2020-04-25 - That's Not the Book Drop


Four goons, one library door, two Spiders, a little scuffle, and a lot of questions.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Apr 25 00:00:00 2020
Location: {$location}

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New York may be the city that never sleeps, but the people who live and work there still need their time off from whatever they do. By the time it's ten or eleven at night, 'evening' has generally given way to actual nighttime by most standards, and what activity you still find in Soho tends to be centered more around bars, restaurants, and theaters than, for instance, the public library.

Which is exactly why the sight of a handful of dark-clad men clustered around a side door of the New York Public Library's main branch is a sufficiently out-of-place sight, at this time of night, for a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to end his last swing clinging to a wall overlooking the door in question, even going so far as to secure up a compact camera where it can snap a few photos of whatever might happen down there.

Rather than diving in, though, Spidey picks his way down the wall a little ways, trying not to cast any shadows which might draw the men's attention upwards. He's curious what they're up to, and if they actually force entry, it'll be easy enough to slip in behind them.

Wether on purpose or by design, Peter isn't the only Spider who happens to be right around here, right about now. Gwen Stacy may've patrolled a completely different neighborhood this evening, but now here she is, closing in on more or less the same spot. She swings around a corner, gathering speed, and might've been about to just keep going when she spots two things; first, that's Peter sticking to that wall, and second, that's some bad looking people down below, who looks like they're up to no good.

Well, technically they're just loitering right now, but that could change. It usually changes.

The Spider-Woman releases her webline and fires a fresh one, changing course a couple of times so she can reach the wall beside Peter at the apex of her swing and just… reach out and grab it, much like Jack Sparrow stepping off a sinking ship and onto the dock, without risking a noisy impact.

"Evening," She greets, popping an upside-down thumbs up. "And here I thought it was gonna be a dry night. How's stuff?"

"Evening, Spider-Woman," Spider-Man replies, as casually as if they'd met in the hall between classes rather than a few stories up the side of the city's central library. He returns the thumbs-upside-down, though, and he's probably grinning under his mask. "Nothing much, just seeing what those guys are up to. I don't think they're dropping off returned books, though; the drop-off for that is around front …"

Conversation notwithstanding, he's still watching the group - four total, all men, all Caucasian at a quick glance. Plain old vanilla humans, from the look of things, not even sporting advanced technology where the Spiders can see it.

Gwen is almost certainly grinning, likewise beneath her mask. She tilts her gaze downwards, watching the four rather vanilla looking dudes doing… whatever it is that they're doing, it's a little hard to tell from up here. "Remind me to start packing a set of binoculars," she comments, tugging on one of the straps for her knapsack, which rather disappointingly doesn't have any binoculars in it.

"They look pretty boring, though. Just four regular dudes? I mean, looks cab be deceiving, but… don't they know there's super heroes around here? I feel like they should know." She moves to one side, placing her hands and feet deliberately so she can drop down without being in Spider-Man's space while she's at it. "And seriously, who robs… the library? I didn't think there was much black market on used books? At least, not outside of university students."

Peter can't help but snort at that last bit, but he muffles his mirth. "Depends what they're after. Some of the books here are worth a *lot* to collectors; the library's security systems aren't just to justify late fees …"

The quartet of ordinary-looking guys have gone from investigating the door to dividing their attention; three of them are looking out in different directions while the fourth has pulled out an electronic doohickey and is doing *some*thing to the door. There's no visible handle on the door's outside, so it's likely a fire exit.

"Shall we break up their party?" Spider-Man wonders, sidling a bit further away from Gwen, apparently setting up a pincer for their vertical surprise.

"Well, I guess there's that," Gwen acknowledges. "I wonder if I could convince them the chemistry textbook I have with me is what they really need?" Probably not; it's… not exactly in prime condition. Gwen crawls a couple of feet down the building, and glances sideways to give an upside-down nod of approval. "Definitely," she agrees. "I'll distract the lookouts, you boot the guy trying to get in and then help me out?"

Gwen crawls down another couple of feet, still moving slowly and deliberately; and then she jumps, leaping off the side of the building and executing a graceful swan dive. She plummets as far as she dares, firing a webline to slow her decent at the last minute, just to make sure her landing is one hell of an entrance and not, like, two broken ankles.

"Hi!" she greets, dusting herself off as she straightens, right beside two of the men. "Look, I'm no expert, but it looks like you boys are up to no good, so please just stop trying to rob the public library and wait for the cops to get here, alrighty? You can be arrested or be arrested with a whole lotta bruises, I don't mind either way."

"What the hell - ?!"

Yep, Spider-Woman got their attention all right, no question there. All four of them, in fact - and three of them are pulling out collapsible batons of some kind. The one closest to the door gets back to work, but he's scrambling now, and muttering curses as he starts making mistakes. A lot of them, judging from the intensity of his grumbling.

Spider-Man drops in a few seconds later, but it's long enough that Gwen may have to defend herself a little while she's the center of three goons' attention.

The batons come out, and Gwen oohs, lifting both hands up in front of her chin. "Oh! Oh, you've got sticks! Sticks I say. You wouldn't seriously hit a girl, would you? I mean, that'd just be—"

One of the men yells and swings his baton in a wide arc, followed up by a second one. "She's one of those damn Spiders!" announces the third, as he's trying to edge his way around. "Don't hold back nothin', just beat her up!"

Gwen ducks the first swipe and side-steps the second one, taking a single step backwards but not giving anymore ground. "Aww honey," she replies, before plucking the baton out of the hands of the first one. She flips it around to hold the handle instead of the business end, and uses it to block the next couple of attacks that come in. "Remember what I said about bruises? No? Ahh well." She ducks the next swing, and just whirls around, following her own momentum and kicking the guy quite solidly in the stomach.

"Such language," Spider-Man chimes in, casually bobbing and weaving his own assailant until he can yoink the baton out of the goon's hand, same as Gwen did with hers. "If I'd brought my soap, I'd scrub your mouths out, but since we're all in a hurry -"

The disarmed thug has resorted to trying to punch Spidey, which leads directly to taking himself out of the fight thanks to a poorly-aimed haymaker, a well-aimed splat of webfluid, and a precisely-timed leap, in conjunction with the wall which was behind Spider-Man at that precise moment. Another web as Spidey descends anchors the goon's other hand next to the first. "Guess you guys need to wear gloves, too," is the web-swinger's nonchalant assessment.

The last baton goon apparently decides that this just isn't his night, and is already running (as if he can get away from a suitably motivated Spider-Hero). That leaves the dude with the doodad, *still* jabbing at buttons (yep, actual physical *buttons*) as he tries to finish what he'd started … and then the device buzzes sharply, a red LED lighting up.

"Awwwwww *hell*," groans the tech goon, turning and trying to run.

"Nope!" declares Gwen as the third goon tries to make a run for it. She snags his ankle with a well timed bit of webbing, and yoinks him right off his feet. She's half-way done pulling him back across the pavement, when the techie goon is busy trying to make a run for it, away from his own doodad.

"Wait, is that a bomb?" she inquires, firing a couple blobs of webbing to stick the last baton goon's hands to the pavement, and reaching out to sieze the techie's wrist with one hand, just to make running off a little more challenging. "You built in a way to disarm it, right? I hope you did. You also hope you did."

While she's busy talking up a good game, her heart rate has definitely picked up, even if her danger-sense hasn't started screaming yet. That's a good sign, right? Right? "Hey, Spidey, is there a countdown on that?"

"Of course it's not a bomb!!" the tech goon protests. And no, there's no countdown - Gwen can probably see it for herself if she tries to look. Just a keypad (not quite numeric, but not entirely alphanumeric either, just 0-9 and the first six letters) and an LED display of gibberish. "Who'd try to break into the —"

He abruptly clams up. "Look, we didn't do anything wrong, okay? It's not like we actually broke in, so you two heroes did your job, you thwarted a crime. Just let us go, all right?"

Spider-Man glances around at the disabled goons, then over at Spider-Woman's captive. "Last time I checked, 'attempted' crimes can still get you criminal charges. We can let the cops sort out the details, but if you feel like talking to a friendly neighborhood super-hero instead … ?"

That doesn't seem to be quite convincing enough to the goon, even though he's stopped trying to break free from Spider-Woman's grip on his wrist.

Gwen squints at the machine, and sidles up to it, pulling the techie along with her. "Not a bomb, hunh? Alright, well, that was a good choice. Look at you! Not making bombs and stuff. There's hope for you yet." She holds the guy's hand up against the wall next to the device and webs it in place there, being good and liberal with the webbing. With that done, she plants hands on hips, and nods towards Spider-Man.

"Probably better listen to him," she suggests. "See, I'm no expert, but it's been my experience that when you dangle someone off the side of a building, it doesn't matter how certain they are that we won't drop 'em, they generally talk. So, we could go to all that trouble, or you could just… y'know, talk."

The Spider-Woman folds her arms across her chest, and gazes meaningfully upwards, then back to the techie. "That's… a lot of building we'd have to carry you up, too, so…? Can we please do this the easy way? Pretty please?"

"You superheroes got cobwebs for brains," snarls one of the ex-baton-wielders. (Baton ex-wielders?) "You don't know who we might be workin' for, you don't know what we're after …"

"Yeah, that's kinda why we're asking questions," Spider-Man points out. "I mean, sure, we stopped you from getting through this door - but even if that gadget *isn't* a bomb, that kind of begs the question of what it *is* meant to do. Smart money's on 'getting inside through a door that shouldn't let you do that' …"

He pauses, taking a look at the doohickey for himself. "Yeah, the cops will be *really* interested in taking this thing apart and figuring out what it does. But hey, if you'll talk more easily when the ground isn't such a comforting and close presence … eenie meenie miney moe …"

He actually 'counts' back and forth between the goons, then scoops up one that wasn't webbed to the wall. "How many floors up do you think before he spills?" Spidey casually asks his white-and-black-costumed partner-in-crimefighting. "Hey, stop squirming so much, I might drop you!"

"We're trying to get a book!!" the scooped-up goon yells, struggling under Spider-Man's arm. "One that's not available for the public! There, you happy now?!"

Gwen crouches and leaps, jumping straight up to the wall beside Peter, where she crouches on the side of the building and peers at the goon as he spills the beans. Well…

"Ooooh, Spider Man, they came to the Library to get a Book," she gasps, holding both fists up to her mouth. "The fiends! Truely this is a diabolical plan that knows no bounds. Devious. Insidious. Who ever would have worked that one out on their own?" She reaches over, putting forefinger to thumb and casually flicking the underside of the man's nose.

"C'mon you dorkwad. You don't honestly think we hadn't worked that much out on our own, do you?" She sighs, and shakes her head, looking sideways at Peter once more. "Come on, Spider-Man, I think we need to go at least two floors higher with Captain Obvious here. Seriously," she looks back to the goon, "On a need to know basis you really need us to know."

"There's an awful lot of books in the library," Spider-Man observes. "So yeah, we *do* need you to be a bit more specific. Even the private collections that are off-limits to most people are pretty big."

"We only know where it's supposed to be and what it looks like," the goon grouses. At least he's stopped trying to thrash around - possibly because Spider-Man is still ascending, possibly because now *both* of the Spiders are focused on him. "It's in German, sixteenth century. Supposed to be by a Papa Celsius or somebody."

"See? Those are details," Spider-Man says. "We need more of those."

"Reeeeaaaaaally," drawls Gwen, drawing out every letter as much as possible in that single word. "Papa Celsius? I feel like you're mispronouncing that on purpose. Do you think maybe you could be a little more accurate with that?" As she speaks, she produces her cellphone, using it with one hand as she continues climbing with the other.

Of course, she's googling 16th century German books by… Papa Celsius, mainly to see if Google can manage to correct the name for her.

"Please be generous with the details," she continues. "I mean, I'd known Spidey here for a long time, and when he gets frustrated he turns into a total clutz, so you probably don't want that to happen. See, me, I'm just ditzy, and I might get so absorbed in googling the silly things you say that I forget to catch you. …Tell us more about your employer, too? That'd be great."

"You might be giving this guy a little too much credit," Spider-Man points out to Spider-Woman, even as he's busy spinning a nice little web-cocoon to keep his passenger warm and cozy and restrained. Oh, and it'll be easier to hang onto by a nice sturdy 'rope' of webbing than keeping the whole of the goon's body under his arm. "'Papa Cel…' - the real name wouldn't happen to be Paracelsus, would it?"

"Damned if I know," says the goon. "Sounds right. And we were hired by a 'professional middleman,' that's how he described himself. Didn't give his name, just said the book's valuable, and there's a finder's fee for whoever can get it to him. Said there's already bids for it."

"Paracelsus sounds about right," Gwen acknowledges. "And he's Swiss, not German. He was thought to be an alchemist in his time — don't think he ever managed to turn lead into gold or anything though — but he is recognized as the father of modern toxicology." And in exactly two sentences, Gwen puts how much of a nerd she is on full display.

"So… question, then, is what your buyer wants with a forbidden book written by Swiss alchemist who specialized in toxic substances?"

Gwen puts her phone away again, and maintains pace, looking sideways at the man under interogation. "So… think we'll settle for how you were supposed to deliver the book, then? I mean I believe that your guy didn't give his name, but there must've been instructions on what to do with the book once you got it."

The goon is slower to respond, mostly because his attention is on the gradually receding ground. "I … look, can we finish talking on the ground or something? Please? We're supposed to let him know we *have* it and he'd arrange payment and delivery after that. Gotta send photos of the book's front and back, and of some of the pages inside it, to one of those free e-mail addresses. Please just take me back down!!!"

Spider-Man winces a bit at the goon's tone of voice. "See, you should have told us sooner if you were afraid of heights … just don't hold anything back, or we're going up allllll over again." He glances over at Gwen, shrugging with his free shoulder. "Not even four stories."

Gwen looks at the guy, and sighs softly. "Lightweight," she grumbles. "I mean, you guys looked like professionals at first, but then you didn't have anything but batons and you spilled the beans at only four stories, out of… a lot more than four. How tall is this building again?"

She reverses course, and starts crawling back downwards; head first, which would be likely cause a seriously upset stomach to anyone who's not, well, a Spider. On the way down she's got her phone out again, reporting to 911 that a couple of daring, brave, and physically gorgeous Spider-folk had just interupted the dasterdly doings of the doers of no good.

As luck would have it, the cops who show up are of the non-arachnaphobic sort; even though one of them can't resist making a light-hearted comment about vigilantes.

With the four misbehaved boys on their way to jail (or at least a long night), Gwen stands with hands planted on hips, looking at the spot where the gadget was planted on the wall. (The police took it, of course.)

"Whelp," she declares, "I guess we'd better keep an eye on the place on a nightly basis, at least until someone more… competent gives this a try."

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