A Timely Tale Told in a Timely Fashion!
Lighting Never Strikes Twice!
The breeze was light, the food was good, and the atmosphere was subtlety romantic. All of these did absolutely nothing for Jennifer Walters as she nervously drummed her fingers on the worn oak table.
Her, for lack of a better term, date (Recently promoted to Major) one Thaddeus Ross. Ross, looking seemingly out of place without either a dress uniform or combat gear on, tried to make small talk as they pecked at their food.
"So…" he began, but stopped when nothing came to mind.
"Ross" Jennifer said as she gently nudged her fork into the baked sweetmeat before her. "I have to know, what's going to happen to me?"
Ross sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. "Well" he started as he nervously sipped from his mug of now warm beer, "The brass still are not totally convinced you can be trusted. You actions recently have had them worried." He mused as he stared down into the foamy mess in his hand. "It's funny; every time we try and create a new solider, everything ends up backfiring on us. First Cap, then you..." Shaking his head, Ross looked back up. "Sorry about that. Like I was saying, things are complicated. You did get a pardon, so we won't hold you accountable for your past actions. Your future actions, on the other hand, are what everyone in Washington is worried about. We've managed to keep your other half a secret, but, well I don't know what to say."
Jennifer weakly smiled and touched his hand, loving the way it felt in her own calloused grip. "Then don't say anything else" she whispered as she leaned over and kissed the startled man.
"What am I?"
That sole phrase was repeated over and over in the Blitzkrieger's mind, as she lay propped up against a large boulder in the middle of nowhere.
Placing her gloved hand up to her face, she still recoiled in horror as she felt the wires where normal flesh should be. Sitting like for hours, days perhaps, she said nothing but one thing.
"What am I?"
The events of the past replayed endless in her mind's eye as she recalled with perfect clarity how old she was when she heard of her father's death, the exact day and time when she injured her ankle riding a horse for the first time, and most importantly the image of the Union Jack firing a lighting bolt into her face.
The images played on as she continued to sit. Not speaking, not even blinking, she stared off into the distance as the memories of pain and the remembrance of sizzling flesh suddenly snapped her back to the present.
"I know what I must do." she whispered as she stood up and slowly began to peel away the mask that covered her face.
But she continued to yank away at her head, strips of tattered flesh flaking away and falling like perverse snowflakes to the ground as she kept on tearing and ripping…
Ross, sweat cascading down his neck as he slowly took Jennifer's hand into his own, steeled himself up to talk.
"Jennifer…ah…I know this is sudden"
Mercifully he cut off as her fingers to his lips. "Shh. We don't have much time together. Lets just spend it quietly before we get swallowed by the madness." She said as she leaned into him and closed her eyes.
"No argument here" Ross thought as he returned the embraced and wrapped his arms around her smaller frame.
Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay
"You know this is going to be difficult, correct?" the Warden asked as if he already knew the answer.
"Yeah, but this is our only shot. Thanks for letting us down here Warden Johnston." The Human Torch nodded as the pair of the red clad hero and the by-speckled older man made their way past a literal who's who of the criminal underworld.
"Due to their, ah, special natures, most of the members of Battle Axis have to be sequestered away from the general population."
"I understand Warden, but I still have to speak to Volton. What's left of him at any rate."
The pair continued on, like Virgil and Dante into the bowels of Hell before stopping at a large iron hatchway with nearly a dozen armed before it.
Waving his badge, Johntson stepped off to the side, as the door was swung open. "You'd better wait out here Warden," the Torch said, "It would go better if I talked to him."
"Alright, but this goes against my better judgment. If you're not out in fifteen minutes we flood the area with tear gas, understand?"
Nodding, the Torch entered through the doorway and made his way down a long winding corridor. Ignoring the various curses and catcalls, he made his to a special cell.
Looking in through the small slot in the door, the Torch was almost shocked to see the severed head of Volton glaring back at him from a box.
"So, finally come to gloat, eh?" the head spat at him.
"No, all I want is so info." The Torch said, realizing how much time he was wasting.
"I figured, but what makes you think I would tell you anything, brother?" he mockingly added the last word, "You did, after all, betray me to side with these worthless humans."
"You got a bum rap; no doubt about that. But I have some info that you might find interesting."
"Oh, and just what could you have that could possibly be of any interest to me? They have my torso in mothballs for crying out loud!" Volton cursed as he tried to avert his eyes away from the Torch.
"Yeah, and I'm sorry to hear that, but the Invaders and I met someone…unique on out last mission. She was like us, or at least like you."
That sent off a torrent of fireworks in Volton's eyes, both in a figuratively and literally standpoint as sparks flew from his orbs and harmlessly phased out against the rubber walls of the cell. "What?"
The Torch nodded. "Yeah, real looker too. She didn't seem to be aware that she was a robot and took off when she did. Did you tell the Germans anything?"
Volton rolled his eyes. "I told you, Bradley lied to me as much as he did you. If anyone could tell you, it would be him."
"Which would be difficult as you fired him like a cheap steak."
Volton cracked a smile at the memory. "Yes, yes I did. So I guess you're trip here was wasted brother." He smiled sardonically before laughing a mirthless laugh.
Turning around, the Torch was left with little option as he made his way back towards the relative safety of the guards, his robotic brother's laughter echoing in his ears.
"Alright, what's wrong now?" Jennifer's voice snapped Ross out of his daydream.
"Nothing…just waiting for you to rip through your clothes, or another super powered nut to attack or something."
Playfully punching him on the shoulder, Jennifer shook her head. "No; no green or gray tonight, I promise. Cross my heart."
"I'll hold you to it" Ross answered in mock seriousness.
"You know, it seems so strange not to be fighting." Jennifer said quietly as the two sat down on a convenient park bench.
"Yeah, but it's a feeling I could get used to."
Just as Jennifer leaned her head back onto Ross's shoulder, their evening was disrupted by a panicked scream.
"Monsters in the Themes!" a panicked cab driver screamed as the blackish waters of the river bubbled and steamed.
"Oh no" Jennifer moaned as she sat up and prepared herself for the change.
Ross, sensing her tightening up, placed a hand on her neck. "Calm down; that's no monster." He said calmly as the source of the aquatic disruption was reveled-
The Royal Airship of Atlantis!
"It's worse" Ross muttered under his breath as the regal figure of Namor exited from the vehicle.
"Captain Ross" Namor said with the usual barely restrained contempt tone in his voice, "Loathe as I am to interact with these land walkers, I fear I must interrupt your romantic interlude. There has been an…unusual sighting near the south of France, and Allied Command feels that Yeoman Walter's talents would be better suited there than here."
Before Ross could protest, especially about the 'captain' remark, Jennifer stepped forward. "Alright, let's just get this over with" she said sadly as she cast her eyes over at Ross.
She managed to give a weak wave of her hand as the doors shut with a resounding clang.
She took her seat quietly as Namor slid back behind the controls. Within seconds the craft was submerged and traveling at inhuman speeds in the murky water.
"The Blitzkrieger has been seen." Namor said, finally breaking the uncomfortable silence. "She touched down a few hours ago near a small French town called, and her behavior has been quite unusual. Even for a air-breather."
Annoyed, Jennifer deiced not to risk the Atlantian Prince's temperament as she stared out into the water. "What do you mean unusual?"
Namor, his eyes locked straight ahead, continued. "She landed and began to attack the Allied forces there. When a large battalion of Panzers arrived, the intelligence believed that she was simply softening up the troops for the Nazis. They were proved wrong when she turned her powers on the Germans. She's stayed there the entire time, blasting anyone who gets close, be they Allied or Axis."
"And just how do you expect me to handle this on my own?"
"With what ever skills you posses when you become the color of kelp, now if you don't mind I would like to pilot my craft in a degree of peace."
The rest of the trip was rather silent after that.
Situated around the fireplace was a rather unusual gathering of men. Sitting a wheelchair; his frame gaunt but his eyes as sharp as ever, was Lord Montgomery Falsworth, formerly known as the Union Jack. Standing close to him was his only son Brian, clad in a slightly modified version of his old uniform. The members of the Invaders, Captain America and the Human Torch, were seated around a large round table.
"So, Namor has already picked her up?" Falsworth asked as he sipped brandy from a glass that had seen only slightly more use than his Lordship had.
"He just sent a radio communiqué" the Torch replied as he hurriedly scribbled down notes while listening in over a headset. "He's picked her up and they are their way to France."
"Very good. Brian, I want you to accompany them on their mission. Your lighting bolts may have a hand in stopping this madness while your sister is busy with the RAF." Falsworth ordered.
The four men looked each other over as the elderly man spoke. With nary a word spoken by any of them, the Invaders silently left the room, leaving Lord Falsworth alone with his thoughts.
"I won't ask them to be spared Lord," he thought as he ran a sickly looking hand over the Falsworth crest hanging over the mantle, "But just let them give those blighters hell before they go."
"We're here, why haven't you changed?" Namor asked impatiently as Jennifer disembarked from the ship.
"Well I didn't bring any costumes with me!" she snapped. "I didn't think I need to" she added under her breath.
"A foolish decision on your part. Namor commented as he suddenly took to the air. "I radioed to the rest of the Invaders, and they should be here in a few hours. The reports sight her a few miles inland. You wait here and change while I go on ahead." He shouted back as he suddenly flew up and away.
"Some date this turned out to be." Jennifer moped as the shape of Namor quickly turned into a shapeless dot on the horizon.
Looking around the night sky, Jennifer felt a bolt of fear go through her.
She couldn't change
Of all the times before, there had been something; the moon or anger, but this time, when both were present, she felt nothing.
"What if the Blitzkrieger cured me?" she thought, the irony of the situation slowly creeping up on her.
"I suppose I'll just have to wait for the rest of the Invaders to arrive".
Namor had been flying silently across the night sky when the smell hit him.
Down, and for as far as his sea-born eyes could see, were nothing but bodies. Men of both sides were scattered across the marsh, smoke still rising off of some of their corpses. "What fiend is this?" he thought as he touched down.
The waters did little to calm him as he walked in the almost waist deep water. A mad cackle made him stop as he suddenly crouched down behind a wrecked jeep and wearily looked around for the source of the laughter.
Perched upon the partially melted form of a tank (he couldn't quite identify which side the vehicle had belonged to) was a shapely female form. She didn't seem to take any notice of his presence, although that did stop her from firing off a few dozen lighting bolts in every direction.
The situation was not lost on the crown prince. The Blitzkrieger seemed to be unaware of his presence, but if he were to fly to retrieve Walters, then there was no doubt that she would spot him. "I must plan carefully" he thought as he suddenly heard the heart stopping sound of two feet lightly landing on metal.
"Hello" she said in German, although Namor was focusing on that fact as his entire attention was drawn to the pulsating red orbs that were in place in lieu of eyes…
Jennifer felt her hair stand on end as the smell of fire and ozone filled the hair. Deciding that in her current condition the airship would be a safer place; she heard a loud pop before quickly finding herself flat on her back.
Shaking, she tried to rise to her feet as she heard mad peals of laughter coming from the sky.
"So, this is all they will send?" a sickeningly familiar voice spoke.
Rolling over and looking up, Jennifer saw the source of the voice. Despite the glowing red eyes and the…missing facial features, she could still tell who the woman was. At her feet was the bloody form of the Avenging Son, Namor.
"Ich kenne Sie" was all that Jennifer heard before a massive bolt of electrical energy tore through the air.
Feeling her heart racing, Jennifer still felt no change at all as the Blitkreiger slowly advanced.
"I will burn you to the bone and build a shrine to my father!" were the only words in spoken that Jennifer could understand.
"For the honor of the Richthofens!" she shouted as her hands began to glow white and the air itself became charged.
It was at that exact moment that Jennifer felt the old twinge in her body.
Only this time out, things felt different
She felt her clothes becoming tighter around her frame just as the Blitzkrieger fired off two bolts.
Maybe it was the fear, maybe it was the anger, but Jennifer felt her entire being getting washed away in a gray haze as the lighting incinerated her clothes. The worlds around her spun away like a broken top as she saw the ground rush up to greet her…
The Blitzkrieger, after pouring enough energy to power a small city into the figure before her, quickly turned around and flipped backwards towards the prone form of the Sub-Mariner.
"Father, I will prove myself as your heir!" she feverishly said as she saw images of old Fokkers flying overhead.
But while she was otherwise engaged, she was presently unaware of the movement behind her.
Instead of the burnt remains one would expect to find, there was movement. A being, far larger than Yeoman Jennifer Walters slowly rose to it's feet.
It's skin was a dark gray; the muscles it had were would have sent even the mightiest body builder to the floor weeping in envy, while undernenth the long tangled black hair there were two yellowish eyes hatefully glaring at the back of the woman who had caused it pain.
It was the She-Hulk!
Growling, her voice not even vaguely human anymore, she stomped towards the Blitzkrieger.
But as she reached out with her ham sized fists, the smaller woman causally turned and sent another lighting bolt coursing through her. "I can still hear you know" she replied, although it came across as gibberish to the She-Hulk.
Reeling, the giantess wavered a bit as the Blitzkreiger continued her assault. "I am the Red Flyer, the Baroness of the Air, do you honestly think you can match wits with me?" she shouted as she took flight as hovered in the air as she continued the attack.
The She-Hulk spat out one word as she dug her heels into the soft mud.
Leaping through the air, the She-Hulk nabbed the Blitzkreiger's leg and swung the flying rouge like a bat into the wet ground below. Ignoring the pain of the lighting flowing into her, the She-Hulk continued to squeeze on the ankle as hard as she could.
With an agonized scream, the Blitzkrieger struggled in the gray grip. Her leg was bent in an angle that was physically impossible, yet she still fought. Placing both of her hands on the She-Hulk's, she put as much electricity as she was capable of producing into the imprisoning clutches.
The She-Hulk, while able to ignore punishment that would kill lesser beings, was not able to stand so much lighting. Letting the smaller woman go, the She-Hulk stepped as she snarled at the sight of her burned hands.
"You miserable beast!" the Blitzkrieger shouted as she tried in vain to stand up. Shooting a quick glance downward (but still keeping a weary on her opponent) she saw the cause of her pain.
Her ankle had been crushed like a tin can; only instead the of the expected blood and exposed bone there was only sparking wires and jagged metal.
"No" she whimpered as she slumped back down, her hands suddenly losing their glow as she willed the lighting away.
"I'm not really alive, am I?" she asked, although the She-Hulk continued to stand her ground without comment.
"You goina fight or talk?" the gray giantess finally spoke. Cracking her massive knuckles, she stomped around the prone woman and walked over to the now recovering Sub-Mariner.
Just as the Atlantian's eyes flickered open, she slammed her fist into the top of his head, rendering him unconscious again.
Before the shocked woman's eyes, the She-Hulk turned back around. "We started to fight. We are going to finish." She said with finality.
Casting a wry smile at the Amazon, the Blitzkrieger hobbled to her feet. "Very good."
Hovering a few feet off of the ground, the woman tilted her head at the She-Hulk. "You're…helping me. Why?"
"I'm not helping; I just want a good fight with someone. You seemed like a good choice", Was the only reply she got before the gray tower of muscle leaped through the air and enveloped her in a crushing bear hug.
"Not…too…bad" she gasped as she heard her insides slowly becoming two-dimensional. "Try…this!" she grinned as her entire body suddenly became electrified.
Roaring in pain as her body was becoming burned from the inside, the She-Hulk held on for as long as she could.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of torment, she finally let her opponent go and fell to the ground.
"Do you yield?" the Blitzkrieger asked as she floated in for a closer look at the burnt woman.
"No. Just got bored" came the reply seconds before a gray fist smashed into the Blitzkrieger's jaw.
The blow sent the smaller woman flying backwards through the air. Hitting the mud with a loud thump, she slowly sat up.
Her jaw had been split in twain by the blow and hung loosely from her head. Simply ignoring the flapping appendage, the Blitzkrieger angled herself like a rocket and blasted through the air.
Just as when it looked as if she was about to make history repeat itself, she suddenly soared upwards and away from the enraged giant's grasp.
Flying higher, she turned in midair and began to strife the ground with lighting bolts, creating deep furrows in the mud around the She-Hulk's feet.
The fight raged on, with the Blitzkrieger diving in to pepper the area with lighting while the She-Hulk lunged at the flying form.
Whatever thoughts or feelings the Blitzkrieger had she kept to herself (mainly due to the shattered jaw) but all the while there was a hint of sadness in her eyes as she flew.
Not that the She-Hulk picked up on that mind you; the gray behemoth shrugged off the pain and continued her assault.
The pair continued to fight, with the Blitzkrieger slowly forcing the She-Hulk towards a large pond. "I'll lure her there," she thought as the She-Hulk pursued her quarry, "then I'll fry her".
If the She-Hulk had any understanding of the strategy, she didn't let on as another leap brought her closer to the target of her rage.
"Stand still!" she barked as she once again flew through the air and missed; only instead of hitting the (relatively) soft ground, she landed feet first into the pond where she sank past her knees in the muddy bed.
The water, lapping back and forth due to her disturbance, washed over the She-Hulk's head as she struggled to free herself.
"I have you" thought the Blitzkrieger as she suddenly dropped out of the sky and plunged in to the pond next the thrashing form.
Latching onto her, almost in parody of the bear hug from earlier, the Blitzkrieger was about to unload a massive amount of current into the water, when suddenly a most peculiar thing happened.
The Blitzkrieger, instead of seeing the thrashing gray form in front of her, saw something that made her stop.
The cold pond faded away as she suddenly in a grand sitting room. The familiar roaring of a plane engine filled the air as she now outside on a beautiful sunny day.
Before her was a blood hued tri-plane and the pilot cheerfully waved at her.
The voice she heard surprised her. "Poppa!"
The voice was young, but it was hers. The man removed his goggles and helmet to revel a face that was alien to her. The man started to speak, but she heard nothing as the world around her faded back to the wretched pond and the thrashing giantess.
Snapping back to the present, the Blitzkrieger shook her head and grabbed the She-Hulk by the head.
"I know what I must do now" she thought as she proceeded to unleash all the power at her disposal…
Namor, prince of Atlantis, known as the Avenging Son and the Sub-Mariner, woke up. "Imperious Rex, those surface dwellers will pay for striking a prince of the blood!" he shouted as he sat up.
Scanning the area for signs of either his attackers or the Invaders, he was rewarded with the sounds of battle and the smell of ozone.
"Blasted land walkers" he grumbled as he took flight towards the fight.
Inside the She-Hulk's mind
The She-Hulk stared down with contempt at the smaller woman before her. "You little good for nothing idiot! What do you think you were doing, trying to hide me?"
Jennifer Walters, cowering and nude before the giant, gazed upwards. "You killed Zapper, you ruined my life! I hate you!"
The She-Hulk actually grinned at the accusation. "I ruined yours? At least you had one!" her smile quickly turned to a snarl as she grabbed the smaller woman up by the collarbone and held her up at arm's length. "You thought you got rid of me when that Kraut tried this trick last time, didn't you? Got news for you sister, you're the one who's going to sleep!" she shouted as she tossed Jennifer like a sack of potatoes.
Landing in a heap, Jennifer was quick to stand up. But before she could get her bearings, the She-Hulk was on her, wrapping her massive fingers around her throat. "You never really lived Jenny, every time life got to you I was the one who took the ball and ran with it. You just cringed at everything, you worthless little moron!" she shouted as she squeezed tightly.
But something happened to Jennifer inside the vice-like grip. Staring back at the She-Hulk, there was no trace of the former fear she had. Reaching up with her own hands, she effortlessly pried the gray fingers off of her neck.
"No. I'm tried of running from myself." She said simply as she pushed the She-Hulk backwards. "I am the one responsible for everything, not you."
The words seemed to hit the She-Hulk like a ton of bricks as she fell to her knees. "Stop! What do you think you're doing?"
"Taking my life back" Jennifer simply replied as she began to grow, where as the She-Hulk stared to shrink…
Back in the present
Namor touched down just to the see the entire area become enveloped in a blinding white haze. When his vision returned, all the Avenging Son could see was the limp form of Jennifer Walters floating on the surface.
"Curious…" he thought as flew out and easily scoped up the unconscious woman in his arms.
The Blitzkrieger he saw no sign of.
Landing back at the airship, he placed Jennifer down before radioing in to the Invaders. "Situation normal-over. Will be returning to nest-over."
Over the English Channel
"Roger-Message received", Captain America replied back as he handled the controls to the plane. "I guess we can head back Brian. Namor just reported back."
The Union Jack, sitting the copilot's seat, rubbed his chin. "I don't know. What about the Blitzkrieger? If she was a robot, were there more like her?"
"I think you've caused enough problems for one day" Namor snorted as he manipulated the controls of the ship and with in short order was flying the craft back to England. Seeing Jennifer's eyes flutter open, he remarked: "I saw you in battle. What happened during that flash?"
Jennifer mumbled weakly, "She's dead. She used up all her power on me."
Back on land, or to be more precise, the bottom of the pond
Those were the only thoughts running through the Blitzkrieger's mind as she sank below the waves and settled on the muddy bottom.
"Was I ever really alive?" she tried to move, but there was no feeling. As everything began to grow darker, the Blitzkrieger caught glimpses of a blood red tri-plane. "Poppa, I'm sorry," she thought as her systems began to power down for the last time. The images of what she had seen and done flashed before her mud-covered eyes.
"I'm sorry" she tried to cry, but she found she couldn't. The vision of carnage she had left behind was the final thing before her eyes finally shut down.
"I will atone for those sins somehow" she thought before her mind too, shut down; leaving a shattered being down on the muddy bottom.
England ~ the next day
Jennifer sat nervously in the main hall of Falsworth manor. The Invaders (including a still irate Namor) looked back at her from across the table.
"Well yeoman, it looks as if our trust in you wasn't the wisest investment, was it?" Lord Falsworth spoke at last.
"Yeoman Walters, the pardon you received clears your record of any crimes committed, and you did aide us during the course of our missions. However, in light of recent events, I am afraid that the Invaders no longer have a place for you." Captain America spoke evenly.
"Do you have anything to say on your behalf?"
Jennifer nodded; "In light of recent events, I hereby resign my position from both the Invaders and the United States Army."
The decision was a quick one; thanks to a few calls on her behalf Jennifer Walters was now a civilian, and not under arrest. Various tests conducted failed to make her change, therefore as far anyone was concerned the She-Hulk was simply a wild story and nothing more.
In a secure location-United States
Major Ross managed to slip in to her room quietly. Looking from her bed (and trying not to disrupt the various IV's and sensors hooked up to her) Jennifer gave a small smile and a wave. "Why are you still here? I'm not special anymore, and the doc's can't find any trace of that gamma stuff."
Ross put his hand to her lips. "Not special? Hell, you went through things that I'm sure anyone could do and survive. I'd say you're still special in my book." Ross said as he tried to keep his voice down.
Jennifer blushed; Ross continued. "Look, the brass is sending me back to the front in a few days, and since we never did get to finish that evening we started"
Now it was Jennifer's turn to put her hands up to Ross's lips. "Alright Major, it's a date."
And thus two people, who met under the most extraordinary circumstances imaginable, went out and despite all the insanity and violence raging around them, there was a good time had by all.
Wow, what a ride. Thanks to a demagnetized disk, I lost a lot of work, but I'm back anyway. A few notes: Warden Johnston is based on James Johnston, who ran Alcatraz from '38 to '48. Vaux sur Somme is a real area in France where the Red Baron was finally brought down. Volton, of course was last seen in the Invaders (vol.2) mini-series.
For the fan mail, we have regular gal Tiffani, who says:
Very good chapter. You did a great job. I know the next issue will be worth the wait.
Well Tiff, was it?
Next, some words of encouragement from Lonebeatle (re: Issue 9)
Man I'm so eager to read this one, sounds great what you have planned! So many great chicks indeed! Wish you luck in Real Life dude, idiots can be soo…idiots
Indeed man, indeed. Congratulations on the "LXL" series LB. I hope to see many more stories with the cast.
It looks like Mickey's hands are telling me to wrap it up now guys and gals, but tune in next issue when the She-Hulk tackles the Yellow Claw!
Be good to yourselves