Peter Parker and Tabitha Lyght became immediate friends. They met a few times a week for a bite to eat and discussed his love life, her sculptures and random things. He learned more about the family that was immortalized in iron and she learned about the elusive Mary Jane, the love of his life. He had a chance to tell her about his feelings before but delayed on it; she had ended up in his good friend’s arms. She was single once more and Tabitha tried to push him into finally telling her his true feelings.
She was surprised to see that someone else was sitting with Peter in their favorite seat at the diner. All she could see was fiery red locks and immediately smirked; this was the infamous Mary Jane or MJ as Peter lovingly called her. Her smile widened when she realized how close they were sitting; he finally did it, she thought as she approached the table.
“Oh; what’s all this? Cheating on me, P?” she kept her smile and winked at him. Mary Jane looked at him with concern as he turned a slight shade of red and laughed.
“Quit it before she thinks you’re serious!” he warned her. Tabitha laughed and stuck her hand out at Mary Jane.
“Just jokes; geez! Anyway! I finally get to meet MJ! I’m Tabitha.” she said and the two shook hands.
“Oh! It’s nice to finally meet you as well! So, you’re ‘Tabby Cat’: the flamboyant artist!” she said as Tabitha sat down. She gave Peter a look.
“You think I’m flamboyant…?”
“In a good way; you should know that by now!”
The three ate and chatted like old friends for at least two hours straight, ignoring the warning glares from the owner. The two women found each other interesting and Peter was glad that they liked each other. The woman who wore a t-shirt as a head wrap was slowly becoming his best friend; it was important to him that she got along with his new girlfriend.
Tabitha slightly glanced out the window only to be greeted by yet another blaring police siren. She watched as it tried to make its way through the chaos of traffic, almost running over a pedestrian. She shook her head.
“Call me a country bumpkin all you want; I still can’t get used to this mess! So much crime here…” she pointed out. Mary Jane could only shrug.
“You’ll eventually get used to it. Besides, it’s not all that bad anymore.”
“That’s right; she doesn’t know that we have a superhero here.” Peter pointed out. She looked at the two. Tabitha had heard of superheroes but she did her best to ignore it. There were no specific superheroes around in Chattanooga or maybe even the whole state of Tennessee for that matter. She always had left the talk of superheroes to the younger children.
“You mean to tell me that you don’t read the newspapers? What about your art segment?” Mary Jane asked. The thought made Tabitha shrug.
“Quite honestly, I don’t have time. P hands me the copy of the arts section personally and that’s it. So… what’s up with the superhero?”
“He’s called Spider-Man…” Peter started but Tabitha’s snorted laugh interrupted him, “What’s so funny?”
“That’s what the guy came up with; ‘Spider-Man’?!” she continued to laugh. Mary Jane slightly shook her head, grabbed a paper someone left on the next table and showed it to her.
“Why don’t you see for yourself?” she smiled. Tabitha’s laugh stopped short as she gazed at the front page photo.
“Oh…” an approving smile crept on her face as she studied the picture. The guy was in a full bodysuit from head to toe, lean and very muscular. A large portion of his chest, his entire head, the top of his arms and his hands were red, along with his feet; the rest of his suit was blue. The red portions of his suit carried a white web design. In the middle of his chest was a black imprint of a spider. The photo gave off the illusion that he was flying from a web however Tabitha had doubts that it was an illusion, “Damn… looking really good in that suit…” she caught herself saying.
“Never mind that he saves the day…” Peter teased her. Mary Jane giggled as Tabitha slightly blushed. She pointed to the string of web.
“That ain’t real is it?”
“Yes; hence the reason he’s called Spider-Man…” Mary Jane said.
“Shut the fuck up…” she studied the picture once more. She paid more attention to the headline this time around: “Friend or Foe”, “Huh; not very popular…” she took note. Peter shook his head.
“That’s my boss’s doing. The editor-in-chief doesn’t believe that people nowadays would want to willingly do what Spider-Man does…”
“Yeah; he’s kind of against superheroes and vigilantes.”
“Ah. Kinda hard to argue his point, though. With all these people with these powers, where does that leave the civilians? Out of a job, that’s where. It’s not fair to the police and the detectives and stuff…”
“It’s not like that with Spidey. He’s there when the police can’t be there; when they can’t fight off villains that have super powers as well. He’s… saved me… twice.” Mary Jane slightly smiled. Tabitha gave her a surprised look.
“Whoa; shut…up; you’ve actually seen him in person? Twice?!”
“He’s a real good guy, Tabitha. Pretty sure if or whenever you’re in need… you’ll see him, too.” Mary Jane smiled wider. The thought made Tabitha blush and laugh at the same time. She had forgotten just that quickly that the two had no idea who she really was… and what she was really capable of.
“This city is ginormous… there’s no way he can do this by himself. Do you think… if someone wanted to help him out, he’d let ‘em?” the idea struck her as soon as it came out of her mouth. Mary Jane gave Peter a quick look but then shrugged along with him.
“I don’t know. They’d have to have powers, of course; I don’t think it would work out with a normal person. I would also think that they wouldn’t have an alternative motive for being his sidekick.”
“… Makes sense…” Tabitha rested her chin in her hand.
She wondered why she had never thought about it until then. Why not use her mutant powers for good; why not become a superhero, herself? She was still at a deadlock as far as finding the antidote so she figured that it wouldn’t hurt to put her abilities to good use. Peter wasn’t totally clear but she wasn’t dumb; he pretty much said that Spider-Man would not reject the help of a fellow mutant. She had no other motive; she wouldn’t even want to be recognized.
It took her two weeks to come up with a design for her outfit. She was in luck that Jamila hadn’t thrown out her old ACUs and asked for her to mail them out. She altered the brown undershirt into a crop top and took in the camouflage pants to fit her more snugly. She applied her lightning ability to make them indestructible. The only thing missing was a mask. She was glad that the one thing she had learned from her mother was how to sew and make things; she crafted a cotton mask out of leftover materials similar to one she had seen one of the children’s favorite wrestler wear. She would have more time to perfect the actual design however for the moment, she just needed something to hide her face.
The professor decided to surprise Tabitha and visit her before the holiday break. She walked down the hall of the dorm and was surprised at how little it had changed since the last time she was there. She lightly knocked on the door and was somewhat confused when it was opened slightly.
“Doc!!” it was Tabitha, alright but she had on some sort of mask. Jamila tilted her head.
“Are you alone?”
“… Yeah. Tabs, wha…” she was about to ask but was immediately pulled inside the room. She almost dropped the gifts she was bearing and carefully put them on a bed, “What the hell?! What’s…” she turned around and saw that Tabitha was dressed in some sort of costume. The ACU pants that had been sent to her were altered to fit tightly on her and the brown undershirt was now exposing a very slim waist and tight stomach. She wasn’t wearing her patented t-shirt head wrap; in its place was a mask that stopped short at her jawline. Her snow-white hair flowed past her shoulders as she smiled. Jamila stifled a snort, “A little late for Halloween?” she tried not to laugh. It only made the young woman huff.
“You don’t like it?”
“What… or who are you supposed to be…?”
“A super… it’s a super heroine in your case but…”
“Nah; sounds too much like the drug!” she shook her head. The professor finally laughed a little.
“Okay, seriously; what’s the occasion? Was I supposed to come dressed up, too? We got time to go look for a costume for me…?”
“Oh, my God; doc! This is for real!”
“… Wait… really?” she asked and sat down on the bed.
“Yes, really! A few weeks ago, I had an epitome…”
“You mean, an epiphany?”
“Whatever! So, there’s this superhero named Spider-Man…”
“You’ve seen him?” Jamila perked up. Tabitha blinked a couple of times at the professor.
“You know of him?”
“I’m a mother of a set of five year old triplets; superheroes are their life!”
“So, what about him?”
“Well… I was gonna go through this whole speech about how he helps the city out… but you already know that, I guess. Anyway; he can’t do it by himself. He needs a sidekick!”
“Ah! You’re his new sidekick?! That is sick!” she looked at her. Tabitha shrugged and untied her mask, flinging it on her bed.
“Yeah… about that… I’ve actually never seen him in person. But…” she saw the look her friend gave her and sat down beside her, “I know I can help him! I have powers, too. And… I wanna use ‘em for good.”
“Tabs… this ain’t no comic book; you could seriously get hurt…”
“I know, I know. But… the last time I felt like this, I joined the Army. I know I can do this; getting hurt is a risk I’m willing to take. Besides… ain’t much that can hurt me, right now!” she winked at Jamila. The woman could only sigh; she knew she was right. Tabitha was faster and stronger than a regular human; the fact that she could shoot lightning at will was a plus as well!
“I guess… if he sees you falling, he can shoot a web out and catch you or something…” she noted. Tabitha almost squealed and gave her a huge hug, “Merry Christmas!”
To show her support, Jamila went out and retrieved staff sergeant insignia patches for Tabitha to sew on the sides of her sleeves; she knew that it wasn’t the best looking outfit but for her very first try, it wasn’t bad at all. The professor told her that if she ended up liking the “job” in the long run, the two would get together and design a better outfit for her.
She had to wait until her roommate was fast asleep before she started on her very first patrol. She had to admit that she was really nervous; it would be the first time that she officially went out during the night in New York. Regardless, she had huge expectations… that had failed to be met during her first patrol! She had forgotten to take in consideration that she couldn’t fly; Tabitha had to do her patrol by foot, lurking in the shadows. The only good thing that came from her first night was that she thwarted a possible car theft; she didn’t even have to touch the guy: all he needed to run away was a quick show of what she could do to him!
It wasn’t enough to deter her, however. It actually made her more determined to discover another way to use her powers. That meant a full schedule mixed with studying, practicing lightning techniques and patrolling the streets of New York every other night. The more she stuck to it, the more she realized that she just needed to get back in shape. Before long, because of her increased speed and stamina, the patrols on foot stopped bothering her as much.
It was a Friday night and that excited Tabitha. While she had yet to see the webbed crusader, she took a little pride in knowing that she was doing her part as far as stopping crime. For some reason, criminals were prone to committing more crimes over the weekend, especially on a Friday night; it meant a good night for her as well as a well-deserved rest the next day!
That night, she finally made her way towards the docks near Central Park. She was having a decent night and had actually decided to take a small break. She had climbed on top of one of the shipping containers and studied her surroundings. Sudden footsteps made her glad that she had chosen a container where she wouldn’t be noticed. She laid down on her stomach regardless and watched the action unfold.
She was shocked to see a small group of what looked like high school teens approach another container that was closer to the docks. The fact that they were indeed attempting to go inside the container and take its contents wasn’t what shocked her; nor was it that none of them looked older than sixteen. It was their hair. Each one had a different style but they all had one thing in common: their hair was white… the exact same snow-white as hers.
She listened as the kid who was trying to cut the lock off became frustrated, stating that they just needed to wait until “Alpha” showed up; he would open the container for them. No sooner had he mentioned it, an older man appeared. He seemed to be grumbling to the youngsters as he snapped the lock off with bolt cutters. She couldn’t shake the fact that his demeanor was so familiar to her.
She shook the thought away and reminded herself that she was a superhero, now; she had to stop them from stealing whatever was in the container. She jumped down from her hiding spot, startling the group. When his hazel eyes met hers, it paralyzed her. She could see him clearly now; the distinctive, sharp features, the salt and pepper buzz cut, the way he towered over the teens and herself: “Alpha” was none other than General Gary First.
Seeing him somehow caused the familiar pins and needles feeling erupt throughout her body; she narrowed her eyes and went after him, no questions asked. Before she could get to him, the abrupt pain from being electrocuted made her stumble to the ground. When she looked up, she saw that the kids, six of them, were approaching her… charging up their own powers.
Not wanting to be caught off guard again, she quickly got up; just in time as the small group tried to attack her, yet again. She needed a plan; she needed to get to the general. Tabitha knew that in order to do that, she had to take care of the supercharged teens first. Six against one wasn’t fair however they probably had no idea who they were going against.
She quickly charged after one of the kids and landed a sharp kick to his face, making sure to put as much surge as normal. They were obviously immune to the lightning with the serum injected into them; Tabitha was hoping that the actual force of the kick would be enough to knock him out or at least stall him long enough for her to take care of the others.
She went after the next child, a female who had her snow-white hair braided down her back. She tackled her using all of her strength, natural and mutant, knocking her into another teen. The two landed hard against one of the steel containers. She gave her a quick hit across her face and while the other struggled to free himself from underneath her, Tabitha placed her hand on the girl’s stomach and sent an intense wave of lightning through her, knocking both unconscious. Three more to go, she thought to herself as she turned to face them.
He thought that she was just another rogue soldier that he had created and paid her little mind as his group went on the immediate attack. However, as he watched, it was obvious that she was very different from the others. He looked her over… and widened his eyes as he saw her outfit.
“Sgt. Lyght…” he half whispered as he continued to watch her fight off the group. She had grabbed one of the boys by his arm, shocked him and immediately delivered a quick jab to his throat. Another female came after her, charging up. He was surprised as Tabitha grabbed the girl’s arm and didn’t flinch when the teenager still shocked her. She only returned a more powerful surge and kicked her in the stomach, sending her flying across almost through another steel container.
Tabitha turned and glared at the general. She wasn’t worried about the last kid, seeing how easily she took care of the others. She almost smiled evilly as she saw a flicker of fear show in Gary’s eyes as she went after him. He was seconds from running away until the last teen stopped her short. He was behind her and delivered a potent current to her back, making her drop to her knees. Angered, she turned to retaliate only to be greeted by a punch to her face and a rapid series of shocks. All but one teen had recuperated and were attacking her all at once.
Gary silently sighed for relief but quickly put a smile to his face.
“Enough playing around; dispose of her quickly…” he made sure that he put a blatant emphasis on his words. There wasn’t anything she could really do as the pain from the continuous shocks outweighed the fact that she was also absorbing the blows.
“Yes, boss! Stupid bitch; let’s see how well you can swim!” one of the guys said and she was lifted off the ground. Regardless of how much she tried to shock the group, it was as if they had returned the shocks tenfold. To make matters worse, her heart was racing as they neared the edge of the docks and she was looking down at the black water. There was a reason why of all the branches of services, she had chosen the Army; at the time, they did not require a swim qualification: Tabitha could not swim.
No matter how hard she struggled, she was no match for six supercharged teens. Before she knew it, they had thrown her across into the water. Something overcame her as she saw herself getting closer and closer to hitting the water. She screamed in her mind; this was not how things were supposed to end. She had powers; she was stronger and faster: there was no way that this super heroine was going to go out by drowning!
She thought that she would just flail her arms and legs, luck up and doggie paddle to safety. Or better yet, try to run, she thought foolishly. She closed her eyes and before she could stop herself, her body indeed tried to run away from the water. She held her breath, braced herself to feel the icy water engulf her body. Something wasn’t right; she hadn’t heard the “swoosh” she expected to hear or even felt anything wet on her. I’m already dead; I died before I hit the water, she slightly panicked. Tabitha opened her eyes… and saw that she was on the safety of a muddy bank. She turned to look at her surroundings and saw that the docks were at least fifty feet away. The teens and Gary all looked over at her in utter surprise.
“Holy shit! Boss; did you see what she just did?!” she heard one of them exclaim. Not wanting them to follow her, she tried her luck and attempted the feat again; she concentrated and pushed all of her energy into running away… and disappeared from their sight.
“She’s not one of us, is she, boss?” another teen asked Gary. He slowly started to smile.
“Out-fucking-standing, sergeant…” he mumbled. He turned his attention back to his group, “Soldiers, we have a new mission. Unload the container and I’ll debrief you.”
She took a shaky breath as she got back to her room and quickly changed. She thought that she would be dog-tired, ready to hide deep in her covers and not come back out until Monday. The small brush of death however, had revitalized her. It had taken her fifteen minutes to walk from the dorms to the docks; with her new ability, she was back at the dorms in fifteen seconds!
It was enough to make her smile widely. Tabitha Lyght didn’t need to learn how to fly: she was literally lightning fast. It was a weird feeling, enough to make her slightly dizzy and confused. However, with practice, she knew that just as she had gotten used to the pins and needles feeling, she would get over the other feeling. She took a note of what all she had gained due to that mutant strand fighting her normal DNA strand: she could weld any metal, she could make fabrics indestructible, she could throw out lightning at will… and now she could run as fast as lightning. Maybe being a mutant isn’t as bad as I thought, she continued to smile.
It soon faded as the picture of the man who was responsible for the way she was came to mind. Gary First; no, he was Alpha, now. She wondered how he had gotten out of stockade. If he ever even went, she angrily thought. And if it wasn’t bad enough to had turned her best friend into a freak of nature, now he was injecting kids with that serum. She sadly admitted that the current batch was slightly better; they had lasted longer than Tony had and looked as though they still had more to dish out. Their lightning was more potent than his as well, she shuddered.
Maybe now she didn’t have to worry about the whole ordeal; she had escaped by using her new ability. From the looks of their faces, they weren’t able to do it; if they had, they would’ve given chase. She was safe at the moment but knew that she had to be prepared to see them again, especially seeing that she didn’t want to stop being a super heroine. She made a promise to herself as her eyelids started to get heavy: she would settle things once and for all if she ever saw Alpha again.
It was too cold to study at her usual spot by the fountain so Peter found Tabitha in the cafeteria, eating a bagged lunch. He gave her a look but sat down beside her.
“You made your own lunch?”
“I’m on a diet, remember?”
“A diet? For what?!” he couldn’t help looking at her slim and toned frame. She playfully poked at her stomach.
“You see that flabby stuff? It’s got to go!” she said. He sighed and laughed. He handed her The Daily Bugle; he knew that she was steadily looking for somewhere to stay and promised he would at least provide her the paper so that she could look.
She smiled and was about to go to the classifieds until another article caught her eye.
“Yeah. It’s about a lot of robberies that happened.”
“Typical.” Peter shrugged. She continued to scan the article.
“‘The suspects are believed to be high school-aged children with phenomenal lightning powers. Police are asking those who witness any suspicious behavior involving any white-haired teens to report it immediately’. What?” she looked at Peter. Of course, she knew who the “white-haired” kids were; at least she knew who was responsible for them.
“Looks like more people with powers causing trouble, again…”
“I don’t like the sound of this.”
“It tends to happen every now and then. This is a bit different, though.”
“Yeah. It’s usually only one or two villains causing trouble for Spider-Man… not a whole group. I hope he can handle this…” he had a surprising look of worry on his face. She smirked at him.
“Didn’t think you were a superhero fan, ‘specially seeing that the guy’s saved MJ twice…” she teased.
“What can I say; it’s a guilty pleasure of mine! To be honest? I think I’m his biggest.”
“What; you got Spider-Man underwear or something? Got pictures of him on your wall?” she continued her teasing. Peter laughed and lightly pushed her.
“Someone saves the one that you love twice and tell me you wouldn’t be a fan!”
“I’d be mighty suspicious of why my significant other is always getting into trouble like that…”
“Of course.” he sighed, “Anyway! I have to cancel our dinner plans for tonight.”
“Midterms.” she said along with him and the two lightly laughed, “No probs. I gotta do the same; chemistry’s kicking my ass!” she lied.
“Come by Aunt May’s tomorrow; she’s really been asking about you.”
“Really? Guess it’s a date!” she winked at him. Peter got up to leave.
“See you, then.”
“Looking forward to it. Later, P.”
She couldn’t tell him the truth about her moonlighting as a superhero; not yet, anyway. It wasn’t a trust issue with him; he was the nicest person she had met in the city. She just didn’t know how he would handle being good friends with a super heroine. In the meantime, she pushed that thought aside as she used her new ability (she decided to name it Lightning Cloud) to patrol the city. She kept a watchful eye out for any of the white-haired children and their leader; she didn’t want to get outsmarted by them, again.
Tabitha looked up at one building and decided to experiment. Lightning Cloud could carry her across water, no problem; she wondered if it would be able to carry her upwards. She was amazed that within seconds, she was on the rooftop… and a few feet away from the one and only Spider-Man. He perked up and turned suddenly, looking at her. She was in too much shock to move; she simply stood there and stared as if meeting a celebrity.
“Spider-Man…” she slightly whispered and smiled. He tilted his head slightly, studying her.
“Hmm; white hair. And let me guess; you have lightning abilities?” he asked. She lightly smiled and gave him a preview, letting the electrical currents travel all over her body before they dissipated, “Impressive. But, I see you’re different from the other ‘White Hairs’.”
“Well… you haven’t made a move to attack me. You’re the one who’s been helping me out, aren’t you?” he asked her. She blushed slightly.
“I have; thank you. Why are you helping me?” he simply asked. She shrugged.
“You’re only one… spider…” she smiled wider.
“You’re right. Seems to me that you’re a rogue ‘White Hair’; I could use your help and knowledge on handling them. Willing to join me?” he decided to not beat around the bush. Tabitha fought a hard battle with herself to keep her girlish squeal in her mind.
“Cocked, locked and ready to rock!”
“I’m… guessing that means yes! So, what do you go by?” he asked. She thought she had prepared for everything when she made the decision to go into crime fighting until that question popped up. Of all things to forget, she had forgotten the most important thing: her super heroine name!
What should she go by? The only nickname she had were the three plays on her name: Tabby, Tabby Cat and Tabs. She could do something with that but a quick look at her outfit deterred that thought. That’s when it dawned on her.
“… You can call me… Sgt. Lyght…”