Hulk

A Marvelous Tale Told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Part 1-the coming of the Hulk

November 1961

In an undisclosed location in the American Northwest

I hate it here

Those were the first things that Dr. Samuel Stern thought as he woke up everyday, and had been thinking everyday for the past eighteen years. Slowly rising out of bed, he stumbled, cursing softly as he stepped over a small chain of islands made from scribbled research notes that had been scattered around the small bedroom.

Making his way out of the bedroom, Stern made his way into the Spartan kitchen and began the near ritual of making coffee. Opening the blinds, he sighed as he took in the blasted landscape.

It hadn't meant to turn out like this, he thought. Once a youth with dreams (much as anyone else), he had thought that his brilliance would win him fame and accolades; instead it only won him insults and the indignity of having to work well below his talents. Picking up what looked like a child's plaything, he carefully looked over the small purple (and vaguely humanoid) looking thing. "So much potential…" he mused before putting the object back down.

Glancing over yesterday's mail, he casually rifled through the official looking documents before sending most of them into the trash bin, except one. Picking up the last one, he grabbed a slightly clean knife from the sink to open it. The look of nervous apprehension on his face quickly turned to disappointment as he looked at the contents. "Fantastic, another transfer to the middle of nowhere" he muttered as he crumbled the letter up and hurtled it into the trash.

May 1st 1962

The New Mexico desert

In the years since the destruction of Project: Resurrection, the military made an interesting discovery. The explosion caused by the gamma bomb was nearly equal to the destructive power of Oppenheimer's work, but with half of the radiation. This was made note of and filed away. It wasn't until a year earlier when a brash young scientist named Richards flew a experimental rocket into space that the government began to rethink its policy on radiation. Since then, the reemerging of the superheroes sparked a new interest from Uncle Sam. A special base was constructed to harness the power of the gamma rays, the wittily named 'Gamma Base', and today was the day that power would be unleashed again.

Men scurried like ants near the massive missile erected in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Warning sirens blared as the men made their final checks before dashing towards the relative safety of the command bunkers.

Inside the concrete structure, temperatures were almost as heated as the desert outside. "I'm telling you, this is too early!" Dr. Stern cursed as he stared down his two (and only) colleagues.

Igor Drenkov, a Soviet defector, nodded his head. "I agree. Dr. Marks, you've been far too secretive!" Dr. John Harding Marks simple lit up his pipe as his fellow scientist raged. "You tell us nothing, you never double check anything, and neither of us has yet to even see any of your notes!"

"That's because the G-bomb was my idea. I found Banner's notes, and I'll be the one to use them" he said as he causally looked out through a safety window and gazed at the proud monument of destructive power looming before him.

"The three of us work on our own parts Igor, you know that." "Yes, but that doesn't mean it can't still go wrong" Dr. Stern interjected. "Sam, the only way this thing could fail is if your electronics blew out, and that's not likely, right?"

Stern looked down at his shoes before answering. "No, I guess not"

"Trouble gentlemen?" a stern voice came from outside. All three men turned at once to see General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross stomped his way in. "Oh daddy, I'm sure things are running smoothly as ever" came a sweet voice behind him.

Dr. Marks blushed slightly as the figure stepped out from behind the General. Betty Ross looked every bit as beautiful as any woman he had ever seen; yet there was always something troubling in her eyes. General Ross once caught him looking his daughter over once, and he had threatened to ship him to the South Pole if he had caught him saying or doing anything outside his normal duties on base.

"My men have been stationed here for weeks waiting for you blasted eggheads to fire this thing, what is the hold up?"

"Dr. Marks refuses to share information with us" Igor spat out as he stepped between his fellow scientists and the launch button. "All I ask for is one more day of testing before we see if this 'gamma bomb' is all that you say it's cracked up to be".

General Ross was less than pleased, but Stern and Marks both agreed to postpone the detonation.

Betty was the only one who noticed the strange gleam in Igor's eyes when the others agreed to his demands, but she thought nothing of it….

Later that night

Activity on the base had slowed down to a crawl, which is just the time Igor waited for. From inside his bungalow, if one were allowed inside that is, one would simply see Igor in the bathroom, apparently preparing to brush his teeth and shave.

But upon closer inspection, body hygiene was not what was transpiring inside. Reaching inside his mouth, Igor yanked on his right molar. One second later, he had the tooth in his hand as he flicked it open to revel a small transmitter inside. Unfolding his razor, he connected the transmitter to it and began tapping out a message.

Igor Drenkov loved America, baseball, and Mickey Mouse; of that there was no doubt in anyone's mind. But the man before the mirror, furiously sending out a message in code while sneaking glances around the bathroom (as if the MP's might suddenly spring out of the toilet and arrest him), was not Igor Drenkov. The real Igor had been captured near the Caspian Sea and promptly executed. The man sending the message had been put under the surgeon's knife and sent in the late Igor's place with no one being the wiser.

Of course, all this was for naught if the Americas managed to get the Gamma bomb to work. He tapped out his message and fearfully waited for his orders. The crude device before him beeped back an answer; sending him more instructions, which the faux Igor hastily scribbled down on a sheet of toilet paper.

Looking over his orders, Igor paled as he reread them before burning the paper and flushing the remains down the toilet. "I only have 2 days to meet with my pickup," he thought as he disassembled his transmitter. "or else I'll be stuck here."

"Then I must sabotage the gamma bomb and get the plans at all coast!" he swore as he carefully crawled along the base of the wall and climbed into bed.

The next day

Warning sirens blared as the men once again readied the massive missile out in the desert. "Ready this time?" General Ross caroused as he puffed on his cigar. "We are all in agreement this time sir" Dr. Stern said as he wrung his hands.

Off in the corner, Igor fingered the grip of his pistol hidden under his lab coat. "Destroying the bomb should be simple enough. But I can't let Stern or Marks live. Taking them hostage would simply slow down my escape. Regrettable, but I simply can't risk letting the Americans continue. Besides, if Marks is so secretive with the others, I'm sure no one will find Banner's notes" he rationalized his plan as the countdown began. "When the counter hits five, I'll make my move" Igor thought as a sudden commotion broke out near the main viewing area…

"My God, someone's driven out onto the testing range!" Dr. Marks shouted as he looked out through the safety window through his binoculars.

"It's…a boy!" General Ross shouted as the driver brazenly drove closer to the Gamma bomb. "What's that fool trying to do?"

"I don't know, but whoever he is we're shutting this thing down!" Dr. Stern barked as he rushed towards the control booth.

"This is my chance" Igor smiled as he removed a small box and inserted it under the main control panel. He finished his work seconds before Dr. Stern burst in and mashed the abort button. Much to Stern's horror and Igor's glee, the button simply clicked while the countdown continued. "Good Lord, we can't shut it down!" Stern screamed.

"What?" General Ross shouted back as pandemonium raged in the bunker. Technicians and personal scurried like drowning rats to try and shut the bomb off, but the countdown continued unabated.

While the chaos ranged, Betty Ross looked outside to see the driver's car suddenly stop. "Someone has to help him!" she thought as the men inside began to place the lead shielding over the windows.

Without saying a word, in fact she was almost driven by some unseen hand, Betty dashed out of the bunker and hopped into a nearby jeep. "What do you think you're doing?" an MP shouted as he dashed inside. "That's guy's dog meat!"

"Someone has to do something!" she shouted back as she slammed her foot down and tore off towards the ominous tower.

Inside

Chaos mounted as sparks began to fly from the various control panels. "Stern, what the hell is going on?" Marks screamed as he dropped his pipe. "I don't know" Stern shouted back in kind. "All of our systems have gone berserk, I can't shut anything down!"

It was at this time General Ross took a hard look around the room. "Wait, where's Betty?" he asked, the confusion on his face slowly turning to a full-blown panic as he realized where his daughter was. "Oh no" was all he could gasp as he slumped down in a chair.

Outside

Betty floored the accelerator as hard as she could as the looming shape of the Gamma bomb drew ever closer. "I have to help that boy!" she thought as she hit a bump and flew a bit before landing hard next to the beat up junk heap that may at one point have been a car.

The driver was sitting nonchalantly in his seat, playing a harmonica tunelessly. "You fool, we have to get out of here!" Betty screamed as she yanked the young man out of the jalopy and dragged him back to the jeep.

"Hey cool it little lady, you want the other kids to think I'm chicken? Nobody else had the guts to drive out here" but the man's explanation was cut short as Betty wrapped her arms around the youth's neck and applied what was commonly referred to as a chokehold and dragged him into the vehicle with her.

Ignoring his struggles, she slammed down hard on the gas and steered with one hand as she raced to back to the bunker.

"10" intoned the countdown.

"Look you little idiot, we have 10 seconds to get out of here before that bomb explodes!" Betty spat through gritted teeth as the bunker seemed even farther away.

Giving it as much as gas as she could, Betty loosened her grip on the boy's neck so she could focus on the drive. "Now sit still. If you do anything else so stupid I'm kicking you out and leaving you here, get it?"

"7" intoned the countdown.

While Betty was admonishing her passenger, she failed to see a large trench before her. "Hey, look out!" the boy warned seconds before the jeep left the ground and slammed into the soft dirt wall.

"5"

Inside the bunker, part of Igor's plans went into motion as all the safety doors (thanks to Igor's act of sabotage) began to close and lock, trapping all the personal in.

Outside, Betty groggily leaned up. Tasting the coppery taste in her mouth, she spat a bloody wad of saliva on the dashboard while her passenger tugged at her arm. "Come on lady, we got to go!" he panicked, as the relation of just what was out in the desert seemed to sink in.

"Alright" she slurred as she dragged herself out of the wrecked jeep. "Must have banged my head" she thought as she and the boy raced to the bunker.

"3"

Ignoring the boy's babbling, she pushed him ahead into the waiting arms of the MP's seconds before the door slammed shut.

"2"

Stumbling forward, Betty tried to blink as the ground before her wavered and rushed up towards her.

"She's still out there!" General Ross shouted as he banged on the heavy lead door. "It's no use, the mechanism is jammed, and we can't open it!" Stern cursed as he opened a control panel and began to yank out wires.

"1"

"He's safe" Betty said half to her self as the countdown finished. She managed to crawl closer to the door when the bomb detonated and seared the land like an angry god smiting the nonbelievers.

The blast ripped through the air and instantly disintegrated the surrounding sand. Thankfully, Betty was far enough away to avoid having her shadow being burned into the ground, but she was still close enough to absorb the strange and deadly gamma radiation. As the powerful waves of energy were absorbed into her, Betty screamed in agony before she passed out, a strange image of a large green skinned woman flashing before her eyes…

Several hours later

Things came back slowly. The sound of water dripping in a sink, the squeak of the bed frame, and the soft padding of rubber soled shoes on a freshly mopped linoleum floor were the first things she heard before slowly opening her eyes.

Judging from the surroundings she was in a hospital room, but due to a lack of windows she wasn't sure if she was still on the base. "Oh, you're up" she heard a surprised voice come from behind a curtain. "Where am I?" Betty asked as the teenager from before stepped out from behind the privacy curtain.

"You're in the base clinic. The docs were all pretty freaked out by everything." The youth said as he popped his back and sat down. "No thanks to you" she said, sounding harsher than she meant to be. Seeing the boy visibly flinch at her words, her expression softened somewhat. "Who are you?"

"My name's Rick Jones. You?"

"Betty Ross. Now Mr. Jones, mind telling me just how you're here and not in a cell?" Jones gave a wry smile as he walked over to a small cabinet and opened it up. "Long story. I guess I had to get a good look at you."

"And why's that?"

"Because I've never known anybody who would do what you did. I've been an orphan all my life lady, and I've never thought I would see the day some dame stuck her neck out for me like that." He said with his back turned as he pulled out a small box from within a nearby cabinet.

Looking around the room, Betty slowly sat up. "Where are the doctors? Shouldn't they be examining me?" Jones turned back as he placed the box near the bed and began to fiddle with a series of dials on it. "The guys in white? I overheard them in the hall. They seemed kind of scared."

Betty swung her feet out of the bed and tried to stand up. "I'm dying, that's why no one is in here. No body takes that much radiation without something happening to them!" Betty almost shouted as she suddenly felt a tightness grip her throat.

"Relax, you look okay to me" Jones opined as he succeeded in turning the right knob. "Man, what a crummy radio. You got nothing but static!" he whined as the strange clicking noise filled the air. "You idiot, that's no radio, that's a Geiger counter! I must be radioactive!" Betty gasped as a pounding began in her ears.

"You know, you are looking kind of pale, maybe you should…" Rick trailed off as he noticed just how tight Betty's dress looked on her. "Hmm, I'll go get the nurse" he offered before Betty clutched her stomach and fell to the floor with a scream.

"What's happening to me?" she screamed as if every nerve ending in her body suddenly decided to melt at once. Muscles and sinew swelled as her petite frame began to undergo a startling metamorphosis.

Her flesh (well tanned due to her travels) began to grow paler and paler, becoming a dull gray. Her short brown hair cascaded down her face, with it becoming an oily black with every inch.

The change that captivated Rick the most though were the changes going on with the rest of Betty Ross's body.

Previously Rick would have placed Betty at an even six feet, but whatever was happening to her now had made her almost eight feet. Her body was developing muscles that would have made a circus strongman weep with envy as her moans of pain filled the air, drowning out the ever-increasing ticks of the counter.

Then, Betty (or whatever Betty had become) fell silent. Rick, fearing the worse, steadily crept forward, trying to keep the bed between him and what ever was now on the floor.

Without warning, Betty stood up. Her now giant frame towered over him, and her hospital gown did little to hide her still feminine charms.

"Uh, are you okay?" Rick asked, instantly regretting his choice of words. Betty simply looked down and scowled. "Out of my way insect" she growled, her voice considerably deeper. With one hand she swatted him aside like he was nothing.

Crashing into the far wall, Rick looked up with dazed eyes as he saw Betty chuck the bed aside and stand before the wall. "Where am I? Why am I in here?" she asked aloud. Balling her fists up, she pounded on the wall before her, shattering the concrete like cardboard.

"Holy Cow!" Rick muttered as he decided that staying still and out of her way would be a good thing.

As the creature that was once Betty pushed past the crumbled wall and out into the night, both she and Rick noticed a jeep driving up to inspect the cause of the commotion.

"Bah, more little men!" Betty snorted in disdain as the driver of the jeep blinked his eyes. "What is that?" he asked his fellow soldiers as he tried to avoid the strange being before him. "I don't know, but we're hit going it whatever it is!" one of the passengers shouted seconds before Betty lashed out with her foot and caught the jeep dead center of the hood. The vehicle wrapped around her limb like cotton candy as most of the men were thrown clear.

Betty snorted as the screaming man still inside the jeep looked at her. "Idiot" she spat as she pried the jeep off of her and casually chucked it aside. "Got to get away," she rumbled to herself before taking off at a speed that most humans couldn't hope to follow.

Rick gulped as she saw the broken men lying about. Seeing the carnage caused, he managed to screw up enough courage to step outside.

"I gotta do something! She saved my life, so I got to return the favor!" he thought as he dashed outside.

The full moon lit the area almost perfectly, but finding a giant gray behemoth in a dark desert was not exactly a job that Rick was cut out for.

But shrugging his shoulders back, he dashed out into the night in search of the perhaps the only person who ever did anything for him.

Part 2- the Hulk Strikes!

A mile away from the Gamma Base

The hulking beast that was once Betty Ross skulked around in the darkness. Gripping onto the outcropping rocks scattered across the desert, there was only one thought going through her low slopped brow.

"I can't let them find me!" she grimaced as she spotted the searchlights coming from the soldiers. Their voices filtered over the sands and brush, filling her with hate.

"Spread out men, we've got to find that…that Hulk!"

And so with a simple soldier's remark, the name quickly spread through the ranks, until the name of the Hulk was soon etched in stone.

The rumbling of the trucks and the clanking of the rifles brought a new wave of anger on the Hulk as she stomped off further into the desert. "Why can't they leave me alone?" she asked aloud as a sound of deep breathing brought her attention back to the present.

Reaching out with her massive hand, she snagged the interloper by the scruff of his neck and held his close. "Who are you, why are you hounding me?" she demanded.

"I'm Rick Jones, remember? Look, I want to help you!" Rick babbled as the Hulk wrapped her arms around him and started to squeeze.

Back on the base

General Ross wiped his brow as he examined the wrecked room. "No…just like last time" he muttered quietly as the guards and personal examined the room. Snapping out of his thoughts, he barked at the assembled scientists before him. "Well gentlemen, any idea why my daughter isn't in here?"

"Um…no?" Dr. Stern meekly offered before Ross exploded with rage at them and anyone else within range. "A snot nosed kid drives onto a testing range and gets my only child exposed to who knows how radiation, then you're telling me that the Untied States Army can't even hold this little hoodlum for more than an hour?" he screamed. "Sir, the officers already explained their reasoning's for not watching him. Besides, it's not like we could alert the civilian authorities without risking a great many questions being raised." Dr. Marks offered, with did little to placate Ross.

"Sir, our patrols think they're closing in on the Hulk!" a younger officer blurted out as he handed Ross a field report.

Ross's skin seemed to lose about three shades of color as he took the report. "The Hulk you say?"

"General Ross, are you alright?" Stern asked politely as Ross slumped down in a chair (the only piece of furniture that hadn't been damaged)

"Find me the Hulk," he ordered before stepping outside and lighting up a fresh cigar. "And I want whoever or whatever it is brought back here alive before sunup, understand?" he thundered as the assembled troops rushed to carry out the orders given to them.

While at the same time, in Dr. Marks's bungalow.

Igor wiped the sweat from his brow as he held the small notebook in his hand. "At last, the works of Dr. Banner!" he thought as he stared about the room. Ransacking Dr. Marks's rooms had cost him much valuable time, but it had been worth it as he padded the small leather bound book. "All I have to do now is radio ahead to my contact, and I'm home free!" he thought as he exited out of a nearby window.

Seeing the searchlights and assembled men running around, he quickly changed his plan. Ducking in down and dashing across the way towards the nearest house, he kept to the shadows until some of the men had passed before leaping onto the house's steps and forcing his way in, ignoring the small slate that said 'Ross' over the doorway.

The bungalow was set up more or less exactly the same as Dr. Marks. Dashing through to a side room, Igor tossed the notebook under a sofa and quickly opened a window to crawl out of. "Must get back to my radio!" he fervently thought as he shot a parting glance over the room.

At the same time, out in the desert

Rick struggled to keep up with the newly christened Hulk. Not really saying much of anything, he couldn't help but notice that they were heading back towards the Gamma base. Moving with a stealth that belittled her size, the Hulk silently made her past the few guards unseen.

"Must get home!" the Hulk muttered as she marched across the dirt. Rick gave thanks that most of the base personal was out in the desert looking for them, but he knew that sooner or later they would find them.

"We need a plan Hulk!" Rick insisted, but the gray giantess simply pushed forward, until they came upon a row of identical lot style houses.

Not even stopping or slowing down, the Hulk plowed through the small stonewall that divided the backyard from the others. "Third house" the Hulk grunted as she stomped a knee high stone wall that had been set around the backyard. Making her way up the steps (Rick was impressed that they didn't break under the strain), the Hulk knocked the door off its hinges and stepped inside.

Rick, after looking around to make sure no one had seen the two of them, followed his strange companion.

Hearing the Hulk stomp around from inside the house, Rick took a moment to look around the surroundings.

The peace was suddenly shattered as the screams of a man were heard from inside the home.

Igor stared in horror at the thing before him. A woman, if the phrase could still be used, towered over him, a hate filled look in her eyes. Reaching into his coat, he pulled out a small pistol and fired pointblank, expecting the creature to jerk backwards as the bullet tore through tissue and bone.

Much to his shock and horror the bullet simply ricocheted off of her forehead and harmlessly tore a hole in the ceiling.

"Impossible!" he gasped as the pistol fell uselessly away. "I shot you with a .38! Why are you still standing?" he almost shrieked as the Hulk grinned evilly and wrapped her hands around him. "Impossible! You're not human!" he shrieked as he was lifted high into the air.

"Human? Why would I want to be that?" the Hulk answered in an off handed manner. Lifting the terrified man with one hand, the Hulk stooped down and picked up the fallen pistol. "So this is what you puny humans fear?" the Hulk asked in disdain as she eyed the piece. "Worthless" she grunted as she closed her fist and crushed the pistol as easily if it were made from aluminum.

"Hulk, put him down!" Rick pleaded as the Hulk tossed the crumpled gun to the floor and grabbed the squirming man's legs with her free hand. "Yes, I will put him down" she grunted as she slammed him into a coffee table hard enough to crack the floor. The man moaned in agony as he twitched, his foot going off and kicking something out that had been placed under the sofa.

The Hulk stood over the man with a complete look of utter disdain over her face. Rick noticed the small notebook and picked it up. "Hey, this looks important" he thought as he read over the title. "Don't you know this guy when you were Betty Ross?" he asked aloud.

The Hulk flinched as if she had been slapped. "That name! Betty Ross, why does it sound familiar?" The Hulk said as she rubbed her temples in confusion.

Looking around, Rick spied a framed picture resting on a shelf near the phone. In it was Betty with an older man with his arm draped around her. "Well, you did used to look like this, before you changed that is" Rick offered as the Hulk did a slow turn on him.

Snatching the picture from his hand, she crushed it in her hand. "No! That face…that weak, ugly face! Take it away!" she shouted as she hurtled the crumpled remains across the room. "I'm not her!" she snarled as she swung out and smacked Rick.

The blow sent him airborne, but thankfully a large bookcase stopped his flight. Crashing into it, Rick tried to blink the stars out of his eyes as the Hulk loomed over him.

"You're the only one that knows my secret," she growled dangerously as she approached.

Rick had never put much thought into the old belief that a man sees his life flashing before his eyes as he dies, but at that moment he became a believer.

The Hulk grinned as she gripped Rick's neck in one hand and started to squeeze. Her words were lost as large black spots began to do a jitterbug around Rick's eyes before suddenly the pressure on his throat stopped. "Am I dead?" he thought as he looked up from the carpet.

Sitting up, Rick stared slack-jawed as the Hulk gripped her head in pain. "My brain… on fire!" she gasped as Rick noticed her skin lightening.

The rippled muscles slowly began to shrink and soften as the first rays of daylight crept in through the window. The Hulk's statuesque form shrank until the pale form of Betty Ross remained.

"What happened?" she asked as she looked around at the carnage. "Y-you changed" Rick answered as she helped him to his feet. "I think it's okay now."

Just then the outside door was kicked in as they heard General Ross bellowing out orders. "Surround the house!"

"Me and my big mouth" Rick muttered under his breath as nearly a dozen armed soldiers burst into the room with their weapons at the ready.

Part 3-the Search for the Hulk!

"What in the hell is going on?" General Ross roared as he walked into the wrecked room. "Hi daddy" Betty smiled weakly as the soldiers turned a barely moving Igor over. "It's Dr. Drenkov!" one muttered. "What's he doing here?"

"The Hulk…keep it away" he moaned softly between shattered teeth. "The Hulk?" Ross questioned as Igor was roughly yanked to his feet. "What's going on here?"

"General Sir, take a look at this" Rick stepped forward and gave the fuming man the notebook Igor was attempting to steal. "What the, this belongs to Dr. Marks!" Ross exclaimed as the men began to drag Igor from the room. "So, stealing military secrets, eh, Igor? Men, lock this piece of trash up" he ordered as the men had to drag the semi-conscious man out of the house.

"Now Betty, what happened?" Ross said, turning his attention to his daughter. "Did you see the Hulk?"

"The Hulk?" Betty responded, the confusion evident on her face. "What are you talking about?"

"Sir, the men injured in the crash gave us a pretty good description. Sound more like some escaped circus bear." One of the soldiers joked.

General Ross blinked before shaking his head. "Never mind, we can sort that out later." Turning his attention to Rick, he glowered at the man. "Alright son, now what about you? You disrupt a crucial weapons test and allow my daughter to be hurt. Any reason why I shouldn't have you executed on the spot?"

Large rivers of sweat began to overflow down Rick's face and neck as the General stared him down.

"Daddy, this boy didn't mean it" Betty said as she stepped between the two.

Ross looked his daughter over slowly before stepping aside. "Alright, perhaps he is just some dumb kid. Sergeant, take Mr. Jones here to a secure location."

As Rick was led away, Ross looked back to Betty. "We're just going to question him honey, that's all."

As the men slowly marked evidence and filtered their way in and out, Betty walked past them and entered her bedroom.

Chucking the torn and tattered dress off, she collapsed onto her bed and passed out.

Several hours later

Betty, now much more refreshed than before, entered her father's office. Her father didn't even bother to look up as she stood before him. "Sit down" he muttered, waving his hand to one of the chairs sitting before him.

Before she could speak, he started talking. "Betty, remember how you said you were going to find out the truth behind your mother's disappearance?"

Betty, not quite sure of her father's tone, simply nodded.

He continued; "The whole thing started a while back during the war…" he began as Rick entered. "Sit down, I'll deal with you later" he ordered, his tone regaining its harshness.

Picking up a dossier, he slid it across the desk. "Betty, this may sound hard but your mother was the She-Hulk."

"Who?" She asked, her eyes going wide at the file's contents.

Sighing, Ross rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Your mother was exposed to gamma radiation back in '42. That exposure gave her the ability to change into what was later dubbed 'the She-Hulk'. She had quite a few adventures, but we settled down near the end of the war."

"Why, why didn't you tell me this?"

Glancing down, Ross didn't even bother to look up as he spoke. "Betty, I loved your mother more than life itself," he said slowly as he absently traced his fingers over his shoulder. "But near the end she was almost completely gone. She was uncontrollable, but in the end she died saving us."

Brining his head up he looked his daughter straight in the eyes. "But right now that isn't important. You've inherited the curse Betty, and at every sunset you are going to turn into a monster."

He hardly blinked as she tossed the photos in his face. "This is insane! What, you think when the sun goes down I turn into some kind of freak? I can't believe this!" she spat as she stormed out.

Meanwhile, Rick had calmly sat there, sweat building up around his face as Betty slammed the door. Being in front of authority figures was not a new sensation for him, but the look in General Ross's eyes sent shivers down his spine.

Picking up another dossier, Ross began to read aloud. "Jones, Richard Millhouse; age 17. Born in Scarsdale Arizona April 1, 1945. Parents unknown; presently a ward of the State Orphanage." He said without emotion. "Crimes committed as a minor are as follows: grand theft auto, vandalism, resisting arrest, larceny."

Reading off the rest of the offences, Ross finished and quietly closed the dossier. "Mr. Jones, this is what we would call up the creek without a paddle. What you have done here Mr. Jones, is in effect kill any chance my daughter had of a normal life. Besides possibly getting all of us killed as well. Not to mention your little stunt set back months of work on a vary top secret project that has been costing Uncle Sam more money than you will ever earn in your entire lifetime. Am I getting though to you?" he questioned, his tone as hard as steel.

"Crystal" Rick shot back, trying desperately to hide the fear in his voice.

"Good. Because if my daughter comes under any, and I do mean any harm, then I will make sure the FBI will be carrying back two prisoners, you catch my drift?"

Part 4- Enter the Gargoyle

A few hours later, in a small holding cell

Igor, after being fitted with a back brace, laid down quietly as the guards kept their eyes on him. To their eyes Igor was simply sitting still (an obvious thing given his present state).

Igor had no problem letting the guards think that, but at that moment he had other problems. Cut off from the rest of his equipment, Igor, to the eyes of the guards, simply tapped his thumb against the wall.

Unknown to them though, was the small atomic microchip planted under his thumbnail. Tapping out in code, a message was sent to a secret rely station; which in turn sent the message to another station, and another, until it reached it's destination:

Moscow, USSR

Hidden among rows upon rows of nondescript buildings was yet another building. Only this one hides more things than the high-ranking officer's mistress. Inside a dull gray man listened intently to the message being received by the equipment. "Oh no!" he muttered as he quickly jotted down the message on a state letter and stood up. "This message is intended for HIM! Yet, I dare not take it to him!" he feared as he paced around the office before dashing out into the hall.

Spying a secretary typing away on a machine that was an antique before the Party took over, the man tossed the paper onto her desk like a serpent and slunk back towards the safety of his office. "You must take that first floor immediately!" he ordered before slamming the door shut and locking it.

The woman's skin turned three shades of white as she picked up the paper. Without saying a word she stood up and handed the paper to a younger looking man. "Take this to the first floor if you value your life!" she warned as the man trembled at the mention of his destination.

And so it went until finally, a luckless guard was given the task of delivering the bit of news. Slowly approaching the door, the man almost fainted when a gruff voice blared at him from a hidden speaker box.

"What is it?"

"A-a message for you sir, from the Americas!"

"Slide it under the door and leave my sight or face my wraith!" the voice ordered.

Had the guard screwed up enough courage to open the door, a hideous sight would have greeted him.

"He fears me, as should all of humanity!" the voice boasted as the speaker stepped out from behind a desk that was cluttered with electronic devices of all shapes and sizes.

The speaker was a man, although that particular title was at best more of a habit than an actual description. He was short (as witnessed by his head being perfectly level with the doorknob), and to put it crudely he was deformed.

His flesh was a ghastly gray, and his body grossly distorted. His head was bulbous, and his jaw was both stretched out and sunken in at various points.

His short stubby fingers carefully opened the letter and his watery eyes scanned the scribbled words. His mouth stretched back into what might have been a grimace as he crunched the paper in both hands and threw it down.

"A monster in America, one that can rival my own power? Impossible! The Gargoyle is the most powerful one in the world!" he raged as his almost nonexistent fingers punched in a code on a nearby phone.

"Ready me a rocket firing sub and order our own to return to base. I am going to oversee the American missile project myself."

And so with in the hour, a capsule was readied and soon the rocket was blasting across the sky.

This had not gone unnoticed by the American forces. No sooner had the rocket entered into the American airspace than a volley of Hunter missiles had been deployed and blasted the rocket to bits while diplomats from both sides rushed to accuse each other of launching first.

But world would not be rid of the Gargoyle just yet. Seconds before the rocket had been blown up; he jettisoned the nose cone, which reveled itself to be a smaller rocket.

Touching down with little difficulty, the Gargoyle exited the craft and eyed the landscape carefully.

Meanwhile

Betty stormed past the motor pool personal and slumped down in a nearby jeep. Shaking, she heard her tears as they fell from her face. "This is insane!" she thought as she found her hands around the steering and starting the ignition. "I'm not a monster, I'm not!" she yelled as she gunned the engine and peeled out of the pool.

At the same time, Rick, who had just left General Ross's office with the look of a condemned man on his face, stumbled out in time to see Betty making her getaway. "Oh man, I don't need this right now!" he muttered as he raced after jeep and managed to leap into the backseat as Betty slowed near the gate. "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" she shouted as they breezed by the startled guard.

Ignoring the man's shouts, the pair continued out into the desert in relative silence.

Slamming on the brakes, Betty turned around to face her hitchhiker. "Alright, talk. Did my father send you to spy on me?"

"No, he didn't!" he protested. "Look, I know what I saw, and your old man is right." Betty just snickered at Rick's protests as she slammed on the gas and tore off further into the desert.

"Look, I don't know what happened, but I can tell you that I am no monster, got it?" she yelled over the engine as the sun started it's descent.

Rick ducked back into the back seat and crouched down. "Rick, one of these days just stay where you are!" he cursed himself as he noticed the fading daylight.

"I'm not a bogyman Rick." She chided before a sudden and all too familiar pain shot through her head. "My brain, like it's on fire!" she shouted as her hands left the wheel, sending Rick into a panic.

"Oh crud" he managed to say as he debated as to the merits of jumping out of a fast moving vehicle or trying to wrestle control of the wheel.

Betty moaned in pain as the jeep began to serve wildly. "Oh God, it's true, isn't it?" she whimpered as Rick could see her skin taking on a darker tone. Her simple dress, unlike the hospital gown, didn't quite have the strength to withstand the onslaught of her fast growing physique.

"Um, Betty, what about the wheel?" Rick asked as the jeep had begun to swerve even more wildly around the road, hitting every rock in it's path. "Wheel? Who cares about the wheel?" a deep voice that was Betty and yet wasn't answered back from the front seat as Rick suddenly found himself pushed out of the jeep.

The next few seconds were hectic as Rick tumbled end over end in the dirt. When the world finally stopped spinning he looked up and saw the flaming remains of the jeep. "Wow" was all he could muster.

Suddenly, from within the wreckage there were sounds of movement! With a mighty roar the overturned jeep was flipped right side and Rick struggled not to scream at the sight before him.

The Hulk, now a staggering eight fight tall, waded out of the fiery remains like a demon from hell. Looking down at Rick and paying no mind to the fire's hungry licks, the Hulk smirked. "Alright kid" she grumbled, "where are we?"

But, before Rick could answer (and that would be most difficult as his jaw seemed to be frozen shut), they were interrupted by the slight sound of clapping.

"Magnificent! You are truly a wondrous beast!" a strangely accented voice shouted out from behind a boulder.

From behind the rock, a hideous little man emerged. "My spy was accurate in your skills, but not your beauty. I am the Gargoyle, and you join me."

The Hulk smirked before letting out a harsh laugh. "The Hulk serves no one!"

The Gargoyle shrugged before drawing a bizarre pistol. "Willing or not, I am afraid you will accompany me."

Before the Hulk (or Rick) could make a move, the Gargoyle fired two small pellets at them, which both struck their faces. The pellets broke open upon contact and released a odorless gas, at which point both the Hulk and Rick simply stood where they stand, their expressions blank.

Calmly holstering the pistol, the Gargoyle pressed a button on his belt before walking over to the still unmoving forms. "A pity that you aren't aware enough to appreciate my brilliance, but that little pellet I shot you with allows me to have total control over a human for several hours." He smirked as the Hulk slowly lumbered behind him.

Turning to Rick, he barked a similar order. "I don't know who you are, but I've come too far to let some stranger foul things up." He said to the uncomprehending Rick.

Part 5- the Hulk Triumphant!

Soon the unlikely trio was all sitting in a commandeered truck (the driver having been shot with the same type of pellet that had enthralled both Rick and the Hulk), hurtling along the dusty back roads.

Stopping shortly in the middle of the desert, the truck was met by a nondescript cargo plane, where the occupants (sans driver) were loaded into the hold before take off.

"You, my dear, are going to make me the most powerful man in the world!" the Gargoyle cooed as his stubby fingers across the Hulk's knee.

But as the plane flew across the Pacific, a startling transformation began to take place!

As the rays of sunlight were filtered in through the tiny windows, the Hulk began to shrink, until she was once again Betty Ross. Shaking her head, she did her best to cover herself and to snap Rick out of his trance.

"Rick, where are we?" she asked as she felt the plane beginning it's drop.

In a undisclosed location on the western coast of the USSR

Unaware of the changes happening to the cargo, the plane touched down on the snow-covered runway. Once the great metal beast came to a stop, the runway began to sink, reveling the presence of a underground base.

Dozens of soldiers marched out and surrounded the plane as the cargo bay doors were slowly opened to revel:

A semi-nude woman and a dumbstruck teen

The Gargoyle's reaction was more or less as expected. "What is this trickery? Where is the Hulk?" he demanded as armed men rushed the plane and took both Betty and Rick before the deformed leader.

"I-I don't know what you're talking about!" Betty protested as a soldier shoved a gun in her face. "Do not lie to me girl. Take her to my private lab, I will get to the bottom of this nonsense."

As the men rushed to carry out the Gargoyle's orders, he shot a glance back at Rick. "Have the boy put in a cell. I might have a use for him later." He grumbled as he led the now captive Betty away.

Later

Betty sat on a cool metal table in a sterile lab. The door opening made her jump, until she saw the figure in the doorway.

"Rick!" she gasped as she rushed towards the door. "That's far enough Miss Ross" came the grating voice of the Gargoyle from behind Rick. Stepping out from behind the youth, the Gargoyle pointed a more conventional pistol at the pair.

Slamming the door shut with his leg, the Gargoyle motioned them to sit down. Looking up at Betty, he slowly lowered the pistol. "You are Elizabeth Walters Ross, daughter of General Thaddeus Ross and Jennifer Walters."

"Yes, but I prefer to be called Betty" Betty slowly answered. The Gargoyle nodded absently as he climbed a short ladder onto a chair. "Miss Ross, I have studied your mother's history, and from happened on board the plane has lead me to the conclusion that you could serve far better than what my masters intended."

"Oh? And just would that be?"

The Gargoyle sighed and removed a bottle from inside the desk. "Back during the war, we Russians also had a…champion that was born of the gamma rays. She was called the Abomination, and the Party leaders wanted to create an army of similar creatures to fight the West. Thousands were exposed to the rays, experimented on, and horrors that I can't even begin to describe. I was once a normal man, but after being bombarded to so much radiation I turned into this…this gargoyle!" he shook with rage as he tired to open the bottle with his deformed fingers.

"Please, help me. I will give you anything you want in return." He said as he looked over at the pair with pleading eyes.

"Alright, let us go."

"It is, how do you Americans say, a deal?" he said with a grin.

Several hours later

Betty sat nervously on the operating table as she slowly counted the minutes until sunset. The Gargoyle had explained (although she hadn't quite understood him) that via a simply blood transfusion he would be cured. Of course, any positives to Betty were not discussed in such detail, but the man felt that she would have a better chance of controlling her own problems.

"I apologize about this, but the guards are becoming suspicious." He said as Rick entered the room behind him. "They think I am performing experiments on you, so they won't bother us for a while." He said as he rolled up his sleeve and prepped himself for an IV tube. "Mr. Jones, this machine will hopefully hold the secret to both our salvations. Simply throw the switch over there on the wall. If you feel Miss Ross's live is in danger, then feel free to press that large green button over there on the control panel. Understand?"

Rick nodded, but kept a wary eye on the shrunken figure before him.

Throwing the switch and stepping back, Rick was amazed at the sight of the thick red fluid coursing out of Betty and going into the strange machine before him. The Gargoyle writhed in agony as his own blood was also drawn out and into the device.

As Betty lay fairly motionless and the Gargoyle thrashed, Rick noticed a strange change beginning to occur with the man.

His enlarged features slowly began to shrink, as his body began to regain it's normal coloring and height. "S-stop!" he sputtered, spurring Rick to slam on the button with all his might.

"I'm normal!" the Gargoyle said in amazement as he pulled out the tube and easily slid off of the table. "Great, but what about Betty?" Rick demanded as Betty slowly sat up. "I feel weak, but I guess I'll live."

"Excellent, but you must flee now!" The Gargoyle explained as he ran a hand over his still bald (but of normal proportions) head. "I have a rocket hidden for escapes. It has a pre flight already programmed in, so you don't have to pilot it."

"Great, but what about you?" Betty asked as she woozily stood to her feet. "I am a man again. I will not live much longer I fear, but at least I have regained my humanity. Now go!" he rushed as he opened a grate beneath their feet. "This tunnel will take you directly to the rocket, now hurry!"

With a second glance, Betty and Rick ducked down into the hole and took off.

Meanwhile

A man with a figurative fruit salad of medals on his chest stormed past the men, his cheeks flushed and his chest heaving. His name and rank were unknown to the base personal, and they didn't think to ask. "Where is the Gargoyle?" he shouted. "He's not in the lab!" a helpfully subordinate offered.

One gunshot later and the helpful subordinate was now a dead subordinate. "Then find him! He promised me an army, now where is it!" he roared at the scrambling men. "Did someone look in his office?" another lower ranked grunt asked, although much quieter than his fellows.

"Search his office!" the decorated man ordered as the assembled personal marched en mass towards the heavy steel doors.

"Come in!" the familiar voice of the Gargoyle rang out over the PA as the men approached. The door opened on it's own accord, letting the assembled men gasp in horror at the sight before them.

Instead of the deformed creature, there stood a normal (if plain and bald) man. "Where you expecting someone else comrades?" he smiled as he gently pressed a large red button on the center of his desk.

"Stop him!" one of the soldiers shouted seconds before a large majority of them opened fire. The Gargoyle never stood a chance, but instead he simply stood there as the bullets ripped through his body. "It's better," he wheezed through blood soaked lips, "to die like a man, wouldn't you agree?"

The mechanical voice of the PA system then kicked in, with a chilling announcement.

"5 seconds to base self-destruct"

Near the escape rocket, Rick turned at the sound of the strange language being blasted over the speaker. "What's going on?" he shouted as the struts surrounding the rocket began to buckle.

"I don't know, but let's figure that out later!" Betty answered as she gripped her head. "I can feel it happing again Rick!" she almost sobbed as he noticed the rips appearing in her clothes. Without a word, Rick nodded and threw open the hatch as the control panel sprang to life. Ushering Betty in (and doing his best to ignore the moaning) he slammed the door shut and took his seat.

"Hurry!" Betty panted as she fought to keep her seatbelt from stretching. As Rick looked around helplessly, the bay doors slowly opened on their own accord as the rocket began it's own takeoff preparations.

Neither Rick nor Betty understood the Russian words being spoken over the ship's intercom, but they understood the feeling of the engines blasting off as they shot off into the early dusk sky.

As the rocket gained altitude, the base below them was soon little more than a massive fireball, a singular gesture of a man who died free. Rick, feeling his insides being slammed back to the g-forces, turned to see Betty passed out in the her chair. "I hope that little oddball was on the money!" Rick thought as he felt his teeth rattle.

Much to his shock, Rick was proven right as the ship touched down in the welcome sight of the New Mexico desert. "We…we made it!" he whooped as the soft moaning of Betty turned his jubilation into panic.

Looking over, he saw that she…perfectly normal!

"Betty?" he questioned as he slid out of his chair. "What's going on?" she murmured. "We're back, and you're ok!" he said as a goofy grin broke out on his face.

Betty looked down at herself in shock. "I am, but I still have to deal with the Hulk when the sun sets down." She gravely intoned. Rick nodded as he helped her to the door. "I know, and I'll help you every step of the way." He swore as they exited the craft into the bright light of the new dawn.

The end

Sensational Lore

Hey everyone! Yup, I'm back and with a new series this time out. As I sure many of you know (and for those that don't), the twelfth issue of Savage Comics was the last issue. This is the beginning of a new series, which asks this question:

What if Bruce Banner wasn't the Hulk?

Think about it, without him, there would be no Avengers, no Defenders, heck, the world would have been taken over by the Toad Men! So here's my take, continuing from the Savage Comics stories. Speaking of Savage, here's some last minute letters.

From regular Tiffani-

Very nice job. You've amassed quite a collection. Savage Comics has
been a good ride, full of twists and turns. It is disappointing to
see it end but all things do. Thanks for the efforts. :)

Glad you liked it. I hope this new beginning makes up for the cancellation.

From my other regular Lonebeatle-

Sorry to reply so late but i wanted to read this last chapter very
carefully as it deserved, in fact i printed the whole collection in
book format and allow me to say that you have a great book in your
hands!! Maybe someday you should turn it to Marvel to gave them a
fresh backstory for our sweet green gammazon.

Though it's sad to have the end of the series i'm of the opinion that
is a lot better to have a full, finished story than a lot of
incomplete ones that only leave you hanging for the next chapter that
might never appear; also you had a bright idea with the 'Savage
Correspondence' section at the end of every chapter, I'm ashamed that
i didn't appeared much on it meaning that i didn't commented on your
work as often as you deserved while you did on mine (LXL), it was a
cool idea you did there.
The best is that you'll still be here and now with the result of your
poll, i'm glad and will be eagerly waiting for it.

Thanks man, although I think Mr. Slott might have a thing or two to say if I tried to take his job. But speaking of the LXL, when are you going to do the next chapter in that? Don't callously leave your readers adrift kind sir.

Now, here's a wee bit of info on this particular story. This is based on "The Hulk", which was published in the May 1962 issue of The Incredible Hulk #1 by Marvel Comics. The credits belong to Stan Lee (writer) Jack Kirby (art) and Paul Reinman (inks). No profit is intended or made by this work. I am just doing it for fun.

Next issue, we'll see the Hulk taking on her strangest foes yet, the Ghastly Toad men!

But now enjoy some ads for some upcoming works.

Tales to Astonish!

You won't believe your eyes at the sight of Ant-Man and his partner, the Wasp!

Take a Journey into Mystery with the Mighty Thor!

Tales of Suspense!

He Walks, He Moves, He Lives-See the Invincible Iron Man!