Ananse’s feet landed lightly on the rooftop, sensing the arrival of the other three behind him, his eyes focused on a building with a blue light illuminating its bottom floor.
“So, what’s the plan, boss?” cooed the yellow and black clad female, her jet black hair up in an Asian-style bun. Ananse glanced at her, her facial features were hidden behind the mask, like all of their faces were, but he could tell she was still upset.
“Give me a minute, and I’ll figure it out. What can you see, Arachne?” The shorter, brown-clad female took a step to his side and pulled out a tiny pair of binoculars. She fiddled with them for bit before handing them over to Ananse and pointed at the building.
“We’ve got four men stationed on the roof and five around the base. The shade of that blue light means it’s dim, and it’s getting dimmer by the minute. Whatever they’re using the majority of the power on, it must be in the basement, and it must be big.”
“Not the project, Jorogumo, the basement itself. Based on the size and number of equipment they stole, they need four thousand square feet. That building is only about four hundred, the basement must be big.” Jorogumo let out a moan and Ananse figured she had rolled her eyes. But they didn’t have time for a quarrel, much less annoyance with his decisions of placements in the group, especially on this, their first mission without Matthew. They couldn’t afford to mess this up, especially with no genie there to break their fall.
“Joro, you’re going to have to quit that until after this is over, alright? I need everyone at their best. Iktomi, did you get the information I asked you to?” Ananse turned to the fourth member of their group who looked like a smaller version of Jorogumo but with more black on his suit and bit of red.
“Yes, the natural enemies of spiders . . .”
“Why do we need that information? We’re fofi, not just any old spider.”
Ananse turned on Jorogumo, “I know, but from what I heard, what they’re planning down there is to make a larger version of an enemy of spiders to take out us fofi more easily. Do you really want a complete annihilation of our species?” Jorogumo shook her head. “I thought not, and neither do I. Iktomi, please continue.”
Iktomi nodded, “Right, well, there’s not very many that spiders have to be particularly afraid of, I mean, the primary predators of spiders are birds, lizards, some mammals, and a few carnivorous insects, like the glowworm.”
“But, spiders eat those as well! What exactly could they use to defeat us besides more bugganes?” asked Arachne.
“Um . . . the daddy long-legs.” Ananse’s eyes widened, that wasn’t good.
“Th-the daddy long-legs?” he gulped. Iktomi nodded solemnly. That was it, they were done for. They would have needed at least another five people, or at least one genie, to take on a giant daddy long-legs, but it had to be just the four of them.
“Great, just great! No wonder why they’re so relaxed, they know we’re walking into a death trap!”
“Joro! Keep it down, please! We still have the element of surprise on our side, that might be all we need, and that’s all we’ve got. Let’s not lose our best asset at this moment.” Joro gave a soft sigh, but for the most part, stayed quiet.
“What should we do? We can’t back out now, and we don’t have Matthew with us.”
Ananse sighed, “I know, I know, I’m thinking. Just give me a sec.” His hand went to his chin as he began pacing around on the roof, what could they do? They might have ten minutes, maybe fifteen, tops, once they lost the element of surprise. At least there was one good thing, they couldn’t pull any surprises on them. No matter what, they would have to go soon if they were to have any chance at all. “Alright, here’s what we’ll do, Arachne and I will take out the four men on the roof, Joro and Iktomi will take out the five around the base. Meet us on the roof when you’re done, we’ll go down the vent. Once we’re inside the basement, Arachne will check to see how far they are with the project, if they’re not done yet, we’ll come up with a plan and act accordingly, if they are done, well . . . we’ll just have to act. If need be, I’ll distract the daddy long-legs long enough for you to disconnect everything.”
“It’s the only option, Joro has to be the one to cover you and Iktomi while the two of you get everything else stopped. Joro is the fastest, yes, but I’m the strongest, if there’s anyone here who’s got the best chance of standing up to a giant daddy long-legs alone, it’s me, alright?” Arachne turned her head to Iktomi.
Iktomi sighed, “Sorry, Arachne, he’s right, it’s the only way to do it.”
“Fine, but don’t try anything stupidly heroic.”
“This is a giant daddy long-legs we’re talking about, there’s no room for being stupid.”
“But plenty of room for being scared.”
“What? I was just trying to lighten the mood! Remember what Matthew always said? We have to be in control of our emotions if we want to do something right. So, before we go kick some buggane rear ends, let’s all take a deep breath and calm ourselves.” There were a few minutes of silence before he spoke again. “OK, I think we’re ready now to handle anything, even though we’ve now lost another asset.”
“What was that?”
“Time.” Ananse bit his lip as he turned to look at the building, Iktomi was right, time had been another asset, and they had just lost precious minutes. Why couldn’t they get themselves together and actually work as a team? He was supposed to be the leader, and he couldn’t even keep his team together, on target, and under control. What was Matthew expecting him to do, to be? He took a deep breath, there was only one thing to do now, and that was to get this mission taken care of.
“Alright guys, let’s get this over with.” The others nodded, though the girls did so curtly, before following him down to the building. The four figures swung silently on strands of silver, gold, and platinum to the building, Arachne and Ananse to the roof, Joro and Iktomi to the ground. Within a matter of minutes, the four had taken out all nine guards quickly and quietly, tying them up in webs. The next minute, Joro and Iktomi had joined Arachne and Ananse on the roof, and all four crawled down the vent. It didn’t take long before they found their way to the basement, the constant hum of the machinery the only sound to reach their alert ears.
“Alright, Joro, you go first, Iktomi will follow you, then Arachne, and finally me. And not a sound.” The others nodded, and filed out. To their surprise, not a single soul could be seen. Cautiously, they ventured forward, letting the hum of the machines guide them. When they entered the large room, their breath was taken away with surprise, astonishment, and a twinge of fear. The machines were rolling with no supervision, popping out serum after serum. Cages lined the far side of the room, each one with a daddy long-legs in a different stage of the process, the biggest, thankfully, only came up to their knees, Arachne voiced the fear that lingered in their minds.
“They’ve had time for one to grow to full size. Either they didn’t do it, or . . . or it’s somewhere . . .” The four glanced at each other, was there a larger one unaccounted for?
“Be careful,” stated Ananse as he motioned them forward. They cautiously walked into a larger room, the hum of the machines now a steady drumming that echoed off the walls. Ananse winced with the intense noise, this was a death trap, whoever put this together made absolutely sure a surprise attack was imminent. At least, they made sure the four couldn’t hear it, but they seem to forgot, or didn’t know, that fofi have a sixth sense that lets them know when they’re in danger, a sense that was going off like a siren for Ananse when he and Arachne reached the end of their wall. He glanced up and nearly froze with fear, there, tucked away in top corner, was the largest daddy long-legs Ananse had ever seen.
“A-Ananse?” whispered Arachne as the daddy long-legs slowly uncurled its spindly legs, one by one. Ananse gulped, seeing it up close, he could understand why it was also called the skull spider, that image meant death to all spiders, whether good or bad.
“Be very careful and go join Joro and Iktomi, I’ll get its attention and lead it away.”
“OK, you be careful yourself.” Ananse gave a curt nod, there was no way he was going to lose to a daddy long-legs, not after everything they had been through, and everything Matthew expected them to do. He sensed more than saw Arachne’s departure, but once he knew for sure that she was out of harm’s way did he turn his attention to the creep on the ceiling. “H-hey, you creep, wanna take on a fofi? Well, here I am, come and get me!” he shouted as he shot a platinum web in the daddy long-legs face. He jumped when the giant arthropod shrieked and wiped the web off its face, its beady eyes seemed to glare at him. “Oh snap,” he muttered, and took off running, the daddy long-legs not too far behind. “I can see why people don’t like spiders!” he shouted as he hurtled over and weaved around obstacles that his adversary was merely plowing through. I’ve got to get it outside! Ananse searched frantically for a way out, but the only one that was big enough that would allow the daddy long-legs to follow were the doors. He heaved a groan, it was the only way, but it might give him a chance. He burst through the doors and took the stairs two at a time, just keeping ahead of the daddy long-legs. He led it to the roof, where the bound guards stared at it in shock. “You see what you’ve created!” was all he got out before he was swinging off the roof, the daddy long-legs in hot pursuit. He led it from building to building, searching for some spot suitable to his needs. The abandoned junk yard came into view, that was it! Putting everything he had into his arms, he swung, leapt, and dove towards the junk yard, keeping just far enough that he could stay alive, but close enough to keep the daddy long-legs interested in him. He landed, like a cat, on the ground and went straight to the nearest pile of junk, a long tube sticking out of it. He crawled in before turning around and giving a scream, the daddy long-legs was almost on top of him.
Joro’s motions were a blur as she sliced through daddy long-legs after daddy long-legs. The instant Iktomi and Arachne tried stopping the machines, the cages all opened and an army of daddy long-legs filed out. Iktomi would pause every now and then to help his sister, sometimes switching off with Arachne so that at least one person was watching Joro’s back while they worked on turning off everything. For the most part, Joro was handling herself pretty well, sometimes slicing eight in half at a time. By the time Iktomi and Arachne had managed to turn off the machines, all of the daddy long-legs were lying in curled up heaps, dead, on the ground. The three gasped for breath, but they didn’t get long as they heard sirens racing towards the building. When the cops stormed the building, the three vigilantes were watching from the roof of another building.
“We need to find Ananse and help him with that giant daddy long-legs,” began Arachne.
“Uh, you’re a bit late thinking about it.”
“Ananse!” Arachne nearly toppled the panting figure over, the twins quickly joining her.
“OK, can you cut it out, I was nearly killed by a daddy long-legs, I don’t need you to try and kill me either,” he wheezed. The three quickly released him from their grasp.
“How did you defeat it?”
Ananse gave a little chuckle, “ I got it to squeeze in after me in one of those big tubes. It managed to get itself stuck and I just helped by filling in the gaps with webbing. I did leave some signs for the police to follow.”
Iktomi laughed, “Nice.”
“But, are you hurt?”
Ananse shook his head, “Just sore and tired. Let’s get back before I fall asleep standing up.” They nodded before following their brave leader back home for some well-deserved rest, and to be ready for their next, hair-raising adventure.