Conspiracy Theory By: Kelly Johnson © November 2003

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Disclaimer: I don't claim nor ever have claimed rights to The Incredible Hulk and other affiliations. This for pure enjoyment, and to keep away any messy legal issues.

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David was screaming again. The security consol displayed his writhing on multiple monitors as dreams wracked his sleep.

The screams rang through the halls as it grew deeper, and more threatening.

David felt the changes washing over him as he pulled against the restraints on the cot. The straps tore as his wrists bulged.

"64 and he still can't get over it." A scientist remarked, staring intently at the TV screens. Another man in a dirty lab coat came rushing into the room.

"Where's that bloody response team?"

"They're on their way, Holt." The younger scientist remarked.

"He hasn't been sedated yet?" The man bellowed as he raged out the doorway. In his room, David was fighting the transformation the best that he could. He had to admit that it wasn't bad having the effects of aging practically reversed, but the destruction and pain it caused still outweighed the positive aspects.

"Lauren!" A monstrous voice echoed down to the security room. The transformation took hold and the Hulk tugged himself free. The response team poured into the room as the Hulk tossed them all aside and ran out of the room. He was rudely greeted by a gun barrel that fired a sedative into him. The Hulk's rage flared as he bent the gun in half and threw the man down the corridor. He turned around and looked in both directions that the hallway led him. As he turned his head, the world began to spin. His eyes rolled as the guards closed in on him. The Hulk pressed his back to the cold wall and slid down it. He growled deep in his throat as Banner's soul surfaced and the tired, gentle man returned.

He sat up quietly, his eyes still white, and padded softly into the room. He looked up at one of the cameras he'd had installed in the room.

"Note: The dreams from my travels around the states still bother me, accented by the deaths of Caroline and Lauren.

"The Hulk is ever present now; I'll need to work on the cure more. The sooner I find it, the sooner this is over." David sat on the warped cot and ran his fingers through his graying hair. The dark circles under his eyes only grew, and his dream-filled sleep didn't help him.

"This is getting old." He looked at his knotted hands.

"Don't give up yet, Doctor Banner." The younger man from the security room walked in.

"Doctor Kinsler." He eyed up the shirtless Banner. Kinsler couldn't help but feel intimidated by this man. The peppery hair curled about Banner's head messily. His nervous habit of running his fingers through it didn't help much either.

"Why don't you clean up, David." Kinsler put his hand carefully on David's shoulder. "Then we can get an early start." Banner walked silently into the bathroom as Kinsler went to the laboratory. It was massive, and filled with the latest equipment the government could get its hands on.

After about half an hour David walked into the lab, flanked by six armed men.

"Good morning, Seth." He greeted Kinsler in his lab coat.

"Good morning, David. I see that your posse is as loyal as ever." They laughed as David glanced at his escort.

"So, how are the cultures from last month's experiments?"

"Done cooking and good looking. They're all set for testing."

"Good. Did we get a sample from this morning?"

"No, we didn't." Banner looked disapprovingly at him.

"Seth, you know that we need those samples from each metamorphosis in order to keep an accurate log of my physical changes."

"Yes, Doctor Banner, I understand." Seth feared that the tone of the day had been set.

The two scientists came on time, having been informed by the departing Seth of Banner's condition.

"Good morning, Mr. Banner."

"Brian, Emma, hello."

"How are you?"

"Tired, Brian. Very tired." He let out a yawn and quickly covered his mouth.

"Dreams again? It's okay, doctor. We understand." Emma offered.

"Really?" He looked skeptically at them. She felt uncomfortable and quickly turned to a set of skin samples, busying herself while Brian worked silently next to David.

After a few hours of only the clinking of beakers and the hum of computers, Brian tried again.

"How's your condition, Doctor Banner?"

"Fine." He didn't even look up from the log he was writing.

"Are you sure?"

"Look," he stood up in Brian's face, "how would you be if you kept turning into a monster? Would you be great if you lost two wives and knew that what you created destroyed any chance of living a normal life?" Brian backed up a couple of steps as Emma moved slowly towards an emergency phone. David saw her movement and snapped his head around. His twisted face calmed down and he sat down in his chair. He dropped his head into his hands and ran his fingers through his hair again.

"I'm sorry, Brian. I'm sorry."

"Maybe you should take today off, David."

"No, I can't. There's too much work to do. This is getting out of hand, and out of my control. I have to find the cure."

"David," Emma came over hesitantly, "you're exhausted. You don't have to sleep. Just a little relaxation, that's all."

"Yeah, you could have the guards take you up for a little while. Get some fresh air. It'd do you good."

"But," he trailed off, realizing the futility of arguing against them. "Alright, but just for a little while." He went out of the lab and once he was gone, Emma and Brian sighed and went back to work.

Emma was accessing Banner's video recordings when she came across one log that caught her attention.

"Brain, come look at this." She played the video.

"August 9," a strained voice came out of the picture, "two days since my last attack." The voice wavered as the grains revealed an enclosed room with a body curled up in one of the corners, shaking from what looked to be seizures. "Anger has not subsided. The serum has lasting effects, longer than I anticipated. If I don't find that cure soon, this will continue." The voice turned to a rough growl when the video ended.

"The poor guy."

"I know."

"Really?" Emma mimicked Banner's previous expression.

******************

Banner was waiting patiently while the elevator brought him up to the surface with his escort. After a couple of minutes the elevator slowed to a soft stop. David's chains clanked as he stepped into the small office that the doors opened up to. The secretary glanced up briefly and went back to work.

"Sign here. Put the time you're leaving, and when you're coming back." David looked at the last time he had signed out; it was nearly a year ago. He finished the roster and headed for the door. A soldier opened it for him and led him out into the sunlight.

"It's definitely been a while." He mumbled as he squinted and looked at the cumulus clouds that blotted the sky. David looked around at the military base and saw a tree. He went over and sat beneath it, finding a peace that he thought he'd forgotten.

"David, are you going to sleep?"

"I don't know. Maybe." He stretched as much as he could in the shackles and settled his tired body. David was soon snoring and the soldiers tightened their watch in anticipation of their worst fears.

The escort woke David an hour later and brought him back down to the lab.

"Brian? Emma?" The two looked up from their feverish pace.

"Yes, Doctor Banner?"

"Thank you." Emma and Brian look at each other as David returned to his work, refreshed. They made excellent headway in preparing their latest samples for analysis.

**************************

"Let's call it a day." David stretched his limbs.

"We still have 3 hours, David."

"I know. But today, I think we all need a break. We can't do much until our cultures are done incubating anyways, so let's go for a little walk." David donned his chains again and caught up with Emma and Brian at the elevator.

The ride was silent and David quickly signed himself out.

A training field had been cleared so that David and the scientists could walk around a more scenic section of the base at their leisure. David lay down on the ground while Emma and Brian strolled around, admiring the view.

"I miss them."

"I'm sorry?" Brian was confused.

"I miss being with Lauren and Caroline. I miss the safety of their arms. They were both so beautiful." A tear ran into his ear as Emma sat next to him.

"I'm sorry David. I'm sorry you lost them."

"So am I." He sat up and ran his hands through his hair careful of the chains. He pinched the bridge of his nose and wrinkled his face.

"Okay, I think that's enough fresh air for one day. I'm beginning to remember a not so pleasant time when I had to work at a zoo."

"I'm glad you seem to be feeling better, Doctor Banner."

"Well, I owe you for talking some sense into me. Thank you."

"Anytime."

"Yeah." Brian and Emma went home and David slept in the field for a little longer before he had to return.

*************************

David slept soundly that night, his dreams filled with sweet memories. He woke up refreshed, and remembering that it was a Saturday.

"Good morning, David. I see you slept well."

"Yes, I did, Holt." Distaste seeped between his words.

"David, what have I told you? Getting angry at me is not the answer." Holt nagged David as a different group of soldiers came into the room.

"Holt, can I be untied please?"

"Take him out." The soldiers put David's cot on a set of wheels and pushed him out of the room.

"You know I hate being pushed around like this. Why can't I walk for once?"

"You'll just be strapped down again. Why waste the time?" They went through a set of doors and the glare temporarily blinded David. The room was full of bustling scientists who pounced on him immediately. They took skin, saliva and blood samples, while another group checked his pulse, blood pressure and health. A couple short minutes and they were going down a lift. David craned his head to look at the interior of the large elevator. Holt grabbed his chin and forced him to look at his face.

"I want you to behave today, David. I want to complete all of my tests this time, not half."

"This is not beneficial to my research. I'll behave as I see fit, Holt. You know I don't agree with your methods or motivations." The elevator stopped and David was moved into a corridor. Holt called the escort and David into a room where David was hooked up to a few machines. He looked around and noticed a very familiar label on a bottle. It was the aggression serum that Doctor Baxter had worked on. Holt saw David's face and quickly picked up the glass bottle.

"I told you I wanted to finish all of my experiments today. Your curiosity has cost you an easy day, Banner." He pushed a needle into the bottle and drew out a small amount of the liquid.

"Holt, no please. Anything but that." David flinched as Holt injected the serum into his body.

"Relax, David. It'll take 15 minutes for the serum to activate. Until then, we'll monitor your body status from another room."

"Holt!" David yelled as he left. "Don't do this!" The door closed and was bolted shut. "For God's sake, don't do this to me!" David began to feel the Hulk bubble up, but choked down his panic. He began to brace himself for the effects of the serum. He saw a clock on the wall and watched it intently as the seconds clicked by.

Seventeen minutes later, the injection began to take effect. David's body began to quiver as he fought the metamorphosis.

"Don't fight it David." Holt's voice came over a speaker. "Don't you dare fight it. We need to monitor the creature, not you."

The Hulk was tired, but the serum was dragging him out of his pleasant slumber, into the one place he hated most.

David let go, and the Hulk burst to the surface of Banner's conscious, roaring.

"Good boy." Holt mumbled as he watched the Hulk appear on his monitor.

"Okay people! Let's get him contained!" A scientist yelled. The ceiling of the Hulk's room fell down at the walls, revealing solid steel panels. The Hulk bellowed in protest and tore the straps from the cot. He threw the equipment in the room at the walls and pounded on them ferociously.

"The walls are failing, Doctor Holt!"

"How can that be?" He muttered under his breath as he watched the Hulk put dents in the walls as if they were butter. "All this time and he still has us trying to figure out a way to contain him."

"Sir! If we don't sedate him, he'll get out!"

"Right then. Pump in the gas." He said with reluctance. The room filled with a haze as the Hulk's efforts became more lethargic. Eventually, he collapsed by a wall, with the smog having done its job.

"Let's get a team in there pronto! I want samples of everything they can get their hands on before he turns back into Banner!" Holt watched a group rush in and smother Banner's unconscious, green body.

*******************************

He woke up, back in his own room, strapped to the cot with a new set of restraints and no shirt.

"Damn you, Holt."

"That's rude, David. Especially in my presence." Holt came out of the shadows and leaned over David's face. His breath reeked of his last meal, and it made David want to wretch.

"I don't think you heard me the first time then. I said to go to hell."

"I would watch what you say David. If you keep resisting my research, the government might just take away your laboratory privileges."

"They can't."

"Just watch. I'll make it seem as if you're in a maximum security prison if that's what will get across to you." David's eyes opened in horror as Holt walked out of the door, bolting it behind him. Seth's face appeared in the small window on the door, looking dejected. The locks inside of the door shifted as Seth opened the room and entered.

"David, how are you doing?" He quickly moved over to his cot and loosened his restraints.

"Okay, I think. What day is it?"

"It's Tuesday." David looked up at him in disbelief.

"Was I out that long?"

"Yeah, they kept shooting you up with a serum that I couldn't identify. It kept the Hulk going, and they tired him out pretty bad. That Holt is a maniac. I'm scared of him David. I'm worried about you. I think he'd kill you in the blink of an eye if he thought he needed to."

"My thoughts exactly, Seth." He sat up stiffly while freeing himself. "Damn, I'm too old for this." He rubbed his tender wrists and looked around the room at some prominent dents in the walls that he didn't remember.

"Doctor Banner?"

"Yes, Seth?"

"Call me crazy, but I've been thinking."

"Thinking isn't crazy Seth."

"About finding a way to get you out of here." David just looked at Seth. He hadn't even thought about escaping ever since he managed to acquire all of the lab equipment he had access to now.

"But my research Seth."

"I'll continue it, as will Emma and Brian. We've got enough samples and research to last our entire lifetimes. We've all been in agreement for a while now too that we would find a way to get you away from that creep. We're all afraid of him, and what he might be doing to you."

"Well, other than bringing out the Hulk, and collecting data, what do you have proof of?"

"Emma found one of your video entries from August 9, and it looks like you're not faring too well."

"August ninth." David became lost in thought.

"What happened David?"

"I can't remember Seth. I can't. It's a big white blank."

"That's just our point, because it's you that's talking, but it's like you just came out of the metamorphosis. Emma showed it to me, and it seems that whatever they gave you kept you angry, whether you really were or not. It's like the Hulk was the dominant mentality, not you."

"But I finally have the resources to find a cure. I can't do this work anywhere else in the world."

"We know that. One thing I think you should know, Holt has been suppressing some of our research."

"What do you mean?" David swung his legs over the side of the bed.

"We found lasting evidence that whatever serum he's been giving you may be why you kept having nightmares for the last three months or so. David, I think he's trying to make you stay the Hulk."

"No." He said weakly, bracing his body against the side of the cot.

"David," Seth looked into his eyes, "We've got to get you out of here before he manages to do anything permanent. Everything he's done so far has worn off with time, but it keeps taking longer for it to dissipate from your system." David looked at Seth in a daze, letting the information sink in to his mind.

"Do you have any ideas yet?" They both suddenly looked up at the cameras.

"No," Seth looked back to David. "Not yet, but when we do, you'll know because you'll be out of here."

*******************************

David either slept or relaxed for the rest of the day, and somehow managed to bring a forced sleep upon himself for the remainder of the time left before Emma and Brian showed up. Seth didn't come back after his visit, and that made David uneasy. He knew that Holt regularly monitored his room. David was glad though that Seth had shared his ideas with him. If the research could be continued without his help, then maybe Banner could get out of the facility and away from Holt.

Wednesday morning he woke up early and went to the lab. The sterile room was empty.

"What?!" He grabbed a phone still plugged into the wall and rang the supervisor of the facility.

"Hello?"

"Yes, I need to speak to Colonel Brent, it's an emergency!"

"Right away, please hold." David looked around nervously as he waited for the Colonel. The escort tightened their grips on their guns as they watched David's demeanor change. The phone picked up.

"Colonel?"

"Yes, who is this?"

"This is Doctor David Banner. I need to talk about what happened to my lab."

"Doctor Holt came to me last week and said that your research was inhibiting his own progress. As a paid employee, he has priority over your research, Mr. Banner. I'm sorry." The phone hung up and David stared at the wall as he held the phone inches from the receiver. A security camera focused on him and he heard the hum of its gears.

"Damn you Holt!" He threw the phone at the camera, making was sure that the phone had been smashed to pieces. "You malevolent bastard!" He stormed out of the view of the camera and paced around the room. Finally, he calmed himself enough to find a clean spot on the floor and sat down next to the wall. He began to run his hands through his hair as he sniffled and periodically looked around at the empty, white room.

"David, are you alright?" One of the soldiers hefted his weapon onto his shoulder and held out his hand. David took it weakly and shuffled back to his room where he sat down sluggishly on the cot. The guards left him alone with the door comfortably ajar.

A while later Emma and Brian came running into the room where David was laying on the cot.

"David! The lab!"

"I know, Emma."

"How?"

"Holt." At that moment one of Holt's soldiers came into the room.

"Doctors, I have your new assignments. You'll be working under Doctor Holt. Mr. Banner?"

"Yes?"

"Would you please follow me? Doctor Holt requested that you be shown where your new room will be located." David stood up reluctantly and followed the soldier past the hoard of busy scientists and the room where Holt experimented on David. They went down another hallway and stopped in front of a solid steel door.

"Here we are." The soldier opened the door to an empty room. "You're welcome to spend another night in your other room until we get this one set up for you. It will be ready by tomorrow however." David followed him back to his room. Emma and Brian were still there, talking softly. Holt's soldier left them alone and closed the door, bolting it shut.

"That's a bit disconcerting."

"Not when you're used to it." David said blandly.

"David, make sure you're ready. We can't let this happen to you." Brian whispered before he left the room behind Emma. David gathered the few things he had and put them in a pile in a corner for the guards to bring to his new room. He finished cleaning his bathroom when the door unlocked and Holt strolled in.

"Hello David." He grinned as Banner walked out and sat on his cot. "I saw a rather uncalled for display in the old lab. It was impressive I must say to see you angry, and not the Hulk." The tension emanating from David was building, and Holt had him cornered. "You can't have missed this, David. You knew it was going to happen."

"I refuse to turn into that monster for your amusement and your, science."

"You don't have a choice anymore, Banner. Sorry." He shrugged his shoulders casually and lunged forward, planting a needle firmly in David's torso. David yelled in pain as Holt violently pushed the plunger, injecting a solution into David. He smiled vilely as the door unlocked and he left David curled up on the floor.

"That went well." He commented as he walked to the security room to watch his latest experiment on David.

***********************

David was lying, stunned on the cold cement floor. He was gasping for breath as he pulled the syringe out of his abdomen and looked at the small amount of blue fluid left inside. He dropped the needle and let his head fall to the floor as he began to feel light headed and queasy.

He had no idea how long he had been lying there when Emma, Seth and Brian ran into the room out of breath. David saw an unconscious guard outside of the door, and looked up lethargically at the trio.

"Hurry up! Grab him and let's get out of here!" Brian whispered as Emma and Seth supported David's weight as they made for the elevator.

"Holt, what about Holt?" David mumbled.

"Don't worry, we took care of him. You leave the escaping to us." David's bare feet slid along the cool floor as they made their way onto the lift. Brian hit the button that would bring them up to the surface and quickly covered the camera inside of the elevator.

"That should buy us a little more time." David was having trouble staying alert, until Emma pulled out some smelling salts and jolted him wide awake.

"Thanks."

"No problem." The doors opened as the secretary looked up in surprise. Seth let go of David and jumped over the desk and gagged her with a handkerchief.

"Go!" He yelled as the woman struggled with a letter opener. Brian and Emma took David out of the small building and started to run towards the same training field that they had relaxed in. David was trying to run, but his legs refused to obey any order he sent them. Brian turned his head at a noise and saw a couple of jeeps racing across the base towards the fugitives.

"We're going to get you out of here David. Hang on." They headed into the wooded area of the training field as they heard men trying to plow through the thick undergrowth. There were shouts issued into the tree line and orders thrown about as they tried to quickly organize a search party for the three scientists.

Brian and Emma moved quickly through the trees as David slowly regained his faculties. He was finally able to run along side them on his own when Holt stood out from behind a tree, stopping the three people in their tracks.

"David, I am surprised at you." He said irritatingly. "I thought that you wanted to live quietly and not be on the run anymore."

"You're a disgrace Holt. All you want out of me is the Hulk. Well, I've got news for you. It can't be contained and I won't let you try any longer." He glared at Holt, when he realized that Emma and Brian were behind him. He turned around and saw them holding him at gun point, along with Seth.

"Surprised David?" Holt teased. "You shouldn't be. These are my best scientists, and I think they have well earned this moment. We've been working on this for years, and you finally fell for our ruse."

"Seth? Emma? No."

"Believe it Banner." Seth pointed the weapon at David's face. "We've been stringing you along the whole time."

"No."

"We'll get the Hulk. And if it's at your cost, then so be it." Emma added.

"No. Don't do this to me." David felt the Hulk rising up once again, and he never remembered the feeling of anger and hatred being so strong before.

"Holt, what did you do to me?" He looked at him with white eyes, fighting the metamorphosis with every ounce of his being.

"You should remember that last injection I gave you, David. You see, it's a little cocktail that I finally perfected."

"You can't do this to me." David fell to his knees, doubled over in pain. His body began to spasm as he tried to avoid the transformation.

"It's impossible to stop David. If I were you, I would enjoy your last few minutes as a member of the human race." He glowered at Holt, and lunged forward, reaching for his throat. David managed to knock Holt onto the ground, but could not muster the strength to get back up as Brian and Seth began to beat him mercilessly. Holt watched the pathetic man try to protect himself as the men kicked viciously.

It was soon after that Holt heard to unforgettable sound of the Hulk's approach. David growled as his shirt tore and body became a powerhouse of muscle. The green giant stood up and tossed Seth and Brian off to the side as he walked up to Holt and picked him up by the neck.

"David? David!" Holt yelled as the Hulk squeezed tighter. Emma fired a round and hit the Hulk in the shoulder. He let go of Holt and turned on her, throwing her into a tree. The Hulk turned his head and looked in the direction that he heard the military approaching and began to run off in the opposite direction when Holt fired his own weapon, and hit the Hulk with a sedative. The Hulk fell down from the overpowering medication, and Banner regained consciousness. He got up from his place on the ground, and found himself towering over Holt, instead of eye-to-eye. He looked at his massive green hands.

David tried to yell at Holt, but the only sound that issued from his throat was an inarticulate grunt. His eyes opened wide with pure terror as he bellowed in disbelief. He grabbed Holt's shirt and launched him nearly 30 yards away, into a bunch of prickle bushes. He could hear the military closing in on his position, and he ran off in the opposite direction. He soon cleared the tree line and was running through an open field when a mortar shell exploded to his right. He ducked the debris and continued to run until he met a chain link fence. He was just about to part the metal links when one shell exploded directly behind him, opening a lesion spanning the entirety of his back.

David bellowed in pain as his legs collapsed and he fell to the ground. He got up to his knees as he watched the soldiers approached him carefully. He turned to face them and roared. One soldier came too close and David swatted him with a hand, sending the man flying. He continued to swing wildly at the men coming after him, until they all backed off and he heard a deafening explosion behind him. His knees gave way and his body collapsed to the ground in a heap. He could smell smoldering flesh and melted steel. A pair of boots came right up to his face and a gun barrel poked him in the back. He groaned in pain as the soldier talked to Colonel Brent about what to do with it.

The Colonel wasn't quite sure what do with the green creature that was lying pathetically before him. The large gash in its back made him wonder if it could even live out the day.

David growled and groaned unintelligibly, trying to tell the Colonel that the Hulk was Doctor Banner.

Colonel Brent had the Hulk taken back to the science lab, where Banner heard the doctors talking about how the creature had killed Emma and Holt. The scientists prodded his wound with antiseptics and gauze, but no one could seem to figure out a way to get the large piece of shrapnel out of his body.

"My God. This can't be happening." Ran through David's mind the entire time that he was kept in the infirmary. Finally, they wheeled him back to his old room where they locked the door, and tried to make him comfortable.

The Hulk didn't fight, and David's alter ego seemed to refuse to surface regardless of the excruciating pain. The doctors attached multiple IVs to David, as they constantly applied new bandages to his wound. He was losing consciousness again, and as hard as they tried, the doctors could not keep him alert.

The Hulk groaned softly as he exhaled, and became motionless.