A Mighty Tale Told in the Mighty Marvel Manner
The Hulk Vs the Metal Master
March 13, 1963
The Gamma Base was on high alert. This unto itself was not unusual; rather the cause of the alert was different that the normal Grey Giantess sighting. General "Thunderbolt" Ross grumbled as various men rushed back and forth in front of the various monitors in the underground control room. "Alright, so what's going on with our new space probe?"
Dr. Karl Kort, a diminutive man with only a slight ring of hair around his head, nervously approached the general. "Well sir, the readings were going green, until a second ago. Then we lost contact."
Ross was less than pleased. "What? How?"
Dr. Kort tugged at his sweat stained collar. "We are still trying to determine the cause sir. It could be a simply error on our part, or" His voice was cut off as Ross thundered out of the room.
"Or sabotage you mean? I'll get to the bottom of this, one way or another. Meanwhile, you just figured out what happened."
Dr. Kort sighed with relief when Ross stomped out. Turning back to the raging chaos, his joy was short-lived as various monitors began to go haywire. A quick glance at the monitors did nothing to either relive his fears or answer his questions. "Oh dear."
Beatty Ross was trying to be patient. She had several months to work on it. Her transformations were becoming increasingly erratic ever since she had returned from within the Earth's core. She remembered having an argument with her father one night, then waking up almost five miles away in tattered clothes. Sometimes she changed when the sun fell, and other times whenever she became angry, or sad. Sometimes she even changed in her sleep. With Dr. Sterns gone and the Gamma Gun not up to snuff, she had found herself taking a lot of deep breaths lately. There had been a few slips, however, resulting in her transformation in to her dangerous alter ego the Hulk. Her appearances, sporadic as they were, were sadly enough to get more personal assigned to the base.
The only one that really concerned her was the latest security officer: Major Glen Talbot. He was a hard man to dislike, although Rick had taken an immediate distrust of the man. Of course, Betty mused that she should have been wary of the man herself, seeing as to how his job description included the words 'Hulk' and 'capture'. Ross had taken a shine to the younger officer, despite her best efforts, but she knew her father had been covering her occasional vanishing act. "I wish that Gamma Gun was still working. Then I could just control everything." She tried to rationalize her fears when an air raid siren pierced the air. Opening up her window, she peered outside as jeeps raced past her house. When she felt the floorboards rumbling under her feet, she knew something was wrong.
Shutting the window and closing the curtains, she quickly ran to her father's den and grabbed the telephone. Quickly dialing, she hoped that she could stay calm long enough for the line to connect. When a somewhat tired male voice answered on the other end, Betty had to force herself not to get excited. "Rick? I need you to come to the base."
Rick Jones inwardly groaned. "Betty, what's wrong?" He nervously glanced around. His job at the garage didn't pay much, but he didn't feel like losing it if he was caught talking.
"I don't know. The base is going nuts, I-"
When the line went dead, a cold sweat broke out on Rick's brow. "Betty? Betty?" He hung up as a bright flash of light from the desert forced him to the ground. "What was that?"
Ignoring the panicked screaming of his boss, Rick hoped on his bike and raced towards the base. "Lord, why do these things happen on my shift?"
Betty gasped in horror as the light cleared. Standing in the center of the base was a figure the likes of which she had never seen before. It was of average height, but the bright yellow skin, baldhead, and protruding forehead all pointed towards an extraterrestrial origin. A flat silvery disk was under the alien's feet. Betty recognized the metal as coming from their recently launched space probe due to the letters and decals that the alien was standing on. The creature fiddled with a control on the bright red belt it wore around its waist before speaking. "Creatures and other sentient beings. My name is Molyb."
Betty nervously watched from the shadows as her father and Major Talbot issued orders and stared down the alien. Talbot stepped forward. "Greetings. My name is Major Talbot. What is the purpose of your visit?"
The air was tense as the soldiers kept their rifles pointed at the alien. To Molyb's credit, if it showed any outward signs of fear than they were all unfamiliar to Betty. The alien looked at Talbot. "My purpose, human" she noticed a slight change of tone in the alien's voice "is conquest. I have come for your metal and I shall have it with or without your cooperation."
Talbot nodded to the men before drawing his gun. "That's all I needed to hear. Open fire!"
Betty gasped as Molyb simply held up one of his long slender fingers. With that, all the bullets simply stopped in midair. Several men dropped their rifles in despair as the bullets formed a mini barrier, blocking him from their sight. Her father lifted up his walkie-talkie and issued orders as a retreat was issued. "Bring in the heavy artillery, Kort's toys, whatever we got!"
Betty gawked as the bullet barrier crumbled and connected to the shattered remains of the space probe. "Attention creatures!" Molyb shouted as the sound of the approaching tanks nearly drowned him out. "Like all of my race, I have total mastery over all that is metal. I have come for yours, and if it shall not be given, then it shall be removed by force."
With a simple gesture, all of the rifles in the men's hands suddenly shook and turned into liquid. The men scattered as their helmets, buttons, buckles, and zippers were all next to join the increasing pile.
In the midst of the confusion, Betty ran towards her father. "Dad, I have an idea!"
The general nodded as his hat oozed off his head. "Great, tell me later!"
Betty was silent as the rest of the men formed a mob. Ross shouted above the panicked din. "Regroup and follow me!" He moved himself into the front of the crowd and led the way as the mob ran past buildings that had started to shake. Coming near a low concrete bunker, Ross reached into his jacket and pulled out a plastic key. Unlocking the door, he ushered everyone inside.
"Dad, does the Gamma Gun still work?" Betty whispered as the last solider entered.
Ross sighed before he closed the door. "I know what you're planning. At this point, you may be the only hope we have. I had the remains moved to the new scientist's office. Banner, building 3, over on the outskirts; be careful."
Betty nodded and ran. Her control over the Hulk was questionable at best. If she could dose herself with just the right amount of gamma radiation, then she could retain her mind. If the machine was still working, of course, and if she could put it together if it was not; the problem was that there were just too many ifs for her liking.
She jerked with surprise when her buttons flew off and joined the rest of the metal flying and oozing its way towards the ever-growing mass near the center of the base. When her bra hooks joined suit, she simply grimaced and ran harder. She was breathing hard when she near the building.
She didn't know much about Dr. Banner. He was a fairly new hire and had kept to himself when he wasn't working with the other scientists. She hadn't seen him with the crowd, so there was a slim hope that he was either inside and could be scared off, or maybe he just wasn't on the base at all.
Her hopes were dashed when she heard music and someone moving around inside. Composing as much dignity as she could muster, she clutched her tattered dress in one hand and banged on the door with her other. "Dr. Banner!"
She heard the sound of footsteps and the door unlocking. The door was opened just as she knocked once more. "Yes?" the scientist asked just before her fist connected with his jaw.
Mumbling an apology, Betty forced her way in. "Dr. Banner, the base is under attack! We have to leave!"
Dr. Banner rubbed his jaw as he took in her disheveled appearance. "Really? I guess I was playing my records too loud to hear anything." Looking outside, he saw the outlaying buildings shudder and collapse as their metal components were leached out. "Holy Hannah, you're right!"
"Exactly. My father is calling all of the top guys to get inside that special bunker to discuss a plan. You should go. I'm meeting a friend to get me out of here." She almost winced at how lame her excuse was, but the scientist clearly wasn't hearing it.
"And leave you here? Not a chance. Come on, we'll take my jeep." Dr. Banner insisted as he snagged his lab coat.
"Look Dr. Banner, do you have the Gamma Gun?"
"Eh? Why, yes. I was just finishing the modifications on it when you knocked."
Betty's hopes were dashed when she heard. "Modifications? You mean you changed it?"
"Of course. Dr. Sterns' theories were sound, but the energy output was, wait, what am I doing? We need to get out of here!"
"No time!" She pushed the man out of the door and locked it. "I'll explain later. Just go and don't look back!" She felt her heart beating faster. If she didn't try to control the Hulk then, she'd change right there. Backing away from the door, she headed towards the lab as she felt her dress growing tighter.
Throwing open the door, she stumbled inside the lab as she saw the Gamma Gun in all of its wonderful metal glory before her. The device appeared to be finished. A new shiny platform was placed on the floor before it. It seemed to beckon to her as she blindly flipped switches. When she heard the familiar tell-tell humming sounds she tried to stand before it.
She felt feverish as she tried to make it to the platform. Her vision was swimming as the faint sounds of fabric ripping reached her ears. "Please, just another foot." She silently begged as she fell to the floor. Crawling, with spasms going up and down her arms and legs, Betty tore the tattered dress away from her swelling frame just as the concentrated beam of pure gamma radiation struck her with its full fury.
Dr. Banner felt conflicted. On one hand, he knew that young lady was right and that the best thing for him would be to get with the other base personal. On the other hand, he couldn't just leave her there and expect her to find her way back. Plus, there was that whole business with the Gamma Gun. Seeing the building across the road shake and collapse made him choose.
Betty howled in agony as she felt her cell in her body soak up the radiation. A greenish gray haze settled over her eyes as she saw her skin darker to the familiar pallor. Her bones shifted as her muscles swelled. But the pain was worse than it had ever been. Screaming to the Heavens, Betty saw her hands grow and stretch like taffy as her sinews grew to meet the demands her new body would need.
"How do I stop it?" She thought through the haze as the gun continued to pump her with more gamma radiation. The room swam before her as she tried to stand. She heard something inside pop. The pain grew as the room swirled around her. "I'm sorry." She mumbled as she fell back down upon the platform as the gun continued to fire unabated.
A warning klaxon sounded as Dr. Banner reached for the doorknob. "Good Lord, that room is flooded with gamma rays!" He thought as he checked the Geiger counter he had installed in the wall. "Ms. Ross must have turned that gun on by mistake! I've got to shut it off from here. There's no telling how much radiation she's been exposed to by now!" Rushing to the auxiliary master control panel, the slim scientist donned a nearby radiation suit before cutting the power to the lab. "And they thought I was nuts for getting this thing."
Securing himself within the lead lined confines of the suit; Dr. Banner opened the door and entered the lab. "Holy Hannah!" His jaw dropped in shock at the sight before him. Sprawled out on the platform was either Betty or maybe the Hulk.
From the neck up, the soft features and wavy hair clearly belonged to Betty Ross, the same young woman who barged in only scant moments ago. From the neck down, however, the rippling muscles and gray skin were clearly propriety of the rampaging beast known as the Hulk.
Approaching carefully, Dr. Banner nudged the slumbering being. The creature's eyes snapped open and she lurched to a sitting position. "Are you alright?" He asked slowly, keeping mindful of the door behind him.
"Where am I?" The Betty/Hulk thing asked. Her voice was deeper than Betty's soft tones, but the sound of it was enough to make the creature blink. "What happened to me?" Looking straight at him, the creature sat up. Catching a glimpse of her hair, the creature snagged him by the shoulders and used his protective visor as a mirror. Her face contorted with rage when she saw the face looking back at her. "What did you do to me?" she snarled.
"Nothing I swear!" The grip on his shoulder was enough to ensure total honesty.
"I have that weakling's face! That stupid, weak, milksop of a girl's face!" The Hulk growled as she smashed a nearby table with one open hand. Turning to face him, she looked down into his terrified face. "Fix me!"
"I don't know how!" He stammered. Backing up, he continued to talk, hoping for some kind of intervention on his behalf. "Ms. Ross came in when I left. Whatever she did she knows, not me." Seeing the Hulk's fists tighten, he tried another approach. "But that doesn't mean I can't do my best." Hearing another building crash, he changed tactics once again. "Look, something is out there and it's wrecking the base. It could damage this equipment, and if that happens then I wouldn't be able to help you. Understand?"
The Hulk, for as far as he was concerned that was whom he was dealing with, nodded. "Alright, I'll go and smash whatever it is. When I get back, you make me normal again. Understand?"
He nodded. He knew his hood blocked the gesture, but he hoped she got the message. The Hulk pushed past him and headed towards the sound of the disturbance. He panicked though, when it became very clear that she was just going to walk through the wall of the lab to get there. "Wait!" He shouted. "Why don't you go through the door? There'll be less chance of the equipment being damaged."
The Hulk stopped and seemed to think the matter over. "Alright." Looking at her reflection again, she turned to face him. "Got a mask or something? I can't be seen looking like this chump."
Dr. Banner blinked. "Well, I might be able to whip something up. Follow me, please." They exited the lab (after Banner shucked the suit and put it in the decontamination bin), and entered another room across the hall. Flicking on the lights, Banner pointed to another suit. "I was modifying this one. Here, you should be able to cover your head without any trouble."
The Hulk snatched the hood up and slipped it over her head. "Not bad. Mind if I take the rest?"
Dr. Banner blinked as he realized that his guest was not an appropriate state of dress for tackling, well, whatever was causing the destruction to the base. "Be my guest." He offered as the floorboards rumbled under his feet. "Um, maybe we could do this elsewhere?"
The Hulk snagged the bodysuit and ripped the fabric into shreds. Tying them into a makeshift weave, she wrapped it tightly around her torso and hips before knocking the back door off of its hinges. Banner sighed as he darted outside after her. "I think she can take care of whatever is happening here." Looking back at the quivering building, his mind was a blur as he ran towards the relative safety of the emergency bunker. "I hope my Tornadoes albums will be ok. Hmm, I wonder if General Ross knows his daughters' the Hulk?"
The Hulk landed in front of the alien creature with a deafening boom. If the alien was in any intimidated by the massive gray creature before him, he didn't show it. "Are you a native? Or did you also come here to take over this ball of dirt?" He asked.
"Men call me the Hulk, and that will be the last thing you hear!" Her voice was muffled due to the helmet, but her folded arms and defiant pose told the alien enough. He smiled as he raised his hands.
"I suppose your kind can call me the Metal Master. As for threats, I see no point in fighting with an inferior being." With a snap of his long yellow fingers, a nearby tank suddenly turned into liquid and oozed over the Hulk's body. With another snap, the malleable metal solidified into a cage.
The Hulk laughed and easily rendered the bars with barely a grunt. "Sunny boy, if that's the best thing you can do, then I am going to enjoy this!"
"Indeed." The Metal Master bore no expression on his alien face as he folded his arms. "If you think such a display of brute force is enough to intimidate the likes of one who wields control over all that is metal, then you are sadly mistaken." With a bare twitch of his hand, the broken cage reshaped into two puddles and darted around the Hulk's feet to join the larger pile that surrounded the Metal Master. "I'll have you whimpering for mercy beast!"
"The Hulk ain't the whimpering kind!" The gray skinned gargoyle grinned.
The Metal Master held up his hands. "Wait! Perhaps I misjudged you. You clearly have great strength. Perhaps we could join forces? The two of us should easily conquer this puny planet and all of its frail fleshly inhabitants."
The Hulk froze in her tracks. The Metal Master did have a point. She shook her head under the hood and marched forward. "Forget it! The Hulk doesn't need anyone's help!"
"So be it. Since you shall not be my ally, then you will be my ammunition." With a single gesture, four globs of metal shot out from the pile and affixed themselves to the Hulk's extremities. The Hulk simply laughed.
"You're a slow one, aren't you? What're you going to do when I rip these things off?"
The Metal Master offered no reply. With a curt nod, the Hulk was suddenly lifted into the air. "You forget my control over metal. If it wrapped around you tight enough, then I am able to do this." With a glance, the Hulk was hurtled into the ground. More metal poured onto her prone form. "I shall encase you utterly, then I shall destroy you!"
The vaguely humanoid shaped lump of metal was once again lifted into the air. The mass was raised higher and higher, until it was nearly a speck in the sky. The Metal Master clenched his fists and pointed to the command bunker, where the assembled troops were nervously watching. General Ross looked on through a pair of binoculars as he vainly tried to catch a glimpse of the Hulk's form. He dropped them when he did. "Evacuate, now!"
The Hulk tried to rip free of the metal prison, but while her movement was unrestricted, she found that she could get no leverage. Her vision blurred, as she was flung higher and higher into the air. She didn't start to panic until she realized that she was no longer going up, but rather going down.
General Ross ordered the men and staff to clear the bunker just as the whistling noise grew louder. Half of the men were outside when the metal clad Hulk suddenly swerved away and plowed into the ruined remains of another building. The Metal Master raised his fingers as the crumpled humanoid shape rose through the air again and crashed into another building.
"My God, that thing's going to killer her!" Ross paled as he helped his men out. "Talbot, do we have any guns left?"
Major Talbot scrambled past him. "Negative sir. Most of our gear was destroyed in the initial attack. Dr. Kort's lab was taken out too."
"Fantastic" Ross grumbled. "Major, help organize the men and get them away from this base. Find a way to contact D.C. and tell them of our situation. That's an order."
Talbot blinked. "Sir? What about you? What about the Hulk for that matter?"
"I'll stay behind. Someone has to. Now get moving!"
The Hulk opened her eyes as she felt the wind whistling against her. The glass covering of her hood was cracked in several places. It hurt to breathe, and she knew that was never a good sign. Trying to shake her vision in focus, she saw the ground rapidly rising up to meet her again as her arms and legs were stretched out and locked into place. She managed a defiant roar as she hit the ground headfirst.
The Metal Master, a strange grayish liquid oozing down his back, lifted the Hulk once again high into the heavens. Before he could slam her into another pile of metal or debris, the lone form of General Ross darted out before him. "Stop, please!"
"You would beg for your champion?" The alien sounded bored as the Hulk's descent was momentarily halted.
"Yes, please just stop!" Ross's voice cracked as he saw the Hulk's head hanging limply.
The reply was swift. "Very well." With a gesture, the Hulk was sent hurtling into the now empty bunker. The gray skinned behemoth plowed through the concrete like a bullet through cardboard.
Ross was shaken at the sight as twin metal cords suddenly wrapped around his throat and lifted him into the air. "Now tell me Earthling, where might I go to establish my dominion over this world?"
Ross struggled to talk as the cords tightened around his throat. "Will you leave if I tell you?"
"Of course. Wherever or not you are among the living when I do I leave to you. Where shall I go?"
"Washington D.C. It's a large city on the east coast."
The Metal Master grinned. "Thank you. For your help, I shall spare you." In an instant, the cords loosened and Ross fell to the ground. Rising into the air under a flat sheet of metal, the Metal Master took the sky and flew off.
Ross scrambled to his feet and dashed to the Hulk. Yanking the hood off, the sight of her bruised but gray face gave him little hope. A nervous throat clearing made him jump. "What?"
Dr. Banner nervously tapped his foot as he stared at the scene before him. "Um, General Ross?"
Sighing, the older man rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Alright Dr. Banner, what do you know?"
"Well, judging from your reaction, plus the fact that when Ms. Ross used the Gamma Gun on herself her head wasn't altered, I think I can say I know the Hulk's secret. And the Metal Master as well."
"Great. Help me with her" Her pointed to the still unconscious form of his daughter. "Then tell me. We have to contact the Pentagon, the Fantastic Four, somebody!"
"How about me?"
Both men whirled around to see Rick Jones. "Sorry I was late, but my bike got a flat." Seeing the Hulk laid out barely trigged a response. "How's she doing?"
General Ross shouted. "Look kid, we are all extremely busy here. My daughter just took a beating that would kill a normal human, we have an alien heading towards our nation's capital, and it seems that most of our weapons were destroyed." His voice grew louder. "So just say your piece and clear out of here before I have you tossed in the stockade!"
Rick was taken aback. He didn't let the general's words deter him. "Look Ross, the only reason I came out here was because of Betty and I don't"
"Quiet!" All three men were silenced when the Hulk shouted. Standing up, the massive Amazon glowered at all three of them. "All right, where did that little twerp go? Nobody does that to the Hulk!"
Much to the shock of Ross and Rick, Dr. Banner stepped forward. "Hulk, how would you like to get even with that creature?"
"What'd you have in mind little man?" The Hulk cocked an eyebrow.
"A plan, that's all. General Ross, do we have any working radios?"
Looking around at the devastation, Ross shook his head. "I'd have to check, but I doubt it."
"Hey, I have a radio!" Rick blurted out. He was greeted by three looks of surprise. "It's a ham radio, but it works."
"It'll have to do. Rick, take me to it. General Ross" he gestured to the man. Walking away from the youth and the Hulk, the scientist whispered. "Just keep the Hulk here and occupied. Tell her I'm whipping up a weapon or something for her to use, ok?"
General Ross nodded. As he saw the boy and the scientist speed away on Rick's motorcycle, the looming image of the Hulk did little to soothe his nerves.
Rick pulled into the parking lot. Troops from the base, as well as quite a few townspeople, were all jammed into the lot and listening to the various radios that had been brought in. Reports were coming in from as far as Georgia about the Metal Master's whereabouts and his effect on the world. Metal from all over the globe was being uprooted and flying towards the alien attacker. Bridges from Europe, precious metals from Africa and more were being flung heavenward by the unseen powers of the Metal Master. People were in a panic, and things could only get worse. Dr. Banner got off the cycle and slipped a note to Rick. "I'm going to have to answer some questions. I'll stall them for you while you contact your friends. Follow my instructions to the letter."
In the throng of people, Rick easily slipped through the crowd. Ducking around to the back of the building, Rick rushed into the small space he made for himself and locked the door behind him. On a small rickety card table sat a device that could easily help save the world. Rick took a seat and flipped the radio on and slipped on the headset. "Come on people, let me know if you're out there."
Meanwhile, Dr. Banner was facing down some problems that rivaled Rick's own. "Blast it all man, where were you?" Talbot groused as many eyes were turned to him.
"I was in my lab when the attack happened." Banner calmly explained. "I was trapped in the basement."
"A likely story Dr. Banner!" Dr. Kort sneered. "Either you were cowering, or more than likely, you were in cahoots with that blasted alien!"
Dr. Kort's words sparked off angry murmurings and suspicious glances from the crowd. Major Talbot stepped forward and put himself between the scientist and the mob. "Hold it people! Right now we have a bigger problem on our hands and the last thing we need is some panicky idiot going off." The major stared in Kort's direction as he spoke.
The scene was growing tenser as Rick finally made contact. "Buddy, you there?"
Buddy, a slightly overweight teen some several miles away, spoke breathlessly into his headset. "Rick, what's going on?"
"Everything is crazy over here and I can't explain more than that. Look, raise as many people as you can and tell them to have this stuff ready." Rick glanced over the list Banner had given him. "We'll send someone to pick the stuff up, but don't tell anyone about this, ok?"
Buddy listened intently as he scribbled down the items Rick described. "I guess I can get this stuff, and I know a few other kids too, but Rick, how can any of this junk help?"
Rick, although unseen by Buddy, smiled. "With that, you're just going to have to trust me. Oh, and try not to be too spooked when that stuff gets picked up."
"I'm bored." With any other person, that particular statement may have come across as whining, but those words exited the Hulk's mouth, General Ross knew that something far worse than boredom could happen.
"Easy Hulk" He chose his words carefully. "Dr. Banner is working on the plan, but this is one thing you can't win by a frontal assault."
The Hulk snorted and kicked over concrete block. "That punk just got lucky, that's all. Next time I'll wrap a jeep around his neck." She stretched. The lead lined tatters had long since fallen off, but thankfully some spare uniforms were on hand.
"No, you won't." Ross stood impassively as the Hulk visibly flinched and stared at him. "The Metal Master would just beat you again, maybe even kill you."
The Hulk glowered at him, and for an instant Ross felt like running away. He banished those thoughts as he reminded himself that despite her appearance, the Hulk was still his daughter. "Ok Hulk, if you want to leave, I won't even try to stop you."
"Great." The Hulk turned and started to walk away before she stopped. Looking at the still standing lab of Dr. Banner, Ross could tell she thinking about something deep. "I'll stick around after all." She grunted to her father before sitting down in the dirt. He didn't even try to ask what changed her mind, but if he had, his relief would have been short lived. "The Gamma Gun is in there. I don't know how that wimp Betty managed to spring me, but I know that gun is the key. If I get zapped again, I'll be stuck inside Betty, but if I get, then I'll be the one calling the shots. Heh, I'll stick around old man, just long enough to see you choke on that mustache." She smiled quietly to herself as Ross looked on.
Rick quietly slipped through the crowd after radioing his friends. The word was out, for better or worse. Dr. Banner looked to be on the receiving end of a lynch mob. "You government types are always up to something!" a particularly red faced older man shouted at the troops. A collective cheer went up at the man's words. "I bet you started this whole thing!"
"Look pal, we're just doing our jobs, same as you." Major Talbot tried to keep the peace, but he was clearly on the losing side of the argument. The troops were closely knitted but unarmed, while the townspeople brandished various bits of wood, rock, and even few had torches.
"How did it go?" Dr. Banner whispered to Rick.
"I got through. So what's the next part of our plan?"
"Get the heck out of here for one."
The pair slipped away to Rick's motorcycle just as the crowd began to pelt the men with trash. "Shouldn't we tell them what's going on?"
Dr. Banner shook his head. "No son. From what I've seen, the Hulk doesn't handle crowds very well. For our plan to work, we have to rely on her and her alone."
The Hulk lifted her head when she heard the sound of Rick's motorcycle coming back to the base. She stood up and scratched herself as Dr. Banner raced towards her. Thrusting a piece of paper in her hand, the slim scientist panted breathlessly. "Here; Metal Master nearing D.C.; following instructions." He fell to his knees and struggled to catch his breath.
Glancing over the paper, the Hulk raised an eyebrow at the list. "This looks like a bunch of junk. What am I supposed to do with it?"
Gulping air, Dr. Banner pointed to the back of the paper. "Just follow the instructions on the back and you should be just fine."
The Hulk only nodded in response before tucking the list into the fold of her outfit. General Ross walked in front of her as she turned around. "Wait Hulk, how can you get to D.C. so fast?"
The Hulk grinned as she none too gently shoved the older man aside. "Step aside old man. These gams of mine aren't just for show." Breaking into a sprint, the Hulk leapt into the air and quickly became little more than a speck on the horizon.
At the remains of the base, Rick gave a low whistle as he saw the speck fade away into the distance. "Wow."
"Dr. Banner, will your plan work?" General Ross asked as he gazed around at the devastation.
"It should. If it doesn't, well, at least we can say we tried." Dr. Banner sighed. "It all depends on her."
The Hulk landed with a thud somewhere in the middle of a junkyard. Taking the list out, she saw a name and an address. "Might as well start at the top." She mused as she strolled. Checking the name with the address, she walked up to a slack-jawed policeman. "Excuse me, is this Texas?"
"Uh" the man stuttered. The Hulk ignored his stares as she bent down and looked at his badge. Nodding in agreement, she turned around and leapt off into the distance. The man shook his head as a crowd had gathered. "They'll never believe me."
Landing in a suburban area, the Hulk checked the list again as she walked down the sidewalk, leaving her footprints imbedded in the concrete. "Let's see here," She thought to herself as she checked out the address on the mailboxes with the one on the list. Finding the one that matched, she made her way up the walkway and knocked on the door.
A short teen with an unruly mop of brown hair opened the door. "Hi. Name's the Hulk. You got something for me." The Hulk's greeting caused the young man to promptly pitch backwards and pass out. "Great." The Hulk grunted and walked around to the back of the house. Seeing a large tarp with the initial 'H' drawn on it, she smiled and snagged the item without even looking at it. "One down at least." She thought as she leapt through the air again. "Better step it up though. I wouldn't want that alien freak to forget about me."
The Metal Master floated above the White House lawn on a sheet of what was once the president's limo. A giant hovering ball, with the outlines of various monuments from around the world jutting out at odd angles, was suspended high above him. "People of the Earth, I stand before one of your leaders asking for his utter surrender." The Metal Master broadcasted from a stolen radio. "If he fails to comply within one of your minutes, I shall level this city before moving onto other capitals."
Within the White House, things were just as tense. Members of the cabinet were assembled around the desk of the most powerful man in the free world, but all of them were silent as the alien threat hovered not fifty feet from them. Ideas were tossed around, but they were all shot down by the man behind the desk. "Mister President, please,"
"And what good would our missiles be against that? No Bob, something like this is out of our hands."
A look of pure confusion spread across Bob's features, as well as the rest of the cabinet. Turning around in his chair, the President mimicked their looks at what he saw before him. The Metal Master had lowered himself to the ground as another strange visitor had arrived.
"Who is that?"
The Hulk landed with an impact that rattled every window within three-square blocks. Across her back was a mysterious covered object. "Ok pal, we can do this hard way or my way."
The Metal Master chortled as he looked at her. "Again? Didn't my beating teach you anything? But if you desire another lesson, far be it from me to dissuade you."
The Hulk grinned as she slung the tarp-covered object off of her back. With a tug, she pulled away the cloth and held the object up proudly. "Alright, but this time it's going to be you on the losing end."
The Metal Master's laughter increased as he saw what was in the Hulk's hands. "A rifle? Did you loss rattle your brain? I am the Metal Master you witless fool! You've delivered unto me yet another victory!"
The Hulk's grin never wavered as she pointed the dangerous looking weapon at the Metal Master's head. "Then why don't you try to stop me before I blast a hole in you with this baby?"
The Metal Master reached out with his hands and pointed at the rifle. Much to his shock, nothing happened. A dark stain spread across his midriff as he pointed at the rifle and concentrated. Beads of grayish liquid appeared across his face as his brow knitted in concentration. "Why won't it bend to my will?" Panic began to set in. Mumbling under his breath, the Metal Master tried to force the weapon to break. "I order you! Why won't you obey me?"
The Hulk casually walked up to him and aimed at his head. The Metal Master looked down and saw a glowing red light over the barrel. "Wait, perhaps we can still come to an agreement!" He said through clenched teeth.
"Two things, or else I see just what an alien's guts look like. One, put all the metal back where it's suppose to go." Her finger tightened around the trigger.
"Alright!" With a mere wave, the giant ball of metal broke apart and flew off into different directions. Bridges were put back, monuments restored, and even bits of currency were returned to the rightful owners. Weapons were put back in the rightful hands and machines were restored to their original places.
The Metal Master sank to his knees in exhaustion. "Very well, and what is your second wish?"
"I want you off of my planet and never come back."
The alien nodded in agreement as the metal sheet that kept him in the air suddenly bubbled and enveloped him. The metal cocoon suddenly streaked off into the sky and within seconds was gone from even the most advanced radar. Rearmed Secret Service men rushed onto the lawn with their weapons drawn. "Hold it, we want some answers!"
The Hulk looked down at the men in black. "You want answers? Here, use this." And with no visible effort on her part, she tossed the massive rifle at the nearest agent and leapt away.
The agent caught the weapon on impulse, but while he and his fellow agents were all expecting him to be crushed under the enormous weight of the weapon, all of them stopped when he lifted it with one hand. "This thing's a fake. Just plastic, glass, and paper. I don't believe it."
Several hours later, the Hulk once again touched the arid desert ground. "Ha! Perfect landing, and I bet those chumps at the base are still stumbling around!" The Hulk spied the base off in the distance and easily sprinted the rest of the way. Seeing the jeeps and tanks moving around caused her to slow down, as not to attract too much attention. Many of the buildings were already repaired due to the Metal Master's defeat, which made sneaking around the base easier.
Spying Dr. Banner's lab and the unguarded door, the Hulk dashed in between buildings and parked vehicles and easily slipped inside. "Just a quick zap, and I'll leave Betty to clean up things." The Hulk stepped inside the lab and checked out the Gamma Gun. A quick glance showed that the weapon was rebuilt with no visible changes, but the sounds of people approaching made her panic. Switching the machine on, the Hulk stepped in front of the barrel and fired the gun.
A beam of pure gamma radiation shot out and struck the Hulk. The giant gray skinned beauty gritted her teeth as waves of pain passed through her. "C'mon, change already!" She panted as she fell to her knees. Her skin felt like it was going to burst as she lunged forward and hit the control panel. The gun switched off in an instant.
The Hulk sat up and stared at her hands. "What went wrong? I'm still the Hulk! I hate that blasted weakling Betty, but I can't stay like this here! The army won't stop hunting me." Walking away from the gun, the Hulk left the lab and entered what might have been Dr. Banner's quarters
A passing solider flipped on a portable radio and stood near an open window. The sound traveled far enough for the Hulk to hear. "For those just tuning in, startling developments in our nation's capital. At 3:00 Eastern Standard Time, the President of the United States called a press conference." The voice changed to the familiar tones of the Commander in Chief.
"My fellow Americans. On this day, we, as both a nation and as a planet, came face to face with a hostile visitor from another world. The cost of victory was high, but we paid it. The one person we should thank, however, is the one that many of us now the least about. A strange creature, dubbed The Hulk by our military, arrived here and not twenty feet from where I am standing drove off the alien menace without a care or thought to her own safety. On the behalf of myself and the people of the United States, I give my most heartfelt thanks. And furthermore, by the power vested in me by the people, I hereby pardon the Hulk for any and all crimes committed within the borders of the United States."
If the Hulk was in anyway relieved by the news, she didn't show it. "Pardoned? I save the whole crummy planet, and they 'pardon' me?" Her hands clenched in rage as she blindly swung her arms. "I'll show them a pardon!" Furniture, walls, and everything else fell victim to her rage. "It's too late! Everything's too late! I'll be hunted by those puny humans wherever I go!"
The Hulk, or rather Betty, knew such a commotion would bring attention, but she didn't care. Tearing a bookcase free of the wall, the Hulk lifted it high overhead and prepared to use it as a club on the Gamma Gun when she felt a tremor go through her muscles. Dropping the bookcase, the Hulk leaned against the wall as she felt her leg muscles spasm. "What's happening?"
Sliding down to the floor, the Hulk was fading in both body and mind when Rick entered the room. "Betty?"
Betty weakly looked up and smiled. "Hi. I heard the news, how's daddy taking it?"
"Pretty well actually. Talbot's a bit sore, but orders are to leave the Hulk alone." Looking around, he gave a low whistle as he helped Betty to her feet. "What happened?"
Betty looked away from him when she spoke. "I don't know. Rick, it's getting harder to change back and forth." When she turned to face him, Rick noticed the tears welling up in her eyes. "You can't imagine the pain, the anguish! Heaven help me Rick, I never want to go through with that again!"
"Take it easy Betty. The ray just had a delayed reaction, that's all."
Betty stumbled away from him. "No, that's not all. The Hulk, the Hulk is trying to get out. If I keep blasting myself with the Gamma Gun, I'm not sure if I turn myself back. Rick, I just need to be alone right now, ok?"
Rick was silent as he watched her walk away. Glancing over the destruction, Rick silently swore. "The Hulk is getting out of control. How long before she attacks people again?" Looking at the heavy lead door leading to the lab, Rick shook his head. "The Gamma Gun's been nothing but trouble, but how can the Hulk be controlled? The Gamma Gun just makes everything more unpredictable every time she uses it." His thoughts dark, Rick left the building, promising to help Dr. Banner fix the place up. He didn't see any sign of Betty outside, and that worried him. The afternoon sun cast odd shadows around the base. "The Hulk's Betty, I can't ever forget that. How can one survive without the other?" Rick walked out towards his motorcycle and the open road. "That group of kids I made contact with today might be something though. I wonder if they might be able to help?"
Thanks, and I hope everyone has had a happy bunch of holidays. This tale was based "The Incredible Hulk Versus the Metal Master!" which was first printed in The Incredible Hulk #6 (March 1963), with credits being given to Stan Lee (script), Jack Kirby (pencils), and Steve Ditko (inks).
Next time out, be here to see the gray skinned gargoyle take on a certainly blue-eyed and ever-loving nephew of Aunt Petunia. Now, another note: With The Incredible Hulk #6, the series was cancelled (largely to make room for some guy named Spider-Man), but because you the readers spoke, the Hulk is going to stay in her own solo series.
And now some fan mail:
That was another very cool story. I feel bad but I
have the same compliments I always do. I really liked the dialogue
you wrote and I thought the pacing and your writing style go well
Thanks for sharing. :)
And thank you for reading Tiff, while I'm at it, I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all my peers and peeps across the Internet. And be sure to keep your peepers a'popin for the upcoming works.
Tales to Astonish #5-The Vengeance of the Scarlet Beetle!
Amazing Adventures #3-Droom meets Zamu!
Journey into Mystery #8-Trapped by the Carbon-Copy Man!