A Mighty Tale Told in the Marvel Manner!
The Celebrated Flying Toads of Outer Space!
May 15, 1963
Betty slouched in the booth. She had been wary of coming near civilization, but hunger won out. She barely had enough for the coffee, but the waitress took pity of her. Sipping the hot beverage carefully, she tried to plan ahead. "What am I going to do?" The Madman's story seemed true. She caught a brief bit over the diner's radio about a taskforce, but the cook changed it. She couldn't bring herself to listen to it again anyway.
"Alright, I'm being hunted, but what can I do? Give myself up?" That made her shudder, but at least she could have a chance to explain what was going on. "And it might be easier than running around the country waiting to get picked up for vagrancy." Throwing a few coins on the counter, Betty stepped out into the cool night. The light from the sheriff's office drew her towards it. "Ok, so how do I go about it? If I change, that just might cause more problems, but if I just confessed they might think I was crazy."
As she crossed the street, high above in the night sky one of the stars did a most unusual thing. It moved out of orbit and streaked down towards the Earth. It stayed the same relatively small size, dodging signs and the like until it was directly behind Betty. Betty stopped as her fingers rested on the sheriff's door handle. She could feel the heat from the strange object right behind her.
"What?" was all she could get out before a blinding light enveloped her. The glowing ball then shot off towards the sky, leaving the street empty once more. The door opened seconds later as a very confused deputy leaned out into the street.
"Must have imagined it."
Betty slowly opened her eyes. Her body was covered in a strange bluish substance and despite her struggles, she couldn't move. "Don't bother moving, that stuff just gets tighter the more you struggle." A familiar voice spoke from a darkened corner.
"I was hoping they wouldn't get you."
While back on planet Earth
A truck passed through the gates of the Gamma Base. The entire area was frenzied with activity as more and more troops were rushing past them.
Inside the truck, Dr. Banner tapped his foot nervously. Major Talbot glanced at him. He tried to say something, but the armed men on either side of the major made him even more nervous. "So…"
"Can it Banner." Talbot rested his hand on his sidearm. "The only reason you're not locked up is you're only man we have that can get this equipment up and running in time."
Banner nodded as he was led out of the truck. One of the guards undid his shackles. Rubbing his wrists, he looked out towards the row of labs. "Alright, so which lab is mine?"
"They all are. Now get to work."
Betty and Rick were wheeled together down a small hallway. The two Toad Men pushed them out of their cell hadn't said a word about where they were taking them, but Rick had an idea. "I overheard them talking about a trial." Betty was silent. What kind of trial? She doubted it would be a fair one, but even if it was, could they escape?
She and Rick were wheeled into a well-lit room. Before them sat a Toad Man. Behind him was a small window, showing nothing but the vast emptiness of space behind him. They were positioned upright before their escorts saluted and left. The judge, if that was what he was, returned the gesture. He glared at them balefully. "You two stand accused of a most serious crime."
"What crime?" Betty felt the anger in her rising. "You invaded our world and we stopped you. Is there a crime in that?"
"Yes!" The Judge slammed his fist down on the table. "In accordance with our laws, if a fleet fails to conquer a planet, then the fleet is not allowed to return home! We have been adrift in this blasted sea of stars for months. Mocked, attacked, unable to find any civilized planet that would have us, all because of you! And furthermore, due to our banishment, our world was attacked by our enemies!"
"That's not our fault!" Rick protested.
"Yes it is!" The Judge marched over to them. "We were the only fleet left. Our world was left defenseless."
"Well what do you want us to do about it?" Betty tried to remain calm. She doubted the Hulk could escape, and even if she did, where would they go?
"The boy must die for his crimes. You, on the other fin, may be spared."
"I'm flattered, but why?" Betty figured why they wanted her alive, but she knew she had to play along.
"You can…I'm not sure what you Earthlings call it, become something stronger. We need that other you to fight for us."
Betty smirked. "Yeah, good luck with that. The Hulk would tear through this ship and your crew the moment she got out."
Now it was the Judge's turn to smirk. From behind his back he drew a small object and pressed one end of it to Rick's forehead. "Really? Then perhaps you should explain to this… Hulk what a point blank blast of pure heated plasma can do to a living thing."
Betty's heart raced. "You can't do that!" Her blood was pounding away in her ears as she felt the change start.
"You have three of your Earth seconds to comply, or the boy dies here and now."
"I thought you were already going to kill him?" Betty felt the power coursing through her veins. Her skin took on a darker shade.
The judge was unmoved. "I can see sparing him his life, but only if I can have the Hulk."
Grinding her teeth, Betty felt her clothing give way under the gel. "Be careful what you wish for." Her hair grew longer until it covered her face. Slumping over, the judge saw the gel cocoon swell, as Betty's body grew larger with each passing second. Throwing her head back, her face was distorted with fury, as the cocoon was stretched thinner and thinner. The Hulk was alive and angry.
"Hulk smash!" Thrusting her arm out, the judge stepped back in alarm as holes began to form around the Hulk's fingers.
"Impossible! That material could back an entire platoon of Kree troopers!" He quickly darted towards the door as the Hulk tore her way free. As his small stubby hands reached for the controls, he was plucked up by a hand bigger than his torso.
"No, what was that about hurting Hulk's friend?"
"Bruce old boy, you know how to get in deep, don't you?"
Dr. Banner stared at the notes before him. Plans for missiles, tanks, and ray guns of various strengths all lay stretched out before him. All with one single purpose in mind: to stop the Hulk. "But that's the kicker, isn't it? The Hulk really hasn't done anything wrong, has she?" He didn't dare say anything aloud. He knew they were listening in; he found four bugs around the one lab already. "What can I do? It's not like they're just going to leave me alone, and as it is they could lock me up and throw away the key. If I fail to do anything, it's jail, but if I actually build these horrible weapons, the Hulk may die."
He found no solace in the drab gray walls.
The judge wiggled in the Hulk's grasp. "Wait! Put me down, please!" The Hulk shrugged and dropped him with no fanfare. Walking over to Rick, she easily tore away his cocoon. "You ok kid?"
Rick rubbed his legs as he got to his feet. "Just dandy."
Flinging the foul mess into a corner, the Hulk turned her full attention back to the judge. "Ok, now how about you take us back to Earth before I shove out of that window?"
The judge straightened up and stared up at her. "Very well, but please, allow me to ask you one thing. If we returned you to Earth, would you be happy?"
The Hulk stopped short. "What do you mean?"
"Well, we've been monitoring your television signals and radio broadcasts. Hunted, hated, why return to that? Among the stars, you could find peace. Help us, and we'll give you a planet of your very own." The judge's words were sweet. The Hulk's eyes darted between him and Rick.
"Tempting. Keep talking."
"Please, come with me." The judge stepped outside, but Rick put his hand on the Hulk's arm.
"Hulk, you can't do this!"
The Hulk shook him off and turned around. Her glare alone was enough to make Rick stand back. "Why not? All I've ever been is hunted and hounded. If not by the military, then by somebody else, tell me, why shouldn't I?"
"They tried to conquer the Earth!"
"So?" The Hulk snorted in contempt and strolled out the judge. "Let'em. It's not like they could do much worse."
"Hulk, listen to me!" Rick reached out and grabbed onto her wrist. For his trouble he was dragged along. "I've been here longer! They're planning on using you as a weapon, nothing more!"
The judge turned around and fired his weapon at Rick. The eerie red light struck the youth in the chest, knocking him down without a sound. "Have no fear, it was set on stun." Showing the blaster to the Hulk, he escorted her out into the hall. "If you want him spared, then I'll argue it before the Council. For now, however, he must remain locked in that room."
The Hulk glanced back at the room as the door slid shut. She simply nodded as she followed the judge down the corridor towards the bridge. "So, if I agree, what then? You just drop me off on some nice deserted planet and that's it?"
"What? No, no, of course not." The judge slipped on a faded and torn jacket. "You are to our greatest weapon. With your power by our side, we shall regain our lost honor and return home as heroes." Turning down another corridor directly before the bridge. "Your quarters. If you require anything, don't hesitate to inform one of my crew."
The Hulk strolled into the room. It was small by her standards, but she could at least sit down. The bed was no bigger than a sofa, but it held her weight. "Rick said they were using me. Well, what can they do? If they try anything funny, I'll smash them all." Content with her plan, she stretched out as much as she could. "Can't sleep, at least not yet. Might change back, and I'm not going to blow this kind of a deal."
As she rested, she noticed that the air seemed staler than before. "Probably recycled, but then again." Getting up, she felt around the air vent. The air now had a kind of sweet smell to it. "Gas." Gripping the edges of the vent, she mashed it closed as best she could. Walking over to the door, she found it closed and non-responsive. Balling her fists up, she seethed with rage.
"Hulk Smash!" With one punch the door fell away like it was made from paper. Rushing forward, her head left a sizable hole in the doorframe as she stomped out into the hall. "Alright you little punks, who wants to kicked into outer space first?" Her yells echoed down the hallway, but as she stomped closer to the bridge, she thought it odd that there was no one there; no reaction to her escape nor any sirens to notify of the danger. "What gives?" The air grew thicker the further she walked. Her anger grew with each passing step. She began to embed her feet into the metal floor gratings as she stomped her towards the bridge.
Rendering the doors into pulp, the Hulk stopped as she entered the empty room. Angrily ripping a nearby chair free from the floor, she swung it around into various panels. "If you bums won't fight fair, then I'll rip this buck of bolts apart until you do!"
The captain watched silently as the Hulk's destructive rampage continued. One of his underlings nervously stepped forward and whispered to him. "Sir, please, that brute will destroy the ship!"
"I'd sacrifice a hundred ships if it meant a chance to be rid of that monster!" The captain turned to his medics. "Is the sick bay ready?"
"Yes sir, but we're still not sure if the process will work!"
"It will. It has to!"
Despite her best efforts, the Hulk began to fill the effects of the gas. Her limbs grew heavy as the chair slipped out of her hands. "Lousy aliens, why don't you come out and fight?" Her tone was weak and slurred. Staggering, she tried to stand up by leaning against a handrail. The metal bar, sadly, was not able to support her weight. With a groan, the railing gave way, sending her crashing to the floor.
Toad men, each wearing special masks, entered the destroyed bridge. "Alright, hook the anti-grav disks to her and wheel her into the med lab on the double!"
Rick woke with a start. The room around him was dark and he could hear the sounds of movement and breathing. For a brief second, he thought he was back in the orphanage. As his eyes cleared, he saw that he was strapped down to a table with Betty a few feet away. Toad men hopped and waddled around.
She was slowly coming to. The toads had hooked her up to various machines. Tubes of various shapes and colors were running out of her body. She opened her eyes. "What's going on?"
The captain gloated as he walked over. "Simple. I wasn't lying when I said we wanted to use you as a weapon. But then, I wondered, why use you, when all we really need is your power?" Gesturing to the machines, he cackled. "You see? Within moments, we will have the answer to your powers. With that in our possession, we can convert our troops into Hulks and conquer!"
"You're mad, it'll never work!"
The captain's grin never wavered. "You think so, don't you? Well, have no fear. We're feeding enough drugs into your system to drop a Skrull. Escape is impossible!"
Rick stretched out his hand. Unlike Betty, they saw no need to keep him drugged or even tie his straps down. Slipping a hand free, he undid his buckles and slipped off the table. "Ok, I'm free, but now what?" Glancing around, he spied an unguarded control panel. He rushed forward as the crew's attentions were elsewhere but he froze, as his hands were poised above it. "What do I do?" The control panel was covered with various multicolored buttons, switches, and pieces of glass with strange markings flashing across them.
"Hey, the other Earthling is free!"
"Aw, nuts!" Rick clenched his fist and slammed it down on the control panel. He cracked one sheet of glass, sending sparks into the air. Ducking a shot that took out the rest of the panel, Rick slipped past the closing door and ran pell-mell down the hall.
While the members of the crew fought the fire that was now engulfing the med lab wall, a startling change began to occur within Betty. The drugs stopped flowing into her system. Burning them out, she easily tore free of the metal restraints and slid off of the table. Ripping out of the IV lines, her wounds healed as she felt the Hulk inside. Within her minds eye, she saw the gray behemoth. "Let me out!"
"I'm not going to fight you, but we are going to work together on this, understand?"
The Hulk grinned. Physically, the change was almost instantaneous. Her frame was rippling with muscles as the remnants of her clothing fell away. "Alright, everyone line up for your beating." She cracked her knuckles for extra effect.
The captain noticeably paled. "Retreat!" The crew fell other themselves in their mad rush to escape. The Hulk wasn't feeling so forgiving.
"Come back here you little runts!" Ripping the exam table free, she tossed over the heads of the Toad Men. It hit the wall with a heavy thud, blocking the exit. They turned around and looked at her as the fire spread behind her.
"You're mad! The fire, we'll be burned alive!" The captain pleaded. The Hulk was unmoved.
"You maybe, but I'll live. Now, which one of you is going to send me and my friend home?"
Before the captain could speak, one of the officers spoke up. "I'll show you to the escape pods if you just let us go!"
"Deal." The Hulk brushed past them and removed the table. "After you."
Rick, by pure dumb luck, had already found the escape pods. None of the other crew bothered to say anything. They were too busy trying to save their own lives. When he saw more members of the crew rushing towards him, he figured he was sunk, until the Hulk rounded the corner. "Hulk!"
She nodded at him. One of the crew pushed past his fellows and walked up to him. "Listen Earthling, all you have to do is get into that pod. Once it blasts off, it will head towards the nearest planet."
"Which is?" Rick raised an eyebrow, but the Hulk waved her hand.
"The Earth. We're on the dark side of your moon."
Rick couldn't argue and stepped into the pod. The Hulk squeezed in after him. The pod blasted free of the ship and within seconds, they were rocketing towards the Earth.
The captain nervously blinked his eyes as the escape pod fled the flaming ship. As he saw the fire finally hit the fuel cells, an idea came to him. "Wait!" Grabbing his second mate, he pointed at the flaming wreck as it listed to the side. "Get on the communicator, tell the other ships to record this!"
"Very well sir." The crewman complied, but his hesitant was palatable. Why would the captain want to record this failure?
"Prepare the image transmitter for recording!" Making himself more presentable, he looked into the recorder's blank eye. "Members of the Council. Doubtless you've waited on news of our success. I have here evidence, proof beyond question, that the being responsible for our defeat has perished." Pointing the recorder at the flaming ship as it crashed onto the moon, the captain turned it back onto himself. "Members of the Council, I assure you, the creature known as the Hulk, as well as its companions, were onboard that ship as it crashed. I, as well as my entire crew, will gladly submit to the Ordeal of Truth to verify this." Spinning a story of bravery and courage rarely found in his species, the captain recorded a message of how, via his own cunning and skill, he lured the Hulk and her friends on board the ship. With honeyed words and the support of the crew, the captain's tale of heroism finishes just the ship's flame are snuffed by the cold void of space. Switching the recorder off, he sat back contently.
"Do you think the Council will believe it?"
As they reentered Earth's orbit, the Hulk's mind drifted. Was she right? Sure, the Toad Men were trying to use her, but there was that illusion. Maybe she could have found peace out there, on some distant alien world. What was waiting for her on Earth? She would be attacked like a wild animal, unless she played ball.
"You don't know that." Betty tried to reason. "Look, let's just turn ourselves in. We've really done nothing wrong."
"Ok," the Hulk shot back, "then you go and give yourself up. Me? I'm staying free."
"Hulk." Betty's tone grew dark. "Listen to me. We can't keep hiding out in the desert forever. Sooner or later, either the Army finds us, or someone else. If we just show them that we aren't the enemy, then they'll leave us alone."
"And you believe that?' The Hulk laughed. "We're a threat no matter what we do."
"And I don't believe that. We have the power, it doesn't have us." Betty looked up at the Hulk and saw, not a distortion of her face, but her own reflection staring back. "Please, end the fighting."
The Hulk looked down again. Turning away, she saw only the barren landscapes. Ignoring Betty's cries, she started to run. Leaping into the air, she sailed off into the distance.
"This isn't over Hulk." Betty opened her eyes. She had changed back in her sleep. Slowly rising up, she found that the pod lay on its side. Hearing the soft lapping of the waves, she poked her head out.
The pod was resting on a beach. Where, she couldn't say. The sand was white and the temperature warm. Palm trees dotted the coastline as far as she could see. "Hey Betty, are you ok?" Rick called out from the jungle.
"Just fine and dandy." Climbing out proved to be no problem. Walking in the surf, she scanned the horizon but saw nothing but endless waves and sky. "Any idea where we are?"
"Sort of. We were over the Pacific, but I blacked out before we landed."
"That doesn't help, but it could be worse." Betty suddenly felt a bit chilly, as she realized that the last of her clothes had fallen before the onslaught of the Hulk. "Oops!" She ducked back into the pod. Rick chuckled before calling out to her. "My jacket's in there if you need it."
"You could have mentioned it earlier Mr. Jones." Betty was annoyed, but the important thing is that they were back on Earth and alive. Everything else was secondary. Slipping the jacket on, she stepped back out. "So, what's now?"
"I found a road a ways in," he jerked his thumb back. "If we stay on that, we should be ok."
Looking at the pounding surf, Betty felt a great connection with the world. "Ok, Hulk, you can take a break right now, but this isn't over. Not by a long shot." Walking up towards the jungle, Betty felt something inside her agree. Conflicts would rage like the waters around them, but for now things would just be settled later.
Things didn't come out quite the way I planned, but first, the credits. This tale was an original story, using only previous seen characters created and owned by Marvel Comics. All rights reserved.
For the fan mail
They Call Me BruceGreat story here
And some great comments there.
And finally, gen x
You're a great writer. I don't see why you don't have more reviews
Well, maybe I'm not as good as I think, but thanks a bunch for your comments
But enough of that morose whining, what about the Hulk? Be sure to tune in next time when the Hulk Meets the Hulkbusters. Be there or be square cats and kittens.
And just to make sure you and yours are entertained while waiting for this latest offering, be sure to stay glued to your monitors for the next exciting tales.
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Amazing Fantasy #1-Baron Blood VS the Freedom's Five
Journey Into Mystery #12-Thor and Loki Attack the Human Race!