Bruce Banner had spent most of his life dealing with problems. And for a majority of his life his problems had stemmed from one rather large problem - the Green behemoth known as the Incredible Hulk. A raging unstoppable force of nature whose wake left only doom and destruction, and whose future was undoubtedly more of the same.
That was if his latest gamble went the way of all the others. One last roll at the dice of destiny. Bruce Banner hoped to do what Gamma Bombs, travels through time AND space, and countless experiments had failed to do, and finally give him control of the Irresistible Jade Goliath.
Standing at the Ancient Crossroads just outside of Butt fuck, Nowhere, in the Southern United States, Banner was gambling on the Universes wheeler-dealer to lend a hand. One of the more ultimate evils in the universe - Mephisto, hells traveling salesman.
Told to wait at this particular crossroad at this particular time, with your finger jammed out in the traditional hitchhikers gesture, which suggested connotations that Banner and his genius mind didn't even want to contemplate. Moments after the anointed hour, and dusty nothing. It was beginning to look to Bruce that Butt Fuck Nowhere wasn't exactly going to live up to legend, and that the Shaman that he had talked to was Butt Fucking wrong.
Just as Bruce was about to give up on the Afterlife's most detested walker between worlds, a Man too well dressed for his surroundings made his silent appearance in our corner of the universe. "Mr. Banner, I presume."
Banner jumped, his backpack falling to the ground. "Wh-what?"
Smiling a smile that even your mother could loath, the Demon of Deliverance waited patiently as Bruce soothed the savage beast. Patience in the deal, always patience in the deal, one of his many mantras for this line of work. But never so calm as to cover all of their bases. "Mr. Banner, I believe we have some business to discuss. Some very urgent business."
After a few moments, and a deep breath or five, Banner was in the talking mood. "I believe we do. One can only assume that you are the Lord of Hell itself, Mephisto."
"As it is said, Mr. Banner." Uttered the Demon silkily, nodding curtly. "You'll forgive me if I don't shake hands, but people tend to try and pull one over me that way."
"Understandable, sir. And to cut a long story short, I wish to cut a deal..."
"I know why you're here, Mr. Banner. I always know why people like you are here. I also know how to give you want. A simple feat for someone such as myself. The question is, Mr. Banner, what are you willing to give in exchange for my granting you this great boon."
For Bruce there was only one answer - "Anything and everything." Given freely and quickly, like so many before him, and so many after, knowing nothing of its consequences and the price that so many had paid upon the utterance of these words. But it was all the Dealer of the Deep needed. A contract was signed the deal was done.
In exchange for his soul, and certain other not so standard conditions Robert Bruce banner finally gained something he had truly longed for – the total eradication of the beasts within. The Hulk was finally put to rest. Or so he thought.
"So how exactly does this work? Do I have to go Green or does he just poof in a puff of smoke?" Queried the much-relieved Banner. "Not exactly, Mr. Banner. You see, there are a few conditions attached to this so called 'wonder cure' of yours."
"Conditions? But I just gave you my soul. Isn't that enough?"
"Traditionally, that would be the case, Mr. Banner. But you hold inside you a force so undeniable that it has stumped immortals and beaten back gods. And right now, I am in need of that force."
"So, instead of ridding me of the beast you're going to use him? Are you NUTS? There have been hundreds before you that have tried to control the Beast, both man AND god, who have failed miserably." Stormed Banner, the controlled rage of a man possessed running through his veins. "What makes you so damned sure that you're any different?"
"Because, Mr. Banner, I am not going to control, I am simple going to direct. Previously, the Hulks anger has been untempered, focused on nothing, and everything. His rage has lead to mass destruction because it has no focus. I intend to give him that focus. To point him in the direction of my target, and let his unbridled rage do the rest."
"So, who's the target? Who do you want the Hulk to take care of this time? Some underworld fuck who's managed to break free from his ball and chain come to this realm?"
"In time you will find out, Mr. Banner. But for now, I bound you and the Beast within to me as my eternal Bounty Hunter. I bound to you the Spirit of Vengeance!"
With those words, Mephisto drew forth the undying, unrelenting Spirit of Vengeance, and hells eternal Bounty Hunter – Zarathos, and bounding it to the now vacant soul of Robert Bruce Banner.
Throughout this process the pain, the true pain of being bound to Zarathos hit Banner, the pain of a thousand transformations into the Hulk, and a hundred times more excruciating. Along side the pain of a literal baptism by fire...
He began to burn, the hellfire engulfing his entire body with its deadly radiation. But the more he burned, the more suffered, and the more he suffered, the more he began to rage.
The agony of it all drove the pain further past Banners threshold, and as resilient as he may be he couldn't stop the mystical energies mixing with his irradiated cells. The Mystical Powers of the Ghost Rider where mixing with the limitless abilities of the Hulk, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. Individuality these two forces where irresistible, together they where unstoppable, truly unstoppable. With these combined powers the Hulk was both an Irresistible Object and an Unstoppable Force, with a dash of near godliness just to be sure. And they where now at the disposal of Mephisto, the Lord of all Demons, as the perfect Bounty Hunter.
Slowly the pain began to dull, as the two Goliaths had finally merged into one being. Though still clouded by the pain and anger of his transformation, the mind of this new Creature finally cleared. Standing at nearly Ten Feet tall, he stood taller than even the Incredible Hulk. He had become a flaming Skeleton, but the flames were green, like burning ink, and his clothes had been transformed into the traditional garb of the Ghost Rider – Black Biker Jacket, Blue Jeans, Black Top, Boots and a Chain draped over his shoulder.
He was no longer the Incredible Hulk, nor was he the Ghost Rider any longer. This Creature was now the Incredible Rider, an uncontainable Spirit of Vengeance with powers beyond compare.
"For now, Mr. Banner, I have given you complete control of the Hulk's strength, and you'll have plenty of time to learn the Spirit's abilities. The form of the Spirit is best used while in the form of the Hulk, but once you learn to control it, can be used in either of your forms."
Catching his reflection in the shattered glass of a nearby wreck, the Incredible Rider howled with pain as his new curse, bound to do the devils dirty work...