, Lord Recluse.” “Because of that, and the reputation both of these children have for excessive violence as well as this being an authorized operation… My natural assumption was this was your will.” “This being my understanding at the time, my loyalty to Arachnos demanded that I merely observe, assist and council the children.” Shama’s smug smile grew just a bit more evident. “None the less, I did try to council the children that their actions were excessive and misguided…” “While still following what I believed your will to be, of course.”
Even with his face obscured by his helmet, it was clear Recluse was less than happy with Shama’s response and the game she was playing. Instead of saying anything further to her however, he directed his attention to the two titans who caused all the trouble in the first place. He unleashed a almost 3 minute tirade, degrading them for lack of discipline and intelligence, and ranting about how even Arachnos could not afford the wrath of a large portion of the world stage.
“… we survive currently by being strong enough to deter our enemies while not attracting further enemies until we have the resources to deal with them!”, he ranted. At this point, he noticed Major Arachnos in the background, actually snickering. “You dare? After the way you already failed me?!?”
Major Arachnos stood up straight and spoke with a clear, confident but respectful tone. “I failed nobody, Lord Recluse.” “The fault for our past efforts being uprooted lies with your other underlings who didn’t destroy the raw footage of Justice Omega’s attack.” “Then one of his shells is captured and left intact, unrestrained and unguarded in a critical lab, allowing him to use it as a trojan horse to secure evidence of our operation?” “My manipulation of the media and the United Nations was flawless until OTHER UNDERLINGS were allowed to destroy our efforts to bring Arachnos credibility.” “If my counsel had been heeded, the footage and body would have been destroyed, the Thornbird twins never would have been trusted, and Arachnos by now would have a seat on the security council of the United Nations.”
Lord Recluse snarled, offended by the subtle challenge but knowing Major Arachnos spoke the truth. “And you presume that you can change that, even now… even fix this minor debacle?”
“Have I ever truly failed you, Lord Recluse?”, Major Arachnos replied with his typical cockiness showing through his respectful tone.
“Debatable.”, Lord Recluse snapped. “None the less, if you want your chance to prove yourself, you shall have it.” Lord Recluse glared menacingly at Major Arachnos. “Make no mistake; failure and further endangerment of all I’ve built here will be punished severely.” “Death will seem like a quick and kind release for you.”
Major Arachnos only bowed with a smug smile. “I stand by my record and my reputation.”
Lord Recluse glared at the entire group, but seemed to focus most upon his adopted daughter. “Pray for all your sakes he succeeds.”
With that, the monitor went black.
((Note I’m playing a little loose with Shaw’s character Shama. My basis for her response is that while she has little respect for Recluse, I also figure she’s intelligent enough not to challenge him directly or blatantly yet. Hence her having a little fun with the facts with Recluse ))
Six hours later, Major Arachnos stood in the B.A.D. base conference room. Off to his right, a TV camera was set up facing a monitor bank. Major Arachnos was decked out in his Italian black silk suit and dress shirt and an expensive looking designer red silk tie as well. He straightened his hair with an arrogant smirk while quietly whistling ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ by ZZ Top. Off to the left, near the doorway to the base entry area, Marcone stood with her arms crossed. Stunning Cruelty and Arachnid Woman stood next to her, both with scowls on their face.
“Arrogant strutting, overdressed toad.”, Arachnid Woman snapped, more to the room in general than anything.
Major Arachnos turned to her with a smirk. “The pen is mightier than the sword, kid.” “What makes me dangerous is I’m good with both.” “As for the suit, it’s magic just like me; not only does it make me look good, it’ll even help somebody like you look good.”. The smarmy contempt in his voice was clear at the end of his comment. “Now watch and learn how a true pro works.”.
Arachnid Woman took half a step forward with fists clenched and look of murder in her eyes. Marcone reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, giving her a firm look while shaking her head ‘no’. Arachnid Woman stopped, not wanting to push her luck any further than she already had with her father. If looks could kill though, Major Arachnos would have died several grizzly deaths.
Major Arachnos stepped in front of the camera and the Arachnos technician operating it turned it to focus on him.
Marcone motioned for the others to follow her. After they were out of audio range of the camera feed, she spoke. “It’ll be a minute before he goes live.” “We can watch in the control center.”. The group made a bee line for the control room where Shama, Miss Parks & Cyber Oni were already watching the TV feed. As everybody gathered around the large overhead monitor bank, a commercial was just finishing up.
“He really think he’s going to reverse this mess so easily?”, Oni asked rhetorically with a clear sarcastic & skeptical tone.
“We’ll see.”, Marcone snapped.
“That one is known for his greasy cunning and skill at manipulation.”, Shama remarked absently. “So we shall see indeed.”
The TV commercial ended and cut back to the Global News Network anchor desk. The camera focused on a slender, busty woman in a slightly provocative business outfit. Her dark brown hair was impeccably styled, and she wore a look of grave seriousness that somehow lacked sincerity to those who studied her carefully.
“Welcome back to GNN Midday News, this is Ima Payne.”. “We continue the ongoing coverage of the carnage in Paragon City.” “As promised, we now have an exclusive interview with Etoile Islands spokesman, Major Arachnos.” The screen splits to show a large inset live camera view of Major Arachnos in the conference room. “Major Arachnos, thank you for agreeing to appear here today with GNN”
“The pleasure is all mine, Ima.”, Major Arachnos said in a tone that conveyed warmth and seriousness. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to clear the air here and present Arachnos’s position in this matter.”
“And just what is that position, Major?”, Ima asked in an oddly respectful tone. “What, in the view of Arachnos, has the public not been aware of?”
“Arachnos has been put in a rather difficult situation for years, Ima.”, Major Arachnos replied. “All we’ve truly wanted has been for our national sovereignty to be respected and to properly recognized among the nations of the world.” “Yet, not only has the United States in particular continually violated our borders and sovereignty, but they commit blatant terrorist raids on our land and facilities even when it harms the world at large to do so.”
“What do you mean, Major?”, Ima asked with a quizzical look on her face.
“The most recent incidents for example…”, Major Arachnos started. “First, we caught a US government spy in the Isles.” “She was not only trying to work to covertly overthrow the government here, but was sabotaging utilities, hospitals, communications…” “The harm she caused the population was fairly extensive.” “When we caught her, we would have been perfectly within our rights under the Geneva Convention to execute her as a spy in our country.” “None the less, Lord Recluse in his infinite mercy and wisdom decided to have her held and simply negotiate an end to such espionage in exchange for her release.” “Their government’s response was to come up with some doctored video making it appear Arachnos was attempting an insane nuclear blackmail plot and use it to attempt to extort her release.” “When that didn’t immediately work, they sent in a black ops metahuman commando team to the psychiatric hospital where the spy was being held.” “Several innocent mentally ill people were killed, along with some of Etoile’s best minds in the field of psychiatric medicine.”
“Shocking,”, Ima Payne replied in disbelief. “But why was Arachnos holding this spy in a mental hospital?”
Major Arachnos let out a long, deep and seemingly pained sigh “Because despite all the difficulties we’ve had with our neighbor to the North, Arachnos still values diplomacy and civil relations.” “The facility was deemed a more comfortable, humane place for her to be detained than a prison would have been.” “Besides, we sadly had no idea the US was capable of such ruthless barbarism.”
“Do you have any proof of these serious allegations?”, Ima questioned politely.
“Only limited footage of the internal security cameras, as well as the remains of the hospital, located off of Grandville.”
The camera cuts away from the GNN anchor desk to show footage of Miss Deadshot’s rescue from Arachnos, except the old B.A.D. base now looks like a clean, sterile and peaceful medical clinic. The footage continues, showing the rescue team apparently cutting down minimally armed private security guards.
“Damn, I do good editing work.”, Oni commented arrogantly back in the B.A.D. control room. “I was wondering what exactly he had in mind with those edits though.” “Sneaky bastard.”
The footage ends and the camera returns to a horrified looking GNN News anchor crew. Ima Payne seems to be at a loss for words briefly, then speaks.
“…Shocking.”, Ima manages. “But, this is GNN, Major and we ask the hard questions here.” “Therefore, I have to ask, how are we to know for a certainty that this video is authentic given the media scandal you and Arachnos were involved in last year?”
“A tough, but reasonable question, Ima.”, Major Arachnos replied in a serious tone. “That’s why I respect GNN and agreed to do my interview here.” “Last year’s situation was yet another tragic media manipulation not by Arachnos, but the United States government.”
Ima Payne has a mock slightly skeptical look on her face at this point. “How so, and do you have any proof?”
“Direct proof, sadly no.”, Major Arachnos continued. “The act of terrorism that chain of events ended with included the complete destruction of our media center in Grandville as well as the stealing and erasing of our entire national computer network.” “They did everything they could to destroy our ability to defend ourselves legally before presenting their doctored footage of Justice Omega’s assault and the later follow up attack.”
“So your position is that the US footage is in fact the fake video, not the earlier footage you released for Arachnos?”, Ima questioned.
“Absolutely.”, Major Arachnos said firmly. “Think about it…” “The US has spy satellites watching the entire world.” “Never mind those F22s and other US planes carry video cameras to show off the destruction they cause around the world.” “Every moment of their last few wars has been broadcast live all across the globe via cable news.”
Major Arachnos took a dramatic pause, allowing his point to sink in. “Yet, we’re expected to believe that they couldn’t come up with ANY form of proof they were innocent for almost two months, and /only/ after they launched a terrorist attack on our capital?” “It’s just common sense that their story stinks to high hell.“, Major Arachnos said with dramatic flair. Then he took a calmer posture and a calm, centered tone to his voice.
“We unfortunately have no evidence, yet I have faith in the intelligence and common sense of the world’s population.” “I also strongly believe the old adage that the truth has a certain ring to it.” “Beyond that, I have only to point at the last 10 years of the United States history to help prove my case.” “This is a country that almost half of its own population believes was involved in some manner with the terrorist attacks in New York.” “It’s a country that regularly starts wars with other nations strictly to steal and control their national resources.” “Sometimes just to bully other nations into doing things the way they want.” “Name me one war they’ve been involved in since World War 2 where their national safety or sovereignty was truly and clearly threatened.”
“Well…” Ima started, “Some would say that…”
“Oh of course some would say…”. Major Arachnos cut her off. “Some people are blind patriots no matter what their country may do, and the US always comes up with enough shady evidence to justify their aggression.”
“That charge has been leveled by several sources around the globe.”, remarked Ima Payne. “And while you did address the question of credibility, we are getting off track from recent events.”
“Of course…”, said Major Arachnos with a polite smile. “Let’s continue with the important matter at hand.”
Ima spoke, trying to give the appearance of taking control of the interview. “So you said there was a second incident that precipitated the events in Paragon City?”
“Yes there was.” Major Arachnos said in a grim tone. “This one sadly even more serious in terms of the harm it did to the world at large.”
“What are you saying?”, Ima said in a serious tone.
“A few days ago, one of our medical research facilities was raided and heavily damaged by yet another American terrorist attack.”, Major Arachnos said in a serious tone. “That facility, run by our most brilliant researcher, Doctor Aeon, was developing a cure for the H1N1 flu that has the world so scared lately.” “And yes, I said cure not vaccine.” “That cure was going to be distributed worldwide by our government in order to ease the suffering of the world and demonstrate the good will of Arachnos towards the world.” Major Arachnos again paused and took a more angry tone and posture. “Of course, that would have deprived US pharmaceutical mega-corporations of billions in profits they stood to make on shoddy vaccines.” “So, in comes their metahuman hitmen to steal the treatment and destroy our facility.”
The camera again cuts away from the anchor desk and shows doctored footage of Shama’s mission to raid one of Dr. Aeon’s labs. The doctored footage seems to match Major Arachnos’s recount of events completely.
“That is one ruthless, hardball playing, manipulative son of a bitch.”, Miss Parks said with an admiring smirk. “I like his style.”
Marcone only smiled glibly, seeing that perhaps there was light at the end of the tunnel.
After the doctored footage of Shama’s team (made to look like unknown metahumans wearing US covert ops uniforms), finishes, the camera again returns to the GNN news studio.
“I’m… stunned.”, Ima Payne manages to get out.
“So am I.”, replies Major Arachnos glibly. “All of that apparently carried out by another US government black ops team to protect the interests of the mega-corporations that essentially own and control that government.”
“You say apparently, so I assume you have no concrete evidence of this?”, Ima asks.
“Again, no direct evidence beyond the footage you see.”, Major Arachnos replied. “Those kind of thugs aren’t known for leaving a great deal of evidence behind.” “Crimes all come down to motive, means and opportunity however, right?” “Means and opportunity you see right before you on tape, so the only question remains, WHO had motive to deprive the world of a treatment for a global pandemic?”
“Who indeed…”, commented Ima in a somewhat accusing tone.
“Sadly that raid set our research back 3 years also.”, Major Arachnos said in a grim tone. “I shudder to think of the consequences that MAY have for the world.”
Ima looks in silence at the camera with an “end of the world” look on her face. After a few moments she finally speaks again. “So how exactly do these events tie into the situation in Paragon City?” “Was this some sort of reprisal, or…?”
“No, of course not.”, Major Arachnos said. “At least it didn’t start out that way.” “Our two operatives were sent in to try to recover our missing medical research, which was sources said was hidden in Paragon somewhere.” “This was ONLY done after efforts at a diplomatic resolution with the United States were completely rebuffed.” “We’re a small country made up of a few small islands.” “Acts like this risk provoking an outright war, and we’d be very hard pressed to survive a full scale war with a bully superpower.” “We felt the greater good to the poor people of the world justified an attempt to recover the research though.” “It would have been ignoble and cowardly to do nothing to help people if we had it in our power.”
“But all the wholesale destruction…”, Ima interjected.
“First, the destruction has been exaggerated to some degree by the media at large.”, Major Arachnos replied. “Everything is about sensationalism and ratings, so they take the absolute worst scenes and make that appear as if it ALL looks that way.” “Secondly, our agents were attacked en masse by law enforcement and paramilitary forces.” “They acted to defend themselves only.” “While Arachnos deeply regrets the civilian injuries that occurred, those were relatively few and directly caused by the recklessness and gross negligence of those who attacked our agents.” “The agents we sent in were forced to defended themselves against overwhelming odds while racing across hostile territory.” “What truly is disgusting is NOT that they fought with valor against overwhelming numbers, but the way the government media complex in the U.S. used bad camera angles, quick cut and patch video editing and maybe even outright doctored footage to make this look like senseless slaughter instead of a humanitarian mission gone bad.”
“I see…”, Ima said.
“All the more tragic since it ALL could have been prevented by the U.S. simply being willing to negotiate on the return of our vital medical research.”, Major Arachnos added.
“Very serious allegations, Major”, Ima replied.
“Indeed they are, but this is a VERY serious situation.”, Major Arachnos responded. “And while Arachnos greatly regrets that the situation escalated so dramatically, we also feel we’ve been pushed into a corner after years of U.S. aggression.” “We have the right to self determination, and for our citizens to be able to sleep peacefully at night instead of worrying if some U.S. ‘hero’ is going to come destroy their home or neighborhood.” “The right for our children to grow up happy, feeling safe and secure instead of living in terror.”
Major Arachnos paused for effect again, then continued. “We believe in diplomacy and civilized resolutions to differences.” “This is why I worked with the United Nations last year for justice after we were attacked.” “The US, of course, ignored the will of the international community and international law and responded with the kind of needless and pointless aggression they’re known for.” “Then they responded with treachery and lies to boot, ensuring our only avenue for international justice was denied to us.” “I can only hope the fallout from this unfortunate situation will again alert the world to our plight and force the United States to respect our sovereignty.”
“Thank you, Major Arachnos.”, Ima Payne said. “This is Ima Payne with GNN News and we’ll return after these messages.”
With the interview over, the TV cuts to black for half a second then goes to a commercial for laundry detergent.
Major Arachnos strutted back into the B.A.D. control center with a huge smug look on his face. Seeing the look on the others faces he laughed briefly. “Was that great or what?” “They ate it up, not that GNN has ever been a hard sell.”
“The true question is, will the public buy it?”, Marcone remarked in her usual cold, flat tone.
“Pfeh, the public is a bunch of braindead idiots who can’t read beyond a paragraph and pays more attention to American Idol than their own government.”, Major Arachnos responded in his typical smug tone. “People in Paragon City will be less likely to buy it, with the hero worship they have.” “It’ll sell even there to a degree however.” “Outside Paragon, it’ll sell enough to sow seeds of doubt and turn some of the population back to our side.” “The big bang for our buck comes outside the U.S. particularly in countries that are anti-U.S. to begin with.” “We’ll have most of the U.N. eating out of our hands in no time.” Major Arachnos snickered, proud of his handiwork.
“So it would seem.”, Marcone replied.
“The only way I could have made it better would have been to get a few bums off the street from Mercy and put them on camera talking about how horrible it is they lost their job and can’t feed their families after the lab was totaled”, Major Arachnos said. “Which I think I’ll look into for round two of this little game.”, he added with a cold chuckle. “That footage is solid, right kid?”
“Yeah,”, Cyber Oni replied “all digital so it’s harder to detect than editing analog footage, and I checked for ANY proof of editing five times.” “They’ll never prove satisfactorily that it’s edited no matter how much they howl.”
“Sweet.”, Major Recluse replied. Then he turned to Arachnid Woman with a smirk. “So did you learn anything, Princess?”
“I have had ENOUGH of your insolence! I’m going to…”, Arachnid Woman started, with a look of rage in her eyes.
“You’re going to nothing, Princess.”, Major Archnos snapped back in a stern tone. “Let’s clear the air here for you.” “If Lord Recluse wanted me gone, It would have happened already.” “There’s a reason I’m still around, so you’d better think about that one.” “That’s even more true now that I had to bail your tight little butt out of the mess YOU created.” “Your daddy needs me around to clean up that mess, so not only am I more valuable than you right now, but you owe me too.” “Never mind I’m getting sick of people threatening me and forgetting *I* am Project Warstrike.” Major Arachnos hit the reinforced steel wall with an energized fist that left a 1 foot deep dent in it. “I’m more than capable of taking care of myself with more than words.” Major Arachnos flashed a smarmy smile. “Still, Princess, If you want to be a good girl and thank me properly later, I’ll be in my room.”
Arachnid Woman only stood there gawking, shocked by Major Arachnos audacity as he walked off.
“It’s good to be the master…”, Major Arachnos chuckled to himself as he strutted off in his designer suit
Pingback: My Take on Writing a Thinking Villain | Silk Cords